Renee Valach

Prayer Letter/Ministry Update

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Renée's Rainforest Reflections- March 2019

Miracle Medicine?
At the end of last month as a prayer request I had written: -"We are out of most HIV medicines and the order for the country won’t be arriving until June. I’ve set a few bottles aside for pregnant women, to prevent transmission to babies. When patients stop medicines the level of virus is no longer suppressed and they are much more likely to infect other people. The virus is also likely to mutate so the same medicine will no longer work in the future. Pray against an epidemic of resistant HIV."

Bongolo opened our HIV Treatment Center ten years ago in 2009. There are several patients, in particular a 16 year old boy and 19 year old girl, I’ve cared for personally since then. They are now in high school. Most people living with HIV now, take their medicine every day, and go to work or school. Without the medicine, infections take over, and there is AIDS, suffering and death. I couldn’t believe that because a bureaucrat left this line item out of the national budget, this fate was going to happen to these teens, the approximately 300 patients currently followed at Bongolo, some of my friends, the patients from this region of the country who would come to the hospital for treatment of their infections and the 38,000 people in Gabon on HIV medicines. It was horrific.
As an HIV Center doctor, I was aware of the problem before most people and had already placed orders in January and February which we had not received. Early in March, everyone became aware of the lack of medicines, and there were articles like, “Fear in Gabon: 38,000 people threatened with death from next week.” I asked our hospital staff to pray as we all know people touched by this problem. After we prayed, I went with the two HIV Center nurses and we set aside some medicine for a few key patients. The waiting room was overflowing with patients who had heard the news. We decided to divide up the few remaining bottles of pills one or two weeks at a time. One of the nurses went to the storeroom to get pill bottles or plastic bags to dispense the pills. The man who runs the storeroom asked, “What do you need those for? Why not use all those boxes of HIV medicine?” Eight cardboard boxes of HIV medicines had arrived late the previous business day!
UNAIDS and the World Health Organization have made arrangements for Gabon to get emergency HIV medicines from the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have not yet arrived in the country. Pray for the rest of the medicines to arrive soon.

Renée’s Rainforest Reflections February 2019

Installation of Pasteur Michel

This weekend, I drove about 3 hours north into the forest for the long delayed official installation of Pasteur Ndongo Michel. He will be overseeing the churches in 4 villages- Yeno, Etéké, Ovala, and Massima. This area has previously been an area steeped in worship of the spirits of the forest, but now is becoming strategic for Jesus. There were 143 people at the church in Yeno for the installation. After the service it seemed like an impossibly large number of people piled out of the the small building to shake hands. There are sometimes 100 worshippers at Etéké and Ovala as well. In addition to pastoring, Pasteur Michel is finishing the Old Testament translation of the Bible in Mitsogo, the local language, and revising the New Testament translation. After the service there was a celebration meal for everyone with the best porcupine I’ve ever eaten!

Perspectives

This week I finish the 15 week course Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. This is a course on God’s global purpose to bless all the peoples of the world. I’ve wanted to take the course since I was in college, and decided now was the time. I’ve been in Africa for nearly 12 years, and I learned so much about missions. I would highly recommend it.

As part of the course there is a project to find out about an unreached people group and write a paper. In doing research for my project, I found that in Gabon there aren’t very many unreached people groups. (In the end my project was on a non-Gabonese group.) There is one ethnicity here that has been much less touched by the gospel than its neighbors. The Simba people are a small group who mostly live in the area around Massima, one of the villages I mentioned above. I asked Pasteur Michel about them, and we have a plan to reach out to them.

Bongolo Patients

What struck me this month at the hospital was, so many patients with advanced AIDS. A 15 year-old girl nearly died with a severe lung infection called pneumocystis. A young woman was very sick with a condition called IRIS where the immune system goes haywire after it reactivates when someone starts the medicines. A young woman with TB had high fevers from a fungal infection. A man with a CD4 count of 1 developed liver problems after starting treatment. There were others too numerous to list here, more than usual. I'm not qualified to take care of them. They are so sick. I didn't do an Infectious Disease Fellowship. The people I mentioned are currently getting better, not because of me, or state of the art labs, medicines or intensive care equipment, but because of God’s grace.

Answers to Prayer/Prayer Requests

Answered Prayer
- What do you need those for? Why not use those HIV medicines? God’s provision of medicine, when I thought it was impossible.
- We have started the electric project.

Prayer Requests
-Pray for the HIV medicines to arrive soon from Congo.
- Pray for a nursing instructor for the Bongolo nursing school. In April, the current class of seven students will finish the nursing school. In May all of the current nursing instructors will leave Gabon for at least a year, so the next nursing school class will not graduate until 2023 at the earliest. Before that time, multiple current nursing staff members will be retiring from the hospital. Is God calling you to teach nursing in the jungle?
-The Gabonese health insurance still has not paid the hospital in months. This makes it difficult to function.
-Continue to pray for another long-term primary care doctor. (You can see the Ministry Opportunity Description of this position by clicking on this link. https://www.cmalliance.org/jobs/international/africa/gabon-bongolo/bongolo-hospital-primary-care-physician/)
-Continue to pray for a Project Manager to coordinate the construction, and infrastructure projects.
-Pray for the meeting of the committee that will meet next month in Libreville to provide guidance for the hospital for the future.

January 2019

Answered Prayer and Praise

- On January 7th there was a successfully thwarted coup d’etat. For a little while we did not know who was in charge of the country and the internet was shut off. The President of Gabon had a stroke in October, and has not been able to lead since then. Continue to pray for stability.

- At the end of October I wrote about a boy with HIV who was sick. I saw him again this month, and he was doing better. His hair had grown back, his skin wasn’t sloughing off, he wasn’t limping, and he even smiled. Unfortunately, his CD4 count, the lab test we use to follow HIV hadn’t improved. We will check again. Pray that he keeps improving.

- We received a visit from the Medical Director of the hospital in Tchibanga, the capital of the next province. He came to pick up some donated medications we received free from the US, which will expire soon before we can use them. While he was here he explained that his Operating Rooms were unsafe and are closed for renovations. Caring for all of those surgical patients, including c-sections, as well as those from the capital of our province is difficult for our surgical and maternity teams. We are thankful that we found a solution which will allow him to do c-sections safely there in Tchibanga.

Prayer Requests

-Pray for Pasteur Serge, the Administrative Director of the Hospital, and his family after the loss of his father. He has been away and will have a lot to catch up on when he comes back.

-The Gabonese health insurance still has not paid the hospital in months. This makes it difficult to function.

-Pray for the electric upgrade project starting soon. It's been really hot here, in the 90's in the shade with 92% humidity! During these hot days there is more electricity use at the hospital and by afternoon they current wires are overloaded and so hot that the electricity goes out for the hospital. Pray that the project starts soon and the current wires hold out in the meantime.

-Continue to pray for another long-term primary care doctor. (You can see the Ministry Opportunity Description of this position by clicking on this link. https://www.cmalliance.org/jobs/international/africa/gabon-bongolo/bongolo-hospital-primary-care-physician/)

-Continue to pray for a Project Manager to coordinate the construction, and infrastructure projects.

Gabon

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Updated: April 22, 2019

Status
Field Assignment
Country of Service
Gabon
Address
B P 13.021
Gros Bouquet
Libreville,
GABON

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