I wasn’t a bit surprised. After all, we’ve been working together for six years. Erica Smith is my nurse back home. In the past when I’ve been on a mission trip she has stayed back to work or perhaps relax for a few days, enjoying a break from me. But when I asked if she wanted to come help in Uganda she jumped at the chance. (If you are ever able to witness her rendition of Toto’s “Africa,” it conveys her excitement perfectly.)
She and veteran mission volunteer Bobbi Zink put their long hours of preparation to work and hit the ground running, screening patients with the surgeons. The pair have put in some of the longest hours of the mission, leaving on the early bus to find the first surgical patients of the morning and then staying up late to organize the next day’s schedule.
By Wednesday Erica knew her way around much of the vast hospital complex and most of the nursing students, staff, and patients recognized her as she walked by. And of course the children love her.
She says that the thing that she likes the best so far, the one thing that she wasn’t expecting, is the beautiful Ugandan smile. Someone might have a blank expression, just kind of watching and waiting, but when they smile their eyes sparkle, and their contagious grin brings Erica such joy.
Erica is having a life changing experience. Whether screening patients, helping Candace on the wards, team building in my room with an early morning “hands in” or doing an impromptu dance in PACU, it’s a wonderful way to spend a birthday week. And we’re all made that much better to know her.
Dr. Brandon Pomeroy and Erica Smith