Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Eyes Have It

Our Wonderful Bodies

        At a very early age we learn about this wonderful creation that is our body. We learn through great experimentation all the wonderful things that it can do. We learn to eat and to smile and how effective it can be to cry a lot. Through sometimes shear determination and with great coaching from those around us we teach it to walk and to run and to sing and to dance. We can taste wonderful foods and see glorious sunsets. We hear music and the first sounds of our children's cries, perfectly discernible to every mother. Most all of us have been blessed with well working machines but as we go throughout our lives we learn that these wonderful machines often have parts that begin to wear out, sometimes through no fault of our own.

        As I watched my own mother loose her hearing so much so that conversations with her were often times almost not understandable I began to wonder which of our senses would be the easiest to loose. My dear friend, Alice Boy, lost her sight in her later years. My mother could see us but never knew what we were saying. Alice, on the other hand, could hear her friends and family but could not see them. Thus, the answer to the question of which of our senses we would rather loose is obviously none. We pretty much have to take the hand we are dealt. Luckily for most of us we have the great advantage of having wonderful medical applications that have helped us throughout our lives.

        Here in Ghana we see all kinds of medical problems that people have that would be common place to have fixed in the US. Dental work simply means pull the teeth. No orthopedic work seems to be done, severe crippling, club feet, bowed legs, and other such things. Blind beggars on the streets are so common. Your heart cannot help but go out to them.

        Through a strange sequence of events last week we had the opportunity to go to an eye clinic. More accurately, this might be called a cattle call if everyone were auditioning for something. A couple of weeks ago Barry was waiting outside the Area Office while I was in Sister Scripture Study. We have this every Monday morning. While outside Barry met Tia Hill and her three children, ages 4, 2 1/2 and 1 1/2. She was here in Accra with her husband, Darren, who has finished medical school in Pennsylvania and is a volunteer for three weeks with United Sight. I came out of the building with Sister Parke and Barry introduced us to Tia. As the introductions finished Sister Parke commented that the sister missionaries in Tema were teaching a blind man and that he was putting the Book of Mormon under his pillow because he could not read it. 

        The conversation continued and we learned that United Sight works with Ghana Optometrists that have a traveling assessment clinic. They will diagnose patients and see if they are candidates for glasses, cataracts or any other eye procedures. Tia said she would check with Darren to see when the clinic might be in the Tema area. The schedule was such that we went on Monday to Tema to meet the Sisters and get the man and his son, who acted as his guide, and took them to the Presbyterian Church in Teshie. Of course we went to the wrong church which is not hard to do. We learned that the church was by the ocean so we put our nose towards the water and wandered through the back alleys and found the clinic. This clinic comes here on the first Monday of the month. There were easily 200 or more "patients". There is no way that we could envision sitting here, maybe all day, waiting to have our eyes checked. Word of mouth brings most of these people here. As it is 45 minutes to an hour away from Tema our brother did not know about the clinic. He has been developing cataracts since the 70's and has never seen an eye doctor. 

        When we got there, thanks to Darren, we did not have to go to the back of the line. It would have been an even longer day. After his exam we were told that he not only has cataracts but that he has some retina "pigmentosis" or something like that. I got his vitamins and eye drops and then I wrote the instructions that I was given and had his 10 year old son repeat the instructions that I wrote back to me several times in hopes that they made sense and he understood them. We will return with him the first of July to see what, if anything the medicine has done. Darren won't be there so I am afraid we will be there all day.

The First Presbyterian Church of Ghana

The Primary School

The Church is right next to the Ocean

Freighters headed to the Tema Port


The pock marks in and out were full of rain water.

Patience was a virtue

Some BYU pre-med student volunteers

More volunteers. All but one are returned missionaries.

Such basic eye exams

Darren Hill

BYU Professor with the volunteers

This lady was given her glasses

This gentleman was engrossed in conversation about retirement in Ghana.

Some young people got glasses too

Doesn't need glasses but could use another kind of help.

All these ladies wanting help.

Sweet people needing help.

Not from the USA but loved the shirt. Our brother and his son.
          I am so grateful, again, for all that we have been blessed with. I still have my "bionic ears", just ask my kids and I have seen eye doctors that have kept my eyes healthy and even given me back the sight that I began to loose in my forties not because of anything that I did but because that was what began to just happen. As you think about this wonderful gift of a body that works, no matter how small, give thanks for all that you have been able to do and all that you still can do and then remember to take care of it and to thank those that help you do just that.


  1. Another great experience to remember! Thanks again for sharing xoxo

  2. How wonderful! I hope they're able to help him. :)
    Sweet words about my Grandma too. She loved you.
    Heidi :)

  3. Your difficulties seeing an optometrist are a stark contrast to finding vision care in the United States. We take our wide range of healthcare services for granted. How fortunate that the traveling assessment clinic is available and people were able to get glasses right away. It sounds like the clinic is very busy, even without publicizing its services.

    Doris Gibbs @ Moody Eyes