Friday, December 14, 2012

Praise God....we've made it back to Conakry safe and sound!! I was hesitant to send a prayer request in our last post before our road trip since I didn't want to make a big deal out of something, but it turned out that it really was a big deal. The town of Geckedou was having some major political problems which were erupting in rioting and and violence. Different rumors surfaced, but it sounds like at least 10 or more have been killed and 50+ injured by the time we would have gone through. Knowing this could present some real difficulties getting through town, so we decided to take an alternate route that is actually shorter, but so rough and difficult that it takes several hours longer. There was a medical team from Mercy Ships at Hope Clinic doing some complicated surgeries while we were there, that also needed to get back to the ship currently anchored in Conakry, and so it was decided that it would be good if we convoyed. The "Coffee road" is so rough and brutal that it would normally be avoided as much as possible, but it truly was a great idea, and the only way of by-passing the danger. We ended up having to winch their cruiser out of one mud hole, but only because he didn't choose the best way around. Such is life in Africa.

Our last day in N'zao was spent discussing the future. What is our partnership with the Mano Church going to look like? What is the next project going to be at Hope Clinic? When will it be? When will we go back and for how long? Prayer, prayer, prayer. At this time it's looking like the next project will be in about a year or so, which will be a 30 bed patient ward. This is something that could use a lot of help and organization, so it looks like it could be a good fit for us. We'll see.

Tomorrow evening, we're on a plane for Paris, a 7 hour layover to snoop around Paris, then back to the USA on Sunday. This will likely be our last post, so the blog will likely go silent again until the next trip.

God bless each of you over and over and over again for your care, concern and prayers for our journey. We would have no interest in this ministry if it wasn't for all of the support! God has been so good and so faithful to us during this trip, with so many little things happening that could have only been a result of God's special intervention through many prayers. Our heart and passion is still for the people in Southern Guinea and especially the Clinic and Church there. We trust that Jesus has been presented, magnified and hopefully been seen in a very real way by all that we came into contact with.

Sandy and Sara with Tonga

Buying some coffe in Godi

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Wednesday afternoon, and we're already faced with the unpleasant task of packing and preparing to leave. This is such a short trip that it hardly seems like we've even been here. When I stroll around the clinic, there are so many projects that I see needing done that it makes it very difficult to leave. On the other hand.....writing this post with a rumbling stomach and sweat beaded up on my forhead, home is looking good also.

Since returning to N'zao, we've been pretty busy. Dwayne and I found several small projects that we knew we could complete before we left, and Sandy and Sara have been helping with household things, going to market, and helping some of the missionary ladies. Today we drove to the village of Bonouma to visit a small Christian school that Moise' and Jon are trying to get started. There is a great need in that village, so they are currently renting a delapidated two room building and trying to teach about 75 1st through 3rd graders. We then drove across town to see where they have layed the foundation for a new school, but have exhausted the current funds. Someone from home sent a very large sum of money with us to spend wisely, and we feel like this will likely be one place where some of the money will be spent.

Next we went to visit the village of Godi where our friend Ce'Kona lives. We had a lunch of fried plantain and onions, with a side of bananas at his house, and then walked into town to watch the village bringing in the harvest and preparing it to load on trucks to go to market. Large bags of coffee, Koala nuts, Bananas and other unnamed items were scattered everywhere and there was an atmosphere of hustle - bustle that made an exciting atmosphere. It was also good to be able to visit and greet some other believers that we've learned to know and stay connected with. Dwayne and Jordan decided to use the day climbing nearby Mt. Golo, which didn't seem like the best idea in the heat of the day. It's not a long hike, we've done it in 6-7 hours before, so they should be home before long.

Tomorrow morning we load up and head back on the two day drive to Conakry. We would appreciate your prayers about noon our time tomorrow, or about 7:00 AM Ohio time. We've been told that there has been some political unrest and some rioting in the town of Geckedou which we have to pass through, so we'd appreciate additional prayer that we would get through OK. Such is life in Africa.

Internet is too slow to post any pictures today, so we'll have to keep it simple.

God bless all and we truly pray for his protection and safety for the journey home.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wow....back at the clinic again, back into good food, warm bucket baths, and clean beds. The conference was in the village of Dieke', which is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the clinic here at N'zao. We arrived to Dieke' on Wednesday afternoon wondering where we would be sleeping and eating. We had taken tents and cots that are used by the clinic for outreach trips into the bush, thinking we'd be prepared for anything. As it turned out, the "head Elder" of the church in Dieke', and their next door neighbors totally moved out of their houses and gave them to us. This is African culture. They wouldn't just give you a guest room, they would give you their best room, or in this case, their entire house. Now, this isn't a house like most are thinking right now. This is a plastered mud brick, 3 room home. A large room (10' x 15') where there were some chairs and a low table and two bedrooms with beds that have foam mattresses on them. The bathroom/shower was a door on the back that led to a small open roofed enclosure with a hole in the floor. That was our toilet and our shower. YUCK! A cold bucket of water from the well served as our bath. The family that moved out also served several of our meals and took very good care of us.

Thursday morning we drove to the church, which is one of the larger churches in the region. I (Brian) shared a message each morning and one evening, Dwayne shared a message each afternoon, Jordan shared messages each day with the youth and one evening, Sara shared devotions with the small children, and Sandy and Katie led devotions and teaching with the ladies each day. Jordan, Katie and Sara were quite busy with youth activities throughout each day.

Attendance varied from around 450 people on Thursday to over 800 on Sunday, including youth and children. The building was jambed on Sunday, with many standing in the back and outside. It was the kind of setting that really gets me excited and their was quite an atmosphere of celebration, praise, worship and joy in the air for the entire 5 hour service.

The weather has been very nice. In the mid/upper 80's during the day and cools down the the low 70's at night. I would call that perfect except for the suffocating humidity.

The food on the other hand, has been anything but perfect. I'm guessing we all shed a few pounds over the last 5 days and would have lost even more had it not been for the extra snacks that we had along with us to hold us over. Every meal consists of rice with some kind of "sauce" over the top. This "sauce" may be chicken, fish, beef, pork or leaves. But understand, this is not the kind of meat you are thinking of. It's the entire animal, chopped on a dirty plank with a machete, and thrown in a large pot over a fire. Yes, even feet, bones, body parts, tails, fat, skin and the hair that didn't get cleaned off. Probably the most challenging meal was Saturday morning when about 100 people from the Dieke' church got together to thank us for coming by serving us breakfast and giving us gifts. The breakfast was a huge pot of rice with sauce made of large squares of hog fat with much of the hair still on the skin and various parts from a field deer. We were fairly dainty eaters, but when we were all done, it only took a few of the ladies a minute or two scrape our platters clean.

Some of our best memories are the many moments we were given opportunities to pray specifically for people or with groups of people. So many people with so many needs that we can hardly comprehend. Sufferings, persecutions, pains, afflictions, cripples, blindness, family problems.......etc. etc. The most memorable time of prayer was what was going to be a small annointing service on Saturday evening for the most afflicted. When the congregation was given an opportunity for the "sick" to come forward, around 150 flooded forward. We devided them into three groups and just began to pray over them all, annointing and laying hands on as many as we could reach and prayed for nearly 30 minutes. Wow....and incredibly moving and humbling experience. Sandy and Katie had a most moving experience after one of the afternoon sessions with the ladies. At the close of the meeting, it erupted into spontaneous group prayer,  and then ending in 200 ladies all dancing and singing together. We could hear it from quite a ways away, and I am so convinced that the Lord was looking down with an enormous smile of satisfaction with some of His daughters.

Through the grace of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we trust that the Gospel was shared with truth and clarity. It's always difficult working through translators, but we know that God is able to do so much more than we could say. Our prayer is that the Mano people we grow in faith and become a source of the light of Jesus in the midst of a very dark culture.

Thank you all for the incredible generosity, prayer and help that made this possible!!!!

"Bless the Lord Oh my soul, oohhhh my soul. Worship his holy name......"

 Jordan, Katie and Sara trying to organize the kids

 At the begining of one of the morning services before the church filled up.

Competition with Cracker Barrel!  Chunks of hog fat with skin and hair and fresh field deer over rice for breakfast!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

24 hours of international travel, then 23 hours inside a bouncing, jolting Land Cruiser, and by the grace of God and some quick thinking Angels, we’ve made it to N’zao. We had a better than average flight experience (i.e. all of our luggage made it), and the roads were no worse than normal, so other than being exhausted, God be praised for a good journey!! We only had one small scare. After going through a couple really rough stretches, we developed a serious grinding sound in the left front wheel area. This is a very unsettling feeling when you’re deep in the middle of the bush with zero repair options and approaching dusk. After removing the left front wheel, expecting to find gear and bearing parts falling out, we found it was nothing more than a stone wedged in between the backer plate and the brake rotor. Whew…..what a good feeling! We always keep record of kills on the road journey, so the official record for this trip is; goats-0, chickens-0, cows–0, 7’ Cobras -1, and only one place that we needed four-wheel drive. A good trip!

We settled in to Moses and Nowei’s house at the end of the day, took a warm bucket bath and crashed. Today we are getting unpacked, getting supplies that we brought over distributed to all the people, meeting old friends, and taking a quick walk-through at the clinic to catch up on all the changes and improvements over the last 2 years. This afternoon we are going to have a pre-conference meeting with Moses and Jon to hammer out the last minute details and make arrangements for the conference. We will leave mid-day tomorrow for the village of Dieke, which is about a 2 hour drive from here at N’zao. Our housing arrangements? Still unknown…..currently planning on tents and cots.

We all want to thank each of you for your prayers, but if you could please remain faithful with us in prayer from this Thursday through Sunday. Just imagine…..being the speakers at each and every service through a typical Annual Meeting including Young Folks, and you’ll have an idea of the load that is ahead of us.

We’ll be unable to update until we return to the Clinic Sunday night, so God bless each of you with His very best!!