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An Eight Day Experience in a Havana Hospital

By Jack Walker, ASSIST News Service

HAVANA, CUBA (ANS) – About 3 am in the morning, as I was sleeping soundly in a Cuban pastor’s house, I was suddenly awakened by loud sound. My wife Jeannette was crying out “I’ve broken my leg”. Indeed she had slipped on tile floor and her left leg was at an uncommon angle.

Pastor Roland praying for strength and guidance, midway through the 7 hour ambulance ride

We were in small farming town southeast of La Habana (Havana). By 3:30 am, a Christian nurse from the local church was on-site, assessing the damage and calling for an ambulance which finally arrived some 4 hours later. In meantime, the pastor had called a colleague in Havana who advised that we should immediately head straight for the capital.

However Cuba’s new medical system requires a patient be taken to nearest facility, which was a non-doctor clinic … in the opposite direction. My wife lay there for three hours on a gurney by the door, while nursing students tried to figure out the right protocol. Eventually that meant transfer to regional hospital – another hour’s ride over rough, country roads in an old van ambulance.

While enroute, the touch of technology reached us in the hot, dusty van. A call from Havana advised that my wife would be admitted to the “foreigners” hospital; and the driver was to proceed there directly.

Day 1 — the head nurse Angela adjusts support boot

Again though, the new protocol dictated a stop first at the regional hospital which did have a doctor. Two hours of frustration ensued before the pastor and Christian nurse with us were able to convince the head nurse to allow us to move one. Finally, after more than ten hours after my wife had suffered from the fall, we arrived and were immediately processed into the ER.

The attention was in stark contrast. Within 15 minutes, x-rays showed a badly fractured femur, requiring a titanium rod implant surgery. The doctors, surgeon, and nurses were friendly, professional, and very patient. Two hours later, I kissed my wife as they wheeled her into surgery.

Her Cuban surgeon visited every morning to assure her of good progress

Cuban pastors and Havana friends had gathered by now and began a prayer vigil in the waiting room. A single cell phone call had alerted pastors where we had just taught church leader classes.

Less than two hours later, I kissed my wife in the ICU recovery unit… she was relieved, without pain and had a broad smile on her face. Soon the surgeons came and explained the difficult surgery, assuring us that she would be fine. Her implanted knee (6 years ago) was not damaged; the inserted titanium rod had come to within millimeters of it.

During the next 8 days, a steady stream of Cuban Christians came to visit, kiss, and pray with my wife. At times as many as 10 were in the room. By the second day, the hospital staff commented about all the visitors, the smiles, the hugs/kisses and the prayers. Two pastors sent experienced professional nurses from their congregations as 24/7 companions and helpers.

Two young couples drove 5 hours of rough roads to have 15 minutes to pray, hug, and say goodbye. Dr. Gonzalez is at the left with his arm
around Jack Walker

My wife tells everyone that the quality of care and facility was excellent. She never needed nor wished for anything during her stay at the “foreigners” hospital in Havana. Since returning home, her doctor has confirmed how professional the surgery was done, including the titanium rod as being from West Germany … the latest.

Subsequent emails have shared how God has used this to bring distant pastors and people together … in a Havana hospital room … for God’s honor and glory.

Note: Some three years, I was able to bring into the KWVE studios in Santa Ana, California, Dr. Victor Samuel Gonzales, a Cuban Christian oncologist, along with his wife Marcia, for an interview with Dan Wooding for his Front Page Radio program. It was aired on March 3, 2010, and several times I e-mailed the doctor the audio file of it, but it never arrived. So, during this latest trip, I was able to give him, and his wife, a copy it on a 16 GB Flash Drive and watch their faces as they listened and remembered that time in Southern California. I handed it to them as they hosted me in their 100-year old crumbling home in Los Pinos, on Havana’s south side. If you would like to listen to that very interview, just go to: www.assist-ministries.com/FrontPageRadio/FPR10.03.10JackWalkeranDr.VictorSamuelGonzalesfromCuba.mp3

 


 

Jack D. Walker, and his wife, Jeannette, served 30 years with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Latin America and worldwide. Thereafter he founded LEADERSHIP MINISTRIES WORLDWIDE in Chattanooga, TN to publish and distribute the OUTLINE Bible Series of verse-by-verse materials. In 2005, at request of Chinese church leaders, the Walkers organized AMAZING GRACE INTERNATIONAL to publish the Mandarin New Testament volumes of The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible in China. In June 2009 the first 30,000 volumes were delivered to church leaders in all 27 provinces. With that project completed, the Walkers joined Titus International as volunteers with CUBA777 as primary ministry focus. This was Jack’s ninth teaching trip to Cuba since 1999. Contact info: JandJWalker48@gmail.com orwww.titusinternational.org/walker/walkerBlog.php


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