Wallingford Christian Assembly

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Zambia News - Ros Jeffersons's Blog 21  : Up to date (17/08/2015)

It seems some time since I updated my blog and this posting covers the 3 week period from 25 July to the present.  Quite apart from the general busyness here which has meant that a free evening was becoming a real luxury, Graeme Smith who kindly uploads my blog was away on holiday.  Now for the big catch-up!!

The comings and goings of visitors continue.  We have Dr Andre Truter from Victoria, Canada here at the moment to cover surgery for a short period over Dr David McAdam’s absence. He is a regular visitor and I met him here for the first time last summer when our visits overlapped.  He has been able to catch up on quite a bit of the surgery that has accrued during the time since Dr Paul (our previous visiting surgeon) left in early July.  History was made this afternoon when I was roped in to assist in theatre while Dr Andre was doing a hysterectomy. I couldn’t tell you the last time I did that!  Usually I only go to theatre if there is a Caesarean section when I am need to ‘catch’ (and hopefully not have to resuscitate) the baby. I had been there for a C-section just the day before – the baby was a lovely little girl and you can see her photo below (Dr Andre is in the background).

I have also had visitors staying with me. Hannah Currie and Rebecca Hutton, both from the Kennoway assembly in Scotland came out for two weeks. Rebecca is a teacher. She had a great time as she got to visit the local ‘basic school’ and got invited back to do a morning’s teaching.  She was also able to help Rhonda Markle in home-schooling her two daughters and Ruth Hanna in sorting the many boxes of clothes etc sent out from assemblies back home. Hannah wants to study medicine at university and come out to get the flavour of medical work out in the bush.  Both she and Rebecca loved being with the children on the ward and keeping them entertained.  They left early last Monday morning for Lusaka, travelling by road with Gordon and Ruth Hanna who were heading down for a short break. The house certainly seemed empty when I returned home after the day’s clinic in Chavuma, but now I am accustomed to my own company once again.  

Left to right: RJ, Rebecca, Cailey Gersbach, Hannah

The day after Hannah and Rebecca arrived they went out with Dorothy Woodside who was visiting village schools with the schistosomiasis prevention programme.  ‘Schisto’ is a real scourge over here as everybody goes in the river at some stage – it’s the only source of water for some villages - and we see so many people suffering from the long-term damage caused by the parasite.  While the girls were ‘up country’, I went to Loloma along with Shawn and Rhonda Markle and Julie-Rachel Elwood to attend the funeral of Mrs Doreen Barker.  Her parents had been missionaries in Angola where she was born, until they came across the border and settled at Dipalata. After their marriage she and her husband came out to serve the Lord here and were based on the Copper Belt.  She had been unwell for some time and had been longing to go home to be with the Lord.  The hall at Loloma was packed with Zambian brothers and sisters who had come to honour her memory and it was clear that she was held in very high esteem from the tributes they gave. Philip Grove from Chingola preached the Gospel very clearly.  Of course, there was also the usual hearty Zambian singing – we had hymns in Lunda, Luvale and Bemba.  It was an occasion to remember – and it was also nice to see the missionary colleagues from Loloma and Kabompo who had prepared a lovely meal for afterwards.

During the rest of their visit, Hannah and Rebecca were able to meet up with some of my disabled children whom I visit for therapy. Rebecca even got invited to do a morning’s teaching at the local basic school. We also enjoyed the company of Cailey Gersbach, a nursing student from one of the assemblies in the Toronto area, who was out visiting with Shawn and Rhonda Markle and also gaining more experience at the hospital.  She spent a couple of evenings with us – while last Saturday we all enjoyed an ice cream party at the Markles.  She also helped me when Eddie, one of my friends with cerebral palsy came to hospital for a bath (we thought that he rather enjoyed all the attention!!).  He has been coming to the meetings for the past two Lord’s days – he has managed to find someone to bring him down the road in his wheelchair.  It is a difficult life for him in the village as there is no one who can take full responsibility for his care. His parents are dead and his brother is not always at home.  One of the workers in the hospital has his home in the same village and he is able to be of some help to Eddie.  He told me last Lord’s day that he likes to hear God’s word.

In late July Gordon Hanna held a short series of Gospel meetings in the Bookroom for several nights.  The original plan was to have meetings for 3 nights but the series was subsequently extended over 4 extra nights.  The room was packed out. Many members of hospital staff came several times – I think it would be fair to say that virtually every member of staff attended once- and there were also folk from outside.  It was good to see such a crowd listening to the Gospel, and we look to the Lord to bless the message to those who heard..  In the aftermath we are having a couple of meetings on Tuesday evenings addressing the issue of marriage, a very important issue with cultural connotations that may conflict with Scriptural principles. Dr Andre is responsible for these.

Summer camps continue, and Shawn and Rhonda Markle are involved with this work.  Last week was the main week for boys and David Poidevin was the speaker.  We saw the comings and goings – it is impossible to miss as the young folk are taken to and from camp in a tractor and trailer and the trip is accompanied by loud singing. One of my workers has been there all week as one of the cooks. This weekend is Junior girls camp and Margie Gould is the main speaker.  College camp will be held next week dv. Do please pray for all the young people attending, that some may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour, and that those who are saved will be challenged to live their lives for Him. The picture below shows some of the girls waiting to leave for camp.

Last Monday I was at Chavuma for the day.  I agreed to go to see the medical patients while Dr Andre was in theatre attending to surgical cases.  We flew up there in the little plane – this was its last flight till Chris Brundage, our usual pilot, returns from his visit home in Canada in early September.  The medical clinic was smaller than usual, although there was a good number of children to be seen. I was thrilled when I saw who was to be my helper/translator – it was Ndonji, a young man with a spinal cord injury who is a good friend of Samuel and Elizabeth Simonyi-Gindele.  He has one of the hand-propelled wheelchairs which enables  him to get around. Said chair seemed to contain every piece of equipment required to make the clinic run smoothly!!  It was also good to renew fellowship with Tamako and Ayumi, the two Japanese nurses who run the medical work at Chavuma (there is no doctor at the hospital),and  Bob and Beth Young (in whose home we had lunch). While I was away for the day, the maintenance men fixed my bicycle – I had found a puncture on the way home from visiting patients in colony on Saturday.

On Wednesday night I had a few local friends round for dinner.  I was glad that I had decided on an nshima (the local carbohydrate dish made from either corn or cassava meal and a little like polenta; it is eaten with the hands. One breaks off a piece from one’s lump, rolls it into a small ball, dips it in the relish and then eats it) when the afternoon out-patient clinic was enormous and I knew that I was in for a late finish.  The bonus of a nshima was that I, the inexperienced Brit, did not have to cook it; two of my Zambian friends did it instead. The supper was a great success and the nshima was excellent.   One of these days I must learn the quantities to do it myself.  The photo below shows Silvia and Rebekah, the two cooks, measuring out the meal for the nshima – we had a mixed one, part cornmeal and part cassava. It was delicious.

This last week we said goodbye to one of our favourite patients (yes, one is allowed to have such) as she headed back to Angola with her grandmother.  Linda came to us in early June after a snake bite which had caused severe damage to her left foot.  We were able to save her heel, but she lost her forefoot.  She was certainly not bothered by this at all. She has been quite a character on the ward – always smiling and full of fun – except when we first gave her crutches and she refused to use them.  Before she left I found her some suitable shoes – she loved them at first sight and wore them all the time. I reckon that she even went to sleep in them!!  She was so excited at the thought of going home with grandmother’s hand bag over her shoulder and trying to help lift the bag with all their luggage.  The picture shows her about to leave the ward.

The other day one of our senior nurses called me from clinic to come and review a baby urgently – and ex premature infant. We had seen her earlier in the day and decided that she needed a blood transfusiom – but before the blood started to run in she essentially collapsed. When I arrived, she had just about taken her last gasp and there was no detectable heart rate.  I immediately started resuscitation and in the goodness of God we were able to bring her round – it was a great help to have the blood ready to give and it was this which ultimately stabilised her once we had got her heart beating again. We wondered if she would be unscathed from the incident or if there might be come brain damage. Immediately afterwards she was not sucking, but this has slowly picked up during the week and she is now back to full breast feeds again.  It is lovely to have such a good outcome from a resus – only too often the patient does not recover – and I thanked the Lord for His help with this ‘special baby’.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the behaviour that should characterise us as believers. We are here to live for the Saviour and to make Him known – and this extends far beyond preaching, even though this has its place. So many people around us have pressing needs and in telling them of the Saviour we should commend the message by our actions – James 2 v 14-17.  ‘Faith without works is dead’.   How much we need Christian compassion, especially in the face of the sickness and poverty which we see every day! Please pray that in so doing those whom we serve will see the Saviour in us and be drawn to Him