Sunday, July 24, 2011

Disaster Averted

33 of our team members attempted to cross into Zimbabwe yesterday to fly out from Victoria Falls.  Due to slow action at the border post only a few of them made their flight, leaving 18 behind for an additional night.

Group tickets, like what we buy, don't have many options, so we were very concerned that our team might have to purchase completely new tickets.  The Lord was with us however, and they all flew to JoBerg and now have boarding passes to the United States.  Undoubtedly some will still suffer some consequences with missed flights in the U.S. etc, but the overall picture is good.

May the Lord be praised.

Thanks for checking in on us.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Dust and Diesel Smoke

The team arrived at Namwianga after dark tonight.  The Lag Team arrived about 5pm and took everyone's luggage to their housing.  They looked dusty and beat even before the main team arrived, and all of the huge trucks had to be unloaded.  I know they will sleep well tonight, but it will be a short night because everyone has to have luggage out early tomorrow for travel to Livingstone.

In all they saw 16,029 patients, 10,647 of them medical, 2128 dental, and 3254 in eyes.  I am not sure how many cataract surgeries have been performed but I know it exceeds 100. 

When the team arrived in power was off at the mission, and only the radio station tower lights were on, so team members went walking off in the dark to their housing, to come into a dark house where they had to pack by flashlight.  The power came on about an hour later.

Again, it will be difficult to make postings after this, so they may end abruptly, but we will try to update later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Update on the young man taken to Maacha with serious injury

I am at the mission at Namwianga, but can occasionally get a text message through to the team, and they responded today that the young man taken yesterday to the hospital in Maacha has survived. He was given 2 liters of IV fluid on the trip. The prognoses for him is good. The medical opinion is that he would have not died had we not been nearby. Praise the Lord.

Even though I am not with them, I know the team is tired. They had to pack up the clinic at the end of the day, and tomorrow will have to leave very early to get to the next and last clinic site.

The next to last load of cataract patients started off today about 4pm for the trip to Namwianga Hospital. Dr. Monze from Livingstone is still doing surgeries. As of mid-afternoon they had done 97 total, with another 50 or so to go.

Again I am at the mission, and was hearing laughing from outside the house. A large group is standing around listening to Namwianga Christian Radio. I went into my bedroom and dug out one of the small crank-powered radios to test it, and after a few cranks heard my name mentioned. What timing. I have no idea what was said after that because it was in Chitonga, but as they say, any publicity is good publicity;-)

The crank radios were donated by the Church of Christ in Gorman Texas to give to churches so that they can hear Bible reading and programming on Sundays. The radios are very small, but have a big sound and will operate with just a few cranks for several minutes, and they also have a small solar charger built in. It is amazing how much the rural people at the clinics talked about the radio station, it is their only real source of news, educational information, and entertainment in their native language. (To the folks at Gorman, I will pack this one back up after I am finished to be distributed.)

I will try to make later posts, but they may stop abruptly. Apologies in advance for this, but it gets crazy as the team departs.

I think I will take a moonlit walk to the station to see if I can find out what Musopole said about me.

Have a great day.

Thanks for your interest in ZMM

Leonard Mujala

Interview with Chief Chikanta

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Various Photos

Chief Chikanta Tours the Pharmacy

Star Ferguson talks with His Royal Highness Chief Chikanta about the pharmacy

Kasukwe - Sheryl Ramsey talks with the chief

His Royal Highness Chief Chikanta visited our clinic today and was introduced to many of our team members. This audio includes Sheryl Ramsey talking out wheelchair distribution.

Kasukwe Walking

We Saved A Life Today

At the risk of being melodramatic, we saved a life today.  Flora Ngambi, Dr. Jeff Mckinsey's nurse said, "We have come this day for this one soul." 

A few kilometers from Kasukwe a young man was working near a thrasher, or shredder of some sort when his foot was caught.  His friends put him on an ox cart, and having heard on the radio that our team was going to be in Kasukwe started toward us.  By the time he arrived at our clinic he was bleeding profusely and was beginning to lose conciousness.  He was given an IV immediately and his wounds cleaned and the bleeding stopped, but he was very weak, so we loaded him in the back of a small pickup and rushed him to a clinic at Maacha.  I am back at Namwianga in order to make these postings, but when I left at 4:30 today we had not heard back from the nurses that accompanied him.  There is no cell service there, so it may be some time before I know.

If the boy lives it will have been because his friends knew of the medical mission team that was visiting.  We pray that he lives, and comes to know why we came, and who we are..

Kasukwe Drumming

Kawukwe Noel

Kasukwe Molly

Audio Post

Audio Post

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Njabalombe finished

We finished our clinic at Njabalombe this evening at 5pm, having seen
about the same number as the day before.

Our team is generally healthy, and happy.

At our team meeting tonight Eleanor explained that Njabalombe means
"strong boys" because when the Caribba river valley was to be flooded
to create the lake, many of the people who were being displaced were
told to re-settle here. Many of the older people said that only the
Strong Boys could survive on this land, so they stayed and were
presumably lost when the river flooded.

We have finished dinner, and the team is settling in for the night, a
group of girls from a nearby village are singing Gospel songs in Tonga
and moving around the edges of our camp. It will be welcome for a few
more minutes, and then our team will start putting in the earplugs to

We will leave early tomorrow for our next clinic site.

Headed to bed. Team to be up early tomorrow to get to our next clinic site. Still generally healthy as a team. No major problems.
Saw over 2900 on second day at Njabalombe.

Njabalombe Day Two

nternet has been sketchy at best, so our posts may be limited and
occasionally out of order.

Our team tends to go to bed early the night after our first clinic.
First they are exhausted, second it is dark very early, and third it
is COLD. As a result they often have more energy as they awake on the
second day. Those who forgot their ear plugs are probably regretting
it because with all the dust and smoke snoring hits an all time high
among the tents. There have been several attempts to describe the
sound of 250 people sleeping with in close quarters with only the
sides of tents to muffle sound, but they all fall short in giving an
adequate depiction of the cacophony of snores;-)

Our team was up early and it was cold, but thankfully dry. There
isn't much set up required on second-clinic days, so we went straight
to work and the lines were already long. We saw over 3000 medical
patients yesterday alone. Dr. Estes and Angela arrived at our clinic
site around 7pm last evening well after dark to join us. Their
luggage didn't arrive but they did.

Today the Chief for this area arrived to greet us, and he was taken on
a tour of all of our working-areas. He was pleased with the work
being done, and made a special effort to say thank you for Namwianga
Christian Radio Station. He said that because his kingdom doesn't
have any urban areas, it is very difficult for his people to get
information, and the radio station has been has been exceptionally
helpful in providing it. In an unusual move, he asked to be a
volunteer with our team the next time we serve in his kingdom. He had
contacted his headmen in this area in advance of our coming and
insisted that they have some livestock here when we arrived to help
feed us.

Last night our team had the opportunity to have some mutton that had
been killed, butchered and cooked on site. Some took advantage of the
opportunity, others did not:-) In any case our kitchen crew had fried
almost 800 pieces of chicken in a pot over an open fire for the team,
and we had some instant mashed potatoes and gravy that thrilled our
American team members, but wasn't overly interesting to our Zambian
team members. It is a major task to cook for 250 in the bush, but
Leonard our Zambian cook and his team make it happen.

I am not aware of any major illness among our team, but there are a
few with stomach problems, and lots of allergies and such, but for the
most part we remain healthy.

We employee local members of the church to provide security for us.
We provide them bright orange caps and shirts and they watch our tent
city while we are away from it. Also our medical equipment is in
tents, open trucks and open classrooms during the evening, so they
assist us in watching it at night.

We have just started a vehicle toward Zimba where they have a clinic.
An elderly man was being brought to see us by ox cart, when a group
traveling by truck saw the travelers and gave them a ride. By the
time he had arrived, he was very ill, and Dr. Tate is concerned he
won't make it to the hospital, but we are attempting to take him in a
Land Cruiser as fast as we can. I will update you on the story as it
is available.

For those following family members, we are thriving more or less,
though we are dirty and tired. Thanks for your interest.
We will try to do audio posts if possible, but we are having
difficulty keeping our satellite signal, and it is going to be very
difficult to send photos, so if we send them, they may be out of

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Up and Going

The bell at the secondary school rang at 5:30am (as usual) to wake the students. (Try that in the United States;-)

Our vehicles were moving prior to that, and the team is beginning to come alive.  This is our moving day and one of the most difficult, but we are off to a good start.

Yesterday in the midst of a nationwide power outage thanks to the hydroelectric plant at Carriba Dr. Teague performed our first three cateract surgeries.  The generator at Namwianga Rural Healthcare Clinic performed well.  The whole ordeal was not without its difficulties, but it went well overall.  During the second surgery a fly landed on the operating microscope and Dr. Teague asked someone to remove it.  Jessalyn who was observing the surgery and taping it for the video put her hand up against the scope, the fly climbed on and she walked it to the door and released it.  We now call her the "Fly Whisperer!"

It may be tomorrow before we can post anything additional, too difficult to find Internet quickly on the road, but we will try.

Attempts to call home

Friends and family.  Phone service in Zambia is difficult.  The customary AT&T line that we use to call the U.S. is not working, so about the only choice is cell phone service, and international calls are very expensive.

We are working out a way for team members to try and call home, but service and opportunities to call are limited, so if you don't hear from your loved ones, don't worry. 

Using the Internet

Cataract Surgery

Dr. Teague from Abilene Texas has come to do cataract surgery.  Three new rooms at the hospital have been in final stages to be ready for the surgery because they have to be pre-approved by a Ministry of Health official prior to use. 

The main room where the surgeries will be performed has been approved, but we must wait on curtains for the adjacent rooms before we begin even though the patients will not be in the other rooms.  In other words this is simply a formality that must be met.  In any cases we will have the curtains in place in the next few hours and should be able to start surgeries this afternoon.

Jessalyn Massingill is doing a video story of one particular woman's journey through this surgery that will be shown in mid-September at the Paramount Theatre in Abilene.  The woman's name is Dora, and we believe her surgery will occur this afternoon.

The team will have about an hour long meeting this afternoon just after lunch to go over the details of how to thrive over the next couple of weeks.  Logistics are difficult, so details become very meaningful.  The atmosphere is pleasant, and I believe we have an excellent team in place.

The Veranda

It is about three in the morning in the central U.S, but our team has been up and going for a few hours now.  Many of the team showed up before 7am Zambian time for breakfast.  It is cold.  Just a few days ago this area had the coldest overnight temperature in recorded history and many of the banana trees, and other foliage was bitten.

Oddly enough it started raining for an instant this morning.  It RARELY rains at Namwianga this time of year.  One person expressed some concern for the two mile walk to a Church service this morning, but I stated with confidence that they need not worry about getting too wet.  We will see if I were right when they come back for lunch.

Our team was greeted when they got off the buses here at Namwianga with a team that had their luggage pre-sorted for them, and were settled into their guest homes within an hour.  They were tired and ready to stop moving, and many of them looked a little stunned, but this morning faces were brighter.

We offered three venues for worship today.  It is a short walk to an assembly on campus, but many of the team  chose to walk the two to four miles to a village church.  One group went to Tumongo and one went to a nearby basic school.

Counting the Kwacha

The team had an opportunity to exchange some US dollars for Zambian Kwacha this morning, so Mary Brit and Star Ferguson joined LaDonna Armstrong as bankers.


Sorry for posting photos without titles or captions, but the electricity has been off and on this morning, and thus the Internet is not reliable.  So once I get a photo uploaded I POST IT;-)  I have lost several attempts this morning with more complex posts, so I decided just to post what I could when I could, and let you sort it out.

These are some posed pictures which we don't have time for often, but waiting for Church provided some opportunities.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Final Team has arrived

69 new team members showed up at Livingstone today and we were there to greet them.  Things went smoothly, though with a new fingerprinting system in Zambian immigration things were very slow.  Everyone's luggage arrived in the arrivals area prior to the team, and the porters, who have seen us do this before assumed we wanted it carried out to our trucks.  Unfortunately that meant that we had to wait until we got outside to verify that everyone got their luggage.

We had only two missing pieces, so we sent the luggage trucks ahead and eventually followed them to Namwianga.  The road from Livingstone to Namwianga is exceptional!  Much of it has shoulders, and much of it is striped, so it only took about 2.5 hours for the trip.

Kel Hamby and his team of workers had everyone's luggage separated  by name, and were holding up little airport-signs with names on them to help the new people find their things, and then most of the team walked to their housing.  Being able to do this in daylight (we arrived just after 5pm) was a great blessing.  We will have dinner in a few minutes, welcome our guests with a quick meeting and then allow them to get some much needed rest.

Friday, July 8, 2011

James models the Zambia hard hat.

Joe Lawrence uses his pink cup for before dinner coffee

Nurses arrive

Our nurses have to arrive prior to the main team in order to have individual interviews with the Zambian nursing counsel. They fly into Lusaka and have to make the six hour drive to Namwianga.
They arrived here just after dark tonight and after a meal and brief meeting we took them to their houses. They were tired but happy. Amazingly all of their luggage arrived as well.
Tomorrow we will travel to Livingstone to pick up the 69 remaining team members
We will try to announce their arrival.

Leonard goes to buy food

Ellie updates lists before team arrives


We have attempted to send several photos to the blog remotely, but have had some difficulty.  Please bear with us as we work out our techical issues.  Things are going well.  The vehicles are almost in order to travel, and our team has been working to get logistics, supplies and medicine ready to go.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The mutchembele (respected woman)

I have rarely seen Eleanor cry, but today was one of those days. Jessalyn has been videotaping for a motion picture that we intend to show in September at the Paramount Theatre in Abilene for our annual fundraiser. We had spent several hours in a village with a woman who is almost completely blind due to cataracts. For the film we hope to follow her through her surgery at Namwianga Rural Healthcare Centre this Sunday as she has the cataracts removed by Dr. Teague of Abilene.

We filmed most of the morning at her little home and we knew she hadn't had anything to eat, so we tried in vain to convince her to ride with us in our vehicle to Namwianga to have lunch with our advance-team, but she felt that she was troubling us and refused. We finally convinced her to go with us, to allow us to get her some food and then take her back home. As we arrived at Namwianga the advanced-team was just about to have lunch so we coaxed her to the back yard of the guest house to introduce her to the team. Because she can't see, she didn't recognize anybody but I made a point to introduce her individually to Ellie. When she realized that it was Ellie she squealed with joy, and reminded Ellie that Ellie had come to her village more than 30 years before to teach a woman's Bible class.

She was very excited, and went on to say that she got up this morning and decided to wear her special dress, a dress that she intends to be buried in, and dress that was given to her 30 years ago by Ellie! Something tells me she will go home with a new dress today, but today tears came into Ellie's eyes, and an old friendship had been renewed.

In a way the medical mission is a lot like that every day. While the medical mission is a huge undertaking, it is the single acts of kindness, generosity and care by individuals that bring glory to the Lord. While our goal is to provide those acts of kindness to the Zambian people, many times it is the Zambian's who give these blessings to us rather than the other way around.

Our full team is to arrive on Saturday and we are preparing to meet them.

Thank you for your interest.

More to come.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Early group arrived

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From: Ellie Hamby

The early group of 19 arrived yesterday with no problems with all their  luggage – amazing!  Since it was the 4th of July we decided as patriotic Americans we should  our independence from the British.   We went in the back of a big truck  to the granite banks of the Kalomo River where we had hot dogs, homemade hot dog buns, chips, cookies, ice cream, and s'mores.  It was quite a treat while being in Zambia.  The evening was topped off with fireworks supplied by Ruhtt Mbumwae.  Attached are some pictures of the celebration.

Unfortunately, one of our team members, Dr. Carole Buchholz, tripped on the granite rock and suffered a significant fracture to her wrist.  We were able to take her to our Namwianga Hospital where the x-ray technician took x-rays of the injured wrist.  We then took photos of the x-rays and emailed them to an orthopedic surgeon in Alaska.  Fortunately, Carole had Dr. Marylou Behnke (neonatal pediatrician) and Dr. Richard Prather  (veterinarian) along with several others attending to her.

It was determined that she needed to have the bone set as soon as possible to avoid further damage and then surgery will likely follow.  We carry medical/emergency evacuation insurance on every team member and the insurance company was called to arrange medical transportation for her.  Since it was not a life threatening injury they arranged and paid for her to fly to South Africa on a commercial South Airways flight where she will receive immediate treatment.   The insurance company also paid for Dr. Richard Prather to accompany her.  If it is determined she needs further treatment the insurance will send her back to the USA.  As you can see this is an example of how necessary it is to have medical/evacuation insurance.  The company was very cooperative and appears to be taking good care of her.  We just received a phone call from Dr. Prather and she has been admitted and they waiting on the doctor to see her.  Please keep Carole in your prayers.

Today everyone is working hard counting pills, organizing foodstuff for the clinics, repairing tents, and inventorying all the different clinic areas.  There is still a lot of work to be done.

We covet your prayers as we prepare for our ministry to the Zambia people.

Ellie Hamby