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Did You Know?
Did you know that the most popular drink in Benin is Cocoa?
Sounds good, right?

BUT, this is probably not the kind of Cocoa that you think!

It has NO chocolate in it.  It is made with corn flour that is made into a paste with cold water.

Then you add boiling water until it is thinned to a drinking stage. 

You then boil it until it thickens slightly and add sugar and sometimes a little milk.

Bon Appetite!

Benin!
benin


God is at work in Benin!
1st Cor. 5:15

" ..and He died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him..."
To all who stand with us in this mission,
 
The last 10 days have been packed with news to tell you!  It started with Mass Screening Day.  Glenn and I got up at 5 a.m. to catch our ride to the large Hall where people were told to come.

5amscreening

We only promoted surgery for those with large facial or neck tumors, orthopedic leg problems, women who were leaking urine, and hernias.  We did not promote eyes...but we knew the eyes would come!  It was still dark when we arrived and as we drove into the parking lot, our driver carefully avoided the colorful piles on the ground that turned out to be sleeping people!  They had come at all hours of the night to wait. Glenn used his eye examination instrument to light our way (we didn't realize we would need a flashlight!).  As we approached, the colorful lumps leaped up and quickly formed a line of more than 2,000 people! None of whom spoke English!  We spotted our translators (no easy feat to find dark faces in the dark!) and Glenn began to quickly examine everyone who said they were here because of their eyes. (I even got to use some of my French!)  After 2 1/2  hours in the dark and 4 more hours in the heat (Glenn got the "award" for the sweatiest at screening), we culled out 600 eye patients!  About 20 of those we had to send to our prayer station because there was no hope we could offer for their blindness except Jesus.  My poor 24 year old translator would physically droop each time I sent her someone to tell them they would be blind for life.  It's the hardest part of our job.  The amazing thing was that at that prayer station 17 people were reported to have accepted Jesus as their King and God!!  Sometimes we don't have an answer for the pain and suffering, but God does! It was an exciting day!

screeningline

Since the screening, our Mobile Eye Team has seen 500 in line at each of their 4 sites, one resulting in a near riot with Mom's holding their children over their heads trying to pass them along!  We had to hire guards to help and tried to get the word out that our eye clinics will be open every week until December (one guy yelled it to the crowd from a 2nd story window!). 

gahniclinic

But the need is great!!  Our first surgeries started on the 24th.  It started very chaotically as everyone was training the new translators--not just to translate, but to be a part of the team.  Our eye team is convicted that we are not just to invest in the patients, but the Beninese that are serving right along side of us.  We will be training all of our 14 translators to be eye-screeners themselves in their communities, churches and schools. Two of them are to be trained to be Eye Scrub nurses for an ophthalmologist in town. After having to pray over a pile of forms and choose our candidates, we feel God has brought an amazing and eager group together.  5 of them are even pastors who are wonderful for praying and counseling those with a poor prognosis. But, our chaos didn't come from our translators....it came from our eye facilities off the ship not being ready!  We are squishing into spaces on the ship not meant for this.  Our poor blind patients are subjected to being led up 31 steps on our gangway, down 2 more flights of stairs, down a very long hallway, being guided over 5 raised doorways and finally into our space. It takes 30 minutes to do this. Please pray our intended eye work area will be completed quickly!  Glenn and another doctor, (plus his resident in training), finished 80 patients.  (They could've done more, but space didn't allow it.) 

afmeyeOR
 
My exciting patient story was a 21 year girl who was completely blind. Her case was very complicated.  Our eye specialist who first examined her at the mobile eye clinic said that even though he was sure it looked impossible to help her much, that we should try and restore a little vision.  Glenn examined her on the ship and predicted the same.  After he did the surgery, he said that the prognosis was poor, so we prayed with her.  We said that the doctor had done his part and that we would pray that Jesus would do the rest. She came back the next day and we took off her patch.  I watched as she slowly looked all around.  In my broken French, I asked her if she could see.  She nodded in tiny nods almost afraid that if she acknowledged too much - it would suddenly not be true.  I grabbed her and hugged her and I excitedly said (in French) "YOU CAN SEE!!"  She teared up and broke out in a BIG smile and hung on to me.  She was so happy that it WAS true!  When Glenn examined her, he too was amazed by how much she could see. She quickly asked him since that eye turned out so well, would he please try the other eye!  But, I will have to tell you the rest of her story in 6 weeks!
 
On Friday, the ship got ready for the President of Benin, Yayi Boni, to arrive.  It was hilarious!  We all dressed up in our Sunday best by noon.  Then they got word that he was delayed until 5pm!  His security and protocol man arrived and we ran around trying to find a chair that put the president's head up higher than his cabinet members!  Glenn's office chair was selected by the ship, but the protocol man rejected it because it tilted backwards!  There was talk of quickly making a platform, but in the end...no special chair was used.  We were all told to line up in a specific pattern to greet the President.  To our surprise, Glenn and I were the first in line after the Ambassador from Canada (I had only come up to see what was going on because Glenn was the one supposed to be a greeter! Oh well....must be flexible!)  We stood there in line for an hour!  Then we heard he hadn't left his residence yet because he cannot until ALL the president's men arrived first.  The 2 expected Ministers of "whatever" turned into 8 Ministers!  Finally, after being in line for almost 2 hours (and missing dinner!), the President arrived!  He is a large, football player built man with a huge smile and quiet demeanor.  I was supposed to say in French, "Welcome, your Excellency"...but I ended up just saying "bonsoir" (good evening) which is what HE said to ME!! (Oh, well...not my forte - greeting heads of state!)

presboni

We were awestruck by the President's speech!  He thanked and commended Mercy Ships, as we expected, but went on to encouraged us to preach the Gospel, which he himself believes and lives!  He also suggested, in front of his entire cabinet, that we form a collaborative group from his office and our staff that will commit to praying twice a week together for Benin!! WOW!  When is the last time you heard a president say something like that!!  Glenn is hoping he will be able to participate.  What a tremendous time that could be!
 
There is more to tell, but I will leave it for another day and suffice it to say, that God is at work in Benin!  With a President like this for the first time in their history....God has gone before us.  This President IS living for Him.  May our lives also. Join with us in praying for Benin.
 
In His Grace,
Glenn and Kim

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