Sunday, November 7, 2010

We are back to the states! We are sitting in the Washington DC airport waiting for one more plane ride home - awesome. Thanks again for all the support and prayers. We have been reminiscing alot about our time there and all have been deeply moved by the Zambian people, their spirit, their giving, their God-centered lives. We had an amazing trip, did more work than ever, saw more people in that clinic than ever, did more teaching. Samfya continues to grow, much related to the work we are doing from Willow and Bright Hopes through their local churches with SCCP (Samfya Community Care Providers). Above is a picture of 3-4 children we ran into who had congenital defects which we will be looking into to see if we can get support to bring them to a high tech hospital in Lusaka, the capital, Cure International, to see if they can be repaired. Pray hard we can achieve this. We all need to take some time to rest, bath, and recup from jet lag, then get back into the swing of things. I will post follow-up soon and we will be starting to gather people for next year's team, which likely will be in August. Blessings from Mike, Becky, Val, and Kirsten

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hard to believe our time here is coming to an end already. We start back home today for the long flight. Here is a pic of our team with the Samfya Community Care Providers - such great people working for God's glory to help their community through their churches. It really is quite remarkable what has been happening here in Samfya in such a short time - really only 3-4 years. Things have improved greatly on how the local church is stepping up to try to resurrect this community. We will miss our friends. Pray for our safe return home to our families, pray for the continued health and well-being of the people of Samfya, Zambia! Lesa omepale (God Bless)

Here is another family we visited on hut calls. The woman in the middle just gave birth 2 wks ago via C section to her 7th child. Her and her husband are both surviving with HIV but unfortunately their house fell down to they are living in this small makeshift mud hut, along with one granddaughter, and her sister with her baby. Dad tries to fish to earn a living but brings in little. Rainy season is coming also and this hut has a pretty good chance of falling down too. Though SCCP is trying to help, please pray for their safety and health.

This cute little guy is Prosper. We saw him at his home Thursday on hut calls. He is 6 and an orphan living with his grandma. He has HIV but is doing well; in fact they had to chase him down at the beach to bring him home to see us. Unfortunately both his ears were badly infected so everytime we made him laugh he winced in pain. Though the economy seems to have picked up in Samfya, health issues are still very bad. Teen-agers and young adults still have a very lax attitude about sex even though awareness is up, and they fear even getting tested because of the stigma that could bring, but one out of every 7-8 of them will be HIV positive. There is still a long way to go but we had a great meeting with the pastors and church leaders of the NGO we work with. It taught them more about HIV and encouraged them to lead their community to raise awareness, decrease stigma, step out and even get tested themselves, reduce misconceptions about HIV - one pastor thought a person with HIV is when the ends of their hairs start turning white - boy I'm in trouble then! They spent an hour asking great questions, like is HIV a curse from God - we encouraged them to treat the disease different from behaviors, not to judge because not everyone who got HIV got it from sinful behavior, and to care for them as Jesus cared for the sick. Pray that they use this information to change their communities.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bats for halloween

Over the weekend we did get a break and visited a game park a few hours a way. So while you all were trick and treating, we were off seeing REAL bats. This picture is just a little taste of what we really saw -= all those dots in the sky are huge tan-colored fruit bats and in October-November of each year they migrate to this park by the millions. They filled the skies with this eerie screeching, like the flying monkey scene from Wizard of Oz. We climbed up into the trees and would see thousands all clustered together on a single branch, branches breaking because of the weight, like ugly foxes with wings. This is the largest mammal migration in the world and a once in a lifetime sight - quite amazing. The park also had various antelope and we did get to seen a herd of elephant running off through the woods, though too fast to catch on film. The crunching of the trees as they ran through this in a cloud of dust was spectacular. Happy halloween!

Eye glasses

We have handed out over a hundred glasses in the first few days, including this one in the yellow. He is the local DC, District Commissioner - equivalent to a governor in the states. Here with his permanent guard in the fancy hat, we all stopped while he visited our clinic to see what we were doing and to thank us, all while politicking alittle on the way out. Kirsten and Val have done great and picked up how to fit the right lens for everyone, and here Estrida is picking out the best fit out of the hundreds I brought all donated from you all - THANKS. We will be figuring out how to keep this process going sending more glasses out there regularly - the need is huge.

Working hard

Hi friends - sorry have not been able to blog recently - poor electricity and working hard. We arrived safely in Samfya last week and have been busy, busy, busy. Two of us do hut calls and two of us work in the clinic from 8:30 til 5. In the clinic we have seen more people for health issues and more for eye glasses than any other team I have seen. This morning two of us saw about 60 locals including this woman with her daughter and granddaughter - this little one had a fever of 104 with malaria. There has been an outbreak of measles here, combined with the heat - in the 90s everyday, the end of dry season meaning crops are low, hot, dry, dust all over, and lots of bush fires creating a situation where every0ne is sick. God is giving us strength to work hard, encouraged by the good people here. Half way through though we already are running out of glasses. Local health care is also falling down - the local clinic has not had a shipment of medicines for 3 months. Continue to pray with us, for us, for the Zambians.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We are on our way!

We are on our way. We are presently sitting in the airport at DC waiting for our long flight to Africa - "our we there yet?!?!" So far so good. Valerie is keeping us on track having memorized the itinerary, Kirsten has her laughter and enthusiasm going, Becky and I have left all our nervousness back on previous trips - which may not be a good thing, but we are going with the flow. Pray for a safe voyage for all of us (and our bags!) and that we will be reunited with our Zambian friends tomorrow night. We arrive in Johannesberg in about 19 hours - hopefully the ambien works! Then have about 1 hour to hit our next flight up to Lusaka, Zambia - arriving 9PM local time (7 hrs ahead of Chitown time). Take care of things here while we are gone.

Friday, October 8, 2010

OUR NEXT MEDICAL MISSION TEAM IS SET! God again has His way of bringing these teams together. Global Connections next team to Zambia for medical work has come together finally after much searching. On the right is Kirsten, a recent medical school graduate who had a year off for unforeseen reasons answered our call at the last minute and completed our team. Next, Valerie is an ER nurse, also will be on her first overseas mission. And last besides myself is Becky. This will be Becky's third trip; she is a pediatric Advance Practice Nurse who just revels in taking care of the little ones in the village. We will be spending all of our time in Samfya, and recently met up with Heather, a Willow Creeker who just got back from spending the last year in Samfya working with the home based care program. We gave Kirsten and Valerie a crash course in Zambian culture, with a little Bemba language and Zambian dress codes thrown in. In the meantime, hundreds of eye glasses have come in to bring out again and Heather helped us think of things to prepare for on this next journey. We leave October 24th for 2 weeks, Mark and Carmen will be our hosts again. Pray for safety and that God will bless this trip with fruitfulness and success. Stay tuned, more updates will be coming from Zambia, as long as the internet and electricity work out there. Lesa omepale (God Bless), Mike

Friday, May 7, 2010


Back home just in time before the invasion of the bat! In the ceiling of the clinic, we had a bit of a bat problem. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your viewpoint, Mark knew how to trap them by simply putting a bucket below their hole. When they exit, they need to glide down to start flying, thus trapping them in the bucket. Here is a scrumptuous bucket of bats - he trapped about 200! Crazy.
Well, we are all safe at home, trying to recover from jet lag. God was very good to us on this trip, we did sooooo much and were so touched by the Zambian people. I will be starting to get our next team for October ready. Lesa Omepali (God Bless).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Besides running the Bible clinic in Samfya, we spend our day with the home base care clients. With Heather here the program has improved - now they are taking 10 new sick clients with AIDS a month, instead of 100 once a year, and helping them get stronger with their HIV meds, meal supplements. This allows them to get better faster, then when they are strong enough they will get a microloan af about $30 for seed and fertilizer and get taught how to do a kitchen farm. This is Vivian surrounded by her family. This is all done through the local Churches who are members of SCCP - Samfya Community Care Providers. The goal is for the community to be raised up economically out of poverty, to help support the Church with tithing, so that these programs become independent, then they can in turn start supported similar churches out in more rural areas, like the island. Mark and Carmen who have been here 3 years, thinks this is a few years away, but God has been strong here and things are improved sooooo much in the 4 years that I have been coming.
This is the kids ward at Mansa Hospital - filled with kids with malaria, vomiting, and boys with broken legs. There were two rooms filled with kids with malnutrition for slow refeeding programs. These work - the big problem is that many of these kids end up coming back in 3 months time.
Saturday we drove up to Mansa, 2 hrs North, to visit the closest government hospital, "MGH" - Mansa General HOspital. This is the free pay women's ward. For $30 a night you can go into the high cost ward, where you will get some meat with your meals along with a private cubbie hole as a room. The free wards are just open spaces, including the TB ward, with three meals a day of beans and mealie meal (a dried corn patty) that you use as the "silver ware." At least they can Xrays, surgery, labs here and have MDs, though they don't work at all on weekends. An eye doc does do cataracts here every Friday. It actually looked better than expected, though from local experience it takes all day to get seen. Mark had a kidney stone, he was to get an Xray - they had him fill up his bladder to get ready, then had him sitting on the bench behind 20 other people for hours with his legs crossed. When he was 6 people away from the test, they came out and closed down for the day until the next day!

Monday, we took a speed boat to one of the islands in the lake, Mbabala island. Here reminds me of Samfya 4 yrs ago when I first came - worse poverty, little food, more disease, more needs. One of the SCCP employees helped to start a home based care volunteer program here and they got HIV meds right out at a small local clinic, which has greatly helped care for their very sick HIV patients - otherwise last year they would have to row across the lake 7 hrs one way to the stage 2 clinic to try to be seen, many times turned away when they got there is the clinical officer was not there or if it was the wrong day. Here we are meeting at one of the huts with their volunteers. It was a great day, still have not seen any crocodiles though supposedly they are all around this island. We saw a young woman with her arms all chewed up Saturday from a croc near this island. Too bad they don't like to eat the crocodiles!

Sight for Samfya!

We have been extremely busy fitting glasses. Here is Andrea with a client - pretty nice fit! We are getting as close as we can but after passing out
close to 300 glasses we are running out and just
taking orders for next time. We have about one hundred locals lined up to see us every morning. These people are quite grateful - otherwise they would need to travel 2 hrs by car - if they can get a ride - to try to get glasses, which cost up to $50 - about 2 months wages for most - almost impossible. We are still also seeing the everyday medical problems in clinic. The local clinic is still understaffed, though the supplies seem better right now. All and all, things are improving here everytime I come.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sorry, internet not working well to post often. We have been super busy with eye glasses - 100 a day looking for them and we have handed out at least 300, more on the list for next time and many for first time seeing.
Awesome stuff, have to run, will try more later.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

We made it and are settled into a beautiful new lodge right on the shore of this gorgeous lake. It is amazing the stark contrast with the beauty of this place and the extreme poverty. This place would be packed with motor boats and beach goers if this was in the state, except for the crocodiles!
Julie started in on teaching therapy to 4 locals, refreshing what they learned last time and they love it. Heather and Courtney are two young Chicago-area girls who are here 1 year, and are both doing amazing things with the Home Care Program, the micro-loans, and an after school program. We set up things to start the eye glasses and they are drooling at the bit to get them - should be interesting how that goes - thanks all who helped with that. Our team took a tour and got introduced to all the locals. It is fun to be back. Tomorrow the real work starts - and I think most of us our over our jet lag and sore butts with the long ride. All our healthy and looking forward to a great week.
Lesa omepale (God Bless)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Our team is off. Here we are before getting on our 19 hr plane flight - one last piece of pizza and Ben and Jerry's ice cream before lovely Zambian food! All bags packed on the plane - we hope ; 0
Pray for safe travels - take care of things for us at home while we are gone.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Out to Africa

Muleshani my friends,
Packed and ready to go tomorrow back to Samfya. We had an awesome response to the eye glass project and I am bringing about 400 pairs of eyeglasses to help the village see along with the lens set that can determine their presciption - should be fun! Many thanks go out to my friend Deb who had the eyeglasses prepped at her shop, to my friend and supporter Frank along with my volleyball friends who brought in tons of glasses, along with my friend Greg who showed me how to use the lens set - we will see how good of a student, then teacher I am. Julie will also help. Andrea and Joe are also ready to do some teaching for the home care volunteers. Unfortunately, Joan had some last second problems that were unavoidable no matter how much she tried and she will not be making this trip - maybe next one. Prayers out to Joan.
I will be shotting back pics when I can, though the next 3 days will be spent travelling - I have lots of reading material - pray for safe journeys.
Talk to you soon. Mike

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back to Africa soon!

Hi all, I am heading back to Zambia in just under a month with a new medical team. God does amazing work in creating our teams and we have another great one. We have Joanie, an advanced practice nurse in Geriatrics/oncology, Andrea, an RN in ortho who has been to Baja on mission trips before, Julie, an occupational therapist, and Joe, an RN in ER. We are trying to prepare, get paperwork done, get all our shots, and collect things to bring. I am also trying to collect eyeglasses to bring so some of the villagers can see again! We could always use prayer to get us there safely, and also for strength, wisdom, and discernment to teach and help the people of Zambia. Stay tuned for more posts - we will be there in mid-April. Muleshani