Posted by: calloftheandes | February 26, 2010

Partnerships, Mobilization Yield ‘Concrete’ Results in Ghana and Ecuador

As concrete blocks are tossed and plumb lines are stretched, the values and strategies of HCJB Global played out in the nitty-gritty of manual labor, medical work and play while teams ministered in Africa and Ecuador the last three weeks.

Partnership—a mission core value—was most evident in Ghana with the confluence of a three-way partnership for construction and medical work. A 12-member team from Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colo., linked up in Ghana with physicians from Ecuador. Coordinated by HCJB Global’s Nate Dell, the combined teams were hosted by a national partner, Theovision, based in Accra.

When the medical team arrived last weekend as the Woodmen group finished its construction efforts at the Tree of Life Health Post with local Ghanaians. “We met our construction goal for the day [building the clinic’s exterior and interior walls four blocks high] shortly after lunch,” blogged a Woodmen team member, “just in time for a 30-minute flag football game that ended up a combination of football, soccer and rugby.”

Tasked with mobilizing Latin Americans into cross-cultural missions, Quito-based team leaders blended the Ecuadorians into the medical team. Tired but enthusiastic, they all arrived in Accra last weekend after a 28-hour trip.

At a Sunday church service, HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson preached on “Love God, Love Your Neighbor.” African dance accented the service, too, as a least two Woodmen team members—Deb Brown, the church’s global impact coordinator, and Mike Thiessen, co-offensive coordinator of the Air Force Academy football team—dared to join in. “Mike, especially, blended in remarkably well,” wrote a fellow team member.

In the ensuing days of 90-degree heat and high humidity where Ghanaians in dusty, remote settlements greeted the visitors with both smiles and symptoms, this ad hoc team of Ecuadorians, Ghanaians, and U.S. citizens staged mobile medical clinics. Team members saw more than 2,500 Ghanaians, treating many of them for a wide range of health disorders such as malaria, parasites, iron deficiency and skin problems.

“Almost every belly I felt had a large spleen, the telltale sign of living in a malaria zone and getting malaria over and over,” wrote Dr. Steve Nelson, a longtime family physician in Ecuador. “These kids average around 10 episodes of malaria a year, so they probably have more than the average number of challenges in fighting off infection.”

A general diagnosis of malaria for all fevers was tempting, but Nelson’s inquiries revealed just one school child death to malaria in the past year. “So I have been trying to figure it out, based on any other possible reasons for their fever,” he wrote.

A Ghanaian translator, Alfred, had never allowed drudgery to creep into his work with Nelson’s numerous medical consults. As symptoms were recited again and again, many complained of back pain—the result of endless field labor with a hoe. Alfred’s energy never flagged and “in fact, once he had heard my routine about dry itchy eyes a few times he would just launch into the remedy on his own,” Nelson said.

Pederson also spoke at dedication services for two partner radio stations, the result of persistent and faithful work of Theovision. Last weekend the combined teams were on hand for the inauguration of stations in Asamankese near Accra and in the central Ghanaian city of Assin Fosu. Both started test broadcasts in December 2009 and officially went on the air just days before the dedication ceremonies.

“It was great to see how our radio and healthcare ministries are working together,” Pederson said. “In the markets you could hear the programs playing on radios everywhere. This was Assin Fosu’s only local community radio station, and the signal is reaching nearly 80 miles!” He added that the “Woodmen team was great, working morning to night and never complaining.”

Dell added that “local officials, pastors, leaders, businessmen, the Muslim imam in the area and dozens of taxi drivers and dignitaries joined the tribal leaders in lots of speechmaking and hoopla to kick off the station.” Dancers moved with rhythms as the air was punctuated by the sounds of traditional drums, Dell said.

Among the HCJB Global entourage were family physicians Paola Vélez and Fernando Espinoza, both recently graduated residents of HCJB Global’s Hospital Vozandes-Quito. It was their second such trip, whereas Manolo Córdova from the jungle town of Macas had left Ecuador for the first time. He assisted Nelson’s wife, Dorothy, with children’s ministries.

About this time in Ecuador, the mission’s staff members were wielding shovels in another missions endeavor—this one high in the Andes. On Feb. 22 they left their Quito offices for six days of manual labor in Lirio San José, a community in the highland province of Chimborazo. Working on a project that may take months to complete, they helped area residents protect and direct spring water to service the community.

Unique to this was the combination of HCJB Global Voice (mass media) with HCJB Global Hands (community development) in a joint effort. Hard labor at high altitudes was integrated with thought-provoking devotional times led by staff members from Vozandes Community Development.

Buffeted by wind and cold in the Andes or sweating in sweltering sunny Ghana, these two teams plunged ahead wholeheartedly in ministry as the Hands and Voice of Jesus.

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