Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reaching out in South Africa and news from Texas

News from Texas
Nice warm Texas greetings to wherever in the world this might find you! What a beautiful time, winter is my favorite season of the year and I am having a blast knowing it is about to happen! Apologies if you are already snowed under and fed up of it all!

I am still waiting (not so patiently at times) to hear what the decision is on my green card application. Latest is that I might only find out in April if I could start on the second stage… God is teaching me patience again…

My truck decided to move on to its happy place and I had to urgently get a newer old car! So, now I drive a 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis, and boy, it is HUGE! I keep getting a feeling I should let animals on in pairs. But hey, I desperately needed a car and now I got one. I am still raising the money to pay it off, so if you feel stirred to help a poor African missionary in his hour of need, I am your man. All help is truly appreciated.

Work wise, it is our busiest season and in full swing. I am part of our PR team and we try to raise awareness of Mercy Ships in the media here in the US and it is quite a tough assignment. It is hard to sell stories of good in a media that likes their bloodshed and negative stories.

As the year is drawing to a close, please be assured of my eternal gratitude in your support of me, both in finances and in prayer. I appreciate the fact that it has not been an easy year and the recovery is slow and painful. I appreciate you very, very much.

Merry Christmas!

News from South Africa

A spur-of-the-moment suggestion developed into a two-day Extreme Dental Outreach in one of the most notorious areas of Durban, South Africa. Dr. Dag Tvedt, Mercy Ships Chief Dental Officer, met a fellow Norwegian named Ingrid Osthus. Ingrid is a graduate student studying to do social work with street children. The two were discussing the Mercy Ships off-ship dental program when Ingrid suggested that the team come to her church to do a clinic for the street kids who congregate there. Dr. Tvedt agreed, and the dates for the clinic were chosen.
The church is in a very disadvantaged area of Durban---an area that is the home to gangs of young people. Many of them have been on the streets since they were children, doing whatever they must do to survive.

Louise Lokriet, the mission administrator, explained, “When the Presbyterian Beach Mission was set up, it was thought that the surfers would be attracted, but the homeless showed up. We found them on our doorstep, so they had to become our children.”

Louise works with Pat Thaver, Trauma Counsellor to Abused Women, to build relationships with the many homeless young people in the area and to provide food and spiritual guidance. They encourage the youth to attend the Sunday church service and to get involved with the programs there that are geared to putting lives in order. “My love and my passion is to feed these young people and help them build a life,” she said. She began by leading worship at the church and then took over leadership of the Sunday School. “I arranged with a hospital for them all to get treated free, even for dental work,” she added.

Louise and Pat are aided in their work by Isaac Mkhize, who volunteers many hours to the program each week. “Every Friday we have a special service. I play keyboard and sing with them. After that, I teach them about God.”

A room was provided for the dental team to set up their chairs and equipment. Loaves of bread were sliced, spread with butter and placed on trays for the meal that preceded the clinic. Security was set in place to ensure order among the rowdy young people.

When the clinic began, a few of the patients were anxious to rush in for the free dental care. But some were more nervous about sitting in the dental chair. Dr. Tvedt was assisted by two other dentists – Dr. Kaare Nilsen, volunteer dentist from Norway, and Dr. Natasha Rampershad, who is volunteering with the Department of Health for a year. The three of them extracted many decayed teeth that were causing great pain.

“Although these patients were a bit of a challenge, they were also very appreciative,” said Dr. Tvedt.

Story by Elaine B. Winn
Photos by Debra Bell

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