Dear Friends at Alliance,
It has been over three years that we have been in Congo. It’s been a year since we visited Boone. One of the highlights of our visit was becoming members of the church. We appreciated the opportunity to “fast-track” through the process. Becoming a member is one part of the process, but we have yet to figure out how to feel like we are truly a part of the church. It is hard because we are so far away, and the daily challenges that we face are so different. We have benefitted from the sermons on podcast. We are still in 2014, but it does make us feel a part. I think that the church still does not know quite how to be a part of our lives here. This is a process that hopefully will develop over time. One of the miraculous blessings of the Christian life is that being brothers and sisters in the Lord transcends cultural barriers, differences, distance and even time.
Our lives have a level of predictable chaos. We work at Nyankunde Hospital, in eastern DRC. This hospital was destroyed in 2002, but God wasn’t done with it. The hospital has again become a center of advanced medical care and training. It is a place where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached to the poor. We work alongside Congolese doctors and nurses. We do our best to support and empower our Congolese colleagues.
I work in the Surgical Department. We operate nearly every day. The surgical cases cover the entire gamut of surgical subspecialties. Every day has new challenges. Since January we have performed well over 200 operations. Many of them are quite challenging. We see a lot of trauma patients. There are victims of violence from every conceivable mechanism. We have become known as an orthopedic surgical referral center, not because I’m an orthopedic surgeon, but I’m willing to learn and to try. The medical conditions that we see can be heartbreaking. Even more heartbreaking is to hear the personal stories of the patients. This country seems overcome by darkness. What we are doing is a drop in the bucket, but I believe that every case is like lighting a candle. We pray with patients before surgery. We share the gospel when we can. We have chaplains who spend time counseling and praying with patients. This is what keeps me going, even when I feel like I’m at the end of my abilities. I love my job and I feel blessed to be a part of patients lives. I also enjoy the opportunity to teach basic surgical skills to the doctors who will go from here to provide health care in Congo.
Lindsey has been working half-days (actually more like 3/4). She rounds in Pediatrics and takes care of some of the more critically ill children. She helps with the malnutrition program and spends a lot of time counseling families of affected children. It is tough going and results are hard to see. With every patient that “graduates” from the program and goes home, she rejoices. Lindsey has poured herself into this program and done her best to make it work. We continue to support the malnutrition program financially. This is challenging, as the more you reach out to the needy, the more needy people seem to show up. Still, we rejoice that we can help the “least of these” in a very tangible way.
Emmanuel is a year and a half. He is a beautiful and rambunctious boy. He is just starting to use words and we look forward to the next stage. His favorite activities are playing with his dog Cocoa, chasing the chickens (and collecting eggs), spending time with his nanny Maziga, going for an evening walk and riding on the tractor. Everyone in town seems to know Emmanuel. Passers by often detour by the house to greet him and play with him. He has been an incredible joy to us and we look forward to watching him grow up in this beautiful place.
Other home tasks keep us busy. These include maintenance tasks, gardening, beekeeping, coffee-processing, landscaping, welding and carpentry. We have tried many different projects, more than Lindsey would like, but it keeps me from being bored. Some have worked, and some have been magnificent failures. We love the fact that this place allows us to spread out, experiment, and try new things. It would be really great to one day have a “handy-person” who could help me to keep things running.
How can Alliance support us? God has been so good to us, and has provided above and beyond what we could ask. We do have financial needs, especially as we provide support to various hospital projects. We are also looking at my transition from a salaried position with Samaritan’s Purse to a support-based arrangement. This will be a bit of a challenge, but we are confident that God will provide. We are also looking at the purchase of a vehicle in the future, as the one we currently use will no longer be available to us. We would also love to one day host short-term visitors from Alliance. These could included medical personnel and other technical support staff.
One area that has been a challenge for us is Internet. We are in a remote area. We had been using a satellite-based internet service, but it kept getting slower and slower. We are now using the data connection of the local cell-phone service, but it is patchy and at best runs at about 100 Kbps. This makes things like Skype calls, participating in medical research, and accessing medical information extremely difficult. We also have visitors who are very stressed by not having internet access. A faster connection would also allow us to access podcasts, notably the current ones from Alliance. That would go a long ways in making us feel like we’re a part. A better satellite connection would run about 300$/month (satellite internet is expensive!). We would hopefully be able to share that cost between several other individuals. A financial donation towards this end would be a huge blessing to us.
Mostly we would ask for prayer. Specific requests are as follows:
- Wisdom and grace as we work in a Congolese-run hospital.
- Patience to teach Congolese trainees, some of whom have minimal medical knowledge.
- Opportunities and time to share the love of Christ with patients.
- Wisdom as we deal with interpersonal challenges with colleagues, that we would be a team.
- For Emmanuel as he grows and develops, that we would learn to be Godly parents.
- Spiritual fellowship despite frustrations with the local church.
- Protection as we travel to Greece for a medical conference later this month.
- Security and peace in this country, especially as elections take place later this year.Thank you for being our church and for walking this journey with us.Warren, Lindsey and Emmanuel
Here are some stories on the internet which involve Nyankunde and the work here.
- A patient story of one mother whose family was impacted by the malnutrition program: http://blog.samaritanspurse.org/liberated-by-god/?utm_source=SPFacebook&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=m_Y000-SOCM_SocialMedia&utm_content=12-29NyankundeBlog
- The Coopers are interviewed in the following video: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/from-death-to-life-2/
- A personal story by Rebecca Diabo, one of the hospital nurses: http://blog.samaritanspurse.org/god-had-a-divine-plan-for-us/?&utm_source=SPFacebook&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=m_YCCA-15SM_SocialMedia&utm_content=11-2-GC-DivinePlanBlog
- About the renovation of the maternity building through fundraising efforts of two children Gabe and Livvy Fein: http://www.samaritanspurse.org/gift-catalog/sweet-giving/?&utm_source=SPFacebook&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=m_Y000-SOCM_SocialMedia&utm_content=10-02-GabeLandingPage#main-story