A couple of days ago I became quite uncomfortable while out at the Zulu dam. Chills and shakes and intestinal distress severely limited my capacity to help the team. Riding back to Karawa in the front seat of a Toyota truck I couldn’t help wonder “why me?” The why me of my musing was Why did I get a ride? Why did I have the relative security of Malarone, a malaria prophylaxis, to ease my risk and concerns? Why do I get provision of care when other human beings, equally created by God, have neither access nor money to pay for care? It is not clear.
But Certain things are very clear here in Congo. It is clear that sporadic electric power makes the delivery of high quality medical care challenging, to say the least. It is clear that helping is a mandate given to the church, and it is clear that global differences exist. As a westerner, I can’t help but wonder what will happen if we invest money in the electrical infrastructure of Karawa Hospital. Will civil war break out again? Will politics of some kind give unequal access to the care we wish we’re provided? Will the system break down or be abused?
My pondering took me to Ecclesiastes:
I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:18, 19 NIV)
Uncertainty is not new. It is not ours to see the future. But it is given to us to help the poor, including preaching the gospel in word and in deed. This gives a chance of an empowered future whereas doing nothing would do… Nothing.
What a fascinating journey! A trip is a place to go to and return from. A journey leaves us changed.
Today I met a 13 year old girl named Lundi. 3 months ago she had been severely burned on one side of her body. She was being transported several miles by her uncle who had lashed a chair to the back of a bicycle and was pushing the bicycle to the hospital here in Karawa. David and Debbie Williams (missionaries here in Karawa) just happened to be driving by in their mission truck and stopped. She was in shock, nearly dead. It is unlikely she would have survived the trip by bicycle. The medical team at Karawa Hospital went to work, without electricity and a fragile water supply they nevertheless were able to get her stabilized and when I met her today she is a happy, grateful and industrious teenager helping her family selling goods in the market.
A life saved, what will her future hold? Whatever it holds, it will be an actual future, thanks to Karawa Hospital.
How much more will be able to be done for others like Lundi when there is reliable power, reliable water, an economic engine and a stable political future. God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, but he also uses us to do immeasurably more than we think we are capable of, especially when we are in it together.
So far the engineering work is progressing with insights and understanding being developed with the cooperative spirit and excellent capability of the people involved. A rebuilt hydraulic crimper has successfully been used to splice some faulty cable, a TDR (time domain reflectometry) and a MegOhmeter have been used to measure fundamental properties of the cable that will guide the teams work next week. Stay tuned, and keep us in prayer.
(Check out covchurch.org for a news story about a house fire that happened in the house we were supposed to be staying in that happened the day before we arrived)
ps. Comments can be left at pastorHHF.wordpress.com
There was article on the BBC website this week chronicling 5 centuries of plunder and woe for the Congo. In the face of persistent oppression and opportunism of the worst kind there is a less told story of courageous people with a different task.
Recognizing the stewardship of their own heritage and training they went away from power and privilege to sacrifice and service. In the Equateur Province is a small group of hospitals serving hundred of thousands of people in the midst of challenging (read virtually non existent) infrastructure. In the 1980s a small hydroelectric plant was built by missionary engineers. In the face of civil strife the plant was shuttered, the turbine broken. The turbine was repaired a couple of years ago only to discover that the transmission line carrying the power to the hospital was repeatedly failing. A fifty year lifetime showing regular failure in 1/3 of the useable time.
Powerless to help, literally, the Congolese medical professionals are severely hamstrung. Good news though, there are a few people from elsewhere (Canada, Germany and the US) who are paying attention. Some really smart and creative engineers are coming alongside some really smart and creative Congolese engineers and technicians to assess the state of the transmission line and make recommendations about repair or replacement of the line.
Jon is the technical team leader, a good friend who loves using his musical, PhD EE mind to solve complex problems. Drew is a EE, who is also creative and captured by the need and challenge of the problem. They represent a cadre of others who have been thinking collaboratively about the problem. I am accompanying the two of them with the hope that the church who operates the hospital will be strengthened, the hospital itself will see a path forward towards literal empowerment and the poor of the region will receive good news.