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!

How hot is it in NIger?

This is the outside temperature in Celsius...this means it is 120 Fahrenheit in the afternoon! This is at our wonder I am so hot and thirsty all the time!  
The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel, will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

This is a picture from my friend Christine Lehman. I thought it would show the extreme sights and suffocating activities of the  people here in Niger. I don't know how people survive!
Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become to them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John  4: 13-14

This is my prayer today that the love of Jesus Christ would be evident here in all our daily care routines for our patients. As we provide for our patients and their caregivers for their physical thirst, may we have the opportunity to share the living water of Jesus Christ!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Friends and festivities

Happy Birthday to Angele! I didn't get to sing to her all the Sloan birthday songs...not sure she would want to hear all 5 or is it 6 of them? Angele is a dear sister in the LORD. I love her sweet servant heart and faithful training of the CURE Nurses. It was so much fun sharing her birthday with the Negrini family.....a real Swiss Fondue!!

Saturday night there was a knock at the door and who was there? Amadou and Rhamahou (Rose) his dear wife of three weeks. Amadou lost his first wife to malaria in the summer of 2010 just as the CURE Hospital was beginning to train nurses. He has a young son of about 3 years old. Amadou now works in the Anesthesia department and is such a hard worker. His sweet new wife is a teacher of young children. She is beautiful and a great comfort and friend to Amadou. She is excited to be a mother too. Please pray for this dear young couple that they know the WAY, TRUTH and LIFE ETERNAL. They are so precious and caring. I'd like to spend eternity with them. It is a great honor for me to have them come to my guest house and visit me on their day off. As I always say......It is about the relationships!!
A day is coming when people will sing,
Give thanks to the LORD! Call for Him to help you! 
Tell all the nations what He has done!
Tell them how great He is!
 Sing to the LORD because of the great things He has done.
Let the whole world hear the news.   (Isaiah 12:4&5)

Surgical will be kids!

Upsy Daisy.....look what I can do, Mamma Maureen?

Amina is ready for the dressing change, always full of smiles!

Did you know you can use the walker like monkey bars?

I can even use it to walk on my two casts....I will have my clubfeet repaired before you know it!
One might think that surgery is all seriousness and no fun. At CURE we try to remember at all times that our patients are kids...they love to have fun...laughing and doing silly things. Laughter is good medicine, too!

This girl was always smiling and ready for a game!
Even though this little girl has a severe burn contracture deforming her hand, she has a jolly smile all the time!

Balloons have no language barrier!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday marketing and musing...

The usual higgledy-piggledy African can find the most amazing things!
Many people use the weekend to do their shopping in Niger which is pretty much the same as in North America. Here in Niamey though, regardless of the day or the time of the is a good time to shop. Everywhere there are little roadside kiosks that sell everything from fruits, meat, clothes, toys and yes...even kitchen sinks. About a quarter of a mile down the road from the hospital there is a little collection of kiosks and a 'supermarket' for basic needs. There is even a kiosk which has a rotisserie for chickens. The expats call these chickens bicycle chickens because they only have the frame :) Yes, you get a little meat with mostly bones.
Kiosks are not the only thing one finds on the side of the road. There are many handicapped people. It is really so vary sad that there are so many people with disabilities including deformities of limbs, blindness, burn contractures and many birth defects. On my way to the market, before we even left the hospital property there were dozens of children and adults who had come for a consultation. Many had cleft palates, lips or both. Some were requiring revision of scars from burns or other deformities requiring surgical intervention. It would be totally depressing if not for the hope that God gives through CURE International.  
My friend Chris and I went into town to one of the very clean 'supermarkets'.  Marche Haddad is owned by someone from the middle east and their are some very familiar grocery items....if you are willing to pay for them.  A bottle of a yogurt drink one can find in the US costs $8. Pringles potato chips were about $3.50 and so on. Naturally, I wasn't looking for everything from the USA, but I wanted to buy reliable items that were safe to eat etc. When one travels like I do and as frequently as I do, it doesn't pay to buy dubious food. Who wants to get sick so far from home and loved ones?
I bought a few things to tie me over until next weekend. Essentials like TP, tissues, pasta, cheese and sauce were easily purchased inside the supermarket. When we came out with our packages, we were met by many people who were begging...most had some disability. Of course it is very heartbreaking. One does not have the resources to give to all. And I ask myself, 'Am I really helping by throwing a coin in a tin plate'?
On my first trip I discovered after-the-fact that the small coin I dropped in a sweet looking young boy's bowl was actually going to the local mosque! So I learned not to give coins to the young boys who carry around tin bowls strung around their necks with strings or ropes.
What can be done?
Who can best help these dear people who have such severe handicaps?
After my bits and pieces of shopping, a missionary family, the Maxwells scooped me up from the CURE Hospital and took me to their side of the river.  (Rive Droite) After a wonderful visit, I was taken to a most interesting marketplace. I was introduced to a man Issa who makes leather soccer (footballs) by hand. Issa showed me his handiwork and pointed to other people who were weaving chair covers etc. What made all this so interesting is that it was part of an artisans guild. The handicapped person would pay about $1 US to join the guild. The person would then become a part of something greater than their own work. This guild gave a place of industry and importance to it's members. Although we did not learn all the details of this place, Issa showed us the pictures of the members. He described the benefits that he was trying to bring to otherwise hopeless situations.
My heart was glad that someone from Niger was coordinating help that is dignified and practical for the many handicapped people in the city of Niamey.
Issa is the man with the red hat. He was showing me how he puts prepares the last piece of leather for the soccer ball. At the same time the man beside him was showing us some pictures of the other artisans.
Micah Maxwell at the dry goods market stall.

One might expect that some handicapped people would fashion lousy products but not at this market! I was so blown away by the weaving of the blind people and the strength of the hands that made the leather soccer balls.  Useful and quality items are being produced. Oh, I pray for success of these artisans! How wonderful if their poverty and plight might be alleviated by work from their own hands. How wonderful that people like the Maxwells help advertise this group of handicraft artists. Perhaps one day I will have the opportunity to go back and get a soccer ball for my grandchildren! 

A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prayers, Presence and Smiles

Everyday I try to round with the Spiritual Life Directors and we pray for each patient in many different languages. Each day with  God's help, I am able to pray more comfortably in French....I know the Holy Spirit understands and translates my poor grammar before the Throne of Grace.

Grateful patient returning for follow-up visit!

Pastor Josh, Grateful Patient, Nurse Amadou and me :) Being together is always a joy!

Children sitting on a woven mat outside the Hostel. We visit these patients everyday and share smiles, handshakes, stories, etc. Sometimes the patients' caregivers have physical and spiritual needs that we can help with....sometimes it is as simple as a cup of tea!

Big joke to have me with the children on the mat!
Every Mama likes to have her picture with their little ones!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's all about relationships!

Don't smile!

Tuesdays are consultation days so we get to see lots of kiddos who potentially will come to CURE. It is always exciting if there is something we can offer to heal their problems. We always offer spiritual and social service advice as appropriate. The spiritual team always circulates and prays and talks with the patients and caregivers.
Made you do it! Such a sweet young boy!

Grandma with Nurse Louise's baby Savannah...she immediately held out her arms for me to hold her :)

Lunch time with the team who worked the Tuesday morning consultations

Two more of the nurses who worked with the outpatients...all tired out. It was a big and busy morning!

Louise and her treasure, precious

 Sodogas, the physical therapist and a little patient learning to mobilize postoperatively. 

More pictures of Day 2 in Niger

Everyone wants their picture taken as they blow bubbles

Christine Lehman is the Queen of Bubbles-blessing everyone and bringing joy through this fun activity.

Family photo-Most adults do not like to smile...need to find out why?

Awkward self photo with a very special little guy who has extensive burn contractures. He has many more procedures in the future. Please pray for Abdul, he needs a lot of encouragement and patient nursing care.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Clinic Day at CURE Niger-Day 2

Tuesday morning rounds at the Hostel at CURE Niger...everyone likes to have their picture taken!

What's different about these pictures? Issufou our beloved facilities manager at CURE is delivering supplies to the families and patients. He is such a dear man and tries very hard to ensure everything is clean, hospitable and welcoming. No wonder the patients and families are reluctant to leave at times!
Here is a little fellow first day post-op. He is doing well in this picture but later on threw a fit when the physical therapist tried to get him up and using a walker. He is so precious! He enjoyed blowing bubbles that my friend Christine Lehman brought on our rounds. Bubbles are a great blessing to all, bringing a smile on the children and even adult faces.
Today began as usual with staff devotions. Josh Korn is one of the spiritual directors and is going through a series on the Passover and Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. He is showing the parallels between their exodus from bondage in slavery and our exodus from the bondage of our sin. It is such a joy to hear God's Word explained in French. Some passages of scripture are easier for me to understand in French as it is such a rich language. After our usual joyful greetings with each other, we went to our various responsibilities.  A group of us went on the usual daily rounds with the pastoral team. It is always fun to visit all the patients and their caregivers, especially on Tuesdays. Christine Lehman comes bringing her cheerful bubbly personality and of course her bubbles. I call it a Bubble Blessing. Chris is so patient with the children and helps them blow the bubbles. We take turns praying in whatever language we can knowing that it is the LORD GOD who we are praying to.....there are so many languages spoken here! I find it overwhelming and exhausting trying to speak French all day. It is good though to practice. Today I prayed in French. Yesterday I was so exhausted I went quickly to English.
After rounds and a meeting with Leron Lehman the hospital Executive Director (lots of meetings in Africa) I went to the consultation clinic. Today there were plenty of people bringing their children with hope of healing. Sadly not all cases can be treated here. We are a pediatric surgical hospital. We do not admit children with illnesses that we are not equipped to treat.  It is always sad to tell people that their problems are not treatable by us or not treatable at all. One sad case today was a beautiful baby born with one normal hand and the other hand was just a tiny stump with a few buds where the fingers should have been. What a darling contented baby! The aunt brought the baby with the mother.  They came with hopes that something could be done to develop the hand. Sadly, she was told that nothing could be done surgically but that the family should train and raise this beautiful daughter to compensate with use of her right hand. It was so tragic. Yet suffering and birth defects are very common here and they both took the news very stoically. I am praying for this dear little girl that she will grow up knowing that she is made by God, loved by God and important to her family and community. May she come to hear the Good New of Jesus Christ early in her life.
We saw lots of children with bowed legs in need of nutritional support. We saw a case of scoliosis which was severe enough to need surgery soon. The young girl was 17 and her curvature of her spine was beginning to accelerate......she needs surgery before it compromises her breathing. The Doctor had to explain that we could not operate here as we do not do spinal surgery. We are praying she will be able to get help at another CURE facility, if not she will have to go to Morocco.
It was a wonderful day. I was feeling very tired around 2:30 but decided to visit the Ward...we call Pavillion. Angele the Nurse Manger was in the midst of a moving project getting ready for the new Wound dressing room (Salle du Pansements). I like a project that involves organization. It was so good to see what Angele and the team accomplished. Apparently we are going to use the new room tomorrow. It will be more spacious and convenient for the patients and nurses.  We are gearing up for a surgical camp next week....everyone is on high alert!

More than ever, I need to be immersed in God's Word and praying for the spiritual equipping for the challenges here. One scripture that helped me today is in Psalm 57:1, 9-11

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!
For my soul trusts in You:
And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, Until these calamities[overwhelming situations] have passed by...
I will praise You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing to You among the nations.
For your mercy reaches unto the heavens, And Your truth unto the clouds.
Be exalted O God above the heavens;
Let Your glory be above all the earth.

Praise God for His help in equipping me to come and being all wisdom, patience, love and goodness that I need.

Tomorrow I'll be in the Bloc....that means the depending where you are coming from.
I probably will not post tomorrow as I have a dinner invitation. 
What a blessing to receive such kind hospitality!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Feeling tired...?

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

In a country that is hot, dry and experiencing famine along with an influx of people fleeing from neighboring nations...the situation is overwhelming and exhausting.

Fatigue is physical, emotional, to overcome? No simple answers.....

I am so tired today...more than I have experience before in my life.....yet clinging to the promise of renewed strength,  I made it through this day.

Spent the whole day in the Wound Dressing Room and finished with an hour meeting the the nurse manager.  We completed our time in prayer.  How refreshing to be able to come to our Heavenly Father and feel His living water that satisfies the deepest need.

There is so little here and little to hope for in the future, yet the LORD's promises are sure.

I am praising the Lord for bringing me safely and smoothly to Niger. All luggage arrived intact. What a blessing in travel.  The Lord has given me cool water to drink, lovely homecooked meals and dear ones to welcome me!

Today I spent the whole day in the Wound Care Room...saw some incredible sights. Tomorrow I will spend the day in the outpatient clinic.

Will wisely go to bed now.  God is good. All the time...He is good...because that is His nature.

Anticipating renewed strength in the morning!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Prayer Requests for Niger April 14-May 5, 2011

What am I asking God to do on this mission journey?

May these pictures be symbols of what I am requesting the Lord to do.......
Isaiah 32:2 speaks of a Deliverer who will be like streams in the desert....May the Deliverer, Jesus Christ the Savior be revealed to the dear people that I minister to. May there be spiritual life and refreshment for the CURE staff and nearby community. Hosea 10:12 says; Break up your fallow ground. for it is time to seek the LORD!  *Please pray that the Lord would break apart the obstacles and hindrances to the spread of the gospel to patients and families. Please pray that the fallow, unfruitful, dormant areas of my life would be prepared to produce much fruit for God's kingdom. Please pray for daily cleansing and refreshment from God's Word.
For the joy of the LORD is your my strength. Nehemiah 8:10b there is always great joy as patients and family see the healing progress....everyone loves having their picture taken...even me! I love seeing God's healing hand. It is so lovely to recall the faithfulness of the LORD in the midst of so much suffering and darkness.  *Please pray for joy in serving the LORD at CURE Niger. Pray that this joy would be contagious to the staff, patients and caregivers as they learn the Source of true peace, contentment and satisfaction.

Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:8 I have a calling to heal the sick...spread the gospel of the power of God to save all who will believe. * Please pray for clinical excellence in             demonstrations, training sessions and daily  nursing care, for the Glory of God! May the   nursing be the means of proclaiming in every   word and deed God's love and grace.                 1 John 3:18

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12  *Please pray that the nursing staff would be united on the Christian principles of nursing that we attempt to uphold at CURE International. Please pray for these dear nurses that they would be good learners and diligent to be life long learners.

Thank you for praying for this journey to Niger. I am so blessed by your faithful prayers!
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6