The African Report

HERE AND NOW It seems only yesterday that the November through January issue of The African Report was mailed, and now it is time once again to write all our supporters, past and present. We left the States on February 27th, with plans to stay until October in South Africa this year. Sad to say, that was not to be! Sometimes, there are things that come up one doesn’t know about in advance. If known, we certainly would have made different plans. I’ll explain later. AT HOME IN AFRICA Just as we were getting settled in our home-away-from-home in the upstairs flat at SABC, work was being completed on the old house on campus, the one under the chestnut tree, for our use. I had decided I just couldn’t climb those stairs any more, and since Ann had developed a pinched nerve in her back that affected her hip, knee and right foot and made her limp along, she didn’t object. So, on 23 March we packed up our belongings once again to make the move from the flat to the much larger house. Joey especially likes the tire-swing-on-a-rope hanging from the chestnut tree. It’s hard to keep a 12-year-old youngster from swinging when one is available, but it’s quite frustrating to grandparents when he runs and jumps on the swing with his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes on. But, boys will be boys! OH! THE MEMORIES We were pleased with the renovations to the house, the first dwelling where classes were held back in the ‘60's here under the ol’ chestnut tree (which has grown to be tall and spread-out). Remember the poem, "Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree" that we had to memorize in school? And, we think about the many different SABC students and their families who have occupied this house since the sixties, up until last year when it became unlivable, and fortunately, no longer needed for married student families. SABC has other original farm houses off-campus that are in better shape for this purpose. THE WORK INVOLVED The guys did a great job repairing and repainting everything: door frames, kitchen cupboards, floors and wardrobes, with new tiles in the 2 bathrooms, kitchen and the little office area. The sanded, refinished pine floors in other rooms are really clean and shiny. A new geyser (water heater) was installed in the front bathroom, the commode needs replacing, but the shower works well. When the call was made that some furnishings were needed, folks at Benoni church came through with lots of things from cups to curtains, a lovely 3-piece living room suite, and many other household goods. Even a kitchen stove and sink unit was donated to the cause. The old appliances were dirty and ugly – probably wouldn’t work, either. We had to buy a new refrigerator. Now, we also need a new washer. We have a dryer. Still some work to be done, but we’ll get to it later. We like the new place. It’s big and roomy, so it will be hard to fill. We just don’t have much furniture, but we have the necessities. LOCATION AND LOGISTICS Located near the front of SABC property near the Print Shop and in front of the Library, I have a longer walk to class, (but not climbing stairs) or I can drive up. I enjoy teaching and being with the students as much as ever. I fill the pulpit at Benoni often, and feel they are a great group with much enthusiasm to encourage a speaker. Joey fitted right in with the youth group, and has made friends. He especially likes his teacher on Wednesday nights, Ricci Jenkins. Come to find out, this young man was named after Joey’s Uncle Ricky, our son (with a different spelling). That’s what Wendy, his mother, told us. She and our Ricky were childhood friends in the late sixties. I have a photo of her with a party hat on at Ricky’s first birthday party in May 1969. UNEXPECTED EVENTS Nine days after our arrival in SA, on March 9th we took our grandson, Joey, to our long-term dentist and friend, Dr. Groenewald, for a cleaning and check-up. He called me back after an initial examination and said, "There’s something here you’ve got to see." He pointed out a cyst in Joey’s mouth, one "almost the size of a golf ball," he said. He had made an x-ray, but said his machine wasn’t working right and the image was small. Dr. Groenewald referred us to a Maxillo-Facial/Oral Surgeon, Dr. Chris Anagnostopoulos (try saying that long Greek name. We just call him Dr. Chris) who confirmed the diagnosis, and made a larger x-ray on the 29th of March, even discovering additional cysts in Joey’s mouth. In his terms, they are multiple cystic lesions! His opinion right away was, "You’ve got to get him to the States. This will require surgery and long-term treatment that will be expensive." After a few sleepless nights and much deliberation, that’s what we have done. Using our round-trip tickets and changing the return date from October 17th to April 17th, brought us home. We feel sure the Lord will work this all out. Everyone we’ve spoken to about this feel we have made the right decision by coming home to accommodate Joey’s needs right now. It’s amazing to me that Joey never complained about pain or said, "something’s growing in my mouth," or that his dentists along the way have not mentioned finding these cysts before. We had to go to Africa to learn about these! Some of his teeth have not "erupted" as dentists say, because the cysts have expanded and pushed them out of the way. His eye teeth, which are supposed to break through by age 8 or 9, have not erupted as the x-rays show them still in the upper part of his cheeks. Joey had much pain and swelling after the first surgery on the 24th due to the fact that the surgeon pulled two baby teeth that had not fallen out or been pushed out by the two eye teeth. His forming "wisdom" teeth are encrusted with cysts and probably will not erupt without help! Needlessly to say, we have had to learn a whole new vocabulary since first getting all this bad news, and still don’t know what caused them, what continues to feed them, or how to permanently stop their growth. We are groping in the dark about all the hows and whys! We could easily say, "Why ME, Lord?" Reading on the internet about all these terms, I am learning that this condition is very rare. It occurs in only 1 in every 50,000. In a city like Knoxville with just over a population of 300,000, there statistically would be no more than 5 or 6 cases like this. So, even a specialist in this field would see very few in his lifetime. That doesn’t lead to many cases for comparison. Each case might be different. THE GOOD NEWS The latest Biopsies and CT-scan results show there is NO cancer (benign instead of malignant) present right now, but we’re being told these ‘tumors,’ as some describe them, are aggressive and could reoccur with a different result. Your prayers are needed for us and especially for Joey during this whole process. Of course, now, after the right treatment and surgery for Joey is settled, we will have to buy new tickets to return to South Africa, and we couldn’t do this without your help. We feel sure the Lord will work it all out somehow. Our hearts are sad that our grandson has to endure all these medical and dental procedures, but happy that it was found now, while he is young. THANK YOU SO MUCH God bless all our friends who have been very supportive of us in this new phase of our lives. We told you last month it would be a challenge! The Lord has blessed us through the years to meet every obstacle life has thrown at us from knee surgery to this latest crisis that was so unexpected. ****************** We appreciate all those who send support on a regular basis, but also those who can give a one-time donation for special needs. Those who contribute funds for us in Africa are faithful to the Lord’s work. God bless all of you who help us continue the mission in Africa. We will keep you updated. Love you. – Jerry & Ann Hogg