Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We Made It Home

The last I wrote, we were going to be waiting until Monday night to head home. I finished writing that and laid down for a nap. When I woke up, Ken informed me we had new plans. We were flying out Sunday afternoon instead.

I had relinquished control of the situation to God and went to sleep, letting go of my worries and He provided a better solution to us getting home. We left Bamako on Kenyan Air (we still don't know what the Kenyan tickets will cost us). instead of Air Mali and flew to Dakar. We had an 11 hour layover in Dakar, so we planned to sit at the restaurant since the missionaries told us this was a good place to wait during a long layover. Just getting to the restaurant became a challenge because of all the guys that wanted to carry our bags for us. It seemed we had to drag guys up the stairs because they wouldn't let go of our bags.

We spent almost 9 hours in the mosquito infested restaurant at Dakar airport. Mostly, I read and did crossword puzzles. Ken got interested in some wrestling on TV and a few soccer matches. We had supper at the restaurant. I had nems, which we had several times in Mali this year. They remind me a bit of taquitos. The ones at the airport had seafood in them, so they were really good! Ken had grilled fish and said it was some of the best fish he's ever eaten. Thankfully, there were a few items on the menu we recognized from other menus we had seen in Mali! The menus were in French and the waitress apparently didn't speak any English.

We went to check in for our flight and they were having computer problems and our names were not on the list of passengers. So, we had to go to the South African Airlines' office. They charged us $200 each because of the flight changes. They said that usually, Air Mali would pay that penalty for us, but that Air Mali hadn't done that in this case. They said we could submit the receipt to Air Mali for reimbursement. I have my doubts that will ever happen with Air Mali. Lesson learned: check with the missionaries and find out which airlines are most reliable and stick with those, no matter the price difference.

Finally, we were on a flight home. I slept about 6 or 7 hours on the plane. When we got to New York, we were there for a 7 hour layover. We had coffee and pastries for breakfast and fast food for lunch before flying out. It was just good to be back in the USA where most airport employees speak English. I spent most of my down time listening to music and catching up on emails and stuff. It was so good to talk to Sarah and Zac on a cell phone! We had a slightly rough flight, flying through storms into Columbus. I thought I was going to get sick with the plane bouncing all over.

When we got into Columbus, Sarah and Zac were sitting waiting on us! It was so good to see them! It was so good to be home! We headed to Red Robin for supper! It was good to have a huge hamburger with a fried egg on it! We serve an amazing God! The time in Mali was so blessed by God. Our flight home was guided by His hand! I praise God for this great trip! Please pray that the phone system at the hospital will continue to be a blessing to all the hospital employees and that through this means of communication, lives will be saved and Malians will come to know Christ!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

God Is In Control

I think this whole flight home thing is a way God is showing me that I'm not in control of anything in this world. Thank God, He is!

Our tickets have been transferred to Monday/Tuesday flights with the same airlines. We have to keep a very close eye on Air Mali flight schedules for Monday and be sure our flight out does not get cancelled/postponed. If this flight gets cancelled/postponed, we have to try to get on an earlier Air Senegal flight, paying for a ticket. I'm not sure if we'd have enough cash with us to get the tickets, so we'd have to see what we could work out. If the Air Mali flight leaves much later than scheduled, we'll probably miss our connecting flight in Dakar again. At this point, the best situation would be the Air Mali flight leaving on time. Please pray and have everyone you know pray that this flight will remain on time and that we will be able to get started home!

On a different note, we've had the opportunity to do many things today we wouldn't have gotten to do. We went to a yard sale at the U.S. Embassy in Mali. We also got to go tile shopping with Kristen, Angela, and Doug. It's fun to see the shops and all that goes on in the streets here. We've also gotten a little taste of what happens when a missionary gets a house and has to do the usual "decorating". We had lunch at a great, new, little place. It was amazing!

I'm really missing my wife and son. It's been over two weeks now since I've seen them. The fact that our arrival home was seriously delayed isn't helping that much. I am very thankful that we have quite a bit of support from the local missionaries and a safe, comfortable place to rest.

Please continue to pray for our flight situations. Please also pray for me as I struggle through letting God have control over the situation! Please pray that our bodies will hold out and that we'll get the rest/sleep we need when we need it. Please pray for Ken as he took the last anti-malarial pill he brought with him. That leaves a few days without it. Please also pray for our families at home who are trying to stay strong even with all the delays and confusion.

Thank you to all our prayer warriors out there! Your prayers have been greatly felt throughout this trip! We are very blessed to have such faithful prayer warriors on our side. We are also extremely blessed to have a relationship with the one true God! It's hard to see so many people here that do not know the one true God that I know.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Day Of Work Here

Wow, what an amazing trip this has been! God has been so good throughout the trip! Yesterday was a very high "mountaintop" day for me. We've been trying for months to get calling outside and inside working on the phone system. Yesterday, God turned on some lights in my head and allowed us to accomplish this. Isn't our God amazing? Sometimes, His timing isn't our timing, but we got this accomplished with His guidance just in before we leave. I was able to call the hospital from the guest house this morning. These calls are all dependent on the Internet connection speeds, but at least we know they work.

Today, we're spending mostly documenting and training for Ed in case anything would go wrong with the system when we're gone. Ed has done amazingly great in learning phone and extension configurations. God has been good there as well! Thanks, Ed, for your patience and willingness to learn! You have a lot on your plate and have still made time to learn this system!

Yesterday, we got some money changed and went shopping. Ken bought most of his stuff from the vendor that came to the guest house last night. I was more interested in stuff at one of the shops. Mind you, the shops aren't like shops in the USA. We went to this guys shop and he invited us right in to his little "hut" type shop. He took us inside to look around and then asked us to have a seat. We both sat down and he had the kids and women set everything he had out for us to look at. The whole time, I was afraid he was going to ask us to eat or drink something. He had cups and plates laying around. Thank goodness he didn't. I've actually been healthy this trip! I bought several things and we left. As we were crossing the street, we just about got plowed over by a moto. The moto came out around a semi truck. I saw the moto and stopped. Ken didn't see it and kept walking. The moto went right between us, swerving to miss us.

Tomorrow morning starts our long journey back home. Please pray for safe travel and that all our flights will be on time and as scheduled! We can't wait to see our families!

Blessings to you all!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Praise God It's Monday

Good afternoon! We are finishing up lunch and I wanted to share a bit of our trip with you since it's been a few days.

Friday night, we had a cookout at the Wenger's! The steaks and fish were amazing as were all the salads the families brought! We watched a movie with a laptop, projector, and sheet hanging between two patio umbrellas. Then the power went out and was out for a few hours. Rolling blackouts continue each day. No one is sure why this is happening because the power company says they've fixed the problem.

Saturday, we headed in to the hospital around 9am to do a bit more configuration on a server to manage the addressing and internet routing on the network. This seems to be helping speed the Internet traffic up a bit because the little router just couldn't handle all the additional traffic we had added with phones. I'm so glad Ken knows what he's doing with that because I've never set one up. He has some more work to do on it, but we'll get to that in the next day or so.

Sunday, we went to church at Bethel again. I just love being able to worship with people that speak another language. It's amazing how we can all worship our God in our own languages! It's also amazing to see how others worship through song, dance, and music! We had lunch with the Wenger's...my favorite meal...beef and noodles and mashed potatoes. In the afternoon, we went to a soccer game. That was a lot of fun. The team we were rooting for won 6-1. We had a worship service with all the missionary families and then got to go to John and Carol's to watch another movie and have snacks!

This morning, we've spent most of our time trying to eliminate radio frequency interference between all the access points we've installed. It's the same kind of idea of your microwave interfering with a portable phone in your house. All the access points were on the same channel and causing interference with each other. We're still troubleshooting this and looking at additional settings we can use to reduce this interference.

Tonight, we're headed to John and Carol's for dinner. This week, we're visiting the missionaries' homes for our evening meals. This will be a lot of fun!

Update on the 19 year old girl I told you about: We talked to Dr. Dan last night to get a status update. I could just sit and talk with Dan for hours about the miracles God is doing here! Dan told us that the young girl is doing much better and will probably be going home in the next few days. He has told her over and over that they've done all they can do and that he knows that wasn't enough. God came in to do the rest! Dan has been telling her that God loves her. She's struggling with the fact that she aborted her baby and is having a hard time believing that God could still love her and forgive her. Dan said this is kind of like telling someone that God is something completely different than they've been taught.

Please continue to pray for this young lady. Pray that she will be completely healed and that through this, she'll realize that God does love her and will forgive her. Pray that she will accept God's love and forgiveness!

For Ken and I and the phone project, I ask that you continue to pray for us as we try to stabilize the network and phones so that there won't be any major problems after we leave. Pray that our bodies will remain strong and energized to finish strong on the project the Lord has given us! We're at that point in a two week trip that exhaustion can settle in and we know we need to finish strong!

Please also pray for our families back home. I know I'm missing my family and that they are missing me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Friday Update on Saturday Morning

Good morning everyone.

Yesterday was one of those days that I think we were fighting a bit of a spiritual battle. All week, we've been on such a high seeing everything working so well. Yesterday, we tried to start getting outbound and inbound calling from and to the hospital working. We had no luck at all. I think the Internet connection at the hospital is too slow to make it work. Another thing that happened was something on the network is slowing the Internet traffic even worse. We believe it's just the added connectivity to the main router, which wasn't made to be used in the way we're using it. One other thing was that we moved a switch to making the wiring a little cleaner and broke a piece of fiber cable. Ken was able to patch the connection with another cable to get things back up.

On the positive side, Ken started building a server to do a large part of the work that the main router is. This should take a load off of that router and begin speeding things up. We're headed out to the hospital this morning to try to get these things running and to do some additional testing.

Please pray that our minds will stay focused on the project as we move into our final week of work here. It's hard to believe we've been here a week already. Pray that we'll be able to resolve the network issues so that the phones and computers at the hospital will all work well together. Pray also that we will recognize any attempts by the enemy to bring us down or to bring the project down and that through the authority God has given us, we can cast them to the feet of Jesus' cross!

Thank you to all the prayer warriors out there! Without you, it's hard to say where we would be. God bless you all!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday

Well, it's Thursday and the weeks almost over. It's hard to believe the things God has done through Ken and I...and all our Malian and Missionary helpers!

Today, the day started with Ken making us eggs and ham! Thanks Ken, it was a great breakfast!

I finished up training Ed on setting up phones and new extensions. Before I knew it, he was sending out phones and people are using the system quite a bit! We spent the majority of our day trying to finish up the networking. We still have several challenges ahead of us to complete the networking!

Tomorrow, I think we'll be primarily trying to finish up the networking on the west side of Pod 2 and all of Pod 3.

Tonight, we had quiche for supper! It was very good! We continue to eat way too well! We also went for a swim after supper to cool down. It's crazy how cold the water can feel after being in 106 degree weather all day.

Please continue to pray for the phone project! Pray that the excitement will continue among hospital employees and that they will not be discouraged if problems arise. Pray that God will provide wisdom to Ken and I as to how to properly finish up this networking. Also pray for a 19 year old woman who was brought the the hospital a few days ago. She had some crazy form of abortion (as if abortion isn't crazy enough) and has not been doing well since. Her heart has been beating 150 times per minute and she's been breathing 60 times per minute. According to Dr. Dan, this is very high. If she weren't so young, her body wouldn't be able to sustain itself with numbers this high. She's also on pressurized oxygen as of this morning. Please pray for healing and that God's light, love, and grace will shine through to this young woman and her family through this difficult experience.

Here's a couple pictures of the excitement of a container arriving yesterday!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday Late

Wow, it's almost 10pm and we're just sitting down to relax.

Today, the day started with morning devotions at the hospital as usual. We then were off to the races trying to get the networking in the south end of pod 1 working. We found a very interesting problem. If we mount the access point in outside of the building, we get really good coverage, except in the lab. So, we moved the access point into the lab. In the lab, the access point would not bridge to the other access points. After trying several things, we found that if we mount the access point above the counter top and only along certain parts of the wall, it would bridge and we could connect to it in the lab. Outside of the lab, it doesn't seem to work so well. We have some sort of challenge with the Lab, but are unsure of what it is so far. We're hoping that having an access point in the lab will work for the lab and maybe another access point will cover the area outside the lab.

On the positive side, Ken made a phone call from one of the portable phones to a portable I was carrying. He was able to walk around most of the hospital compound talking to me without dropping the call! This is very positive! I also was able to train Ed Bonvillain to set up the Nortel phones we're using. I'll just have him do a couple more so that he's used to it when we're gone.

Tomorrow will be another day of trying to finish up the networking and probably more training for Ed with the other phones.

Oh ya, almost forgot. They got a shipping container in today at the hospital from Christ Community Church in Omaha. It was amazing to see Doctor Dan's face light up seeing some of the new medical equipment that came in. He said it's amazing to have equipment that is less than 7 years old. There's a lot of equipment being used from many years ago.

Please continue praying for the networking throughout the hospital as we try to finish that up. Please also pray for one of our next tasks, which is trying to find a way to allow the doctors to use this phone system for inbound and outbound calls from their homes to the hospital and vice versa. Please also pray for Ken's ankle. He either injured it or got bit on Monday and it's been pretty swollen and tender since. The swelling seems to have subsided slightly, but still requires some healing!

Thank you for all your prayers! It's only through God that this whole system is coming together as well as it is!

God bless you all!