An Experience Beyond Words
To say that my first trip to Guinea (and Africa)
was a trip of a lifetime
adequately describe how I feel about the time spent at Compassion Evangelical Hospital
. Seeing the hospital first hand, meeting the
people that I have heard about and prayed for and stepping into a culture that
is vastly different from anything I have ever seen was an experience beyond words. My heart and mind were touched and God
humbled me in wonderful ways.
With a group of new friends.
I could not have asked for a better travel companion. Dwight
Slater was my built-in doctor, translator, travel-guide, prayer partner, food
advisor, and teacher. We had a very successful trip as we accomplished the
tasks set beforehand. More
importantly, we developed a deeper relationship with each other that allowed
for many hours of fellowship, devotional time, and personal bonding.
We left the USA
August 28th and returned September 13th. Between August 31st and September 10th we had
multiple group and private meetings with the medical and construction staff at
the hospital. We were able to have personal meetings with national and regional
leaders of the Guinea
health system. The Mamou Mayor also spent time with us to review progress at
the hospital. These Guinean leaders are very much aware of the impact CEH
is having on the region. Without prompting they expressed their appreciation
for the medical care provided. They also
thanked us for the leadership in providing valuable, on-time quality reports
about the medical statistics and findings at the hospital.
On August 31st Dwight, Etienne, and I met with US Ambassador
Patricia Moller and three of her staff. The Ambassador is aware of prior
conversations about the potential of CEH obtaining assistance from the US Embassy
for humanitarian services. Several of their officers have visited our hospital
and highly praised its function and impact in the region. However, due to the
current political climate and a pending democratic election, the US will not
make any further humanitarian financial commitments at this time. We are hopeful for conversations to continue
after the elections which were postponed again.
The financial overview with Etienne and Emmanuel went well.
They were well prepared for our visit with a presentation of
documented financial processes, including cash handling and financial
The hospital is functioning with a clinic, pharmacy,
laboratory, and medical inventory. The clinic performed a total of 11,000
consultations between January and June of this year. Currently there are 48
workers employed at the hospital (34 medical and 14 construction).
The surgical building exterior is finished. Roofing and
plastering are complete. Work on Ward "C" begins in late September using funds from the Dr. John Slater Memorial and the Lankton Estate Gift. Both
buildings will be operational in early 2011.
Surgical Building Progress
A second generator is needed and will be shipped in Container Number 10. This generator will assure additional power supply once the surgical
building is complete, and will also serve as relief generator for the current
main power unit.
Additional staff will be hired as growth continues. It is difficult to find workers who fit the
skill and spiritual requirements needed. Please pray that the Lord will continue to
provide competent candidates with the right work skill and deep Christian faith.
A low to mid-level skilled local electrician is needed to
perform routine repair and maintenance work. Guinean electricians have not been found who can understand the American
system and do this work.
Daily prayer and devotional time is a central focus before
any work begins or before meetings commence. The morning devotional for the
medical team and separately for the construction team sets the tone for the entire day. All medical workers are Christian. Three
construction workers are Christian (out of 14).
Unity and harmony are evident in the working relationships on
staff. This includes medical staff and
construction staff as well as between the two departments. There is also good harmony between Christians
On September 5th the hospital hosted a spiritual retreat at
near-by Dalaba (about 30 miles away). The retreat served to introduce workers
hired since late 2007 to the core mission of the hospital and it's Statement of Faith. It also allowed the
22 participants to share their personal Christian testimonies and thus to get
to know each other better.
Dwight, Kristen and Ulli with the staff at retreat.
32 workers took part in a prayer walk held on September 10th. The walk allowed workers to praise God and
thank Him for His grace. They recognized
the privilege that it is to minister to people who require medical care and to
take part in introducing them to the gospel through the Pular-language Jesus
video. In addition, prayers were given for the new Ward "C" and the Surgical Building trusting God for all that will be done in these buildings.
Prayer walk with workers inside the Surgical Building.
One of the many deep impressions which I brought back with me is the importance of relationships in African culture. Nothing task-oriented happens in Africa unless it has been thoroughly 'bathed' in the
relational aspects of life. However, as a result of prior relationship building
(and the hospital delivering on its medical
promises), the doors are wide open to meet with leaders highly respected in the
regional area and the capital city of Conakry.
Jean Paul's monthly reports to regional health officials are the standard of
on-time quality reports. Dr. Jean Paul has been able to develop valuable
relationships with health officials and doctors at other hospitals.
The villagers have a very good relationship with CEH. During
our meeting with the construction team one of the workers stated that through
CEH he has learned a lot about God. Another
construction worker said that the group is known in the area as the people who work for CEH
With some local villagers.