This just in! The website I’d been working on for the hospital while we were in Gabon, Africa has finally launched… well, actually it went live over a month ago – I am a little behind in my announcements. My apologies. Part of the reason I’ve been holding out is to see if a few final revisions to content would be made… they have not, and understandably so… the nurse at Bongolo who is in charge of keeping up the website has been quite busy recently preparing for her 6-month home leave to the U.S. So rather than wait forever for perfection that may never come, here it is in its slightly imperfect form. Without further ado, I give you the new, improved Bongolo Hospital website, designed and programmed by yours truly. Your feedback and comments are always welcome.
Here are more exerpts from my journal from back in the middle of february…
Today while rounding one mom was trying to convince another mom that taking her child to Libreville for a medical test should be done for the good of the child– no matter the cost or inconvenience. The other mom had never even been to Libreville for anything in her whole life. There are two different worlds, even here. Some people come to Bongolo because we are “the best,” others because we are the closest. These are such different reasons, but both are part of the calling, part of the mission. Neither does God’s service without the other.
We are tempted to wonder about this divide between the “rich” and “poor” among the gabonese and seek solutions to be integrated into the mission… yet is all of life really a problem placed in front of us to solve? Part of me wants to say ‘yes’- that is being Christ’s hands and feet. Yet a bigger part of me wants to step back first. How many steps back does it take?
I feel like I’m catching glimpses of heaven, glimpses of God- how people value their own lives differently, their own flesh & blood. We can delineate the differences– education, environment, family values, travel experiences, money– but none of these matter in God’s eyes.
The eyes of men are blind to the wisdom of God, but the wisdom of God is not blind to the eyes of men.
He formed and redeemed us before He taught us how to live- He knows us intimately. It should not be our goal to seek solace in the wisdom of God, but to learn to see eye to eye with the man He has created. In one breath we praise our superior ability to decide how our lives will happen and in the next we take comfort in the plans of our awesome God– is there any doubt we are but confused beings, our religion elevating us no more than our salaries?
Are we more than bearers of our circumstances?
We have but one choice- to love or to hate- the rest is a gift. Blessed are we- not blessed to solve all the problems or cure all the ignorance- blessed only to love. And where the river flows less abundantly, the birth of hope. For hope sees the temporary nature of all that is lacking and waits for the ultimate gift.
We had lots of goodbyes, but probably one of the most poignant for us was our last game night with Amy, Lisa, and Jessica. We had dinner, once again threatened by electrical outtages. We had our favorite and most frequent meal: french toast.
Then, we settled in for our favorite pasttime besides eating, playing Ticket to Ride. I know these pictures of us playing a board game are not that exciting, but I just love it (if you can’t tell from my face), so bear with me!
Then Amy, Jeff, and I were treated to the dancing sensations of Lisa and Jessica. They had to learn this line dance for some other people that have been here several years and are leaving Gabon. They put it with one of my fav songs of all time, “Send me on my way” by Rusted Root. About halfway through we all got up and danced around. I have videos of both, sorry that the second one flips sideways for a bit.
Then, we kept on dancing and Amy taught us a line dance that was super fast (i.e. why I am not with anyone else ;).
Then, Jeff and I mentioned that we swing dance, so we did a little of that. I have a video of that too, but it is completely sideways. I am including it for those of you that were not at our wedding or some other such place to have seen us dance in person. Again, my apologies on having to turn your computer or your head sideways.
It was a great end to a great two months of sharing with one another. We are so grateful for the friendship of Amy, Lisa, Jessica, and all the other missionaries that we met along the way. They will be held always in our hearts and prayers.
We are home. Finally. After several days of journeying, we are this morning well refreshed from a long night’s sleep in our own bed. O, was it sweet. So, for all of you worried about our safety the last two months, rest assured we are back in our American home, for what it’s worth. For those of you who are more interested in the stories, here you go…
I will start back from our leaving Bongolo, because we didn’t really post much about that trip yet. We took an SUV, driven by one of the guys who works at the hospital, about 2 1/2 hours up to the region city center of Mouila.
The entire journey was just over 60 miles, but it took so long because the roads were full of holes so big that calling them potholes would be an upgrade. At one point along the way, we couldn’t even get through the road because a hauling truck was stuck in the mud/”puddle.” This rain-filled hole was so big that we thought it was a bridge that had gone out! To get around, people that were apparently with this truck had machete-ed a path through the surrounding grass.
Once we got to Mouila, we had to make a few stops before catching our plane. The first was at this big pink house that is now serving as the cell phone store headquarters. All of the cell phones stores (which are everywhere!) are painted this hurt-your-eyes pink color. We had to get a new SIM card for the phone so we could call Pastor Sangoye to pick us up when we got to Libreville. (Although, once we got to the Mouila airport we realized we didn’t have any units left to make a call- go figure) I’m just glad we got to see the pink house.
Next, we went to the bakery to buy our lunch. We had stopped here on the way down and fell in love with the “pain au chocolat” and “pain au raisin”– two incredible pastries. This time we also indulged in the cream-filled variety. We were intrigued by the swan-looking things that I zoomed in on, but we went for the more boring long skinny thing next to it. It was amazing!! In the top pic you can also see Phillipe, our driver.
Our next stop was on hospital business, but it was interesting to me. This little building is where all of the people in a some 100 mile radius have to come to get their HIV meds. As I have mentioned previously, I think, Bongolo just got permission to have these medicines, but we haven’t been able to locate any in Gabon yet. So for now, we still have to send patients here.
Next, we went off to the airport. It is forbidden to take pictures of government buildings or people in Gabon, so we don’t have a photo of that. It was this really big open building that we could not figure out for what reason it needed to be so big. They had all these rooms and areas that looked like they might be filled if someone really important were to come, but mostly just sit empty. We had to get there at 12:30 to check in, but our plane didn’t come until 4. You never can be sure when it will leave Libreville to get to us or if it will go to Tchibanga (the other stop) before or after Mouila. When you ask the people at the airport these questions, they think you are crazy for thinking they should know these answers.
Once on the airplane, God treated us to quite a show.
This was less than half of what you could see. It was like a full circle rainbow!
Libreville from the air
Now flash forward to our trip back to the States. We got on our first plane at about 10PM Sunday night. This took us to Paris. Slept in an uncomfortably freezing, but fashionable chic Paris airport. Got on our next plane at 10AM. This took us to “Détroi,” as AirFrance would call it. In Detroit we were in a daze- half because of our some 30+ hours with little sleep, half because of all the American-ness. We walked around trying to decide what food we craved the most for a snack/lunch/dinner/whatever meal you eat when you’ve been eating every couple hours with time changes and no sleep. We decided on chicken nuggets and fries from McDonald’s. Cliché, but oh so good. Our waistlines already began re-expanding as we drooled in front of the menu. And lo and behold, we finally saw the Eiffel Tower!!!
We flew in or out of Paris four times and never once saw it. Between darkness, fog, and just poor luck, we just never did see it. However, as we took our seats in the McDonald’s of the Detroit airport, our eyes feasted on its glory. As tired as we were, we couldn’t help but grab one last photo.
Soon after, we got on our little airplane back to Indy. We read through the Delta magazine and SkyMall and we were home!! Boy, SkyMall is one interesting thing to read through when you’ve been in Africa for two months. You should try it some time.
Today was great!! We weren’t expecting much from these last few days here since we are by ourselves without our hosts, but today was really great. We got to sleep in for the first time in awhile. We did it up right and slept until 10 or 11 or something. We also didn’t want to get up too early because we didn’t have much food in the house, so we figured we could get by with two meals instead of three this way. We managed to put together some things that had been left in the house: croissants with jam, a chocolate pudding for jeff, a tomato and some leftover berry cobbler for me. Then I made some nutella sandwiches to take with us to the beach! Pastor Sangoye, a gabonese man that works with the missionaries and the only person we know in Libreville, has been kind enough to take us a few places. He took us to the beach today, well drove us to the beach. We were there until sunset and it was beautiful!!
I bought this coconut from a man on the side of the road. It was huge and delicious! So this is what Tom Hanks lived off of in Castaway… not bad.
Not the most beautiful sunset ever recorded (see earlier post) but an amazing end to our beach day.
After our time at the beach, Pastor Sangoye picked us up and took us to Mbolo, the big Walmart-esque superstore to buy some groceries. It was really expensive. It was like $5 for 2 slices of deli meat. Needless to say, we will be living on grilled cheese. We did get some frozen pizzas that we ate tonight that were very good and reasonably priced. Here are a few of our favorite finds:
A duplo candybar, one of my favs from Rome, Cappucino flavored Light Cola, and Roasted Chicken and Thyme flavored Lays… should be interesting!