We are way overdue for an update!! There is so much to tell. ( I will leave the construction updates to Wes and Scott)
The medical teams have been working like crazy over these past 2 months. God has orchestrated 2 fabulous teams for us. Our first team was Don and Jean Burdick along with the Friesens. Our team now has Martins nieces, Kathi and Eva from Germany, along with Jerel Gibbs and Heather Coldwell from Peace River. Martin also had his father here for 2 weeks helping. Today we say farewell to Jerel and Heather.
The medical teams have been going out to remote communities 3-4 times a week for clinics. We (Martin and the team) have 5 regular clinics as well as one right in St.D'acre where we are staying. We set up in the local JEM churches - sometimes in tiny little rooms with very little privacy. We have been to five different communities, all nestled in the hills of Interior Jamaica. The rides back and forth over deeply potholed paths are an adventure in themselves and usually we carry a handful of locals with us. Most clinic days so many people have come that a waiting list must be made for the next clinic date and people are sent home. The atmosphere is fun - people sit together and wait often for hours to be seen, talking, sometimes singing. We see the full spectrum of clinical pathology; the more remote we are the sicker the people including unstable angina, tumors, goitres and all kinds of eye and skin diseases. And to keep us alert, there are local issues we usually do not get to see including Sickle Cell Disease, parasites, HIV and alike. There is a lot of chronic disease (hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, asthma) and Jerel has had a great time with doing medical education. The team has had a few opportunities to do some minor surgical procedures, removing various tumors (usually quite stuck down). We sterilize (boil) our equipment, dispense meds and pedometers, counsel and pray with young and old (several over 100 yrs old). One favorite clinic was a 2 day one-time visit to St. Elizabeth (Seaview). Apparently the scenery was stunning and the people exceptionally warm and friendly.(The kids and I - Sheila- were not able to go for that one) We will be helping out at a women's health day in Brownstown this Saturday, then will start to do final clinics in each of the communities.
We have also had Howard and Miss Sweetie Clarke with us at Johnson Kennedy for the past 10 days. This has been a blessing in many ways. We have a very good sense of what they will need in terms of care once their home is completed. We have also have a great opportunity to get to know them. What wonderful people - so patient and appreciative of everything. Both of them have open wounds on their legs that we are diligently caring for. Unfortunately, Miss Sweetie is still not able to stand after being in bed for eight months in hospital but we are daily working on problem solving for their return home. Please continue to pray for their healing and for wisdom as the team finishes their home and helps to sort out details of their ongoing care.
In between clinics, Martin has been diligently trying to establish good contacts within the medical system here and trying to fully understand how the system works. He has done the paperwork to sign up many of the people seen in clinic for a National Health Fund card to assist with the cost of medications.
Martin has also been visiting a prison for young boys (12-18) once a week with a team from the local church. They have been sharing the H2O videos with them and having some great discussion.
The girls and I have spent much of our time at Johnson Kennedy, trying to get through school work and keep the days coordinated and running for the team. We have also been involved in some of the clinics. A highlight are Sunday evenings, when Martin gets to lead a Sunday school for kids: It takes place in a small shack a short drive from St. D'Acre and the kids get to participate. It usually gets very crowded with young and old coming and when the building is filled, people participate from outside peaking through the windows! We sing, show Veggie Tales and have verse quizzes as well as lots of games. Lots of energy and fun!
Up until this week I (Sheila) have been doing the shopping and meal planning. Now with the added responsibility of caring for Howard and Sweetie, I am soooooo grateful to have Krista and Serena here to help out and keep the kitchen running!
Thanks again for your prayers, your support, the many little things that have been sent along to be used here in Jamaica, and for your interest in this work. God is good and we see him at work every day in little and large ways. Pray for stamina for Martin - his days are long and full. Pray for the construction team as they work and also as they interact within the community.
Martin, Sheila, Annika, Amy, and Robyn