Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lessons from Ballet

Most of my blog readers know that I have a daughter who dances at Birmingham Southern College. She is a wonderful picture of perseverance through tough times like breaking a leg and other injuries. What amazes me is the courage, strength and flexibility that she has developed since she began dancing at 14 years old. Last night was movie night at the Negrini household. We ate delicious open faced sandwhiches of pate, salami and fromage et tomate! (I am mixing my languages) after a Children's movie the adults watched 'White Nights'. It was an interesting story and all the way through I thought of Marie. The courage, strength and flexibility made me realize that these are the same characteristics that I need as I serve the Lord here in Niger and anywhere He sends me!
Once again I am enjoying the challenges and variety of the work at the hospital. Indeed I need courage this week in the midst of travel challenges, delays and security issues. Joshua 1:9, Psalms 27. The Lord is with me and I need not be afraid. Psalm 94:19 is my constant mediation.
Certainly, I have needed physical strength in the daily 100 plus temperatures (it's the cool season!) As the oldest one here, I need strength to keep up with the younger ones :) Colossians 1: 11,12. Finally, I am always aware of the need to be flexible just like Marie as she stretches, leaps and dances. What does Flexible mean? In the realm of missions, flexibility means servant leadership. It means willingness to put aside personal agendas for the Lord's plans for my days here...personally and professionally! John 14:23
Advice for the day...'dance' for Jesus with courage, strength and flexibility!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day 2 at CURE Niger-Meetings!

Well, after all the travel challenges, I arrived safe and sound in Niamey, Niger. It was a warm VIP greeting.... Not for me but the donors of the hospital were coming to visit and attend a church conference with their pastor. Somehow I got invited and whisked into this kind welcome. Every care was taken to greet us and handle the immigration and baggage. I sat charting with this dear pastor and his wife and before I knew it, I was on my way to the place where I was staying!
God showed me favor which was undeserved. It was so nice to get here and see everyone again.
My work is cut out for me...where does one begin? RELATIONSHIPS! I have had multiple meetings and greetings! It has been good to talk, reorient and pray with the dear staff.
There are several areas of responsibility. It is wonderful to have Angele from France who has come for a year. She will mentor the nurses. Together we are working on Nursing assessment, care plans and evaluation of care. we are seeing interesting cases and some cases that one would normally see only in medical textbooks. Indeed, how fearfully and wondrously we have been made.
Meetings with Angele were delightful as we have many common interests, the gospel and good nursing care. Other meeting have been necessary for discussions regarding physical and spiritual care standards. CURE has been so kind to give me freedom to meet, discuss and implement steps in developing nurses and patient care.
Meetings are about communication, relationships and encouragement. We all need affirmation and encouragement!
How many times is it easier to criticize than provide solution to the problems?
It is my desire to affirm, encourage and bless each CURE employee that I encounter. The challenges of working in Niger wear people down including the local folks. It is a joy and privilege to come and spread the joy of least I hope that's what I'm sharing!
This work is hard but empowered by God's love and Holy Spirit's power.
It is sunny and hot weather by USA standards. This morning the family I am staying with had an alarm clock failure which delayed everyone a bit. How lovely to worship a God who is always timely....not only that, He is the Lord of time and eternity so He is able to stretch my time to accomplish His plans and purposes. Psalm 94:19 has been a source of comfort in the many concerns during this trip! To God be all the glory!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's a Chapatis?

I forgot to say in the last blog that Friday is chapatis day! For those of you reading this that don't know...a chapatis is like a flat bread, tortilla. It is pretty dense, browned on a griddle with oil. It is nice to dip in the various stews or sauces. Chapatis are a treat for the hospital staff as they are only served once a week! So now you know. Some of the CURE GO Team Uganda learned how to make ask them not me how to produce a Chapatis!

Chapatis Friday

Today is my last day at AIC/CURE Kijabe in Kenya. It has been an exciting week. I have been staying with dear friends Dan and Dita Poenaru and their son Chris. The last time I stayed with them was in 2004. At that time, Mark and Shannon were newly weds and the girls were still in high school. The stories of that week will have to wait for another time. Dan says that the stories are urban legends but don't believe him! Needless to say, we are older and wiser,I hope. That's not to say we haven't had some extraordinary moments!Laughter is a good medicine.
Today I spent in the operating theatre and saw some incredible surgeries. I will spare you the medical jargon but suffice it to say that they were complex ortho cases. The deformities that these young people suffer is beyond comprehension. The surgeons were skilled and persistent to provide the best surgical options for quality of function and mobility post-operatively. Some congenital malformations or tumors require several surgeries or stages of repair. I cannot imagine the pain and rehab period only to have to repeat the process. Suffering in Africa is accepted as a fact of this fallen world. Perhaps our easy comfort in the west, sanitizes suffering so we loose meaning and acceptance of it. The caregivers and hospital staff are truly special people. As I shared the Seminar on a Christian Worldview of Nursing, the nurses shared their desire to provide excellent and improved pain relief. Sounds like Paul's department, too.
This week turned out better than I imagined. Diane Lawrence and Tifshet Lemma(nurse matron from CURE Ethiopia)taught Basic Life Saving and Advanced Life Saving. My role was to teach the previously mentioned seminar. Both aspects of nursing are necessary; clinical/technical skills and providing these with Christian character,values and perspective. That's the CURE goal for nursing practice. Oh, as I teach (as Eric Little said)I feel my Heavenly Father's equipping and pleasure! Cannot believe I'm moving on to Niger tomorrow. Can't wait to see the Roark's, Negrinis and Lemans...and of course all their delightful young ones!

Monday, January 17, 2011

If this is Monday, it must be Kenya

It has been an exciting few days! I have been traveling to and getting settled in Kijabe, Kenya. The view of the Rift Valley from the Poenaru's house is breath-taking. It is cool in the mornings and evenings. Dita and I are having great times catching up. How beautiful to be united as sisters in the Lord. We walked and talked for over an hour after work today. It was a lot of uphill climbing. I feel like I'm in training for our ski week! Dan is away for a few days at a remote Dita and I are enjoying lots of 'girlfriend' time together.
The Lord is challenging me to live thankfully without complaining...that's a tough one to learn! I am also challenged to trust rather than fret! These are life lessons that look tidy on paper but tricky to live out.
Tomorrow is a big teaching day so I'll continue more on Kijabe the next time!

Friday, January 14, 2011

CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda 10th Anniversary Celebrations

What a wonderful and beautiful day! The grounds of the hospital were 'spic and span' clean. The gardens were glorious in their natural splendor. It seemed that the Lord arranged the weather and vegetation to be perfect for the celebrations. The tents for the guests were beautifully decorated with green tulle, ribbons and bows. No bride could imagine a more splendorous venue....but this was not a wedding it was the 10th anniversary of the CURE Children's Hospital of Uganda (CCHU)However, there were so many similarities to a wedding besides the decorations...we were ushered to our seats like honored guests. As we sat we witnessed not wedding vows but promises to continue care for children with hydrocephalus, spina bifida and other neural tube disorders. There were gifts given to the 'mammas and pappas' who began this good work. It was typical of a wedding in that there were many special guests but the most important players were the family members..CURE patients and staff!
The children helped to cut the cake with Sally and Scott Harrison. They served us too! Who said these kids cannot do anything...they sang, spoke, served and engaged in cheerful conversation.
At the end of the day, I felt as if I had been at a wedding reception. I talked to so many people. I hugged so many people. I couldn't eat much because it was so exciting! Instead I went around taking pictures with my sweet Ugandan family!
When it was all over I came back to the guesthouse for a few minutes of quiet meditation and a stiff cup of tea. The day ended with a pleasant dinner at the Mount Elgon Resort. The conversation was joyful and interesting as we interacted with wonderful leaders in the field.
How awesome to reflect upon God's goodness over the years in Mbale, Uganda and indeed around the world as CURE continues to expand its cause.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Compassion Child, Bududa and Nathan's Family Namutela

Wednesday was such an exciting and interesting day! After staff devotions of praise and worship, I went to Bududa to visit my Compassion child Agnes. The taxi driver is Rashid. His father was an important leader in the Moslem community in Mbale.
Rashid has been driving me in Uganda since 2007 or so. I have been faithfully sharing the gospel as the Lord gives opportunity. It is amazing to be able to share the love and grace of our Lord Jesus with him. He is very polite and so happy to see me each time. He obviously loves Children and is a great one to bring with the social worker on the visit. Please pray for his salvation!(and his family too)
We drove to the Compassion project and had 'breakfast'with Agnes then drove further up the mountain for the home visit. Pappa was proud to show me his new cow! I bought the family a live chicken. I thought it was for their supper but it will be kept alive for eggs, then breeding and finally dinner some months or years down the road. This chicken will add much to the family's economic stability.
Agnes proudly showed me her room and the sheets and blanket she got for Christmas. It is so good to see the financial integrity of this organization.
What a joy to listen to Agnes sing praises to God with her cousin Evelyn. We shared sodas and cookies and words of encouragement. I was asked to pray over the family before we left. Then many of the family, after photos, marched down the mountain with us. The drive down the mountain was beautiful!
Then we had lunch at the project site. After more photos, hugs and encouragements we were on our way back to Mbale.
I only had time for a quick change. Then Rashid stayed to pick us up to take Nathan an OR tech and me to Namutela.
Nathan and Lorna, his wife are salt of the earth people. They are so hospitable and welcoming! Once again,I enjoyed sweet fellowship with them and their dear children. Lorna always makes the best chapatis and other yummy stuff.
It was all too soon that the day had come to an end. The power went out so I called for my taxi. Soon enough I was in bed as one tired puppy!
More exciting stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Praise Time

Good morning! How was your night? Praise the Lord! Amen! Are the frequent daily exchanges here at CURE Mbale! Wednesday praise and worship time is very popular for all the staff and visitors. It is a wonderful cultural experience but beyond that it is a great privilege to raise our voices in thanksgiving to God!
We were challengedthiss morning that Monday prayer groups and Tuesday Bible studies are not as well attended...I think it is the same in the USA. We are so glad to open our mouths to talk and sing yet not so comfortable listening to what God has to say in His Word to us!
I'll carry that thought with me for a long time! It is difficult to surrender to Christ's authority. It is a daily, hourly, moment by moment struggle. Thankfully Philippians 4:13 promises that I can do all things....even submission to His His strength. Now that's GRACE! Jesus Christ, my Lord gives me the power to do right.
My scripture reading in Colossians 1:16,17 (yes, that's Tabletalk devotional)this morning reminded me that Jesus Christ is my Creator, Savior and Sustainer of my life. The realities of Christ's power to bring joy, satisfaction, peace and purpose to life serving day by day here and there are becoming more abundant!
I am off to Bududa to visit Agnes our Compassion Child! I am so excited!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Joys at CURE Uganda

For many people Monday is the start of the work week and just the thought of Monday can bring a groan on Sunday evening. For me, I could not wait to join with the CURE staff for prayer time. What a delight to meet dear, precious nursing students from Bethel in Minnesota. What hope for the future of nursing as I observed their passion and dedication. Their observations are fresh and their enthusiasm and energy is infectious.
It was a brilliant day in many ways.
While Dr. Mugamba is away Dr. Peter is here. His lovely wife Lydia is a gem! She has trained in South Africa as a Pediatric nurse specialist. Even though she is on holiday, she is wanting to participate in the nursing department. We had a great time in the ICU discussing nursing challenges and joys. Elisha the nurse clinician teacher and assistant to Florence, the Matron; he kindly took us to the regional hospital to the Feeding Unit. This unit is established to provide nutritional support and education to children who are malnourished due to illness or poverty. CURE refers some surgical candidates to this unit as some are so undernourished that they pose a risk for anesthesia and surgery. It was so interesting what the beginning feeds are made from...milk, sugar, water, Blue Band (margarine) and a cocktail of vitamins. Sounds so yucky to me, especially the margarine part! The unit has dormitories for the child and caregiver to stay in. There are gardens for vegetables to add to the feeding program for those who are able to have solid food and feed the caregivers too. The nurses staffing the unit wore pretty pink uniforms with a little crown of lace perched on their heads. They were so gracious and kind in giving us a tour around. The unit feeds 20 or more children per day. They consume 5 liters of milk plus the other stuff mentioned earlier. When ideal weight gain has been achieved or the child is on the right growth pattern, they are discharged from the unit with packets of 'Plumpy Nut'....yes that is the name! It is a peanut butter type substance in a foil pouch. The purpose of the product is to plump up the child. I was wondering if I should bring some home for George (my precious grandson) who struggles sometimes with weight gain?
It was an exciting visit. Thank you to Elisha for taking Lydia, Sue (the nursing instructor) and me!
The rest of the day was spent doing this and that in the nursing department. At the end of the work day Moses drove me to town to deliver a parcel to Nada and Yussef from the Howards. What a joy to be the one delivering these gifts. I feel a bit like Santa Claus.
This morning my Bible reading was from Luke 12:22-31.
Once again I was reminded that God gives good gifts. It is He we are to trust for daily necessities of food and clothing. I see CURE as being the hands serving nourishment, surgical/medical care and compassion to those who enter the clinics and hospitals. It is a privilege to witness this first hand in Mbale. Most of all, I was reminded this morning that the Lord want His disciples to be concerned about God's kingdom..His rule and power for His honor/glory! Don't worry! Trust God!
I wish I could figure out how to post pictures on the blog. Perhaps tomorrow I will have access to a computer to download photos. Meawhile you will have to take my word that these dear children are so dear and desperate for Jesus'love to transform their lives!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Greetings from Uganda

It is hard to believe that I am back in my beloved Uganda with dear bothers and sisters in the
Lord. Today was a typical Sunday for me. I got ready for 'prayers' meaning church services. Everyone here, no matter how poor, tries to put on their best clothes and look 'smart' or as we say in Kentucky....'clean up good'!
Funny thing on the way to church is that I took the wrong road delaying my arrival for the 10:30 second service. I arrived at 10:50 to a full auditorium and slipped onto the bench next to my friends Angela and John. I was so tickled to find a spot next to them. As I listened to what was being said...I was thinking...I must be later than I thought! Next thing we are asked to stand for closing prayer! Oh, oh I was late but early! The 8am service ended at 11:45! I thought I got a few strange looks coming into the church. Well, I hadn't heard the sermon so stayed on for the second service....I had to leave at 1:50 as I told the guard at the hospital to send a search party if I wasn't back by two as it would mean I was lost. By this time I had missed my lunch at the hospital but got to visit the ICU and pray for a critically ill baby Joel. It is always a joy to be with CURE nurses and pray for the dear patients. The hospital is full! The work of healing children born with neurological disabilities and malformations continues even with the 10th Anniversary celebrations this Friday.
It is a joy to be here and I appreciate the CURE hospitals even more now that I've visited 4 of them. God is using medicine as a link to the communities to bring healing to bodies and to broken hearts so desperate for His saving love.
It is exciting to be here! Thank you to all who are supporting CURE in various ways!
Tomorrow, I will be with Florence, the matron and Elisha, the nurse clinician teacher. I'm here to serve them. The week will go fast as I am going on Wednesday to visit my Compassion Child in the mountains of Bududa. Friday is the day of festivities and Saturday I head off towards CURE Kijabe. Wow...all this and Heaven too?!
What a privilege to serve our great God and Savior!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I am His and He is Mine

Yes, this is a cozy picture of Paul and me taken at Thanksgiving. How lovely to enjoy the support, friendship and love a wonderful man. What a gift, the Lord has given to me in Paul! Indeed, in this era of self-centeredness, self absorption, and self promotion, Paul is a rare breed. His generosity and joy in supporting these missions with CURE International overwhelm me! His calling is to give and send...staying behind to care for the family and home front concerns. Paul quips when asked why he does not travel with me....'Someone has to stay at home and pay the bills'....indeed he does that well and more!

 A great marriage is such a is a picture of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for His bride....His people. This morning as I prepare to leave behind those who I love soooooo much, the words of an old hymn are circling in my head. The words remind me that there is Someone who loves me even more than Paul loves me or I love him! What a great God and Savior!

 Loved with everlasting love,  Led by grace that love to know;
Spririt, breathing from above,  Thou hast taught me it is so!
Oh this full and perfect peace! Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His and He is mine.

Heaven above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christ-less eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o'er flow, Flow'rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know as now I know, I am His and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,  Pillowed on the loving breast,
Oh, to lie forever here, Doubt and care, and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His and He is mine.

His forever,  only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav'n and earth may fade and flee, Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

I am so very grateful to the Lord for giving Paul to be my husband so that I would catch a glimpse of the security in God's embrace! Thank you, Paul for your loving sacrifice! Thank you, Lord for your indescribable love!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year 2011

Happy New Year 2011 from the Sloan family. We are growing! Little George is nearly two and Shannon and Mark are expecting another little one, Anna Lee in May. We are very excited for this new addition to the family.  Mark is half way through his residency program in Emergency Medicine (St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria, IL) and is loving being a Daddy.  Shannon is a wonderful and happy Mom to George. She is excited for Anna Lee to be born. Anne is studying her first year of medical school and loving it. She seems to be a natural study-er and very disciplined. We are grateful that she had a little time off to make her famous shortbread cookies for Christmas. Marie is completing her degree in Dance and French at Birmingham Southern College. She has many interesting opportunities to decide upon as the summer of 2011 approaches. We are praying for God's direction to be clear when the time comes. Meanwhile she plans to enjoy her last semester! Paul is happy and content doing what he is called to for his patients at the University of Kentucky. His calmness and patience has made him a favorite with the residents and others in training. Me? Well if you are reading this blog, you can guess where I am headed this year! I leave this Thursday for one month mission journey to Uganda, Kenya and Niger. You will hear all about the trip in future blogs.  As the New Year begins, many are thinking about making resolutions which can be goals to aim for....we often make resolutions related to personal goals of achieving health, happiness and prosperity. I am so thankful during my time of reflection over 2010 and contemplation of the future that this old hymn came to my mind....I would like to share some of the words with you....

My Goal is God Himself

My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God
'Tis His to lead me there, not mine but His
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.

One thing I know, I cannot say Him nay:
One thing I do, I press towards my Lord;
My God my glory here from day to day,
And in the glory there my Great Reward.

Isn't that the sweetest thought, to make the Lord Jesus Christ our goal for the coming year? I know I want to increasingly know, love and serve Him in 2011.
Have a blessed beginning to the New Year 2011~ Blessings!