s challenging as Ethiopian medicine was, what I found even more challenging was all the unwritten rules of their culture! I usually learned the error of my ways only after I had already insulted someone.
Ethiopian surgeons and American surgeons have cultures that are opposite in many ways. For instance, the idea of getting upset. To them it was better to tolerate something that was inappropriate than to lose your temper about it. That was opposite of my initial reaction for sure! It made me realize that there was plenty of room for growth and improvement in my own heart in that. I would see things happen that I felt were being done wrong, or patient care was suffering, or patients were being put in danger, and I would get upset about it.
In many ways, my anger was short circuiting my own attempts to try to fix it. In the United States, to get upset because of patient care issues is a common thing (within appropriate levels). I have to say that my Ethiopian colleagues were very gracious. They recognized, too, that there was a cultural difference and they were willing to recognize that we were brothers in Christ. We worship the same Lord.
I think in many ways we were able to highlight areas in each other's lives that needed to grow. We learned how to deal with each other, work together, care for each other and grow together.