Surgery in the Theatre!

A few times a month my flights take me on overnight trips to places all over Zambia, I thought I’d give you a taste of what one of these types of flights look like!  One of the organizations that we fly for works with specialist doctors and organizes for them to fly out to rural hospitals where there is a need for their specific specialization (orthopedics, gynecology, plastic surgeon etc). These trips are usually 3-4 days long and so the pilot usually stays for the duration to keep from having to make two trips.  The last trip I did was with an orthopedic surgeon and a orthopedic post graduate student.  On the first day we met early and took off out of Lusaka to a city called Mongu.  If the roads are good one can drive to Mongu in about 8 hours, if the roads are in need of repair it can take double that, but it only takes 2 1/2 to fly there.  So we arrived in Mongu mid-morning, and were picked up at the airport by the Irish Catholic sisters that run a guest house where we stay.   After resting with a cup of tea, the doctors went to the hospital and screened the patients to see who was the most urgent and in which order to do the surgeries (they don’t want the most challenging to come last).  The second day they began surgery early in the morning.  I was allowed to come along and observe!  So I got dressed up in some scrubs and hung out in the theatre.  Here in Zambia (and the UK) we call an operating room a theatre, and what I saw was as good as a movie.  🙂  Sometimes they do as many as 15-20 surgeries in 1 day! In this particular location they have a large number patients so they stay and do 2 days of surgery, this time they did around 30 surgeries over 2 days.  The final day the surgeons made their rounds and checked the patients, and then we headed back to the airplane and made the short trip home!  If I’m not observing what the doctors are doing, I often ask around (or get asked) to do odd jobs that need done at the mission stations or places we stay at.  Or I sit and write prayer letters, catch up on emails, and do website postings, just like the one you’re reading now.  But really lets be honest, for me watching surgery is much more interesting.  🙂

Most of the surgeries that I saw were for a problem called Club Foot.  A child with Club Foot is born with the tendons in the foot and ankle too short on the inside of the foot causing it to be pulled inward.  In most western countries it is a relatively easy fix with casts and braces used until the child walks to stretch and lengthen the affected tendons and put the foot in a normal position.  However, here in Zambia most children with club foot aren’t treated until they are close to or already walking.  At that stage it requires surgery to correct.  The surgeons basically go in and cut some of the tendons longways in half and then on one side each at the ends of the slit and then sew the two pieces back together, effectively making the tendon longer.  It can heal that way and will strengthen itself as it heals.  This then allows the foot to extend out and lay flat as it should!  Quite interesting to watch the whole thing first hand!  Something I’d never be able to do in the states…I’ve included some pictures but they aren’t for the weak stomached so be warned!!!

 

 

Notice the Bosch battery operated hand drill… Nope it's not for aircraft maintenance it's for the surgeons!

Notice the Bosch battery operated hand drill… Nope it’s not for aircraft maintenance it’s for the surgeons!

Preparing the theatre for surgery!

Preparing the theatre for surgery!

 

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

Getting started on a little guy with Club Foot.

First incision, where's the blood?

First incision, where’s the blood?

Notice how curved the foot is sitting that's the furthest flat it will go.

Notice how curved the foot is sitting that’s the furthest flat it will go.

Finding the ligaments to "extend" them!

Finding the ligaments to “extend” them!

The foot can sit flat and normally now!

The foot can sit flat and normally now!

This boy is older and has already been walking on his foot this way.  He'll have a new gait in his step after the surgery.

This boy is older and has already been walking on his foot this way. He’ll have a new gait in his step after the surgery.

Update November 2013

 

Hello Friends,

The rains have returned to Zambia, and everything is becoming lush and green.  It is amazing how quickly the landscape changes.  Farmers are busy planting their crops for the growing season, and at Flying Mission Zambia we have also had a busy couple of months.  In addition to the normal flying, we have been able to help the Zambian Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) with an aerial survey of the large mammals in their national parks.  Flying Mission and a couple of other companies here in Zambia were selected to help with this important job.  The aerial survey helps ZAWA track how healthy different mammal species are and if the populations are rising or declining.  It is also good for Flying Mission because it helps us make connections with individuals and the Zambian Government.  I was able to help with this survey and spent 90+ hours in one of our airplanes bouncing around at 350 FT above the ground while the spotters counted animals.  We took off shortly after sunrise, took a break mid morning, and then flew till sunset; I saw a lot of very beautiful sunrises and sunsets during this time, and it gave me the opportunity to get to know some great people.  I also enjoyed spending some time in the amazing Zambian National Parks!!  For some pictures and a short writeup I did on this project check out my post HERE.

Thank you so much to those who helped out with my truck fund.  While I still have not been able to sell it, I think I have at least come to a temporary resolution.  After my last update, I got my truck back from the mechanic that has been working on it and he was able to sort a couple of issues, and told me that they were responsible for the “consistently inconsistent” engine problems.  However, the problems came back almost immediately and I began to look into the wiring and was able to find a loose connector.  I secured it and the problems have not returned.  So I am hopeful that at least this problem has been solved.  This gives me a bit of breathing room, I am still trying to sell the truck, but I can wait for a better buyer at a better price now, and I am thankful for that.  Please continue to be in prayer about this!
Otherwise, I have settled into a bit of a routine here in Lusaka, our flying schedule will slow down in December and January and it will give us the opportunity to catch up on other projects the mission is working on.  I have been studying for the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering test, and will shortly be writing the exam.  If I pass I will be able to do more on the aircraft maintenance side.  It is going to be strange to experience a hot, rainy, and humid Christmas, but I am blessed to have a close friend coming to visit, so I am looking forward to it.  I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!

SME (Share my Experience)

In this episode of “share my experience” I want to tell you a little about the church that I have been attending here in Lusaka.  Living near the capital city in a developing country presents the expatriate with extra options and opportunities when it comes to choosing a church.  We have “village” churches in the neighborhood surrounding our base, as well as churches that are predominately full of white expatriates in the city.  While the village churches are great because they are full of Zambian culture, often most of their services are in one of the local languages, and until I learn more of the languages I wouldn’t really be able to participate.  The expatriate churches are also great because they are more like what I am used to, and are in English and feel more like home, but they lack Zambian flare and culture.  In my beginning stages here I was hoping for something with a mix of both, and for the time being I think I have found it.  I have been attending a large church in Lusaka called Miracle Life Family Church.  The preaching is in English with an American pastor, but is a 90% Zambian congregation.  The worship is led by a Zambian worship band and they rock!!  But the words are on a screen so when they sing songs in the local languages, I can read and understand what they are saying.  Many of the members of the congregation are middle to upper class Zambians, these are the people that can truly influence the future of Zambia in a positive way, and I am enjoying getting to know some of them.  Not sure if I will attend this church for a short time, or long term, but so far I have been blessed by it.

Well that’s all for now! If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

 God’s Blessings on you all,

Jonathan

 

Praises For:

  • Safety with all of the wildlife flying.
  • Figuring out some of the problems with the truck.
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  •  My Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Test.
  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying through the rainy season!
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.
  • The ring beam has been set, just a few more layers of blocks and the church will be ready for the roof!

    The ring beam has been set, just a few more layers of blocks and the church will be ready for the roof!

Update September 2013!

Greetings from Zambia!

The warmth has returned, but it’s still dry and dusty here.  It hasn’t rained in 5 months but within the next 2 months the rains should return.  Since my last update there have been many things that have changed!  I have moved into a house that is going to be my permanent home here, its a nice little 2 bedroom house in the community very near our base (see pictures in my pictures post).  I also have gotten a roommate, his name is Alex and he is from Canada working with Flying Mission as an auto mechanic for 1 year.  It has been nice to have some company as well as cut down on the cost of rent.  Also the shipping container with my tools and a few other personal items arrived, it’s been nice to use my own tools to work on airplanes!  Finally, I have had the privilege flying a few longer trips with regional directors to some of the different locations they have ministries in Zambia.  I really enjoyed meeting the different missionaries and seeing the work they are doing in rural Zambia!  God’s work is alive and well here!  if you want to hear more about these ministries or the different kinds of work we support here in Zambia, email me, I ‘d love to share in more detail!

One thing that hasn’t changed yet is my problematic truck.  It has continued to cause problems, and I haven’t been able to sell it.  I was able to buy a dirt bike, and it has been great for getting me to the base everyday, but it’s not licensed yet and can’t be my only transportation once the rains start.  I am in the process of seeing what my best options are right now for getting some other reliable transportation, but it looks like I am going to need to raise a few thousand dollars in order to get a different vehicle that will work in this challenging driving environment.  PLEASE be in prayer about this situation and if you are able to contribute a bit extra towards getting my transportation needs resolved that would be great!  You can print a form HERE and send it to the address at the top with donations.  If you want more information on my transportation needs please let me know!

SME (Share my Experience)

On to more enjoyable topics!!  The church in Mwembeshi village is starting to take shape!  The walls are now in process, and as they raise more money they are continuing to build.  The congregation was able to raise enough money for 500 more blocks and I was able to match them with money I had set aside for the church.  Lord willing we can continue with the matching funds until the walls are completed!  I am hoping to visit soon to see the latest progress.

I have also been able to get involved in the football (soccer) ministry at Flying Mission.  I’ve only just begun getting to know the different boys that come out and play, but it’s obvious to see they are way better at playing then I am!  On Saturday mornings about 10 or so of the boys come to a Bible study that I have also had the privilege of getting involved in.  I’m hoping to be able to build some good relationships, and encourage these young men as they mature!

Well that’s all for now, Thank you for being involved and interested in my life!  If you have any questions or comments please email me, I’ll be happy to answer them and give you even more information on what life is like here in Zambia!

May the Lord bless you and keep you,

Jonathan

Life in Africa

Hello Friends and greetings from South Central Africa!

It has only been a little over a month since my last update, but it feels like several months of things have happened!  Since then, I have moved into the flight portion of my orientation.  I began by studying for and taking the two Zambian Air Law exams which by God’s grace I was able to pass both of them on the first try, then I read the Flying Mission standard operating procedures and started flying with the Chief Pilot and another mentor pilot.  We also had an airplane that needed to be taken to South Africa, to be painted and have the interior redone, so I was able to go along and see what international flying in Africa entails.  We spent 2 days in Johannesburg with a board member from Flying Mission, and then another 2 days in Gaborone, Botswana where we were able to tour Flying Mission Services and meet many of the people involved in the other branch of Flying Mission.  It was great to see a bit more of Africa, and to see the full picture of what makes up Flying Mission.  And then just this week, I was sent out on my own and began doing the normal mission flying!  I was also able to buy a truck that had been imported to South Africa, it seemed like a good vehicle to purchase, but unfortunately when it arrived in Zambia I found it had some problems that I was not told about.  So I am working through the best options for making it a reliable truck for me to use.

SME
In aviation we have something called an “SYE” form or Share Your Experience, when something interesting, abnormal, or possibly dangerous happens, a pilot or mechanic will fill out the form to share their experience in the hopes that others can learn from it.  I want to share with you some of the different experiences that I am having here in Africa, so this will be the SME section (share my experience). 🙂 Maybe there is something to learn from it, or maybe it’ll just make you giggle, but either way it will give you a bit of insight into what life is like here in Zambia.  Living in Africa is certainly a different experience than what we normally experience in “Western” countries.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, where I am in Zambia, just outside the capital city of Lusaka is at times an odd mix of the two.  I went to get my Zambian Driving License not long after I arrived.  Having been given most of day to accomplish this task, combined with the fact that it would just be a transfer of my Ohio license, I was thinking that it couldn’t possibly take more than a day.  Well the first step for the license here in Zambia is to have a medical examination done to assure you are fit to drive.  Flying Mission had the forms at the base and I filled in my information on the form and set out with Paul, one of the team members who had most recently gotten a Zambian License.  We stopped at the nearest clinic and after a brief wait were told that we couldn’t do it there as there was no doctor on duty.  On to the next clinic, and after a bit of confusion as to where to enquire about the examinations we were told that they no longer did the driving license exam.  From there we moved onto a clinic that was a bit further away, and arrived just after 12pm when we found the receptions area, we were told that it was lunch time and we would have to wait until 2pm when they reopened.  Well, given that bad news we decided to have lunch ourselves and because there were other clinics in town we kept heading that way.  After lunch we headed to the next closest clinic, and again after some confusion as to where to go, a “helpful” employee took me aside and said that he would have the doctor sign the paper for me, but that I shouldn’t have written my name and address on it because it should all be done in the same handwriting.  I was a bit confused, and when it became apparent that I wouldn’t actually see the doctor but he wanted me to pay him right then and there, I hesitated and said that we would have to go get a new form because I had written on it.  Obviously seemed like something fishy was going on.  So we went on to the Road Transport and Safety Administration building (RTSA) and picked up a fresh medical exam form and decided to head to one of the hospitals in the hopes that we would have better success there.  We arrived and were told that indeed the exams were done there and were directed to the wing where they were done.  Upon arrival there was a sign that clearly stated that we were in the right spot for driving medical examinations!  Finally!  But the sign also clearly stated that they did them everyday from 8am until 2pm… by that point it was about 3:30pm and I enquired anyway just to be told to come back the next day at 8am.  In one last attempt to get it done, we went back to the clinic where they had told me I needed to have the blank form.  It was less busy by this time and we were able to ask a nurse about the exam.  She told us that the clinic was no longer able to do the exams because there had been people filling out the forms but not examining the patients.  (exactly what had almost happened to me, and apparently also the reason why clinic #2 couldn’t do the exams anymore either).  It was almost 5pm by that time and Paul and I were beat…after visiting 4 clinics, 1 hospital, and the RTSA building I had not yet gotten step one of the driving license accomplished, what a day!  While I am enjoying living in Africa, and Zambians are wonderful and hospitable people, there are times when being in a new place brings many challenges… oh and teaches you a little patience. 🙂  Well friends, I fear I have written too much so you’ll just have to stay tuned next month to find out if I am physically fit enough to drive or not (sure hope so as I’m flying airplanes all around)…  God’s Blessings on you all.
Jonathan

Praises For:

  • Passing my Zambian Air Law exams.
  • The beginning of my flying is going well.
  • The Lord is blessing me with a good attitude through all the changes and challenges.

Prayers for:

  • The decisions I need to make on fixing the truck I bought.
  • Continued good adjustment and focus on God.
  • Safe Flying!
  • For the ministries we support to be blessed by God in the work they are doing for him.
South Africa!

South Africa!

Just no escaping them.

Just no escaping them.

Doesn't taste like chicken... surprisingly its more like beef

Doesn’t taste like chicken… surprisingly its more like beef

Granadilla (passion fruit) fields in South Africa.

Granadilla (passion fruit) fields in South Africa.

I get to see many African sunrises with many early morning flights!

I get to see many African sunrises with many early morning flights!

Come say Goodbye!

Jonathan C. Weaver

Hello Friends!!

Greetings from beautiful Colorado Springs, CO!!!  It is with thankfulness and appreciation to the Lord for His great faithfulness, and to so MANY of you who have supported me now and over the years in various ways ~~ prayer, encouragement, teaching, financial resources, etc., I want to invite you to CELEBRATE with us on Saturday, February 9th for an Open House from 4 to 7 PM at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. There will be a brief time of sharing about 5:30. I have reached my full support and will be leaving the following Friday, February 15th to begin my journey to Zambia, for my two-year commitment to serve with Flying Mission Zambia, as a pilot/mechanic.

If you would like, please bring a letter of encouragement with a photo or two of family members, a particular memory, etc., which I will take with me as I travel. I’ll enjoy reading some each week, and I’ll pray for you as you are praying for me!!

CVCA is located at 4687 Wyoga Lake Road, Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44224 with parking and entry to the building at the back, accessed using the drive at the south side of the school.

RSVPs are helpful as we plan for a “Javanese” meal together.  Please respond to this email if you are going to come!  Or RSVP for the event on FacebookHERE!  If you would like to bring an item, let me know that, as well, and my mom or I will get back in touch with you!

Remember to add this email to your address book to ensure getting all of my emails, and you can “like” my page on Facebook (Jonathan Weaver Missionary Pilot).  

THANK YOU AGAIN and we are looking forward to seeing you all on February 9th!

My Schedule:

Praise the Lord, my time to leave is coming soon!

January 21-February 8th:  Cross Cultural Training in CO!
February 9th:  Open house at CVCA! 4-7PM
February 15th:  Leave for Zambia with a quick stop in Scotland!