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?