Dearest Family and Friends,
February, 2011 has proven to be another amazing month in Tanzania, East Africa. Some fascinating patients have been seen in the clinic, including one with a severe foot infection who had a blood sugar of 500 (upper limit of normal, 120), a short-of-breath young woman with a hemoglobin of 7.1 (normal, 12-15) who did not know she was HIV positive, a toddler who had just sustained a 40 percent burn, an extremely ill 16 year-old male with osteomyelitis of the hip following an injection abscess, an adult female with a huge fungus that had been growing on her scalp since childhood, and a woman with a heart rate of 220 (normal, 60-100) who we found was dehydrated and diabetic. In addition, a 40 year old lady presented with a bloody mouth lesion unaware that she was HIV positive and had Kaposi’s Sarcoma (cancer).
On to happier news: this has been an encouraging month spiritually, as Bible studies continue with visitors from church and a witch doctor, his five wives and multitude of children. Next Saturday we hope to drive an hour away to a location where we hear that the Good News of Jesus has never been proclaimed. Continuing to meet in an elementary school, the young and growing Monduli Juu congregation is rejoicing especially over our dear American sister Era Pannell’s contribution that has helped the church complete its fund collection for purchasing property near the market place. In preparation for a rough log church building that will hopefully be constructed there by the Tanzanian Christians in the coming months, the land officer has been notified and completed a survey. With joy the congregation is singing songs in Maasai, Swahili, and even a few in English as it expresses its thanks to God!
In addition to the physical and spiritual needs encountered this month, the “long rains” have begun, bringing many more insects into the house. Also enjoying the increased water supply and making themselves more visible, two more cobras have been discovered and killed this month, a small one just in front of the clinic and a 5- foot long one (and as big around as my arm) that was standing with hood out on the low back porch wall of the guest house.
But the nature news of the month has to be that we were visited one night last week by a leopard (Swahili—“chewy”) that perched for a long time just past the clinic in one of our trees. Finally, he jumped down, presumably to find his dinner and was threatening our dog and two of our guards. Sadly, they had to dispatch this beautiful animal. Though this was such electrifying news to us, the Maasai guards are so familiar with these hazards that they did not inform us of this event for a week; therefore, we could not even salvage the exquisite skin of this dangerous cat.
By the end of March we look forward to completing four years in Africa and will go home for a short break to help our son Luke move, then plan to return to Tanzania in June. “Thank you” is an inadequate expression to all who have contributed to the purchase and shipping of a large, new generator that will supply electricity to the TCC houses and clinic; it is on its way from Ireland as I type. Additionally, the donated X-ray machine should be shipped along with many needed supplies in April or May. Our most sincere love and thanks go out to each of you.
Kwasababu Jesus alisema kuenda (Because Jesus said to go…),
Danny and Nancy Smelser