Letter from Al
July 1, 2005
Itís about a week until Laura and I depart for Nigeria.
I am both excited and a little afraid.
There is some Christian-Muslim violence in the county, but it happens about six hundred miles north of where we will be. The hospital and visitors residence is on a 115 acre compound that is pretty secure. They cook our meals and do our laundry twice a week.
I think there are nine people in our party, including four physicians.
I think I about have every thing ready to go.
I have been talking to Dr. Henry Farrah a lot. He is a family practice physician in Carthage, Tennessee. He is an older physician. He has been going to Africa all of his career. He will be on this trip. He has been very helpful. I also call Dr. David Netterville, who is an anesthesiologist in Nashville, Tennessee, who has been several times, to find out about the medication and equipment available there. It is going to be way more austere than I imagined. Primitive machines and almost no monitoring equipment. Every thing including medicines, shoe covers and latex gloves are in short supply. I will need to review the use of older medicines and techniques. Luckily I am old enough to have experience with some of the older techniques. Pray for the patients!
Our congregation here in Laramie has donated about $1300 for the trip, much of it from people who really gave out of their own need. They are a generous people. With it, I bought medicine and supplies to take over and use or leave if there is any left over.
The travel is going to be grueling. For me, Denver to Los Angles to meet Laura, then non stop to Paris and then Paris to Port Harcourt, then two hour van ride inland to Aba where the hospital is. The return will be 48 hours of travel. Laura and I are going to say in Paris and rest for about two days on the way over. I will sleep on the transatlantic part of the trip. I know how to induce sleep.
We have received information about the manners and customs. Laura had to buy cotton dresses and slacks, since shorts and jeans arenít considered appropriate for young women. It is the custom for women to worship with their heads covered. I bought Laura a little tan prayer shawl at a Catholic store in Pennsylvania when I was visiting Eric.
We are all immunized. I think I took seven shots and pills for typhoid. And we take pills to prevent malaria while we are there. I donít think I can catch anything. I feel pretty invincible. Bring on the germs. We also have lots of mosquito spray.
The people we will be honored to help are the poorest and most unfortunate people on our planet. Pray for them and us.