Thursday, December 6, 2012

He is Lord!

It has been such a long time since I posted a blog that it is embarrassing! Yet life has a way of happening. Seasons come and if your life is anything like mine this season....the Holiday Season  of Thanksgiving and Christmas is HUGE! The expectations that I put upon myself and allow others to put on me can be overwhelming.

What's a woman to do?

Work harder, faster, smarter? 'Skipping Christmas'?
Just Do It?
Get mad and sad then glad when it's over? about re-framing all the activities of the season within their true context?

Counting my blessings?
  • The freedom to celebrate Jesus Christ's birth in a world that is increasingly hostile to Christianity
  • The circle of family, church friends and community when so many in this world are friendless
  • The abundance of food (and the need to count calories) when so many  are hungry
  • The availability of shelter when there are so many homeless even in our own cities
  • Clean water, sanitation, access to medical care....
  • The beauty and symbolism of the lights, greenery, even candy-canes!
  • Christmas music, movies and memories
  • The ability to celebrate in some fashion

Such thoughts are a balm to my frazzled attempts to make this 'a perfect Christmas'.  As I travel with Cure International, it is a privilege to learn about different cultures, how and what they celebrate. During my last visit to Niger, there was a very special holiday season called 'Tabaski'  with many festivities that are similar to our own....special meals, special ceremonies, special clothes, symbolism and so on. I will attempt to describe these in future blogs. Hope this whets your appetite!

Today, I would like to share the words to a song we sang at at simple church in Niamey, Niger, no walls,  no decorations, no frills, no distractions (except for a few cats, chickens, children and dogs strolling through)...

Rabbi no; Rabbi no
A tun ka fun buukay ra a zamma!
Kange kulu ga gurfa
Deene kulu ga seeda
Ka re: Yessu wo Rabbi no

Guess you want the translation?

He is Lord,  He is Lord
He is risen from the dead and He is Lord
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess
That Jesus Christ is Lord

Grandma Maureen's lap is often full with dear children-smile!

Natalie, a sweet sister I met this visit to Niger-such strong faith and love
No walls, no worries, worship under a tree is fine!
It puts it into perspective does it not? So when the work of the holidays and the expectations get overwhelming try to hum this little chorus. Remember, Christmas is just the prelude. Our expectations and hope is for the Second Coming!  What a celebration that will be!

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What is the real work here?

The other day I picked up in the guest house, a slightly dusty copy of a favorite devotional of mine...My Utmost for His Highest.  It never ceases to challenge my thinking.  Hopefully moving me to deeper obedience. As I read it this morning I was reminded of something important today.....

As I visit with many wonderful missionaries I am in awe of all that they are doing. I realize my brief and small contribution is just that.....small. Arriving I felt as if I had a lot to do teaching classes, encouraging staff to higher levels of commitment and competence.....yet is that why I am here?
What is the real work? Ask around and you will get many different answers.

Yet Oswald Chambers, the author of My Utmost for His Highest suggests that PRAYER is the real work. With prayer the focus is God and knowing His mind. Work can be distracting as one gets involved in details of trying to accomplish a task. Prayer keeps us on track seeking the mind of God to understand His will and ways. 
I am so grateful to Paul, Pappa and Mum who are prayer warriors for me as I travel to far off places. There are so many of you who read this blog who pray for me constantly and pray God's Word over these visits to CURE Hospitals. May I take the opportunity to thank you for your hard work in serving the Lord and me today? Bless you all!

So did I pray all day in my nursing uniform.....of course not! But beginning each day with God's Word and prayer helps me to know how to think, speak and respond so that the Lord Jesus Christ is honored.

Got to go.....and get back to WORK :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bubbles, boys and books....all blessings!

Tuesdays are consultation days at CURE Niger.  Every bench and chair was filled when I arrived at the hospital this morning. Every patient comes with at least one family member, so it can be hard to find the one needing care.....often they are hidden under burkas or drapes of beautiful fabric....some like to run behind skirts of run off to play with little stones, sticks or clumps of dirt...whatever they can find.
Before we dive into the daily hospital work, we begin with staff devotions. Sadly they are sometimes poorly attended. We used to get more staff when the music was a part of the gathering. Yet, how lovely to have Josh sharing from God's Word in Acts 15....what a blessing to be reminded to not put a strain on new believers with rules and regulations that were never intended to be a part of salvation. Christ died for our sins and He has not imposed extra laws to our lives....the law is the mirror and school master showing us our need of a Savior.  He is all perfection-right-ness for us.

After devotions we visited patients in the ward (Pavilion) and Hostel.  Christine comes laden with bubbles and joy in the LORD. The children go crazy trying to burst the bubbles as they fly into the sky.  The little guy in the green was particularly enthusiastic!! Even with one hand bandaged from a severe burn.
A group of thirty or so children came from far away for cleft repairs. They too go excited for the bubbles...see how obedient they are sitting on the mat together. These are such precious children. Oh how I pray that they will know God's love for them.

After the bubble fun.....I went to the consultation clinic 
and spent some time with the anesthesia nurses. Diane Lawrence had encouraged a young man Amadou, whose first wife died when he began his training at CURE just two years ago.  He is delighted with the book she sent, as you can see.

We saw several patients and examined them for readiness with respect to anesthesia during their surgical experience. It was quite an ordeal for the small ones who clearly did not like seeing strange faces.....especially my white one!
So many needs!

Your love , O LORD reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O LORD, you preserve both man and beast. Psalm 36:5, 6

So there it is 2 at CURE Niger. It was a full day as the afternoon was spent preparing the equipment for the class which starts tomorrow.

I can honestly say that the Lord is my helper and strength.
He is my hope for the future.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Showers of Blessings!

What a delightful welcome to Niger yesterday! I was met at the airport by my dear sister in Christ and friend Anne Negrini and teenage daughter. Warm greetings were expressed by all. Before I sat down, I was handed a lovely cup of coffee by Jean Francois.....Grandma needs coffee! I am feeling very loved. The dear Negrini children loved up on me which was such a joy!
The Lehman family invited the new Executive Director and me to dinner. It was so delicious! Christine spoiled us with homemade lasagne. We sat and chatted for quite a while about transitions and changes for all of us around the table. So grateful for the unchanging character of God who is always there, always compassionate and ever faithful.
How interesting when our circumstances put is in different places and seasons. So glad that our Lord is the same, yesterday and forever.  The welcome and dinner were great blessings! Leron greeted me with Welcome Home.....and indeed Niamey, Niger is a second home for me!

The Men at dinner
 The next shower of blessing was more literal.....we had a huge rain fall at the end of the work day today! Usually the rains for the year have stopped by now...I was so amazed at the amount of rain that fell....came pouring in a crack in the roof! This is Africa! After mopping up as best as I could, I noted that the sun was shining and everything was drying out again. Even the floors where the roof had leaked was drying up quickly.  What a blessing rain is to the farmers and to the dear people who live in constant need of fresh water to drink, bathe and wash clothes. We take too  much for granted! You all know I am not a very good photographer or videographer. Perhaps you will get the idea!

Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. 
Psalm 103:2

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sustaining prayers!

These encouraging emails have been a lifeline to me this week and today as I travel.  Words cannot express my joy and pleasure in receiving them from my dear sister-in-Christ  Carol.  Although Carol has her own concerns she took the time to bless me with these scriptures and prayers! Several of us attempted to pray for this mission and a dear friend one day this week.  We ended up in a hospital emergency room. The Lord taught us many lessons of His wonderful love. He also taught me this week that He will encourage me with prayer, in His way and His time.
On Sunday, it was a huge blessing to be commissioned and prayed for by my pastor....a dear young man whose mother was in my BSF class at Immanuel Baptist Church when BSF evening classes for women started. Can you see and feel the faithfulness of God?!!! (Full circle)

Please be blessed as I was.......

My Dear Sister . . .

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. 
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
(Psalm 37:3-6)

Precious Maureen, this morning in my quiet time the Lord led me to this Psalm (one of my favorites) multiple times.  These verses always encourage and convict me as well, because I do not trust the Lord with EVERY area of my life at all times.  BUT, He is so patient, merciful and gracious towards me in my human weakness as I tend to put my trust in myself to get things done or when I think/worry about the future and how I will respond to different situations.  He knows us so much better than we know ourselves, including our human frailties.  Yet, we have the ability to come to Him and put our trust in Him every moment of the day.  He will meet all of our needs in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)  AMEN!!

So, as I pray for you today and in the days to come, I am asking the Lord to prepare your heart, mind, body, and soul for what is ahead of you.  I am praying that He will fill you with His peace as you prioritize what you need to do before leaving on Saturday, as well as having the time to pack, make final arrangements, etc. 

I love you dear, sister and am holding you up right now. 

Much love,
Carol  :)

Good morning, Maureen! 
    "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Psalm 46:10

I am praying for you this morning and hope all is well as you leave for Niger! 

Precious Abba Father, you are holy, holy, holy!  We praise your Almighty name.  We thank you for our sister, Maureen, who you have called to return to Niger this morning, serving you through the CURE ministry.  Please keep her safe and secure on her journey. Protect her on the flights; protect her luggage and the materials she is bringing with her.  Fill Maureen with your Holy Spirit, dress her in your mighty armor, give her Your discernment and wisdom as she travels as well as when she arrives in Niger.  Give Maureen the physical strength and endurance she needs to accomplish Your work.  May the beautiful light of Jesus shine through her as You use her to minister to the people of Niger.  And, we thank you for Your protection of her from the evil and dark forces that are at work in that part of the world.  Please be with Paul and her family while she is away.  Help and comfort their hearts as they endure these next weeks in Maureen's absence.  Father, we thank you for hearing these spoken and unspoken petitions and for answering them according to Your will in Christ Jesus.  Thank you for loving and saving us.  You are an Awesome God!!

And now, Maureen . . .
    "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace!"                                                                                                                                      (Numbers 6:24-26)

I love you, precious sister, and will continue to keep you in my prayers.  Take care and God Bless You!

Much love,
Carol  :)

**** Thank you so much for all the prayers, dear Carol and others! Diana, Elaine, Patty, Jennifer, Bettye, Sarah, Ruth and of course my dear family have helped me so much this busy week. May the Lord be seen large in all aspects!!
Soulange and me! Oh wouldn't it be great to see her again?

Friday, October 5, 2012

October...that means packing for Niger!

Duomo in beautiful...Glory to God in the highest!!

It has been a long time since I posted anything in this blog.....what on earth is going on since I returned from Niger in May?
It has been a most full are a few highlights and low-lights! 


Paul by  La Scalla Opera House in Milan
  • Philadelphia, Boston, Milan for Paul's work
  • Peoria, Tuscaloosa, Smith Lake, AL, Montreal for family visits
  • Duck, NC and Hilton Head SC for rest and family vacation
  • Lemoyne, PA and St. Louis for ministry refreshment 
Parnell sisters enjoying Love Life!

End of summer fun!

Bubble Machine at Grandma's

Mark receiving his diploma and award graduating from University of Illinois Emergency Medicine program
Shannon is Mark's ever faithful, supportive, sweet, hardworking wife and excellent mother of our grandbabies!  

Enjoying the summer in KY!
  • Shannon and Mark (and the children) moved back from Peoria to Lexington!
  • Mark's graduation from Emergency Medicine Residency
  • Anne's great success in her Step One exams (scored in top percentiles of USA)
  • Maire's dream job of teaching ballet at a classical Christian School
  • Shannon's fantastic parenting and organization during move back to Lexington
  • Zachary's success in the University of Alabama Law School and being selected for junior editor of the Law Journal
George is ready with his power tools!
Anna Lee embracing life in KY
George and Anna Lee, our grandbabies are living across the street from us!

Zachary and Marie embracing University of Alabama Football
Celebrating Anne's great scores and niece Rebecca's starting @ Dental School!

More Rejoicing!
Can't wait to hold my dear little ones overseas!

Serving with Joy!

  • September 13th the Missionary Committee of Tates Creek Presbyterian Church listened to the presentation of God's call on my life to work with CURE International. I was lovingly prayed for and will be commissioned on Oct 7th at the 11 am service. What a great answer to prayer!
  • Was commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel by Governor Beshear (grace gift!) 
    Please don't call me Colonel or ask for KFC!!


Pappa is all decked out in University of Kentucky blue...matches his eyes!
Paul loves Pappa.  His own parents have been long gone to be with the LORD. He is very attached to Mum, too who is ever faithful in caring for Pappa since they married 27 years ago!
Dear Pappa and Mum--4 years since his big stroke
Even though Pappa couldn't remember our names he knew that he liked being with us and loved us!

  • Visiting Pappa in Montreal and seeing loved ones overwhelmed with fatigue and care issues---feeling the distance.....needing Mum in Lexington more!
  • Dear friend, sister and 'second mother' Amy King fractured her back after successful knee surgery and is painfully rehabilitating at Tanbark, a local health center.
  • Wanting to do more with less energy :)  
  • Need continued prayer for all these needs and concerns....I know I can count on those of you who read this to pray!
  So What's the bottom line?

People will always take precedence over packing!
Relationships are more important than having it all pulled together!
 Serving the Lord in Africa is all of God's grace-even the motivation to go comes from Him!
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Friday, May 18, 2012

Food, Fun, Fellowship at CURE Niger

 Love must be sincere. 
Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. 
Honor one another above yourselves. 
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with God's people who are in need.
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.
Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone....
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:9-18, 21 NIV
Issafou and Omar...they take such good care of us at CURE Niger!

Sweet chefs!

Patiently waiting for the lunch to be served!

Male nurses from the Pavillon (Ward)

Beautiful CURE staff  

The guys' table....
Our gracious host Issafou...always smiling!
We celebrated together on the day before I left with a special lunch of pentades (type of chicken...more meaty than the usual local chickens), rice, french bread (baguette), veggies and for a special treat....sodas!! 

What can I say, but I love these dear ones?! It is such a joy for Paul and I to show a little love to the staff. May the light of the Lord Jesus Christ shine....shine....shine!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Special Patients and Friends

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." Matthew 9:35-39

Coming to CURE for healing of burn contractures and receiving God's love and care

So many weeks and months of treatments...slow but sure....healing is taking place on my friend G's body and his little heart too.....taught him Deep and Wide with actions....which are good physical therapy and theology.....God's love is deep and wide!
This dear fellow was so brave with his extensive abscessed tooth made a fistula into nose and was a very long operation to try and close the fistula and reconstruct his nasal passage and palate!  (note to self....BRUSH YOUR TEETH!)
This little girl was returning for daily wound care post operatively for her cleft lip and palate. What rich opportunities we have at CURE to show the love of God in all that we do for our patients!
 It is always amazing how three weeks at CURE Niger flies by....yet, what wonderful relationships we make with the children and caregivers. It is what Africa is all about, relationships....encountering people, sharing resources, showing the love of Jesus and being generous with smiles, hugs and songs! We can see how little by little God is supplying the workers for the harvest in Niger. He is faithful...just as he promised!  More pictures to come in the days ahead. Please pray that the children would come to know the One who made them. The harvest is plentiful...!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Healing faces and more...

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24

At CURE Niger, we know that the surgery and physical care that the children receive is only a part of the healing.  Sometimes treatments are prolonged and several surgeries are necessary to bring complete wholeness to a child.  Every encounter with our patients and their caregivers offers other aspect of healing.  The families who come from remote villages often have erroneous ideas about their child's disability. For example,  the parents may think that a cleft lip means their child is mentally incapacitated and cannot learn at school...thereby denying a child of an education.  We can educate and help families understand that their child is precious. We can assure families of the potential of their child.  It is a wonderful opportunity to help families consider each child as a gift from God....made in God's image. Each family member and child has the capacity to think, respond, interact with their people and community. Each child, each person who comes to CURE Niger has the opportunity to see in action the love of God and the power of prayer to our living God of the Bible. We have seen transformations on the faces of the children during this surgical camp. We have planted seeds of the Good News through loving attention, daily prayer, stories and DVDs, acts of kindness and generosity and excellent medical/surgical/nursing care.  As our 30 patients from Sentinelle leave this Friday, we will send many home healed of their cleft.....some completely and some partially. Each one know that they are loved by God and CURE!! Some we will have the joy of receiving here again...what a privilege!

Enjoy these pictures of new faces!! To God be the glory!!

Although still a little swollen, Rhamatou will have a good result from her cleft repair.

This darling had a huge cleft that was exaggerated by a tooth sticking way look at her precious will smooth out as the scar heals.....she is such sweetheart and so polite!
Sweet smiles with our social worker :)

A gaggle of giggles, all wanting to see their new faces...they can hardly believe the transformations!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tea Time Nigerien Style

This is not Annie's tea! This is the chai that the men staying at the hostel make every morning. Although some of the men do not want to join the Pastoral visits....they are always glad of a visit and to share tea....a sign of hospitality and acceptance. I was very honored to be given this precious cup of tea!

It is the 'second' cup or pouring over the tea leaves....not as bitter as the first cup....there is some symbolic meaning to the second cup......I think it is something like joy or friendship?

I can't believe I am drinking this tea made with who knows what? It actually tastes quite nice and sweet....apparently each successive pouring is sweeter.

Thank you so  much for the tea! The men thought I was very brave to try it and laughed at me not knowing anything about their tea 'ceremony''s a learning curve visiting many different cultural groups! Pray that these 'baby steps' in developing friendships within the community of caregivers would be strengthened. Our Spiritual Directors Hassane and Josh are doing a tremendous job of keeping the dialogue going and sharing the scriptures on MP3 players for all who are interested.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Amazing Children at the Surgical Camp- CURE Niger

 Aren't these the most adorable children? It is amazing how well behaved they are considering many of them have left their villages and families to come to CURE Niger. Sentinelle and Smile Train are the two organizations who help support these surgeries. Many children have been many months without their parents preparing with the Sentinelle workers for their surgeries. Most of the crying we hear postoperatively is for food! These dear little ones can make quite a racket when they are hungry....and they seem so fearful that they will not get their milk, porridge, rice and sauce. Boy, they sure know how to clear their plates.....bless their hearts! I sang Sunday School Songs to them, especially those with actions. Pastor Hassane translated into the various languages for me as best as he could. There are so many language groups represented that often we have to find a housekeeper or guard who might know a specific language.  Thankfully, smiles, cuddles, balloons, bubbles, small toy cars are all translated into CARE and LOVE which transcend spoken words.
A gaggle of giggly children, all clamoring for a photo

This is one of my special darlings...his favorite pastime is playing with blocks and being totally naked.....his little chunky behind says.....pinch me! Isn't he gorgeous?
The social worker and I were surrounded by these darlings...a great photo opportunity but also an opportunity to pray and sing to them. After surgery the children need to have their arms splinted so they will not touch and infect the surgical site. The children are pretty good at adapting to this postoperative limitation for three weeks!
It is always fun to share pictures of time here in Niger. I realize that writing is not my strong point! However, so many of you who follow this blog want to know the daily routines and faces of those I have the joy of serving. So here a few pictures to remind  you that I am away at CURE and occupied with dear little children....this week with children born with cleft lips and pallets. Although the heat is extreme and the days long and hard, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else than where the LORD has called me to serve.....when He calls...He I can say with confidence...Philippians 4:13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength!