Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Trip to a Village and to the Hospital

Yesterday we went to a village about 2 hours away to visit a man that we were told about who had some sores on his leg that “would not heal.”  We were told that he didn’t want to go to the hospital because he was afraid they would simply cut the leg off above the problem.
In the village with the man with the leg issue and cough.
We went with Anita (from Kibidula) and Meda (who has worked in that village for some time and knows the people there and the needs.)  Meda has also worked for Kibidula.  The village is up in some high hills (or mountains.)  It is so very dry there.  There had been a group that had brought water to the village, but something has happened to the water supply line and there is NO WATER there now.  It is now in the middle of the dry season and it is so dry and dirty.  People have to go about an hour away to get water.   I believe it is then from a river, so it is not clean water even then.  Things like drinking and cleaning seem to have become low priority for many in this village with this great lack of water.
Missing toes, swollen leg and foot
We have been told that people turn to drinking homemade alcohol made from fermented bamboo juice to forget their worries, pain, hunger and thirst.  This only leads to bigger problems.  The man that we went to see has had a problem with drinking this alcohol.  We could not get clear and correct answers from him regarding how long he had been having the problem with his foot (he said it started in June, but it is obvious that it has been a LONG TERM problem.)  He also gave his age as 60, 40 then 30 when he was asked (by us once and twice by the hospital.)  Without proper answers it is much harder to determine the cause and thus treat the problem (instead of just treating the symptoms.)
Another home in the dry landscape (Anita, Meda & Doug)
He did decide that he wanted to go to the hospital (we are hoping to get to the CAUSE of the problem with proper diagnostics.)  His grandson went to get his brother to go with him to be at the hospital.  We drove the man to the hospital and stayed until a doctor arrived (was called back in from his home.)  We did not have room in the vehicle for us, the sick and wounded man, and the brother.  The brother was given money to take a daladala to meet us at the hospital.  He arrived just as we were getting ready to leave (after being there for about two hours.)  At most (all that I have seen so far) hospitals here, someone needs to stay with or come visit the patient daily to cook and bring them food and to attend other personal needs.  These things are not supplied by the hospital.
Waiting at the hospital (another 1.5 hour drive)
We are praying that answers can come for this man and that (as he has said) he has truly stopped drinking so he can start healing.  He does attend church at times.
Monica - widow - children have all died
We also visited several other homes in that village.  One lady, named Monica, is a widow and all of her children have died.  She lives in a hut back behind the Seventh-Day Adventist church.  At times people will bring her a little food.  With out rain and water, she is currently unable to grow food during the 6 months of the dry season.  Anita (who had been to the village previously and understood many of the needs) had brought some food, drinking water, money, Swahili Bibles, and Swahili message books to share with those in need.  After visiting with Monica and praying with her, Anita made arrangements for her to get some food and we filled her bucket with drinking water.  She was so very grateful for these needful things.
Meda, Anita and the lady that gave up alcohol and accepted Jesus!
At another home the lady has given up drinking and has joined the church.  She makes bread and sells it.  She has been able to greatly improve her house (metal roof, cement on the brick walls and cement on the floor in one room.)   It has greatly improved the cleanliness.  We visited and were able to fill her container with good clean drinking water before we left.
The newer house is on the right.
We also met many other people with medical, physical and spiritual needs.  Anita gave out several Bibles and books to those that could read and that wanted them.  We gave out all of the drinking water, and food also.
Scars from a healed burn (and both hands)
For most of us (reading and writing this), we have water to drink, brush our teeth, wash our faces and hands, bath, wash our dishes, to cook, and even wash our clothes.  Some of us even have enough to water a little ground for some garden produce.
Village children
Many of us have some food to eat (maybe not exactly your favorite, but normally more than just corn flour and only enough to eat it now and then.)
A very typical dry view of this village
Many of us really are not “just barely surviving.”  So many of the people that we see are barely making it.  And when I say barely making it, I mean being able to be alive.

These are tough people here.  They understand hunger and thirst.  They understand eating to live instead of living to eat.  They work hard to survive.  They understand a need for something better.  Those that are Christians have a much better understanding of thankfulness than we do.  Each day for many of them is a gift that others won’t even realize.  (So - maybe you have more to be thankful for today than you realized?  I hope maybe this story will encourage you to be thankful for ALL the blessings you have today.  I know I have LOTS to be thankful for today!)
Two men hauling sunflower seeds.
During the day yesterday, I saw such incredible need and I realize our weakness, limitations and inability to meet the needs….  It made me so grateful to be part of the program here in Kibidula where we focus on training and equipping locals to reach out to these villages.  They have lived the same way, they know the language, the culture, the trials, the victories, and they can reach village people in a way that outsiders can only scratch the surface.  They live with the people, they become their friends.  They meet their needs in many ways.  They gain their trust and then they bid them to follow Jesus.  We are thankful that there has been a lay evangelist assigned to this village from Kibidula in the past.  There was an issue that they had to go and resolve at their home village, but I believe I understood that there is now someone else working in that village in their place.
The village Seventh-day Adventist church
We are going to investigate again what is going on with the water situation and see if we can help with that big project and in the mean time, we will pray, do what we can, and keep training up and sending out workers into the harvest field.

Monday, August 20, 2012

We should get a what ?!?!?!?

Is it the moment of reckoning?
Is it really time to confront even more my "I would rather give than take!" attitude?

Let me cover the other stuff first and I will come back to this issue....
I posted just before we took our trip to Iringa to meeting some of the health leadership in this area.  We all feel that it was a very good meeting.  We are encouraged that we will be able to work together in the future for many programs.

One of the short term missionaries (Fletcher the one that was putting together the 4-seater airplane) returned to the US.  Another missionary family was also returning the same week, so Doug drove Fletcher to Dar es Salaam and picked up the other seven people when they arrived.  He was gone from 4 am Monday through 10 pm Friday this last week.  It is certainly good to have our family together again and to have the other family back!

Doug has been back at it and working on water leaks down-campus this time.  Yesterday he spent several hours trying to fix an impromptu "fountain."  The fixing process got complicated as some other water lines got cut in the digging process.  Life is always exciting.  He called me on the cell phone and said, "Would you pray for us please."  It is interesting how "simple" jobs can get complicated quickly.  

With Doug gone Joshua and I took a bicycle ride to visit a neighboring village where we had not previously visited.  We didn't get the clearest directions and our thirty minute to one hour bike ride turned into a 3 hours and 20 minute adventure.  We did visit another village much farther out.  We were sunburned (even with our hats on!) and tired when we got back.  We will try another day for that particular village.  The dirt road split into three paths and we took the wrong path.  Then it spit again, and again, and again.  We got to see a lot of new territory, meet new people and see some pretty sights.  On the way back (on a road) we saw a very nice view of some mountains and valleys.  I was planning to take my camera, but I forgot it.  Next time I hope to get a picture.  (Next time!  Ha, ha!)

With so much bike riding, I have decided it is time to figure out a better way to ride bicycle in a skirt.  So that was part of my research and development for the next day.  I have rigged up something to keep my skirt from getting caught between the back break and the tire.  This should make it easier to pedal and save my clothes.

We had the challenge of running out of water on Tuesday.  We were thankful that we again had water when we woke up on Wednesday.  We are hoping that the issue will be resolved.

It has mostly been day to day stuff going on.  Doug worked with several people (at least three) and helped them get reading glasses.  We are still so thankful for that donation of reading glasses.  People are so happy when they can read their Bibles again.

Yesterday the man from the closest village who has lost both of this lower arms came again.  Last time he came he was asking for clothes, which we gave him.  This time he asked for money for food for his children.  I do know that he has one child.  I told him that I would not give him money, but I would give him food.  My donation of cornflour, rice, beans and peanuts was was a bit too heavy and the bag strap broke before he was away from the house very far.  I had put it in a bag, and made a strap to go around his head and shoulder.  Joshua volunteered to take the food on his bicycle to his house.  He had to go slowly as the man walked and he was gone from home for a long time.  I sent my cell phone with him so he could call his father if there was any trouble.

Do you think you have problems?   Can you imagine life as this man?  I believe his wife has left him.  He has at least one daughter that is in the 5th grade (standard 5) here at our primary school.  Can you imagine not being able to feed yourself, scratch you nose, hold a donation, put on your clothes or even "relieve" yourself, by yourself?  I sat in bed this morning thinking about him.  There are so many tragic cases around us all the time.  We can help out in some small way at times, but the need is so much bigger than our resource or abilities.  My challenges are rather small compared to this man.  He needs a lot of prayers from what I gathered from another person from his village.  He is a "member" of the church, but he needs a walk with our Lord.  We all do.  No matter our physical challenges, God can still use us for His glory.  I know of at least one person that will hopefully read this, that has some physical challenges that could encourage "discouragement" if not careful.  But I hope that person realizes his life is a miracle.  God has a purpose, and even though he is not able to physically do all that he once was, he can cling to Jesus and keep doing the other things that God wants him to do, and with great joy in Jesus.  Soon our Lord Jesus will come and the sin and suffering will end.  Until then we keep walking by faith and keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Today we will work with the lay evangelism students to do eye test to see who needs reading glasses.  I need to leave soon, so I had better wrap this up.

The answer - a vehicle.
There are a few vehicles here on campus for some of the departments.  When we have to borrow one, it puts that department in a challenging situation.  With the work that we are doing growing and growing, it was again "suggested to us" that we should see about raising funds to get a vehicle for the medical work that we are doing here.  There are lots of "calls" and opportunities to spread the work in MANY places here in the country, and we are excited about that.  Borrowing a vehicle will be VERY impractical for trips that take more than a day, and taking the bus will be really complicated if we need to take supplies (which we do.)  So, here we are.

The director told us that the Nissan dealership company in Dar es Salaam uses the new vehicles for one year (keeping them maintained) and then sells them at a reduced price each year.  He suggests that we get a diesel, 4x4 (we deal with some EXCITING roads here on and off pavement), dual cab, right hand drive pick up from them if we can raise the funds.  He sees this work expanding rapidly and knows better than us what is best for the program and projects.  The price he gave us is about $31,000 US dollars.

If you, your church or anyone you know is interested in helping to be the Lord's hands in this, donations can be sent to the Outpost Centers International address on our funds page.  The donations should be specified as: Medical Vehicle Kibidula.

It is a lot of money, but if it comes in from lots of sources, lots of little donations will add up fast.  I am not going to be anxious about this.  This is God's work here.  Not mine.  I just ask that He impress on the people that He wants to give, to give.  Prayer, faith, and letting our need be known.  That is my part.  So there it is.

In the mean time, thank you EVERYONE for all the encouragement, prayers, support and love.
Time to go do the reading glasses tests!  BYE

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Post on Kibidula Front Line Missionary page.

I just finished editing and posting another story about one of the Kibidula front line missionaries.  These stories are not "fluff" but the expression of real life on the front line.  If you would like to read the story please check the link below.  Please consider praying for these people and their work as they seek to introduce people to the One Who loves them and wants to save them.

The One Who sent me opened the Way!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I am behind on updating again.  Much has happened since the 14th of last month.

Doug and I finished up teaching the month of medical missionary training at the lay-evangelism school.

I substitute taught at the primary school for one week.  That was a VERY full week.  Each day after teaching, I would spend almost my entire afternoon and evening grading papers and preparing for the next day's classes.  It was a very challenging week for our entire family.  Doug was also teaching full time at the other end of campus with the lay-evangelism school.  It seemed to take it's toll on our little one, and I hope not to make the same mistake again...
Some standard 3 and 4 students at the primary school

I managed to lose the house key in a big mess of trees, leaves and wood.  I praise the Lord that after several days of searching by multiple people, it was found and returned to us (and the offered reward was paid.)  It was cheaper than having another one made, and so far of the four keys we have had made, we have only been able to make one of them work (after some extra filing!)  So I was HAPPY to pay the reward and get my key returned.  It also helps me to sleep better at night, knowing that our house key isn't in the wrong hands.

I am continuing to teach my six piano students.  I was asked today if I would consider teaching more piano lessons at the primary school if they are able to get a keyboard.  There is a possibility that I will be asked to teach music down campus also.

I have developed a real challenge.  Ever since I started riding my bicycle up and down campus, I am having a lot of very tight muscles in my right side and they are causing me a lot of knee problems.  So now I am avoiding riding my bike, which is very inconvenient.  I would REALLY appreciate prayers about this.  If I start teaching more down campus, I need to be able to get up and down campus faster than walking (which takes over 45 minutes down hill and more uphill.)  Getting a vehicle is not in our budget at all, and I would like the exercise of using the bike.

I have also been working on getting someone to come and teach us Swahili.  I am thankful that this is working out.  It looks like next month we will continue with more classes if all goes as planned.

Doug has been continuing to install the solar lights in the various local staff houses.  He has also spent time working with several staff members on their solar systems (helping with batteries and other things.)

We have started having more issues with the water system.  One of the lines was pinched to a staff's house and now there is a leak again somewhere.  We ran out of water at our house yesterday.  We are not getting as much cooperation hunting down the leak and getting it fixed as would be nice.  We would appreciate prayers regarding this. 

I had some fun with the science classes.  I taught asexual reproduction in plants for one class, and the different states of matter and water in another.  I made some ice and brought it to class.  Every student wanted to touch it.  They don't know much about ice here.  I showed them how water condensation forms and also how it melts.  One of the things to discuss was the density of solids versus liquids and such.  I asked the students if ice would float or sink in water.  They ALL said sink!  They haven't seen much ice.  After class they asked for my big chunk of ice.  I gave it to them.  They smashed it and you should have seen the hands flying to get a piece, and then off to the water spigot to rinse it off and then into their mouths it went!  Often it came out quickly too!  It is a lot colder than most are accustomed to!

We got invaded by army ants this last week.  Joshua found them as they found him when he went to the bathroom.  They were in his room, our room, the bathroom and hall way.  I found some bug spray that had been left by the previous residents and proceeded to make "war" with them.  Joshua got several bites from them. 
One of the dead army ants.  See those big pinchers!

I put some insect pellets around the house (more stuff left by the previous people).  As I was watering it into the soil, I realized that there was a line of the army ants around two sides of our house.  I spent some time tracking down where they were going.  The pellets did a good job of getting rid of them.  When I looked today, I only found dead ones all around the house. 

One of our big projects was moving the container to it's "permanent" location.  We had footings made, unloaded the boxes and things from it, and moved it with a forklift.  It took a lot more time than we would have liked (which it almost always does.)  As we were loading the boxes back in, we tried to get it more organized.  I am so thankful that not one of my canning jars got broken during the LONG move.  I had packed each jar with socks, or other things, and then around them also, unless I had proper packing material (which wasn't often.)  We also found some other things we are happy to put to use.  My bird book is the only thing that we know is missing so far still.  How we misplaced it, we don't know.  I would be using that a bunch if we could find it.  We think we have unloaded all the "book boxes."  If we only lost one book and one bolt, I think we are very blessed for certain.  I am about ready to give up and purchase another book!  The bolt was replaced.
Moving the container with the forklift.

We received an EXCELLENT report regarding the teaching that we did for that one month of medical missionary training.  The students told the director of that area that they were very pleased with the teaching.  Some were very surprised at what they learned and were thankful for it.  We so appreciate the answered prayers regarding this.  Many of the students have been putting things into practice and have been receiving good results as they practice what they have learned.  We have heard some very exciting reports from many of the students as well as the staff.  There are some additional "doors of opportunity" that seem to be opening up with the medical missionary work that we are doing here.  We have an important meeting to go to for tomorrow and Friday, and something else that I will update on later.  God is really doing WONDERFUL things here.  We just keep praying that we will not run ahead, fall behind, or go to the left or right, but continue with Him in His work here.

The plane mechanic is in his last week here.  He is wrapping up the loose ends of his work.  We will miss him when he leaves back to the US next week. 

I am thankful that the head teacher has returned to the Primary school.  Many of you joined us in prayer for little Paulina one of the students that was deathly ill in the hospital.  God has answered our prayers and she is back in school!  Another student's mother just died (his father and sister died last year.)  We have so much to be grateful for.  We are unsure what will happen with him at this time.  He does have older sisters and brothers, but we haven't heard for certain what will happen.

We have continued to have people come needing reading glasses.  Each time it is so nice to see them "able to see!" 

We got a young cat a few weeks ago from another missionary family.  He is adjusting very well to our home.  He and the dog seem to be fine with each other.  The neighbor's cat isn't happy about him coming.  So far I haven't seen any evidence of him catching a mouse or rat, but he has gotten a lizard's tail, a gecko, several grasshoppers, a horse fly, he tried to eat a bee, but I took it away from him, and a bat!  I helped that one get away.  Hopefully he is getting the rodents also. 
Tommy our cat

We ordered treated posts for our garden.  They were not cheap, but the need to grow our own food is of a great value to us.  We hope that the dog will do a good job of keeping the monkeys out of the garden once it is fenced.  The rest of the mabanzi (slab wood) was delivered yesterday.  Doug has been cutting down (and cutting up) the trees that had parasites in them around the garden and clearing the way for the fence.  We have workers helping to raise the height of our chimney this week also.  It was quite short and we were having more issues with smoke in the house.  It is almost done.  I hope it helps a lot!
We are in the middle of the dry season (6 months no rain.)  But today - after 3 months of dryness - it rained!  We heard thunder and it actually rained.  It was sort of strange having rain after so long.  During the rainy season it rains almost every day.

Tomorrow we will be traveling to attend health leaders meetings. 

Thank you to everyone for their support, prayers and encouragement.  PS - I have again been asked to make sure that anyone that is sending funds through the West Plains Next Step Church start using the updated address that I have posted under the "donation" page.

God is doing wonderful things.  Time is short and now is the time for the work to be done!  Thank you for being part of it!

- Tamara (and the guys!)