International CMMB volunteer, Martin Rubino, recently returned home after serving as the lead engineer for the St. Therese Hospital expansion project, in South Sudan. Over the past year, Martin has experienced both the challenges of building and working in a fragile and under-resourced part of the world and the pure joys of the community he and his wife, Sarah, have come to call a home. 

Martin Rubino: Coming Full Circle

As the rainy season returns to Nzara, so to do the reminders of what greeted me when I arrived here just over a year ago; the ripe mangos, the muddy roads, the storms rolling in from afar over the flat terrain, enjoying the respite of a cool breeze before having to hurry for cover as the rain comes down in torrents.

Martin on the job site at Nzara Hospital in South Sudan

Things have come full circle. It is just one cycle in a countless succession of rainy and dry seasons, and yet I have seen many changes. There are three new buildings at St. Therese Hospital, under whose roofs we now take shelter when the thunderstorms come. I too have changed over the course of this year. I arrived an outsider, and the workers and I were both at times unsure of each other. Many of my methods were as unfamiliar to them as theirs were to me. A year has seen a bond forged by working together day in and day out, sharing in toils and frustrations, as well as moments of pride and accomplishment.

Collage of the maternity ward, surgical ward, and operating theater at St. Therese Hospital in South Sudan

The maternity ward, surgical ward, and operating theater (from left to right) as of June, 3

It is with a heavy heart that I now leave the project, made all the more difficult by the fact that the buildings are still not complete, pushed months behind schedule by the relentless challenges that are part and parcel with working in this region. The knowledge that my fellow colleagues are continuing on with one less member saddens me.

Martin Rubino stands in front of the St. Therese Hospital Project with his crew

But, in rejoining my wife Sarah as she prepares to deliver our first child, I am reminded that all of life is a continual surrendering. There was a surrender when Sarah and I left family, friends, and work to come to Nzara. Likewise there is a surrender now that I must uproot myself from a place I have grown very fond of and a project that has become part of my everyday life. And, if I can be sure of one thing, it is that new surrenders await Sarah and myself as we welcome a baby and navigate the uncertain course of our future.

“Things have come full circle. It is just one cycle in a countless succession of rainy and dry seasons, and yet I have seen many changes.”

Martin and Sarah sitting together outside St. Therese Hospital

St. Ignatius has written much on the sense of detachment, openness, and discernment we must strive for as we set out and are led along our journeys. These concepts are difficult enough to fully understand, much less to implement practically and with confidence. Yet somehow it is linked to our relationship with a God whom we believe emptied himself completely out of love (Phil 2:7). Sarah and I are deeply grateful to CMMB for the opportunity that has been given to us and the unflagging support and understanding which they have shown.

We would also like to warmly thank St. Therese Hospital and all of its friends and supporters, to Sister Laura and the staff who have taken us in so graciously and to our fellow volunteers, Dr. Matthew, Dr. Dan and Angela, Carrie, and Ruth, who have accompanied us on our journey and remain a continued inspiration.

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