Monday, August 25, 2008

Coming Soon, a new post!

Hello my fellow blog readers. It seems as though we have experienced a drought of posts recently. As far as I am concerned we have no where near posted enough to give you an adequate picture of what we (hoped to, tried to, possibly) accomplished in the DR Congo. I have been home now for nearly 3 weeks and find I am still processing my thoughts and feelings about the trip. My lovely wife has suggested I post on my experience as a physician on this trip. I've been thinking about this for a few days, and am working on it. I hope to post something soon for you all. Keep checking back, I will also continue to nag the fellow members of the trip to keep contributing.

Pictures: (above) me with Fred the monkey, (below) Dr. Roy here is examining one of the toddlers in the clinic.

The short story of Fred the monkey: Not long into the trip I was able to do a c-section and a normal delivery of a couple babies. Both mothers named their son's Brad, after me. In the spirit of honoring the pasty white guests, the grounds keepers decided to name the monkey Fred after Fred Stephenson as he made sure the monkey and a baby chimp on the grounds had plenty of food and some company. As a result I wasn't completely unique as others on the trip had their namesake etched into the community

Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Some of our team say they still are dealing with their strong emotions about the trip so I will write a little about the stuff that I could hardly stand. (1) I cried to see a senator at church, on his knees, praying and crying.  He is so happy because there is finally peace in his country and the people have a chance for stability and progress.  Then the next generation can  hear the gospel and study the scriptures. (2) Would someone from the team put one of those pictures of us at the table for Sunday dinner, at Pastor Enoch's house?  I could hardly stand that situation.  We were seated at a lovely table  for the meal and the pastors, the senator, generals, other dignitaries like the Minister of Health and the Minister of Transportation stood or balanced their meals on their laps.   I think we all felt like idiots.  (3) I went, afraid of bugs,  and saw about two.  (4) I went, afraid of soldiers because of the recent National Geographic article about Silverback Gorillas.  The soldiers we saw were obedient, skinny,  and protected us.  One wanted me to take his picture, not knowing we were forbidden to take pictures of soldiers.  Another one seemed solicitous of his wife when he brought her to the Poll Clinique.  (5) The gratitude when we gave someone something.  (6) The feeling when you know you have $20.00 and the mother on the street wants food or money.  (7)  Here is a GOOD strong emotion.  I said "Jesu anakupenda " (Jesus loves you) to a mother in labor, clutching her abdomen, wandering though the Clinique.  She stopped, smiled and said it back to me and I remembered He does.  

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Talking Bibles

Well, since Laura said a lot of what I was going to say (thanks a lot! ;) ), I will discuss passing out the talking Bibles. Florimond took Bonnie, Fred & Artie, Laura, and I out into the villages to pass them out. We walked quite a distance, and as always, the children walked with us. Everyone wanted either a tract, wordless bracelet, or talking Bible. It was hard to ignore people who wanted God's Word, but we had to spread them out so the most people possible could have access to them. Women left their work in the fields to get a Bible, a pastor wanted one to take back to his congregation, a soldier wanted one... these are just a few of the stories. We also presented a Bible to a Catholic brother as well as an 80-year-old man. It was so touching to see their excitement as they received the Bibles. Please continue to pray that God would speak to these people through His Word.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The kids, the women and stuff that was difficult

Okay, I have felt the pressure, I must add to the blog. I have now had almost two weeks to "re-enter" our American culture and all it's benefits. Through my work and am bombarded with sadness and difficulty, but not the the degree I was in Congo. I realized through this trip what true power I have to get things accomplished here in the US with the systems I work in through child welfare, state programs, etc. and being in Africa, and seeing the difficulties and powerlessness that the people and mostly the children face daily was almost more than I could stand.
The term poverty really does not describe the problem there. There are just so many deficits that are present that make the whole situation overwhelming and seem insurmountable. Okay, enough on my assessments, the children there wear the same dirty clothing day after day. This is evident because we would see the same group of kids every day. Many do not have shoes, many do, but they are very worn. They are filthy with dirt and many have skin diseases that are evident. While there were few kids that looked to me like they were starving, for food, they were certainly starving for attention and care. Certainly, they were getting the bare minimum for food and water was in short supply too. I did not see many teens, my favorite age group, because they were all working, carrying loads or in the fields. When we would go outside the compound, we immediately drew a crowd of children, many looking for Uncle Fred, the candy man, and most looking for attention from the Muzungu (I will never learn to spell that word correctly!) It almost felt like they believed that if they touched us or got our attention from us, that they believed good would come to them, I felt very sad by this. When I was handing out candy, tyring to get one piece to each child, a struggle ensued for each piece. For me it got to the point where I had to limit how much time I would see the children. Why are my children so blessed with good food, clean water, and clothing? The need was so great, like a bottomless pit, that I was helpless to fill. I think that is probably the main thing I took from the experience there, is my inadequacy as a human being. Only Christ can fill that kind of need.
So, we handed out tracts and most importantly the talking bibles, since many cannot read. It was wonderful to see the look on one of their faces when they saw how the bible worked and that it could be charged through setting it out in the sun. This was something that they would be able to listen to over and over again.
We were blessed with the opportunity to meet with women in a local schoolhouse who had experienced sexual assault. There were at least 50 or more women there. We were able to talk individually with eight of them. Again, the need there was just overwhelming and there was again the logistical problem of getting to talk to all the women, there were simply not enough interpretters for all to be able to gain access to talk. And let me be clear, we had wonderful interpretters to help us while we were there, I just wish we could have cloned a few! (Brad has not learned that medical intervention yet.) But we were able to hear their stories and pray with them and tell them all of our concerns and prayers that we have had for them and will continue to have. Through this intervention we were able to get three women, in desparate need, to arrive at the clinic the following day for treatment. One had been assaulted 8 years ago with no treatment until Brad saw her, another needed surgery for a prolapsed bladder and the other needed some physical theraputic interventions. We were able to get the word out among those in the outer part of the village and other villages, that the clinic is there to help them, and that was satisfying. Initially I was reluctant to go to the clinic, since I am not a medical person, but once we knew we were not in the way, we would visit the people that were staying there and bring them tracts and snacks (probably not the best food for them, but for some, that was all they got). Katie, Bonnie and I saw a baby being born, Katie held the lantern (it was in the evening and getting dark). Those women are tough cookies when they give birth! And Brad made delivering a baby look like a piece of cake.
I must talk about team unity, because it was just unbelievable. Even though I am a social worker, I definitely have my times of unsocialability (is that a word?), I treasure my alone time and expected that near the end of this trip that I would want to hurt someone (sorry, but it's the truth), but you know, that time never came for any of us in the group. Even with the long flights, close quarters (some had to share a bed), less then clean rooms (by our standards) and daily contact, there were no issues of discord or conflict of any kind. That could only be the Lord, especially when it comes to His work in my flawed life. He just smoothed out the rough edges for the whole trip and made it a pleasure. I loved every minute with ALL members of the team and am so glad for each one that I got to know better. Everyone was at their best and demonstrated the individual skills and abilities that God gave them. I had the most wonderful roommate Katie, I knew she would be wonderful, so it was no surprise, but she is a lover of all things clean, just like me, and we had a great shower system devised (with the trickle of cold water we got) and clothes drying technique worked out that cemented our connection. Bonnie was great at listening and gathering everyones thoughts and concerns daily. Ardith has such energy and genuineness with others that was contagious. Every person on our trip was positive and wanted to find ways to serve the Lord each day. It was not always easy to know where we could help, but once we figured out the "rules" of Africa, we were able to go with the flow and add where we could.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

God's Grace:  We all got back intact and even as friends, as far as I know.  For me- almost no arthritis pain the entire time, no muscle spasms and to show that it wasn't diet or anything like that, the aches started coming back at O'Hare.  I lost four pounds eating a lot of food I thought was very good, by the cooks at Nyangezi.  But we missed meals because of traveling.  Even then, I never was hungry.  We were squashed a lot when traveling but we complained very little. 
      My roommate was perfect for me, and if you know Lois, you know why.  She always seemed to have physical things I needed, and scriptures and prayers and grumbles I needed.   One time after the water had run for 5 minutes,  I announced, "There still isn't any hot water."  She mumbled,  "It probably comes from two blocks away."  She made me laugh a lot. 
     I also want to say to our friends in Bukavu and Nyangezi, if you are reading this, we love you. Many of us feel that you  did more for us than we did for you.  We can't ever match what some of you did for us, setting aside your own lives, to care for us.  We won't forget you and will pray for you.  We want to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit regarding the future. 
 There are a lot of things wrong there, just like there are in the rest of the world.  But our struggle is not against flesh and blood , but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Eph. 6:12  And:  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.  Matt. 11:29  by Rachel L

"International Incident"

OK... So I finally decided to post something. I've been procrastinating because I didn't know what to write first. There is so much to say! But I decided to start with something light-hearted... namely, the infamous "international incident" that I got mocked for throughout the trip. =)
To preface this, let's just say that this was my first time out of the country. I had not even been to Canada. So I was pretty ignorant of international travel. Not only that, I was extremely excited ("We're in Africa!!!!!! =) ). That's my disclaimer. =)
As we left Rwanda and headed for the Congo border, I was crammed in the front of a vehicle halfway on Pastor's lap and halfway on the middle console. Florimond was driving, and we were laughing and having a good time in our vehicle. Bonnie took my camera and took a picture of me sitting precariously in the front seat. Then I snapped a picture of Florimond driving... on the right side of the vehicle, which I found pretty entertaining. As we approached the Congo border, I said excitedly, "We're in Congo!" while snapping a picture of the road ahead of us.
That of course, is when things went downhill. A guy who apparently worked for customs saw me take the picture, and immediately started yelling "No Photo!" while walking toward our vehicle. I held up my camera so he could watch me put it in the case, and apologized profusely. He was not to be consoled though, and continued shouting angrily about how I shouldn't have taken the photo. Looking back, I wonder why he didn't simply take my camera & delete the photo... but it was Africa, after all. =) I started squirming when I realized how livid this guy really was. Florimond got out of the car to talk with him. They weren't speaking English, but anger can be understood without words. He was gesturing wilding and still visibly upset. Senator David, who had been riding in a different vehicle, joined the discussion as well. A few minutes (which felt eternal) passed, and Pastor Baker went and talked with them too. I was feeling awful by this time, and wanted to crawl under the seat of the car and pretend it never happened.
Finally, Pastor walked up to the car and said, "Katie, I need you to get out of the car." I thought he was kiding at first, so I was like, "Are you serious?" He said, "Yeah, get out of the car." I honestly thought that their debating had been futile, and that I was being arrested. I reluctantly got out of the car, only to realize that Pastor David had smoothed things over and I was simply switching vehicles to give us more room. Talk about relief! So let's just say that my time in Congo started with a bang! I debated on posting "the picture," but have decided against it. =)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The music that welcomed us to the Congo

I wish I had a longer clip to post. This is a small sample of some of the praise and worship music played at the welcome ceremony in the Congo. The people sing with all of their hearts. The music blends one song with another to make a continuous song of praise to God. If someone can understand the dialect they may correct me, but when we were there I was told that they were singing: "There is only one God and Jesus is the Lord". The people gathered in a circle, and clapping and singing. There were some in the middle of the circle playing drums. Others played shaker boxes (tin with bb's) to the beat. There was one lead singer that sang with an amplifier speaker... all together made a spectacular sound. The fun part I don't have on video (others on the trip do), was after watching some saw me tapping my foot and pseudo white-guy dancing and pulled me to the middle of the circle to play one of the shakers. They also pulled Pastor Baker into the circle and thankfully he danced more like a mzungu than I did (again thats a video I don't posses)... They do say its always easy to spot a mzungu during singing. They are the ones not moving :)

The second video, you will also see Fred do what he did best on the trip: gather children to hand out candy...

I hope you enjoy the small samples, I plea to my fellow travellers to post some pictures, stories and maybe some video of the white men dancing. I hope to soon get copies of all of their pictures so I can share more of the trip experience with you. Don't forget to leave a comment every now and then.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Our Travels - How did we get there

As we left for the trip, my lovely wife posted our itinerary of travel on this blog. To reach our final destination it took almost 4 days to get there, and 3 days to get back. Now that it is all done it is hard to believe we really spent a week of the trip traveling.

We first set fourth at Chicago O'hare to fly to Washington DC. In DC we scrambled to reach the Ethiopian Airlines gate in which we got our first taste of how things flow in Africa. Unbeknownst to us the airline had a very restrictive carry on bag rule. Ironically many of us looked online to see if they had a posted policy on carry on's... but no one found it. They allowed two bags, and each had to be under 15lbs's. Well that is what the sign said. But depending on the gate agent you happened to meet, some people had a 20lbs limit, yet other agents didn't bother to check. There was a scale at the gate, but some would use it, others just picked up the bag and sort of guessed if it was too heavy or not. One of our team members had a rolling small suitcase that in all American carriers would have no problem, but the gate agent tried to charge her an extra $135 because it was 25lbs! Thankfully pastor was ready not to be swindled and talked him down to $50, and they checked her bag. The other snafu was they required all of our bag tag's to ensure that they made it on the plane... some people lost them and had to trek back to our gate where we arrived and have them reprinted... After our sub par American meal (at least we didn't have to insist on bottled water) we boarded our flight to Addis Abba via Rome to re-fuel... At Rome we sat on the jet way for about 4 hrs while they found a "part" before take off. As you can see Pastor and Bonnie came prepared for the long overnight flight.

One part that wasn't too much fun in Rome, while they looked for the mysterious part, the flight attendants weren't allowed to serve water or any snacks... so we got to sit and wait. Laura hypothesized that they were waiting for the pilots to get over a hang-over :) Here is a view of the Sahara Desert from the airplane.

We eventually arrived to Ethiopia with all 19 of our bags (Praise God for that), and made our way through customs and eventually to our hotel for the evening. Thankfully the hotel provided a meal, and a place to lay our heads for a few hours until we departed early the next morning. This is a view of Addis Abba from my 10th floor hotel room balcony. It rained the night before. Not quite like the Chicago skyline. The next photo is a an interesting tree outside the Addis airport.

The next day brought another fun adventure in travel. As we boarded our plane destined to Kigali, there was an announcement overhead telling us they were having difficulty on the left side of the plane with the cargo door. Interestingly on the right side of the plane a hydraulic lift truck could easily be seen wedged under the wing, with many men in suits, white coats, technician outfits, and security officials all milling around the truck. Some were even taking pictures of the wing... I took a picture of my own. (notice how the tall posts are up almost all of the way? There's no OSHA in Africa)

Thankfully they eventually announced that we needed to change planes. Now instead of a half full plane, we moved to a smaller plane that was full and with no assigned seats... it was a chaotic scene when everyone was trying push to the front of the line, yet again in Africa no common rule such as a line, if you want to be in front you push to the front... We eventually arrived safely to Kigali Rwanda a couple hours late but Thank the Lord all of our bags made it.

One of the more interesting parts of the trip occurred at the Kigali Airport. As we were getting our bags out to the parking lot where cars were waiting, there was another American in front of the airport who struck up some conversation with our team. He introduced himself as a senator, and as I looked closer you could recognize him as Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader 2002-2007! He is a cardiothoracic surgeon and was in Rwanda for a few medical missions as well as a relief group of retired senators. He was very nice and was excited to hear of our trip and was more than happy to have a couple pictures taken. Many thanks to his staff with him who took the pictures!

The last leg of the trip began the next day in which we drove the 6 hrs across the beautiful Rwanda country side, and through the Nyungwe rain forest to end up at the DRC border. Here you see the women carrying their loads on their heads, the typical busyness along the road, the rain forest, and last one of the huge tea fields seen along the drive.

Bukavu is the major city at the border. It is a sharp contrast when you cross the border. I find that words and even pictures have difficulty showing how poor this place is. The roads are mostly in shambles, dust coats everything, thick smoke lingers over all parts of the city. There is constant noise of people, cars, horns, people selling goods, and men / boys selling bottles of pop by tinking on the bottles as they walk around the city. Notice the thick smog of the sky, next notice the typical road of the "nice part of the city", the nice buildings of the city, and last a shout out to a friend of mine who works for food for the hungry (apparently doing some work in Bukavu).Crossing the border Katie snapped a quick picture of the bridge and the lake... a plain clothes officer saw this and confronted her. He tried to incite a crowd of outrage that she would even dare take a picture of the border. A nice welcome to the country. The provincial senator, a personal friend of our group, intervened and informed the man that she did not break the law and that he may be arrested for trying to incite a crowd. It was good to have powerful people going to bat for us. We otherwise were treated as celebrities everywhere else we went in the DRC. We stayed the night in the Hotel Residence. This was one of the best that Bukavu had to offer... at one time I am sure it was quite luxurious at one time, but has been run down along with the city. As it turned out our original reservation was to be at the Swedish Christian Mission compound, but they gave our reservations away without telling us (anyone recognize a theme here?). But speaking of pictures of questionable legality.... (the DRC military compound in

Some slept well in the Bukavu hotel, some (i.e. me) did not sleep much at all. Early the next morning we finally set off in SUV's to Nyangezi. Again nearly no one in the car spoke as we traveled through Bukavu and the impoverished outskirts of run down wood shacks with tin roof's, people everywhere, and the bumpiest dirt road I have ever ridden on (puts the pink jeeps to shame). The roads were literally so bumpy you can only drive close to 5mph, and you get jostled out of your seat, head hitting the ceiling here and there.

The road is only 25km from Bukavu, but takes 1.5 to 2 hrs to get there. We were told there was going to be an official delegation of dignitaries to open the clinic and training center, and to welcome the mzungu to Nyangezi... (mzungu (miz-'un-goo) is swahili for white person). We saw that a photographer and videographer kept leap frogging our group... they would pull ahead and film us traveling on the road, then see him again pass us... then film again further along...

We arrived at Nyangezi and the locals were there gathered, singing praise songs to God. The music is wonderful... I will post a video of some sining soon. Alas we made it there with all of our bags, supplies, limbs, and minds. Needless to say we were ready to start our ministry to the people there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I want to try to explain what it is like to be in developing countries.  The airports have the wealthier people and they are in the the most variety of dress.   They range from completely western to their own traditional costumes. For example, a man was wearing the red checked head scarf  like Arafat wore.  In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, we only went directly to the hotel, Le Leopold, and their level of comfort was very nice.  They had individual bathroom hot water heaters which I had never seen.  Then we flew to Kigali, Rwanda, and that night we stayed in a place like a motel but run by a Presbyterian group.  Each bed had mosquito netting over it. Hot water was delivered in the morning by large yellow plastic jugs, with a few bugs in them.  Even without bugs, the water was only for bathing, not drinking.  Drink bottled water only.   Then we were driven over a very hilly road, for 5 hours, weaving to avoid the many people walking along the road, and also to avoid the potholes.   The first time I really felt like it was "third world" was at the border, leaving Rwanda.  We were out of the van, on bare dirt, next to a lot of people who looked poor, were staring at us and weren't even smiling. We were mzungos, white people. You will surely read about Our Own International Border Incident going into DR Congo, from the perpetrator or someone else, later.  Then we went to Bukavu, DR Congo and our rooms, at another church-run stop over, had been given away.  So we went to the Bukavu Hotel which had seen better days.  You could see they started well with nice tile and a glass walled elevator, for example, but apparently were not able to keep up repairs.  The staff was speaking French.  I didn't like it that a little old man was carrying our 50 pound bags around but that's how he makes a living.  In the morning we were driven over a very bumpy dirt road for 1 1/2 hours and finally arrived at Nyangezi.  We were driven into what you might call a compound though I think the barrier between it and the town was a one pole fence.  But the people, including the kids, had apparently been told to stay out of the Poll Clinique compound.  And the people who were there officially, such as the family members caring for the hospital patients, stayed in their own area, mostly by the outdoor kitchen provided for them.  So, whenever we proceeded from our rooms,  we knew we were stared at.  Now for the poverty part.  Even the hospital staff asked us for things, anything.  "We are so poor and life is very hard."  We soon learned that the gesture of moving the hand from the mouth and then the abdomen meant, "Give me something, anything."  The patients did that often.  When we ventured from what I am calling the compound,  there were little boys who surrounded us and gestured for:  anything.  Fred had been in countries like this before and he had brought about 500 pounds (it seemed like), of candy, so he made a lot of kids happy. We'll write more later.  Rachel L    

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Poll Clinic - Nyangezi DR-Congo

For those who are curious of what this clinic is like in Nyangezi (ne'on-gez-zee) allow me to explain how it came to be and what my role was there on the trip. I first must explain how it came to be. Our connection to this place is a man named Florimond Kabanda. In the '90's he had strong presence in the government as a human rights advocate. As the war loomed in Rwanda and spread over to the Congo some weren't too happy with his influence and there was a plan to assassinate him. Enough people got word to him a long story short he was whisked out of the country by the US and was relocated to Grandville MI. Already a Christian he went to work and earned his doctorate in psychology at GVSU, and also got a masters in divinity from Cornerstone University. He eventually started the Congo International Ministries (CIM), an NGO, that established itself in Nyangezi.

CIM set up a community type center in Nyangezi, and worked with the local government to provide some vital services to the area. The big project was to build a training center for to be used to help strengthen the Christian church in the region, the medical clinic, and Florimond has many future plans for the area such as establishing a university in the area and there was talk of opening a medical school in the area... In Africa I learned they like to make many big plans, and see what can come to fruition..

The Poll clinic is named after a generous family in West Michigan. They worked with Florimond early to get it started and worked to arrange to get modern equipment there. They do have an autoclave, a transabdominal ultrasound, basic surgical equipment, an OR table and the typical attachments, a basic lab with microscope and various equipment, a pharmacy with many types of antibiotics, OTC drugs, creams, and some IV/IM meds with various uses, and power is provided via generator and water by faucet (i think by well?).

The outside view of the Poll Clinique.

The building has an OR, a prep room for the OR, a treatment / exam / labor and delivery room, an interview room, patient waiting, a pharmacy and dispensary area, and then there were three patient rooms with multiple beds.

The view of the OR.... yes small but it works. For those curious, they use Ketamine for anesthesia and titrate to sleep but breathing. Archaic yes, but don't have anything else! Anyone want to donate an anesthesia machine?

The autoclave... small but gets the job done...

So my day was a relatively simple one. I was the first western physician to come and work there. Basically I helped with the normal activities of the clinic. When I arrived they already had some surgeries scheduled... various things such as hernia repairs, appendectomies, oophorectomies.... My first surgery was a c-section the second day we were there... It serves as a good example of my role there. They did all their c-sections with a vertical incision (old) and it was a challenge for me to do a pfannenstiel incision (bikini cut). The medicine practiced in much of Africa is 50 years out of date... They prepped the belly with rubbing alcohol, didn't place a foley... The doctors assumed that I did general surg cases in the US too (like they do in Africa) and it wasn't towards the end of the trip that they realized I specialize in OBGyn cases... oh well.

They have 3 doctors on staff there. Two are relatively new med school grads, and one (part time) is a surgeon for the last 25 yrs. I found that my role was to teach a lot of basic clinical medicine, and challenge many of the old or out of date methods of medicine practiced there. The big frustration I had was that many of the surgeries that were done were really not necessary... but I found the mind set there was if you don't actively do something you are doing nothing... where in the US surgery is often a last resort. So in a place where resources are scarce, it did not make sense to waste them on unesessary things that could potentially hurt, kill, or just not work. One example was a scheduled appendectomy on a old man. When they were getting him ready for surgery I found that he didn't look painful, had a soft belly, no pain on palpation, no rebound tenderness, no other symptoms other than having some abd pain a day or two prior (i.e. not an appy...). When I challenge the surgeon (the older) he chuckled and still went on and removed the mans normal appendix....

Other than surgery the clinic operates like a walk in clinic. Patients bring a small booklet with scribbles of medical information. They come with rashes, infertility, pain, seizures... whatever the ailment. They come in, we talk and do the exam, then decide if they need reassurance, meds, or in some cases discuss surgery. Some patients they would schedule for ultrasound to evaluate pain. One of my other frustrations was they thought that the transabdominal ultrasound was a great diagnostic tool... so they used it to look at the gall bladder (ok), the uterus and ovaries (not very good use, but acceptable), but also for gastric ulcers (not a use), or for other abdominal pains (again not a great use). We brought a number of meds a supplies with us on the trip. We had some limited abilities to admit (if there were spaces open). They did very little prenatal care, but if someone came in in labor they would manage that and do the delivery. At night time the doctors were all gone, so the nurse there for the night watch then would do the delivery.

I did a couple deliveries while there. I had to challenge the doctors again as they routinely cut episiotomies on most deliveries, and employ the use of fundal pressure to speed the delivery. This is dangerous and potentially can cause nerve injury for the baby... This is how they were taught to do things... They did stop, and hopefully will continue to not do that any more... The mother of that baby named her little boy Brad :)

A picture of the medical record....

They see a great variety of problems in the population. Somethings we had to just realize that we didn't have the abilities to take care of things. Things such as a 6 year old with status epilepticus and likely brain damage (lost speech weeks before)... all we had was phenobarbital, and she already had failed that treatment... So the only solution was to plead to a higher power and see if there was another way to get her a CT and a way to talk with a neurologist. If any readers out there know anyone who can help, I have her information.

It was a blessing to be able to minister with my training. The two younger doctors are Christians, and all the people in that region and country could use your prayers. I will post other topics as time allows this week. Other team members had drastically different roles in our ministry to the people of Nyangezi.

Friday, August 1, 2008

First Post - We're home!

Hello all. We officially have made it back to US soil safely, however, our bags have been mixed up between DC and Chicago. I will be working on a series of posts this week with pictures and stories. I think I will open the blog to the other team members to post as well so this blog can paint a whole picture of our trip.
Speaking for the team I think that each member had a different experience and all contributed in their own way. All in all, we all came with a commitment to serve Christ, and we all served in our own unique way. Overall I had a lot of frustrations with many things. Frustrations with old school medicine, lack of resources, and with cultural norms...

Below is a picture of our team on one of our last days in the DR Congo. We all were blessed to have the opportunity to serve. We also continue to pray for a different team from Jenison Bible Church that is now landing and getting settled in Russia, to help the believers there with construction and refurbishing their churches. Pastor and Bonnie Baker left us in Addis Abba to head to Russia to meet with the team. We all thank you for your prayers and support on this trip, and hope our posts can inform you about the work and the mountain of problems in Africa.

below: Before leaving Bukavu, posing with Senator / Pastor David, who was invaluable member of the ministry. His influence inspires and in some ways protected us in different situations (Katie :) ).

above right: Me with two of the three doctors of the clinic, and Georgette. Dr. Bora (left), Georgette, and Dr. Roy. I worked closely with Dr's Bora and Roy in all aspects of their clinic work . Georgette is a pastor's wife, who was available to help translate into swahili for our nurses.
As they say in Congo: Mongarrebe Jema - have a good night


They are back on US soil!!! I just heard from Brad! They landed in DC! HURRAH! HURRAH! HURRAH!