PROJECTS 2

In April of last year we held a two day strategic planning meeting. We came out of it with a bold, and to many minds, ridiculous, vision and plan. And I of course was one of those who thought, “It can’t be done,” at least not anytime soon. Well, I thought I would just let you know what has happened to that Strategic Plan and how God apparently views it. I am telling you it is His doing, not ours.

Accounting/Finance

Julian, our CFO, is also a vocalist, here he is singing in the choir.

Our accounting system has consisted of income and expense reports done on Excel. In early December I added up all the income since we re-opened in November 2015, and compared that to all our recorded expenses. When I looked at the cash we had on hand and the difference between our income and expenses we were missing 50 million leones ($7,500). A quick search revealed a stack of expense vouchers in the accounts office that stood 6 inches high. Surprise, surprise, they totaled up to almost 50 million leones. It was good to account for the money, but it also meant that all our income/expense reports were bogus as were the decisions we had made based on them.
“Before they call, I will answer”, “I know the plans I have for you.”

Julian getting badly beaten at checkers. Good thing he doesn’t gamble.

Last July we received notice that Julian Marin, a young man from Columbia, wanted to come volunteer with us. He was actually answering the call we had put in for an assistant for Bekki. However, he was way overqualified, Bachelors and Masters degrees in accounting, finance and computers. Shortly after arriving here he told us he could help us develop an accounting system. He spent the fall months writing the software and then it went on line in December. In December he took on the position of Chief Financial Officer of our Adventist Health System.

Julian is laying the cornerstone of the new guest house he is raising money for.

Now we have a working accounting system, we have Julian watching over the accounts department to make sure we don’t have a repeat of the expense voucher fiasco, and we can get accurate reports when we need them, and we know how much money we have, or how much we owe, what our true financial picture with just a few key strokes.

Extension

Mission Direct is an NGO out of the UK (like a non-SDA Maranatha) that has projects all over the world, building schools, orphanages, bakeries and helping hospitals. They have worked with us for 10 years, and have done most of the building of the current hospital, including the guest rooms that are in constant use by our volunteers. Well, a few years ago, pre-ebola, Mission Direct constructed a new wing (lovingly referred to as the extension) for the hospital, with 2 wards, Labor and Delivery Suite, and 5 private rooms. The project reached a stand-still however as funds became an issue.

Nevertheless, this is Africa, and partially finished is usable, so we have been using the unfinished private rooms and the one of the wards is the temporary home to physical therapy. But, the extension needed finished. We figured it would take $20,000 to finish it off. Where would the money come from? Praise God for the Winifred Stevens Foundation. They included the extension in their grant!

New women’s and Pediatric Ward.

We got to work and re-did the electrical and plumbing, bringing it up to a better standard, we got rid of the steep slopes in the corridor that made moving patients not only difficult but dangerous, we got the leaks in the roof fixed, tiled the wards and made the private rooms worthy of the name.

In March a Mission Direct team was here and we had a special grand opening ceremony with them and the Conference officials and local dignitaries. The extension is open for business!!

Opening ceremony for the extension with Pastor Daniel Sandy, the Sierra Leone Mission President, and local dignitaries.

The first women’s and pediatrics ward is typically close to full. Physio continues to use the other ward until we get them into their new building. Four of the five private rooms are open for business, with Mr. Danquah our Director of Spiritual Ministries is using the fifth room as an office.

Physical Therapy

Samson doing physio in the Palava Hut, April 2016.

It was just 14 months ago that we opened a new service at AHS, Physiotherapy as it is called here. Samson Idowu from Nigeria has brought his special skills to serve our patients. He uses a combination of massage and strengthening exercises to get people up and on their feet again.

Sonya Bradburn, Occupational Therapist from Tillamook, Oregon working with patients in the physio department.

He rightly has pointed out that many of the patients suffer from PTSD due to the Rebel War or Ebola and mostly they need a loving touch, prayer and encouragement. We often have people come in to the hospital unable to walk or move their upper limbs. After just a few days working with Samson and his assistant Zainab, many are functional again.

Samson working in the Physio room of the finished extension.

We have been blessed to have occupational and physical therapists from the US come and work with our team. In May we will have a massage therapist from Canada for 3 weeks. These specialists all bring new skills and education to our physio team, and the rest of the nursing staff.

Thanks again to the grant from the Winifred Stevens Foundation we are in the process of constructing a new home for Physio. The building will include a general treatment room, a massage therapy room, patient changing rooms and a storage room. A special bonus is the new office for our manager and secretary, which will free up needed space in the hospital.

Pharmacy/Lab

The HIV Counseling Center, and site of the new Pharmacy and Lab.

Our pharmacist does her best to work out of a 4X12 foot closet, and although the lab is in a larger room, it too is undersized. Both departments need more room and stable power so they keep medications and certain reagents refrigerated. In addition, we need a blood bank. Currently patients who need a blood transfusion have to find a donor, and then once a match is found, blood is taken from the donor, placed in a transfusion pouch and directly transfused into the patient. That system does have some merit. There is no question that fresh whole blood is better for you than aged blood components, such as packed red cells. However, it only works for chronic or semi-acute anemias. Any patient who is actively bleeding and needs a transfusion right now, is out of luck.
But to have a blood bank requires stable electricity with battery backup. We are on our way to the electricity part with the recent purchase of a 15kva diesel generator. This way we now have power 18 hours a day. We will need some battery back-up for the lab and pharmacy though, to make sure their refrigerators never go above a certain temperature.

One of the Mission Direct Teams from the UK.

But what about the rooms themselves? Enter our old friends, Mission Direct, from the UK. They have agreed to take on, as much as they can, the project of adding on to, and remodeling our HIV counseling center. The foundation is done, the slab is poured and a team in coming the second week of April to continue on with the walls. As God sends the money they will send the teams to get the job finished.

The walls are up!

Mission Direct Team members hauling block in the hot African sun.

For more frequent, up to the minute short updates please follow us on Instagram or on Facebook, we are Scott N Bekki Gardner.

For those of you who are new to our blog please look around at the other pages, the “About” page tells a bit of who we are and our background, the “Definitions” page explains some terms that are used that some of you may not be familiar with, such as GC or AHI. The “Timeline” gives an idea of where we will be throughout the year, and the “Video” page has a video Bekki made of Koza Hospital as well as the videos she has made of Moundou, and now we are adding videos of Sierra Leone. Watch a real Ebola survivor tell his story. Watch our community health officer explain why the staff agreed to work in the Ebola Red Zone even after they lost 2 staff members to Ebola. There is also the Surgical Pictures Page, but be forewarned, it has some very graphic pictures, so if you don’t like blood and guts, stay away from that page. On the Projects and Donations pages you can find the projects we are working on and how to donate to the project that touches your heart. Finally, if you like our blog and want to receive each new post directly to your e-mail, please sign up with your e-mail in the subscribe box. It doesn’t cost anything, there is no commitment, it just makes it easier to follow us.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

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Three Holes

Our mission at AHS-SL (Adventist Health System-Sierra Leone) is to demonstrate the healthcare ministry of Jesus Christ. It has occurred to me that Jesus was actually more interested in healing people’s souls, than their bodies. Consider the story of the paralytic in Mark 2, Jesus forgave his sins first, then healed his longterm paralysis. And it really makes sense, I mean saving someone’s life is great, but what does it really do? It just pushes back the date of death a bit, but we all die eventually. I am all for relieving suffering, but after the treatment most people just get sick again, the relief is rarely permanent. But, if we can save a soul for eternity, wow, now that is something altogether different.

And so, at AHS we are trying to make ministry a big part of what we do as a mission hospital. Enter one Samuel Danquah. A diminutive Ghanian who worked in our accounts department. However, it was clear to all around him that his heart and natural gifts were in ministry, not in numbers. He was already one of our district evangelists (read lay pastor), overseeing 8 churches in the area. When it came to spiritual things at the hospital, the staff, even our chaplain, looked to Mr. Danquah for leadership (everyone here is Mr., or mommy, or aunty, or pa, you don’t call anyone except the young people by their first name).

Three months ago I tried to approach him about taking over the spiritual ministries at the hospital and the attempt fell flat. It probably was a good thing, because in the ensuing three months we have developed a clearer vision of where we want our spiritual ministries to go. And so we tried again. This time, it was an all out effort, Dr. Koroma talked with him over a 2 week period, I enlisted Pastor Sandy our mission president to talk with him. And we brought in the big guns, we prayed that the Holy Spirit would speak to his heart and lead Mr. Danquah and us in the right direction. And probably equally important, I stayed out of the conversation. It worked. Around the first of December he accepted the position of Director of Spiritual Ministries for AHS-SL.

He was officially to start the new job January 1, but he has wasted no time in taking on the new responsibilities. He has already found himself a temporary office and outfitted it. We have been able to fill his position in accounts with people already in place, so that transition has been an easy one. And in his first two weeks he has presided over three holes.

The first hole, for a too tiny casket.

The first hole, for a too tiny casket.

Last week I wrote about the first hole. He was the presiding elder at the funeral of the little son of one of our nurses. Fortunately, the next two were much better. In line with our increasing spiritual emphasis at the hospital, and due to the fact that our morning worships are full and overflowing, with not enough seating, it has become more urgent that we have a chapel for the hospital. Oh yea, also staff who are on duty, ambulatory patients and family members cannot attend Sabbath morning services because the school room where the AHS church meets is too far away. No, we need a real chapel, a place to have morning worship, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, Friday vespers and Sabbath School and Church. We need a place anyone can go, at any time and meditate and pray.
Site of our new chapel and the second hole.

Site of our new chapel and the second hole.

A couple of weeks ago Bekki mentioned it on facebook and we received a seed donation of $1000. That was enough to get us started. The second of the three holes was dug, this time for the foundation of our new chapel. We are moving forward in faith that God will bring in the needed funds to get it built. We have set a crazy goal of having it finished by the rains that will come in May.

Mr. Samuel Danquah, preparing to baptize the cornerstone of the chapel with cement.

Mr. Samuel Danquah, preparing to baptize the cornerstone of the chapel with cement.

I have had the privilege of participating in a couple of ground breaking ceremonies in the US, but we don’t do that here, we have a “Laying of the Cornerstone” ceremony. So it was that last Wednesday we interrupted Executive Committee to have the cornerstone ceremony. And of course our own Mr. Danquah led out, along with Pastor Moiba, the executive secretary of the SL Mission. Like everything else here, it was very spiritual and very ritualized. It was really cool. There was singing, prayers, and speeches, including multiple expressions of how long they had been waiting and longing for a real chapel. Then, starting with Pastor Moiba, the various dignitaries deposited some concrete on the stone laid in the corner of the hole for the foundation. Over the last week, work has continued on the foundation, and it will keep rising as money comes in.
Dr. Koroma adding his load of cement.  He got the words right.

Dr. Koroma adding his load of cement. He got the words right.

Yesterday Mr. Danquah presided over the third hole. This one is the foundation of the new physical therapy building. When we first arrived in April, physio was meeting in a gazebo. With the rains they moved indoors to an unfinished ward in an unfinished wing. But they really needed their own place.

In June we were encouraged to apply to the Winifred Stevens Foundation for a grant to help us with one of our projects. I asked Linda Spady, the chairwoman of the foundation, which project she recommended. She suggested we apply for all three, upgrade to our OR, complete the unfinished wing (extension) and construct a physio building, then let the board choose the one that spoke to their hearts. I still get goosebumps when I recall the moment I got the e-mail telling me that the board had not chosen one of the projects, but had agreed to help us with all three. So the theatre (OR) is being upgraded, the extension is being finished which will double bed capacity, and we are beginning construction on our physical therapy building.

The chief of Waterloo adds his comments and blessing to the construction of the new physio building.

The chief of Waterloo adds his comments and blessing to the construction of the new physio building.

Fast forward now to yesterday, it was again the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone, this time for the physio building. Again the hospital leadership, the mission leadership, and dignitaries from the town of Waterloo, including the chief, the press, were all there. The ceremony was very similar, and just as meaningful. Physical therapy is such a blessing to these people. They have such physical lives, lifting and carrying impossible loads, and they have sore muscles, joints and bones. Physical therapy and massage therapy relieves much of that pain.

The third hole, Pastor John Moiba, Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone Mission, starts us out by placing the first dollop of cement on the cornerstone of the phyiso building.

The third hole, Pastor John Moiba, Executive Secretary of the Sierra Leone Mission, starts us out by placing the first dollop of cement on the cornerstone of the phyiso building.

As each dignitary lays cement on the cornerstone it is important to dedicate the stone and symbolically the building to God. For the Muslims it is done in the name of God. For the Christians it is done in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Just like a baptism, but with cement rather than water. Last week I messed it up, not realizing that those words are an important part of the ceremony. To my credit, I am a fast learner, and I got it right this time. I only hope that my omission on the chapel will not diminish the blessing. Thankfully God knows the heart, and can overlook a novice’s mistake!

So, 10 days, three holes, and a very busy Director of Spiritual Ministries. But thanks be to God for His comfort in times of sorry, and His blessings on our efforts to emulate the healthcare ministry of Jesus through the spiritual ministry represented by our chapel and through the physical ministry represented by our physio building.

The whole group at the Cornerstone ceremony of the physio building

The whole group at the Cornerstone ceremony of the physio building

For those of you who are new to our blog please look around at the other pages, the “About” page tells a bit of who we are and our background, the “Definitions” page explains some terms that are used that some of you may not be familiar with, such as GC or AHI. The “Timeline” gives an idea of where we will be throughout the year, and the “Video” page has a video Bekki made of Koza Hospital as well as the videos she has made of Moundou, and now we are adding videos of Sierra Leone. Watch a real Ebola survivor tell his story. Watch our community health officer explain why the staff agreed to work in the Ebola Red Zone even after they lost 2 staff members to Ebola. There is also the Surgical Pictures Page, but be forewarned, it has some very graphic pictures, so if you don’t like blood and guts, stay away from that page. On the Projects and Donations pages you can find the projects we are working on and how to donate to the project that touches your heart. Finally, if you like our blog and want to receive each new post directly to your e-mail, please sign up with your e-mail in the subscribe box. It doesn’t cost anything, there is no commitment, it just makes it easier to follow us.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

THIS IS WHAT FAITH LOOKS LIKE

This is what faith looks like.

This is what faith looks like.

Yesterday I posted this picture on Instagram (you who are our facebook friends can follow us on Instagram to get immediate news and pictures) with the caption that read, “This is what faith looks like.” I promised a blog to share the rest of the story, well here it is.

In late May while we were still in the US I sent an e-mail to Joseph Fobbie, our manager, suggesting that for our physical therapy building it would be good if he and the rest of the AHS (Adventist Health System, Waterloo Hospital) team there in Waterloo did some fundraising with the Adventists on the peninsula and with the local community. That way everyone gets involved and takes ownership of the project and it is not just the westerners coming in and taking over.

Proposed Physio Building

Proposed Physio Building

Fobbie thought it was a good idea and e-mailed me back that he would maybe arrange a dinner and invite lots of people. I was pleased, frankly, with whatever he thought they would do. When we returned in June I got quite the surprise that first Sabbath morning. The plan now was to have a Thanksgiving Praise service on July 30 and take up a thank offering for the construction of the physio building. But there was more, Fobbie already had everyone organized into committees, the decorating committee, the music committee, the program committee, etc. And every week at church and during the week at the hospital he made sure the committees came together and did their planning and preparation work.

And work they did, a lot of it. I was pretty impressed as I sat back and watched them go at it. I purposely stayed out of this as it was 100% Sierra Leonean and the last thing they needed was some American messing things up. My role was to sign invitation letters and donation envelopes by the hundreds, these were then passed out and everyone was encouraged to invite at least 5 people.

Last week was a blur of last minute preparations, choir practices and the expected hiccups and trials. Remember it is still rainy season and for 8 days we had about 8 total hours of no rain. Travel was difficult and wet, so the organist didn’t make it one afternoon for practice. Other people on the program couldn’t make it at the last minute. You know the usual disasters that happen with big programs like this.

Friday afternoon was beautiful and Fobbie told me that Sabbath was going to be nice, too. Sabbath morning about 3 am it started to rain. Now, often it will rain for 2 or 3 hours then let up and mist for a while, then rain again, but not this time. It was still raining heavily when I let Brima, our night guard, out of the compound at 6:45. During my morning prayer I pleaded with God to stop the rain. I peaked, it was still raining. At breakfast at 8:15 we prayed again that God would stop the rain so people could and would come to the service. It was still raining as I cleared the table.

This was a “the devil is behind it” rain. Heavy, steady, with rivers running down the middle of the roads, making it very difficult for people to get around. At 8:50 am we headed up to the rented conference hall through the rain. Even with umbrellas we got wet. We arrived promptly at 9:01, I had opening prayer so I figured I had better be on time. Actually I think Mr. Fobbie had me do opening prayer so I would be on time.

Anyway, we arrived in the rain to a dark conference hall. Maybe 4 people were there. It was 2/3 full of probably 150 empty chairs, no lights, no fans, no congregation. Bekki and I were both sick at heart. Mr. Fobbie, and the whole hospital had worked so hard for this program, to get it just right, and now it seemed that the rain would keep everyone away, and it would all be for naught.

About then a truck came in with some of the young men from the hospital bringing a load of more chairs. Inwardly I sadly smiled and shook my head. There was no way they were going to fill the chairs already set up, let alone bring in more. This was crazy, but it was their crazy, not mine. That was when I took the picture, thinking, “Now that is faith, the substance of things hoped for and not yet seen” (Gardner’s paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1).

Since we had nothing better to do we helped dry off chairs and set them up in nice neat, empty rows. And we folded several hundred programs, thinking they would make nice paper airplanes later on. About 9:50 the man came to start the generator so now we at least had lights and fans. And people started to slowly trickle in. At 10:15, 75 minutes late, we started the singing, and as I sat on the platform and looked out over the audience I smiled, there were probably a good 40 or 50 people there. Scattered about so it didn’t look quite so empty. By the time lesson study started and the children were sent off to their program folks were starting to use those extra chairs we had set up and hospital staff were having to find seats in the front section for late comers. This is what it looked like by the end of lesson study as the rain finally stopped and the trickle of people became a stream then a steady river.

A full house

A full house

You know all those extra “faith” chairs, and all the programs destined to be paper airplanes? Good thing we had them, they all got used. Every chair was full with people sitting on the two outside verandas, the proverbial packed house. About 11 the rain stopped and the sun even came out for a bit, kind of a smile from heaven on our service.
Even the verandas were full.

Even the verandas were full.

One of the patients sharing his story with Samson (in the white AHS shirt) our Physical Therapist.

One of the patients sharing his story with Samson (in the white AHS shirt) our Physical Therapist.

It was the longest Sabbath School I have ever attended, over 5 hours, but it was so great. Testimonies were shared how God had used the hospital and physical therapy to help people, the story of the faithfulness of God and the staff from the days in Masanga through to the formation of AHS and its dark days were told again. Staff shared the ways God had blessed the hospital, bringing doctors and staff and funds at just the right times through the years. Choirs and musical groups sang praises to God of His faithfulness.
Dr. Koroma sharing his journey with AHS.

Dr. Koroma sharing his journey with AHS.

The Christ the King Church Choir during the processional.

The Christ the King Church Choir during the processional.

We showed pictures of the proposed physio building and the floor plan and explained what a blessing it would be to the hospital and the community, and then we had one of the more impassioned, energetic appeals for an offering I have ever seen. People came forward with 5,000; 10,000; 30,000 leones, some pledged a million leones, or 2 million. The goal was to raise 20 million leones in offering and pledges. But when it was done and the representatives from the 11 churches represented, the AHS staff and Sierra Leone communities abroad had given their pledges God had moved hearts to raise 35.5 million leones (just over $5,000)!!

Peter Koroma calling for the offering.

Peter Koroma calling for the offering.

In recognition of giving each person was pinned by an AHS staff member with a little lapel feather.

In recognition of giving each person was pinned by an AHS staff member with a little lapel feather.

When you consider that most of the people there make less than $150/month in salary it was a staggering amount of money to raise in one service. It removed in my mind any doubts about the cooperation from the Sierra Leone mission, especially as Daniel Sandy the Mission President gave a wonderful sermon on the giving our best to Jesus and on what AHS means to the SDA church in Sierra Leone. It removed any doubts I might have had about the commitment of the individual members to the health work here in Sierra Leone. It removed any questions I might have had about the willingness of the people here to do all they can for themselves. This whole program was theirs, they did it all, they did not need or want any help from us missionary types. And finally, whatever doubts or questions I have had about whether we are on the path God wants us to be on, headed in the direction He wants us to go, those doubts are gone, those questions are answered.

Joseph Fobbie, our business manager, with a huge smile as people came forward to support the hospital.

Joseph Fobbie, our business manager, with a huge smile as people came forward to support the hospital.

My question for you, our friends and readers from all over the world, can we match that $5,000 raised yesterday? We have over 200 followers on our blog, with more facebook friends, that comes to less than $25/person. Bekki and I will send the first $100 toward that goal. If you feel so moved, please send it to Adventist Health International and mark it for AHI-Waterloo-Physio building (details are on the donations page of this website.)

Faith is moving a hundred chairs in a pouring rain into a dark building with no one there, believing that they will come because God is with you.

For those of you who are new to our blog please look around at the other pages, the “About” page tells a bit of who we are and our background, the “Definitions” page explains some terms that are used that some of you may not be familiar with, such as GC or AHI. The “Timeline” gives an idea of where we will be throughout the year, and the “Video” page has a video Bekki made of Koza Hospital as well as the videos she has made of Moundou, and now we are adding videos of Sierra Leone. Watch a real Ebola survivor tell his story. Watch our community health officer explain why the staff agreed to work in the Ebola Red Zone even after they lost 2 staff members to Ebola. There is also the Surgical Pictures Page, but be forewarned, it has some very graphic pictures, so if you don’t like blood and guts, stay away from that page. On the Projects and Donations pages you can find the projects we are working on and how to donate to the project that touches your heart. Finally, if you like our blog and want to receive each new post directly to your e-mail, please sign up with your e-mail in the subscribe box. It doesn’t cost anything, there is no commitment, it just makes it easier to follow us.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner