The Crucial Bridge

Bongolo Hospital

We have planned some busy last days at the hospital this week. We need to leave the compound a day early as they will be closing a crucial bridge on the only road from here to Libreville on Friday. So, Pastor Serge will be driving us back to Libreville on Thursday.

If you are not flexible before you come to Africa, you will certainly be so when you leave. I am actually very much looking forward to the 9+ hour drive with Pastor Serge.

He’s the hospital administrator here and plays an important role with his long standing Gabonese connections. He will be coming to Dayton in March with Keir for the Reach campaign that will feature Bongolo hospital. I am very much looking forward to him meeting my Fairhaven family. He’s a super guy.

It was the most humid and oppressive night last night…just when I am getting used to the heat! A highlight of last evening was an invitation to dinner with second year resident Fabruce and first year resident Marco and their wives, Yaz and Marguerite. These are the folks from Madagascar who were in InterVarsity together in college. They concluded the evening singing as a quartet a few songs from their college fellowship songbook. How awesome is that?

Had a funny encounter and a tragic encounter yesterday.

The funny one involved a man in his fifties who came to see us with abdominal complaints. Muslim, he was dressed in a nice suit, and came with a younger man who helped him with interpretation. He had big folder of records with him. His complaint was of lower abdominal pain.

As we were obtaining his history he started shuffling through his record folder and proudly presented an X-ray. We held it up to the light and took a look. It was an X-ray of his cervical spine! We gave it back. No help. He shuffled some more and presented us with some papers. Great. Some lab work. We checked the date. 2007! Too dated.

He then finally pulled out an abdominal x-ray and I held it up, with a big smile on his face. Is this him as a baby I asked Fabruce. It was the abdominal X-ray of a young child. As Fabruce translated and the man realized the mistake, we all broke out laughing.

Later in the day a young man, 32, came to see us with his wife. He was very thin, complaining of abdominal pain we reviewed his X-rays and labs. He had traveled from the coast to see us. He had a large mass taking up about 60% of his liver. He brought labs that suggested he had a hepatoma, a malignant tumor of the liver.

We reviewed the CT scan with Keir who picked up a small metastatic lesion. He was inoperable. There was nothing we could do. “Don’t forget to pray with him and make sure that even if he says he’s a Christian, that he hears the gospel.” Keir reminded Fabruce.

We sat down with the young man and his wife, and gave him the report and prognosis, and then we shared with him the gospel message. First me with Fabruce’s translation and then Fabruce himself in his kind and gentle manner. I could see he connected. Then we prayed with this young man. First me in English, then Fabruce in French.

Keir gave us an important reminder today. Perhaps we could not provide healing for his earthly body; but we could provide healing for his soul.

Well, just as I am getting quite acclimated here, it will soon be time to leave. Our plane departs from Libreville at 11 PM Friday. Some interesting analogies here. Just as we get “acclimated” to this world it will be time to leave and head home. And, the road we all must take someday to our heavenly home, will also involve a “crucial” bridge.

Signing off from the jungle.

Dr. William (Bill) Wilson