Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Come Fly With Me!

Hello Everyone!

The second week in Gabon, not even a week after arriving at Bongolo, and it was time to take off again for a week in the capital, Libreville. So we took off on our Air Medicale de Bongolo flight out of the jungle and into Gabon's "metropolis."
I loved soaking up every minute of our flight in our little plane, and I was surprised at what a metropolis it actually turned out to be.

Steve Straw- AMB pilot

Ariel view of Bongolo

over the jungle
The river coming into Libreville

The first order of business was to get my "carte de sejour" or long term resident VISA to live in Gabon. Barry and I showed up at the visa building before 6 am, the dark and coolness of night still lingering into the morning air. We arrived extremely early in an attempt to out-wit the ever ambiguous open business hours. Even so, we were already probably 15th in line. We stood outside the gate for a good hour or more, the morning glow beginning to touch all around us, then finally they opened the gate and directed us inside to the appropriate wood bench where we were to sit outside the building.

Another hour or so passed and then finally our section of wood benches was called into the building by the less than happy lady who worked at the counter. I tried to listen vigilantly amidst all the French to make sure I didn't keep them waiting when my name would be called.

Then there it was, I approached the first counter trying to convey as much respect as possible, and trying to remember to pass everything to her with my right hand only.
Over a period of 45 minutes or so, she asked me a series of questions and shuffled me from station to station and then finally, it happened... I got her to crack a smile =)

 I was then passed over to another worker who informed me that I do not in fact, have red hair and that my application was incorrect.
She didn't know what color to put there- but it most certainly was not RED =)
(I was half tempted to offer "carrots" but thought against it.)
I didn't argue, I smiled politely, chuckling to myself inside and thanked the Lord as she handed me my Carte de Sejour despite my inaccurate hair color.

Well by then it was 9 am, I had got the not- so- happy lady to crack a smile, I was educated in the fact that my hair is not red and was now legal to live in Gabon.
 Praise the Lord!

Nursing School entrance exams

From there we drove straight to CEFTAC, the C&MA Seminary in Libreville where we were hosting the Nursing School entrance exams. We were greeted by a long line of eager, nervous faces watching us as we headed into the cement wall classroom to meet Terry.
We finished last minute preparations and then the day of testing and interviews began.
It was surreal to be at the other end of the classroom, that eager, nervous feeling looked so familiar.

We had 21 candidates in Libreville, and Karen, our fellow nursing instructor was giving the same exams for 21 candidates at Bongolo.
It was a privilege to pray with and hear the testimony of each of the students, as we began to seek God's guidance for who would be best suited at the Nursing School.

Terry and I interviewing potential nursing students

Our day of proctoring exams and interviews ended around 4:30pm and we were all pretty tired, when suddenly we saw that the hospital's container had been delivered to the CEFTAC warehouse! We were all so excited, because the container had been stalled at the port in customs for over a month!

The Hospital's 40-ft container from the States

The container was chalk full of supplies for the hospital, items for the African surgeons and nurses being trained at Bongolo, items for the maintenance of the hospital and surrounding buildings, and personal items for the missionaries as they strive to live and work in the middle of the jungle.

It feels like Christmas even just seeing all these packages from the States. Some were surprise packages that people had sent out, others were boxes of rolled bandages that people back home had faithfully put together for the hospital. And among all the boxes... were my crates and my bed! It was so fun to help unload them on this side of the pond. Christopher and I had dropped them off at the shipment warehouse in Cleveland on December  14th 2011.

Praise the Lord my crates made it across the ocean!
Now hopefully they'll make it across the jungle roads to Bongolo! =)

We still eagerly await the shipment's arrival to Bongolo from the capital, Libreville. I so look forward to finally being able to move into my new home and truly get settled at Bongolo.

Look at those muscles!

One 40-ft container unloaded in just a couple hours!
We were so thankful for the short term teams who happened to be there to lend a muscle or two and were such a BIG help!

Great job guys!

Barry and Terry and I
 Barry and Terry have been orienting me to Gabon, loving on me in their home until I can move into my house, and have been just a ton of fun to hang out with.
In Libreville, they started showing me the ropes as far as best places to stock up on staple food items to take back to the jungle, as well as any supplies or services one might need. I was shocked at all that was available in Libreville. During my visit last March, I had seen the orphanage, the guest house and the airport- that was it. Throw in some grocery store shacks and road side furniture sales and that was my knowledge of Libreville.
However there are real grocery stores in Libreville where you can find so many wonderful things- for a price- and a 20 hr drive round trip to the capital =)
We had shopping lists for the team back at Bongolo for things like cheese, chicken and ground beef and fresh lettuce and carrots.

Also, this sight was a wonderful surprise to my eyes =)
I had no idea the beaches in the capital along the Atlantic were so beautiful. This, coupled with the discovery of some quaint little restaurants with delicious food lifted my spirits. Somehow it's encouraging to know, that in the midst of living in the middle of the jungle- there is a place we can come to every so often to get away.

I spent my last day of being 24 walking along the beach of the Atlantic Ocean in Gabon.
I couldn't help but thank God as I soaked in the beauty of His creation surrounding me, ever so aware of His faithfulness in bringing me here.
As I was sitting on the beach with Terry and Barry, Barry asked me if I had been to some island for a vacation. I replied, "no, I haven't really been anywhere tropical." They both laughed as he said, "she replies while sitting on the beach under a palm tree in a country along the equator..." Haha...guess it just hasn't quite set in.....

Thank you for your love and prayers,
Love from Libreville,

Monday, August 13, 2012

On The Ground

Hey All!
Well I've been in Gabon about 3 weeks.
What in the world have I been up to you ask?
Take a look over the next couple posts =) ...

The first week we had our Field Forum.

The Gabon Team + the short term team from Allegheny Center Alliance Church

 The entire Gabon team met at a hotel in Lambarene, a town about 4 hours into the jungle on the 10 hr drive to Bongolo. So off we went in our 4x4s...

Off to Lambarene!

We passed many interesting things, here are just a few...

Furniture for Sale along the main highway

Vegetables for sale

A homestead

Lovely faces at the market

The Equator and the Highway Rest Area... (aka pick a bush ;-)

The week was filled with business meetings but also time of worship together in English, hearing from the word in English and prayer. We were all so thankful to the team from Allegheny Center who lead us in worship, brought us the word and taught the kids in VBS.

We also had lots of fun getting to know each other better- like our team wide photo scavenger hunt in Lambarene =)

The locals seemed to have fun helping us in our crazy game- although I can just hear the conversations over dinner that night- "did you see the crazy white people running around taking pictures today??"

We also enjoyed taking a little boat out onto the river and just talking and soaking in the jungle that surrounded us. It was so surreal to be on a little paddle boat on a river in the middle of the jungle in Africa. We are so not in Kansas anymore...

Getting closer to Bongolo...

And then the week ended and it was time to head to Bongolo! I was so excited and anxious to get on the road and head to my new home! Since we were half way into the jungle, it was only another 5 hour drive.

The bridge right before heading to the hospital- we're almost there!

Yaay, we made it!!!

So sweet of the Holsenbacks and their 2 y.o. daughter Elena....

Barry and Terry Newman are so gracious to take me in these first couple weeks.
The container has not yet arrived with my bed and stuff to move into my house, but I am so thankful after this long road, to see the fruit of God's leading and to finally be at Bongolo!
Thank you for your faithful prayers.
Love and miss you all.

              Love from the Jungle,

Monday, August 6, 2012


Amanda, please know that even as you celebrate today at the new home to which the Lord has lead you, far from your old home, you are loved and missed and in our thoughts and prayers.  Happy Birthday, Jungle Nurse :-)