Friday, July 30, 2010

30 July 2010

The 2010 Zambia Medical Mission is coming to an end. Tomorrow we will be placing the remainder of the team on their planes to head home. This has been an incredible mission with a great team! We set all-time records this year. We saw the most patients in one day at our last clinic at Mabuyu...3,740. This brought our overall total to 19,560! These patients were treated with kindness, respect and with the love that Jesus showed to all those He came into contact with. Everyone treated knew that we were there because of Jesus and the example He set. Over 80 were baptized; but more will follow after more study with the Church Development Committee.

As I mentioned before, this year we were joined by SightSavers so we were able to send patients with cataracts to our clinic/hospital at Namwianga for surgery. These surgeries were performed by Dr. Moonze from Livingstone. He worked incredible hours to perform 52 cataract surgeries, 10 lid rotations, and he removed a growth from one lady's eye. He was excited to be able to help those from the rural areas. All he requested was a clean environment to perform the surgeries and an operating table. Dr. Allen Neese searched through the hospital container and found an operating table plus a chair. Dr. Moonze was thrilled because he had never used an operating table that could be raised with his foot to a height more comfortable for operating and the chair made it even easier to perform so many surgeries. He said normally his back would begin hurting from having to bend over to perform the surgeries. He is already making plans to join us again next year. What a blessing he was...and is!

The free wheelchair program has made such a difference for so many people. Sheryl (Hamby) Ramsey initiated this program last year. These wheelchairs are made especially for the terrain in rural areas. Almost 60 wheelchairs were given out during the clinics. It was so wonderful to know that when you saw someone being carried or struggling so hard to walk, that you could call Sheryl on the radio and she would be there with a wheelchair for the individual. The burden that is removed from the family is great, and the patient is thrilled to have a little independence to move about on their own. Sheryl will remain in Zambia for another month to take wheelchairs to rural health clinics all over the Southern Providence.

To all of you who have helped financally and with your prayers, this is also YOUR mission! We are all a part of God's family and we all work with the abilities or blessings that He has given us. Not all of us can go; but for those of us who can, we thank you for all your support and love.

Until next year...

In His service and in His love,
LaDonna (Stovall) Armstrong

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday, July 26

Sorry -- we know it has been a while since you have heard from us; but I promise....we have been very, very busy. In 5 days of clinics we have already treated well over 15,000 people. We still have Mabuyu to go and historically, it has always been a huge clinic. The people have been wonderful...very patient and just thankful to have a chance to see a doctor and receive medicine. We have exceeded our benevolence budget; but the Lord will provide. How can you say no to a 13-year old girl with club feet? Or a young boy with cerebral palsy? Or the young man whose knee and leg were so swollen, it made it almost impossible for him to walk. We have given out so many wheelchairs! It is wonderful to be able to provide these. And our new program where we are partnered with SightSavers has proved a big success. Already, 45 patients have had cataract surgery with more waiting in the wings. Ellie Hamby, Dr. Jeff McKinsey and I stopped by the hospital before we went back out into the bush to see the patients. We were told that the old women had been singing and dancing. They were so happy to see again. When we walked into the ladies' ward, one old lady smiled and in Tonga said, I see 1, 2, 3 macuas (white people). She was grinning from ear to ear...and so were we.

Thank you to all of you who make this possible. To those who contribute with money, for those who keep us lifted up in prayers, and to our families who make the sacrifice for us to come. I want to especially thank my husband, Bill, for supporting my "habit."

On another note, Ellie wanted me to tell you about our banking experience. We sent Davies Mulamfu into Kalomo the other day to get money for us before we headed into the bush. We needed 40,000,000 Kwacha (around $8,000). Our bank, Finance Bank, did not have enough money to give us. They had to go across the street to Barclay's Bank and borrow the money to pay us. Only in Africa! :-)

For all the folks at home - everyone is healthy and doing great! They are also working very hard and looking forward to a few days of R&R. They've earned it!

By for now! -- LaDonna

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The first day of clinics is done and what a day it was. We had two babies born, oxen running amuk and people, people everywhere.

Simalundu is the area people were displaced to when the colonial government built the Karibe Dam. The area around the river was fertile and the people had plenty. They were moved to the Gwembe Valley where the conditions were harsh…bad soil and no water. The elders of the village knew that the only ones who would be able to survive were the young and strong. So they sent their young to the Gwembe Valley and the elders remained in their village knowing they would perish once the dam was complete. The people we are helping now are the descendants of those that were displaced. Five of the displaced group still survive. Two of them came to the medical mission for treatment and to hear about Jesus.

Last year when we came to Simalundu, Tony Cloud from Alaska was a part of our team. Once Tony learned that there was no water and the women and children had to walk for miles to get it, he knew he had to do something. He spoke with Ellie Hamby to find out what it would cost to dig a well at Simalundu. He went home and raised funds for the well. He did it with such enthusiasm, that not only would Simalundu get a well; but two other villages would receive wells also. A result of this is, last year the pharmacy gave out lots and lots of rehydration packets. Even though the well has been in place for a short time, this year no rehydration packets were given out. A Zambian government official once told Ellie Hamby that when you put in a well, it lifts the burden from the women and children.

For 1st timers like Darren Tom, it is a little overwhelming when you see all of the people lined up. It is still overwhelming even when you have been for many years. It seems as if the lines are endless and you think there is no way we could see everyone. But the Lord always provides the help we need.

The morning started out with a baby being born during the medical mission. This is a first for us. Since Ray Ferguson is the “headman” this year, the baby was named Ray. I think it embarrassed Ray; but he also seemed very proud.

Later an ox cart came with a mother who had delivered a twin last night at 10:00. The second baby was “trapped” and couldn’t make it out. The woman had been in stress all night. The oxen were not use to so many people being around and slipped out of their yokes, ran away and had to be corralled. The mother was brought into a makeshift delivery room and the 2nd baby was delivered successfully by two Zambian mid-wives and Dr. Kathy Chang and Liz Eaton. Twin 2 was doing fine; but the mother and Twin 1 needed more care. Twin 1 had not had any nourishment since it was born. It was also very cold so Liz Eaton took some hard warmers and placed them around the baby’s blanket. It started improving and was able to suckle. And they were finally able to stop the mother’s bleeding. Later she was taken to receive a blood transfusion.

It was a very full day. We treated 3,131 patients and 18 were baptized. God is good!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Today started bright and early. The “A Team” (advance team) needed to eat and be ready to start accepting luggage and sleeping bags by 7:30. The “A Team” actually goes out to the clinic site before anyone else and gets the tents all set up. Everyone’s “stuff” has to have three pieces of duct tape displayed…gray tape shows your name, white or red tape with a number indicates whether you are staying at Eureka or the main campus with the house number, and yellow tape indicates your tent assignment when we are out in the bush. That tent number really helps the rest of the team because once the “A” team has set up all of the tents, they actually deliver our luggage, sleeping bags, etc. to our tents…that’s better than the Marriott because we don’t even have to tip them. :-)

We headed out right on time…which translates to less than an hour after the scheduled departure. When you are moving a team of over 225 with everything it takes to run clinics for medical, dental, wound care, HIV testing and our well-stocked pharmacy, you get an A+ for making it within an hour time-frame.

Next stop was the Calder’s for a wonderful South African meal of Poiky (that’s how it sounds…I have NO clue how to spell it. But it is a stew made with a mixture of game meat. It had kudu, eland and impala. It was very tasty!! Dr. John Estes even asked for a couple of to-go containers. He couldn’t get enough of it. Sue Calder also made her wonderful shortbread and milk tarte (which is also probably not how that is spelled). It was time to leave there so everyone had to be dragged from the baby area. Going to the Calders is always one of the highlights…great food and babies to play with.

One thing I found humorous was the fact that we were driving about 20 MPH on the Kabanga road. When we passed through Kapaulu we had to slow down for the speed bumps. :-)

On the last blog I said it would take 5 to 6 hours…maybe more to get to Simalundu. Well it took 6 hours and 45 minutes of travel time. We had just made a geography stop and Ellie commented that we hadn’t had any breakdowns. I told her she shouldn’t have said that…that’s like talking to a pitcher who has a no-hitter going. A few more kilometers down the road, the coaster bus in front of us broke down. The people were off-loaded from the coaster bus and were shuttled in two loads to another bus that was further up the road. Michael Prather, a 1st timer, said it was quite an adventure and he didn’t even have to pay extra for it. :-)

As we got further down the road, we found that the “A Team” had also had some difficulties. The trailer on the logistics’ lorry had broken down so they had to make trips shuttling those items back to Simalundu.

Even though it was after dark when we finally made it to Simalundu, the people were still gathered singing, clapping and dancing to welcome us. The spiritual team preached into the night and we all fell to sleep with the Zambians singing praises to our Lord.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday, July 18

Good evening from Namwianga! Actually, it’s almost good morning here. We are pushing the midnight oil trying to get everything packed and ready to go out tomorrow morning.
Today we had team members going out to four different places for church. One group walked 2 miles to attend services at the Basic School; some went to Kalomo, others walked over 2 miles to the Tumango village church, and the remainder went to services at Johnson Auditorium here on campus.
After lunch and the team meeting, the annual King Canopy Competition was held. Now for those of you who don’t quite understand what this means, this should actually be an Olympic event. After all, if Curling and dancing around with a ribbon can make it, so should our King Canopy Competiton. There were three teams competing and they were judged for teamwork, speed, and the appearance of the canopy once erected. They were judged on the point system...just like the Olympics. The winning team received “bragging rights.” Seriously though, this is a fun way for the new team members to learn how to put up the canopies so no time is wasted when we are setting up the clinics. Afterwards everyone went in several directions to load the pharmacy, supplies, kitchen, dental, tents, etc.
To the family of Bill and Brent Green...they both arrived safely today.
This evening, the Namwianga community hosted a potluck for the medical team complete with speeches, singing and lots of good food.
And, as I said in the beginning, we are now trying to get our personal things packed to head out into the bush for three days. Tomorrow we will only be going approximately 75 miles; but it will be a hard 75 miles and should take us at least 5 to 6 hours...maybe more.
Please keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rest of the Team Arrives

Happiness is having everyone arrive safely today and to have only one suitcase go missing! Everyone is in good spirits and ready to serve the people of Zambia. Please keep us in your prayers as we go forth in our mission and pray that we bring glory to God.

More informative blogs will come. It's just been a really long day. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Time is quickly approaching

The work here is going really well. Everyone is looking forward to the big team arriving on Saturday. Believe it or far everyone has arrived with ALL of their luggage. Who says the age of miracles has passed. :-) Now that we are set up with the blog, we will be posting more often. Keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Test Blog

Hello, everyone! Just preparing for the 2010 ZMM and want to be prepared to send you updates from the field. This is just a test....and only a test.


KB...just a short blog to verify things are working.