Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Pettengills are moving to Africa

Yes, you read that right.  If you followed our journey on our trip to Africa, and the little country of Equitorial Guinea (EG), we went on an information exchange, but we also had another reason for the trip and that was as a vision trip. There is a ministry already there (not with Mission to the World), so we would be the first Mission to the World missionaries in EG.

Why are we leaving?  One thing that has been made abundantly clear in all of our assessments by our mission agency and by our team mates is our gifting of being entrepreneurs.  We arrived in Honduras 7 1/2 years ago by ourselves, with no one on the ground helping us or lead us - and in that time we have had a brick and mortar clinic built, a Christian High School, a ministry to Street Children, a single-mom's home, four churches planted, a seminary started, and currently a second permanent clinic is being built.  Whew!  That's a lot in a short amount of time.  We were responsible for hiring all the people on Team Honduras, and trained up our replacements - and now God is ready for us to move on, and leave the ministry in very capable hands. 

Equitorial Guinea is going to be TOUGH living.  Third world countries are given a ranking based on many things including access to medical care, life expectancy, access to potable water, government, etc.  EG is one of the lowest ranked third-world countries in terms of these types of things.  There is no potable water in the entire country (so we will be purifying our own water), internet is via individual modems, electricity is nominal at best (we will need to set up some sort of solar system), and medical access/care is below sub-standard (see statistics below).  Malaria is rampant (welcome to living life under a mosquito net), typhoid right behind it, witch craft, and an unstable government all will be part of our new life.

What will we be doing?  Mike is going to be teaching in an evangelical seminary that is currently overseen by WEC missionaries.  He will be developing church leaders, discipleship, and helping pastors in developing sound churches.  Witch craft is rampant in this tiny little country, and only 5% of the country is Evangelical, and has been over-run by legalism, the prosperity gospel and witch craft.  Mike definitely has his work cut out for him.  As for me...AIDS is the #1 cause of death in EG, and one of the highest in the world.  The only AIDS clinic is currently run by the government, which leaves very little time for education and follow-up.  I will be offering education and health/welfare check ups to people currently affected with AIDS, teaching AIDS classes in the seminary, churches, schools, and wherever I am able.  The language spoken is Spanish, so all my classes will be in Spanish, but we are also going to need to learn the tribal language of Fang.

I am currently getting my Masters Degree in Public Health, Population Medicine.  The current class I am enrolled in is epidemiology.  While studying for this class I found some very somber statistics.  I have included U.S. information and Honduras information to allow you to have a better understanding of what we are up against.

Infant mortality rate
U.S. – 5.87 / 1,000 live births
Honduras – 18.18 / 1,000 live births
Equitorial Guinea 69.17 / 1,000 live births

Life Expectancy at birth
U.S. - 79.68
Honduras – 71.0
Equitorial Guinea – 63.85

Healthy Life Expectancy
U.S. - 69.3
Honduras – 63.7
Equitorial Guinea – 47.4

Health Expenditures
U.S. – 17.1% of GDP
EG – 3.5%

In addition:
  • Top Causes of Death in The U.S.
  • 1.       Coronary heart disease
  • 2.       Alzheimers/dementia
  • 3.       Lung Cancer
  • 4.       Lung Disease
  • 5.       Stroke
  • 6.       Diabetes
  • 7.       Hypertension
  • 8.       Colon-rectal cancer
  • 9.       Kidney disease
  • 10.   Influenza/pneumonia
 U.S. death rate to AIDS 2.2/100,000 and of the reporting countries, ranks 107th (of 172) of deaths related to AIDS
  • Top causes of Death in Equitorial Guinea
  • 1.        HIV/AIDS
  • 2.       Influenza/pneumonia
  • 3.       Diarrhoeal disease (i.e. cholera, typhoid)
  • 4.       Malaria
  • 5.       Coronary heart disease
  • 6.       Stroke
  • 7.       Low birth rate
  • 8.       Other injuries
  • 9.       Birth trauma
  • 10.   Malnutrition
  • Equitorial Guinea death rate to aids is 202.13/100,000 and of the reporting countries, ranks the 13th highest in the world of deaths related to AIDS

The two things that stood out to me was the AIDS related deaths, and infant mortality.  I am hoping to at least put a small dent in both those numbers.

What is our time line?  We will stay in Honduras until mid-February.  In the remaining time here we will move out of our current roles to ensure a smooth transition.  In addition, we will sell off all our worldly possessions (again), relocate our sweet dogs (some dear friends of ours in Honduras will be taking them), and prepare our minds for the move.  February/March we will be visiting some of our supporting churches, support raise, spend time with our daughter, attend some leadership training with MTW, and prepare to make the huge transition to Central Africa at the end of March.

What do we ask of you? First and foremost pray!  Pray for the transition, and for the new groundbreaking ministries that God has for us in Equitorial Guinea.  If you would like to continue to support us you don't need to do ANYTHING. If you have not supported us in the past, and God is tugging your heart to start - then click HERE print and fill out the form and mail it in.

So that's it...this has NOT been quick in coming (although from the outside looking in it may seem that way), we have prayed long and hard about this, and MTW leadership has been aware of this for awhile and are 100% in support of this decision.  Please shoot me an e-mail, or a facebook note if you have questions.

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