Tooth on the Roof

We made it! Five flights, three continents, a five-hour time change, and a wee bit of jet lag and we are in Impfondo, Republic of Congo, settling in and getting down to work.
Family photo with our temporary residence in the background. Littlest Scatliff was taking a much needed nap.
My (Candice’s) primary goal during our time here assisting Pioneer Christian Hospital is to transition the feeding program, which we established at the hospital here two years ago, from ‘Phase I’ to ‘Phase II’. Initially, the feeding program relied on dehydrated produce bags shipped from a ministry partner in Ontario, Canada. Along with these produce bags we sourced rice, beans, oil, and salt locally to prepare a nutritionally complete, low-cost meal to all inpatients. The dehydrated produce bags were invaluable in getting the feeding program off the ground in relatively short order and allowing the program time to mature into Phase II.  Now that the program has been running for two years, and we recently exhausted the supply of dehydrated produce bags, it is time to implement Phase II: sourcing produce locally to create a more sustainable and culturally appropriate diet. This transition from Phase I to Phase II would be impossible without the addition of Jesse Mitchell, a new long-term missionary here at the hospital who has the role of Food Security Officer. Jesse has taken over leadership of the feeding program and I am here assisting him to implement Phase II.
Matthew speaking the international language of “football”.
We’ve started a vegetable garden on the hospital’s property to begin producing our own vegetables and beans. Not only will this cut costs for the program, but it also allows an opportunity for community development. Jesse, who is heading the garden project, is using it as an opportunity to train locals in proper agricultural practices and deepen relationships with many of the teens of the community. The teens, in turn, receive employable skills and compensation for their labour, which covers their school fees and allows them to continue their high school education (without an employment opportunity this isn’t possible).

The past few weeks we’ve been working on preparing the land and planning what to grow, and this week we’ve begun planting! Rainy season is nearly upon us, so the timing is perfect to get our seeds in the ground.  To being with, we will be planting plantain, pineapple, cassava (mainly for the greens), botecoteco (a local green leafy vegetable), and kundi beans.

Until our garden is able to produce adequate quantities to cover the hospital’s needs, we will need to continue researching other local sources for vegetables and adjusting the feeding program’s budget to accommodate the changes. It has been a delight visiting different gardeners in the area and learning about edible parts of different plants. I commend my family for being at least somewhat willing participants in trying different options of nutritious, low-cost vegetables. Last night’s chaya omelets were quite the success.
Gardening “field trip”. Tarsis is a Rwandan refugee who makes his living off the land.
Tom’s role has been much more varied. He has been working on upgrading and expanding the hospital’s internet speed and range. With better WiFi that reaches more of the campus, we are able to leverage technology to aid the hospital from afar. For example, an expert in generator repair (among many other things) can now log in from his mission base in Liberia to help diagnose problems with the generators here at the hospital in Congo.
Tom has also been helping install a solar power system at the Kimia Leprosy Center, testing a satellite communication system for SonSet Solutions, and will be working on field testing of the new audio bible for SonSet® radios.

On the family front, the kids have adjusted relatively well to being in Africa. We are thankful everyone has been healthy aside from some extreme heat rash during our first week here. Jonathan (8 years old) lost one of his front teeth during the second week of our stay and, following local tradition, he got to throw it on the roof!
The boys are loving the 4-month-old.
Thank you for praying for us and supporting us in ministry. It is important to let you know that Reach Beyond USA is no longer interested in loaning us to SonSet Solutions in Indiana. As such, we may need to change ministry locations (and remain as Reach Beyond Canada missionaries) or change to a different mission agency (and remain serving at SonSet Solutions). We are prayerfully considering our options and ask you to join us in seeking discernment regarding which move (geographical or logistical) would most honour the Lord.