Monday, October 19, 2015


We all live in our own space, our own community, in what we know.  When we first came to Honduras and looked at ALL the things that pulled at our heart strings, that spoke to the sinful nature of man, starving families, prostituted children, lean-to houses...the needs seemed insurmountable. fact....they are.

At times I write about a funny situation, a frustrating situation, or one that touches my heart.  But most of the time it seems inadequate.   The needs of the world are huge.  People groups slaughtered, babies dumped in trash cans...but the worlds needs are not mine to care for.  God called our family to this little part of Honduras and now on to the even greater needs of Equitorial Guinea, Africa - we barely scrape the surface of the overwhelming needs.  But, Christ did not touch every person He encountered.  He did not cure the ailments of every sick person in his midst.  What He did do was save the world....through Him....through His payment on the cross.

This is what I keep in mind when I try my hand at caring just a tiny bit for one of His.  If you go into what you are doing looking for accolades, or looking for the approval from man - you are going about it all in the wrong way.

Matthew 6:1-4
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

So why  do we write blog posts about stuff we do?  Many reasons.  One - YOU are part of our team.  You encourage us, pray for us, financially support us...and what you do in support of us, you do in support of what we are doing wherever we are.  Secondly - for God's glory.  How one small act,  one simple gesture, one small box of food can make a huge and lasting impact in His people by what we do.  We are all part of this huge body, the hand, the foot, the ear,  the eye - and we are called to be God's hands and feet on Earth.  To care for His people.  That is why we blog.  That you may be the hand and feet that God has called us to be - although you are not here physically, you are here because we are here.

And yet...I still can't help but feel inadequate.  It's just little ol' me thinking she can make a difference.  But the way I finally have come to see it is this - I am not here to save the world...God already did that...I am here to help that ONE person...that ONE child...and to be obedient to Him who sent me.  So that's what I do - broken, sinful, inadequate, obedient me... 

And truly what keeps me going day after stressful/horrible/difficult day, the words I long to hear when my race is done, "Well good and faithful servant."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leaving How I Started - With One Box

7 1/2 years ago the very first medical event I put on by myself was a pregnancy medical clinic.  I had taught childbirth classes for more than 20 years in the States, and felt that I was "equipped" to be able to do this.  I took blood pressures, checked blood sugar, measured bellies, handed out prenatal vitamins, and even sent a mom to the hospital to have her 13 1/2 pound baby.  We rode out to Armenia Bonito (where our ministry has been) in the bus 1 1/2 hours out (we didn't have a car), and 1 1/2 hours back.  That is how the humble beginnings of my ministry started.

Today - we have a permanent clinic hosted by an incredible Honduran physician, Dr. Roger, and an amazing nurse - Angy.  We have treated more than 4,000 patients a year, and host 2-3 medical brigades a year.

So I went out to the clinic a few days ago, and after having collected medication, equipment, supplies, etc. for over 10 years, I only left with three things - my stethoscope, my otoscope, and my childbirth education material - all in 1 small box.  Humble beginnings...humble leavings.

And this is how I start my new ministry in Africa - with my little box of medical personal effects.  I pray that God uses my growing education - as I obtain my Masters of Public Health, give classes on AIDS (the number #1 cause of death in Equitorial Guinea), and give classes in and help evaluate pregnant mommies as the death rate of children under 1 is one of the highest in the world.

I came humbly, and I leave humbly, to start anew.

My sweet friend Mindy put it this way:

"This picture seems just right. At the end of it all you will journey to new places with naught more than you started once before and begin again. Daunting? Yes. But with God-all things are possible. While it's a little box of supplies, it was your start to countless lives changed, thousands of vitamins given, hours of assessments, medication administration, glasses fitted, teeth cleaned, pulled and filled, diabetes and htn (hypertension) education, abx (antibiotic) dosing, maternal/newborn checks, counseling, inventory, the building of an actual, functioning, life giving CLINIC! IN THE JUNGLE!! You walked miles to check in on people weekly, sweat buckets under a tin roof during mobile clinic times, provided safety, hugged freely, loved deeply, and above all else introduced each one to the Great Physician who heals our deepest wounds and gives us eternal life. And all you had to start with was that little box of supplies. Seems like a pretty special box to me."

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.