The IT Team

The IT Team

Here we are at the end of the first phase of my trip: DougN and Joshua leave today. I’m happy for them to be able to go home to their families, but I’m personally sad, as we were just getting into a team rhythm and I have come to like and respect both of them. We’ve been incredibly busy, to say the least!  Let me introduce the four amazing men I have the privilege to call teammates and friends. 

Josh is very accomplished “jack-of-all-trades”: he’s a server guy, an electrical engineer, a telecom expert who has both years of entrepreneurial business experience and six years as an IT (information technology) missionary in Cameroon, Africa (yes, IT pro’s can be full time missionaries!). Until recently, he led the IT department at Mbingo Hospital in Cameroon, a missionary hospital about 3-4 times as large as Bongolo. He also served the rest of the CBC (the Baptist hospitals in Cameroon) as an IT consultant. Josh and his team created and implemented a very sophisticated IT infrastructure there. Josh has also pioneered “TVs4Jesus”, which I’ll describe later. Unfortunately, Josh, his wife and young children, as well as everyone else at Mbingo, have been evacuated indefinitely to the capital for their safety due to escalated regional fighting for power that has reached the hospital. Please pray for peace in Cameroon, and for the medical missionaries and hospital staff who are figuring out what to do next.

 Dr. Jeff Lane with maintenance friends, Olivier (blue shirt) and Jacob.

Dr. Jeff Lane with maintenance friends, Olivier (blue shirt) and Jacob.

Doug N (the other Doug!) is from the Raleigh, North Carolina area and has had nearly 30 years at the US government’s Department of the Interior Fish and Game department. He is a mapping expert who has been recognized for his innovative work with satellite mapping data among other things. Doug is also a desktop computer and phone guru, the perfect complement to Josh’s server expertise. Married for 33 years, Doug’s daughter turned 21 while here and, fortunately, the internet was up for a phone call! Doug and I have spent most of our time here together so far and I’ve enjoyed every minute

We wouldn’t have been able to get as much done without the help and support of our team “captains”, Rob Peterson (IT Director, missionary pilot and Bible translator who is currently in Charlotte, NC) and Dr. Jeff Lane. What? You might be asking? Yes, our IT team captains are a pilot and an anesthesiologist. I don’t think you would ever find that at an American or any other western hospital. Both of them made time to meet with us to plan each morning at 7:30 and recap each night at about 8:00. He also was available during the day (between surgeries!) to help think through solutions, especially when what we were tasked to do might have impacted an individual who isn’t here now or a department at the hospital.

 DougN, Josh and me (DougS) at Bongolo Falls just below the hospital.

DougN, Josh and me (DougS) at Bongolo Falls just below the hospital.

As I mentioned, both DougN and Josh, have telephone system experience (from debugging and repair to installation to the back-office programming of extensions, etc.). While I had an introduction to this technology from my friend, John Wicker, who works in telecom and donated a lot of Cat 5 equipment (thanks, John!), I came in basically knowing nothing about this subject.

So far, my primary role has been to facilitate Josh and Doug’s work by showing them where things and places are, running back and forth for parts to the main garage, talking with the affected hospital employees and families, and occasionally giving direction for the physical installation part of a project. Oh, and I asked lots of questions and tried my best to learn, help and simultaneously stay out of the way!

My growing French has come in really handy and it’s good to know my investment in language acquisition is paying off. It’s very clear that I’m waaay better than my last trip here. To be honest, sometimes I feel like I understand more in French than when Doug and Josh lapse into computer jargon, lol! I’m hungry for some more concentrated, immersed French learning, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

We had a overwhelming looking scope of work to accomplish and, by God’s grace, completed all of the list! I’m so grateful to have four guys here to learn from. Bongolo’s telephone and computer system depends on consistent internet, back-room programming, and reliable equipment.More to follow on what we accomplished, so stay tuned!