KABIA – PART II

Last Sabbath I posted a blog about our lab technician, Amadu Dalton Kabia. Because of the power of the internet and social media, and the faithfulness of Christians everywhere, people were praying for Kabia in homes and churches literally around the world. We received responses from Taiwan, the Philippines, Europe and the Americas. Since then I have received a number of requests for an update.

Earlier this week I had a chance to sit down with Kabia and hear from him what happened.

As you recall he had been ill for a couple of weeks and just didn’t seem to be improving. Or, he would get better then relapse. Last Friday morning at 5 am, after a difficult night sleeping, his family came to take him home. He just wasn’t improving here at the hospital and it was time to do something else.

Kabia tried to resist, but as he told me, they were his elders and so he really had no choice but to obey. He was told they were going to take him to another hospital, but instead, he was taken directly home. As he suspected, once he arrived home plans were made to take him to the native healer. I addressed the problems with that in the last blog. He flatly refused to go, elders or not. So, they brought the native healer to him.

This lady has a lipoma on her left shoulder that I took off this week. However, notice all the scars. These are cuttings from the native healers, presumably to get rid of the evil lipoma on her shoulder.

At that point, he was not feeling well at all, but was with it enough to resist the power of the witch doctor in his heart. He said they did some kind of ceremony which he was unable to describe. They told him his illness was all due to the man we had fired earlier this year. He told them he didn’t even work with that guy, and had nothing to do with the firing. He told them if they could give him some natural remedies, herbs and such, to make him feel better, that would be fine. Otherwise, he said, forget it. With that, they left, presumably to leave him to his fate.

From that point on, he began to improve. By Monday he was strong enough to come back to the hospital and do a little work but mostly he rested and hung out with his friends. Tuesday, he did a bit more, and so on. I told him to come late, leave early, whatever he needed to do, but make sure he rested. Much of the burden has fallen on Sallie, his assistant in the lab. She has been able to do many of the tests, as they are automated ones, or use test strips. But those tests that require a microscope are harder and she is not really trained to do it. But, here in West Africa, you try anyway, you do your best, you never give up. So, we would find Sallie huddled at the microscope, just shaking as she tried her best to read the slides. She was so relieved when I told her she didn’t have to do that. I told her to Just do the tests she knows how to do.

At this time, Kabia is much better, still a little weak and tired, no doubt partly due to his Ebola history. But he looks bright (healthy), and he has his smile back. I am so proud of our lab, they really went through the testing fires this month and came out shining.

This is our lab crew, Michael on the left, Sallie on the right and Kabia in the middle. A truly indomitable group!

The devil is strong here, but the power of our God, unleashed by the prayers of the saints around the world, is stronger than all the forces of hell for those who submit to Him.

“Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV

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

Prayer II

Before you read this I want to remind everyone that we are missionaries, not saints, and that we are still struggling sinners just like everyone else. Now you can read the blog.

Time for true confession, prayer is something I still haven’t got totally figured out. I mean if God knows everything, and if He is going to pick and choose who He is going
to heal and what prayers He is going to answer, why does He need me to ask Him for stuff? What about people who prayed for safe travels and then die in an airplane crash? Was God out or busy at that time? Anyway lots of questions that often seem to have answers that come across as just trite platitudes, and honestly don’t help much. Especially to the families of people who die.

That being said, I believe in prayer. I don’t know how it works, or why, but there is just too much evidence to say that we should pray to ignore it. So I pray, and have prayed for years, and I have had lots of answers to prayer. I have found it to be most useful to follow the example of Jesus and start out with praise, then personal requests and asking for forgiveness and asking for blessings for others. I have prayed like this for years now, but prayer here is different.

Dear Jesus, Be with us now as we operate on this person, help them get well…

I have often prayed with patients before surgery, and it seemed like a bit of a formality, here, it is necessary. Here we pray before every surgery, and it is nowhere near a formality. We pray for a successful surgery, for healing, for knowledge, wisdom and skill. And then we do operations for which I have no training, using the wrong instruments, and with flies walking across the operative field, all this on patients with very little pre-op workup. After surgery patients are watched by their highly trained skilled family members who must recognize there is a problem and alert the nurse. And yet most of them walk out of the hospital. It is truly the power of prayer because there is no other reasonable answer.

Dear Jesus, Be with us now as we drive to…

At home we always (almost always) pray before we head out on a trip out of town. It is rather trite and quick. Here it is with meaning and passion, as every time we head out in the ambulance or on the moto we never know what is going to happen. Especially if we have to drive at night. Last Saturday night we had another “Dodge the Human” trip as Kelsey calls it, or “Spot the Pedestrian” as Lindsay calls it. We drove through the dark from Kelo to Moundou, with Kelsey and Lindsay up front with me calling out “People on the left”, “Carts on the right”, “Goats dead ahead”, etc. Dark night, dark clothing, dark skin, dim lights, or no lights on some vehicles, yes it is a miracle every time we make it home safely.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for a good nights sleep…

It is Ramadan (thankfully almost over), which means the Muslims are up just about all night. I have heard the calls to prayer starting at 2 am and going until sun up. The closest mosque is 50 yards away with loudspeakers that would do a football stadium proud. And we sleep in a walled compound with razor wire on the walls to keep the thieves out, with a guard who patrols our compound throughout the night. Every good nights sleep is a blessing.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for life…

You have read here on this blog many posts about death. Each of us have been exposed to more death here than we care to imagine. We see apparently healthy, strong people in the prime of life come in with pulmonary edema or cerebral malaria and die within hours of admission. We don’t see terrible trauma codes because those patients never make it to our hospital alive. Bekki shared with two of our workers about the loss of a family member of one of our missionary friends, they looked at her blankly. They had no idea what the big deal was. People die here all the time, there is no guarantee, tomorrow you could be hit by a truck, you could get malaria, you could get typhoid, you could get meningitis, you could get attacked, robbed and then killed, you could…the list goes on. All those things happened to people at home, just not nearly as frequently, it wasn’t an everyday experience.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for health…

Heath is something most of us take for granted. Bekki had the blessing of health driven home to her this week. Last Friday we drove up to Bere. She did fine. After vespers we went back to Bland’s house where we spent the night. She spent most of the next 2 hours throwing up and having diarrhea, and feeling like she was going to die. By morning she was fine, just tired. Sunday night it hit again. She was taking Cipro, and taking lariam for malaria prophylaxis. Kelsey got sick, then Nick. Wednesday Bekki was working in the house and went down in the bathroom, severe abdominal cramping, nausea, vomitting, and diarrhea. Malaria test was negative, stool test was negative. We drugged her up with IV fluids, and promethazine and put her to bed. She was finally up and around yesterday, a few pounds lighter, but grateful to be well again. She is still on Cipro, but we really don’t know what we are treating, virus, bacteria, parasite? Tomorrow she gets de-wormed.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for my friends and family…

Now don’t get me wrong, I love and have always loved my friends and family. But I never fully appreciated them as much as I do here. Even when you are there. Your comments, notes of encouragement on our blog and on face book, your e-mails truly mean more to us than you can imagine. And it is true, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Only 5 weeks and 3 days until we get on the plane home.

Dear Jesus, Please cut through all the red tape and get our container here…

At home when we need something, usually we can just go out and get it. Here, although they have most everything in Moundou, there are still lots of problems. One is everything not made in Tchad is horrifically expensive. Two, all electrical appliances are 220 Volt, our house is wired 110. And there are many things on our container we need that we cannot purchase in Tchad. Most of the container has hospital supplies or tools we need that we cannot get here. It was supposed to leave Duoala last Wednesday but due to the end of Ramadan they decided to hold the convoy up until after Monday. We will see.

Dear Jesus, Please give me wisdom to know how to handle things here…

So I told people before I came, “I have served on hospital boards, I have chaired committees, I have been Medical Staff President before, I know a thing or two about health care administration.” What a fool am I. I may know something about US health care, but Tchadien healthcare, and work laws, all in a foreign language and very foreign culture? Not so much, no actually not at all. I need every bit of wisdom God can get through my thick skull.

Dear Jesus, Thank You for giving me the chance to be here, thank You for letting me work for You in this place, with these amazing people.

I have had the privilege of working in two great hospitals in my career, Tillamook Hospital and St Joes in Lewiston, with some incredible nurses and staff. But nowhere have I worked in a place with so little, where every simple thing you do is a struggle. And nowhere have I been where I could see the hand of God so clearly, and where I knew that Bekki and I were making a difference and were able to relieve the suffering of at least a few people that have no other recourse. We are truly blessed to be able to be here.

So while I may not understand prayer, how it works or why it works, I believe in it, I practice it, and I could not live without it. Paul says to “Pray without ceasing…”, now I know why.

For those of you 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, where we initially were to be. Soon there will be a new video about Moundou. 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. You will also find links to other missionary blogs such as Olen and Danae Netteburg, Jaime and Tammy Parker and others. 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. For our Francophone friends there is a French translation of our blog that you can find at http://gardnersenafrique.wordpress.com.

We welcome volunteers.

-Scott Gardner

Just pray

This is Bekki. I’ve been awake since 3:30a.m. Maybe I need to be praying for someone, or maybe me. I hate to burden you again but your prayers have sent supernatural help so many times and I feel we need it again. We found out last night that the Dr. We are replacing is leaving permanently on Sunday. The paperwork that was supposed to be done to allow us to stay has not been finished and now is running into governmental red tape soooo bottom line is we may be sent to Batouri, Cameroon. I really just want to settle and start attaching to someplace. If we are staying I will start working on getting chairs for the patients to sit in and getting a concrete pad for physical therapy etc, etc, etc. but if we are moving I would rather save my limited resources for the needs at Batouri. Our shipping container which was supposed to arrive in port 3 wks ago still hasn’t, but since it doesn’t have a destination that is just as well. However the Appels are moving on Sunday with their things including most pots and pans and dishes. They are leaving a few things but it will be difficult around here. So do I go buy dishes, furniture, pots and pans that I won’t need when my container arrives and can’t take with me if we go to Cameroon? Oh and I leave for the US in 2 wks and Scott won’t be able to wade through the container and unpack until I get back the end of April. So 2 months more of camping for him.
I opened my email just now and found the simple water leak at our house that we are trying to sell has turned into a more complicated problem with more expense we will never recover. I have to ask like Job, “God, why?”
So here is my prayer list:
1. Water leak source gets found fixed and isn’t expensive.
2. Supernatural help while we fly solo.
3. A permanent assignment. Paper work gets resolved or we get reassigned and that someone from our churches West Africa Division will communicate with us.
4. Our shipping container gets delivered to our permanent assignment in the next few weeks.
5 OUR HOUSE WILL SELL!
Enough whining, really God is good and we see miracles every day. Maybe I am awake because YOU need supernatural help in your life today and I need to be praying for you. So while you are sleeping I will be praying for you and while I am sleeping thanks for praying for us.
Bekki
P.s. Scott did have malaria but is better now. He was only down one day.

Prayer

It is almost 7:30 Monday evening and I am in bed, hoping against hope that the utter fatigue and back ache and almost nausea and lack of appetite is just exhaustion and dehydration and not malaria. I will know more in the next few hours. But so far no fever and I feel better after my shower.

But that is not what I wanted to write about tonight. If you have ever doubted the power of your intercessory prayers let me tell you about the last few days. Last week was pretty tough. It was crazy busy, running from fire to fire all day and well into the evening. Really sick people with difficult surgeries and lots more “firsts”, so by Friday afternoon at 5 when I finally left the hospital for home I was totally wasted. I was also starting to get cranky. My nurses in the US who have been through this with me before will know what I am talking about. Friday night I unloaded on Bekki, I was really frustrated because I knew I could not keep up this pace, and I did not see any end to it, nor could I see a way to control it. I also was feeling resentment that everyone else has regular work hours, but I am expected to work 10-12 hours six days a week and then be available the rest of the time for emergencies or questions. You know the usual doctor thing. I also was having a hard time seeing how I was really helping anyone. And the whole scenario did not match my picture of being a missionary doctor.

After Church in Moundou with our two Malaysian nurse volunteers.

After Church in Moundou with our two Malaysian nurse volunteers.

As Bekki and I talked through the weekend we started to come up with ways to control the situation and make it more manageable. One of the premier ways was to stop doing OB. I don’t know much about OB, most of the nurses here don’t seem to know much about it, and there are two obstetricians at the government hospital less than a kilometer away. And if they don’t do OB better there than we do here, Tchad is in a lot of trouble. So my first resolution was, “No more OB”.

Saturday night the nurse came to the door just at bedtime, “Docteur, there is a lady who needs a Cesarean section.” So off I went to find out why. Turns out she is just starting labor and had two previous c-sections, so he was right, she needed a c-section. Now I have not done very many c-sections and doing a repeat one in the middle of the night with a limited crew and nurses who don’t seem to know much about baby resuscitation was not my idea of a fun Saturday night. So I told Appo (the nurse) to send her over to the government hospital, I was done doing OB. Since he is one of the nurses who doesn’t know much OB either, he was very happy to comply.

I was then hit with a huge case of the guilts. Was I just lazy? Was I wimping out? Was I failing in my missionary duty? The guilt just made me mad. It was now 11 pm, I had a long day ahead of me on Sunday and I knew that I would not sleep well since I was so upset, so I did a very bad thing. I took a sleeping pill. Slept great, all night, and as far as I remember no nurses came to get me. Until Sunday morning at 6, Appo was back. “Docteur, there is another woman in labor, should I send her to the government hospital as well?” Appo is one of my favorite nurses, now he is in the running for nurse of the year. But of course the guilt came back as well.

Off to work. Sunday is a regular day here, but it was a zoo. We never got around to worship because everyone was trying to resuscitate a baby with malaria, respiratory problems and a hemoglobin of 3. Not a typo, we see that all the time here. And Dr. Rollin Bland was coming from Bere to help with a couple of tough ortho cases. I was in a foul mood to put it bluntly.

Before rounds I talked with our head nurse about stopping OB. I told him I had no training in it, and kindly told him most of his nurses didn’t know what they are doing either. He countered that one nurse is a mid-wife and perhaps she could do the OB . Not the response I wanted. He was not getting the picture, even with a midwife she is going to call me for the difficult deliveries. Yea right, I don’t know how to do the normal ones, let alone the difficult ones. Honestly people, we are doctors, not omniscient, ommipotent gods. Then we only got through half of rounds, which is always tough because I promise to come back and finish, but rarely have the time to do it. So I hope that everyone is OK, but honestly they are on their own.

When Rollin got here, I was the good little missionary doctor on the outside and a seething bad missionary doctor on the inside. Then we did the first case. This is where I am supposed to tell you how God intervened and it was a great case and all went well and we saved the patient from untold future agony and on top of it he gave his heart to Jesus just before going under. Nope, not happening. It was a miserable case, complex proximal tibia fracture, with several fracture lines into the joint and a spiral fracture down the shaft of the tibia. By the time we finished we both were questioning if we had done this guy any favors.

At lunch I unloaded on Rollin. It is just too much here, I can’t keep up, and so on. After lunch we did the second case, which went a little better, then off he went back to Bere. I still had a hysterectomy and
an incarcerated hernia to do, plus the consults and ultrasounds piling up on my desk. I finished by 7:00 pm and went over to the house. The volunteers had spent the afternoon cooking, so we had pizza and homemade fresh peanut butter cookies. They were a taste of heaven.

But what was strange was that somewhere during that busy day, my bitterness, my frustration, my anger had disappeared. I was at peace. And today, I had a great time. I worked hard, did a difficult 2 month old tibia fracture (fractures in 2 places) and had a typical run run day and was achy and tired all day as well. But I enjoyed it. I felt like I was making a difference. Which when you are here is critical. I felt like I helped these people, and although no one prayed the sinners prayer with me (I had to because of my cranky weekend), I felt like I touched people with the love of Jesus.

So what happened? Last night when I was looking over e-mails and facebook I saw e-mails from Archie and Dee Willis and Doris and Bob Bivens saying that they had prayed for us special because Bekki had sent out a request for special prayer for us. I cannot believe how dramatic the answer to that prayer was. It affected both of us deeply and changed our attitudes.

Bekki spent four hours last week tediously separating rocks out of the wheat berries. Yesterday she washed them and put them on a rack to dry in the sun. She came back later to find the rack tipped over and all the wheat berries in the dirt, ruined. (Either the dog or the chickens are guilty, no one has claimed responsibility yet, although we did tell them that one chicken a day was going to market until someone owned up.) Normally that would have brought tears and anger, but she shrugged it off to life in the mission field. That my friends is the power of prayer.

Many of you have written on facebook or commented on the blog that you are praying for us. Please don’t stop. It really makes a difference, not only for us but for those we serve. Really, if you could be here and see what it is really like, you would understand when I say that every operation that is successful, every patient that goes home feeling better, is a miracle, as real as any performed by Elijah or Moses. It is the power of your prayers and ours.

For those of you 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, where we initially were to be. Soon there will be a new video about Moundou. We recently added a page of OR pictures, but I must warn you, it is not for the faint of heart or squeamish. You will also find links to other missionary blogs such as Olen and Danae Netteburg, Jaime and Tammy Parker and others. 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