We recently had the priviledge of taking our two-week language school vacation (February 18-March 5) to head to Boiffo, Benin to prepare for the opening of full-time medical ministry this summer.
It was a great pleasure on this trip to reconnect with our Beninese brothers and sisters in Christ who are preparing to serve in the clinic. While in Niamey, we spent time with Zacharie (nursing student), his wife Elizabeth (midwife student), and Idrissou (nursing student). Zacharie is expecting to graduate from nursing school this summer, while Elizabeth and Idrissou expect to graduate one year later. Zacharie is also praying about seeking further training in Niamey during the next year after he graduates, while Elizabeth is finishing her studies. We eagerly anticipate having all three of them join us in medical ministry in Boiffo in 2018. When we arrived in Boiffo, we had great reunions with Pastor Isaac, Ibrahim (business administrator), Afousa (pharmacy aid), Latifou (lab tech), Anne (pharmacy aid), Ozifa (pharmacy aid), Yacouba (nursing aid), Garba (day guard), Amidou (night guard), and others. We were thankful for many hours that God gave us to discuss (in French) ministry plans, suggestions, and prayer requests together. We are pleased with the team that the Lord has been bringing together to do His work.
Equipment and Supplies
We were grateful to find that God had protected the many items of medical and personal equipment that had shipped out on the container. Most of the medical equipment, some of it quite sensitive, appears to have arrived in good condition. We did discover a few parts that need replacement, and we are grateful that God allowed us to order these parts now rather than discovering the problem right as the clinic was about to open. Most significantly, the used batteries on the X-ray machine are no longer able to hold enough charge to allow us to acquire images, and we are planning to include replacement batteries on a shipment from the US this month that will also include the initial stock of medicines to be used until the Benin government allows us to begin buying medicines in-country.
We were pleased to see the completed structures for the clinic building and missionary lodging (2 houses). The medical complex contains the only buildings in Boiffo that have electricity. The remaining construction work consists mainly of placing a roof on the evangelism center and finishing interior details in the buildings. Should the Lord continue to lead in that direction, in the next few years after the clinic opens we would like to add additional space that will be extremely valuable to ministry goals. The most urgent need at present is an area for labor and delivery services, which are sorely lacking and highly sought-after by patients in the area.
We are greatful for many hours of good discussion with Beninese local church leaders and members as well as American missionaries. We gleaned much helpful information and were able to make several important ministry decisions. One of these was the concensus decision that it would be best to add new clinic services only at the speed that the local church is able to provide patient care personnel, and so we will seek to wait on providing labor and delivery services until Elizabeth, the midwife student, has completed her studies. God also blessed us with an excellent meeting with the clinic staff members in which we discussed their expectations, Biblical principles that would help us avoid common pitfalls encountered by medical ministries, and some details about how the clinic would run.
We are back in language school in France until the end of May. It has been a pleasure for us to behold the manner in which our great God has arranged so many details to bring this ministry to the point where it is nearly ready to open. We move forward with confidence as we continue to await His leading from here.
Steve & Katrina Boutrus