I arrived at 4am with all my baggage and made it to the Catholic retreat center. After a short nap I met up with Dan our E4 project trip leader and Simon and Dane our videographers. We walked thru some nearby botanical gardens and had lunch on the shores of Lake Victoria. So restful.
We returned back to meet Rose and Charles who run a faith based palliative care center and are eager to receive a container of donated medical supplies from Medical Ministries International of Fresno. We learned more about their heart for helping HIV and cancer patients pass peacefully and pain free in their homes. They also care for the orphaned children and grandparents when the main bread winner has passed by providing food and school tuition. In this container will be two surgical tables that will continue on to the Congo for Dr JC
They also will share their supplies with Dr Ludo of Hospice Africa. We visited his center in the late afternoon where they train healthcare workers in palliative care and run an outpatient clinic. They also make the morphine on equipment donated by the American cancer society for all of Uganda.
Tomorrow morning we will fly into the Congo. Please pray for this final customs check and that we are able to bring all our medical and camera equipment in securely.
It feels good to be in Africa!
Made it here safely and grateful I only had to pay $250 at customs in Congo to bring the machine in.
Had a wonderful first day training 6 doctors- as the day progressed they understood my English better and better and they were able to ask great questions.
So thankful to have been able to deliver this machine safely here. I so appreciate all your prayers.
This place is awesome! Every Tuesday and Friday they hold an open service outside in the middle of the hospital around the tree. They sing songs and then two men talk. They said you come for physical healing but we want you to know spiritual healing. Some of you will leave here and some of you won't... but we want you to find eternal life. These men come every morning at 5 am to pray for the people and their families. One of them is 90 years old. Each day here there have been loud wails as someone's loved one passed. People come here late in their illness and there just isn't much available to offer them treatment wise.
This is the reason I come to support this hospital- they offer real hope to a people with so little.
The poverty is unbelievable here but the kids are still smiling and laughing. They have a malnutrition program in place and parents bring their kids every Wed to be weighed and receive education and a small food supplement.
I've worked two days now with 6 doctors. 2 who came from 2.5 hrs away. They were just doing pelvic and very limited OB scans on an old machine so they have the basics down but are so eager to learn more and quick to pick it up. Thank you so much for praying for communication. We're doing great with slow speaking English. I'm so thankful!
It's roasting hot here 90-99 degrees with a quick rain shower in afternoon. I'm in a little guest house separate from the men but we all eat together at my house. Mama Rose brings us rice and beans and sometimes a little meat and wonderful pineapple bananas and avacados.
Last night the electricity was out all night..and I had the company of a bat and a few lizards high up on the wall. Fortunately the bat disappeared or at least he wasn't in my room. Total amazing peace here...so must be all your prayers. Please keep it up!
Today I walked into the church and saw people sitting quietly around a table up near the front. Someone came in and prayed for a long while. Then I realized the table was actually a bed and the 11 year old girl who died yesterday was laying on it. From what I know she was the daughter of the hospital night watchman and she came in Monday with stomach pain and had an abscess. Later in the day I watched as they walked from the church through the hospital grounds in a procession carrying her wooden casket softly singing. No tears or wailing and buried her in the cemetery right near the airstrip.
Yesterday we scanned a pregnant woman who was having contractions and she delivered last night. Life and death are familiar faces here.
I walked into one of the hospital buildings and a sweet man was in bed with a bandaged foot. I spoke my few French words and we smiled but couldn't say much more. He pointed up and I saw a sign on the ceiling about Jesus and I also saw he had a bible next to him. I pulled out mine and turned to Matthew 8 and we found the same place in his. Jesus healing the sick....
This place is buzzing with everyone working getting things ready for the big pediatrician building dedication on Saturday. People are sweeping the dirt with palm branches and trimming the grass with machetes. They bought a cow which will feed the many people coming. He's grazing behind the men's guest house one last night.
Tonight we watched an incredible dry lightening storm the past on the grass airstrip.... Orion's Belt and the Milky Way shining above, lightening dancing on the horizon and African singing from the nursing school where there were practicing their songs for the dedication.
"The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of his hands, day after day they pour forth speech night after night they display knowledge. There is no word or language where their voice is not not heard, their words go out to the ends of the earth" (Psalm 19)
The hospital consists of 7 buildings around the Mama Luka tree. You saw inside one of them in my pics- not a place any of us would want to go to when sick. We asked Dr JC what the biggest medical problems are and he said malaria, malaria, malaria. The families of the patients camp right around the hospital and cook on fires and get water from the spring a half mile away to feed themselves and their patient. There are no resources available since there are no paved roads and we are 2.5 hr drive best case from the nearest big city of 100,000 people. Gloves are rewashed and sterilization of surgical tools is over steam. Everyone including the patients use a latrine outside. This hospital operates on a deficit made up by the church.
Since my last time here there is a new building funded by a German missionary group which has a room for the one X-ray machine and now the ultrasound machine and the Lab which offers very limited lab tests and meds. It's very nice as you can see from my ultrasound pics.
On my last trip in 2013 our group decided the biggest need was a new pediatric building since there were 2-3 children per bed. With donations sent over thru E4 Project and with much accountability they have been able to build a beautiful new pediatric building and the dedication was today. It has been filled with incubators and pediatric beds and supplies sent in a container through Medical Ministries International (MMI) of Fresno, Ca.
This ceremony grew to a huge event with about 1000 people coming and this place has been buzzing with preparations. It started at 9:30 as we sat under bamboo scaffolding covered with palm branches for shade. The pastor gave a sermon on Nehemiah and the minister of health promised to support the hospital and the local chief came in full traditional dress. The nurses from the school sang songs as did the entire hospital staff. We were given clothes to wear which matched the staff as well. I was honored to speak on behalf of the Fresno medical team and MMI. The theme of all seemed to be that this hospital belongs to the community for the good of the community to the glory of God.
After 5 hours of talking and singing the ribbon was cut and everyone walked through the new pediatric building which far exceeded my expectations. It has one large room painted in beautiful colors and several private rooms. The wood ceilings and doors look fantastic and above the main door is a wood carved plaque that says Jesus loves the children. Upstairs is a open room for meetings and a walk for projections. We all enjoyed a meal together.
The local chiefs then began to dance and some of their tribe members blew horns and danced. So amazing to watch! I just feel so privileged to be here and represent so many people in the United States who have donated to this hospital. On behalf of Nebobongo Evangelical Hospital I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Sunday morning we walked to church through the hospital past the Mama Luka tree where a pastor was holding an outside service for the patients and their families. Mama Luka was the nickname they gave Dr Helen Roseveare who started this hospital in the 1950's and trained the local Congolese in medicine. Many of their children became Drs and nurses and are running it now.
The 7:30 church service is in French and I was excited to see it filled with many 20-30 year olds. These are ones who have learned French in school which is the language used in offices and work settings. The pastor spoke on 1 Cor 15 in which the church compared to a body with Christ as its head and each person a body part and no one part is more important than the other. Each person is valuable to the body and offers something unique. We need each other. He talked about how getting ready for the building dedication some cooked, others set up, others swept, and all were important and needed in order to be ready for the event. I was grateful for the person who came and sat next to me and translated the sermon amazingly well for me. I needed him.
It made me think about my mentality of thinking I have much to offer them but I'm learning much from them about working in unity and what it really means to sacrifice to serve the poor. Dr JC and his wife Dr Christine send their 3 oldest boys (ages 5,7,8) to live in Isiro (2.5 hrs away) with her sister to attend a better school. Dr JC could earn much more at a bigger hospital but stays here because the need is so great. E4 project is working to improve the local schools for this reason.
At 9:30 is the Swahili service began outside under the palm branch covered scaffolding. People came carrying their own stools. A 90 year old man gave me his. The singing is incredible! This is the section I plan on singing with in heaven. When you give the offering it's a Congo line dance up to the basket... joyful!
After lunch we drove in 2 land cruisers (series 79 if you're interested) to a coffee plot 5 km down the road. Dan and Dr. JC are working to start a coffee plantation on church land so that the church can rely on an income other than donations. The drive was a 4 wheel adventure on these dirt roads with mud puddles and deep pits. My three men back home would have loved it. Fun for us but a nightmare for them when several months ago the truck carrying the small glass window panes for the new pediatric building flipped and broke all the panes just 3 km from the hospital.
The kids love playing soccer with the Masumgos (Americans) every evening on the airstrip and even made a trophy for the winner.
In the evening the vice pastor over the church wanted to meet with us and pray before he left town. The church here was started 103 years ago by English cricket player/missionary CT Studd and it has stayed healthy all these years... never a church split. In his sermon on Nehemiah at the dedication his first point was that the king saw Nehemiah's downcast face and asked what was the matter. We also should pay attention to the spirits of those working for us. That is the kind of servant leadership these pastors all seem to have.
Tomorrow is our last day....
Just sitting in Istanbul waiting to board my final flight home. What an amazing journey.... thank you so much for praying. God answered everyone of them and I felt nothing but peace and joy throughout the entire trip. How much I appreciated that after the roller coaster of emotions beforehand.
I'm thankful for our team and the privilege we had of being there together. We all stayed healthy and were able to accomplish our purposes and have a great time doing it!
I remember asking for prayer that the doctors would learn with joy. So many times they would be joking and teasing. So much fun even in a 95+ degree room that had us shoulder to shoulder. By the end I didn't even think about the language.
Thank you so much for the many encouraging words I received. They lifted my spirits and reminded me daily that I was in Gods hand.
So grateful for Darryl for trusting God with me in this and giving me his support every step of the way.
Love you all,