Friday, April 13, 2007

Plunk April 07 Update

Dear Supporters,

Counseling at clinic. I had to reduce the file size, so it is a bit blurry.

Holy Water

This article gives a small picture of the interesting beliefs of the Orthodox Church. I am still trying to read and research about their doctrines and hope to do a case presentation to the staff in July on the topic.

Danut's Testimony

This is the testimony of Danut, a woman in our project. It will blow you away.

Two weeks ago, Teddy gave me an incredible opportunity to preach to three groups of 25 of our beneficiaries each week for the next 3 months. Sometime mid-summer we will be moving these beneficiaries to churches in Lideta. We are doing this because they are relatively healthy, to let the church take on some mercy ministry thus fulfilling part of its purpose, and so we can take on 75 more beneficiaries in Lideta who are desperately sick.

The first time I preached to one of the groups of 25 about trusting God’s plan in light of an unknown future some of them started crying. They told me that this project has literally saved their lives by providing rent money and medications. Many have also come to Christ in the last few years. This is an enormous change in their lives. I will take them through Scriptures concerning faith, trust, suffering, and other topics in the oncoming weeks to encourage them.

Abrahat is in bad condition. I visited her in December and then did not see her until a few weeks ago. Alemu told me she had been admitted to Black Lion hospital and had been there for two months. Now when I visit her see looks almost worse than before physically, but sadly she is emotionally and spiritually wounded from her stay in the hospital. She feels so one cares for her and constantly tells me she wants to die even though we visit her regularly along with members of her support group. Black Lion is the only government referral hospital for all of Ethiopia. It is one of the only hospitals to which our beneficiaries have access because they are very poor.

In light of Abrahat’s situation, I have told Tishoma, one of our staff members who does drug adherence counseling in Black Lion hospital, to inform me when our beneficiaries are admitted so I can visit them. I hope to do weekly rounds to let them know we care and that God has not abandoned them.

Medical clinics with the Menlo Park team have gone well. This was the first clinic in our Bole project. We also had a few clinic days at two churches to help them with outreach to their local communities. I did pastoral counseling after the beneficiaries had seen doctors in the clinic. This involved me asking them about their life and encouraging them emotionally and spiritually based on their situation. I handed out many Amharic bibles and explicitly explained the gospel to many. For details of the clinic, see my blog.

Menlo Clinic Pictures>

Pictures of clinic and home visits.

I went to the famous Fistula hospital last month and want to direct you to my blog for more details about it. I will be home June 5th-24th and will give you more details in my May update.

Cultural Observations
-It is cultural to hire women to wash clothes/dishes and do housework. It provides income for them and helps us. So, we hired a woman in the project, Zayada, who happens to be Muslim. She bleached all my underwear, but I forgave her.
-If someone is 20-30 years older than you or is 50 years old, they are called shimagolie (old person). Unlike our culture, this is considered a gift from God and is very respected. Older people have their own verb endings, so it is always interesting to figure out which ending to use when meeting a new person. I have yet to master this skill.
-During holidays, all stores and restaurants put blades of grass on the ground. Especially during Christmas and Easter, lots of goats, sheep, and chickens are in town for sale to slaughter.

Prayer Requests
1. A miracle has happened with Elsa. She was referred to the Psychiatric hospital and the medications have really turned her around. She feels and looks much better. She was even smiling and laughing when we visited her last week. This week her support group went to house and walked her to the office for a meeting. Praise God!
2. Praise for the work of the Menlo Park team.
3. Prayer for spiritual strength as I care for so many in the midst of deep need. I try to listen to at least 4 podcast sermons a week. Pray also as I visit beneficiaries in various hospitals in town to encourage them.
4. Continued prayer for seminary application process. Everything is in, and an interview will be soon.
5. Prayer for planning boys program with English teaching and support group talks/income generating activities.
6. Pray for Abrahat spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
7. Pray as I preach to the 75 beneficiaries each week and for them as they make a huge life transition.
8. Pray for Girma, one of my Ethiopian co-workers who is Orthodox. He translated for me this week at one clinic during counseling and was shaken emotionally by one woman’s story. He asked me a lot of theological questions afterwards and wanted a Bible. He is now reading a new Amharic bible I gave him for the first time. You can read more about this experience at clinic on my blog.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Snapshot of Clinics

One had been saved a few days before as the team did home visits. His name is Abata. He now lives in Addis, but his family lives down country. I asked why and he said he came here to see his brother. Then he said he got his blood tested and found he was hiv+. He was ashamed and did not want to go back and tell his family. I told him he needed to go back, but then he said his wife had remarried. This really shocked me because he obviously had lived here in Addis for a long time with so much fear and guilt and now has lost his family. I gave him advice, prayed for him, and gave him a Bible encouraging him to actually read it.

Demisay had a four-year-old girl and both were positive. He is a guard and doesn't make much money. He was very open about wanting to know how to enter the kingdom of God. So, as I did with everyone who let me that day, I walked through John 11 and explained the gospel through Jesus being the resurrection and the life. I prayed for him and gave him a bible as well.

Aynalem had a painful cough that the doctors examined. She has five kids and her husband died four years ago. She said we came at the right time in her life because she literally has nothing and needs help with money etc.

Birtukan sat down with me a told me of her leg pain. She has a cane to help her walk. Her hip has bothered her for at least six years. During that time, she has walked awkwardly which has caused nerve damage and back problems according to one of our doctors. I asked about her family and she said her mother was dead and her father had been in prison for political reasons for fifteen years. She has one child, but had to give her first child away because she could not provide. At this point she started crying. She said she feels like her life is going bad.

We were low on translators, so our staff member, Girma, was translating. He had not done spiritual counseling before and was greatly shaken when Birtukan mentioned giving away one of her kids. His lips began to tremble and hands shake as we both tried to comfort and encourage Birtukan. I shared from John 11: 25-26 and prayed with Birtukan. She was very appreciative of our listening and encouraging words.

Afterwards, Girma asked me about what I had shared and I realized he had never read the Bible for himself. He is Orthodox, and most congregants only listen to what the priest says. They are not encouraged to read for themselves. I gave him an Amharic Bible and Eyob, another Ethiopian staff member, explained to Girma where the different books were in the Bible. Girma had heard of some of them through listening to the priests, but did not know some or where they were. It was incredible to see his spiritual eyes slowly opening.

Over the next few days, we had other clinics and different sites. In our Bole project, a lot of spiritual progress was made with many of our new beneficiaries. Some came to Christ and many others at least heard the gospel as they were cared for physically and emotionally. A lot of them did not want to be prayed for or to talk about spiritual issues, but at least the opportunity was there. The foundation was laid for further work in the near future with support groups forming and a weekly bible study starting soon.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Fistula Hospital, A Taste of Heaven

Fistula Hospital

I had the privilege of visiting the famous Fistula Hospital here in Addis Ababa in early March. Most the women with fistulas are from rural Ethiopia. I won’t go into great detail, but giving birth with inadequate or no health care service or at too young an age causes a fistula. It is very common in countries like Ethiopia. There are 1500 midwives for 77 million people and all of them are in Addis. Many of the women at the hospital are very young. They were married of in their teenage years and their bodies were not developed enough to give birth. They then leak urine and are rejected by their husband and family. 93% have psych problems because of this.

The hospital, however, is a picture of heaven. The women come despised, rejected, and dirty. They have surgery to repair the physical damage done, and have other women around who have similar problems emotionally. Others receive physical therapy because they have been in so much pain that they remain in the fetal position for months. After receiving medical and emotionally attention, leave as a new person with confidence and with a new dress given by the staff. The tour I had was very informative and touched me.