Our family's heart is filled with the hope of our calling in Christ Jesus and we want to share! Our home town and now Hope Clinic is where we are called. We want to share our adventure with you!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A few random pics....

May 22
Our last day at the clinic was today…so many mixed emotions. Our day started in the chapel (as usual as they have chapel together every morning at 7:30). Today was different though as they prepared a wonderful breakfast for us as a going away party for ALL of the staff to attend. Each department had a spokesperson tell us of their gratitude and appreciation, the nurse anesthetist wrote a song for us, they all gave us more gifts (Everyone has been giving us gifts all week in preparing to say good-bye!), and we all ate together. It is difficult to leave people like this who have welcomed us into their families and their homes and their beloved workplace. They are all urging us to stay longer, to come back soon, or to come more permanently! They are so thankful and loving. We all spent the day working our last turns at different posts, doing surgery into the evening, packing, taking final pictures, and saying good-byes. All that, and we still have another good-bye party tonight in a few minutes with just the senior staffers, who've been hosting our meals all month, and taking care of our every need, our every whim to go to the market! So, for me, more crying will ensue soon, as we will hear more from them and their praise over us and over the God who sent us to them. It is all VERY humbling and hard to take in. As I said, mixed emotions. We are eager to come home (not eager for trip we must endure!) and see our children and spouses and friends we left in the states! I'm sure we must all admit we are anxious to experience a hot shower and our own washing machines! We have much catching up to do, much decompressing from our trip and all we have experienced, and much jet-lag to recover from. We all anticipate we will be learning from our trip for many months, even years, to come…as God will continue to show us things and open our hearts to new ways of thinking. Again, thank you all for your prayers. Yosef (the little boy with burns, I think I've forgotten to share his name with you all) needs prayer again as he returned to the clinic yesterday after falling off the moto with his momma, and freshening ALL of his burns wounds! It is so sad, yet it is their every day struggle to survive. Thank you for loving him, and all the other patients here, by loving them with your prayers, even though you did not know every story, or every name, or every result. God knows. And He will continue to be with them and draw them to Himself through the love shown through this clinic! See you all soon!

May 20
Here's what it's like going to visit the doctor in Guinea…Show up at the clinic at approximately 6:30 am (or come the night before and camp out) and wait for the gates to open. Once the gates open at seven you stand and wait for a number (there are different numbers for dental, children, adults, surgery, etc…its VERY confusing!). Around 7:30, the line begins for pre-paying for your visit (approx $3.50 for an adult consultation and about $1.30 for a child). Once you have paid, you get to wait again, with approximately 150 other people) in a large covered area with chairs set up "sanctuary style" facing a large screen (they do provide the "Jesus film" or sometimes live evangelism while you wait) to be called into the vital signs area. The vital signs area is a 10x10 foot area in the front corner of the waiting area by the video screen that is sectioned off by a metal frame and cloth curtains. You are called by number into the vital signs area, usually with 2 or 3 OTHER patients at the SAME time, men, women, kids, there is no separation . You stand barefoot on an old scale, the kind with the spots for your feet and the red arm thingy that swings around clock-style to show the weight (no digitals here!) that every other person for the past 8 years has stood on and has never been washed, to get your weight. Then you sit beside everyone else in there and bare your armpit for the thermometer (yes, the same thermometer that EVERYONE else uses…we do, however, wipe it off with some kind of antiseptic stuff on a piece of cloth, we use the same cloth ALL day, and the next…) to take your temperature. Yes, the women lift up their shirts if necessary (not many bras in africa), the men unbutton, all right there together, and there is probably a screaming child next to you that isn't yours! Then your pulse is checked and your blood pressure is taken. All the while, you are carrying with you a little book called a "carne" that is your medical record. You are responsible to keep this with you all the time, in between visits, during your visit, etc. It's the only way anyone can know your medical history. After your vitals are complete (it may be 10:30 or 11:00 by this time if you are in the first 20 patients for the day) you go back out to the waiting area to wait for your number to be called to go and wait in another outdoor "hallway" on concrete benches to actually be seen by someone. You may see a nurse who can order labs and prescribe meds for a certain protocol of things, or the doctor or surgeon for more serious issues. Then you go back to the place to pay and pre-pay for your lab orders (maybe $3-4 for basic work ups). Then you go to the lab and wait. Then you wait for the results. Your "carne" is taken back to the ordering nurse/physician so they can read the results. They then prescribe the medications needed. You go back to pre-pay for the medications. Then you go stand and wait at the pharmacy. Your order is filled in the order it went in. If you are lucky, it may be 4:00 when you get to go home (by walking or by paying a motorcycle taxi to take you and your spouse and your child all at the same time, home)! If you are staying for surgery, or need to be monitored for a hospital visit, you guessed it, you (or your family) go and pre-pay for the visit. Your family then is responsible to feed you, provide linens, drinks, bathroom arrangements, etc., for your entire hospital stay! Can you imagine?? I could go on and on about the spider we killed in the OR, or the laundry hanging on the fence outside of the hospital that was just hand washed by a family member, or the flies that surround those patients with wounds, or the patient who is having a seizure on the floor in the waiting room and they simply wait for the seizure to subside and the patient to awake from the nap that always follows, before attending to them. It is a completely opposite experience from what we would consider even remotely sane in the United States. Yet the people are always grateful, never complain, and know nothing different. It's so hard to see it, to want to change it all, but then to realize it's their culture, and the REALLY DON'T MIND!. And this hospital is 10 times better than even the biggest and best government run hospital around! I am grateful to be able to witness this, be a part, and to come home more grateful for the opportunities we have at our disposal at home! Two more days and we travel home! Can't wait to see everyone! Thanks for your continued prayers and encouragements! BTW, the boy with the burns went home smiling!

May 18
A wild Chimp Chase (somewhat akin to a Wild Goose Chase…well…you get the idea)…that's what we did for our Saturday adventure! There is a wild chimpanzee "reserve" a mere 70 km (2 hour drive because of the torrential downpours wreaking havoc on the already poor dirt roads) away. After passing crossing several bridges that didn't look like they could hold one person let alone a car, and dipping through several car sized mud puddles (there is a reason the exhaust pipe on the land rover is on the roof!) we arrived at our destination ready to hike away the next couple of hours watching chimps swing from limb to limb and cradle babies in their arms! The hike began immediately in extremely thick jungle terrain with our guide cutting our way ahead of us on the "path". It was fairly easy hiking the first 15 minutes or so. We were then halted and told to "listen" while another guide swung around in another direction hoping to spot the chimps and tell us exactly where to go - haha - like how in the world did they know how to tell us where to go??? We did see about 3-4 trees the whole trek that had tiny, worn out numbers on them (must be left at the 456 and then right at the 219!) We hiked again for a while on fairly easy terrain and were then stopped to wait another 30 minutes or so trying to keep two young boys from being bored out of their minds in a jungle where you couldn't be loud or even step more than a few steps in either direction without getting lost into oblivion. The pursuit began again in earnest up a VERY STEEP hill (still hacking our way through) that was soaked with recent rain and constant humidity. We pulled our way up using vines and trees as best we could. I wondered about Tarzan and the effortless way he swung through the trees at super speed! We then began the decent down the other side of the mini mountain still hoping to catch the chimps. The way down was much more dangerous than the way up…a steep jungle ravine on the left to encourage us to stay on track. It was long before Caden slipped on a slimy tree root sliding several feet into Rachel and knocking her down. She was stopped by a large tree of some sort. They both managed to get upright again with a few scrapes, bruises and head knot. Cade learned…walk farther apart so if you fall, you don't take out Rachel with you! It wasn't 5 minutes later we heard a jungly, crashing, tumbling sound…then silence…then a mousy "heellp?" Caden had managed to slide down the ravine about 20 feet (I could exaggerate and say 30…but it was probably a true 20!) before he found a providentially placed stump that broke his fall! Those who saw it happen (Marc McAllister and Jeff) were laughing at the head over heals tumble they witnessed. Fortunately I was ahead of him and didn't see it, I only heard it! The guide (wearing only rubber wading boots…how in the world???) went down and got him. He could've been injured so badly. We were very grateful that neither he nor Rachel were hurt. How we would've gotten an injured party member out of there…no idea. We finally emerged on a "clearing" which enabled those beat up to have a little reprieve. Jeff also took a fall about a half an hour later, again, fortunately, right after he had taken Krae off his shoulders! Needless to go on in detail, we continued on for a total of three hours, up steep climbs, down steep slides, following instructions in Mono tongue to "hurry", "they are just ahead" to, "wait" and "listen they might be right there"…all to NO AVAIL. The poor monkeys must've heard us coming! They ran the whole time away from us. Compare this to Connor and Kellen's experience a cpl years ago of walking 15 minutes and seeing the silly things!!! All for a mere 212,500 FG ($30) per person! A discount bartered for us down from the original $75 that was quoted to us! We didn't see the chimps but we got a REALLY cool, dense, jungle hike (minus the red ants that found their way UP my pant legs, and the tumbles, those weren't so cool) that reminded us of the BIG world God created with such diversity and beauty. Another day of rest today before our final 4 days of clinic this week. We will be home before we know it.

May 14
The past few days have seen several of us suffering from illness. Rachel with a severe head cold (seems odd in Africa, huh? Guess those bugs are here, too!) others from gastrointestinal distress (read: running to the toilet quite frequently  ) and Krae from high fever, stomach pain, headache, vomiting…we all spent a few days lying low, off and on. We were watching Krae for malaria, but he has made a full recovery. My mother-in-law (Diane Mathisen) was having her friends pray for Krae, and I saw a post she made where she noted the time difference (Africa is 7 hours AHEAD of the Pacific time zone) and said Krae was probably beginning his recovery even before they started praying, and that God is not limited by time zones. She wrote that ultimately it's not the power of our prayers in and of themselves but the power of the One to whom we pray, and our obedience in asking for His help! So true! Thanks Diane Mathisen for the good reminder. It made me think of how frustrating it is to be here with such limited French. As the Guineans say, they speak "English small, small!!, I speak "French small, small!!" As I walk by the multitude of patients lining the concrete benches along the outdoor halls of the clinic and say "Bon jour, and how are you? I am well, tres bien, etc" but that is about the extent! I make the little babies cry most of the time; they are frightened, I think, by the crazy white lady who probably wants to steal them from their mamas or grandmamas! I wish I could speak to them fluently and tell them I love them, that Jesus loves them, and learn more about them! But Diane's reminder made me remember that God is not limited by time zones, NOR is He limited by language. He called me to be here and show His love by my actions, and to keep my mouth shut! Otherwise he would've miraculously had me learn fluent French in the past 6 months of my trying!! Just as in America, I sometimes allow my words to become unnecessary or judgmental. Oftentimes it is better to keep my mouth shut and just simply show love. God can do the rest without my "trying to help"! The people here are genuinely happy just to be spoken to with kindness, touched even though they made be dirty and diseased, and smiled at or to have their toddler toes tickled (although that often scares them too!!). The miracles are not just in the surgeries, the medications, the donated equipment; they are there for sure. But the miracles are also the simple act of OUR obedience to be present here, having the financial and prayerful support of all of YOU, and patiently waiting for Him to show us BOTH what He has for us next! God works in what we consider to be BIG ways, but He also works in what we consider to be SMALL ways. He is not bound by our limited understanding of His will. I am grateful for that! And Im grateful and humbled to be here. I want to remember all this when I return to America, because people in America need the same smiles, touches, and acceptance as the people in Africa! I ask you all to hold me accountable when I return! Thanks to you all for your prayers and encouragement. I love every comment! Now, to HIM who is able to do abundantly more that we could ever imagine….goes all the glory, honor, and praise!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I never tire of driving through the jungle forests and "country side" of Guinea! There is amazing natural beauty (VERY similar to the gorge in Oregon yet even MORE green than the greenest we see in Oregon, if you can imagine that! Just replace every pine tree in your minds' eye in Oregon with a palm tree and you will be imagining Guinea's landscape) and beautiful people everywhere you look. I will also never cease to be amazed at the piles of items carried on women's heads here (and even young children will be seen carrying things on their heads with babies strapped to their backs!)!! Rachel and I and the boys actually tried it tonight with the help of our hostess Iliane, to carry a basket of potatoes on our head with the aid of a rolled towel. We could each do it for a bit! Imagine if we continue practicing! I can see us now, in Washington Square mall carrying our bags on our heads so our hands are free! Haha! Actually, I can never really imagine going to a mall and buying enough to carry on my head, ever again. Seeing the poverty and simplicity and extreme effort that goes into every day tasks that we take for granted in the states is sobering. We visited Moise's palm tree farm today which is about a 1-1/2 hour drive from the clinic. He has three acres that was given to him about 8 years ago. He began planting palm trees about 7 years ago, which means they began producing palm nuts only about 2-3 years ago. The palm nuts are a main source of two kinds of oils (one from the outer nut flesh, another beaten/burned out of the inner seed) for the people of Guinea. He is very grateful for the ability to provide some income to help support his family while he continues to grow the clinic and evangelize the surrounding areas. From there we drove further through very rough roads along a mountain range very similar to the Klickitats and the cliffs/plateaus seen along the gorge, with a few higher peaks here and there, all covered in lush green foliage. The clouds were low and heavy with rain which down poured off and on all day long. As the clouds blew in and out and up and down, different peaks would be revealed and blue sky would show through and the clouds would weave in and out of the peaks. As we passed through a small village that used cows as a main means of support, the village children swarmed the truck yelling/smiling/laughing "tabaloo" "tabaloo" which in their local village dialect means "white man", and the women shoved 1.5 liter water bottles filled with "fresh" cow milk at us, trying to get us to buy some! Such joy! It's funny…in the village across the street from the clinic the children yell "creepaloo, creepaloo", again their word for white man. Wonder why their words for white man sound so much like our "scary" words of creepy and taboo!?!? We finally arrived at our destination of the natural land bridge. It was pouring when we got there, so we picnicked in the truck until the rain stopped again. We then got out to see the bridge, which from above looked nothing different than any other bridge we may have crossed. but as we walked around the side we could see down into the cavern. It was a small river, much like one you'd see in Oregon, with lots of rocks, a few rapids, and much foliage in and around. We climbed down a steep embankment to a rocky bottom that revealed a large natural rock bridge that the water flowed through. We stayed down there for a while, wading in the water, as it was clean, flowing water. Most water in guinea is unsafe to walk into. It was kind of like being in a cave that had an opening on both ends. It made us think of home and it was very nice to be in a cool place out of the sun with the ability to get in the water! Yes, we took lots of pictures, as always! We came back to the guest house and us girls got the young boys to watch Pride and Prejudice on the computer! The older guys knew better than to be tricked. The younger boys weren't too enthralled, but the girls had fun!! It was Saturday afternoon at the movies! Tomorrow we go into our closest big town, N'Zerekore near the market, where we will go to church of the pastor whom Jeff did surgery on last year…the one who was shot in the leg during the riots/fighting while his family was locked in their house and were threatened to be burned to death. The family was spared when the violators learned they were from Coite d'Viore and not Guinea, but their home and church were burned. We are excited to see him and his family in their church where they continue to serve. He is healing well and is very grateful to be alive! I will report on that experience in the next post. Until then, goodnight from Africa!
Today marks 2 weeks since we left The Dalles. We just received the one bag that we lost on the trip here, JUST in time to use the supplies that "happened" to be in there! Last night we did a surgery that we didn't have a supply that was needed for the after care. When Jeff opened the bag this morning, there was the one thing we needed! Amazing! The past few days have delivered more severe thunderstorms almost every night. They are extremely powerful, windy, and LOUD!! They, unbelievably , are not very scary. We feel quite safe. But there was a loud clap, like a cannonball being shot off,, in the middle of the night last night that made everyone JUMP awake, it was crazy! Yet the days prove to be sunny and extremely warm. Caden and Rachel continue to spend a lot of time working on computer input and they have also added the pharmacy to their jobs. I tried that today too. We count out frequently used medications to be dispensed (i.e. 30 count of cimetidine/antacid) in little baggies. So we stock them up on ones like that so they can pass them out more quickly. It is fun to see ALL the different aspects of what makes the clinic run. We've seen a fractured hip be repaired, a shotgun blast victim have emergency surgery last night to repair 15 holes in his intestines, a large breast cancer removed, a prostate removed, the little boy with the burns continue to heal and improve, Thyroids removed, hernias repaired, a huge neck mass removed, and much more.
I have been trying to help in the kitchen of the main family that prepares our meals and I've been turned away every time! They want us to be treated like royalty! Finally, yesterday, she invited me to come help prepare lunch and to teach her a few tips of how I cook in the US. I felt very honored to finally be welcomed in! It was very fun! We have scheduled for next Tuesday for me to join them again in the preparation of dinner so I can learn to make the traditional "leaf sauce" of Guinea. I'm excited for that! We have a trip planned tomorrow to see a "natural bridge". We are not sure exactly what that is but I guess it's a sight to see. And we will go see a large farm/land area that is owned by the "grandfather" of the clinic. It should be an adventurous day of road travel on roads that grow increasingly worse because of the torrential rains!! We are all healthy, feeling at home, yet missing all of you there! We are enjoying finding MANY ways to help here. I have even been asked to help a few of the guys from the pharmacy who want to learn better English. We have a couple of appointments set up next week! Pray I can set up some things to teach them and work with them on this weekend! Every day, God shows us new things, and allows us to reach into their hearts a little more! Thanks for your continued prayers! More later! Jen