It's still raining over there then?
I don't feel quite so miffed about the weather here then; the rainy season continues to live up to it's name!
Yesterday we did a clinic in the rain, the same one as last week. I took a picture of the 'pre-visual acuity' patients waiting in their shallow 'barn' with corrugated tin roof. the rain was pouring off the front in rivers. That was another fun clinic, we saw 200 patients. We certainly can't help them all; we prayed with a Mum with her blind baby and a totally blind 46-year old man. Fortunately, his brother-in-law cares for him. Prayer is needed that somehow MS will be able to extend the ophthalmic operating time; the ship is due to leave here in Nov, and the schedules are nearly full.
The other eye nurse was telling me how MS now manage to reach the REAL poor where they are, as opposed to the people that could afford to pay for their operations. In the past there used to be a well-advertised mass screening, which often the more middle-class people got to first, probably because they had transport. Now, they start clinics in the already-established hospitals, most of which are in very poor areas. It's quite common to see patients who've been managing with visions of count fingers and light perception for 5 years.
The working day here is long, no part time! We either start work at 7.30, or there is devotions a couple of times a week at 7.30, then work. We often don't finish till 4.30 or 5. Thankfully, we don't need to cook; when we arrive there are meetings we need to attend, also meetings if we haven't just arrived! They're all good tho'. I've been going to aerobics x2 weekly (1 hour), then I see my adopted patient every day.
Last w/e I was very tired and chilled out by sitting up on deck 7 (outside) reading. Managed 2 books, but I felt better after that! 'Pacing' myself will be very necessary when I come long term. Relationships are very important, probably more so than at home; I think you rely on your friends here quite heavily. I've seen how hard it is when long-termers leave. There are quite a few women 'of a certain age' here, thankfully, who you can talk to!
Over the past 2 days the dental team have been doing extractions in Monrovia's prison;they saw 91 patients. They're limited to doing extractions only, by torchlight, because there's no electricity. Still, if I'd had prolonged toothache I'd be glad of an extraction!
There's a bit more reason to be thankful in the prison too; the men here explained how they met with the men in the one large room there, which unfortunately had no windows. They take torches, but mostly it's a case of communicating by speech and touch. Anyway, one enterprisisng man called Tom asked the prison authorities if he could take away a bit of wall, presumably thro' to a lit area, and they agreed! So down he went to the prison with hammer, chisel and ladder AND LET IN THE LIGHT. Now they don't need torches!
Today I'd booked to visit the orphanage. From notebooks I'd ripped pages, stapled about 8 together x60, stuck a sticker on and bought 60 pencils. This was for the orphanage; this morning at breakfast Patsi told me the trip was off, because of flooding. Unfortunately, 2 different trips had just left, there was 1 to go (to the prison, where I didn't want to go!) and they had 1 car space left. So I said 'ok God, I'll go to the prison!'
We prayed before going, 18 of us, and people who'd been before filled us in.
When we got there we men and women split off to different buildings; when we got to where the 24 women were we found 3 outside in the rain, they were collecting nuts on the ground from the large tree in the courtyard there. The other women were in the corridor up some steps,so we went in. They can roam free till 4pm, when 4-7 are locked in each room, with 1 mattress.
I made friends with 2 ladies, both there because of debt. I checked their stories and they're thought to be accurate. Blessing (40's) is from Ghana; she's a teacher here. Her brother stole money to take back to Ghana; because the authorities couldn't catch him they imprisoned Blessing. Bintu is in her 30's and has a child of 17 and 1 of 11. She owed her friend $450 and when she couldn't pay her friend contacted the police. Apparently, if someoone here has money and dislikes someone, they can pay the police to lock them up. I'm sure not all the police are corrupt, but prayer about these sort of situations is necessary.
The women seemed to enjoy our time with them, we gathered with them in the corridor and had a time of singing and prayer. It was very joyful, hence the name of the blog! That song will always epitomise my time here, because it was sung at length at a 'new dress' ceremony I went to. Blessing said she prays and fasts if she is desperate, and that God does indeed bless her! It is truly wonderful that we have God's power at our disposal.
I will never forget that prison experience. Now I have extra people to pray for on my daily list. I will keep in touch with people here to find out when Blessing and Bintu are released. I felt sad that I'm leaving in 2 days and won't see them again.
Anyway, I left the paper and pencils with a Christian guard; he said he'll ensure they reach the literacy scheme.
More good news from the prison! A male prisoner, who is now free, became a believer whilst in prison and is now out spreading the Gospel! Also, there's an Alpha course being run in the prison by him for the men.
'K', the lady I've adopted, has asked Christ into her life! Her operation has been successful, and she'll be home once her catheter is out successfully. There's a scheme here to line up adopted patients with someone else when their 'adopter' leaves.
It's extremely dirty, noisy and crowded here. Four of us drove aroound in the week, looking for a market; it's rush hour all the time and traffic jams everywhere, often because one stream of traffic is waiting to get round some of the huge potholes in the dirt roads. Going into Monrovia city is slightly better, but the outskirts is just a heaving mass of humanity struggling to earn a crust, trying to sell you things as you drive etc. The people are lovely, humble, but they have SUCH a hard life. One taxi we were in last week had bullet holes in the windscreen ( I presume from the war, not now). It went very slowly and an ominous grinding sound came from somewhere by the back axle. For fresh air we had the window open; the nearest girl had her brolly up IN the car!
Catherine, I must tell you, there are Portuguese lessons here on the ship!
I'm still being surprised by the depth of knowledge of the translators here. The eye nurse here has trained Joyce; she can tell an untreated glaucoma patient by the open 'staring' appearance of their eyes, somehow their corneas look 'stretched'. I can see what she means; often you find these patients have, at times, had treatment. Of course, as with glaucoma generally, they don't realise the importance of their treatment. They don't bother buying more drops, so we have to be quite frank with them, saying it's more important to buy drops than food sometimes. Alot of Liberians live on about £2.50 per week.
I've tried downloading photos - may have been successful with one, but the otheres wouldn't download. You may find it in 'thanking God for rest'.
Here's a good verse to end with (probably my last blog):
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the Saints, and His incomparibly great power for us who believe.
IT'S ALL TRUE!
See you soon