Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday in Niamey with Linda

Happy Saturday to all the blog readers! Last night was a very quiet one as Linda the other housemate besides me was crook...she is an Aussie and that means she was sick. It pays to speak several dialects of English....Canadian, British, Jamacian, Aussie and the most difficult of all American! Haha...even when we speak the same language we can struggle to understand expression and meanings. Back to my point...Linda was sick so we didn't think to do anything much today. However much to my delight Linda woke with just a bit of a cough and suggested we make our way to the Petite Marche as she wanted to do a little shopping. I feel very safe here but prefer to do something like this with someone else. We got a taxi easily enough and arrived at just the right spot to find quite an array of leather, brass, silver, wooden and batik crafts. We shopped and paused to pop into the grocery store for a cool drink. Then we went back to the shops for a bit. I bought a few small items and put them in my little backpack. A young man named Amadou convinced me to buy some oranges, two mangos and a pineapple for 4000 CFAs which is What? Oh brother,I just paid $8 for a bit of fruit for the week! That's almost what I'd have paid at Krogers or the time it seemed a good deal. Never was too good with the rapid calculations. Can hear my family laughing at this:)
After Linda and I made our purchases,we enjoyed a nice brunch at Amadine's an expat hangout with French pastries, gelato, European dishes and fabulous coffee. I sipped an espresso while Linda had a latte. We enjoyed omelets and baguette and finished the meal with some delicious biscuits (cookies for my American readers). Linda and I chatted heart to heart as women and sisters in the Lord. Is there anything finer than true Christian fellowship? Sally Harrison's charge to us at the Grand Opening of the hospital was Psalm good and pleasant it is for brothers (and sisters) to live together in unity.
It is such a delight volunteering for CURE International and see the partnerships and cooperation with other NGOs (non government organizations).
So all in all this has been a good Saturday and typical for many of, coffee and lunch out with your friends! As a young girl in Pioneer Girls, we learned a little song that we sang in a round...Make new friends but keep the old..One is silver and the other gold! All friends are precious! Looking forward to being with you all in USA and Canada again soon. Sure, I am missing you but I am not ready to come home until this week of surgery is completed. We have a team from Monaco coming to operate...or is it Morroco? Guess I didn't read the memo well! Atfer that...I'm coming home!
Until then, God bless you and keep you, turning His attention and grace to you, giving you peace that only He can give! Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Big week in Niamey!

So sorry for not blogging this week. It has been an abundant one! Since so much has happened I think I'd better give you the high and low lights while we have electricity and Internet...
*Grand Opening of CURE Hospital for Children of Niger
*Meeting dignitaries from Niger Government
*Being asked to be Facebook friends with the Minister of Communications
*Enjoyed Tea with Scott and Sally Harrison and the CURE Board delegation
*Discussed nursing issues with Sir Christopher Levy MDCM
*Invited to CURE reception at Grand Hotel
*Ate dinner with two dear brothers in Christ from Switzerland who have labored for many years for the Evangelical Leprosy Mission
*Another dinner partner was a hospital director of a Leprosy hospital
*Met an amazing family from Colorado who graciously donated the funds to build the CURE Hospital
*Worked alongside nurses at the clinic seeing cases that would break your heart knowing all I could give them was Jesus' and I guess that is all we truly need
*Saw hopeless and disappointed faces on those we could not provide surgical/medical care
*Lectured the rest of the week in French with minimal help from translator
*Nearly pulled my hair out with trying to make nursing schedule
*Went to craft Market with guesthouse mates Don and Alex
*Enjoyed wise counsel from Andy Group from CURE HQ
*Sadly said goodbye to the above named men who returned to the USA after serving at hospital for many weeks! Before they left they treated Linda and me to an elegant dinner at Le Pillier a nice French Restaurant in Niamey
*Joyfully welcomed Linda Coordinator of the World Clubfoot Program. She is Aussie so I feel right at home....we speak the same English and enjoy a cup together
*Experienced dehydration and drank a liter of Gaterade, a first for me
*Danced for joy when nursing schedule was presented and accepted by management and staff
*Received so many answers to prayer I know God is alive and I give Him honor and thanks for being so compassionate and kind to me
*Inspite of power outages and water cuts...I am grateful for the comforts of communication and hilarious moment was the faucet coming off into my hand on the morning of the Grand Opening! You have to have a good sense of humor to enjoy overseas travel!
*Feeling fidgety tonight as work complete until Monday...what to do on a Friday might in Niamey...anyone want to rent a camel (dromedary) with me and cruise the streets?
Looking forward to Sunday and worshipping togethr with dear brothers and sisters on French and maybe some other languages too...what a picture of heaven to see some from many of the tribal groups praising the Lord altogether!!
Happy Weekend!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday in Niamey

It started out at a 'cool' temperature of 88 F inside, this morning. I prepared my morning coffee and reflected upon Psalm 123. What a great privilege to know our Lord Jesus Christ and to be able to look to Him for direction for the day's activities. As I look to the Lord and not anything else my thoughts, emotions and interactions with others will have a proper perspective. On the missionfield, it is like anywhere else....the tyranny of the urgent can rob one of peace and joy in the good works the Lord has prepared for me. I am grateful for God's plan to put us in a community of faithful ones. How we need one another for the challenges ahead. Today I went to the SIM church and felt quite at home. The songs in French were easy for me to sing. I love the African worship as it is so enthusiastic. I felt as if we were all looking to Christ alone for help, strength and renewal. What a great way to start a new week!
Afterward, we joined two dear men from the Leprosy Mission and the Nigrini family (CURE surgeon) for lunch at Amadine's. It is a French pastry shop and restaurant. I had grilled fish in case anyone is interested:) The fellowship was sweet and felt like a Sunday lunch that the Sloan brothers so frequently hosted. We were a mixed group, speaking so many different languages yet we had the common love for Christ Jesus. One of the dear Swiss brothers insisted on paying for our meal. I am so used to Paul and David treating...I was so very touched and so very grateful. Learning to receive graciously can be a challenge when one is used to being the giver.
Tomorrow, it is the Grand Opening of the CURE Children's Hospital of Niger. We are looking to the Lord our strength and guide for a day that will communicate Christ's love for the little children. May those who attend feel welcomed and excited for the healing that will change lives for eternity.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Power Shortages?

Have not blogged for a couple of days as Niamey has experienced some major power outages. There has been a problem with the supply which comes from Nigeria. When the electricity is out the water system also fails. Sounds pretty uncomfortable, eh? (like my Canadianism?) What I learned from the past couple of days is:
1. I am dependant on electricity to live.
2. These inconveniences are minimal compared to what the people of Niger live with daily.
3. Without giving Satan more power than he has, I expect these disruptions are temptations to be discouraged and obstacles to the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ as the CURE Children's hospital plans it's Grand Opening on Monday.
3. I must be more concerned about God's glory than my comfort level.
4. God takes care of me whether I am in the USA or here.
Truly the Lord has given me deep abiding peace and joy as I serve Him here.
It is wonderful to be a small part of a big effort to bring healing to bodies and hearts of patients and their caregivers.
As temperatures drop to the 90's we are grateful.
As the water pressure increases for toilets,laundry and cooking we are grateful.
More than electricity or drinking water, I need no interruptions in the supply of spiritual energy that comes from the Holy Spirit through prayer, Bible study and fellowship with God's people. There is never a reason for a short supply!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wednesday's training session with French

What an exciting day! Those of who know me well, know that teaching floats my boat! It is such a joy to share life with students. Today we discussed what are the important distinctions of CURE nurses. I shared with these dear nurses what character, perspective and values are desirable in giving care at a CURE hospital. We had a great discussion with Christian and Moslem nurses all together. Later I did some demonstrations for IM injections and sterile dressing technique. It was amazing that the Lord helped me with my French. Originally,the plan was to teach via a translator but I started in French and used Angelique (translator)only a back up. The nurses appreciated my efforts. It was a real answer to prayer. Tomorrow I will demonstate the procedure on a patient. These dear nurses want to learn and do the right thing, in the right way.....oh that we would have the same attitude in obeying the Lord! I wish that my GO Team was here with me! We had a great bunch or nursing students. I could use a software program....or Mandi to help us with the scheduling of nursing staff. It is a skill I never had to use very much. So now the teaching for today is over. I walked home between two storms...dust and rain. Oh, boy it is quite something to see the sand/dirt fly about...along with the black plastic bags which are a curse on the environment!
What a great day! What an exciting day! What great opportunity to share my faith in God, in Jesus. The nurses are interested to know what makes this a Christian hospital and how is it different to any other. Teaching is exhausting, fulfilling and so delightful. We have much to think about until the next time the nurses have their 'formation' that is the French word for training. May I continually be in 'formation' as a daughter and servant of my Heavenly Father.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday in OR

Today it started out looking cloudy. There was a hint of rain which is always a blessing. Before the rain began to pour we had a huge dust storm. I felt like I was watching a snow storm and stranded evev to go the several yards to the hospital complex. I waited it out and several minutes later all was calm and I could slither over. I missed staff devotions this morning as the two doctors and I were sorting out a few things for the first case. We had a great time of prayer together which put everything in perspective for the day ahead. Prayer is like that isn't it?As we talk to our Heavenly Father and listen to the Holy Spirit's leading we can step out confidently to do the work He has given us! Although, I have little OR experience, I scrubbed as the circulating nurse. I learned and taught disinfection of surgical instruments and autoclaving! Wow teacher and learner and I'd better be humble about it as I am trying to get up to speed. My McGill nursing training has come in good stead! The exciting day continued for the CURE staff in Niamey, Niger. After the morning case to release the tendons bilaterally for a little girl with club feet, we had a special visitor from the government. There was great joy on everyone's faces as they saw the wonderful facilities. Please continue to pray for the commuminty to understand that the hospital is taking children born with certain disabilites like cleft palates, burn contracture and of course club feet. It will take time. It is always sad for me to see patients turned away but we do not have the resources or expertise to care for these problems. Praise the Lord we can pray for these dear ones and give them hope in a God who loves, understands and cares. This Heavenly Father understands the pain of seeing His own Son suffer.
All in all this was a great day! We have experienced loss of back on...wind/rain storm....causing the roof of the guest house to leak....and water not running this evening....had my shower and dishes are done...We have plenty of water to don't worry! Am living the dream, happy to be serving the Lord. Wednesday, I get to teach via a translator when my French fails me. Excuse the errors on this blog. The one finger typing is tricky:)

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Bats and more bats....on the way to church this evening we saw bats near the river. They seemed to be diving for fish!? There are hippos in the river and I hope to get a glimpse of them soon. Evening worship was great all the expats off many language groups joined together...praising God. The preacher was visiting from Richmond Hill, Ontario. Message on the availability of the Holy Spirit to do His work, His way.

Sunday in Niamey, Niger Warm Worship

What a funny blog experience! I wrote a long blog about today's church experience, then my iPod wouldn't post it due to some cyberspace mumbo jumbo. Thankfully, Alex and Don have kindly let me use their laptop for a bit. Today's worship experience was awesome and a taste of heaven. There were some from many tribes and languages worshiping together. There were some who looked like Lawrence of Arabia, some with Niger traditional costumes, others were wearing some interesting western clothing that could have come from Old Navy or Macy's. Although, I did not understand the words, or even the dances they performed, the pastor who spoke French explained that they were praising the Lord Jesus their Savior.  It is delightful to know that God knows their language....and part of redemption of this world is the ability to communicate and bring understanding of one God, Creator and Savior. The time together was precious...warm fellowship. Speaking of warm fellowship, it was 104 in the shade and probably hotter when we went shopping for some groceries after church. It couldn't have been more than half a mile to walk but it felt like an oven. Thankfully I like the heat!
Please don't feel sorry for me. It is a wonderful experience to be in another African nation. I love the work I am challenging as it is! The Lord is faithful and I am ever thankful for all His tender mercies. The Christians here are so hospitable. God is good!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Safe and Sound in Niamey, Niger!

How does one describe first impressions? I am always tentative to make any broad generalizations or comparisons to the other African countries or Cure hospitals visited. Each is unique. What seems to be the same is the big welcome and smiling faces of CURE staff. It is a delight to see the new facilities and tremendous progress...for me it always comes back to people. So perhaps this will be my approach in blogging my experiences over the next month.Perhaps through word pictures you will enter into the people scenery of Niamey, Niger.
Yesterday upon my arrival, as I waited in line the woman who checked my documents was so kind to me. The young man who helped collect my bags was so enthusiastic even when I said I had no local currency! When another young man inspected my luggage with CURE labels he finally said, fini....meaning I could go meet Leron Lehman who was probably wondering what had happened to me!! What sweet greetings when I arrived at the fractured French was received joyfully! The nurses, Drs. Gary and Jean Francois were such a delight to meet. I cannot wait to hear their stories! The guest house residents are a father and son team. Don and Alex have helped me feel most welcome. I hope that I can return the kindness. Of course, I expect that I may not have all the skills that could benefit the nursing staff but with Christ's strength what He purposes will be accomplished. It is a blessing to be here safe and sound which is saying a lot these traveling days! The guest house accommodations are much nicer than expected. The Lord had gone ahead and will make a way for His will to be done as CURE Children's Hospital of Niger officially opens. Can't wait to meet clinic patients and their caregivers...also the Spiritual Director, kitchen staff...guess I'd better get some I am awake as it is usual time to get up!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Niger Bound....on a wing and a prayer!

We live in quite a world.....I never flew until I was 17 or 18 years old and now I am flying overseas several times a year!  Each time, I think, I'll pack smarter, pack lighter, be more organized etc....the Lord keeps reminding me that I am not in control, not even capable of doing any of this without the help of the body of Christ and His gracious strength.
This morning as Paul and I sipped our last cup of coffee together before he headed to the hospital, I was amazed at how much closer we have grown in our relationship. Obedience influences every area of our lives. God has blessed us so much....and we want to be a blessing to others.
What a joy to share a partnership that is complimentary......I'm bubbly, he's thoughtful, I talk a lot, he listens a lot, I have a calling with CURE overseas, he has a calling at the University of Kentucky! I love to talk about my relationship and serving God....Paul lives it....using words when necessary.  Paul not only supports this calling financially, but he supports me emotionally and prays for me daily too. One way that Paul helps me during all these extended times for us to plan special times together. When I get back, we will plan to have some special time in Peoria visiting Baby George...who is now 20 months. Now, that is a plan that any Grandma can get excited about! What can I say, but thank you to my dear Heavenly Father for giving me such a great husband!
It will be Paul's birthday on October 10th....and since I'll be away....HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART! May you be blessed and encouraged on your special day.
Next time I blog, I expect it will be from Niger. Thank you for praying for me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Packing and praying!

Today, the last minute shopping is complete, banking done, laundry...check! Now the fun begins, to make all the piles of clothes, toiletries, books, food stuffs etc to fit into the luggage. It can be quite 'nerve wracking' to put it all in. As I look at the items I'd like to bring......somethings will have to be left behind this trip. Ouch! Oh, well, the Lord will help me bring what is truly needed.
How grateful I am for helping hands and kind ones who encourage and pray for this rather daunting task of packing.
To make it more interesting....besides the 50 lb bag limit.....I am awaiting a piece of medical equipment that weighs 20 lbs and is a foot cubed! Fun packing times.......adjusting and readjusting tomorrow.
All of this pales in the harsh realities of the dear folk I will be serving in Niger. At least I have enough clothing, enough funds, enough reading material, enough personal hygiene least I have a Bible of my own....even a French Bible on my iPod! Oh, boy, I am so spoiled!  Thank you, Heavenly Father for blessing me.....please help me now to be a blessing to others. Counted more than 65 people who have agreed to pray for me regularly...not counting family! God is so amazing to encourage me this way. Now, I need to be an encouragement to others.
Jaja (Grandma) Maureen
 This is one of my precious babies from Mbale, Uganda. One of my favorite activities is to hold and sing to the babies. I was singing Jesus Loves Me to this little one who was the 12th born. The mother was a sweet Christian and I just loved talking with her. Am praying that the mothers in Niger will trust me to talk and sing to their babies too....hope I can remember some French songs!
Ruth and Maureen

Ruth is my sister who I look up to very much. She has such a servant's heart. I certainly would not be able to get on the plane without her help with packing. She is way more technical than she helps with all sorts of computers, cameras, iPods etc. She is also driving me to the airport.
Tomorrow will be an intense morning of packing, weighing and reweighing bags in preparation for Wednesday's departure. However, as I pack I am in an attitude of prayer for the dear disabled children CURE is reaching out to serve in the name of Jesus Christ and for His glory. It is very humbling to be called and used by the LORD in this wonderful ministry!

 One of my favorite expressions regarding my volunteering with CURE is: If I had any more fun serving the Lord, I'd need a license!

Thank you for praying!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Blogging from an iPod

As I pack and prepare for Niger, it seems wise for me to see if this will actually work. Is it possible to send a blog from this dear little gizmo? Unfortunately, I don't have a laptop or other portable devise to send you all the tales, trials and daily adventures. This iPod is so much smaller, lighter and less conspicuous. The only thing is that I cannot send pictures from it....unless I download to computer then iPod. Sounds a bit complicated for Grandma. I'll be missing those dear 'techies' the Lord has put in my life...Ruth,Mark,Sam...!
Please be praying for me...all my dear GO Team people from the summer know how to pray for me. I really need Mandi to help organize my packing! Some how, some God's grace I'll be on the plane Wednesday around noon!