Saturday, February 21, 2009

The latest from the Lofstrom's in Tanzania

Nurse Sally with an adorable patient.

Paula writing:

Dear IHP supporters and followers,
Hello from Nyakato, Tanzania! We are so, so happy to be home again. We love being in the U.S. We love seeing all of our friends and making new ones. We love being enfolded in the love of the churches and groups where we speak, but there is no place, no place like home. And for us, home is Nyakato. Our own bed, and our own closets. My own kitchen!

Den writing:
We are enjoying the sunshine and the rainy weather. That may seem a contradiction, but you who have visited us here at Nyakato, near the southern shores of Lake Victoria, know that it seldom rains all day long. There may be a serious downpour for 2-3 hours, but then the clouds break up and a blue and sunny sky appears for the remainder of the day. Beautiful weather this rainy season and crops in this area are flourishing.

Selemani Shabani (“sele” to you who have met him) our Tanzanian project manager and long-time friend, has kept the progress of the hospital moving forward while we were in the U.S. fund raising. The patricia Ward (shown above), with its new stone facing front and back to match that of the main clinic building is very impressive.

Not quite as impressive, but very essential to the operation of the Patricia Ward has been the completion of outside plumbing and stations for the septic-leeching system. There remains only the interior plumbing for about half of the sinks. As I write this, Sele has just departed with Paula to go into town to purchase the additional 1 ½” PVC pipe and fittings required. Our standard American PVC 1 ½” doesn’t quite coincide with the Tanzanian 1 ½” PVC, we discovered after we had installed some of the sinks from the U.S.A. We are always prepared for surprises.

This morning Sele and I measured and laid out the few remaining interior walls of the Bogumil Birthing Center. This essential unit of the hospital has truly been an amazing cooperative venture. When the BBC’s container was held up by a change in legislated rules and regulations in Dar es Salaam, the St. Matthew’s crew from Walnut Creek did a tremendous job during the remaining 3-4 days of their stay in erecting the exterior walls and laying out the 3 big main support trusses. When the group from First Lutheran in Newton, Iowa’s container was held up in a dock strike in Mombasa, they stepped in, as we have written before, and made great progress on the birthing center. Now our Tanzanian workers are completing the interior walls in anticipation of the Christ Church Unity of Kansas City’s arrival this coming June to finish up.

A hearty thank you and God bless you all for your hard work and support.

Paula Writing again:
We had visitors from Gunderson Lutheran in Wisconsin. Two had been here before, Dr. Jeff and Sally Hillsland. She’s a nurse and, as you can see from the photo (at the top of this post), she can’t keep her hands off of one of the adorable patients presenting daily. Joining the Hillslands was Rose Nexter and her son, Ned.

We met with the new bishop, Andrew Gulle, and the new assistant, Emmanuel Makala and their wives. Pastor Gunda and his wife also joined us. Den went over the plans with them for the whole project; reviewed what has been done and how we do it, and showed them the master plan for the whole hospital.

This week will see the beginning of the building of the eye center. Sele and Denny are marking out where the walls will go on the slab. The crew is starting to finish the inside walls of the birthing center with the rough concrete. Plastering will come next, and then finishing when the team from One Community Spiritual Center (formerly Christ Church Unity) in Kansas City is here in June. There will be a LOT of “finishing” to do

Dr. Christine Petersen is here on her annual visit helping with the medical administrative side of things. We have three full-time clinicians on staff now seeing 70-100 patients a day. Dr. Denise Webb will be joining us tomorrow from Mayo Clinic for a month. Michael Goetting, a German medical student is with us for a month.

Michael's comments:
My name is Michael Goetting, I am 24 years old and a fourth-year medical student at the Charite University of Berlin in Germany. I came to Nyakato for one month to learn more about medicine in the tropics, health care projects in third world countries and especially the African culture.

When I arrived here some days ago Paula and Denny welcomed me with open arms and really made me feel that I am at the right place. My first days at the clinic have been from a medical point of view very interesting and instructive for me that was supported by Dr. Christine and Dr. Bon who are very engaged physicians and the friendly staff here.

In addition, I am deeply impressed by the efforts of Paula and Denny who are getting things done here although the prerequisites are anything but easy- but it is really something growing here. I think that this project actually can be sustainable and strongly help to improve the healthcare in this area.

Tanzania gives me the impression from a beautiful country with People who get along with very little but nevertheless keep a warm and friendly attitude of living. I am looking forward to getting to know the country and the people who are running this project better.

Paula writing again:
It has been a busy week since we returned, guests coming and going and visiting with our staff and colleagues as well as friends in the community. Everything takes more time than we allot. But there have been those precious moments snatched from a busy day of finding peace, like in my prayer garden, and even in a delicious dip or two in my tiny little pool. There is much, so much, to be thankful for.

When we left for the U.S. and listened to the high cost of gasoline and the dire financial reports, we wondered what God had in mind. We persevered. God has spoken to so many who have given their support. Surely, this project comes from God, and God is directing those who can to help us. We say thank you. Thank you.

As always, if you’d like to help or help some more, please send contributions to:
International Health Partners US & Tz
Joyce Zemel, Treasurer
1811 S. 39th St., #36
Mesa, AZ 85206

As is often heard here,
Be blessed,
Paula and Denny

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