Monday, April 1, 2013


So I realize that it has been about 5 months since I last updated my blog. There have been many times I’ve wanted to write something, or I had an idea of something to write, but usually at times where I was doing something else, and by the time I was someplace I could write, I didn’t have energy or creativity to write something. So, now, I’m taking the time to write, so I can let you all know what’s going on. And I hope to be better about updating more frequently. 

I was home last Thanksgiving, and was able to stay through until just after Christmas.  Since we celebrated our Christmas early (thinking I was going to leave before then), I didn’t have so much of the Christmas stress leading up to the 25th. It was quite a relaxing day, actually. I enjoyed getting to visit with my family, and the extended time was much needed for me to recover from the burnout I had before coming home. 
My return to Congo was more or less uneventful. I enjoyed the few weeks I had with the Wegners before they left for their home assignment. Stephen and I did some work on sign-out on medical directorship for the hospital, as there would be no overlap between him and the new medical director par interim. 
At the time I returned, we had a short-term volunteer here who took care of the lion’s share of the mechanic/electrical work. He helped immensely in keeping things running, doing many things behind the scenes I am not even aware of-I just know we had electricity and water and he fixed most things before I knew there was much of a problem. 
However, just before he left, the motherboard on our big generator went out. This was something unexpected and unpredictable. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a small generator from a local UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) branch. It is enough to run our equipment that can normally run by solar power, but not enough to power the more energy requiring equipment, such as the air conditioner in the OR. This may seem like a minor inconvenience, but on a sunny day the ambient temperature in the OR can start at 85F, before the lights are on, you’ve covered your hair, you’ve gloved, and put on an impermeable gown. So it gets a *little* hot in there. We’ve cut down on the number of scheduled cases so that we can finish in the morning before it gets too hot. We have ordered a new mothercard for the generator, which we hope will arrive this week, and fix our generator. I don’t know if it will last until our new generators will arrive this fall. They are currently in a container in Pointe Noire, the port city for Congo. We are awaiting a letter of exoneration so that we can take it from the port to Brazzaville. Then we have to wait for the river to rise high enough to bring a large enough boat to carry the 40 ft, 17 ton container here to Impfondo. We have looked into getting a new generator in Brazzaville to have as a back-up in case this larger one breaks down again, but it’s not quite so simple. There are many types of generators, and the ones they have aren’t exactly like what we need-we would have to do some re-wiring of the circuits here at the hospital, on what is already a “spaghetti” like system. So, nothing is as easy as you would like it to be. 
Add to that the general functioning of the hospital. We have medications we ordered from IDA, a company in the Netherlands, which arrived about a month or more ago in Brazzaville. We have been waiting for a boat to come up here to bring them to us. The commercial airlines are finally flying to Impfondo again, but are not accepting cargo, so all our meds must come by boat. We are short on gloves, but fortunately so far we have been able to buy some in town. We were out of betadine, but were were donated some betadine and other needed medications from a local source. Thank the Lord for that!
Since Stephen left, we have had several short term visiting docs. All have been incredibly helpful. Currently Dr. Mano Paul is here from India. He has been very helpful in rounding and seeing outpatients, which has allowed me a little more time to take care of some administrative things. We recently had a local politician hospitalized at our hospital, which was a bit stressful for me as everyone in the local government wanted to know how he was and what the plan for him was, each day. It was rather frustrating having about 10-15 people asking me the same questions every day. However, he arrived around the time our generator went out. The Maire of Impfondo notified SNE, the local electric company, which then provided power every night from 7p-12pm, in order to help our hospital when we did not have sufficient energy to maintain running the portable oxygen concentrator. The rest of the time they used their own generator for this particular patient. We normally only receive city power 4-5 nights/week for about 3-4 hours, so this was a blessing. I am happy to say the patient is doing well and was able to travel to Brazzaville where he can consult the needed specialists for his medical problems. 
This weekend I have the weekend “off”. Dr. Paul is rounding at the hospital for me, and I manage phone calls for when he does not have an interpreter. Unfortunately, one of our refugee patients passed away Saturday night and yesterday we had to do quite a few errands to figure out what to do with the body, as he comes from a town 6 hours away by motor boat. We were able to bury the body here. A fellow missionary and our chaplain helped to make the arrangements for him, which was wonderful as it allowed me more time to rest and relax. 
Last night I tried calling my family from the hospital when the administrative building lost power. I don’t know what caused it or how to fix it. The generator I had running was working but not providing power where it was supposed to. So, that will be something to look at today or tomorrow. 
So, there you have it, in 1500 words or less, most everything that’s happened since Thanksgiving. Thank you all for your prayers-they are much needed and much felt! Pray for continued peace, courage, patience, and strength. Pray for our electricity system, that we can fix the problem and not encounter any more until the new, upgraded system can be installed. Allow us, at HELP, to be a light to those in darkness. 

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. --Math 5:16


Trixy Franke said...

Thanks for the update! So much left unsaid between the lines I bet. You are always in my prayers. It's not easy working under all the stresses there in Impfondo. One day at a time...

wesrow said...

Laura, you are so inspiring! Keep up the wonderful work and keep your spirits up. I know it must be draining and challenging but you are the woman for the job. Hugs!

wesrow said...

BTW- wesrow is Amanda Westfall :)

Carol said...

Wonderful to hear your news. Shall add the power grid to my prayers requests for you. If you were at ECC sorry I missed seeing you.