Faithfulness, Dexter, 2013, His Heart…

 

I wake up every morning so grateful to our Father to be here, to be so dearly loved, and to be in His service, with you, among some of the forgotten and “least” in the eyes of the world.

 

We are so grateful for the incredible faithfulness of our team of financial supporters.  We’ve been here almost two years and your monthly contributions for our work have remained quite consistent.  Many, many people are benefiting from your sacrificial giving.  Please join us!

 

There are so many stories, but one example of the “many” is a four year old who arrived in Cavango one afternoon from a “nearby” village.  This little boy’s father carried him walking for three hours to another village, where a man with a motorcycle transported him for an hour on his bike to our facility.  This beautiful, otherwise-healthy-appearing little boy’s eyes were rolled back, he was unresponsive, and he was in severe respiratory distress, though moving very little air.  We resuscitated him with aggressive medication (bought with money from our faithful supporters) and within a hour, he was minimally improved and it looked as though he might survive.  That evening, he was sitting up and sipping water.  It has now been three days and he is eating and walking, though still with some respiratory difficulty.  He likely has Pertussis {no way to definitively confirm diagnoses here), the second such severe case I’ve treated recently, a completely vaccine-preventable illness.  He will survive because many of you have placed us here by sending your hard-earned dollars to care for “the least” and forgotten of rural Angola.  He would likely not have survived another hour or two without our intervention.  He now has opportunity to live and meet the One who made him and so dearly loves him.

 

Another example on the same day was a 65 year old man who arrived at our hospital on his amputated leg (a piece of carved wood used as a below the knee prosthesis) and quite deformed “good” leg (he stepped on a land mine in 1985 during the 30 year civil war, losing one leg and essentially melting the other, though on it he can still bear weight), because he hadn’t urinated for several days.  We had put in a urinary catheter a month prior for the same problem and had removed it several days prior to see if he could now urinate past his large prostate.  He couldn’t.  We emptied his bladder with a needle to alleviate his pain and told him that he needed to get to the city for surgery.  He communicated that this was simply not possible (“I will have to die here”).  We tried to replace his catheter and could not (his urethra had swollen firmly and completely closed), so we put a catheter into his bladder through his abdomen so that it could empty without difficulty and could be left there long-term.  He will never receive a prostate surgery (thousands daily in the US) because of his (and this country’s) limited available resources, but he will now continue to live for many years with his “suprapubic” catheter.  He would not have survived without intervention, and our team of supporters made it possible for this man to live.  Angola is thought to be still perhaps the most “land-mined” country on the planet, and the thousands of amputees around seem to support this.

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The health care workers at our Cavango hospital (six people and myself) met for the second time to assess our current work and initiate building a team of people who will meet regularly with the purpose of improving the physical and spiritual health of the region.  The interaction was enthusiastic and thoughtful.  Already discussed were many assessments of the current, poor state of health of the people of the region and ideas for how we can help improve the health of the local people.  Our first step, however, is the formulation of a team from varied backgrounds to assess the health challenges facing us (from their perspective), examine the resources we have to address these challenges, plan and carry out some interventions (done by the local people), and continually re-evaluate our progress.  They were thrilled about meeting and addressing regional health issues and how we might address them.  Many stories surfaced about the deaths of loved children, relatives, and friends from illnesses that this group knew were treatable/preventable.

 

Though I see ourselves as just beginning and having done little thus far, they said the whole region was talking about how this doctor’s medicine works and the head nurse spoke on how previously every diagnosis they made at this hospital was a guess and normally people didn’t improve, and often died (same results at every health post here).  He said he’s heard many people remark that they recently came to the clinic, were diagnosed, treated, prayed for, and got better.  He said that the numbers of people using the Cavango clinic are going to grow exponentially.  One nurse said that they’ve been for years like orphans, and now they have someone to guide them to improve their people’s health and diminish the so-very-high mortality.  I wish all of our supporting team could have been present at this meeting to appreciate the sober excitement in these community leaders as they anticipate contributing to less death and tragedy among their loved ones.  They must’ve said a dozen times or more in an hour how happy they were that we were here and that they now have hope for tools to combat sickness and death.  The following Chinese verse (straight from our Father’s heart) well illustrates our mission:

Go in search of your people
Love them
Learn from them
Serve them
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
But of the best leaders
When their task is accomplished
Their hard work is done
The people all remark:
“We have done it ourselves.”

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One of the tasks before me in this “police state” country is to get governmental permission for all of our work.  This includes permission from the governor’s office of each State or Province.  This week I made a day trip to Catchiungo to discuss our work in Cavango with the Secretary of Health for the province of Huambo and the municipality over us.  I took two people with us that are blind from cataracts to receive surgery at the hands of a beautiful missionary physician, Dr Steve Collins, a 75 year old Canadian family physician, who has been doing thousands of cataract surgeries every year for the past twenty years (he’s a Family Physician who, because of the tremendous need, when he was 55, trained in cataract surgery in Angola under a missionary eye surgeon from the US) .  He travels to remote locations (this week he was working near Catchiungo) and does surgeries two weeks monthly and gives sight to hundreds of people monthly through his energetic and selfless work (a well-worn tool in our Father’s hands).  Florindo, one of our faithful nurses, traveled with me, and we dropped off our patients and proceeded to the governor’s offices.  We were warmly greeted and given a tour of their (very third world) hospital and were supplied with a car full of meds (some of which will be helpful), to bring back to our Cavango hospital.  There was very much a spirit of collaboration, as they are very much aware of the great need and remoteness of the Cavango region.

 

We appealed to them to be an approved TB and Leprosy treatment center (they would supply the meds), we sought a government supply of vaccinations and a gas-powered refrigerator in which to store them.  We sought additional beds for our hospital, a generator for power at night, and an ambulance to transport people to and from our facility.  I believe we can make a radical health difference in this extremely populated, rural region if the surrounding health posts (with nurses working with severely limited resources and training) have a means to contact us and a means of transporting their more serious cases to us.  A cell tower is being constructed about 40km from us which will help with the means of contacting us, while an ambulance (a sturdy truck) would allow us to pick up people with serious, urgent health concerns.  We see many people with suspected TB every week and we currently have 14 cases of Leprosy who cannot get to the city for their monthly medication pick-up, taken daily for 8-12 months, respectively.  The ability to provide vaccinations might be the part of our proposal with the most potential impact (no one is vaccinated here), as prevention of so many vaccine-preventable, life-threatening illnesses would make such a difference.

 

Florindo is a man my age, has four living children, and has lost three to malaria.  His story is the norm here, as I would estimate that each pregnant woman I see in clinic has lost at least a third of her healthy-born children before the age of five, usually to malaria, diarrhea, or pneumonia (often after measles, so common and preventable with a very inexpensive vaccine).  I thoroughly enjoyed my trip with this extremely sharp and motivated man, who is devoted to trying to improve the health of the people of this region.

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In my last post, I shared about our “puppy scam”.  While this was occurring, we were staying with some dear friends in Lubango (the director of MAF, who works with us on our rural clinics, transporting me via the small MAF planes), who had a 6 year old, small, beautiful dog (loved by all), Dexter, that they were concerned about because they were giving him little attention of late and they were soon to leave for furlough.  They gave us Dexter!  He is absolutely the most adorable little dog and such a welcome addition to our family.  We have so thoroughly enjoyed our first week with him and he seems to quite enjoy the much attention he is receiving.  Being part of our Father’s caring, supportive, encouraging, and uplifting family is such a beautiful way to journey through this minefield of life, where injustice and pain are so prevalent.

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For those of us in the U.S. who think that life in this world in 2013 is pretty decent/prosperous/improved:

If all of the people in the world who make less than $2/day and don’t have access to safe drinking water and sanitation and go to sleep hungry (the causes of millions of deaths each year) were lined up shoulder to shoulder, they would circle the earth at its middle more than six times!  An easy- to- follow review of today’s statistics:

http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats#src1

 

Almost half the world’s population live on < $2.50/day (and prices are NOT cheaper where they make so little)!

 

If we remove China from poverty statistics (where radical improvement has occurred), the poverty numbers in the world are essentially unchanged over the past 30 years!

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Our Father reveals His heart for us in almost every page of His incredible letters, including where He is speaking about the consequences of living apart from Him (sin).  Let us today meditate on, and share with others, an accurate picture of who He is and His heart for all screwed up, sinful people (all of us).  We are told to handle accurately His words and be witnesses to who He actually is, apart from preconceived or man-made ideas/doctrines.

 

While laying out the ten commandments to the Israelites, and sharing with them the consequences of both following Him and rejecting Him, He says,

“I, the Lord your God… lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” (Ex 20:6)

 

In speaking to Ezekiel, in the middle of a very straight forward description of the consequences of living in rebellion to Him, He shares His heart for all people:

“Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. (Ez 18:23)

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I’m SO thankful this morning that we can walk with, speak with, and listen to, our living Father, and that we can love those He loves, serve those He serves, and trust Him to guide our available hearts to the tasks that HE considers priority.

 

Hard as it seems standing in dreams
Where is the dreamer now?
Wonder if I wanted to try
Would I remember how?

I don’t know the way to go from here
But I know that I have made my choice
And this is where I stand until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

This is the faith, patience to wait
When there is nothing clear
Nothing to see, still we believe
Jesus is very near

I cannot imagine what will come
But I’ve already made my choice
And this is where I stand until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

Could it be that He is only
Waiting there to see?
If I will learn to love the dreams
That He has dreamed for me

Can’t imagine what the future holds
But I’ve already made my choice
And this is where I stand until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice

— Twila Paris

 

2 comments

  1. What a privilege to partner with you and your family! Thank you for sharing from your heart, I always feel as though I am there with you. Blessings & prayers for you, your family and the people of Angola.

  2. Dear Brother Tim. Your proverb about “choosing to die” is an insparation to me. I have not chosen to die physically, rather I have chosen to die to self. As is often the case after my chemo treatments I go to the radiation lab to sit and talk with folks. Time after time I am involved in their journey through life. It is amazing thing to me that our Father has chosen me to be the bearer of comfort for many folks. My cancer is inconsequential to me. It is a welcomed hindrance that allows me to share Father’s love and care for the unsaved, unlovely, deformed by cancer, scaired to death by their prospects. To see the joy that a simple prayer brings to them is an overwhelming joy to me. It makes my journey one a joy and thankfulness rather than one of fear and anxiety. Father is taking such good care of me and blessing me so much that it is impossible to explain in human terms. Without this inconveinvent [sp?] cancer it would not be possible to minister to these folks. In 30 years of following Christ I have never felt so spiritually alive and “in tune” with what He is doing all around me. I have this distinct feeling of sitting in an audience watching Father work His love and caring. From time to time He calls me up from the audience and says “come on Dan, let us both be a blessing to this scared lonely woman with brain cancer. A simple prayer for My blessing and healing to come will change her life in a way that nothing else can do.” When the prayer is done I go back and sit in the audience and watch Him work. How can I be sad or anxious or concerned about my condition when He uses it to bless folks I would not have otherwise met. I pray for you and your family and your team everyday that Father would allow opportunity to do His work of love and caring, with the added bonus of being able to work miracles for these folks. I know that in your location a simple aspirin can relieve tremendous discomfort for those folks. The miracles you perform daily are not the type we are accustomed to, but for those folks who come to you and receive treatment your simple practice of basic medicine is a miracle to them beyond all they could ever expect. I thank God for you and folks who are assisting you. I am inspired to read your blogs and your “proverbs”. they are from the heart of one who has a deep personal walk with Father. What a blessing to me. Actually, I feel ministered to for your words are inspirational to me and are a catalyst for me to put to use as I am ministering to those around me here. I am able to comfort those around me with the same comfort that I have received. Some of that comfort comes from you. Though thousands of miles separating us physically, there is no distance spiritually. You are here in my heart ministering to me daily. Thank you so much for reaching out across the miles. In His Service, Dan Addison

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