Jordan was out clearing up some old trees that had been laying around the other day, and next thing I noticed he had picked up a couple passengers. The little guy in the gray shirt has been living here at the clinic for several months since his mother is here with severe burns to her face. She is epileptic and fell in her cooking fire and is now going through skin grafts and facial repairs. These two guys rode around without saying a word and in absolute awe with the whole situation.
We trust you are all having a great Christmas filled with Love, Joy and Peace! This is the great message of Jesus that wraps around the globe to every nation, kindred, tongue and tribe!
Last week pretty much wrapped up our biggest goal here, and that is to get both houses finished up and ready for new staff. This week, our last week of work :(, will be spent primarily getting a better organized and equipped maintenance facility. Hope Clinic has grown so fast that it has nearly outpaced it's own ability to be prepared for maintenance and new projects. We hope to have it all organized into plumbing, electrical, welding, mechanical and woodworking sections by the time we leave, with two men , Gbato and Ce'Kona, being better trained and equipped to handle the jobs. Sandy's been keeping a sewing machine pretty warm, making curtains for different homes here and doing some small mending/altering jobs for some of the ladies here. She has made a big difference around here, making some of the houses feel more like homes.
It's beginning to look like there is going to be some significant growth here in the coming years, with the first area of focus being maternity. This is so desperately needed in this area with many mothers and children dying unnecessary deaths simply because of a complete lack of health care in this area. Just two weeks ago, the groundskeeper's wife was having troubles during delivery of her child. After waiting far too long, they finally took her to a hospital in N'Zerekore where they attempted a C-section. The baby was born dead. This is an example of what happens all too often, and is quite preventable. As soon as the finances and resources come in through gifts and donations, the vision is to build a 40-50 bed maternity ward with delivery rooms and all of the things necessary for baby care. This will be quite exciting, and we're hoping that it is made possible in the near future. Partnerships and donations are always welcome.
Christmas day for us this year was different than any Christmas day has ever been. We took off in the Landcruiser at 8:00 AM and drove to the village of Yalenzou. Yalenzou is the village where some of you may remember us talking about the local witch doctor and the devil society tearing down the church and driving all of the local believers out of the village a couple years ago. But as a testimony to the enduring truth of the gospel, it was decided that Yalenzou would be the location for a great Christmas gathering and celebration of many churchs from surrounding villages. Hundreds of people met in the center of the village and then walked through the village singing as we all went to a small stream at the edge of the village. There is very little organization or protocol which made it even more enjoyable, but made it take quite a while to get the crowd there and the new converts all ready. With much singing and dancing, and a lengthy prayer, Moise and Jon began to baptize the 31 people that had decided to follow Jesus over the past several months. The stream, which is actually on the border between Guinea and Liberia, was hardly deep enough for the job, not even coming up to the knees. No problem, just push a few rocks aside, sit them down in the water and lay them down on their backs. Such celebrations, singing and dancing I have never seen. At one point, Moise thought it was a little too quiet so he reminded the crowd that this wasn't a funeral but a new birth at which point they got all wound up again! When they were done at the stream, they all began to sing their way back in a long procession to the center of town, where they had prepared a building to have a church service in. I estimated there was around 400-450 people in that building including all of the children. The service lasted about 3 hours with much singing and then sharing communion together after the preaching. We drove back to the clinic in the afternoon and shared a late afternoon feast with all of the missionaries here for our Christmas dinner. It's quite difficult to think "Christmas" in a culture that doesn't even recognize Jesus. However, that is the primary vision of everyone here at Hope, and that is to make sure that Jesus is introduced to all, and that the little stream at the edge of Yalenzou will be even busier through the next year!
It doesn't take but a few minutes after getting into a new village, that all the local children come running to see the "white skins". Our kids are soon swarmed with dirty little kids all wanting to be the closest, and all wanting to shake their greasy little hands.