Answered Prayer on the Amazon

April 26, 2017 • Bolivia
Nurse Kate Mach (middle) served on the Ruth Bell Riverboat along the Amazon River in Bolivia. The Riverboat ministry brings medical and dental care to poor villages.
Nurse Kate Mach (middle) served on the Ruth Bell Riverboat along the Amazon River in Bolivia. The Riverboat ministry brings medical and dental care to remote, poor villages.

The Ruth Bell Riverboat team prayed for news about the Bolivian girl they helped.

Practicing medicine on a riverboat-turned-clinic docked along the Amazon Basin in the sweltering humidity of a Bolivian summer is as adventurous and as demanding as it sounds.

The various ailments and illnesses the Ruth Bell teams encounter can be endless when they roll out the gangplank to open the clinic each morning in a new village. In one day, they can face anything from broken bones and backaches to parasites and abscessed teeth.

Earlier this year, a four-member World Medical Mission volunteer team, along with eight local staff members, served on our Ruth Bell Riverboat for 10 days of medical and dental ministry among some of Bolivia’s most isolated and impoverished villages.

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When a young mother in San Vicente arrived at the clinic with her four children, one of the older daughters was carrying her 3-year-old lethargic sister in her arms.

“I knew something was not right,” said nurse Kate Mach. “This little girl was almost lifeless.”

Swift Response

Further examination revealed that the child was running a fever of 105.9 degrees and had reportedly lost consciousness earlier.

A team of doctors nurses that served on the Riverboat earlier this year.

A medical team that served on the Riverboat earlier this year.

Kate rushed the girl into the boat’s small medical exam room while Flavia Quinteros, a Bolivian doctor and Samaritan’s Purse employee who works full-time with the Ruth Bell Riverboat ministry, explained to the child’s mother the need for immediate treatment.

“I remember looking at the mother as I took her little girl into the room—complete helplessness and yet complete trust,” said Kate, herself the mother of two young children. “I instantly felt like God was speaking to me to watch over this child as though she were my own.”

During the next hour, the medical team worked to lower the child’s fever, giving her ibuprofen and then an intramuscular injection of antibiotics. Kate gently bathed her in cool water for well over another hour while also bathing her in prayer, asking God to intervene and make her well.

Nurse Kate Mach cares for the 3-year-old with a high fever.

Nurse Kate Mach cares for the 3-year-old with a high fever.

Later that afternoon, the girl’s fever was gone.

Kate continued to sit with the child as she became alert and interested in playing with the thermometer Kate held.

Miriam, one of Ruth Bell’s Bolivian crew members, located a clean, dry pair of shorts and orange T-shirt for the girl to wear.

The medical team discharged the girl from treatment that afternoon under her mother’s watchful eye, with instructions to bring her back for further treatment should her fever return.

The family didn’t return to the boat, so the team hoped that meant the girl was still doing well. They couldn’t help but worry about her during the night.

Answered Prayer

The Ruth Bell team, which travels from village to village along the Amazon, usually does not have an immediate opportunity to see how their patients are doing after they leave their care.

But the next morning, as the team on the boat’s balcony exchanged traditional farewell waves with those gathered on the shore, Kate caught sight of a girl with an energetic grin darting in and out of the crowd on the grassy riverbank. She was wearing the orange T-shirt.

Our Ruth Bell Riverboat ministry provides remote Bolivian communities along the Amazon River with medical and dental care, as well as opportunities to hear the Gospel.

Our Ruth Bell Riverboat ministry provides remote Bolivian communities along the Amazon River with medical and dental care, as well as opportunities to hear the Gospel.

It was exactly what Kate had been hoping for throughout the night as she lay awake, wrestling with worry.

“I kept asking God for a sign to know that she was all right,” Kate said. “What an answer to prayer to see her up and moving, such a vast difference from when we first met.”

The Ruth Bell Riverboat is operated by Samaritan’s Purse to bring medical and dental care, health education, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those living along the Bolivian Amazon. Clinics are held during the day, and the teams invite the communities to evangelistic film showings in the evenings.

On each of these two-week riverboat trips, we are seeking teams of four to six medical volunteers including general practitioners, nurses, dentists and dental hygienists, and other medical specialists. Learn more about serving on the Ruth Bell Riverboat.

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Samaritan's Purse responds to medical emergencies in a variety of ways—through an emergency field hospital, a riverboat clinic serving remote Amazon villages in Bolivia, and the only hospital in a war-scarred state in South Sudan. Your gift will help bring expert treatment and the hope of the Gospel to victims of disaster or war.
Emergency Medical Care Samaritan's Purse responds to medical emergencies in a variety of ways—through an emergency field hospital, a riverboat clinic serving remote Amazon villages in Bolivia, and the only hospital in a war-scarred state in South Sudan. Your gift will help bring expert treatment and the hope of the Gospel to victims of disaster or war.

Emergency Medicine 013759
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