We had our meal at 6 A.M., and then appeared on RTI 1 broadcasting station at 7 A.M. We observed medical treatment of Buruli ulcer which was nearly 500km away, Pastor then preached at a branch church, there was an ordination of elders, and then we returned back to Abidjan where pastor met with the President’s youth advisor. There was then a Bible seminar in the evening.
RTI 1 is a national broadcasting station that has many viewers. Pastor Park appeared for about 10 minutes during the morning prime-time. He explained the activities of IYF and Good News Medical Volunteers, and the main activities that have been planned after meeting with the mayor of Abidjan and Deputy Minister of Education, and then the choir performed a song. Although it was a short period of time, we were able to introduce ourselves well.
While waiting for the order of the program, we met a pastor who came to Abidjan from Benin. He was amazed as he heard about our meeting with the President of Benin and when we showed him the video that was broadcasted on ORTB. We were then able to introduce him to missionary Jung Do Lee in Côte d’Ivoire.
After appearing in a broadcasting show, we went to the airport. We had to rush to Bouaké village because we had long distance to travel and a busy schedule. The aerial view of Abidjan with its 6 million population was so beautiful and in harmony with its lake and the sea.
We arrived at Bouaké Airport an hour and 30 minutes later. From the airport, we drove to a university hospital, specialized in treating Buruli ulcer, located in Bouaké. The people, who were able to be hospitalized, meant that they were relatively rich. However, most Buruli ulcer patients were not receiving any particular treatment. It was such a pity to see how some cases became even worse because they used traditional medicine.
Being a university hospital did not mean they possessed special treatment methods. Although the wounds were dressed and medication was taken, there were hardly any effects. In severe cases, patients had to receive skin transplant and some even received extreme amputation. While observing the hospital, we could not help but feel a sense of pity inexpressible through words. Pastor Ock Soo Park prayed that each patient would be cured by the love of God, and said that he would pour his heart for their treatment. As we left the hospital, one native doctor and elder Hyo Jung Hwang shared their hopes and plans in establishing a hospital for Buruli ulcer treatment.
After leaving the university hospital, we headed to the village where the Good News Medical Volunteers were volunteering to treat Buruli ulcer. We drove on a dirt road for 40 minutes. Underneath a scorching sun and extreme humidity, the residents were so lively. Compared to other countries with similar conditions, they were so lively. Bicycles travelled between motorcycles and cars throughout the town, and despite being an unfavorable place to live, the residents were living in harmony with their natural surroundings.
Buruli ulcer is caused by aquatic organisms, and therefore is not a contagious disease. It is caused by being bit by an aquatic insect; the skin begins to rot and organs malfunction so that it causes one to die, or spreads to the legs and arms, which then calls for amputation. It truly is a gruesome disease.
It is one form of welcoming. The Good News Medical Volunteers have been volunteering here for the past 4 years. They have achieved some favorable results. We decided to visit in order to understand the reality of Buruli ulcer and to comfort the patients.
As we came to the village entrance, nearly 100 people came rushing to the car. They began singing a song and many people welcomed us. After going 500 meters, the welcoming event was prepared at a vast empty space in the village. The village elders and chief were waiting and Pastor Ock Soo Park greeted them cordially. One person came out and performed a ritual. It was to bless the foreigners by not experiencing any problems during their stay.
The village leader gave a welcoming message, and the villagers performed. Pastor Ock Soo Park expressed his gratitude for their warm welcome, and introduced the medical volunteers who were going to eradicate Buruli ulcer, and shared his hope that by God’s grace they would break free from the gruesome disease.
The villagers were so grateful for the Good News Medical Volunteers while treating achievements while treating Buruli ulcer for the past 4 years. They showed us several objects: a burnt rubber bucket, burnt generator, and a dented pot. They said these objects represented Buruli ulcer. They viewed Buruli ulcer as a cursed disease which ruined their lives and prevented them from doing anything.
After the welcoming event, Good News Medical Volunteers walked to their work site at a school. 150 people were waiting on site in order to receive treatment, and each patient was provided with dressing inside the classrooms. As he observed the medical activities, Pastor Ock Soo Park prayed for each patient and promised to pour his heart for them.
When we came outside, the village chief gave traditional clothing as a present. Pastor Ock Soo Park gave a football so that the children could enjoy playing football. There is no cure for Buruli ulcer yet. However, we discovered hope here. If God made us feel pity for patients, he would also give us the cure for this disease. The medical volunteers were able to volunteer joyfully even under poor conditions without showing any signs of frustration, because they too had this faith.
After the welcoming ceremony and visiting patients, it was already pass 1 P.M. We had brief lunch at our branch church and then headed to another branch church in Bouaké. Brothers and sisters gathered at the next branch church in Bouaké and waited for Pastor Ock Soo Park to arrive. Although they had much work to do, they made time to gather and listen to Pastor Ock Soo Park’s sermon.
Pastor Ock Soo Park preached for nearly 50 minutes. He spoke about Hyun Jung Choi, a volunteer to Tanzania whose heart was changed and reconciled with her mother, Sister Soo Hyun Choi who was healed from 50 types of cancer, and about the God who protects and watches over us. After service, two brothers were ordained and established as elders in the church.
As our flight time approached, we hurried to the airport from Bouaké church and then took the plane back to Abidjan. After a brief dinner, we went to meet the President’s youth advisor once again.
Pastor Ock Soo Park, a member of the President’s youth advisory committee, introduced IYF activities held in Côte d’Ivoire and shared the discussions he had with the Ministry of Education in Abidjan. In addition, he expressed to the committee that he wanted to provide mind education to the educators first. The committee member said that he was well aware of IYF’s various activities such as the world camp and that he would like to help in order to carry out even better activities.
We headed to the bible seminar venue after meeting with the President’s youth advisor. Many more people attended than the day before. Nearly 1,500 people listened to the choir’s performance and heard the word of God.
Today, we visited to many places and there were various things that happened. We could clearly feel that God was with us and leading us throughout every aspect of our schedule. While undergoing a busy schedule, Pastor Ock Soo Park delivered the heart of God to every person he met. He did not speak about the situation we see with our eyes, but preached about the hope given by God to government officials and to natives who were suffering from diseases. This is what made the entire schedule possible, and was the reason why we were able to smile and be happy amidst a tight schedule.