Missionary family travels to Africa

The Plattsburgh family left Feb. 13 to spend the next six months in Gabon where they will need to be wary of poisonous snakes, diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, parasites and miles of narrow, rough dirt roads frequented by logging trucks. Their trip is not motivated by a desire to thaw out, or seek adventure, but a desire to love others and live out the golden rule. This is not their first trip to Gabon either. This is the third trip for Wayne and Suzanne and the second one for the whole family. Their last stay was from November 2005 to July 2006. As a short term volunteer medical missionary at the Bongolo Hospital of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) , Wayne will not be on salary, but the families living expenses will be covered by The CMA. The North Country CMA in Plattsburgh will be covering most of their expenses and sent them off with extra money for badly needed AIDS medications. Wayne's work environment will be drastically different from CVPH where he is on staff as an internal medicine physician. Most of the hospital staff and patients speak only French and Nzebi. Unlike his wife, Wayne is not yet fluent in French. Like all African hospitals, which are in need of approximately 2 million more health care workers collectively, the Bongolo Hospital is under staffed. There is also a shortage of many of the medical supplies and medications we take for granted. Wayne will be busy. He will be working with adult patients with TB, malaria, AIDS, heart disease, diabetes and the whole range of medical problems. He is excited that the hospital is in the process of opening an outpatient center to deliver anti-retrovirals (ARVs) which attack the HIV virus. The HIV virus is called a retrovirus because of the way it codes DNA out of viral RNA, explained Wayne. Medicines that attack the retrovirus are called anti-retrovirals. About 8 percent of the Gabonese are HIV positive. Not only do ARVs indefinitely prolong the lives of AIDS patients, but they effectively reduce the transmission of the virus from pregnant mothers to their infants during birth. Suzanne will stay busy homeschooling their three children and voluntarily teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to hospital personnel. That is not so different from what she does in Plattsburgh where she homeschools and teaches ESL at Plattsburgh State. The children will still have the same teacher and most of the same textbooks, but in their free time they will be playing with French and Nzebi speaking Gabonese children and climbing Frangipani trees.

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