Sunday, December 5, 2010

Half way through our stay

It seems like Sunday has been the only time recently we've had for doing updates. Not that we're so busy, it's just that it's been so great being able to go to bed before 9:00! This week has been fairly routine, still spending most of our time trying to get this house done by mid-December. I think we should be able to get it done this week if I don't get too many other jobs tossed in my lap. I try to take advantage of other small repair/maintenance jobs at the clinic that I can use to help train Ce'kona and Batou, the two maintenance men here. It has ranged anywhere from repairing the ventilator machine in surgery with electrical tape to showing them a better way to repair a screen door.

The patients continue to come in, some with great success stories as I've shared, and some not so successful. I shared the story a few weeks ago of a man that had gangrene through his upper body as a result of a tooth infection. He seemed to be pulling out of it, but another infection set in and he died a few days ago. Just yesterday, a 7 year old girl was carried in so malnourished that she only weighed 14 lbs. They still don't know if she'll recover or not. In this part of Africa, there is usually enough food, but the food quality and the diet is very poor and the parasites and worms are all trying to get their share as well. So far the Mercy Ship team have performed over 30 surgeries which are all either cleft lips, NOMA, or tumors. These two photos are before and after of a very successful cleft lip surgery! I'll try to post more of these later.

Saturday Batou (maintenance man here at Hope) took us for a 3 mile walk out to his coffee plantation. We Americans would look at a farm like his and call it forest or jungle, but to them, it is a working farm or "plantation". Property is handed down from generation to generation with the children working the farm helping to take care of the grandparents in their old age. On Batou's farm, he raises primarily coffee, but also has Palm trees that they make oil from, bananas, pineapple, papaya, casava and he is just starting an area of rubber trees. Their farms are amazingly productive, but require a lot of back-breaking hand labor. He hires people to chop brush with machetes to let his crops grow, and they work day after day chopping and weeding for $1.50 per day. Coffee is harvested, sent to the capital and exported. Palm oil is sold for cooking. The fruit is either eaten or sold in local markets. This photo is one of his sons climbing a palm tree to cut out the nuts.

The political situation seems to have become much more calm. The election results were finally confirmed and irrevocably implemented Thursday evening. This is a day we had been waiting for, and about 9:00 that night we began to hear loud cheering and shouting coming out of the village. That told us that Conte had won, which is the candidate that the tribes in this part of the country supported. This was good news for us, since it helps keep our area calm, and we hope it is good news for the rest of the country. We were afraid that the supporters of the other candidate would start rioting and begin the violence that they had predicted would happen. Fortunately, and by the hand of God, Diallo, the losing candidate made a public announcement just an hour ahead of the Supreme courts announcement, with an appeal for calm and stating that he would work towards reconciliation and peace in this country. His concession of the election and call for unity is probably the biggest factor in stopping the violence that seemed so certain. At this time (Sunday), the borders are still closed but the airport is open. Three days of calm now, so we're hoping that the worst is behind us.

Today Sandy, Sara and I drove to Ce'kona's village of Godi for church. When we arrived before church, there was a "mourning" in progress at the house next door for a 1 year old girl that had died the day before from Malaria. Malaria is the silent killer that stalks these villages and relentlessly claims it's victims. Most will survive the terrible fever, chills and shakes, but way too many don't survive, especially the children under 5. The church there is smaller than the one here in N'zao, but quite lively and very spirited. It was quite enjoyable to be with them and it didn't take long to feel part of the family. I preached from Psalm 27, encouraging them to be strong and confident in the Lord no matter what comes into their lives. Lunch at Ce'konas consisted of Plantains (over sized bananas) cooked in palm oil with some kind of hot peppers cut up over the top and fresh pineapple. How's that for a Sunday dinner feast? The pics are walking through the village of Godi after church and then a visit to Pastor Samuels house.

Oh, another thing. I finally submitted to public opinion (my best advice for one man living with two women) and killed the two geckos that have been living with us. I didn't see that they were eating more than their share or making too much laundry, so I didn't see the problem. But I gave in, removed the geckos, and now I have the new title of "Dragon Slayer"! Would make any man feel proud!

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