Saturday, February 24, 2007

Welcome to Liberia!

I spent the last ten days working to get housing ready for a short term nurse, Grace, and a new family, Tom and Melanie Goodnow. My shoulders still ache from scrubbing walls and hanging curtains, but with a little help from my friends (thanks, Janna, Frieda, Bill, Sis Bindu, Morris, Eric and of course, Rick!) we had the places in pretty good shape – clean and well, almost everything, working…..we did our best.

The Goodnows are here for 5 months, and Tom will be in the OR, as a nurse anesthetist, also training ELWA Hospital’s OR assistants in anesthesia. They have 4 boys, one of whom (Joel) is Caleb’s age, so the two of them are now tethered to one another. The others are Tim (17), Nathan (4) and Daniel (2). Goto to see a picture. Please pray for all of us as we get the Goodnows settled in, because it is not a small thing to make such a big shift. They came from California, so they are still trying to get on schedule, and little kids just can’t force it the way we adults can. And then there is the whole deal of learning to cook with different foods, and coping without a washing machine (ours went down at Christmas and we won’t have new ones till the container comes, probably in April), and the heat and humidity, and the Liberian English, etc, etc. It’s just not easy. Seeing the reality again reminds me that we need to pace ourselves as we accept new missionaries and rebuild our team.

In addition to the Goodnows, we have Dr. Dave McLaughlin and Dr. Gene Birdsong (who came through Northwest Medical Teams) helping out at the hospital giving the docs a little relief from the workload; Hanna Cho and a friend, medical students from Korea; Grace Heister, Dr. Dave’s niece who is a nurse, and Cork Loken, a former ELWA Radio missionary here helping out the technicians! This is a big team (for now- they’ll all be gone by March 11)! It is certainly challenging our “small-time” methods of hosting and orienting people, and I am feeling a little guilty, like we are not really serving them like we should – having them for meals, touching base with them to see how their day was and what they are working on, what their questions and frustrations are, etc. I bet this is a lot like a pastor feels as his church gets bigger. But it is also an opportunity I guess, to let God be their guide, to let our national partners connect with our missionaries more directly, and to let our other teammates mentor and encourage the new folks as well.

Well, that’s all for now. I did actually go to the beach today, which means something like I am having a breather. It won't last for long - since we have more people coming next month and it's right around the corner!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's a small world after all!

I know you are going to hate me for titling this entry after THAT cliche song that drives you crazy once it's going around in your head, but sometimes you just have to say it.

About the time Trina left, a med student from U. Nebraska arrived. Her name is Beth Larson, and she is Korean, but she was adopted by an American family when she was about 18 months old. In addition, some Korean missionaries in town, who have been here for 20+ years, came by in January to ask if their med student (in Korea) daughter could come and do a month long rotation at ELWA. Their daughter Hanna grew up here, and went to Houghton College in NY State (near Cuba NY, Rick's mom's hometown), so she speaks perfectly good English. Hanna's family had us over for dinner one evening - always a treat because the Korean food is so great - and she and Beth started comparing notes (a very Korean thing to do -when were you born? when did you graduate from high school? etc) Before long, they realized that they were born in the SAME YEAR, in the SAME MONTH (probably, Beth's birthdate may be an estimate the orphanage made) and get this - the SAME CITY in Korea (not Seoul, a smaller one)!!!! Very likely the same hospital. So here they are, in AFRICA, finding one another! Weird, huh? Their time at ELWA Hospital is overlapping by a couple weeks, so they are enjoying each other's company.

Rick is off to Senegal on Sunday for the West Africa Leadership Retreat with our new Deputy International Director, Joshua Bogunjoko. A few weeks ago, I realized that there was too much happening here for me to go along, and it turns out the we will have the Goodnow family of 6 plus a short term doc and nurse all arriving on the 18th due to delays and flight schedules. So it would have been rather difficult to be ready for them if I was out of town the week before.
Rick will get to see Max's new digs in the dorm at D.A. (like that alliteration?) and arrive home just in time to welcome the new folks.

So that's the news from this side. Next week would be a nice week to get a few extra hellos from out there since Rick will be gone....