It took 8 days of patience working with the unbelievable bureaucracy in the port and corrupt customs officials.
A lesson in patience and perseverance...
Let me digress and give a Readers Digest abridged account of our struggles to secure your generous gifts to these most needy people here in Africa. As you know this adventure started about a year ago with Janice "the diligent worker" Walker showing me her warehouse of medical supplies. The Reimers jumped on board and then others helped that we were not even aware of. What a pleasant surprise to find names like Lacy, Rackley, Schmidt and Lim as unsolicited generous donors. Bless you all!!
The container we were told would arrive in August. We did our homework as best as possible last May or June and thought we had things lined up. If you ever want a lesson in bureaucracy, come to Africa. The next contact suggested that the container should already be here. Multiple phone calls to the port were not returned. In desperation I sent one of my Surgery Residents and one of my OR staff by bus down to Douala. It turns out that the container was not there.
Next we heard that apparently the shipper stated that it was there at the end of August. This time the same two men accompanied by me confidently went there again to receive the container. The overnight bus trip was interesting. One of the Africans next to me kept trying to put his head on my shoulder to sleep, we finally got that settled. On arrival at the port it turns out that our ship had not come in. (The story of my life?)
We used the time to do paperwork the get through the customs procedure. We then again made the trip back to our home (this time I bought 2 seats on the bus). Our third trip was the charm. It took 8 days of patience working with the unbelievable bureaucracy in the port and corrupt customs officials.
Your prayers were heard and God graciously got us through the procedure. As a matter of principle we have not bribed one person for the three years that we have been here in Africa and did not start on this excursion either. God went before us and we were able to accomplish the task for $2,000. That is a lot more than we wanted, however when a container was sent 3 years ago, it cost $9,000.
We are thanking God for the container getting through customs and in an honorable fashion. Through the course of paper work I am now a clearing agent with the port authority. If this surgery stuff does not work out, I now have another vocation.
How can we express our sincere gratitude to you our friends and generous donors? Unfortunately we cannot, but God is able and we pray that he will do so.
Strength and Courage, Pokey and Laurel