Northwest Mission Team Goes to Tanzania Hundreds Baptized, Provided With Medical Care

Last summer, a team of 30 people, including pastors, teachers and medical staff flew from Portland to Kigoma, Tanzania, to conduct evangelistic meetings, build a school and provide medical services. From Kigoma, the team boarded buses and drove several hours over dusty, pot-holed roads to the Heri Hospital Mission compound, near the Burundi border.

During the group’s two-and-half-week trip, Ivan Blake and Dave Allen, Sunnyside Church pastors in Portland and Dave Livermore and Doug Franzke, Kelso-Longview Church pastors in Washington, conducted evangelistic services in villages near Heri Hospital. Close to 600 people were baptized and received a Swahili Bible.

A team, led by Elvera Blake, Sunnyside associate pastor, conducted daily Bible schools for 300 children. Meanwhile, 20 local leaders attended a Sabbath School workshop.

A team of builders headed by Guy Dove of Portland and Albert Russell of Lebanon, Ore., supervised the construction of a three-room school building. One of the highlights of the building project was roofing day when all the members of the team were invited to the site to assist with putting up the trusses.

Free medical and dental clinics were conducted in neighboring villages by dentist Robert Hessong and doctor Ronald Franzke. They were joined by a team of nurses and one dental assistant, Shirley Hessong. Shirley recalls, “We all took turns standing up in the back of a small truck, bouncing over the rough roads which wound through miles of banana plantations. All along the way we were greeted by friendly waves from villagers, some of whom walked miles to be seen by our team.” More than 1,000 patients were treated in the outlying areas and many were referred to Heri Hospital for additional services. “Severe malnutrition from a lack of protein in their diet characterized many of the young patients seen in the villages,” reports Ronald Franzke. “The nurses did a lot of health teaching relating to diet.”

Back at Heri, a team of three doctors operated on almost 70 patients. The doctors and nurses also conducted classes for the medical and nursing staff at the hospital. Another project at the hospital was to clean, paint and organize three large storage rooms containing thousands of hospital supplies. “This was a tremendous service to the hospital,” said Niels Oster, M.D., who directed hospital operations for many years and is now in charge of development.

At a farewell party, Alvin Roceros, M.D., Heri Hospital’s new medical director, expressed his deepest appreciation for all the services the team provided to the hospital and the surrounding communities.

Heri Hospital became of special interest to Ronald Franzke, team organizer, when he learned that William Taylor, a general surgeon and his wife Elizabeth, long-time residents of Portland, were missionaries there in the 1960s and were instrumental in the founding of the hospital. At the time, there were almost no Seventh-day Adventists in that region; today there are more than 35,000.

The team leaders are especially appreciative of all those who supported the mission through their generous contributions, prayers and personal participation. A trip is planned for this fall in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. For more information, call the Sunnyside Church, (503) 252-8080, or Kelso-Longview Church, (360) 423-7344, or see the Ohana Christian Fellowship at

June 01, 2006 / Oregon Conference