Container Chaos, The Reporter, Stories, Emphasis…

What a Friday. A container arrived, full of steel that had been put in the container by caring and devoted friends in the US who thought of those we serve and took the steel from a demolished building and put it in a 40’ container and shipped it here. Our guys offloaded all the heavy steel by hand over the morning and our two tireless, visiting machine operators, Greg and Andre, slid the huge container off the truck with the dozer and dropped it beautifully on the path in front of the hospital. Included in the container were 100 pillows donated by “My Pillow”. I solicit donations from many companies and virtually never hear back. This group responded and made a generous donation that will serve many at our hospital in a small way for years. Also contained was valuable, donated X-ray equipment, solar equipment, portable generators and much more that will improve our service remarkably.

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While we tried to organize the off-loading and the distribution of material in intermittent, light rain, three patients arrived in coma, a woman arrived in complicated, early labor and delivered a healthy little, 2kg premature boy who was breathing well on oxygen when we left last night, our registration area remained full with new patients all day, and we also tried to attend to our 80+ inpatients.

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Marcos arrived in a diabetic coma, responding quickly to our immediate treatment, waking and conversing the rest of the day. After recovering well with us in September, he was feeling unwell a week ago and made the mistake of going to a city hospital where they don’t know how to diagnose or treat diabetes. He became comatose in the hospital and had continued in a coma for two days when his family took him out of the city hospital and brought him to us (several hours on a motorbike!).

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13y/o Mario arrived after losing consciousness several days ago (!) from cerebral malaria and remained the same at the end of the day, having begun aggressive malaria treatment and IV rehydration, though he opened his eyes and began responding to pain before I left last night, Mariana arrived in septic shock with Toxic Shock Syndrome, as Eduardo brilliantly discovered her vagina packed with vegetative material and her husband didn’t know how long it had been there (all-natural “remedy” by someone). She needed an IV placed in her sternum, copious rehydration and aggressive antibiotic therapy. All of these, along with our complicated delivery of a 20wk gestation (!), required significant “divided” attention and they were all still alive when we left later last night.

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Vision, vision, vision… This is one crazy place! I had a brief staff meeting last night (in the dark with a light on!), with those who had worked the long day, and reiterated my sincere belief that our Father has brought each and every one of them to Cavango, to join with us, the DeSouzas, Laurel, Greg, Andre, MAF, CEML, AGA, SIM, UIEA, VCDC, Hands of Hope, My Pillow, Tranquility, and all of our devoted contributors from all over the world… to make a life-saving/changing difference in a few lives… because our Father wants to reach His/our sweaty hands into the difficulties and pain of these forgotten rural people…

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What a unique perspective is one which recognizes purpose in the chaos, provision in the crisis, adventure in the mundane…

Our Father has placed each of us in a place of influence, whether or not we embrace that perspective, which transforms every encounter into an opportunity to serve/love/edify those with whom we interact, an adventure in which He is able to make use of every joint and tendon in His body to tangibly touch those He loves…

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Jocelyn had a unique encounter at the Chinhama airstrip as she was dropping off patients to be flown via MAF to Lubango for urgent surgery.

The setting: There was a governmental function taking place in this town which is the “county seat” for about 50 villages, like ours. The medical work in Chinhama “treats” about 10% of what we do in Cavango, but they see their pathetic work as superior, because of their position in the “food chain”, and they “lord” their authority over us every chance they can, arriving often and looking for things we might be doing which would enable them to issue us a fine. Position is given great weight in this culture and merit is given little. The population is to serve its leaders and the government is designed to create and sustain order/control and, as well, to serve the leaders rather than serve the people. Living in a place like Angola reveals how radically different and beautiful were the perspectives of the founders of the US as they sought to create a government “by the people and for the people”…

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Jocelyn arrived in Chinhama about the same time as the MAF plane and this attracted the attendees of the government event (from all over the province), who crowded around the landed plane with the usual onlookers who love to watch the weekly landing and departure of the small plane. Many of the visiting governmental authorities had never seen a med-evac and pushed their way to the front of the crowd to observe. One of the patients was transported into the plane by stretcher and the others walked up the steps into the plane. One man separated from the others and questioned Jocelyn about the details behind what was happening. She told the man that this was a weekly flight to transport to Lubango those in need of urgent, life-saving surgeries. When he heard the details, he was astonished and said he had never seen anything like it in Angola. He said he was a reporter and had vast experience in all of the activities of his country. He gathered the people around and began to animatedly exclaim about what he was witnessing, saying that he had never seen such demonstration of love in his career and that rural, neglected people were being served by these “foreigners” in a way that Angolans never serve their own people. He went on for several minutes about the wonder of what he was witnessing as he expressed that he couldn’t believe that this was taking place in such a remote area…

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We sent to Lubango this week a woman with an abdominal pregnancy (outside the uterus and in the abdomen), which occurs in about 1/100,000 pregnancies. The baby and mother just may survive, if the baby and placenta survive for 32-36 weeks, to be removed surgically at term.

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This week a 70y/o man arrived (by motorbike!), saying that he fell a year ago and hadn’t been able to walk since the fall, because of pain. He had sustained a very common hip fracture, but had no idea that there was treatment for his ailment. He will go to Lubango and receive surgery and will walk again. Sometimes we are simply “gatekeepers”, ushering people to appropriate treatment by our talented colleagues in Lubango.

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We currently have three patients on simple oxygen therapy who would not have survived without it. A baby arrived last week in a coma with constant seizures, very little oxygen in his blood, and not nursing. We were able to hydrate him, provide supplemental oxygen and treat his meningitis and pneumonia and, within 48hr, he was nursing, breathing easily and responding to his parents.

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A teenage girl arrived with difficulty breathing and unable to swallow because of throat pain and we were able to treat her life-threatening epiglottitis with antibiotics and strong anti-inflammatories and she was eating within 48hr.

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Malaria season is beginning and a 1y/o baby arrived in acute respiratory distress because her hemoglobin (blood count) was 2.5 (normal 12).  The malaria had consumed 85% of her blood over a week.  We were able to provide a transfusion of a small amount of her mother’s blood and, within several hours, she was breathing normally.  This will be a common procedure in coming months…

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A 45y/o man arrived in coma, having lost consciousness 48hr prior, after not feeling well for several weeks. We began treatment for TB meningitis and for three days saw no change. I arrived one morning and he greeted me, sitting up in bed, with a smile and “Bom dia” (good morning). Several days later, he greeted me outside with a huge grin, and walked into the ICU for his exam with no difficulty at all, sat in a chair (rather than his bed), casually crossed his previously paralyzed legs and told me how great he was feeling. His turn around was one of the more spectacular we have seen.

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Almost the whole MAF team arrived last week with a plane and a truck carrying dozer fuel (20hr trip!) to begin work on the airstrip. They hope to have the work completed in just two months. Over the past three months, 30 local men have removed 10 large, rock-hard termite mounds (the size of a 2-car garage) with hand tools (!) to get the work started and Greg and Andre, from Canada, will move all that dirt into place to create a beautiful, 1km, dirt airstrip which will potentially serve hundreds of rural, barefoot people over coming years with flights (!) to life-saving surgeries. Our partnership with this organization has saved countless lives through the years and so many more will be served with an airstrip located an easy, one mile transport from the hospital.

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The exterior walls are complete on our new building and it will be able to sleep up to 100 patients/night through this rainy season. We will work on the interior walls next year. We are also beginning to roof an area of about 80ft x 40ft which will provide cover for the families who must care for our inpatients during their stay with us (the steel in the arriving container will be used for this building). This work should be completed this month.

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So many of you are the hidden contributors behind every facet of our work. I wish you each could see the remarkable recoveries occurring daily in such a remote place full of people that no one cares about but our Father and you (the motivation for me to write). Please know our gratitude for your partnership with us. Like the reporter said, no one loves these people like you do!

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A friend said she was attending a conference about listening and obeying God’s “voice”.  It is a costly, rich life.  The One we follow did the same and was mocked, ridiculed, tortured and killed. Listening to God, walking by His Spirit…  A totally novel way to live, even in what is called today, His “church”.  Paul encouraged living “by the Spirit”, along with principles and reasoning, emphasizing that our Father’s letters to us would support decisions led by His Spirit, but that many would not understand…

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Drop in the bucket… Lost coin/sheep… How do we evaluate our lives/work/effort? So many are consumed with things that don’t matter. Personal success drives many. As does more comfort/leisure. Peace. Fame, esteem, reputation… Feeling good. I’ve been there. Emphasis matters. We must choose between good and evil, good and good. Majors/minors… On what things/people do we place the emphasis of our time/effort/resources? We all rationalize our decisions/choices and it takes great courage to evaluate our lives without a bias of self-protection/promotion/defense. In the 1960s, AW Tozer said the biggest weakness in the church was failure of self-evaluation. Emphasis…

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On what/whom will I place the emphasis of my effort, resources, and time today?

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