Dec-Jan 2014 African Report

The African Report Newsletter: Jerry V. Hogg, 462 Amanda Circle, Knoxville, TN 37922 Email: December 2013-January 2014 Sponsored by: Sunset Church of Christ, Sunset International Bible Institute, 3723 34th Street, Lubbock, TX 79410 LIFE ON THE MISSION FIELD Prior to actually going to a foreign country to do mission work, one tends to take on an imaginary concept of what life will be like once you get there. I know we did. We had many plans and dreams for the work and making a home for our little family in a foreign land. Implementing those ideas is often difficult, because the people you meet and work with on the field have plans and ideas of their own, and life sometimes becomes difficult there. I mean, they haven’t been living in a void, anxiously awaiting your arrival! However, we were greatly welcomed into their midst and so many helped us get settled into the work and make a suitable home for ourselves. We fitted right in. I guess that is why we literally fell in love with South Africa and the people we met there. After years of experience, we can look back and marvel at how well we adapted to the life and work of a missionary. After 45 years of living there or associating with that work during the few years we took a longer furlough stateside, we feel it definitely is a big part of our life. We cannot imagine doing anything else. We miss it when we aren’t there. In the early days, there were times we got lonely, like on birthdays and familiar holidays, when we were so far from home and family. And, frustrated when things didn’t go as planned, but we were fortunate in that we made friends during those early days with folks who guided us and are still close to us today. They helped us through those difficult times. We have so many South African friends who have become literally like family to us, and we are so grateful. Also, there were other missionary families close by who helped us adjust and gave us many tips about the local culture, what to do, what not to say, etc. We often spent special days with them (like at Christmas) when we could follow traditions as we had observed them in the States. We went on work-related trips together, and took a few vacation days with some. When a family, or a single person, goes to the mission field, they should make up their minds to like it, no matter what. Just know that you are destined to learn many new things, and you will meet many new people. I don’t believe we ever experienced what is termed as "culture shock," as many have had. If we ever had it, we never knew it. (Ha!) ALL THE WAY HOME Before we left Africa this time, we made many necessary doctor appointments that we kept once we arrived back in the USA on 22 November. Being on Medicare, of course, this doesn’t cover us in South Africa so we must see to all of that while we are in the States each year. First on the list was our family physician for our annual checkup, blood tests, and to renew prescriptions. Ann is a diabetic, so she must have the A1C test done first thing to see how her numbers are doing. Even though she checks her blood sugar twice a day the whole time we’re in Africa, this test is important to check on all the other statistics like protein, cholesterol, etc. This year, she had to add a couple of prescriptions to her medicine supply besides regulars: potassium and one for higher cholesterol. Also, she went to the eye clinic to begin procedures for correcting the bleeding behind the Retina that was diagnosed last February before we left here. She has had 2 laser surgeries for that problem. Now, here in late January she began a 5-week process to have the cataracts removed, one at a time every two weeks. Insurance won’t pay the $1000 for one of the lenses needed for her left eye surgery in mid-February. TERRIBLE NEWS My own blood tests showed unfavorable results that prompted our primary care doctor to refer me to the Urologist, who has treated me before, for an updated PSA test. It was only in January that I was able to see him. My numbers had doubled since last year: from 2.1 to 4.2. This alarmed Dr. White so much that he scheduled a biopsy on my prostate to check for cancer! About 3 years ago, I had what is called prostatitis, infection in the prostate. After a 5-day hospital stay and antibiotics, I overcame that and went back to SA. I thought it strange that the Urologist would now call for a biopsy! But, when his nurse called to set up that appointment, she said Dr. White had mentioned he was "afraid of cancer" so I knew he was serious. Still, I was sure it would prove to be a flare-up of the infection & symptoms (higher PSA #’s, etc.) as before. Larry York and I were on our way home from the Freed-Hardeman Lectureship when Dr. White called with the results: he was right, I now have cancer! I had planned to return to South Africa on 27 January!! DEFINING TERMS Receiving this news was the worst thing I’ve had in my lifetime. I knew immediately the trip back to our beloved South Africa would have to be put on hold! I called Ann and told her what the doc had said. She cried, and so did I. We were both really emotional there for a few moments, realizing the seriousness of this news from the doctor. However, we also knew this would call for action on our part, that the next step would be to make a decision about when and what type of treatment would be best for me. Upon reaching home, I began researching the Internet, looking at all that is available for treating this horrible disease. Needless to say, I learned many new terms as I read the material. The Internet is so helpful at times like these. Ann said one day that ten years ago, one wouldn’t ever say the word "prostate" in public. She says she didn’t even know the word! Thinking back, 40 years ago we wouldn’t speak the word "pregnant" publicly, either. Today, anything goes, sooner or later, thanks to the Internet and the TV! GOING PUBLIC At first, I told Ann not to tell this news to anyone, except very close family. I was thinking specifically about my brother, Don, who is battling with lung cancer. I didn’t want to add to his worries, and would tell him myself when the timing was right. He has had treatments before and was doing okay when we left for Africa last year. Then, a few months ago, the doctors said, after another six-month checkup, that the cancer was back with a vengeance. He is now in stage 4 lung cancer. Please pray for Don that he will be strong and overcome this terrible disease. Well, Ann obeyed my instructions and didn’t say a word about me having prostate cancer except to our two kids and the grand kids. She also told her sisters. While she was keeping it hush-hush, one Monday morning, after Larry and I had traveled and spoken to another of our supporting churches, I thought it was time to tell this awful news to those who have an interest in us and the work we do in Africa! So, I went on Facebook and wrote that I have cancer and asked for prayers to the Father to help us through this. Needless to say, a couple of days later, when Ann began getting a lot of emails from folks saying they were praying for us, she realized what I had done. She was flabbergasted to learn I had told the whole world this news on Facebook, while in the meantime telling her to keep it quiet! I was really in the doghouse now . As a rule, we don’t normally DO FB, don’t have the time, but on this occasion she asked for my password so she could go online to actually read what I had written. Like a good trouper, though, she rallied to my aid and began helping me answer the many emails that we received when folks responded to the news on my Facebook page. We both are amazed at the number of responses we have gotten in the last two weeks saying they are praying for both of us, for Ann during her eye surgery and recovery, and for me as we decide the treatment. We appreciate all the prayers and the info many have shared, friends and brethren from literally around the world. So many here in the States have written us, plus we’ve gotten emails from friends in England, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, New Zealand, Australia, and from so many African nations, with lots from South Africa. This type of cancer is very common, we have learned, and many wrote they have gone through this, some we were unaware they had experienced the same thing. Thanks for the advice and your concern for me now. ON CAMPUS AT THE BIBLE COLLEGE Of course, this news reached our fellow-teachers at the Southern Africa Bible College. Not only were they concerned about me, but very sad that I will not be there with them early in the year as planned. However, they sent a most encouraging email with a note from each teacher and the staff telling me of their prayers in the daily chapel services and privately at home. I was apologetic about delaying my trip, but was assured they were "covering" my classes and for me not to worry about them. Of course, I’d much rather be there than here right now, facing all that goes with the territory of learning you have cancer. It is not fun! FACING THE FUTURE About 3 weeks ago, I began having slight vibrations over my pacemaker, which was put in 2 years ago. I also am having headaches. One Saturday night I was at the ER to have these things checked out, again telling Ann NOT to let anybody know we were there. Lo and behold, as we sat waiting, in came Sherry Graham and a whole bunch of folks from the Knoxville Christian School (where I have taught) into the ER. Another family they were following had an 18-wheeler hit that car and the grandmother of the family was thrown out the window! She was checked out and sent home about 3 hours after we were dismissed. As we said, "you just can't keep anything secret!" The next Thursday I spent the night in the hospital for several tests, still trying to find out what was causing the vibrations in my pacemaker and my headaches.. Never did learn the reason, but my Cardiologist says everything is fine with the pacemaker and my heart. Right now, I still have two appointments to talk with specialists about which decision is best for me, whether to have surgery or just radiation treatments. I may need to do both, depending upon whether the cancer has spread to other organs. ********* Pray that I will make the right decision about treatment. "The fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much." We need you so much right now. Hang in there with us! Lord willing, we will be okay in a few weeks/months, get the needed treatment, and be able to get on back to Africa. – Jerry & Ann Hogg