Monday, August 18, 2014


Someone wanted to sell us this bird as a pet. I had to say no. 

Soccer under the palm trees

Another beautiful sunset

With more rain, the roads become less passable.

Prayer for Isabelle Harvey on her last Sunday before returning to the US for university.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Update from New Sight Congo

Just one of our many very beautiful patients! This was taken literally minutes after her surgery on Monday. Before her cataract operation, she could only see someone waving his hand 1 metre away. The day after her operation, she could read the letters off the visual acuity chart 6 metres away! She went home yesterday with a very different life ahead of her! So happy for her and her family!

Big Happy Exciting Day! We have 3 fresh nursing graduates starting at our eye centre. They are on a 3-6 month training program and if they progress well, we will employ them!
For more on the eye center, visit New Sight Congo.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Around the Web

Evening sky at the hospital
We've received some questions about Ebola.  There have not been any cases in the Republic of Congo or the surrounding countries.  We are praying for those affected and the medical teams treating them.

You can read Dr. Kent Brantly's statement from the isolation room where he is in recovery.

On Being Evacuated is from a Peace Corps worker in Guinea and talks about the difficulty of leaving- and knowing you are leaving others behind.  She also includes some of the history and statistics of Ebola and the recent epidemic.

Photo from Djibouti Jones

Another post in the series What I Learned at Djibouti Jones talks about time in a Congolese Refugee Camp

Ask me to describe a refugee camp and I’ll start with the smell.

It’s the smell of far too many people living in far too small a space, without adequate sewage or opportunities to bathe. The smell is pungent and overwhelming. One whiff makes you want to run for the safety of your jeep, where you can roll up the windows, turn on the air conditioning, and receive a brief respite from a smell that’s so strong it makes you gag.

Read the rest here...

Monday, August 11, 2014


The first day of "Helping Babies Breathe,"
Stephen's class with people from the surrounding communities

The second day of class-
the graduates

Stephen and Dr. Cyriaque on rounds
A group of women visiting a patient in the hospital
A young man drumming in church

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Canadian in Congo cooks a chicken

Hi readers,

Guest post by Miles today, I've been on a short-term mission here at Pioneer Christian Hospital since the start of July. I'll be telling you a story, but it isn't my story, it's the tale of a chicken that we ate one day a few weeks ago.

As you might imagine, preparing meals here is rather different than at home. Back in Canada we can pick up meat (even pre-marinated) from the grocery store and throw it straight in the oven. It's frozen, but it's relatively fresh. Over here, arguably the best way of ensuring that you get fresh chicken is to buy it when it couldn't possibly be rotten... namely when the chicken is still alive.

But naturally, on a Sunday morning, "breakfast" wasn't the first word which came to mind when I was woken up by a screaming hen. As it happened, one of the doctors at the hospital, Dr. Noe, had at some point promised my housemate (Sarah Bouchard) that he would in future bring over some chicken to eat. Neither of us expected a live chicken of course, but it was a great learning experience.

The first thing to be done was to stop the noise. Dr. Noe did this by slitting the chicken's throat (pardon my abruptness), which more importantly killed it so we could start preparing the meal. I had imagined that it would be a fairly quick process, but I was disappointed, since it took nearly a minute for the poor thing to pass on.

Next, we plucked the chicken. I believe in huge factories they do this by tumbling them in some large machine with plenty of water, but we followed the old-fashioned method. The biggest feathers came out rather quickly, since they were easy to grab, but the smaller ones took a fair bit longer. There are even some developing "feathers" (that look like the writing end of a quill) that have to be pushed out of the skin. At first I didn't even recognize them as feathers, largely because I had never given much thought to where feathers come from.

Then came the anatomy lesson. First come off the thighs and the arms (cutting through the hip and shoulder joints respectively). Afterwards the back comes off, cutting from the tail upwards, and with it the anus, rectum, intestines, and all the innards that we don't eat. Following this, we cut off the breast, and remove the lungs, heart, and liver, which are edible apparently (not that I tested this). The head and neck were the last to be removed. I may be missing a few steps, and am certainly missing the finer details, but the whole process was quite a bit more intricate than I had thought it would be.

By this point, Sarah had heated up the oil, and had prepared the egg and flour dip. Not long after, we had some really tasty fried chicken! There wasn't as much meat as there is on the frozen chickens back in Canada, but this was a rather young chicken, and also it hadn't been raised on corn and steroids, so that's a compromise I was happy to make.

And there you have it. From start to finish, it was only about 45 minutes, which was just enough time to get the stomach juices flowing for an awesome home-cooked, home-dissected, home-plucked, and home-killed chicken.

I've included some pictures of the process too, although not many because my hands were rather messy for most of it.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Helping Babies Breathe

Stephen has been teaching more classes for nurses.  After teaching "Helping Babies Breathe" to nurses at our hospital and a church clinic, he had a chance to teach nurses from the surrounding communities and villages.  His description is below:
This is a hands-on learning experience to teach nurses delivering babies in remote areas of the region how to stimulate newborns to breathe.   It is a lot of new material for nurses to learn, and it changes dramatically what many of the nurses are currently doing.

The class was difficult for them because it was based on actions using an inflatable plastic mannequin that simulates babies breathing and heart beat. Their usual type of instruction consists of lectures and note taking, but not much practice. To only do hands on practice without talking was difficult for them.  Another challenge for many of the nurses is that they came from as far as an 8 hour canoe ride to get to our hospital for the training.

(You can find out more about the training at

I enjoy equipping these nurses to make a difference in neonatal mortality in the Republic of Congo, and this class in particular is very fun for me to teach.  
One reason is that because of the class structure I was able to get some help from a nurse name Millie Deleon who is working with us for this year.  
The second reason is that by offering this class we were able to build positive relations with our local health department director.
Third, it was fun to able to give out equipment to the graduates that they can take back to their villages to apply the principles that we taught them.  
Finally, I enjoyed it because the funding for me to buy that equipment came from churches in the RMD of the CMA, and they were able to have a part in this training.

Thanks again for all you do in enabling us to be here to touch lives.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Update

4th of July celebration
We started our summer with a trip to Spain for a conference.  We had a great time hearing about what God is doing in different parts of the world.  We managed to get some time for the beach, shopping, and sightseeing, too!  It was a relaxing and refreshing trip for us.

Stephen has been busy seeing patients in the hospital and doing administration.  He has had many challenging cases that continue to help him stretch his knowledge and experience.  One patient recently was concerned when he realized a pediatrician would be doing his surgery!  He had a good outcome, and he was able to praise God for healing.
Stephen has also been able to find some time for teaching nurses from our hospital and the community.

The kids are enjoying their summer break.  I had planned a light summer school schedule, but with all of our visitors recently, I haven't had much time for teaching.  The kids are happy to have the extra free time to spend in the great outdoors.

Our team is constantly changing.  We were happy to welcome the Samoutou family back in July.  We've really missed them!
A new physician with Samaritan's Purse arrived this weekend.  His name is Dr. Kiong Liao, and he will be here for two years.  His arrival comes at a good time, since the Harvey family will be leaving for two months in the US.
With too many changes to list here, I've decided to have a separate blog post detailing our team.  Look for that in the next few weeks!

Around the hospital
What's next:
1) Stephen is planning to extend his teaching to further areas in the community and surrounding villages.  Some people have been able to come to Impfondo for classes, and they have expressed a desire for more teaching in their villages.

2) There is a young doctor who is a refugee from the Central African Republic working with us.  Stephen is planning to make a more consistent effort to help him learn.

3) In addition to teaching, Stephen is constantly learning.   We may have a chance to spend the month of Ethiopia in November.  Stephen will be working with an orthopedic surgeon to learn techniques he can use here in Impfondo.

4) With many people on vacation, Stephen will be doing more preaching in Sunday morning church and devotionals for the employees in the morning.  Pray that he will be able to keep up the busy schedule, and God will give him the right things to share.

5) School starts back for our kids after Labor Day.  We're easing into the schedule by starting some review at home and Lingala lessons with Joyce Samoutou four times a week.  I'm going to sit in on those, too!

Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  I would like to say an extra thank you to the Rocky Mountain District for helping to make the "Helping Babies Breathe" classes possible.  Thank you to the Polson Alliance VBS for raising money for our malnutrition program.  And a huge thank you to all of you who lift us up in prayer day after day!  You're the reason we can keep going!