We're down at the Bongolo Hospital mission station (on the hill behind the hospital) for a prayer retreat and a couple added days of relaxation. We drove down on Wednesday, had our prayer retreat Thursday thru Saturday, went to some local churches on Sunday, did some swimming (and jumped off the bridge!), went "fishing", explored some caves, and swam at the pool, among other things. We are going to try and get some new pictures posted from our time here as soon as possible. Here is a link to see our pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/gabon.pilot. I am trying to keep up on getting pictures for all to see there. Here's a picture of our team.
For the prayer retreat there was a team of 6 people here from an Alliance church from Cleveland who facilitated the retreat. It also included a VBS styled time for our kids. The first night we had a delicious "kick off' dinner and relaxing conversation. It's much cooler in "the bush" compared to the big city of Libreville where we call home.
Thursday morning we took a tour of the hospital. It continues to grow and serve more and more people. It's maxed out, right now, due to a hospital worker strike at the public hospitals in Gabon. People are dying as the strike enters its' 8th week... it's all about salaries. It's incredibly hard to believe.
As you know, the hospital is pushed to the max, so we are in a little bit of a crisis mode and searching for short term solutions for doing medical evacuations and transporting medications to resupply the hospital. The Belgium company that I do a little flying for has agreed to allow me use their airplane (beechcraft Baron) providing that they are not using it that day. This is great news! They would require us to pay them $760 per flight hour for the use of the aircraft, but this is a much better deal than anything else we were able to find at the moment. We are awaiting a couple of repairs to the hospitals airstrip so that it can receive the gov't blessing for use. I hope everything will be in place by next week. This "temporary solution" is being underwritten by a generous donor from the states. He said he'll pay for everything as long as the medical strike continues... the airplane, the airstrip upgrades, government fees, and additional medications, to name a few. I was blown away to here about this individuals generosity. It will easily be about $10,000 before we even start the first flight. Here's a picture of my friend Egmont and I flying the Beechcraft Baron:
Also on Thursday, I had an impromptu meeting with the mayor of the town, here- Lebamba. It is protocol to establish a connection with the village "chefs" (leaders) as you set up any sort of long term visit or work there. He was very nice and is throwing his support into the mix. It may come into play as we may need some "encouragement" for a construction company to expedite their equipment to do the work on the runway. Like I said, we hope this will happen in the next week or two.
So, that's a little more insight to what's shakin' on this part of the globe.