Bongolo Trip - Week #1 Reflections

Week #1 Reflections

Wow, the first week is over, already! Our team, Josh, Doug N and myself have been traveling and/or on the ground since last Friday. Let me quickly give a recap of events:

Doug with Papa Siko and Philippe

Doug with Papa Siko and Philippe

Sunday: Safe arrival at Bongolo Hospital after 2.5 days of travel. For me, it was Pittsburgh to Paris to Libreville. We overnighted at Bongolo’s guest house where I was reunited with Papa Siko and his wife, Delphine, who were returning from vacation home in the DRC. Siko runs the laboratory and is the pastor of a village church; Delphine is a surgery recover nurse. there, then left at 7:30 Sunday morning for the 9 hour drive to Bongolo. That first night in a bed was great! I don’t sleep much on airplanes and was exhausted. The temperatures were considerably cooler than during the hot rainy season and I slept really well; so deeply in fact , that I nearly missed our ride! I had less than 15 minutes to come awake, get dressed and pull my things together. How embarrassing! The ride was smooth and long. Our driver, Philippe (who I’ve known these last three years), has 25+ years as Bongolo’s driver. Nine hours was a blessing in that our team began to bond.

Dr. Jeff (anesthesiologist) and Amy (finance office) Lane, our hosts, greeted us at about 5 pm. What a delightful couple and hosts! We ate dinner with them and began to get acquainted. They live on the second floor of “Quadplex”, a four-unit building, across the wide hall from where we will be staying. We’re in Quad 3. Amy assigned us rooms and I was fortunate enough to get a small room by myself; Josh and DougN are sharing a bedroom.

We met our other roommate, Kevin, who is going into his 2nd year of medical school in Rochester, NY. A native of western Colorado, Kevin is remarkably mature and very sociable. He is an intern for the surgical team (a first for them) and is assisting mainly in research projects that will eventually be published. Kevin has been here for four weeks and has three more to go.

I have had a wonderful time re-establishing friendships and beginning new ones. I even ran into a construction worker while out on a run and briefly met his family. Even though over half of the American missionary doctors and their families are home on planned leave, there are still plenty of people to reconnect with. Shouts of joy, big hugs and conversations galore. We happened to arrive in time for the soccer World Cup tournament semi-finals and we joined in for two nights of “football”. I don’t follow soccer much, but that didn’t matter; fans are fans. The final is late Sunday afternoon and we are invited to the potluck party!

What a joy to be back in my Gabonese home. Oh, and we’ve been working hard since Monday. Our computer and telephone work has also been very productive. More on that next time.