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Zambia News - Ros Jeffersons's Blog 14  : 11 days left (16/03/2015)


The time is flying by and I have just 11 more days left in Zambia – only 3 of them are at Chitokoloki.  A three month visit sounded very long when I arrived, but after the first month passed, the time seemed to move progressively faster until here I am almost at the end.  DV this coming Friday (20th) I leave for Loloma where I will spend the last week DV and then to Lusaka.  

We have had very mixed weather with heavy storms and dramatic thunder and lightning, but these gave way to dry heat towards the end of last week. It is now hot and sticky.  I think everyone has changed colour somewhat.

The flow of visitors has continued since my last blog and the Annex (the name of the house where I am staying) has changed considerably with the arrival of two medical students  from Aberdeen (Jenni and Lynsey), a young married couple from Sheffield, Hannah and Stuart (the wife is a doctor and the husband is originally from Shetland) and Hazel, a Scottish girl from Firstserve.   As you see, the Scottish accent is the order of the day. They all arrived the first week in March.  My quiet life has changed somewhat – but it is nice to have company at home.  We share kitchen duties unless we are asked out for a meal. The medical students are from Aberdeen and are in their final year.  Both are doing projects about different aspects of malaria which will be helpful to us in targeting health education.  I am really pleased that Hannah, the doctor, will take over my paeds ward round after I leave Chit.  She is here for 3 months which means that the children will be covered till just before I return in early June.  She and her husband have actually moved out of the Annex for the present to house-sit for Joey and Kait Speichinger who are down in in Lusaka for a couple of weeks.  Dr Zoltan and family left for Kalene just before the influx of visitors – he had a great learning experience and is already able to put some of it into practice at Kalene.  

The Annex family, left-right: RJ, Hazel, Jenni,  Lynsey, Stuart, Hannah


The electrical team were all set to leave Chit last Friday at the end of their visit. They were all packed and seated in the plane, had prayed etc and were about to take off when they realised there was a problem.  The computer had died – and on top of that there was a leaky fuel tank.  After initial futile efforts to rectify the problems at Chit it was too late to look at alternative means of getting to Lusaka in time for their flight out in the afternoon –so they were here for another weekend. Thankfully they were able to change their flights to today without difficulty and were also able to travel in the plane down to Lusaka this morning.  The plane will need work done on it while there and the necessary part is being couriered from California.  We do not know why such happenings occur, but we do know the God who is in control and acknowledge that He has some purpose in them – perhaps we will not know just why until we get to heaven.  Romans 8 v 28 comes to mind.

The delay also meant that Esther Grieve (dietician from N Ireland) and her travelling companion, Aaron (from Brass Tacks who are coming out to help build an extension to the children’s ward) were delayed an extra night in Lusaka. They had to take a commercial flight to Solwezi and then Phil Grove flew them the rest of the way as he was bringing a patient up to Chit for review.  Esther should be very helpful on the wards as we have quite a number of malnourished patients, both adults and children, and it would be lovely to see them gaining weight.  Recently I have had one child with classic kwashiorkor – she came in sick, oedematous, miserable with the typical skin rash and it has been lovely to see her turn the corner and become a happy little baby with a cheeky grin!!

Last week we had some very sick children on the ward – and sadly not all of them made it through their illness.  It was tough going keeping on top of their condition and explaining to family members how critically ill they were.  I was grateful to the Lord when the third child began to make positive steps toward recovery – she is now almost ready for discharge.

Today I was at Dipalata for clinic.  There was no plane so that the team (David McAdam, Alison Bell and Kayombo, one of our theatre team) had to go by road. We left at 06.30. The road was not good – deep ruts, muddy ‘lakes’ etc until we reached the tar road to the far side of Zambezi.  When we turned off again, there was more dirt road to Dipalata.  It was lovely to see Betty McGennis again. The Speichingers are away in Lusaka at the moment so she is there alone. Dipalata has no mobile phone network coverage and a bad storm took out the internet last week.  We had finished the medical work by lunchtime – a few minor surgeries for David and some medical patients for me – so we were able to head off early and were back here by 16.00h.  It was particularly nice to see both the children I had sent to the neurosurgeons in Lusaka at the end of January – they had returned home after surgery and were both doing well.

I have had to think equipment and adaptations in the past couple of weeks.  I had one child needing a shoe raise which finally proved too difficult for the local workman to do – I resorted to sticking two flip-flops together which fortunately did the job nicely. It was just the right thickness.  It was funny, though, as I had to go and find the child in the ‘Old Hospital’ (where carers and families of patients stay, as well as those who are ready for discharge but need transport home).  I was rapidly approached by a lady wielding a live chicken duly tied by the feet.  I had a sinking feeling inside.  However, she wanted to barter baby clothes for the chicken; as I had no baby clothes to offer the exchange was clearly a non-starter and I presume the chicken survived a little longer at least!!

I have enjoyed my village visits over the last couple of weeks. I take the bicycle and head off down the road.  I visit Kezia and family in ‘colony’ for her therapy session (her little brother calls me ‘Dr Los’) as well as Eddie whose home in the village is in entirely the opposite direction.  He needs some seating sorted before I leave on Friday so I hope that his family will bring him to hospital tomorrow.  I have now acquired a third visit, just a little bit further than colony where Kezia stays.  There is an elderly gentleman who is quite unwell, but we all felt that he would be better at home providing we could offer support and palliative care as necessary.  It is all very peaceful – far cry from male ward at the hospital.  He lies on the grass mat outside his hut watching the village life about him and is very well cared for by his wife and family.  I also sit on the grass mat, chat a little (there is usually someone there who understands English and I do try with some very halting Lunda) and also share something of the Gospel, leaving a Luvale tract for them to read.  Tomorrow will be my last visit; I hope that Esther (dietician) will be able to continue them from time to time after I have left Chit


Kezia and family


I enjoy going out to the Gospel meetings in the villages in a Lord’s Day afternoon with the Markles.  God’s way of salvation is presented clearly and plainly to both adults and children, and you should hear them sing!! Yesterday Rhonda’s father spoke about Jeremiah in the pit and had some of the children as volunteers to demonstrate the story. When the dusters were placed under his arms the first ‘Jeremiah’ took fright and fled!!  The village meeting is followed by the English Gospel meeting.  There is always a good company gathered including unsaved folk and again the message goes forth clearly and plainly. There are so many opportunities to share the Gospel here both inside and outside the hospital and everyone is happy to receive a Gospel tract and read it.  Some folk ask for a Bible – one mum was absolutely overjoyed when I found her a Luvale New Testament.  I had my last Friday night at the girls hostel last week – but when I return in June Keith and Gayle Bailey will be on furlough in Canada (I will be house-sitting for them dv) so I plan to resume the Friday night work.  It is a challenge to remember all the names – I think I have finally succeeded and then someone changes her hairdo and I am completely mixed up again!!

My readings in Psalms took me to Psalm 69 recently.  In preparation for the Breaking of Bread on the Lord’s Day morning I began to think about the trespass offering aspect of the Lord’s death.  The trespass offering deals with sins in the life and the wrongdoer was not only to bring his offering to the Lord but to make amends to whomever he had wronged. To this he was to add ‘the fifth part more’.  The death of Christ met all God’s righteous demands and met man’s deepest need.  He paid the penalty for sin – and the salvation He purchased with His blood is sufficient for the sins of the whole world.  In his work at the Cross He restored all that Adam lost at the fall – ‘that which He did not take away .  We rest in His finished work and look towards the day when we shall see Him glorified.  Then we shall appreciate more fully all that He has done.