Monday, August 29, 2016

Fawoman Clinic and Saying Goodbye to Banda

Today was just a short trip on a paved road to the village of Fawoman.  This clinic was just a half day to give us time to pack up for the long journey to Cape Coast tomorrow.  Amazingly, we were still able to see every person that wanted to be seen.  One of the most impactful encounters the dental team had was with a gentleman who had a damaged molar.  The tooth was split in half all the way down to the bottom of the root.  According to Suzanne, someone with a tooth like this is in a great deal of pain almost all of the time.  His tooth had been broken for 10 years!  She was so happy to relieve his pain, but so sad that he had to wait 10 years for it to happen.

In reviewing our statistics over the past 5 mission trips:  Over 30 dental clinics have been servicing Ghanaians in 23 different villages with 32 different NCC members participating.  Without these clinics many of these people would never see a dentist and the gentleman mentioned above would be in chronic pain for the rest of his life.  We have been spending time brainstorming ways to begin to change this. Can we play a role in changing access to dental care?

We also said goodbye to the Banda missionaries.  We love these guys and all of the hard work they do.  A whole small village has come to Christ because of their willingness and obedience to go out into the nations and make disciples.

 Prayer:  Thank you God for the experience of knowing these Pioneer missionaries.  As we move apart, may we be in each other's hearts.  And we pray that we will keep a piece of what we have learned here alive and well as we prepare to re-enter the busy-ness of our American culture.  Amen


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Special prayer request for Beth!

Today at church Doug Montgomery requested prayer for his wife Beth, who is on the mission trip in Ghana.  She fell on her hip sometime in the last two days.  After some phone calls back and forth to Doug to consult a PA and PCP, it is probably not fractured or displaced (if it was, she would be in tremendous pain).  When he reached her again with the doctor’s information, she was sitting up and doing better.  

Doug is asking for prayer for the pain to be relieved, that the injury is not too severe and that they are able to somehow make her a crutch to make getting around easier.  The team has about 1 ½ days of clinics left (today and tomorrow) for the mission trip, a day or two of rest/activities and then they fly home Saturday.  Unfortunately, she is a week away from getting medical tests and treatment.   Please unite in prayer for Beth this week.

Water Project and Wiese Village

In 2013, Pioneers missionaries came to NCC with a proposal.  A fellow Pioneers missionary to the north had started a water business to help in sustaining and growing their ministry.  Would we be interested in funding a similar project for Banda?  After some research and some discussion of the numbers, NCC agreed to commit.  In 2014 funding was sent and the building begun.   And by 2015 after a long year of securing the proper permits, "A-Ice" was officially in business.  We had seen pictures and had discussions about the progress of the project and had heard very good news about it. But, nothing prepared us for the actual site visit.  To see the filtration devices and the reverse osmosis system and the water bagging machine right in front of us, brought home the great care and pride that had been undertaken by lay businessmen.  We felt so proud and impressed by them and for them.  It also shows what leaning hard on God can look like.  They not only are running this business, but they still spend large amounts of time in the mission field.  Which brings me to a great example of what that means....

Today we spend 45 minutes on our team bus to reach the village of Boase.  Here, after transferring equipment and supplies from the bus to the open back truck, we drove another hour out into the bush.  In actuality, we bumped and drove our way through the bush to the village of Wiese.  What an amazing experience.  We bounced through beautiful bush country with mountains all around, ducking under cashew trees, cassava, yam, peanut and melon mounds and a lot of wild nature as far as the eye could see. 

It is here that the missionaries began working with these former Muslims a few years ago. One missionary drives his motorbike there every Sunday to attend church with them.  One year ago, Pioneers raised money through two churches and an individual to build them a well.  Instead of walking three miles to a river that made all of their children sick, they walk 200 yards to clean well water.  The village is now almost all Christian and said that life has changed so much for the better since they have begun following Jesus.   Today we worshiped along side of them.  They worship very freely singing and dancing as the spirit moves them.  Hey Bonnie, you should have seen Bruce dance!!

God was good with the weather and allowing the truck to make it all the way in and all the way out,safely spite of the few times we stalled...and the quarter sized spider that Nikita spied on Suzanne's jacket!

P.S.  Beth took a spill in the shower area two days ago.  She's had a couple of days rest and though she was very sore yesterday and not moving well, today was much better!  We are calling her Rafiki (Lion King) because she is using a big walking stick to get around.   :)

Prayer:  God, we thank you for allowing us to visit the people of Wiese.  They were so kind and generous and so appreciative of the flip flops and Kid's Kingdom cards!  We thank you for healing for Beth and for the protection of our team.  Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Clinics 1 and 2

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when seeing what happens at the clinics and kid's programs in the middle of an African village.  Unfortunately, a picture is also not possible with a wifi hotspot in the middle of nowhere.  I will do my best to briefly describe our experiences with words and add pictures when we are back in civilization. 

We start our morning with breakfast and devotionals before hopping into our trusty team bus with the day's supply for the clinics and kid's programs.  Upon arriving we find the best tree and set up shop.  It's like your dentist's office, but out of doors.  The medical clinic sets up nearby.  It's often a beautiful setting.

Each village has chiefs and elders.  The Pioneers missionaries ask permission for us to visit before we arrive.  Before clinics begin, a few of us go to greet the chiefs.  This is a formal gathering where all parties are introduced and thank one another for the experience of visiting and serving.  The chief often wears a more formal attire and is given a special chair.  One of my favorite parts of this ceremony is being given the opportunity to take a portrait of each elder and the chief.  I have so much fun showing them the digital image. It is an amazing icebreaker.  

Back at the clinic villagers are free to que up at either clinic, or visit both if time allows. They usually wait patiently in their colorful attire.  This is not a small feat given that there is often a wait of over 2 hours or more.  Sadly, a spot in line doesn't always guarantee that the medicine you need will be available or that Dr. Suzanne will be able to get to you before closing time.  The choice is to serve no one or to serve as many as possible.  We choose the latter, but it is not easy.  It does not feel good to turn away a patient knowing they will not likely see a dentist until next time we come.  We have to accept that God is somehow in this. 

The kids program is something to watch.  Beth Montgomery is on a mission to teach as many kids as possible about the gospel through the AWANA program.  Beth and Nikita are blessed to have a Ghanaian teacher work with them.  He is very important not only because he speaks their language, but because he commands authority.  That is very important when working with over 150 kids at one time.  Yes, over 150 children at each village on those 2 days!!

Prayer:  Dear God, we know you have the ability to heal whether we are there or not.  We pray that you will heal the souls of those in the villages and attend to their physical ailments.  We are limited by time, space, and resources, but you are not.  We pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen

Three Days of Medical/Dental Clinics

On Tuesday the team held the first medical/dental clinic in Bofie from 9am-5pm.  Bofie is a tribal community with a Pioneers Church Plant about a 45 minute drive away. They cared for 50-75 children and 150 adults.

On Wednesday, the team traveled to Dobor Village which is a mixed Christian, Muslim and tribal community.  There is some discipleship started in this village but no church plant currently.  They treated 120 adults and 100 children.

Thursday was a big day for the team as they held their third medical/dental clinic.  They traveled to Wewa Village in the Brong-Ahafo region (in Banda).  The team served 150 children and 200 - 300 adults.  There is no church plant in this village, but it is predominantly Christian and English is the spoken language.

Pray that these clinics will open the door for the gospel and for Pioneers Africa.

Today the team will be in Banda visiting the water packaging project and Beth will be giving an AWANA teacher training.   

Prayer: Lord, we pray your blessing on the AWANA teacher training and that it would be fruitful in producing excitement for spreading the gospel to the children and families in this area.  Please help the Pioneers Africa missionaries to become self sustaining through this water project.We ask for the water packaging plant to be successful in selling the sachets of clean well water.  We ask for wisdom for Gary and Bruce who will be reviewing the business plan as they express concerns and offer suggestions to Pioneers Africa.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The first few days... lots of travel!

Hello from Banda!  If you look at Google maps (satellite version) you'll see there's not much here. Find Techiman and we are about 1.5 hrs northwest from there. And even things that look close are mostly on dirt roads so the travel time is much longer. 

The first three days were full of travel and preparation for the medical/dental clinics. After 24 hours on planes and in airports we arrived at Accra headquarters. Although South Africa offers a good experience, modern air travel involves being packed in a large plane like sardines with little ability to stretch out or lie down. After finally reaching our first destination we were all quite happy to lie flat on our backs for a good nap. Following our rest, we still had plenty of time to prepare for the dental clinics before turning in for the night.

Monday was the VERY loooonnnnnnggg journey from Accra to Banda. There has been a lot of improvement to the roads since we were last here in 2012. The president currently in office is being condemned for this because people are still in need. But his belief is that the economy cannot improve without good infrastructure. He must be on to something because at a glance the country seems to be in better shape.

Even with the roads...with traffic and speed bumps at every town and village, it was still 10 hours to traverse the 250 miles to Banda. We love the street vendors in the cities. You can buy anything from phone cards to plantain chips from the bus window. Gary even bought us all ice cream in a pouch. We called the street vendor over just as traffic began to move again. He ran as far as s 1/2 mile to finish that sale!  

All in all our travels have been pleasant, safe and uneventful. We are so thankful for that. Prayer:  Dear God, we thank you for our safe travels and for the privilege of the job you have set before us. May we represent you well in this region.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Meet the team!

From left to right...Nikita Corbelli, Chris Corbelli, Neal Corbelli, Gary Proie, Beth Montgomery, Bruce Wright, Jill Eckert, Linda Wilamowski, and Suzanne Maslo.

We arrived ready to go at the Pittsburgh Airport bright and early Saturday morning (August 20th) with bins and carry-ons in tow. It's quite a process moving 18 bins and pieces of dental equipment that weigh 50lbs each. But working together with help from family members it was all moved into the ticket counter for check-in very smoothly. God has been so generous through his people in so many ways for this trip.  From our very generous NCC donors, to friends and family to random people along the way we have encountered His loving touch. The airport experience was no exception. It began a few weeks ago with permission United Airlines management to check our bins all the way from PIT to ACC---for no charge. That was a savings of $540! Upon arriving at the ticket counter our two lady agents were so helpful and nice and as were the TSA personnel who had to check every bin we handed them. And we have a lot of fun joking and talking with them as well.

It's funny how moving out of our everyday experiences can heighten awareness of how we can treat one another. Every encounter with every person can be an expression of God's love through us. We are his hands, his feet, his smile, his grace and his mercy.

A new commandment I give to you that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you also are to love one another. By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

Lord we pray that others may know that we are your disciples and may know the love you have to offer.