Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back from the Jungle

I just had the most amazing three days, possibly in my whole life :) I spent some time at the Bongolo Hospital in the south of Gabon. There, I spent a lot of time with missionary nurses and doctors, helping put up essential mosquito screens in the maternity ward, sorting out $300,000 of donated medical equipment from various medical companies in Europe and the States, and... my favorite activities, talking to patients and observing surgeries! It was incredible how they let me get so close to patients during the surgeries- I was definitely not expecting being able to stand two feet away as a 16 yr old girl had a C-section! I also saw some tumors get removed from a woman's breast, and I saw a rod get drilled into a little girl's knee for traction for a broken femur. All the doctors here are Christians and they come from all over Africa to get training in General Surgery from American missionary surgeons, then they go back to their home countries to practice there. Dr JeanClaude from Congo performed the C -section and he is returning home in a year to be the only practicing surgeon in nearly 500 square km in Congo. If you would like to pray for him, his wife and his baby, as they prepare to serve the Congolese people, I know he would be very encouraged by that. Since the doctors here are practicing Christians they pray before each surgery- I really loved that. Anyways, it was so crazy to be able to stand there and watch all these surgeons in action! (Email me if you want photos or video- I'm not posting them because they're pretty graphic)

As far as other jungle adventures go, I only wish that I had some way other than writing to show you all what I experienced. We went spelunking (caving) in some of the most intense caves I have even been in. The tunnels went forever and they split and rejoined and split again like some crazy rat maze. We were down there for at least 2 hrs and we probably didn't even see half of it. Bats were flying right into our heads and I just had a little wind-up flashlight that only worked well if I was actively winding it... which I couldn't really do since I needed my hands to crawl! There was so much mud and water and we spent a lot of time inching through tiny tunnels on our stomachs- it was great!

Even better was the next day where we decided to hike through the jungle (no trail), past amazing HUGE bamboo trees and finally ending up a a cliff of dead jungle plant debris. Then we climbed down by jumping/ hanging onto vines and trees (watching out for driver ants and snakes), and got into a river... but not in a boat. I had been told that there were no alligators, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm in the jungle and there's gotta be some sort of creature in the water that could get me! Anyways, it was amazing and we pretty much swam ourselves through the most remote and gorgeous jungle river I have ever seen! I could only think about the Creator who made all this and I am so overwhelmed by His beauty and creativity in this place :) We finally ended up in a very fast current in a river about the width of a football pitch and there were rapids/waterfalls ahead, so we had to swim like crazy to the side of the river (but there was no bank), hang onto a log of rotting and spider-ridden wood, pull ourselves up and proceed to pull ourselves up another cliff of rotting jungle debris. I have so many scratches and bugbites on my legs, and I'm trying to keep the infections down with Neosporin.

I can think of so many friends and family I wish could do this again with me!

One last thing- starfruit are much better when you can eat a whole one off a tree than when you get a tiny sliver on your ice cream.

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