The Oliver Family Newsletter

John & Paula Oliver - Missionaries with New Tribes Mission

Serving at NTM International Headquarters in Sanford, Florida

Newsletter 27 - March 2001

More Costly than Gold

It all started on July 8. During the day, I experienced an occasional burning sensation in my mouth. By evening, the lymph nodes under my jaw were swollen and tender and I could detect a small lump at one of my salivary duct openings. By morning the swelling was worse, so I sought help at an urgent care clinic. The doctor prescribed a week of antibiotics (Augmentin), which he then followed with a week of another antibiotic (Cephalexin). Toward the end of the second week, I developed some significant digestive problems. I won’t go into all the details here, but suffice it to say that my colon was very irritated and I was spending a lot of time in the bathroom. I developed a high fever as well.

Once I was off the antibiotics the fever subsided, but the digestive symptoms did not. Eventually I saw another doctor, who determined that I had a bacterial infection (clostridium difficile, known as c.diff.) as a result of the antibiotics killing off the good bacteria in my digestive system. C.Diff. produces toxins which damage the lining of the colon and can lead to Heaven, if untreated. He prescribed two weeks of another antibiotic (flagyl) to kill off this bad bacteria. The flagyl seemed to help, but once I was off the antibiotics, the symptoms returned. The doctor prescribed more flagyl, but it did not seem as effective as before. Meanwhile, I was losing weight and had started experiencing some fatigue and muscle weakness.

Our battle against c.diff. continued like this for four months. I was on and off of several courses of flagyl and had countless blood and stool tests. I continued to lose weight and became so weak and fatigued that I was having to spend most of my time in bed and it became a chore to even eat or brush my teeth. I also started having some abdominal pain.

After a while, another doctor prescribed another, even more powerful, antibiotic (vancomycin), which I was on for a month. We also started juicing more fruits and vegetables and made other dietary changes to help my body. I had been eating, even though I had little appetite, but it seemed that my body was starving for nutrition. I was also taking acidophilus and other supplements and eating yogurt to help restore the good bacteria. And, of course, we asked folks to pray!

Around early November, I started to improve. For the first time, the stool test did not show c.diff. toxin. My weight stabilized and over time, I started to slowly regain my energy. It appears that the c.diff. is gone or at least under control. We don't really know what God used, whether it was antibiotics, improved diet, nutritional supplements, a combination of the above, or a miraculous answer to prayer. But we are thankful to God that I am doing much better! And to you who have been praying for us, we also say, "Thank You!" And I especially thank my dear wife, Paula, for her loving care!

By the way, it did turn out to be a salivary duct stone and I did eventually see an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) doctor who was able to remove the stone (that was quite a process). The stone, which I kept, is about the diameter of the metal wire used in a paper clip and about 1/20 of an inch long. This stone, weighing in at approx. 0.0002 ounce, cost nearly $10,000 in medical bills (doctor visits, antibiotics, colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, x-rays, blood and stool tests). That would be equivalent to $800,000,000 per pound, more costly than gold!

There is another gold, though, that is more costly than salivary duct stones, and that is the treasure of men's souls. NTM's bi-monthly magazine, NTM@work, was formerly called Brown Gold, referring to the value of men's souls and the fact that many of the unreached around the world have brown skin. Thanks for being part of our team, as we serve on the New Tribes Mission team, helping to reach Brown Gold around the world.

Thanks for your prayers, encouragement, and support. I'm dong much better but would appreciate your continued prayer as my strength and energy still vary and I still have some muscle aches. If you have internet access, you can check our web site,, for other prayer requests. And let us know how we can be praying for you as well.

Your missionaries,

John, Paula, Nicholas, Joy, and Hannah Oliver J

John & Paula Oliver, New Tribes Mission, 1000 East First Street, Sanford FL 32771-1487
Home Phone: 407-328-8400, Office Phone: 407-323-3430 X278, Fax: 407-330-0376
Email: Web site: