It is easy to feel disconnected living so far away from family and friends. We are thankful for the friends we have here, but we are also thankful for the way the internet allows us to stay connected to our family and friends in the US. That being said, we often have problems with our internet here at Mbingo, but we have recently had some help to improve things.
This picture shows Chris Jackson high in the air on a tower to install an internet radio at Mbingo. Chris Jackson is a missionary with Wycliffe (Bible translators) and generously donates his time to help us at Mbingo when our internet is giving us problems. Over the past 6 months, he has started converting us from an overgrown often-failing home type network to a much more stable and consistent business style network. Currently, our internet comes through the air from a town 45 minutes away bouncing off multiple towers as the signal makes its way to Mbingo. After the tower receives the internet signal, it spreads through the hospital and also broadcasts the signal back out to our houses to allow us to have internet at home. We are thankful for all of the efforts he has made. Despite significant improvements, we still continued to have many connection problems...
Josh Shinar has also been helping us tremendously with our network. This picture shows him with Lori, his wife, and Charlie, their daughter. They were missionaries in the Central Africa Republic before being evacuated last year in the midst of violence. Now they are missionaries in a small town in Cameroon (Banyo), but have been living next door to us for the past month here at Mbingo. Josh owned his own IT company before becoming a missionary and has been teaching a 2 week IT course for Cameroonians while here at Mbingo. He also has helped us take the next steps in having a much more reliable and dependable internet connection. Now that he has most of the kinks worked out of this increasingly complicated network, we need to find some money to buy more bandwidth! Lori was an oncology nurse before moving to Africa and she has been helping with our chemotherapy and palliative care departments this month. Charlie has enjoyed playing with Isaac and we will miss all of them when they go back to Banyo next week.
In addition to staying connected to the US, the internet is an incredible medical resource and an increasingly effective way of teaching. Over the past 2 months, we have been taking part in an online HIV course for the medical residents and nurse practitioner students. The course is run out of the University of Washington in Seattle. We show a 2 hour lecture each Friday and hold discussion groups during the week in addition to the online homework and quizzes. This picture shows Dr. Kamdem and Dr. Tumi (2 medical residents) following the powerpoint on the computer while watching the lecture in class.
Chuck recently went with 5 other guys from Mbingo (a mix of full-time and visiting doctors) to climb Mount Cameroon. It is the tallest mountain in West Africa and remains an active volcano. The picture was from the top after 10,000 feet of climbing! It was an incredible trip.
Mount Cameroon's last major eruptions were in 1999 and 2000. This picture shows the group approaching two of the volcanic craters from these eruptions. It was incredible for Chuck and the other doctors to explore this volcanic region, walk across lava fields, and finally end the 3 day hike while descending through a rainforest.
Chuck's parents have been at Mbingo for 2 weeks now and have been a big help. Isaac and Ben have loved spending time with GiGi and DoDad.
Chuck's father, Charlie, is a gastroenterologist. He has been working with Chuck doing endoscopies when he is not spending time with Isaac and Ben. One of the new endoscopic procedures that Chuck has been doing is placing esophageal stents for advanced esophageal cancer. Chuck and Charlie had a chance to do three of these together this past week and this picture shows Charlie placing the third one.
Some of you will remember a picture from the early days of this blog with Isaac looking at Chocolate, his favorite horse here at Mbingo. Now Chocolate has a little sister who is only two months old. Isaac loves to go each day to walk around Mbingo to try to find Chocolate's mom and the new horse. When we look back at that picture and compare it to this one, we can really see how much Isaac has grown up since we moved here.
Speaking of horsing around...These are the three Barrier boys in the backyard. It seems Ben is getting bigger each day!