Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top 10- marketing in Impfondo, pt 1

Marketing in Impfondo

After I saw this post about grocery shopping in Djibouti, I knew I needed to do one about shopping in Impfondo.  It's a little different than shopping in the US... OK, make that A LOT different.

1. Car... what car?
It is possible to drive the 1.5 miles to the market, but not really necessary.  I prefer to take my bike- with or without the cart, depending on how much I think I will buy on that trip.

Walking is always an option, too.  When you walk, you have a chance to see more of the people and neighborhood on the way.... and they have a chance to see you and talk to you.

2. Cash only.
There are no checks or credit cards, only cash.  But there is an ATM you can use to get cash from your bank.  Just remember that it is going to be a community event- no privacy.
The line at the ATM is watching the person at the front of the line use the ATM.  It is common to offer advice to the person using the machine.

3. Open air market
Supermarket?  There's no such thing.  Instead there is an open air market with some stores that are a single room attached to a row of similar stores.  They carry a small selection of canned goods and other household items.  There are usually the same things in most of the stores.

There are also stands and tables all throughout the market.  This means that when it rains, the market closes down until the rain is over.  Then it is necessary to wade through the mud puddles as you navigate the market.

4. Uniformity
There's not any uniformity in the appearance of stores- or in their height.  Stephen was too tall for many sections of the market, and even at 5'2", I often had to duck.

5. Packaging
Many things are not sold in packaging, and you can buy the amount you need.  You only need one egg?  That's fine, because you buy them individually.

 Things like dried beans are sold by the scoop.  Fruit and vegetables can be bought individually or by the small stack.  Unless you brought your own sack or container, your purchases will be wrapped in newspaper or banana leaves.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Impfondo- Top 10 list

You may have spent some time in Impfondo if...

1. You need a sweater, long pants, and socks when the temperature drops to 80F.

2. You can remove your shoe and kill a bug... or a bat... in one smooth move.

3. Candle light no longer makes you think of romance or mystery, but power outages.

4. You feel like it's Christmas when a letter or package arrives in the mail.

5. You're not afraid to have spirited discussions about whether or not someone can use your banana trees as an outhouse.

6. You say "No, thank you" politely when someone presents a snake at your front door instead of running and screaming.
I wasn't really calm and collected enough to get a picture of the snake, but the big lizard was another slightly scary thing we had to politely turn down.

7. Your children refuse to wear anything but flip flops on their feet.
Flipflops & machete... what could go wrong?

8. You think it's a good thing to match everyone around you.

9. Rainy days don't make you think of umbrellas, but of unplugging all your electronics, bringing the laundry in off the line, and putting out basins to catch the rain that leaks through the roof.

10.  You can keep a straight face when people compliment you on becoming fat, and reply with a kind, "Thanks, you too!"
I'm pretty sure this is how I look when someone tells me I'm fat. 

If you've lived overseas, what would your list include?

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Sunsets from Impfondo (top) and Montana (bottom)
Our last update was about a series of "good-byes" while we traveled from Impfondo to Brazzaville and back to the US.  We have continued to travel, but this time it has come with a series of "hellos" as we reconnect with family and friends.

We have been in a period of recovery and exploration: rest and recovery from our experience and exploration of our options for future ministry.  We are still trying to get used to speaking about our home in Impfondo in the past tense instead of the present tense.  In many ways, it still feels like home, and our hearts are with many of the people there.  We know that God has the situation in His control, and we can trust him with the hospital and people of Impfondo.

We have slowly traveled west, and we are now back in Montana.   There has been the opportunity for us to talk to people who are serving at some other hospitals in French speaking Africa.  There are four possible hospitals that we are considering, and we would appreciate prayers for God's guidance in the process.

The children are all doing well.  They would have all preferred to stay in Congo, which made the initial transition difficult.  While they still miss Impfondo, they are becoming excited about our next locations.  We started school on Labor Day (in Georgia), and we have been continuing to homeschool as we travel.  They have enjoyed catching up with their cousins and friends, and meeting some new friends.

Although in some ways we are eager to get back to ministry in Africa, we know that it is important to take the time to transition well.  We are still planning to spend around six months in the US.
We will be in Montana until we return to the east for our debriefing conference at the beginning of November.  After this, we hope to be able to share more details about the future.

We will still be posting a few things from our time in Impfondo on the blog throughout the fall and winter.  Thank you again for all of your encouragement and prayers for us.

Left: Hiking in Impfondo with Sarah Speer
Right: Hiking in Montana

Friday, September 18, 2015

At the river

This past March, we took a walk beside the river with Sarah Speer.
It was nice to get off the hospital compound and see some of the surrounding area. 

You can't see clearly, but there are 4 people on the motorcycle, and the person in the back is holding 2 chickens!

Fishermen working on the days catch

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

BLS training at HELP

In April, the doctors, missionary nurses, and some visiting students had classes to teach the nurses Basic Life Support.  This was the first time a course in basic CPR had been offered to all of our nursing staff, and it filled a much needed gap in response to acute care.

After the demonstrations, the nurses divided into three groups to put things into practice.
The following week, they returned for a practical exam.

 You can see a video of the highlights of the class here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Random Saturday- part 6: Surgery, part 2

This is the last part of the surgery patients.  Each of them is grateful for the opportunity to receive surgery services in Impfondo instead of traveling to the capital to receive similar services with a much greater cost to the family.

A straight forward surgery here and a gentleman who loves to talk.

This gentleman is back in after a complication from a hernia repair I did.
He is handling it well and should make a complete recovery.

This little guy is an Auca who broke his leg in three places when a tree that is parents were cutting down for honey fell on him.  I was very happy to have Guillome  (a PT student from France) here to work on him.  His last day he wanted to walk the 30km home with his family.

This little lady suffered much from a poorly done injection at an outside hospital.
Her smile and spirit encouraged me, and she healed well.
She also benefited from Guillome's presence.

This lady posed many diagnostic dilemmas during her hospital stay and needed to be evacuated for further imaging.
It's not often we have to do that, and hopefully, she will make a full recovery.

Happy?  This lady needed an amputation to battle a skin cancer on her  foot.
She was not happy to lose her leg but is glad she has a chance at life.

This lady is another stroke victim.  There are still not a lot of cholesterol problems in Africa, so  coronary artery disease is relatively rare.
However, strokes from uncontrolled blood pressure are very common, and we struggle to provide good supportive care to them.

Here is another forest victim.  He fell out of a tree and had a complex arm fracture.
After several weeks in the hospital and some rehab, he is doing better.

There are a lot of imperfect results pictured here, even though we do what we can. You've seenmany reminders of our "limits"- humanly speaking. Yet, God is bigger than those, and each of these people had the opportunity many times to experience God's love, hear His story, and to make a choice for Him. 
Continue to pray,

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Random Saturday- part 5 surgery

I am very grateful to all the docs who took time to teach me surgery skills while we were in Impfondo: from Drs Fuka and Harvey to Drs Cooper and Hyre, Dr Mackenzie, Dr Greene and many others who talked me through and walked me through many procedures. These people in these picturess have a chance at healing because those doctors took time to teach.
This gentleman is recovering from a "simple" hernia, which is never simple for me.

Traffic accidents are major source of injury.  This guy has a complicated open lower leg fracture that needed skin grafting, flaps, and other techniques that I learned when in Soddo with Dr Greene.

This gentleman presents another severe wound infection needing removal of dead tissue and placement of a skin graft in a very complex area.

This old guy has an indomitable spirit and is here for chronic wound care.

Another bane of an aging African population is hypertension and stroke.
This guy has survived polio but now has very hard to control blood pressure and his first stroke at the age of 47.

Remember the war back in 2009?  This guy does.  He didn't make it to us then and now has an infected hip joint that needs ultimately a hip replacement.
Another hernia repair.  Thanks Dr Hyre, Cooper, and Mackenzie for helping with these when you came to our  place.

Here is another jaunty soul.  He likes wearing our scrub caps. He has ulcers on his legs, and he has failed at one skin graft already.

If you think your life is tough, remember you could be suffering from the stigmata of leprsoy like this gentleman, unable to walk, and now with urological problems as well.  He keeps on trucking.

Keep praying for these guys. When we left on August 14th, a couple of them were only 2 days out from some pretty complicated repairs. Pray for complete healing and no complications from the surgeries. Thanks for walking with us in this journey.