Saturday, March 21, 2020

Pandemic in the Jungle

Some are asking how the pandemic of Covid-19 is affecting life here.
TP multi-pack and some bananas... we're all good!

Even though there has only been a hand-full of confirmed cases in Gabon and one death (as of Friday 20 March, the gov’t has wasted no time in shutting down schools, etc. and asking that there be no group gatherings of more than 10 people.  So, Gabon is going after this pretty hard!  All passenger transport (boat, ground, air) are prohibited, except for medical or cargo reasons.

Cancelled Flights

All of the foreign visitors to the Bongolo Hospital have had to cancel their trips.  They are a vital part of the life of the hospital, many of them bringing needed medical materials as well as expertise in some of the training programs, plus needed relief and help for the team that serves here full time.  Also- we transport them with our aircraft, so that means a lot of flights are canceled.  So, please pray for our team as we will definitely be feeling these losses.
"Snow Fence" in Africa?!?  Yes! The fence to control foot traffic to a check-in station at the Bongolo Hospital.
Emergency Needs

The hospital is doing a bit of scrambling to ensure that we have enough stock, especially personal protective gear for our team, so that we can get through this time.  Just last evening, there was a bit of a race to reach out and find someone that lives in the Allentown, PA area to pick up some emergency supplies from a ministry there.  Thanks to the Eastern PA C&MA District Leadership (thanks Pastor Nate Howard!), we were able to find a friend in Allentown (Thanks Dr. Paul K.!) to make a connection with the generous people at Through These Hands ministries so that Bongolo Hospital will get the medical material they need.  Through the blessing of technology, this all came together in about 30 minutes!!!  Please pray that we can find a way to get it to the Hospital... likely DHL to Gabon, then perhaps our mission aircraft from the capital city to the jungle. 

Will We Fly?!?

So, some other flights may pick up as the country will be looking for Covid-19 tests to be transported from the various collection points around the country to the main testing center in the far east of the country.  Although we are not happy about a pandemic, if our aviation services can be used to bless this region of the world, then that’s why we’re here.  We're praying that many can sense God's love and comfort for our broken world, through our words and deeds.

New Protocols- New Normal

The hospital has already changed it’s protocols and has roped off a lot of the property to control foot traffic- all people pass by a check-in station where they get temperature checked as well as other symptoms checked.  A portion of the hospital that was just emptied out when the new eye clinic was opened (what timing!), so that has become our quarantine area.  We are also discussing/implementing enhanced protocols for any medical flights that are requested- the last thing we want is to transport sicknesses that are contagious.
Down time = Good time for some aircraft TLC!

Return to the US?

Some have asked if it would be better for us to return to the US.  The simple answer is "no".  Traveling all that way would expose us so much more than staying put and riding it out.  Additionally, as we travel, we could unwittingly become carriers and make life a lot more challenging for others, especially those we love most.  So, we're in a great place, even though, in times like this, you'd really rather be with your whole family.  We do keep regular touch with family as the internet allows, which has been more and more difficult, but still possible.

We were set to return to the US for our son, Sam's, graduation from San Diego State Univ. graduation, however, that event, like all others, has been called off for the time being.  So, our plans for being in the US in May and a bit of June, followed by an organizational conference in Spain, are all looking like they will need to be postponed.  That's a big loss and we'll be doing a bit of grieving... we were really looking forward to seeing our kids, family, friends, and connecting with others.  On May 30th, we were to lead a regional cross-cultural training event, hosted at our home church, York Alliance, but that is also likely to be postponed or cancelled.  So... lots of losses.

However... Treasure Hunt!

However, during this time, we're doing a lot of reflection.  Psalm 91 and 23 are great places to go for some meditation.  Our "plan A" may be going down the tubes, but, as I have told many others, the reality of what is before us, each day, has been God's plan A for today.  There are "hidden treasures" to be discovered.  Our dear friends, Sam and Ashley, once gave us this picture of keeping our eyes open, always, for these treasures, which makes everyday a "Treasure Hunt"! 

So... Enjoy your Treasure Hunt everyone!


Steve and Alace


  1. Thanks so much for the update. "Hugs and prayers"

  2. Same fromm us Steve and Alace! Bless you guys - such heroes! With you in all solidarity. Mary + Rod in South Africa