Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving on the Equator

Good news-
we CAN get a whole turkey at the grocery store, here on the equator in Africa!

Bad news-
like many things, IT'S STINKIN' EXPENSIVE!!!

Good news-
Last year, during the days after Christmas, turkey's were marked down to a more reasonable price! So we grabbed one for our freezer and... 10 months later, VOILA!!! Good eatin'!!!

Pre-Feast Activities... an air-conditioned room and video for the kids!

Does putting oven mitts on and getting the turkey out of the oven for Alace make me a "hunter-gatherer"??? This guys says "oui".

Gotta have a kids table... it's in the contract.

"All the trimmings" included two types of mashed potatoes and two types of stuffing!!! Can you say that about your feast!?!

So, we were very thankful for a delicious meal and great friends to share it with this year. We're thankful for people that support us with encouragement, prayers, donations and more. With you, we're teaming up to show God's love to central Africa and beyond. For this, we are truly grateful this thanksgiving.

Road Trip Pics

I've done a lot of this lately! Libreville (Gabon) to Yaounde (Cameroon) back to Libreville, then to Lebamba (the hospital), then back to Libreville. Mostly good roads, but it adds up to over 30 hours of driving. I was in Cameroon to encourage Joe and Meg and Lebamba to take part of our leadership team meetings. Of course, when you have a road trip in Africa, keep your camera ready...

Yep, there's a motorcycle under there. I think all these sacks were filled with baguettes.

No seats remaining in the vehicle??? That's never been a problem around here.

Here's what that truck looked like from the front.

All in a days work for "Patty"- our Nissan Patrol!

Temporary Pet- "Frank"

Today, our air conditioning technician, monsieur Kossi ("co-see"), stopped by to ask if we'd mind keeping a new pet until it grew a little. Since many Africans enjoy some good turtle soup from time to time, we were wondering if he was, in effect, asking us to be complicit in the murder of this cute guy, but Kossi denied this. He said that, at his home, there were too many large gaps in their perimeter wall where the turtle could get out and they'd like to keep him as a pet.

Here's where "Frank" (Sam gave him the name) met our other turtle, "Cheetah". Frank is the black dot between Sam (L) and his friend, Andrew (R) who were supervising the "meet and greet". There's a slight size difference, don'tcha think!?!

I think this is the start of something beautiful! (Just in case you can't see it- Frank is sitting on Cheetah's back).

So, this is our "Black Friday" highlight... it's not the thrill of standing in lines at department stores like so many, but we manage to find some excitement on our side of the Atlantic!

Soccer! ...Cameroon Style

Project Runway?

Sam and I had time, on our way back from Cameroon, to do some more work with our "Project Runway"

Driving into town, you notice that it's a nice-sized population center. They really need to make sure that their runway is in good shape and kept certified from year to year.

However, the runway is not currently certified and is in need of a little cleanup. It needs runway end markers and painted white tires lining each side at every 50 meters. As Sam and I were nearing the end of the 4600 feet runway, we noticed...

The first building off to the East side of the approach end of runway 35, was an Alliance Chretienne (C&MA) church! We checked around for the pastor or someone, but they were out. So, we'll have a nice waiting area for passengers and staging for medical clinics!

Beautiful Feet- update #3

The following is a third update from Dr. T from the hospital:

"All three of the men who were tortured by fire on September 15 in the village of "B" 32 kms from our village by drugged spirit worshipers have been discharged from the hospital and returned home. Their feet are still painful and not fully healed, despite more than six weeks of treatment and hospitalization. The men had no money to cover their medical costs or to even feed themselves, so the hospital provided everything for them as a service of love. Each underwent multiple surgeries and skin grafts, and two men lost toes. Pastor "M's" burns were the most severe.

The regional authorities have still made no arrests, despite the church's deposition of medical statements from those who treated the men, photographs, and a formal complaint."

This past week, Dr. T and I had a discussion about this disturbing event. I told him about finding a website where you can schedule a village ritual, like this. It appears to be run by westerners. They promote two benefits: getting in touch with the spiritual world and helping you to overcome addictions to drugs, drinking, or smoking.

Dr. T verified that European doctors have tested this natural, tree-root drug, and it has been found to have, in some instances, a positive medicinal effect in assisting people with addictions. Of course, this is in a controlled environment with a precise amount of the drug. However, the situation here, from what I've found in my very limited investigation, is anything but controlled and the drug is taken in massive quantities in a shake-like drink inducing hallucinations that a witch doctor interprets for you- in this instance, leading to violence.

So, what happens when we take God's creation and then pervert and twist it? I'd say it turns into something that ends in pain, suffering, sadness, and all-around bad results. No surprise.

I'm quite sure that if the photos that you see here, along with the story, were made known to those considering a village ritual, they'd opt for another excursion.

Please keep the three men that were burned in your prayers as they return to their village and an uncertain future.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Any Press is Good Press!

My previous posting caught the eye of the C&MA in the USA. They've posted a more detailed report on their website:

I'm praying that many people will be exposed to the Hope House work and be moved with compassion to get involved in their prayers and financially.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Life Less Comfortable

My lovely, beautiful wife has graced us all with some of her beautiful writing while letting us know of her exciting life. You can read her blog, "A Life Less Comfortable", by clicking THIS LINK.

Kids in Cameroon

Joe and Meg attend Rain Forest Int'l School in Yaounde, Cameroon. It's a tough school... especially for my kids whose last 3 years went like this... French public school (& they didn't speak the language!), homeschool group, and homeschool (just our family). So, it's like they went from "second gear" and are being asked to maintain a "fourth gear" pace. It's definitely challenging and I'm so proud of the effort they are putting in- they're taking a big step.

As we've mentioned before, having our two oldest away at school is tough, but we're blessed that we're still only a car ride away. Granted, that's a 12 or 13 hour ride.

Here are some photos from my current trip to be here to encourage and assist the kids on the home stretch to semester final exams.

This is a view looking from the assembly building across to the building that is home to a library, computer center, classrooms, and senior class lounge.

This is the normal reaction from teenage girls when requesting a photo.

Here is the reaction that we'd like from them. Amy and Megs are wearing their outfits for choir. LOVELY!!! What beautiful, young ladies.

The junior varsity Wildcat soccer team! Energy left to spare at the end of their scrimmage! If this is what it's like when they lose, imagine what happens when they win!!!

There was a "real" game scheduled, but the opposition never showed. Instead, they scrimmaged a group of guys (including Joe and Sam).

Here's Megan's finished bridge project for science class.

Almost finished! It's a load off Meg's back having this project done.

Here's the crew (with Amy V.- left... with the CRAZY eyes look!) after some mud soccer at "New Land".


We've received word that our shipping container containing our damaged aircraft, N207FD, will arrive at a port near New York City tomorrow!

It's been a long road- we had the aircraft in a container and to the port in Gabon by the end of August and, if we're lucky, it might arrive at the repair shop (MMS Aviation) in Ohio by the end of November- 3 months later!

Needless to say, we're excited to get news of progress. Please join us in praying for a thorough and expedited repair. The team at MMS Aviation does a great job of updating the progress of their projects on their blog- CLICK HERE to see photos, videos, and journal entries. I'll be linking to it regularly as we get updates about our aircraft.

Upcoming Flights & Airplane Changes?

I'm starting to put together some upcoming flights to the Bongolo Hospital. Here's what we have for now:

31 JAN 2011 Libreville - Lebamba (2 seats avail.)

31 JAN 2011 Lebamba - Libreville (4 seats avail.)

12 FEB 2011 Libreville - Lebamba (4 seats avail.)

12 FEB 2011 Lebamba - Libreville (2 seats avail.)

It feels good to be able to list some flights. Due to the fact that we're using a "loaner" aircraft, setting a schedule has been a little daunting. However, we're trusting that the aircraft will be available when the time arrives and, if it's not, we have some options to make use of.

We'll continue to use a Beechcraft Baron to fly in and out (see photo) of the hospital's airstrip, supplied by an agricultural company. They are looking into buying another aircraft and haven't made a final decision about what to do with the Baron. They have asked if we'd like to buy it, but, it doesn't match the profile of the aircraft that would best use our needs. We'd rather just use it for the time being, and wait for the repair and return to service of our Cessna 207. However, if they sell the Baron, we are in for some challenges.

They are looking into purchasing is a small, twin engine, turbo-prop (like this one). It will go higher and faster and, since they are keeping it United States registered, there will be a lot less red-tape. Over all, a good deal. However, if they sell the Baron, they will no longer keep stocking AvGas (100 low-lead fuel), which I use for the Cessna 207. Since our airport, here in LBV, runs our of AvGas for months on end, it could really jeopardize our ops. Needless to say, I'm looking into alternate supply options. Pray for success with this!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

TRADER! (video)

Great video... "What are you willing to trade?"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Reopening Old Airstrips... First Steps

In 2010-2011, it is our hope to reopen 3 to 5 airports that are currently in danger of being overtaken by population growth in areas where there is no other airstrip. Abandoned and overrun airstrips exist throughout the country at this time... but some can be saved if we move quickly.

You see, airstrips provide prospective builders with nice, level terrain that needs very little site prep prior to building. So, little by little, people advance on the property. This is made easy if the local government is "on the take" and selling off the property that was once set aside for air service.

With no runway, the village becomes more isolated from medical services and, when the emergency happens, a person whose wounds can be cared for is now looking death in the face. Of course, this assumes that a program, like ours, is in place. Well... the time has come!

So, our goal is to work with local governments to assist in enforcing the egress needed for each landing site, and then set up a partnership between a local church and an international church to see to the upkeep of the facility. The international church can provide short term work teams to work alongside the local church to do bigger projects as well as lending their support for one or two salaried, part-time workers to keep the grass cut back and be there to welcome the arrival of the aircraft.

Our first step is to share the idea with the President of our national Alliance churches, Pasteur President Saint Bernard MANOUMBAH.
I'm the one on the left, by the way. We had a great visit and the Pasteur President is very happy to hear about this proposal.

If your church might like to be a partner to assist in this yet-to-be named program (send your ideas!), then please drop me an email.

Schweitzer Hospital Visit

Monday, November 1, Pastor Sangoye and I drove about 3.5 hours to the town of Lamberene, home of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital (ASH). This is a 150 bed facility founded nearly 100 years ago by a Nobel Peace Prize winner. The purpose of the visit was to build relationships and explain our medical air transport program.

Prior to the meetings, Katie (an intern at ASH) gave us a tour of the large campus. Among many of the programs at ASH, they have started an initiative to end TB in their province.

Then it was on to the meetings. To the left is Marc, the General Director of ASH and to the right is the great-grand daughter of Albert Schweitzer! It was great to meet them and explain our program.

I also had the great privilege of meeting Dr. Lachlan Forrow, president of the board at ASH and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UPDATE: Tortured by Fire

From Dr. T

Dr. T and his wife, an RN, are medical international workers who have served at our hospital for more than 30 years. The following excerpted adaptation of their recent newsletter includes an update about three local Christians burned by demon worshipping villagers in mid-September:

I am happy to report that the three Christian men who were tortured by fire recently in "B" village are still hospitalized but doing well.

When I left them 10 days, ago their skin grafts were slowly bonding to the raw undersides of their feet, although not completely. Continue to pray for complete healing. Two feet aren’t healing quickly-one of Pastor "M" and one of elder "J".

Pray for Strength, Justice

News from "B" and its neighboring village of "E"-where the Guevede mission station was located among the Mitsogo people-is not as good. So far there have been no arrests, and the Christians from both villages are living in fear.

Police have indicated that they will help Pastor "M" and the other two men file a convincing charge against those who burned their feet with kerosene and torches. Pray that those responsible will be brought to justice and that believers in these villages will stand strong.

Many who used to identify themselves as Christians no longer gather to worship Jesus; the majority of the population in the area has returned to worship a demon god.

Tension with a Purpose

At Lausanne III in Cape Town, South Africa, Dr. John Piper eloquently stated the twofold tension we constantly struggle to uphold-what Jesus calls us to faithfully keep before us as we serve Him in this broken world:

“Our compassionate hearts must always go toward the poor, toward the disenfranchised, to where injustice is found. This is the heart of the gospel: to bind the broken, to bring healing; to bring light in order to ALLEVIATE A SUFFERING WORLD.

“Our compassionate hearts must always be toward the lost, to those who have never heard God’s redeeming story, toward the darkness-to move into the dark and hopeless neighborhoods in order to bring salvation, to bring hope, to bring light in order to ALLEVIATE ETERNAL SUFFERING.”