Saturday, December 17, 2011

Some Exciting Stuff Going On!

I’m going to tell a story that has taken place over the past several months. If you manage to hang with me, you will be so glad, because it is an exciting story…still taking place. In order to protect those in the story, I’ll use fictitious names and cloak some terms.

Background: About a year or so ago, there was an Important Fulani religious man who lived in another part of our country. He was hired by a M. project to propagate their religion in that area. One day he was given a Bible and as he began to read and compare, he began to have big questions. He went to the one who had gifted him and over a period of discussions, he decided to follow Jesus. He knew he needed discipling, so he contacted some miss’y friends of ours in the city and asked if he could come be discipled. They agreed, and along with other Fulani believers, this man, whom we will call Henry, grew in the faith. When he tried to return to resign, he had to flee for his life. Another time he moved back to his village, which is down near our area, but when other family members and contacts began to accept Christ, he and his family had to leave again. They have settled in the city. But his heart is still burning to share the gospel with his people.

Recent Past (2-3 wks ago): At my clinic in the bush, we see as many Fulani people as we do Gourma. As the people are waiting for their consultation, they are listening to evangelistic media which have been prepared specifically for the Fulani of our area – their dialect and religious background. Many of them have expressed much interest and have actually asked our Clinic evangelist if they can come back and listen…which they do.

About a month ago, I asked my colleague, Lucy, if she and Henry would be willing to come out and take a look at the number of Fulani who come…and if Henry would be willing to talk to them to see if there is a genuine interest. They came, and on that day, Henry, Lucy and myself met some interesting contacts. One of those was Dan, a High Religious Leader, for our whole area among the Fulani, a very friendly older man, who had studied his religion abroad for 20 yrs., and had learned basic French as well as Arabic. As he and Henry talked, it was clear that there was an openness to talk about spiritual matters. Lucy had brought along a copy of the book of Genesis, which was different. She had recently taken the Fulfulde translation of Genesis and put it into Arabic script, which now allowed an Arabic reader to read in their own mother tongue. Since most boys of this religion learn to read in Arabic, and never their own language, this allows them to be able to read with understanding!

So when Lucy gave Dan a copy, he immediately began to read, thinking it was Arabic, but as the words came out, it kept coming out in his own language…and as it dawned on him, a huge grin began to spread over his face! Now he read voraciously…and then declared to us, “This is the truth!” As we prepared to leave, Henry asked if we could pray together. Immediately Dan dropped to his knees; the rest of us followed suit. Dan asked Henry to start and he would finish. I can’t describe to you how deep and beautiful the prayer was that Henry prayed…(Lucy was translating for me), but in it he managed to pray for Dan and his family, their health, peace and that they would know the way to Heaven…and he prayed the gospel in a subtle way. He prayed like one who has known Jesus for years!

Before we left, the Fulani requested that Henry return again soon.

When I shared the above story with my colleagues who had prepared the listening media, they were excited too and helped me to acquire a locally available radio, which also has a USB port. They loaded three USB sticks with evangelistic material: with over 100 Bible stories in Fulfulde, portions of Scripture and songs…all which have been prepared for the Fulani of our area. The next week when I was at clinic, Dan was back to bring his wife to get her ulcer meds. I asked him if he would like to listen to these programs and tell me what he thought. He and a friend sat and listened for nearly two hours! Dan and others declared them to be "sweet."

When I saw him crouched down to work on his motorcycle, preparing to leave, I brought out the radio I had brought for him. I told him that Lucy and Henry and the people who prepared the programs and I, all wanted him to have this, and I handed the radio to him. He was speechless. I asked if I could take his picture, so I could show my friends that he had received it. He agreed, so I asked if he would like to stand up for the picture, but he replied, "No, it is fitting that I receive this on my knees, because I am grateful."

Dec. 3rd: While visiting at a social event, Lucy and I decided to plan a date for her and Henry to return. We could let the 5-6 men who had expressed interest know the day, and they could meet together with them and discuss what they had been listening to and answer any questions. We prayed that God would send those who were seeking to know Him and that He would direct that meeting.

Present: That meeting took place this past Thursday. When Lucy, Henry and I arrived, I immediately had to begin my work in the clinic. Our Gourma evangelist, Moses, had let the Fulani men know, and over the next half an hour, they began to arrive. Moses had swept out under a thorn tree and placed some bricks and a few benches for them. It was a small distance from the clinic so it would give them some privacy. Dan showed up and so did some other religious leaders, who had been coming to listen to the clinic radio (Fulani media). Later I heard all about it from Lucy. Since we had expected a handful of guys, we were surprised when over 20 showed up! They listened to Henry talk for over two hours. He started by quoting some of their familiar prayers in Arabic, brought out what is good in Islam, and asked them what happens when they fall short of the ideal and are left wondering if they can make it to heaven. Then he went to the Old Testament and explained how it points to Jesus. They asked lots of questions!

Several of them stayed around for another two hours, asking questions and discussing the Scriptures. Then they asked Henry to come back and explain more to them. One man said to Mary, "Can you come to my village? My people need to hear this."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Clinic Building Begins...FINALLY!!

We finally have the right weather, the best builder, the materials and the funds to get the clinic addition built. As I write this, the work is going on and the new “wing” should be finished by early next week. Yahooey!

Unloading materials at the site.

Necessary tools for building: knife, traditional pick, and a good supply of Tea (leaves, sugar and pot)!

Starting the foundation.

Yesterday, Thursday, the walls were going up. This weekend the doors and windows will go in.

I'm so excited to see our dream finally coming true!

Jeanne-Marie Update

Among many very exciting things that God has done this past week, the update on Jeanne-Marie has to be one of the best! Tuesday afternoon Gary and I drove the builder (who is presently building our new clinic addition) and his team out to the site in that village. After getting them set up and starting the work, I had a few minutes to talk to Pastor. I told him about all that had happened since I had left him on Thursday after clinic (talking to my sister, the medicine I just "happened" to have, and giving J.M. her first dose). I told him that I had asked many people to be praying for her...and then he stopped me. He said, "Her father came to see me this morning and he says that she can See!" My other worker/evangelist was there too, and simultaneously we both said, "Hallelujah!" Gary heard the news and was excited too. We continued to pray.

On Thursday, I stopped by to see Jeanne-Marie on my way to clinic, and at first it was hard to tell a difference... but then, when I held up my finger, she reached for it and pulled it to her mouth. While seated on my lap, she looked me straight in the face, and immediately arched back and began to cry - a common reaction of a baby to a "white" lady. She hadn't done that before. And when I questioned the parents, they both assured me that she could see things that were close up to her. Surrounded by so many people, and Jeanne-Marie wanting to go back to her mother, it wasn't the place to do an eye exam. I left some medicines with them, and they were very thankful. I reminded them that this was a work of God!

Please continue to pray. I hope to get them into an Opthamologist just after the new year for an evaluation. I'm praising God for what she Can see and Praying for complete healing! Thanks for helping with that.

Giving Jeanne-Marie the medicine last Friday.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Little Jeanne-Marie

I’m at the clinic and little Jeanne-Marie sits on my lap with her face turned up to mine. She’s 15 months old and other than a fever, she appears to be a healthy little toddler, just beginning to walk.

Except that Jeanne-Marie can’t see my face. After completing my simple sight exam, I realize the truth: She can’t see anything! Her eyes just stare and she blinks.

Her parents have brought her to our clinic because they were beginning to get worried. About 3 weeks ago Jeanne had gotten sick…with a high fever and she had had some seizures. They took her to the clinic in Maka. and she received some sort of treatment there. When they took her home it wasn’t long before they notice that Jeanne-Marie wasn’t trying to walk anymore, and that she was bumping into things as she crawled. They began to get scared. They took her to another clinic further away…more medicines…but Jeanne’s sight didn’t seem any better.

Now finally they are at our clinic with hope written all over their faces. Hope that we will have some sort of medication that will help her eyes to be able to see again! As I finished examining her and I came to the conclusion that she was indeed blind, I struggled with what I would say to this young couple! How could I tell them that their first born, beautiful little girl was now blind, changing their lives forever?!

Somehow I came out with the truth, as gently as I could. They were devastated! Both of their faces were pictures of shock and dismay, eyes downcast! We tried to assure them that we would treat her for the suspected resistant malaria which was causing her fever, but I don’t think they heard our words. I tried to reassure them that Jeanne-Marie could be a healthy little girl and have a productive life if the family would be willing to help her. They couldn’t think of that right now! We also suggested that they get an expert opinion and advice from an Ophthalmologist. But last of all, and best of all, as they prepared to leave, our Health Worker/Pastor Bori suggested that we pray together. Since the family has a Catholic background, they agreed. Pastor prayed a heartfelt prayer for the parents and then prayed with conviction and faith for healing for Jeanne’s eyes, since God is the greatest physician of all. We all murmured, “Amin” as he ended.

That evening, back in our home, I was puzzled over what could have caused Jeanne-Marie’s blindness, so I made a Skype call to my sister, Terry, who is an Eye “expert”. She made a suggestion: if there was swelling around the optic nerve, it could occlude sight; it might be worth a try to give her Prednisone to decrease the swelling. Being three weeks later, it could be too late, but it was worth a try. I never have Prednisone in my home, but just recently a nurse friend had left me with some, and I had JUST ENOUGH for a week’s treatment for Jeanne-Marie. The next morning, Gary and I drove out to the family’s village and found their compound. Everyone gathered around as the couple brought Jeanne-Marie to me. I showed them how to pound up the medicine in a spoon, add a pinch of sugar and a few drops of water. Then I took Jeanne-Marie in my arms and laid her back abit. When I put the spoon to her lips, she eagerly took the first sip….then she began to fuss. (She also tinkled on me :) I had to work abit to get the rest in her, but her parents were watching. They had to know how they should do it themselves, four times a day. As we got up to leave and I handed her back to her parents, they all thanked me for coming. I had the opportunity to tell them that God had ordained that I had the medicine at home, and that we had prayed with the family the day before for God to heal her eyes. We would continue to pray.

As the young father walked us to our truck, we asked him if he knew Jesus…he said that they go to the Catholic Church in the next village.

Will you pray with us this week for Jeanne-Marie, that God would touch her eyes, either through His Divine touch or by the medication? Pray that the love and power of Jesus would be evident to this young couple and their surrounding family! Pray that God’s Glory would be seen!