Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunset in Africa

There is a beautiful sunset over Nairobi tonight. In about 30 minutes it will set over Akot. And in about 7 hours it will ride over the western horizon for many of you. We're approximately 7,433 miles apart for those of you in the northeast U.S. At times it seems as if we're a world apart and then other times I ask myself, what's so different?

I mean, when you can see Lucy the Elephant in Akot ~ you can't be that far from home! (for those of you who don't hail from South Jersey Lucy is a revered National Landmark)

Whether at the beach or taking a stroll through the market in Akot nothing beats a cold soda on a hot day. (from L to R: Joseah and Reuben)
Don't you help pump gas when the tank is empty? Although maybe not a drum at a time.
Mothers almost always pass their babies over to strangers when someone wants to love on them.
Don't we all need a little push sometimes to get to the second floor?

I don't know if I've ever enjoyed a mango quite like I did this mango. Messy, but well worth it!

These are a few additional glimpses from the Cataract Team's trip to Akot. But on a serious note things have not been good in Akot since our leaving 2 weeks ago.

A mandatory de-armament exercise is going on throughout South Sudan. The army has been given the job of collecting all guns and ammunition belonging to civilians. I don't think anyone in the world gives up their guns easily, but when the threat of war is hanging over you . . . . you can imagine the hesitancy on the part of the people here with elections coming in less than a month. And so the army has resorted to using a heavy hand. Friends of ours have been detained, interrogated, and beaten in the search for guns.

Today the army entered the hospital compound where Reuben and Joseah are based and they searched for guns. I thank the Lord it was an uneventful visit. Many of you were praying ~ thank you!

The exercise continues. Please continue to pray for Akot. Pray for justice and mercy. Pray for healing of relationships, not the opening up and infliction of new wounds. Sudan has suffered. She has suffered enough. The Sudanese are our neighbors regardless of the time and distance that separate us. Let us sacrifice our time and get on our knees to ask the God of all creation to protect the innocent and that righteousness will prevail in these tenuous times.

"and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." Isaiah 58:10

There's just a sliver of a moon over Nairobi tonight ~ what's it like where you are?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Red Carpet in Akot

This week the Internet is full of glimpses of the Oscars and their Red

Carpet moments.

Here are some Red Carpet moments from the 2010 Akot Eye Clinic.
The Tenwek Eye Team: Dr. Ben, Emily, Joyce, Leah, Richard S., Richard T, Wilson, and Dr. John, accompanied by Joy

The Tenwek Eye Team performed 101 eye surgeries in 5 days surpassing our goal of 100. God answered your many prayers for the right patients, health of the team, and security in the area.

Each morning the post-op patients marched down the sidewalk (our red carpet) and gathered together for the ceremony of the bandages coming off.

On having her bandages removed one woman looked down and exclaimed, “Where did this come from, this isn’t my dress.” I wonder how long it had been since she had seen what she was wearing?

I wish you could have heard the patients remarks and songs and witnessed their smiles, embraces, and eye chart exams when they could actually see that little ‘E.”

This man asked Dr. John if he would be able to see his grandkids after the operation. He said people referred to his grandson as the one with the red gums. The morning after his surgery he sat with two of his grandkids – not letting them out of his sight. He told the doctor, “For sure, my grandson has red gums!”

One day the team went to buy a goat for a celebratory meal to thank the local staff for their hard work. In a distant town their truck came up behind a man walking alone towards town. The surgeon’s mouths dropped open when they realized it was their patient. Two days earlier he would not have been walking alone but would have been led everywhere he went by a family member. What independence!

We are so grateful that so many of these people are able to be more independent, interact with their families and have regained dignity and independence.

Despite the fact that all you may ever hear about Sudan on the news is about war and fighting the Sudanese are fun loving too. One older man, claiming to be 100 years old with a handshake grip that almost brought me to my knees (and not me alone!), had just done his eye chart exam after his bandages came off. One staff reported to another, “The old man’s vision is ?/?." This old man knew English and yelled back, “What old man?”

Not everyone we saw last week was elderly. Some very young children had the job of leading their grandparents around – each holding a 3-foot long stick. And one 4-year-old boy had a cataract caused by an injury to his eye. With only a local eye block he lay completely still while his cataract was removed and a new lens was put in place. He was a very brave little boy.

Then there was Michael. Michael didn’t have cataracts but was going blind from glaucoma. He is a schoolteacher, one of the few with an education, and has only 5% vision in one eye remaining. Surgery was done to try maintain what limited vision he has for as long as possible. Michael is feeling hopeless and in despair over his darkening world. Yet he still showed his gratitude to Dr. John with a gift of a chicken. Please pray for Michael and others suffering from glaucoma. Pray that they will realize the unchanging hope we have in Jesus.

Still other’s who don’t acknowledge Jesus as Savior, such as magicians and spear masters, came and received sight. They listened to Bible stories and had good discussions with the hospital chaplains, even agreeing to be prayed for. Will you continue to pray that those who came to the clinic and witnessed the powerful healing hand of God will also acknowledge Him as Lord of their lives.

The clinic was a week to remember. Thank you for being a part of this outreach through your prayers and financial gifts. Continue praying for the Akot community to experience true reconciliation after the conflict earlier this year and that they will will have 20/20 vision when it comes to seeing Jesus and experiencing his forgiveness and reconciliation.

Praising God for sight!


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