And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
In 1973, the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that the Tanzanian government in East Africa was beginning a large national effort to improve its rural health services. The agency had committed to supporting the government’s maternal and child health (MCH) program. This effort included a plan to build eighteen MCH schools in which to train 2,500 MCH aides, plus assistance to the MCH program in developing policy and new infrastructure for the entire nation. The query came: Would Loma Linda University be interested in providing the technical assistance for this large and complex multimillion dollar project? The initial answer was “yes.” However, the bureaucratic wheels ground slowly; and with no word from USAID, Loma Linda put the project on a black burner.
Then, suddenly, after months of silence, USAID announced in April 1974 that they were ready to entertain a proposal bid from LLU. I was on staff at LLU and decided that Richard Hart–at the time doing Johns Hopkins University research at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center in Moshi, Tanzania, for his Doctor of Public Health degree– would be an excellent field director. The competitive bid was due in twelve days. Previous conversations with Hart had found him reluctant to accept an academic position at LLU. In the absence of any telephone contact, how could I communicate this complex project to Hart in such a way, using a cable format, as to receive an immediate (and hopefully positive) response from him?
I was sitting in my office in Nichol Hall, contemplating how to word a cable to Hart, when the mail arrived. It included a letter posted two weeks previously from Hart. In it, Hart had answered every question I was thinking to transmit to him, including his willingness to be the first field project director of the MCH project! I bowed my head, eyes full of tears. God had answered my request before the request had even been made. Working night and day, my staff and I completed the contract proposal and submitted it by the deadline. It won out against the proposals of two other universities, and Loma Linda began a significant relationship with Tanzania that was also a great blessing to LLU and its international programs.
Just how did this communication miracle occur? The USAID health director had traveled from Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, up to Moshi two weeks earlier. He found Hart on a Friday afternoon changing the oil in his old VW Combi. This man, whom Hart had never seen before, started out by saying:”Both Johns Hopkins and Loma Linda University are submitting proposals for our MCH contract. Both are nominating you to be the physician-in-charge.”
Astonished, Hart had to hear more. After the director explained all the details of the project and the appointment, Hart decided he would accept only under the Loma Linda banner; and immediately wrote to me. The really incredible part of the incident turned out to be the fact that Loma Linda, at the time, had not decided to enter the ring, and Johns Hopkins never applied. Misinformation had worked a miracle in communication.
– PWilliam (Bill) Dysinger, LLUSM class of 1955