Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Brother....

A New Brother with an amazing story!
It is always fun to meet amazing people at CURE hospitals. Each one has a life story that reveals the providence of God in leading them to receive CURE care.  Recently, I chatted with this young man. He was born with a cleft palate and lip....which had made him an outcast in his community. His father was his champion until he died. Then his mother decided to arrange a marriage to comfort her son. Can you imagine the new wife's reaction on their wedding day? She didn't meet her husband until his wedding day apparently. Having a birth defect like a cleft is a huge thing in Africa. This dear man was so ashamed of his appearance. He was so ashamed of the shunning from his community. He would try to hide his face. He had few work opportunities and fewer still educational or apprenticeship opportunities. One night in desperation, he decided that he would run away. Without telling anyone, he ran away to the big city. It was difficult finding work. It was difficult to live from one handout to another. He wanted to earn his own living. He wanted to make his mother and wife proud of him.  By God's grace, he heard about CURE and the work that the hospitals do to bring healing. Somehow, he found the hospital, was seen in the clinic, hospitalized, operated upon and some time he is....ready to surprise his mother and wife. What a handsome man!

But wait.....all the healing is not in the surgery! No!  Pastors Hassane, Josh and others played a part in reassuring, encouraging and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  This young man was so interested. On the day that he was supposed to be discharged from the hospital, he had a small area on his wound that prevented him from hopping on a bus to his home village. He needed a day or two more at the patient hostel so that the nurses could ensure good approximation of the surgical site to minimize scarring.  During the days while he waited and received further wound care, he heard the good news, again. His heart was moved by the Holy Spirit.  I arrived on Thursday night and on Friday morning rounds, he asked me so many questions. I told him about our Anne being born with a cleft. I told him about her many surgeries. He was very interested and peppered me with questions. At last he asked, how old is she? What does she do? When I told him Anne was a medical student and that she would be a doctor in a couple of years, this man was so astounded! He was thrilled! I told him that we would pray with him and for him. We would ask God for opportunities to study, learn and work so that he could support his family.  His face shone after our prayer time.

 Later that day, Pastor Hassane was beaming and he recounted how the young man came to his office inquiring about how to receive our Savior Jesus! So now I have a new brother!

The humorous end to the story came to me on the following Monday. Pastor Hassane said that on Sunday morning around 4:30 am his phone rang. At first he ignored it thinking it was a wrong number. As the ringing persisted, he answered it....guess who was calling? Yes, it was the young man, a new believer who had returned to his village. He wanted to remind the pastor that he was coming to church! Then the pastor reassured the young man that he was being picked up and brought to church. Two hours later, the same call came. How delightful to hear of such eagerness to be with other believers and learn about the one true LORD.  Praise God!

What a delightful testimony! What joy it will be in heaven to be with some from every tribe, nation and people group who have called upon the Lord Jesus Christ for Salvation! This Thanksgiving, I have another special blessing to be thankful for....a new brother in Christ!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Voices......Part 2

During this recent journey to Niger, for economy, Paul and I decided that emailing and texting each other would be fine. The trip was only two weeks. We would avoid the cost and frustration of dropped calls, voice-mail, and time zone confusion. Who wants to get called at 3:30 AM for a cheery check-in or romantic tête a tête? The deal was that I would call Paul as I was leaving the USA from JFK in New York and when I arrived back there again. Meanwhile we would communicate via cyberspace daily. Simple, right? Everyone texts and emails all the time. Who needs to actually talk for most communication? Of course, this may be fine for some but......I missed the sound of Paul's voice sooooooo much. The first thing I wanted when I cleared US customs and took care of rechecking my bags, was to get a Starbucks? (NO!!) It was to call Paul on the phone and hear his voice! Words cannot describe the delightful sound of my precious husband's voice on that call. It was sweet, kind, gentle and reassuring. He promised to meet me at the Cincinnati airport in a few hours. Paul's voice was full of love and appreciation of our relationship. It was full of hope for our reunion and a special weekend trip to Atlanta for a friend's wedding. How could I get all that from a few moments on my iPhone? I know Paul well. Our first date was October 19, 1974....since then I have been learning his use of words and what each voice inflection, tremor, and tone means. For me, this is a reminder of my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ......

Do I long to hear His voice through scripture and the Holy Spirit's promptings?
Do I get excited to talk to the Lord in prayer regularly and often?
Are my communications to My Heavenly Father like text messages--abbreviated? 
Do I recognize the tone of intensity, urgency and love of my Savior as I read the Bible?
Does His name thrill me?

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole and calms the troubled breast:
'Tis manna to the hungry soul and to the weary rest.

Dear name! The Rock on which I build, 
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasure filled with boundless stores of grace! 
(Public Domain)

Yes, coming home to hear Paul's voice has been so exciting and reassuring! Better still, what a blessing to know and hear the voice of the Almighty God of all nations as He speaks graciously and personally through the scriptures. What about the times when I am too tired, too lazy, too jet lagged, too distracted or have a hard time getting into God's Word? This is when I must recall Philippians 4:13.....'I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength' wonder His voice is so winsome!

The sound of voices....

It seems eerily quiet this morning. Paul and Marie are at work. Zachary who is visiting on his fall break, is quietly studying downstairs. Things seem so odd.....where are the familiar faces of the hospital staff, the dear patients and their caregivers? Where is the desert terrain.....and who turned the outdoor thermostat down so low?
 Yes, these are the normal discombobulating senses of returning from Niger. I miss the sounds, smells, faces and noises of a place that has caught my attention and a people who have captured my heart!  Perhaps the sound of silence has struck me the most this morning. I appreciate the rain that keeps the lawn and garden green. I am grateful for the alone time to rest and think. Yet, I am missing the voices:

...of the Islam's call to prayer broadcasted 5 times throughout the day-reminding ME to pray for the lost and least of these dear people in need of physical and spiritual healing of the Great Physician, our Savior Jesus Christ
... of the many hospital guards and other employees greetings, Bonjour, Ca, va? Mamma Maureen!
...of the caregivers and patients in the outpatient hostel.  Fou, Fou! Bangagie, Madala.....words of greeting and gratitude in local languages.
Caregivers at hostel
Caregivers calling out a morning greeting as we visit them
"Papa Toureg" selling bracelets

...of the hawkers on the street selling everything from phonecards to floor tiles up and down the streets.
 ...of the donkeys, sheep, goats and camels bleating, bellowing and protesting under their loads and severe treatment!
Nurse Rabi and I enjoying a joyful moment in the OR
...of the nursing staff as they chat, argue and joke amongst themselves in several dilects....who knows what they are saying about me right in my presence :)

The sounds of CURE Niger were missing from my first day back! Readjustment and reorientation will take several days. Voices of people are an important part of daily life. They remind us of where we are living and what activities are happening about us. Voices also remind us of the relationships in our lives.

The one voice that can be heard in my heart everyday is the voice of God's Word speaking...

truth of who God is and His character
an invitation to join Him in joyful obedience and fellowship
direction for His kingdom work
help to think, speak and act in a manner pleasing to the Lord
comfort for the hurts and issues that challenge the life of faith
assurance that I am His and He is mine
all this in the pages of my Bible!

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
John 10:27-30

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary CURE Niger!

Samna our HR director giving a welcome speach

Joyful singing, music and lots of picture taking!

Marcia Lanoha and her Madala team join the celebrations upfront and center

Leron Lehman, CURE NIger Executive Director gives a warm welcome to all

Issacou works joyfully and loves to listen to Christian music tunes. He has is own personal style for using earbuds :)

Dr. Jean Francois and family came to celebrate too!

Habib taking pictures wearing  outfit made from a panga of fabric from CURE

What a joy and privilege to visit CURE Niger on the first anniversary of it's grand opening. Wow, the Nigeriens know how to party. We worked pretty much a normal day. Some got to leave a little early to return home and bring back their families. We were treated to three hilarious skits. We had a band from Mr.Karazi's church. They even played a few familiar hymns. It was such a great testimony of God's goodness and faithfulness. We all came in our best duds! We were served snacks followed by huge plates of rice and chicken...a real feast! Everyone got a bottle of soda...a real treat!
We laughed and greeted one another. We prayed, celebrated and snapped pictures of each other! What a sweet foretaste of heaven. I am so aware that there are many families and employees who are far from a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a blessing to be here and to be involved with the important work of sharing the good news and love of God!
This side of heaven there will be tears, strife, disappointments but....with Christ, I can do all things for He gives me strength...and somedays are truly a party!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stepping out and stepping back...

As I prepared to go through security at the Cincinnati airport, Diana, Elaine and I put our arms around each other and joined our hearts in prayer. Diana lovingly spoke to our Heavenly Father, committing me to His call to Niger, for these next two weeks. Indeed, I have stepped out in faith to serve obediently. At the same time, as we prayed I am so aware that this is God's work to be done God's way for God's honor and glory! So I must step forward in faith but step back, step aside and see the power, strength and glory of God!! Now who would want to get in the way?! I can do this through Christ who gives me strength step by step!

Jesus Loves the Little Children...All the Children of the World....

Singing Sunday School Songs is always a delight in any language!
Jesus loves the little children,
All the children of the world
Red and yellow 
Black and white
All are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!

Jesus loves me this I know 
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so!

My God is so BIG
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
My God is so BIG
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do
The mountains are His
The rivers are His
The stars are His handiwork too
My God is so Big
So strong and so mighty
There's nothing my God cannot do...

Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it.
Habakkuk 1:5 NLT

Friday, October 7, 2011

October 12-26 Heading back to Niger-Do your best, forget the rest!

Our wedding photo August 19,1978
Why do I have a wedding picture for a blog entry entitled 'Heading back to Niger'? Perhaps it is because weddings are on my mind...Marie and Zachary are getting married in 12 weeks, 11 hours, 27 minutes, as I type this? Yes, that's true but the real reason I have included this photo is because I am going to Niger, and I am going to miss Paul very much. Sure we have been apart for much longer stretches of time, but it is still hard to be away from the dearest partner God gave me. Please don't stop reading! This blog is not going going all mushy and TMI (too much information-as my kids tell me).
Those of you who know Paul, know that he is calm, steady and generous among other things. He keeps me in balance. When I travel, it is easy to want to sprint resulting in burnout or illness. Paul teaches me to pace myself. When I travel, I want to pour myself into whatever I do and do it with excellence.....sometimes I do not have the capabilities to meet expectations. Then it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate....then it is all about my feelings instead of being all about God, His Kingdom, His mission and His ways.  Paul teaches me to give what I have and leave the results with the LORD. 'Do your best, forget the rest' It is a challenge for sure as I anticipate what lies ahead. Yesterday and this morning, the Lord brought to my attention the gospel of John's account of the feeding of the 5000. ( John 6:1-14) The simple lesson is this, just as the young lad gave his little lunch to the Lord, I can do the same. I can give my limited skills and resources to the Lord. He will multiply them.  He will use others alongside me to fulfill His purposes. Jesus not only used the young lad's lunch, He used the disciples to distribute the food. In this way, the disciples had their hands-on experience with the miraculous provision for the multitudes. How am I going to participate in God's kingdom work in Niger? How will I adjust my attitudes of nervous inadequacy to vibrant confidence? I am rehearsing and reviewing this truth:

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Yes, the countdown is on for departure. My bags are nearly packed. The real preparation must be in my heart, to do my best, forget the rest for Christ is my help, strength, refuge, wisdom, comfort, guide, provider, healer, Savior, friend, counselor, Rock, King, Bread of Life, Living Water, peace, joy.....!!
What a joy to anticipate God's results and lives changed for eternity! God is so Good!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is it August already?

Aunt Annie loves little Anna Lee-June 2011
Anna Lee all dressed up and ready to go visiting!

Shannon and her baby girl....pool time in July!   

Joy is being cuddled by Daddy! Baby sisters are fun!
George loves the creek and throwing stones in the water!

Anna Lee is a happy baby!

George is so happy to have homemade chocolate chip cookies! Life is good!

Pappa with Marie, Anne and Naomi in Montreal
These pictures are a small sampling of our summer. May was super-exciting with my return from Niger, Marie's graduation, Marie and Zachary's engagement, Marian's wedding, three trips to Peoria. These visits were for Anna Lee's arrival.  In June we had a wonderful family week at Duck, although this year we were missing some....Mark, Shannon, George and Anna Lee, Mum, Nancy, Keith, Sarah, Aaron and Rebecca! Actually, it was quite a few! Perhaps another year we will be able to have more of the family come. July was busy with Anne's oral surgery for removal of her wisdom teeth. Several days later, Anne, Marie, my niece Naomi and I drove to Montreal....yes, drove....oh, boy, it is a long drive. Marie was the only driver besides me. We were in Montreal from Thursday evening until Monday morning. The weather was lovely and summery. We managed to squeeze in a lot....visits with Mum and Pappa, a visit to Parkside Ranch, a bit of shopping for the girls, some eating out....ok a lot of eating out and a wonderful time of worship at Rosemount Bible Church on Sunday.
In addition to all this summer activity, we drove to Lindsey Harris and Tyler Mathew's wedding in the Birmingham, Alabama area, spent time with the Guyse family (Marie's fiance's family)in Decatur and drove to Washington, DC for Paul to attend the Manchester United versus Barcelona football match (soccer in USA and Canada). Fun times have been had by all.
We are enjoying planning Marie and Zachary's wedding. Marie is doing a great joy....I am in the shadows if she needs help but she is a super organizer.
My work this summer has been to organize my study, cleaning and purging files, de-cluttering and tidying messes. It feels so good. I can do all things though Christ who gives me strength...INDEED. Although the work may not be too physically difficult I have been procrastinating. Sadly, the burden of clutter decreases efficiency and effectiveness in serving my family and the LORD. As each drawer, closet, shelf and bookcase is dealt with, there is a sense of accomplishment and joy. From a spiritual standpoint, this work is representative of de-cluttering and clearing out what is not necessary or beneficial in my life. Sometimes it is painful to throw or give away things. Yet, when I see a clear desktop, tidy shelves and orderly drawers and feels great....likewise, when I acknowledge negligence to spiritual discipline, laziness, overindulgence, pride and sinful attitudes....the clearing-out makes for a happy that is unfettered and free to soar to new heights of joyful service to my dear family and my dear Savior Jesus Christ.
August's a great summer and it's not over yet!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Chapter completed and another begins......

    Marie dances for Joy!

Graduation...a win!
Bradshaws, Adams and Sloans at BSC graduation May 14th 2011
Marie and her Daddy at final BSC dance recital

Marian and roommates ever!
Marie and Zachary Guyse.....He's the one!

Graduation day at BSC...two smart young people! So proud of them! Forward Ever!

Marie is engaged to Zachary! They are trusting the Lord for His good pleasure in their future together!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Re-entry: Joys and Discombobulations!

What a joy to return home to family and friends after being away for a month in Niger!
How awesome it has been to serve our living Savior in a country that is dry physically and spiritually!

How can I respond to questions such as:
How was your trip? Long flights, no major glitches, some empty planes, some crowded planes
How's Africa? I was only in one country, was peaceful and needy
Was it hot? Yes, most days in the 110F (43C) range and very dry
Did you get sick? Against all odds, I got malaria, but I was able to keep working. (Yes I was sleeping under a mosquito net and taking Malerone as my daily prophylaxis) 
What did you eat? What was put before me :) I ate a lot of delicious mangoes and baguette with cheese. Hospital food was tasty and filling...pasta, rice, or couscous with a sauce of vegetables and sometimes a bit of meat (don't ask!)
What did you do? Remember that's not the best question....Who was I with?
Who were you with, then? It was a joy to be with the three missionary families serving with CURE International, the Negrini, the Lehman and the Roark Families and Angele Fischbach a young nurse from France. Together we had the privilege of serving disabled children and their families at the CURE Hopital des Enfants au Niger.
OK but what did you do serving with CURE....?
Fair enough:) I function as a Nurse Consultant for CURE. My responsibilities are many and varied. This journey, I was involved in:
  • praying daily with every patient and their caregivers alongside of Pastor Hassane, the Spiritual Director of the Hospital
  • encouraging nurses on the ward to give thoughtful, appropriate and excellent care
  • mentoring nurses to improve wound care techniques
  • reviewing applications, testing and interviewing candidates for nursing position openings
  • working alongside, praying and encouraging Angele the expatriate nurse...we loved each other!
  • observing, helping, serving alongside the medical and nursing staff....
  • enjoying the fellowship and mutual encouragement of the CURE families and Angele

Success for Salatamatou-repaired cleft lip and restored health.

Another little darling, called Nana! Her hands and feet are tied to prevent her from infecting the suture line of her cleft repair....not a form of punishment! Nana is a cheerful and much loved little baby girl, once rejected by her mother, now loved by the whole family.
Here is another dear young patient who had a growth removed from his abdomen...he is carrying his drain around like a prized possession.....for some reason he attached himself to me...what a dear one. I like to sing to all my patients!  
Can you see the joy on my face as I serve the Lord in Niger? It's not just for the camera! It is a great privilege to serve the children, families, and staff knowing that as I serve the 'least of these', I am serving my dear Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh, yes, I am so glad to be home to my family in the USA.....but can you see that I have left a piece of my heart in Niger? (Hence, the feelings of discombobulation!) No I don't have the 'unfydiddleums', I am just a little confused with hearing only English and no French. I am confused by the rain, the cold temps, the green, the quiet, the lack of dark faces, the lack of street vendors to buy my bread, the lack of camels...donkeys....I am confused by the abundance of the Western world and the poverty of Niger.
Confused....yes! Discombobulated...yes! Part of trans-cultural missions is moving between various people groups....even in trust is in Him who transcends cultures, communities, continents and my confusion. So this morning.....Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Friday, April 15, 2011

CURE Hopital d' enfants au Niger

Playing is a part of the healing!

Even teenagers find healing at CURE

Salamatou weighed 4.4 kilograms at 2 years old in January-very malnourished due to her cleft.

Now look at Salamatou's belly sticking out as she is held by her papa! She is now 7.8 kilograms....I'd say the plumping program is sucessful along with the surgery!

Happy weekend, everyone! God is at work at CURE in Niger. It is a great privilege to be a small part of this great work. I am learning much about the culture. It is a joy to  mentor the nurses....a lot must be taught. The nurses have never had an opportunity to see how Christians treat patients....with the love, compassion, patience of Jesus.  Jesus taught well and touched people with gentleness. Everywhere He went Jesus showed His kindness and goodness. Oh, that we as nurses at CURE would be more like Jesus!  

A Special Friend

Today I would like to give a special mention of a dear friend....most of you know how special you are to me!! So it's high fives for Glenna today!
Glenna Callihan and I have known each other practically since I moved to Lexington, KY. Our youngest were in the same 1st grade class together. Indeed her son was so 'taken' with my daughter that he wanted to marry her because she 'was a good Christian and didn't smoke'! Glenna and I are still laughing about that one. Since those early days, Glenna and I have crossed paths weekly for many years through Bible Study Fellowship. Glenna was my faithful piano player. She would make the piano sing and bring out our best voices in praise to God. She continues to play for the Evening Women's class. We share the love of a good cup of coffee and try to share our news over a Starbucks between my trips to Africa.
Today I would like to tell you why Glenna is an example of genuine Christian love and hospitality. She and her dear husband opened their home for Brian's mother, when she was no longer able to live alone. She was with them for many years! It was in the order of 7 years I believe. This dear mother-in-law was so lovingly cared for by Glenna and the family. There have been times when I hear people complain about their lives and them I have no idea what some people endure on a daily basis.
So this week, Brian's dear mother went to be with JESUS. I thank the Lord for knowing this dear mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Although Mrs. Callihan could not remember many things, she seemed to be able to remember about her Savior and Lord. Glenna always emphasized the positive strengths of Mrs. Callihan. I loved her story of giving her a basket of towels to fold while Glenna went to work. In the evening after Mrs. Callihan had gone to bed, she would get another basketful of unfolded towels ready for the next day. It gave Mrs. Callihan a sense of participation in the household.
I have learned and will continue to learn a lot from Glenna about faithfulness, patience and loving kindness. She not only did what she could to look after Mrs. Callihan but she did it long and consistently. How often do we fail to complete a task or project that we have often have I? Today, I can assuredly say, that the Lord will be saying to Glenna and Brian...well done....good and faithful servants!!
I know what Glenna would say......It wasn't anything special.....she always points back to the Lord and says all that was done was for God's honor and glory. She does not want thanks for this work as she is looking for that reward in heaven that will truly satisfy.
Glenna will have the honor and privilege of playing the piano for Mrs. Callihan's funeral this week. Please pray for emotional strength and as the family say good-bye for a while. Please give Glenna a hug for me as I am here in Niger and miss not being with her to support her at this time. I know I can count on my Lexington, EW BSF sisters to give her loving support!

How to make supper in the hospital guesthouse?

It has been quite a week!
So many patients to look after,
so many new words in French to learn,
so many meetings,
so many one on one mentoring,
So many interesting nursing challenges...
Today's blog entry will hopefully be on the lighter side after Monday's blog.
Many of you dear blog followers have been overseas before so you are aware of some of the challenges facing missionaries in everyday life. For example here in Niger, I am living behind a tall concrete wall 24/7 except for the kind hospitality of others. I have no transport. I can walk a quarter of a mile or so to some street venders to buy bread, fruits and veggies etc.But, I am not sure of the wisdom of going alone. Last week my friend Anne went to the market for me and bought carrots, a cabbage, several cucumbers, tomatoes,and delicious mangoes. So now what? How can I make something for dinner? There's no pizza delivery here! I have to be honest, preparing food is labor wonder most missionaries need housekeepers and guards. The hospital sends a young man Chacou to clean the guesthouse is a constant battle to keep out the sand and dirt from the encroaching desert! With my hospital duties I just don't have time to sweep and wash the floors etc! I do myown laundry and practically everything must be ironed. I spent several hours taking care of my clothes for the weekend and next week. What about meal preparation? It is a challenge cooking for one when I am used to preparing for Paul and me and the family on weekends and special occasions. I am so spoiled in the USA regarding variety and availability of food. Here my cooking approach to each meal (as they say on Iron Chef America) is 'Boxcar children's'...using up and making do!
Thankfully, I have my main meal at lunch at the hospital. The choices are...take it or leave it! So far I've taken it! This leaves supper alone at the guesthouse. I have been grateful for every bit of food that I've brought.
I used a couple of tablespoons of leftover Mac and Cheese (white cheddar version) and whirled this with hot cooked carrots and tomatoes. This produced a velotine aux legumes...translated puréed veg soup. It was delicious in spite of not having any salt or pepper or other seasonings. Don't assume that such things are not available, but I haven't been organized to shop fully. There is a small grocery store called Scores I believe that has western items at a cost. One can find fine French cheeses, pastries etc but these would be luxury items.
What's on hand that I could make into something tasty? I do try to make it fun by recalling Chopped and Food Network programs:)
I had a cabbage and carrots to start...
I felt like a salad...
First soak the grated veggies in Jik (Clorox) water..
Rinse and soak with fresh filtered water...
Put in the fridge to crisp up...
Try to make a dressing....?
Ok let's try bottled mayonaise, Dijon mustard and a drizzle of local honey!(that was put in the fridge by Issacou, the hospital chef)
Would it taste good....not sure if I'd be 'chopped' but I enjoyed my cabbage salad.
After that, I was too tired to fix anything else!
I need to get dome eggs for next week as my main protein source is canned tuna (compliments of my sisters)....which I eat in cucumber 'boats'! My other source of protein are the egg white protein powder shakes that Ruth sent along.
The mangoes make a great dessert especially when cold and straight from the fridge. These too must first be soaked in Clorox water and peeled.
I appreciate the fresh flavors here even if it takes more work to prepare meals! I am grateful for food to eat when so many are hungry here! God is gracious to me. He has given me my daily bread. Thank you, Heavenly Father!! Happy weekend!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday musings...

It was a challenging and busy day at the CURE hospital in Niger today. There were three surgeries and many dressing changes on the ward (Pavillion). It was very challenging to guide and instruct the nurses in some of these complex dressings. In my travels, I have seen many things. The sad cases are the burns. Although, during my time at the Royal Victoria hospital in Montreal, I often cared for burned patients in the SICU, I have not seen anything like this! How could parents allow such horrible burns to happen to babies that can't even walk or crawl? Of course such questions, after the fact,are merely my frustration...I pray that the parents would love and take care of the needs of their little ones. I pray that the loving care and compassion of CURE will demonstrate how much we love and value each dear little life. Indeed they are precious in Jesus'sight and one day by God's grace, each one will be made whole again. Yes, I'll be honest the suffering really got to me today! Even as I blog the tears won't stop! Yet my tears are nothing compared to those of my Lord Jesus, who cried over Jerusalem. Jesus felt deep compassion for the crowds as we are told in the I guess my tears are understood by Jesus. Now that I've shed the tears, am I sulking at God? Am I shaking a fist and accusing God of allowing suffering?
Actually, no! As a matter of fact, I am in awe of my great God and His mercy in bringing these dear little ones and their caregivers to a place where they can be lovingly cared for and have the best chance of healing. Thank you, Heavenly Father for building this Oasis in the desert...a place that supplies Living Water and the Bread of Life to nourish and sustain life.
Last night, a dear Canadian missionary spoke to us on Psalms 103. Nothing better could have prepared my mind and soul for today. Sure, the tears still come, but the Biblical, godly perspective was laid as a stabilizer...Isaiah 33:6 says it this way, He (the LORD) will be the sure foundation for your times....! Those of you reading this blog, I wonder what are your 'times' that need stabilizing by our Great God and Savior? Jesus knows and has experienced your emotions...He is truly our Brother in that regard. He is also our eternal high priest forever bringing our needs before the Father.
No wonder Psalms 103 concludes with:
Praise the LORD, all His creatures in all places He rules.
Praise the LORD, my soul!
It is as if the psalmist is telling himself to praise the LORD. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves...ok, I need to remind myself...praise you LORD!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How do I wrap my mind around all the suffering and poverty?

Am writing this post on Saturday. Therefore, I am not working at the hospital. Today could be like any Saturday at home in Lexington. I went for a walk in the cool of the was a delightful 91 degrees F. While I walked, instead of being with Ruth and the doggies, I was alone. I walked the inside perimeter of the hospital walls. Along the way, instead of greeting neighbors I stopped to greet the security guards posted at the front and back of the grounds. I stopped to say bonjour to the patients and caregivers at the maison du passage (a hostel for outpatients that live far away) These dear ones were sitting on their woven mats in the shade, nursing babies, fixing tea with tiny charcoal set-ups and tiny colorful teapots. One of the babies remembered me from the hospital and began to wail so I made a hasty retreat. So much for playing with the babies today. I noticed a patient who had a burn scar revision...a young man whose disfigurement will probably hinder him from studies and employment. His only clothes were a set of filthy ones on his back. He was asked to take a shower yesterday by the staff. I wondered what good will that do with nothing fresh to put on? We will put that on our list of things for this week. Okay...I continued my walk around and around thinking about Joshua leading the Israelites around Jericho. The difference here is that I wasn't asking God to break down physical walls but:
To break down barriers of communication (Lord, please help me to speak French with greater fluidity)
To break down racial barriers(help me to pour Jesus' love onto receptive hearts)
To break down cultural barriers
To break down ignorance and barriers to learning (to care for their children's casts and dressing)
To break down spiritual barriers that hinder hearts and ears from hearing and receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ
Oh, boy there is much to pray about! The battle is great but we know who wins!
The cross of Christ, His life, death and resurrection are proof that God loves and has a plan to deal with these issues.
So how do I, or can I wrap my mind around these issues, obstacles and problems that I see here?
These verses have helped me, this is not a pat answer and yes, these things move me to tears, frustration and anger at various times. But...and buts are very important where God's word is concerned...
I will sing praises to You, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the wonderful things You have done.
I will sing with joy because of You.
I will sing praise to You, Almighty God...
The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
A place of safety in times of trouble.
Those who know You, LORD, will trust You;
You do not abandon anyone who comes to You...
God remembers those who suffer;
He does not forget their cry,
And He punishes those who wrong them.
Psalm 9:1,2,9,10,12
I believe these promises with all my heart. That is how I can obey this calling to serve in poor, oppressed and difficult places. God cares....God notices...God is at work. At CURE we are going with God, having the privilege of a small part in fulfilling these promises. Thank you, LORD!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Post-script on Friday, April 8th 2011

What in the world could be interesting about a photograph of a washing line full of clothes?

This photo shows the hospital washing line, with the perimeter wall in the background and the few trees and vegetation growing in this hot, hot and hotter environment. Some of you might think that this photo is insignificant but I love its symbolism....meaning...what?
On the line there are two sets of uniform shirts; green and orange...on the left. On the right side of the picture are sets of hospital uniforms.

For me this washing line shows the unity of the CURE staff. They work and play together....

staff and management
men and women
Moslem and Christian
young and old
expatiate and national
educated and uneducated
rich and poor

Itsn't this a picture of the impartiality of our God and Savior Jesus Christ? He came to save all those who call upon His name for salvation. He draws people from every lifestyle, every tribe and nation...making a people of His very own.  In Christ there is no favoratism, no partiality...John 3:16...whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life! Oh, what a Savior! Everytime I travel, I am blessed as I learn to appreciate the Lord Jesus Christ, more and more. So, don't you like the photo better now?

P.S. I was asked to play soccer with the staff this afternoon after you think this grandma could keep up......or not?

CURE Niger-Friday April 8th

This is baby Salamatou. I may have misnamed her in a previous blog as baby Fatima.(oops!) This little girl is 2 years old and came to the CURE Hopital des enfants au Niger back in January. She was severely malnurished and had a cleft lip that gave her an unattractive appearance. Little Salamatou and her family were shunned at their village as people thought this was either a curse or a disease that was contageous. It was so sad that this little one did not receive much nourishment due to lack of ability to suck etc. Well, thanks to Dr. Negrini's 'plumping program' (named by me), this little one is no longer so little....after a couple of months of this program, Salamtou has doubled her weight and is now heavier than her 7 month old sister. Last week she had her surgery and is looking even more beautiful. Salamtou's parents are so thrilled and before they came to CURE they were discouraged, shunned and almost out of hope until they heard about this hospital.
Look at the joy on this dear papa's face! I have seen how he tenderly feeds and helps his wife with the little girls...which is not typical of the male culture here (and lots of places!) This father invited his brother to come visit to see what was going on with the family. Today, Pastor Hassane and I prayed with these two men. What is more surprising is that Pastor Hassane told me that the last few evenings the men come to ask questions about the Bible and pray. They asked if they could come after work hours so that they will not disturb or take time from other staff and patients. This reminds me of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night.....oh that these men would be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. Oh, that the saving love our our Lord Jesus Christ would be transported deep into Niger.
It is so delightful to be back in Niger. Am praying that my French will become more fluid and comfortable for daily conversation.
It is wonderful to see that the nurses are busy with patient care including many outpatient dressing changes. They are learning many new procedures and protocols as the hospital gets busier. I am praying for the Lord to bring many more patients to CURE Also, I am praying that this hospital would gain a reputation in the community for loving care given in the name of Jesus regardless of financial, ethnic or religious background.
It is great to spend these first fews days observing things. My time here is a short four weeks and I want to make the most of it in focused and prioritized activities.....I'll have time to think and plan over the weekend.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Safely in Niger!

How I love You, LORD!
You are my defender.
The LORD is my protector;
He is my strong fortress.
My God is my protection,
and with Him I am safe.
He protects me like a shield;
He defends me and keeps me safe.
Psalms 18:1,2
These verses were prayed over me today by a sweet sister in the Lord. There is a faithful circle of beloved ones who hold me up in prayer each time I travel for CURE International.
How lovely to have the words of our living God prayed over me.
Do I need some special protection?
Although, I feel safe there are many dangers in travel and West African countries at the moment. Niger is enjoying a time of peace. The new President is being inaugurated tomorrow.
It will be a public that would get most people's vote!
We will have rounds in the morning but no specific duties. Instead I will continue to unpack and distribute the stuff I brought for the missionary families.
It is 96 at 8:30pm. No, I do not have AC on. I have a ceiling fan that makes me feel refreshed.
I got back from the hospital late today as the surgeries and post op rounds took some time. It is a learning curve for all. Everytime there is a new procedure or different type of anesthetic, the nurses must learn new nursing care plans to safely take care of their patients. It is particularly challenging when it is new to Angele(nurse from France) and me too! This is when I send up those arrow prayers and ask my Heavenly Father, the Great Physican for His wisdom and help.
It is so good to lean on the everlasting and almighty arms of the LORD. He is the helper and protector!
It is so good to be back. Already I can see the influence of Angele, a Christian nurse from France upon the ward nurses. What joy to see answers to prayer.
Well, if everything is progressing why would I need protection?
I need protection against....
Physical sickness
Spiritual discouragement
Physical dangers...
I need encouragement and eyes to see the blessings and improvement..
I need to be encouraged that I am in the right place at the right time to bring honor to the name of Jesus Christ.
Do I worry being alone in this big guest house?
In a word...NO!
My Savior is with me. He is my refuge! Who else could turn to?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where in the world is Maureen?

Where's Waldo, I mean Maureen?  It has been ages since I wrote a bit for this blog! Well, I am still in the USA, but not for long! By this time next week, I will be in Niamey, Niger. This will be the third trip to the CURE Children's hospital in Niger. I am so excited. Each venture to Africa is an opportunity to serve God as I serve CURE staff, caregivers and patients.
What do I do there.....? If you have followed this blog before, you know that it is about building relationships in the daily functioning of the hospital. Yes, I go in the operating room and watch surgeries, observing nursing care, making list of supplies, helping the nurses in any way I can. Remember, this hospital is only a few months old and there are many things to consider in a new facility. The nurses deliver patient care in two main areas, called the bloc and the pavilion. In the bloc the nurse are responsible for the operating room equipment, sterilization, supplies and assisting the surgeon and anesthetist in the peri-operative and immediate post-operative periods.  The nurses in the pavilion are responsible for patient care including; admission to the hospital, orientation for patient and caregiver, preoperative preparation, postoperative care and discharge planning/teaching. Nursing is more than just techniques of dressing changes, cast care, vital signs and surgical care. Each patient and their caregivers are precious souls that are in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 This past visit in January, I had a great time getting to work alongside Pastor Hassane. We visited the patients and their caregivers in the hospital and the annex called the 'masion de passage'. The annex is really a hostel for long term patient management. This dear little one has a cleft lip and palette. She is two years old and rejected by her village. Consequently, she was very malnourished. With a special diet and attention, she will be ready for the cleft repair soon. The happiest part of the story is that the parents were so astonished at the love and care given to them. The gospel was preached to them through loving care for the whole family. Pastor Hassane explained that the care was given to them in the name of Jesus. We had many happy prayer times together. Please pray for this dear little girl. She is going to be so beautiful as the cleft repair work is done.
Every visit, I am reminded that the nursing, medical, practical care that is given to the patients and their caregivers, is a means of showing love and ultimately an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although this is a Muslim country, there is an openness and eagerness to learn more about the Lord Jesus. Often language is a barrier as many patients speak neither English or French. Praise God that Love is the Universal language.
As I go next Monday, please pray for more opportunities to share Christ's love!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Home from Africa! So how was your trip?

Sharing a Bible with nurse in Uganda
Cuddling a little one at the feeding center at the Mbale Regional Hospital
Little girl next to me is named Beautiful....and she is...inside and out!
Esther and Maureen...sisters for all eternity!
I am holding a newborn in a village near Niamey, Niger...proud parents on either side of me!
Holding a baby is a favorite nursing activity for this Grandma at the CURE Hospital in Niger....the baby is the son of one of the nurses.

Coming back from Africa, on February 5th was a huge adjustment in many ways. Although I have enjoyed many journeys to Africa, this one has taken me a long time to process as there were so many interesting place, people, programs and problems that I encountered. It is always a joy for me to serve the LORD and the month of January was no exception. The journey began in Uganda, where I visited the CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda. It was a celebratory week for the 10th Anniversary of the hospital's opening. During that week, it was wonderful to visit a feeding center located at the Regional hospital of Mbale. It is a privilege to be involved in nutrition for the children who are malnourished and consequently poor surgical candidates. It was a joy to hold a few of the children, meet their caregivers and pray with them.
Agnes...our precious Compassion child!
Our family supports a Compassion child in Uganda, whose name is Agnes. She lives not too far from Mbale, so I took a taxi and went to the hills and visited her.  We had a great time together. Each step of this journey, I sensed the Lord's faithfulness and grace in the lives of those I visited. Before I left Agnes' home, the social worker translated for me a message from Agnes' father. He asked, 'What words of encouragement and wisdom do you have for my family?' This is when the scriptures that say to be prepared, in season and out to preach the Word to correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction....2 Timothy 4:2....comes into action. Isn't it amazing how the Holy Spirit will pour something into you so that you can pour it out on others? What a great time of sharing a few scriptures and praying for each of the family members. This family loves the Lord and are trying hard to better themselves with the support they are receiving. They are encouraging Agnes to do her best at school and press on to choose a field of study for future employment. This was my third visit with Agnes and each time I see her growth and beauty as a young woman who loves the Lord. She sings beautifully for me each visit too! 
After a  precious week in Mbale, Uganda, we drove overland to Entebbe to the airport and I flew to Nairobi, Kenya and overland to Kijabe to the AIC-CURE Children's Hospital of Kijabe. I will write more about that in another post. Suffice it to say that it was a most interesting, informative and precious time with dear friends from Montreal, Quebec, Canada days and with the CURE staff. The week at Kijabe was much better than I expected it to be.
The next phase of my trip was full of travel challenges....due to mechanical problems, I had to stay in Nairobi for an extra night and Paris for two nights awaiting a connecting flight to Niger.
I'll post more of this another day....meanwhile, I want blog readers to know that God showed Himself real, strong, faithful, dependable, merciful and gracious in the midst of all these comings and goings! What a mighty God we serve!