World Medical Mission – A Ministry of Samaritan's Purse

Winter 2024

Sometimes it's the little things in life that bring a daily dose of encouragement.

  • Story by Dr. Launa Clough, a general surgeon from Michigan who is serving at Hopital Baptiste Biblique in Togo through the Post-Residency Program. Clough arrived at the hospital in June 2023.

A little air conditioning goes a long way.

Maybe you have experienced something similar to this. You feel crabby and overwhelmed. You have a snack and realize maybe it's not so bad and you just needed some popcorn?

Well, for me, it's a nice blast of air conditioning. There have been many points of feeling overwhelmed, stretched, frustrated. It's amazing what the feeling of cold air hitting your face can do for your soul and bring you back from the edge.

“There have been many points of feeling overwhelmed, stretched, frustrated. It's amazing what the feeling of cold air hitting your face can do for your soul and bring you back from the edge.”

I have been here two months. Some really great days. Some really hard days. Some of the stuff I expected to be hard was easy, and vice versa. I have really loved being back in the operating room, which does have air conditioning most days, although it has also been a site of frustration and self-evaluation. A place that normally feels like my domain and my realm has become a place where I second-guess myself. Fifty percent of the time, I am reading about a procedure I have never done—the night before it is scheduled. That is, if I'm blessed enough to have lead time to plan.

God's saving grace has been my team. Dr. Jack and Dr. Brandon are the other surgeons I work with most days. We also have another surgeon who consults on the really complicated stuff, Dr. Tom. They have been so kind, so available, so encouraging. I really feel supported, which is the only way to actually thrive in this environment.

High temperatures in Togo

I often love being able to look back and see what God was doing and why He sent me certain places, and I know He has me here because He knows I love a good team. I have learned so much from these colleagues already, and mostly just learned that it's OK to ask for help. It's OK to say “I don't know, but I'll do the best I can,” and sometimes it's just nice to have someone else stumbling through it with you, together.

I did my first solo hysterectomy this week and am getting more and more comfortable on my own. Some things are definitely harder than expected. I have had full clinic days of telling people they have inoperable cervical, breast, or stomach cancer. Days where I question if I can actually help anyone. And those days are the days that God is so present with me in the patient rooms. I can say to a patient “I cannot offer you anything surgically, but I can offer you the hope of a God who loves you.” It's still hard. But that's exactly why I'm here.

“I often love being able to look back and see what God was doing and why He sent me certain places.”

One of my patients was a young man who seemed to have a bowel obstruction. He is 26 years old and had no hernias and no previous surgeries, which are the most common reasons. We were concerned about some sort of bowel perforation or twist so we went to the operating room. When we saw inside the abdomen, I had no idea what I was looking at. Everything was stuck everywhere; I could not make heads or tails of where anything was. There were abscesses everywhere.

The scrub techs said this is what typhoid looks like. When it became apparent that the more we tried to separate everything, the more damage we were causing, we decided to put in drains and get out of the operating room. I was fairly concerned that he was not going to do well.

The next morning, I was glad to see him doing OK. Definitely sore, but alive. Fast-forward to two days ago when he was doing laps around the hospital with a huge smile plastered on his face. He's still not out of the woods completely, but I'm so surprised at what the body is capable of enduring.

Dr. Launa Clough is grateful for a supportive hospital staff.

I had another patient who I saw in the clinic. I did an exam which was honestly confusing, so I called for help and backup. Another surgeon also did the exam and was equally perplexed. The patient was boarded for multiple things, depending on what we found. She ended up having a fibroma in her uterus which had prolapsed completely through her cervix, basically like an hourglass. We performed a hysterectomy and removed the fibroma piecemeal, slowly but surely. It was a benign tumor.

We kept remarking that this woman had been walking around with a tumor the size of my head in her pelvis. People here have a remarkable tolerance for pain and discomfort. I discharged her yesterday, and she had the biggest smile on her face. She was up and walking like I had told her to do, and she was so thankful.

I got to pray with her and her husband. It was a great day.

Dr. Clough repairs the ear of a man who was injured by a machete.
World Medical Mission

Serve With Us

World Medical Mission is looking for Christian doctors, dentists, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to serve on short-term volunteer assignments at our partner mission hospitals and clinics. We also offer two-year placement opportunities through our Post-Residency Program for those who are completing residency and feel called to a career in medical missions. For more details, contact us at or (828) 278-1173.

Apply Now