Monday, September 19, 2005

A Report from Michael Grainger on his Trip to Western Africa

Dear Grace Church family,

Tammy and I want to thank you for your prayers and support for us especially during Michael’s last trip to the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso.

Despite the security warnings for the Ivory Coast, the situation remained relatively stable and we were able to make good progress. However, we were not able to complete everything. We still need to purchase and install the toilets, mirrors, and sinks for the bathrooms. Before I left on August 8th, we still had no electrical power to the site because the electric company could not find our paper work. I had been on the phone quite a few times over the last several weeks trying to resolve the situation. Well the day I arrived the electric company found the paper work they had lost and we were able to start the process to get electrical power. The next morning we waited in line for about an hour but since it looked like a done deal, time went by fast. Unfortunately, just as we were completing the paper work which had taken about 30 minutes, the agent found an error on the electrical inspection papers for each apartment so they had to be submitted for correction. It seemed that we were being blocked at every turn, one-step forward two steps back. Even when you have all your paperwork in order, it can take weeks to get a meter installed so things were not looking good, but what is impossible with man is possible with God. I went to SECUREL, the agency that handles the electrical inspection and explained the problem. To my amazement, the receptionist was very understanding and said she would have all the forms corrected by that afternoon. I thought to myself, yeah right, it was too good to be true, she didn’t even ask for a bribe. Sure enough when I showed up that afternoon, all 14-inspection papers had been corrected. From SECUREL I went straight to the electric company to file a request for a meter. This time we only had to wait in line 30 minutes and got through the process with out a problem. Next, I had to pay for the meter and get an appointment to have one installed. So we stood in line another 30 min. to pay, hoping we would have a receipt before the other office closed. We got our receipt in time to make it to the other office, but just when I thought we were home free another surprise. They told us they could not send out a technician to install a meter for another three weeks. For just one minute, I wanted to forget I was a missionary, well maybe longer then a minute, and deck the guy. Well I had been to this office so many times that I had become friends with the guard. He over heard the situation and called me over. One of technicians was a good friend of his so he called him to see if he had any openings. His friend did have an opening and we had power on site the next day!! Having electricity allowed us to complete 90% of the finish work. As I mentioned what remains is to purchase and install the toilets, mirrors, and sinks for the bathrooms.

The last week of the four-week trip, I was in Burkina Faso working on the medical outreach clinic. Unfortunately, I got a case of food poisoning the day before we were wrapping it up. I rarely get sick but guess it was time to pay my dues. I was actually at the clinic working when I starting getting sick. I needed to lie down but there was only one problem, this is a mother and child outreach clinic and the only beds were obstetric examination tables. I had never been on one for obvious reasons but now I had no choice. I tried to get as comfortable as I could without using the stirrups; it was an experience I will never forget. We still have some work to do to get the laboratory, pharmacy, and darkroom fully functional but the clinic is close to being able to receive patients. In addition to working on the inside of the building, we hired the local O’Brien nursery to help with the landscaping. See photo.

People often ask me what a typical day is like. These are typical days for life in Africa, always full of surprises. It can be very frustrating at times but when you see God, work and you know the result will change lives for eternity it changes your perspective.