HOW TO FIX A BROKEN SOVIET? TravelJournal- 1996:Azerbaijan,Kazakhstan,UzbekistanBelarus

Author’s Note: At the beginning of this holiday season I want to share this multi-part episode of Project C.U.R.E.’s historic involvement in the early days of the collapsed Soviet Union. I will forever be grateful that we had the unique opportunity of helping to save thousands and thousands lives through significant medical intervention at a very critical period of history. A great big “Thank You” to all those who were involved with Project C.U.R.E. to make it happen.
Thursday June 13, 1996: Moscow, Russia: It still amazes me when I step back a few paces from my immersive involvement in Project C.U.R.E. and just look at what has happened in the past few years. In 1995 we were all astounded that in that year alone, Project C.U.R.E. had shipped out of its inventory medical supplies and equipment to eighteen different countries around the world. The wholesale value of the items shipped was in excess of ten million dollars. It really wasn’t that long ago when Anna Marie and I were sorting goods and packing them for shipping while standing in the cold shop at the end of our garage. I would take my trusty pickup truck and go to hospitals and local clinics and laugh and joke around with the supply managers, trying to successfully talk them out of their overstock.

Then I would get on the telephone and try to locate drug-company representatives and vendors and manufacturers of medical goods to plead my humanitarian case in an effort to persuade them to trust their excess supplies to me so that I could take them somewhere around the world and save some mom’s or dad’s or kid’s life. I would ask them if they really wouldn’t rather have me take those excess supplies off their hands and save lives with them than just have them thrown in a Dumpster where they would be buried in some landfill.

And now, many of those same people are calling our office on a regular basis and wanting to know when we will be by with a truck to pick up their donated supplies.

On Tuesday—June 11, 1996—I spoke at another Rotary International service club meeting and told them the story of Project C.U.R.E. I really had to admit to the audience that I was not smart enough make happen what has taken place over the past few years with Project C.U.R.E. It had been God directing things on this end and God working in the hearts and minds of the medical-supply donors on the other end of the equation that brought about an absolute miracle.

We at Project C.U.R.E. thought that 1995 was a high-water-mark miracle. But so far this year, we have already shipped to nineteen different countries around the world, and the year is not yet half over. This week the warehouse buildings are more full than they have ever been. Almost daily we have volunteers come in and help pick up donated supplies or work in the warehouse sorting and packing the medical goods. Now, different church groups and civic organizations have come alongside to help us.

I have never taken any kind of salary from Project C.U.R.E as long as it has been in existence. It has been a volunteer effort from a heart of praise and worship to God and an experiment of obedience to see what God can do with just a little if he has all there is of it.

I challenged the Rotary group to realize how special they are and accept the fact that they are very successful in the community, or else they would not have been accepted into that organization. But then I challenged them to move from success to “significance.” Even as successful as they are in their lives or careers, they need to now move into a position where they can dedicate their lives to something of greatness and significance. “Endeavor to do something so great,” I said, “that unless God intervenes, you will fail.”

Well, I am convinced that if for some reason Project C.U.R.E. has to cease its efforts, fold its tents, and move into oblivion today, that which has already been accomplished has been well worth the effort and, more important, has brought a smile to the face of God. Lots of his children are healthier today because of Project C.U.R.E. However, it doesn’t look, at this point, like we will be folding our tents very soon. There must be more work for us to do.

Thursday, June 13–Friday, June 14
This morning Anna Marie and I left Evergreen, Colorado, to climb onto another airplane to see if we can take a little help and hope to some other hurting people in some other faraway place—this time Central Asia.

Earlier this year we had shipped two cargo containers of donated medical goods to Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea. It is now time to do a follow-up study on the effectiveness of our shipments and to evaluate our efforts in Azerbaijan.

Anna Marie had already agreed with Colorado Christian University (CCU) to teach throughout the summer session, but I stepped in with some paternal authority and said, “No way! It’s time you take a break. I’m going to kidnap you and take you to some places in this world where you have never been.”

Not only are we scheduled to go to Azerbaijan, but our itinerary calls for us to travel to Aktau, Almaty, and Dzhambul in Kazakhstan; Tashkent and Andijon in Uzbekistan; and Minsk, Belarus.

We left Denver at 10:45 a.m. on a Delta flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Mary Gibson took us to the airport so that we will not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for airport parking for the twenty-three days we are gone. But what are Vern and Mary Gibson doing in Denver? They are supposed to be running the Project C.U.R.E. warehouse and office in Phoenix, Arizona.

Vern and Mary had come to Denver with Stan and Kay Schirm. Stan is vice president of Food for the Hungry International and works out of the Food for the Hungry office in Phoenix. Since Project C.U.R.E. and Food for the Hungry are now doing so many projects together, Stan wanted to come to Denver and observe our operation. He had invited Vern and Mary to come with Kay and him.

We all got together for dinner in Evergreen on Monday evening, and Vern and Mary stayed at our guesthouse. They had planned to return to Phoenix on Tuesday, but when the Gibsons saw the details we were trying to take care of before leaving for Central Asia today, they called their boys in Phoenix and told them that they were going to stay in Denver for several more days. 

I’m not sure Anna Marie and I would have been able to leave today if the Gibsons had not had compassion on us and stayed to help. Dr. Rich Sweeney, our director of operations in Denver, had gone to Los Angeles, California, to oversee the setup and opening of Project C.U.R.E.’s two new warehouse locations in Southern California. So Vern pitched in with the warehouse details in Denver that were about to overtake us. Mary pitched in at the office and helped my executive assistant, Ruth Bittle, who was about to max out taking care of all her regular duties as well as coordinating the details of our trip.

Our flight to New York went well, except for our not being able to get aisle seats. On long trips, if I am not able to stretch my long legs into the aisle, I’m in big trouble.

Anna Marie and I switched planes in New York but stayed on Delta to Moscow. But in Moscow the trip began to go awry. Before we left Denver, we had experienced great difficulty getting all the needed visa permits to the different Central Asian countries. Actually, we left Denver without visas into either Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan, and we had been informed by the authorities that if we had Russian visas, we could actually pass through Kazakhstan (since it was a part of the old Soviet Union) as long as we didn’t stay over three days. So we obtained our Russian visas and thought we were all set. But indeed, we were not all set. 

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We flew into the Moscow international airport and then had to transfer across town to the airport that handles flights into Asia and parts of the old Soviet Union. Our taxi driver wanted to charge us sixty-five dollars for the ride to the other airport. I diplomatically (well, maybe not so diplomatically) told him to take a long walk off a short dock. I finally paid him twenty-five dollars.

Once inside the airport, Anna Marie and I learned that our flight was being delayed for at least one hour. Ultimately, it was delayed for over five hours, but the most frustrating occurrence at the airport, besides the pushing and shoving crowds on other domestic flights, was the fact that the woman at passport control stamped my passport and then kept the Russian visa. I explained to her that she was not to keep the visa, because I needed it for two reasons: (1) I was going to be coming back through Moscow from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on my way to Frankfurt, Germany, and I was sure that they would require the visa for that; and (2) I would need the Russian visa in lieu of the Kazakhstan visa when traveling from Baku, Azerbaijan, to Aktau, Kazakhstan.

The agent and I went round and round with the encounter. She was in a booth and had my visa. She felt very certain that she was to keep my visa, and if I needed another visa in order to come back through Moscow on my way to Frankfurt, that was my problem. I could apply and pay for another Russian visa in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. She wouldn’t even waste her breath arguing about my needing a Russian visa to get into Kazakhstan. If you can believe it, I even went back to her booth later and tried again to plead my case … to no avail.

When Anna Marie and I finally arrived in Baku, Azerbaijan, a city of two and a half million, we were the last folk at the airport. It was still light outside, but it was well after 10:00 p.m. I was really ready to see Mr. Jay Randall, the head of the Caspian Project, with whom we had worked when sending our two cargo containers to Baku last year. But upon getting off the plane and checking through customs, we saw no one there at all to meet us. Since we were the last flight and the last remaining passengers of the night, lots of taxi drivers wanted to take us to the city, which was about twenty-five miles away. I told them, “Thanks,” but I was sure that my friend would be there soon to take us into the city.

However, no friend showed up. The airport cleared out, and it was getting real late. One taxi driver asked if he could help me phone my friend, who might have forgotten. I later found out that the phone number I had was for an office, and of course, the office was closed.

I asked the taxi driver if there were any phones at the airport where I could call for an international phone line. He even went to the manager of the airport, and they both said that the only international line was at an office in the city center, but by now it would be closed. I had determined that I could call Ruth in Denver and try to get some other local phone numbers. I knew that if we left the airport and Jay Randall came to pick us up, we would never find each other, because I had no helpful phone number.

Finally the taxi driver, who could speak a few sentences of English, remembered that there was an international phone at the Hyatt Regency hotel in town. The hotel was newly rebuilt, and they had installed such a line. My options were dwindling. There was a real possibility that Anna Marie and I would be staying in the dark airport all night. So I opted to have the taxi driver deliver us to the Hyatt. Even if they did not have a room for us, I could still phone the USA and try to get some valid phone numbers.

We arrived at the hotel, and the taxi driver actually came in to see if we would be all right. They happened to have a room available, so we took it and went to our room. Then I began trying to call the office. If we had not paid for a room, the hotel would not have allowed us to use the international line.

Saturday, June 15

After many attempts to get through to Ruth Bittle in Denver, I was finally able to reach her and ask her to send a fax to me including all the numbers she could dig up for Baku. Then Anna Marie and I went to bed. We had started out on Thursday morning, and now it was early Saturday morning, and we were still in our same clothes.

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At breakfast I determined that the best course of action for us was to try to secure some plane tickets in Baku and get to Aktau, Kazakhstan, as soon as possible. Our schedule called for us to leave Baku for Aktau on Tuesday June 18. But if what we were encountering was any indication of what we might expect for the next few days, our time would probably be better spent in Aktau.

None of our Central Asia flights could be booked or even verbally confirmed before we left Denver. The rule in Central Asia and Eastern Europe is that if you want to go somewhere, you go stand in line and see if that line helps you get there. If it doesn’t, you go stand in another line. Another problem is that the domestic airlines like Azerbaijan Airlines, Air Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan Airways don’t even know their own flight schedules. They might fly to a location once a week, or maybe, if things are going well and there are additional passengers, they will fly three times to that location a particular week.

Next Week: “Oh, no – you can’t get to Aktau from here.”


Economic concepts and economic systems matter. We are individually better off when we slow down and begin to recognize the subtle signals of the economic structure and learn what they are telling us. A signal from the pricing system reveals to us dependable information that will help us make better decisions. Signals tell the producers what the consumer thinks something is worth. Signals tell me where to go to get the best deal. There is always a healthy friction of discontent between the producer who thinks he is receiving too little for the gallon of milk he produced and the mom who just knows the price is too high. That’s good.

While traveling around the world, I am intrigued as I observe various economic signals. I have seen with my own eyes that if you raise the cost of doing something, people will do less of it. There is no behavior that is not affected by cost. Higher income, for example, becomes one of the greatest controllers of the birth rate. When people become richer they have fewer babies (one of the cardinal factors of the occurrence of genocide in Rwanda—the Hutus were outbirthing the wealthier Tutsis nine to one).


But there is another set of signals that I have been trying to process lately. There seems to be a direct and positive correlation between cost and value. Something that comes to you without cost will more than likely be regarded as having little or no value to you. You assign a higher value to something if it has cost you something. Studies have shown that a college student who has earned the money for his or her tuition will do better than the student who is on a free ride. A bike that is earned is treated better than a freebie.

An interesting thing happened to me in the early days of Project C.U.R.E. People who were preparing to travel to a foreign country and desired to take some donated medical goods with them to present to a foreign hospital or clinic or medical group needing clinical supplies for their mission would come to our warehouse and ask us to furnish them with the goods. We began to assemble boxes of about $1,500 worth of donated medical goods and just let them walk out the door with our blessing. Later, however, I discovered that should those well-intentioned people run into difficulties getting those boxes on the airplane as luggage, or should they encounter aggressive border or customs people upon entrance into the country, they would simply turn their backs and walk away from the donated goods, saying, “Oh, well, they were free to us, and when we need more we can go back to Dr. Jackson, and Project C.U.R.E. will always give us more.”

When I learned what was happening, I started charging a fee of $100 for the $1,500 worth of donated goods. That simple personal investment changed everything. From that date forward, we never lost a box. And now, even when we donate a huge ocean-going cargo container of medical goods valued at close to half a million dollars, we require the recipient country or sponsoring group to pay the cost of shipping and handling of the container as their buy-in requirement. That guarantees that the recipients will be at the customs building to protect their investment and see to it that the container is received by the hospital or clinic.

In my mental processing of this positive correlation between cost and value, I have come to this conclusion: as a rule of thumb, you can determine the true value to you of something by deciding how much of your personal life you would be willing to exchange for that object or service—because there is no behavior that is not affected by cost.


I always chortle a bit at the homespun wisdom of this saying: “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese!”

In our culture we have been fed the breakfast of champions and coached in the necessity of being first in line. It’s really important to always be first in line—or is it?

Recently I was in the quaint Balkan country of Bulgaria. I loved it enough that I wanted to go back at the first opportunity. I had agreed to travel from Colorado to Sofia, Bulgaria, to work with Carl Hammerdorfer, the country’s Peace Corps director. With the Peace Corps and Project C.U.R.E. working together as a team, we were able to accomplish some very ambitious projects of rebuilding and refurnishing some strategic medical facilities in Bulgaria.

The curious history of Bulgaria dates back to the fifth and sixth centuries BC. Genghis Khan had traipsed through the region with his bloody band and left his influence everywhere. The severity of the subsequent Roman occupation altered the social fabric as well as the landscape. The remains of Roman walls, forts, ports, and coliseums are abundant. The Ottoman Turks later raped the women, pillaged the economy, and defaced the real estate, as did the Communists more recently. While visiting the thriving cities of Plovdiv, Sofia, and Bourgas, I pledged that I would one day return on my own time and purchase some antiques.

One Tuesday was spent assessing a medical facility in the area of Starosel. Near the site was an ancient ruin that had recently been unearthed. It dated back to the sixth century B.C., and consisted of some cult temples and wine-making operations of the Thracian sect. The Bulgarian landscape in that district was punctuated with earthen mounds that the farmers had plowed around for many centuries.

Their curiosity had recently driven them to dig up some of the mounds and explore the contents. Consequently they discovered evidence of rumored traditions from past centuries.

Tradition held that the Turks had multiple wives. But when a husband was killed, or died of natural causes, his favorite wife would be buried with him. Since it was a great honor for a wife to be buried with her husband and thereby seal her place of honor and importance in history, disputes would often break out among the surviving wives as to who was the favorite and who would be first in line to be buried with the husband.

So, to settle disputes in a terminal way, the two top contenders would be bound together by leather straps at one ankle and one wrist. There was no way to get away from each other. Then they would each be given a dagger and be allowed to settle the dispute by death. The one successful survivor would then be killed as well and placed in the tomb with the husband in perpetuity as the most honored wife. 

Many of the earthen mounds have been excavated now, and scientists indeed have found such fatal wounds as knife punctures to the skull in the wives’ skeletons.


When I heard of this morbid tradition, I thought to myself, There surely must have been a diplomatic way for a wife to defer all that posterity and glory to the other jealous contender by simply acknowledging that she was definitely not the most favored, and even share some anecdotal stories of how she had messed up along the way and not fully satisfied the husband at some point!

Demanding to always be first in line seems to me to be pretty costly and may deserve the consideration of at least another thirty-minute rethink. Sometimes it just might be more prudent to be the second mouse and keep the cheese.


One of the most satisfying episodes in my life was when the US Department of State awarded my efforts with one of their highest humanitarian recognitions: the Florence Nightingale Award.

In the fall of 2002, congressman Cass Ballenger in Washington, D.C., and ambassador Martin Silverstein from Uruguay called me and asked, “How fast can you get away and travel to Uruguay to do your Needs Assessment Study and get some donated medical goods to that country before its economic crisis deepens into a political crisis that would be hard to reverse?” The congressman served on the International Relations Committee, where he was chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere.

I agreed to drop what I was doing and immediately travel to Montevideo, Uruguay. Thanks to the help of the embassy staff and the office of the congressman, the project turned out very successfully, and for that I was given the coveted award. But the thrill of the ordeal was greatly enhanced by the fact that from my childhood I had been a great admirer of Florence Nightingale. When she was a little girl, she wanted to be a nurse, but her family thought it to be less than dignified, considering the deplorable practices and facilities where nurses had to work at that time. But during the Crimean War in 1854, soldiers from England were sent to the front to fight. Many were wounded and had no access to hospital care.

Florence Nightingale offered to go to the front. She was given the opportunity to gather up some nurses and travel to a battlefield hospital near Constantinople in Turkey. There she discovered a most dreadful scene, where nearly 2,500 British combat men lay helpless and unattended in the very worst of surroundings. The unsanitary conditions were deplorable, with open sewers and filthy clothing and blankets. There were no medical procedures or provisions available to the men, and many were dying, not from their original wounds, but from rampant disease and infection spawned from the filthy conditions.

The calm but forceful nurse used her leadership skills not only to attack the problems of the immediate situation but to change the British health-care system altogether. The new female recruits organized themselves into a cleaning brigade. They cleaned out the rats’ nests, washed down the facilities, and scrubbed down the patients, even to their fleainfested scalps. Nothing escaped the cleanliness of the new brush brigade. Immediately there was a dramatic drop in the death rate in the field hospitals. The wounded soldiers began to respond well to the medical treatment. The morale jumped by leaps and bounds. The nurses’ approach had consisted of hard work and cleanliness. Even when there was no money available from the British government, Florence Nightingale went personally to donors and raised money for medical supplies and bedclothes.


Some believed that she was able to reduce the mortality rate of the wounded soldiers by as much as seventy-five percent.

All of Britain declared her a heroine upon her return to London. But Florence Nightingale’s own health was in shambles. Following the war she was pretty much homebound for the remainder of her life. Yet she never gave up the successful fight to radically reform Great Britain’s health-care delivery system. From her bed she continued to put the pressure on health officials and parliament to implement reform. As one person she was able to leverage her position and influence. She became an agent of change for the entire philosophy and protocol of the British health-care system.

But the part of Florence Nightingale’s story that so intrigued me, and made the State Department’s award so special to me, was the nurse’s own quote when questioned about her accomplishments:

           If I could give you information of my life, it would be to show how a woman of very ordinary ability has been led of God in strange and unaccustomed paths to do in His service what He has done in her. And if I could tell you all, you would see how God has done all and I nothing. I have worked hard, very hard, that is all; and I have never refused God anything.


As a culture, we have opted to believe that the wealth of an individual can be measured by how much stuff he or she has accumulated and can put on display. Accumulation of icon items surely proves beyond a doubt that we have prevailed in the race to riches and are obnoxiously successful, doesn’t it? If we possess stuff we are considered wealthy; therefore, we are to be considered valuable people in society.

As an economist, I want to soothe your soul and give some consolation. That prevailing presumption always has been and always will be this world’s belief. Little consideration has been given throughout history to the simple fact that the idea is an unfounded lie. Portugal and Spain raced to the New World in the sixteenth century, stole enormous amounts of gold, and took it back home. About the only thing they accomplished was to force the prices in their respective countries up by 200 percent while believing the false notion that having more money in their society would make them wealthy.

In 1917, the Bolsheviks in Russia believed that if they could just get their hands on the golden egg held by the czars, they could divvy up the riches amongst themselves and live happily ever after. When they ran out of the czars’ assets, they had to expand into Central Asia and rape and pillage the people there. They had bought into an untrue myth. It doesn’t really make any difference how big a pile of stuff you accumulate or how much diversity is included in the pile, wealth is not stuff. You consume stuff. It deteriorates, depreciates, and ultimately disappears. And everyone else, especially the government, wants to take it away from you because they too believe the pile is wealth.

So, what is wealth? Wealth is production. Wealth is the opportunity to participate in enterprise. Wealth is the phenomenon that converts resources into sustainable enterprise and additional production. Cultures that allow and encourage enterprise are wealthy. Cultures that do not allow and encourage enterprise are poor! The result of successful enterprise and production is stuff, not the other way around. Cultures that do not understand the difference and greedily go after the pile of stuff and the golden egg, end up in revolution or bankruptcy, killing enterprise and production in the process.

History is disgustingly full of examples of consequences where cultures mistakenly went after the acquisition of the golden egg at the expense of enterprise and production. With my own eyes I watched the tragedy of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe unfold as I traveled there over a thirty-year period. One of my first economic consulting assignments was to Robert Mugabe’s “new Zimbabwe.” Under enterprise and production, Rhodesia had become the breadbasket of Africa. Beautiful, well-run farms with concrete irrigation ditches, modern equipment, and up-to-date technology produced abundant crops to feed the entire country with tons left over for export.

It was simply too fine an egg to go unstolen. The tragic misunderstanding was that if there were some way to grab the pile of stuff, the wealth would be miraculously transferred to the politicians in charge of the transfer. Not so. There was total disregard for the economics of enterprise and production. In subsequent years when I returned to Zimbabwe, my heart would ache while driving the roads outside Harare, Chitungwiza, and Bulawayo. The houses had been stripped of valuable items. In the fields were broken pieces of farm equipment, and the silos stood empty of crops. Farm prices were manipulated by government, and people were going hungry.


A decree went out to the last of the hold-out farmers that they were to surrender their farms to the “people” of Zimbabwe and leave the country by August 8, 2002. I arrived in Harare on Wednesday, August 7. I could not have visited Zimbabwe at a more potentially explosive time. One of my acquaintances from a previous trip had refused to leave his farm. An ambush had been set for him. He was tied to a tree, beaten, and shot fourteen times. The murderous villagers then left the dead farmer in the road, where his dog faithfully laid by his side for three days until some of the other farmers found him.

Another farmer, whom I had met at a church in Harare on an earlier trip, was visited in person by a high-ranking official in the government. He had been told, “I know you love this farm. It has been in your family for three generations, so let’s solve this problem in the easiest way: (1) You deed all your farm, livestock, and equipment to me personally, and I will keep it out of the hands of the hostile masses; (2) then you stay on and run the farm for me, as you now are, and you will not get hurt. That’s a wonderful solution for everyone.”

On August 9 the media reported that there were approximately two thousand farmers still on their farms. By midnight another six hundred had left. Because greed had trumped sane economics, the robbers presumed that the farms would simply run themselves, and the pile of stuff would always be there. In their rush to grab the golden egg, they had sadly stepped on the neck of the goose that had been laying the golden eggs. They only saw the golden eggs and wanted the pile of stuff for themselves. But the stuff vanished. They had killed the phenomenon of enterprise, and as production stopped, wealth disappeared. The food to feed Zimbabwe had come off those farms, and the people who were once employed by enterprise were jobless.

There’s a very high price to pay when the greed of a culture violates basic economic principles. But there is one economic principle about which we need not get confused: Wealth is not stuff    


Parker Brothers made millions of dollars marketing the table game Monopoly. It takes two to three hours to play a round of the game. Its history can be traced back to 1904, when it was developed as a teaching tool to explain the single tax theory.

Poker is a game where betting begins with some form of forced bet by one of the players. Each player is betting that the hand he has will be the highest ranked. Each of the other players must either match the maximum previous bet or fold.

Both games include one striking similarity: one player ends up with more only as another player ends up with less. They are zero-sum games. The only way one can gain is at the expense of someone else. It is like an apple pie: if one person eats more, another person gets less. Over the years many well-intentioned folks have swallowed this analogy as an axiomatic factor of life. If you have something, it is because someone else does not. You took it away from someone else, or you wouldn’t have more. It becomes very easy to deduce that the reason we have an abundance of poor people in the world is because we have a few other people who have grabbed a huge portion of the pie and left everyone else without. Before careful examination of the issue, I used to swallow that reasoning hook, line, and sinker.

One day I was doing some research for a paper I was writing. The material I was reading raised the fact that the three richest men in the world control more wealth than all six hundred million people living in the world’s poorest countries. I was tempted to embrace the seemingly obvious point that the reason there are six hundred million impoverished people in the poorest countries is because the three men had snagged all the money before it got to the six hundred million. At that point I had to ask myself the realistic question, “How much additional money would those six hundred million persons have in their pockets today had Bill Gates and his two other buddies not earned all that money?” I was forced to answer, “Probably not one additional penny,” because wealth is a different myth. It is not a clump of something; it is not a zero-sum game. The gains of the winners are not simply products of theft. People can grow wealth if they are allowed to do so. People can create successful enterprise and thus create wealth and enrich all who are associated with the undertaking. Production is the wealth. At the end of my research, I was faced with a different question: “Just why have the six hundred million people in the poorest countries not been able to produce more than they have?”

I have walked this world’s slums and have become acquainted with the locations of abject poverty. I wasn’t on a luxury tour bus—poverty was the location of my work for twenty-five years. I have been driven by the belief  that something positive can be done to reverse poverty. Strong economies cannot be built on sick people. So, for more than twenty-five years, Project C.U.R.E. has been dedicated to taking health and hope to over 125 developing countries of the world.

A most delightful and encouraging phenomenon crossed my pathway while trying to deal with ingrained poverty. The United Nations declared 2005 the International Year of Microcredit. And in 2006 the Nobel Peace Prize went to Muhammad Yunus for his work providing microcredit to the poor.

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The idea germinated in Bangladesh in 1976 with the Grameen Bank delivering small loans at low interest rates to rural poor. The program became a popular tool for economic development throughout the developing world and sparked a revolution in micro-entrepreneurship. The newly created enterprises generated employment, and the efforts began to create and grow real wealth. Today 75 percent of all microcredit recipients worldwide are women who are now given a chance to establish a sustainable means of income. Growing the enterprises increases disposable income. That leads to more economic growth and development.

The new business owners of the microenterprises don’t have more because someone else in the village has less. Others in the village, in fact, also end up with more. Everyone starts to become better off. What a glorious experience it is to see the power of debilitating poverty being reversed, and people who have been held down by governments and tradition being given an opportunity to become part of the solution rather than the problem.

Using zero-sum thinking is acceptable at the Parker Brothers’ Monopoly board or the challenging poker table, but please, don’t succumb to the temptation of applying zero-sum thinking to the economics of real life.

INDIA JOURNAL 2004 (Part 6)

Tuesday June 22, 2004: Madras, India and Osaka, Japan: A lot of the mornings on the India trip included getting up at 4:30 a.m. or earlier, including the one at home when I was headed to the airport and had to leave our guests from Port Harcourt, Nigeria, at our guest house.
 Tuesday was another one of those mornings.  We had to be out of Miraj and all the way to Kolhapur in order to catch the return leg of the Deccan Airways flight back to Bombay. Dr. Bidari was up and saw me off before he trudged over to the hospital to start his long list of surgeries for Tuesday.

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Once in Bombay I had a substantial layover before I proceeded on to Madras on Indian Airways.  Likewise, I had another layover in Madras before catching the Thai Airlines flight #TG774 at 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday, June 23.  That segment took me back to Osaka, Japan, and then another leg carried me into Los Angeles.  Eventually I made it back to Denver International Airport and home.
We were now cutting a pretty wide swath through India.  We were joining with some good global partners like the Nazarenes, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, International Rotary, the state department and even Congress. 

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God was seeing to it that His plan for helping needy and sick people all over the world was taking form through a simple little organization called Project C.U.R.E.  He had arranged for Project C.U.R.E. to become presently the largest supplier of donated medical goods around the world.  That was pretty awesome and exciting.
I have to admit something here as I call a halt to the India journal entry.  I really missed Mom Jackson and her prayers for Project C.U.R.E. and for my personal safety.  She was such an enthusiastic fan of what was happening.  Every morning of her life I knew that she was up early praying for me and for the work of Project C.U.R.E., and sometimes even in the middle of the night when I was off in some crazy unsafe place,
She had been gone now since October and several times on this trip I caught myself wanting to hurry home, sit down on the sofa with her while I sipped some tea, and tell her all about the exciting things we were getting to do now in over 100 countries around the world.
I knew the look she would have in her eyes and the rapid-fire questions she would have asked about the people and the places.  Then she would share with me the answers to some of the prayers that had taken place since I had been gone.
I had mentioned recently to Anna Marie how much I was missing Mom lately and especially her prayers, and Anna Marie simply shot back, “Well, I wouldn’t worry a lot about that, she’s closer to the ear of God now than she ever was in her life here.”  I liked that.
I’m a happy man, thankful that God entrusted to us these years with this funny organization called Project C.U.R.E.

INDIA JOURANL 2004 (Pt. 5)

Monday June 21, 2004: Kolhapur and Miraj, India: I was happy that I had not jumped to a false conclusion about Dr. Bidari over the airline tickets to Miraj and simply headed home after finishing my work at Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Washim, India.  That would have been a mistake.
Upon arriving at the Wanless compound I was ushered to another missionary guest house called the “Fletcher Hall.”  I had previously met Dr. Fletcher, for whom the building was named, on one of my trips to Houston to hold meetings with the board of directors of MBF.

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I dropped my luggage off at room #4 and smiled broadly when I realized it had an air-conditioning unit in a back window.
Dr. Ebenezer R. Bidari, M.D., MS, surgeon, FACS, FCAMS, etc. had spent his entire 35-year career at the Wanless Hospital.  He had grown up through the ranks of the outstanding hospital and college of nursing, practicing his surgery there and teaching too.  They could not have chosen a finer director to run the hospital than Dr. Bidari.  I learned to respect him from the moment I met up with him at the dining room of Fletcher Hall ten minutes after I arrived in Miraj.
As soon as I had finished lunch, Dr. Bidari escorted me to the administration building where he had assembled his medical administrative team for our introduction meeting.  Our needs assessment study began just that fast.  By six o’clock we had not finished the study, but we were finished with the day.
I had a dorm room to myself and took my meals at the Fletcher Hall dining area.  The small beds were equipped with mosquito nets so, along with that and the AC, it was very comfortable.
The rainy season had not only started back in Washim but had started also in Miraj.  Oh, how it rained!  Washim area had been semi-arid, rolling countryside.  Miraj was more tropical with some mountains nearby.  The fresh rain had turned Miraj into a spot of Indian beauty.

Sunday, June 20
Dr. Bidari lived in a stone house just across the small road from Fletcher Hall within the compound.  On Saturday evening he had invited me to attend the Presbyterian church service with his family on Sunday morning, after which we would go to their home and share lunch.
The original stone Presbyterian church was still being used after almost 100 years of continued service.  I couldn’t help thinking, as I sat in the old grand building and listened to the minister preach a sermon on stewardship, just how many lives had found their way across the oceans and across India to help and influence the Christian work there in Miraj over the past 110 years.  So many, many lives had contributed to God’s work there over the years that only eternity would reveal the good that had been made possible there.
I needed Sunday in Miraj.  During the afternoon and early evening I was able to read and write some and catch up on my paperwork and reports. By 7:30 p.m., we went to the chapel on the hospital campus where we attended evening worship services conducted by the students and chaplain of the nursing college.

Monday, June 20
The previous 13 years of dry climate and especially the past four years of drought had really brought hardship to that part of India.  They had borrowed money to plant their crops and had gone deeply into debt to purchase food to keep their livestock alive.  In the years 2002 and 2003, the banks had to simply quit loaning money to the deeply indebted farmers.  So the farm families were, of necessity, forced to sell or kill off their holdings.  It had been an extremely tough time for the entire region.
But now, the rains had come.  I could lie in my bed and listen to the thunder roll across the thirsty plains bringing with it the life-giving moisture they all needed there.  The people I met were even optimistic and the common topic of conversation was about how good it was to smell and feel the rain again.
But, of course, the rain brought the mosquitoes.  I was glad that I had started on my malaria medicine before I left home.  The once-a-week prophylactic was well into my blood stream and liver by the time I encountered the pesky pinheads.  You can bet I still used my mosquito netting over my bed each night, however.

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I attended the early morning chapel service on the compound Monday morning and drank in the words of a wise old Indian speaker who brought the devotions.  His talk centered on John 21:15-19, “Peter, do you love me?”  It vividly brought back to me the memory of my own encounter 30 years ago when God rode in the front seat of that big, dark-blue Mercedes 600 limousine that I was driving and starkly confronted me with the “do you love me?” sequence.  Oh, what wonderful years I had enjoyed since that March 12th night in the snow-covered hills of Colorado!  It was worth the trip to India just to be energetically reminded of that life-altering experience.
The program that Dr. Bidari had laid out for me for Monday was to finish my assessment at the hospital and college of nursing, then together we would ride to several of the outlying clinics to observe the work that the staff, nurses and students were doing for the communities served by Wanless.

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The first outpost was located in the village of Bedag.  The structural facility was very adequate but the pieces of equipment and supplies were pretty “slim pickin’.”  We talked about taking some of the present assets from the Miraj Hospital out to the clinics once they were replaced by items sent from Project C.U.R.E.

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In the afternoon we drove back to Kolhapur, then beyond to a city called Nipani, where the Presbyterians had operated the Lafayette Hospital under the umbrella of Wanless Hospital.  It was a 45-bed facility under the directorship of another able surgeon, Dr. Sunil Sase.  He was prepared for me.  He did a wonderful job of presenting his projects and his lists of much-needed things for Project C.U.R.E.
He was bright, articulate and had great plans for his hospital.  His father had been the director there before him and was dedicated to seeing the institution continue in its successes.
All along the roadway between Kolhapur and Miraj there were groups of people walking and clanging cymbals and playing sitars and carrying orange banners of silk.  Most of them were dressed in white.  I inquired as to who they were.  Dr. Bidari explained to me that they were pilgrims who, having admitted they were sinners, were making treks to the temples to pay physical and financial sacrifices to be cleansed of their sins.  They would take three or four weeks out of their lives and travel about 15 to 20 miles a day across the country, sleeping out in the fields or in some sympathizer’s farmyard until they reached their destination.
They also punished themselves along the way to enhance their likelihood of being cleansed of sin once they attended the temple.  Some were walking on sharp stones and carrying their shoes.  Others were fasting, taking in no food along the way.  One man impressed me especially.  He would stand, then fall the length of his body.  The length of his body determined where he would stand up next to proceed with his next fall.  He would cover about a five- or six-foot distance with each fall.  That was the way he traveled, five or six feet at a flop.
I studied the folks as best I could as we approached and passed them.  They were mostly middle-aged men and women.  The men always led the group, which counted from about a dozen to 30.  The women walked lock-step at the rear.  I could see that it was a very solemn occasion for each.  The sincerity and determination etched in their faces convinced me of their seriousness.
Dr. Bidari told me that the system was quite a temporary thing in that as soon as they completed the ritual they would head right back into whatever indulgence it was from which they were trying to be cleansed.  So, the next year they would have to take off another three to six weeks from their regular duties and proceed on another walkathon for cleansing.
As we bumped along beside one group, the words and melody line from a church song we used to sing when I was a kid flashed onto the monitor of my mind:
            Lord Jesus I long to be perfectly whole
            I want you forever to live in my soul
            Break down every idol, cast out every foe
            Now wash me and I will be whiter than snow
            Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow
            Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
For evangelical Christians and strong denominations to have been in India for as long as they had, we sure hadn’t gotten the simple message of Christ’s plan of salvation, sacrifice, and forgiveness across to the hurting population of India.  Less than 5% of all the population of India claimed to be Christian. 
We didn’t get back from our road trip to Nipani until well after 9 p.m. Monday night.  The chef at the Fletcher Hall had dinner waiting for me.
Next Week: I miss my Mom

INDIA JOURNAL - 2004 (Part 4)

Friday June 18, 2004: Bombay, India: I had been dealing with the disease in the places I traveled over the past couple years.  In many countries, 50 to 65 percent of the population had contracted HIV/AIDS, and they were expected to die within a period of no longer than five years.  I had been visiting hospitals in Malawi, Zambia, Congo, etc., where every patient occupying a bed had HIV/AIDS.

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They were there dying of tuberculosis, malaria, intestinal disease or acute infection, but the cause for their never getting well was because they were infected with the AIDS virus.  They would never leave that hospital alive.
Dr. Douglas Jackson and I had visited Rwanda together in December 2003.

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There, we had talked to different groups of health care workers who had been contracted to deliver the antiretroviral “cocktail of medicines” to AIDS victims.  The workers confirmed the high percentages of the population who were infected, but they told us that they were greatly worried because the sick people were doing nothing about changing their lifestyles or sexual habits.  In simple English, that meant that even if the AIDS victims really took the medicines that were given to them and did not go out and sell them to someone who did not want to admit they had the virus, and even if those immune-enhancing meds might keep them alive for another five years longer, they still figured that they were now under no obligation to change their habits.  Instead they could continue in their promiscuity, and what you accomplished with the medication was keeping them alive and sexually active so they could go and infect another 25 people in their next five years of bonus time.
There was no cure for AIDS.  People were viewing the meds as an inoculation and remedy, which they simply were not.  We discussed that the touting of the availability of the antiretroviral medications could actually increase the spread of the disease.
My fears regarding the AIDS epidemic were confirmed by an International Herald Tribune article that I read while in India.  The reporter emphasized:  “A group spearheaded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is warning that the push to expand access to AIDS treatment could actually fuel growth of HIV infections if treatment isn’t paired with efforts to prevent the spread of new infections.”
The article continued:  “Access to lifesaving drugs could lead to resumption of risky sex in poor countries just as it has in rich countries of the world” and there was being recognized now “the potential for a huge backfire.”
India was one of the countries that continued to greatly bother the global health watchdogs.  It appeared that India, like Africa and China, was heading for an unprecedented epidemic because the high occurrence of newly infected victims in areas of port cities, along major cargo transportation routes, as well as bus and train lines, had been ignored or hidden in earlier months and years.  But the growth was taking place in those areas in exponential numbers.
The Reynolds Memorial Hospital in Washim was at least ahead of the curve with their testing facilities and blood bank.
We said our “goodbyes” at the Washim Hospital and compound and loaded into a van about 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  Dr. Noah cleared his surgery calendar and insisted that he accompany me all the way back to Bombay.
Our vehicle bounced along the Indian countryside for about four hours on our way back to the airport at Arangabad.  Because of the rains, the farmers were out enthusiastically working their fields.  Just during the time I had been in Washim, there was a definite “turning of green” in the countryside.
Only occasionally would I ever spot a motorized tractor in the fields.  All the plowing and planting and tilling were being accomplished by oxen pulling crude equipment through the fields.  The farmer driving the team of two oxen would adjust the depth of the plow into the ground by riding the wooden plow and tilting the wooden tongs forward or backward as the plow went through the dirt.  The more vertical the tongs, the deeper the cut made in the soil.
The soil in that region of India was dark and rich and looked as if it would grow anything planted in it.  I was amazed at how high a percentage of the land was under cultivation.  Maybe they weren’t quite as efficient at using every square inch as the Vietnamese rice growers would have been, but I think the farmers were every bit as dedicated to the soil.
I guessed that in India’s situation with a billion human mouths to feed, plus all the holy animals, they had better be pretty efficient with the terra firma allocated to them.
As I traveled throughout the 135 countries listed in my passports, I enjoyed observing the people.  Not just their customs, but also their character.  There was a certain dignity and nobility reflected in the Indian people. 

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They might live in a rural hut or a squalid urban ghetto, but they care about being clean and the women are always dressed in proper and colorful clothing.  Even as they walked along the country roadsides you could look deeply into their Jacobean brown eyes and sense dignity and confidence.
We pulled into the parking lot of the small airport at Arangabad with a comfortable amount of time to check in and board our Jet Airways flight to Bombay.  I was still trying to adjust to the fact that Dr. Noah was traveling with me all the way back to Bombay and would stay overnight at the Avion Hotel so that he could properly take care of me and officially see me off on the airplane Saturday morning.  His deep concern about details and his capacity to care let me know what kind of a surgeon he was without ever putting on scrubs and watching him perform a procedure in his operating theater.  It also let me know that Project C.U.R.E. had found a conscientious partner with impeccable integrity.  He would take what we donated to him and multiply it 100-fold.
Our plane rattled down the runway and lifted off about 7:55 p.m.  We arrived in Bombay about 10 p.m.  I already knew the Avion Hotel would have a warm, clean shower and some clean sheets on the bed.  What the personnel did not have were my tickets from Dr. Bidari for my next morning flight to Miraj, but his promise to “have everything well under control” had been given seriously,  and later that night a man arrived at the Avion Hotel in the middle of another downpour of rain.  He not only brought the tickets but also had an auto there from the Miraj Hospital to drive me back to the Wanless Hospital in the event that for some reason the morning flight would not fly.  Dr. Bidari was really making up for any lost time.  There was no way he was going to let me leave India and go home without seeing his hospital.  It would be a 10- or 11-hour drive in that auto if my flight did not go the next morning to Kolhapur, India.

Saturday, June 19
I was up and already at the airport by 6 a.m. Saturday morning.  Deccan Airways was a new carrier to me.  They had been organized to fly within India just the past year.  Their fleet of planes consisted of some old Folker craft with two propellers and the body hanging under a big wing.
I watched them weigh my two pieces of luggage and grin as they soaked me for excess baggage.  I protested, “Just let me carry my one piece of hand luggage onto the airplane, and I won’t be over your arbitrary limit for checked luggage.”  No way, the upstart fliers needed every chunk of revenue they could muster, so I had to go get some US dollars changed into rupees to pay them the excess fee.
The Deccan Airways group made up for that inconvenience by not serving any breakfast and trying to charge for even a cup of tea on the plane.  You can know that I was happy that I didn’t have to fly with them further than to Kolhapur, India.
When we landed at Kolhapur, I did give thanks that I did not have to bounce around like a marble in a tin can for the 11-hour ride I would have endured if not for the puddle-jumper airline that Saturday morning.
At Kolhapur I realized that the airport had only been open for the past year, so if I had traveled last year to Miraj it surely would have been by auto.
Another of Dr. Bidari’s assistants was waiting to pick me up and whisk me off to a local restaurant for breakfast before we started on our two-hour trip from Kolhapur to Miraj.
Some 110 years before, Presbyterian missionaries from jolly England had traveled to Miraj and Dr. Sir William Wanless and his wife Mary, who were actually from Canada, decided to concentrate their efforts on building a medical dispensary, then later a hospital.  They had arrived in 1891; the original cut-stone hospital was constructed in 1894.

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Over the years to come, the Wanless Hospital in Miraj had grown into a large hospital containing 500 beds and offering all specialties, including open heart surgeries.  It also housed a nursing college, training nearly 200 new professionals annually in a very impressive program.
Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF) had been the Presbyterian church’s medical arm with whom Project C.U.R.E. had been working in Africa (Cameroon, Congo, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) for about six years.  Project C.U.R.E. had partnered with the group to set up our warehouse and volunteer center in Houston, Texas.  Now, they had requested that we go to India and begin helping the Wanless Hospital in Miraj.
Next Week: Dr. Bidari and the Wanless Hospital 

INDIA JOURNAL - 2004 (Part 3)

Wednesday June 16, 2004: Washim, India: It was into the shower at 4 a.m. and back to the airport where Dr. Noah and I were scheduled to fly on Jet Airways from Bombay to Arangabad.  It was almost tragic because we nearly missed our final boarding call while we were intently discussing a man from Phoenix, Arizona, and how he had almost totally messed up Nazarene Compassionate Ministry’s and the Reynolds Memorial Hospital’s fragile relationship with the Indian government and customs.  In the recent past, he had totally ignored protocol and shipping regulations, sent inappropriate items, and botched the official paperwork so badly that the Indian government had nearly concluded fraud or smuggling.
We agreed that we would work closely together to try to help rebuild the government confidence and heal the relationship with the Indian customs officials in order to mend the situation for the hospital.
The rain was pouring in Bombay as we left.  India’s rainy season had just begun and the people were eagerly welcoming the moisture.  Our arrival at Arangabad was delayed by the rain, and the sky was heavy and very dark as we loaded into a car and traveled another four hours to the city of Washim.  Washim, with a population of 65,000, was in the heart of the rural farm belt of the state of Maharashtra.

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The Reynolds Memorial Hospital was established in 1936 by efforts of Nazarene missionary and lay personnel.  There had been a medical mission presence in Washim as a result of the Methodist denomination’s efforts.  But, over nearly 80 years, the Nazarenes had built a strong facility, “all as a part of service to man in the name of God and to show all people the love of God by treating them as well as we can and as kindly as we can by love, compassion, and sympathy.” 

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Dr. Noah was a very effective administrator, as well as a skilled surgeon.  The hospital was a 210-bed facility.  The Nazarenes had previously handed over the organization to be managed by indigenous leaders but stayed in the relationship to donate about 7% of the hospital’s overhead.  The hospital was doing a remarkable job of reaching out and serving a catchment area of over a quarter million people.
The missionary guest house, where I would stay, had been built in 1906.  It was quite a stately old manor house with high ceilings and large rooms.
We started the hospital needs assessment study almost as soon as we drove into Washim.  The rain came in wind-driven cloud bursts, but the people all smiled and cheered on the moisture.
The Reynolds Memorial Hospital had, over the years, been frequented by Nazarene denominational work groups and medical teams.  It also had enjoyed some kind of relationship between the nurse-training schools of the US Nazarene universities and the hospital in Washim.  In fact, there was one nurse intern, Meredith Carroll from Point Loma University, also at the guest house with another team to follow a few days later.

Thursday, June 17
Thursday was set aside to visit the countryside surrounding Washim and observe the hospital’s medical work that had been established in the rural villages. In 1987, Reynolds Memorial Hospital and the Nurses Training School had reached out to ten villages, then to 36 in 1993, and 111 in 1998.  By 2001 they were taking their “community-based health project” to 145 villages and reaching over 200,000 people in the rural communities.
Their program became very successful in meeting the needs of preventive, as well as curative, medical service and included areas of:  (l) immunization, (2) under-five (years of age) clinics, (3) nutritional rehabilitation, (4) antenatal clinics, (5) HIV/AIDS testing and (6) mobile clinics.
One of the villages that I visited on Thursday was home to 1,500 people.  Many women and children had gathered into a make-shift clinic.  When I entered, one of the Reynolds Hospital nurses was teaching nutrition to the group with the help of charts, pictures, and other visual displays.  When that was completed the mothers and children all lined up for their monthly checkup exams.  Then when finished they sang some simple songs, had a scripture reading, and prayed.
Dr. Noah told me that when they first started in the villages the kids and mothers would all run away.  Now they eagerly awaited the team of about seven nurses and students.
He also related to me how the hospital had embarked upon a very ambitious plan whereby they were endeavoring to immunize every child and mother in all 145 villages in a three-month period of time.  No one in the government health offices thought the plan to be possible but they were happy to supply the medicines anyhow.
Somehow Dr. Noah’s team was able to accomplish 100% of their goal within the three-month period.  “We even chased some women and children down in the fields to give them their shots,” he told me.  To their knowledge there had never been a program to accomplish such a feat, either in India or the United States.
At 3 p.m. on Thursday, I was scheduled to meet at the hospital board room with Dr. Noah’s entire hospital and school team.  Their excitement and commitment was contagious.  They were eager to tell me all about their future goals and plans.  They had become a very successful unit.  The two hours I spent with them flew by quickly.
Upon leaving the team meeting, where I was given lists of prioritized department needs, we stopped for a cup of good Indian chai (tea).  Dr. Noah decided to contact Dr. Bidari in Miraj, India, on his cell phone and make sure my airplane tickets from Bombay to Kolhapur had been left off at the Avion Hotel in Bombay.  Anna Marie had carefully instructed Dr. Bidari that the connection tickets needed to be at the Avion Hotel so that I could continue on my trip to his hospital in Miraj.  Dr. Bidari’s assistant had not a foggy idea of what Dr. Noah was even talking about.  It was looking like Dr. Bidari had completely spaced out his need to get my ticket purchased and delivered.  Dr. Noah was upset because he had just talked to Dr. Bidari the week before and was assured that everything was “being well taken care of.”
Eventually, Dr. Noah got Dr. Bidari on the phone and he was very unsure of things in his responses.  Finally, I had Dr. Noah put me on the line.
“Hello, Dr. Bidari,” I greeted him cheerfully.  “I understand we have had some miscommunication.  I just need to tell you that I’m sure you have everything under control.  However, if those flight tickets are not at the Avion Hotel when I arrive in Bombay late Friday night, I know I will not have time to go and purchase the tickets needed for the 6 a.m. flight on to Kolhapur. So, I would then have to go ahead and board a flight directly back to the US and not visit your hospital in Kolhapur.”
Dr. Bidari assured me that everything would “be well taken care of.”
I tried to contact Anna Marie in Colorado by e-mail but was never able to make any connection with AOL in the US.
Thursday evening, Dr. Noah invited me to have dinner with his family in their home on the compound.

Friday, June 18
I had become accustomed to having some institution official in some foreign country just suddenly inform me that I would be speaking to some large group of people gathered in some building somewhere.
Friday morning I was delegated and informed that I would be speaking for 30 minutes at the campus church building for the hospital staff and Nurses Training College’s weekly chapel service.  I swallowed twice and commenced to speak.  It turned out to be a good time together; God really blessed the session.
We had been able to accomplish a lot at the Reynolds Hospital in a very short period of time.  I was very impressed with Dr. Noah and his team in Washim, India.  They were certainly proving that the quality, efficiency, and community impact of a missionary hospital need not diminish when the sacred missionaries with all the answers went back home.  My guess was the hospital was in better shape than it had been during the ten previous years when they were still there.  Of course, that was just one humble man’s opinion.
One feature of the Reynolds Hospital that greatly impressed me was the fact that they had effectively operated their own blood bank with full storage and investigative facilities for HIV/AIDS, as well as hepatitis A, B and C.
As you have read my previous journal entries, you have become aware of my deep concern for the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world.  It would frighten me when I visited any part of Africa, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and even Russia, to realize that hardly anyone in the world had truly grasped the magnitude of the rampant killer disease.  Everyone still seemed to be in denial of the fact that over 40 million people in the world were proven carriers of the disease and that over five million more were proven to have contracted the disease for the first time in just the last year.
No one seemed to think that it would affect them.  And even if they did, they assumed there would be a magic cure developed by the American doctors to take care of them.
But the ugly truth had passed up fiction a long time back.  There was no cure presently, nor was there even one on the horizon.  But, the world had quickly and silently entered into the dying stage of the disease around the world.
Next Week: Can we make it to the Wanless Hospital in  Miraj?