Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trip back home

            I see that I didn't even tell folks of my trip on the "bus" home.  Should I somehow add that into the already long letter?  Not only is the road bad, try it in a bus crammed with people, some who don't smell very good, no AC and on you go.  Well, I got to the bus by 1:30 PM; the bus was to leave at 1:00.  I thought, good, it hasn't left yet and they said they would be leaving pronto.   Hey, this is Africa and we are on African Standard time ----Late. 

            Due to the African Soccer Cup being on and Ivory Coast playing and other things, the bus didn't leave till 5:30.  This is for a 5 hour trip ---we don't like to leave at night, but they wouldn't refund the ticket and I was ready to get home.  So, on we go ---I have my book, music, and a flashlight.  After witnessing to the woman next to me ---very good discussions as well, I think already saved, but untaught; it got to be around 8:30 (it gets dark here by 6:30 to 7) and we were just getting to the worst part of the road.  I felt us doing a U turn --I sit up, what is happening?  I don't know if he saw an actual barrage in the road (like bandits ready to steal whatever on the bus), or what.  Better safe than sorry.  He turned around and came to these few huts/houses on the road, pulled over, got out and announced that was as far as we were going tonight ---leaving again at 5 AM. 

            What a mess.  Well, God has us here for a reason --more witnessing.  I don't know if you've ever seen an Evangi-cube, great for witnessing.  So, there I was with the cube and my flashlight to shine on it and going through the whole plan of salvation with the crucifixion and the cross, only one way to heaven, etc. over and over as more people came up --about 4-5 times and in French.  It was actually fun and the wind was actually chilly.  Well, there were at least 15 to 20 there for that, very good discussion with a Moslem man, two others got saved.  So, God has a plan in everything and I can just relax in that. 

            Around 10:30 the crowd started thinning and people trying to find a place to sleep ---as on outside tables, in the bus.  I went to the outhouse and then opted for the bus.  I went to find the bus was very full ---had to get someone to move out of my seat - poor guy, but I couldn't just stand outside all night.  There was absolutely no thought of sleep for sure.  Not only were we crammed in there and hot, windows shut to keep out mosquitoes, there were cockroaches crawling in all the cracks of the seats and by the windows.  It was bad.  After killing a few of those, I figured to relax and read my book.  I had already tried many contortions (see the white woman trying to twist and turn in the seat) to get comfortable enough to sleep and figured that was hopeless.  I thought I'd try a table outside, but saw a rat crawl over it and thought the mosquitoes might get bad.  Then later the men were breaking up a table for firewood --it did get chilly. 

            Well, we started out again at 5 AM and I got home at 9:30.  So much for the simple 5 hour trip.   I don't think I'll take that line again and next time I won't give any money till I am sitting on the bus --that way I can change my mind if they get late.  Maybe there won't be a next time?  Life in Africa.  You have to have patience and know God has you where you are for a reason. 

            Well, I am surely long winded.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

February Prayer Letter

February 2008

It has been ages since I have written. SO much has happened. It seems overwhelming, and I don't know where to begin. This will be a lot of medical stuff—skim along if it gets too gory for you.

Some time ago we were going back and forth to Abidjan (five hours over very bad roads) selling puppies with Ruth and Hannah—12 puppies total (that might not seem important, but you'll see the significance in a moment).

Then Ruth's favorite African Civet, Simba, started to self destruct. He had some sores and was somewhat wild, as in you weren't going to lay him down and have a look at him. I gave him three Valium, but to no avail, trying to get him to sleep so we could see the problem. Finally Ruth was able to pick him up by the tail and get him into a large dog kennel so we could take him to the vet. He weighed about 60 pounds—not an easy feat. At the vet we gave him eight Calmivet, a medicine that would only take two to knock out a grown man, and still he was not asleep. He WAS out in the office however, and we were all up on counters and the desk. It was funny to see the vet and his assistant up on their desks. Finally we got my brother Sammy to come help hold Simba’s head so the vet could give him a shot to put him to sleep. It was so pitiful and very sad. If you know how much we love our pets, you can imagine the tears over that decision. It was super sad.

Since Simba was gone, Ruth decided to sell the other civets as well; she had two baby wild ones and another full grown one. We sold the whole batch, and she got all her money back. She can still go see them if she wants, which she does frequently.

Then David Messer, my nephew who is nine years old, got malaria. Becky gave him Plasmotrim, which is a good malaria medicine, but it didn't work on the type of malaria he had. It went into cerebral malaria, so they took him to the hospital/clinic here on Sunday. I went and spent the night with him Sunday night. Here it is not like the States where you feel like everyone knows what he is doing and you can relax. Here I stay awake and watch the IV, watch the nurses, ask just what they are giving. With IVs you do not want them to infiltrate, start going into the surrounding tissue, or get blocked off or clotted over. Also, you do not want any air in the lines. We didn't realize it, but David was having mini seizures or muscle cramps and talking in a bizarre way—all part of cerebral malaria. We thought it could be a reaction to the meds, or nightmares, or etc. The doctor didn't really know how to treat all this. He had one med in the IV and decided to stop it—thought it was causing the seizures (David got agitated as soon as the med started going in). Instead of changing the IV tubing and bag, he just turned off the IV. This was Sunday evening. (Are you getting the picture? IV off all night, clotted off, blood backed up in the tube though not so much, not to get the medicine in the bag.) The nurse came in the room in the morning and got ready to flush the IV, just push it through into David. I said, "Stop, stop." And when she continued, I reached over and clamped off the tube and said, "Stop! Go ask the doctor. This is not to go in." She went and checked. Another time it was a tube of air.

Around noon on Monday we were calling other doctors to figure out what to do. Our missionary friends in Abidjan have an excellent doctor, and after Andy talked to the doctor that is where we were headed. About now we realized what we were dealing with, and David was not responding well. We were trying to get to Abidjan as fast as we could, and Andy called to get an airplane to come for him. Out here it is all cash—no money, no service.  Banks will only let you draw out money in small increments. Andy came to our house to ask for money, and there were Ruth and Hannah with puppy cash in their room to cover the bill! God is always on the throne and is always good. I do so love that song that says, "If you can't see His hand, trust His heart."

I went with them to Abidjan, leaving Dan to run our house and Ruth and Hannah to take care of Andy and Becky's five girls. I know this letter is already getting long so will try to be quick. I was in Abidjan for 10 days. The doctor is excellent and has had many cases of this with coma, etc. David was in stage 2 coma, responding to pain, able to pull back from the pain, but not waking up.

We still had to be on our toes, but the staff was much better than here in San Pedro. I stayed by the IV. The nurses would go to sleep, bags would run out, medication would run out, etc. Since I am a nurse, I told them about IV pump machines which beep if the IV is messing up, running out, etc., and also that we would get fired if we went to sleep on the job. Not so here. If you get a couple of hours, find an empty bed and climb in. They do set their cell-phone alarms to wake them up for specific medicine times, but other than that, you are on your own. We (Andy, Becky, and I) were sleeping on cushions on the floor in David’s room. Sometimes when there were empty beds Andy and Becky were able to get a better night’s sleep. Twice Andy went home with a Moroccan man whose son was also in the hospital. Andy was able to witness to him and I to the wife and her mother. They were all so open, listened well, and accepted a Bible. I always slept in the room. I worked third shift as an RN, so this was my time.

During these 10 days, I was witnessing to the doctor and reading some wonderful books (Max Lucado, And The Angels Were Silent, and When Life and Beliefs Collide). I felt like I was in a spiritual warfare and a conference all at the same time. I can’t really describe it, but the doctor was so in tune and so very close and would come and talk for hours at a time. He is a Moslem (Lebanese) and has been really searching for answers. I gave him my own French/English New Testament––one I have used a lot, underlined in, and made notes. He is reading the Bible, and now it is the Holy Spirit who must draw him. I told him that he was there for David, but maybe even more so was that God had sent us there for him. The last day I was there he came to draw blood and said, “I prayed in the name of Jesus the Messiah.” That is a big step for a Moslem. I also witnessed to so many of the nurses. So many out here think they are Christians, know so many verses, but have never realized that they need to just pray personally to accept Christ as their Savior.

After 10 days I felt like I wasn’t really needed as much in Abidjan and came back to Dan and the family. David doesn’t have any more malaria, his IV is out, and he is eating a bit. He is not over this by far and needs lots of prayer. Andy and Momma have been sending out updates, but this is the first chance I have had. David walks with a shuffle and doesn’t have his coordination at all. Pray that God will restore him to full capacity as before. One quote from the second book I read: “There is no plan B with God. Plan B is a myth. God is still on the throne, and we are in plan A.” It is comforting to know that our God is good, and He is in complete control of our lives.

Dan thinks all this might have happened so that he would realize how much he misses me and loves me. He is so sweet. I am still praying for David and especially for the doctor. Andy has been able to continue the discussions. The last thing the doctor said was, “If I do believe that Jesus is God who came and died for us, then Moslems and the Quran are in error.” He is so close–– pray for him. Andy and Becky have been having many other witnessing opportunities there as well. We do pray that God will give us boldness.

This letter is WAY too long, but what am I to do? The reason I haven’t been on the computer is also because Dan has been working on the church constitution in French. This was a huge job, and it is finished!!!!!! Our church is ready to organize, have members, deacons, etc. It is exciting to see people growing. I had 18 in my ladies’ class today, and that is encouraging to me as well. People continue to get saved.
Keep praying!

Love in Christ,

Joan and Dan