(All you aviation nuts out there know about a great aircraft called the Cessna CARAVAN- it's in use all around the world as one of the best utility aircraft providing service in and out of some of the world's hardest to reach locations. Below is a bit of an update on our family and a story of a different sort of Caravan... the Mobile Medical Clinic Caravan. Enjoy!)
We’re doing very well. Just spent Thursday through Saturday in the interior of the country. We took a team with our two vehicles to set up a “mobile medical clinic” at an Alliance church in the village of “Mitzic”. There, while the medical clinic was happening, I went with the pastor of the church to visit with the Mayor or the town to talk about giving the local community counsel in how to properly take care of the airport and get it reopened. He was very happy to greet me and will support our work as long as it gets approval of the country’s civil aviation authority.
On the way to Mitzic, we stopped by another town, “N’djole” where we did our initial consult with the local Alliance church regarding the same thing- taking care of and reopening their local airport. About 15 people from the church came to the meeting to hear about the idea and ask questions. They were also very supportive and would like to continue with this program- “Operation Runway Rehab”. Please pray for the effort to open runways around Gabon and that local communities understand this work to be an expression of God’s great love for them.
The medical clinic, itself, was a great success. I believe that medical consultations were given to over 300 people and medications were given. There were many that came to seek help with vision problems, malaria, high blood pressure, diabetes, and joint pain. Alace was primarily assisting in the counting of pills and other medications into small plastic sacks with the instructions on when to take them. The first day of the clinic, I was mainly in meetings, but the second day, I helped weigh people in and take blood pressure with a simple cordless machine. This required having people really hike up their sleeves and get the cuff on their upper arm. So, I was constantly using the waterless hand sanitizer to clean up.
One younger woman, Adele, saw the result of her blood pressure test and exclaimed, “OH! That is too high! I’m going to die! I’m going to be working in my garden and fall down dead!” She started to gather her things to leave in despair, but I calmed her down and said, while it is true that her blood pressure is elevated, we have come to help. With the right medication, a change in diet, and prayer, her blood pressure can be managed better. She did calm down and, I’m happy to say, stayed around for her consult and received her medicine. Please pray that she, and the others that we saw during the clinic, will put their full faith in the Great Physician!
We did all of this work along side of a health program called “OSPAC”- a work of the national Alliance church. You probably remember that this is the team that has a base at the large city Alliance church in Libreville where Alace volunteers. They had a team of 6 that came to run the clinic. We merely pitched in to help where we could. They do their job with such joy and care. It’s impossible for the people of Mitzic to not understand that this is the love of God expressed to them in a practical way!
Each clinic is started off with a time of education where all of those registered sit down in the church pews and the OSPAC team talks to them about how to take care of themselves and the ones they love. There is also a time for a testimony and prayer. Stations are set up around the church for vision, weight & blood pressure, eye exams, pharmacy, consultations, and spiritual counseling.
The first night we were there, we projected the Jesus film onto the front side of the church with all the church pews out front for people to sit. It actually got a bit chilly! We had the version of the film in the local tribal language- people were quite surprised to see Jesus and hear him talking in their language! One family came to know the Lord. It was a privilege to be there and pray with them. Others came to accept Christ as Savior while the clinic was underway.
Please pray for the fruit of the seeds that were planted through the clinic and the local church pastor, Emory and his wife, Natasha, will lead their church in meaningful and effective follow-up. Many West-African, Muslim businessmen came and took away literature along with their medication! Muslim’s are often much more receptive to the gospel outside of their home country and, those that receive Christ become great missionaries when they go back for visits! Please pray for this reality in these cases.
So, it was a great time. Very tiring and sometimes frustrating when viewed through Western eyes about what “should” be happening, but everything worked out and the people of Mitzic can’t wait until we come back. In fact, as we were packing up, people were still showing up in taxis and by foot saying that they had traveled from other smaller villages in the region after they found out about the clinic by word of mouth the day before. So, we couldn’t help but linger just a bit more to try and care for everyone. Our departure was much later than we wanted, but it was worth it. God is good and took care of us as we ended our voyage back to Libreville in the dark of night.
The rainy season is starting now, so the temperatures will start going up and the steam will return to Gabon! I’m not so excited about that.
Please pray as the kid’s fall break dates have had to change. There will be a Presidential election during the weekend of their break and they anticipate demonstrations throughout the country. So, the date change is in everyone’s best interests, however it is going to cause us a major disruption in plans (we have already purchased airfare to the states from Cameroon!). We need wisdom in how to put together the new schedule. It will mean changing our airline tickets to a Libreville departure/return ($$$) and most likely having the kids come to Libreville by airline ($$$). So, we need your prayers to seek the best way to resolve this.
Please pray for our (Alace and I) upcoming trip to the US (Oct. 09-27). There are three main reasons that we will make this trip. First, is that our airplane’s repairs are coming to a finale’ and I would like to be there to assist in any way possible as well as the first flights to make the final tweaks. Secondly, the timing works out great to join the rest of my family in celebrating my father’s 80th birthday! We miss so many celebrations with family, it will be a great treasure to join in this occasion. Thirdly, there is growing interest for our work in Gabon in the Indianapolis area. We will have a fund raising dinner in an aircraft hangar, most likely at the Greenwood airport in the area (I’ll keep you posted). In the short three weeks that we are home, there will not be time to meet with all those that we would like, but we are praying for fruitful connections with those that we can and that the name of the Lord is glorified as a result of it all. Please pray with us that this is so. We also covet your prayers for all the logistics that need to be worked out, especially a vehicle to use.
Praise the Lord that our rental aircraft continues to keep our program moving along. Even though the expense is high, keeping our flights much fewer than desired, we still do get an occasional flight. If you’d like to see some pictures from the flights and hear about the work that is being accomplished on those flights, please follow my online journal at www.gabonpilot.blogspot.com.
The kids are doing pretty well at school. Joe has been voted as his class rep to the student counsel! Megan is doing great on the social front- never a problem there. On the academic side, she continues to be challenged, especially in the test-taking area. Sam is still “finding his groove” in the switch from the homeschooling environment to classroom. Again, he is excelling in social aspects, as we knew he would! We are so blessed to have a great school, like the Rain Forest International School, just one country “up the road” from us. Please pray for the kids in their studies and RFIS as they constantly battle the need for additional faculty. We also would ask you to pray for Scott and Lee Pyles, who are the “parents” of the home where they are living with 4 other RFIS students.
Again, as we say every time, we are so blessed to have an army of people who love us and pray for us. Thank you for interceding on our behalf!
Steve and Alace