Monday, April 14, 2014

Morning walk

My fitness guru, Hannah Berg, told me about a cool phone app called "map my run", which tracks your distance, speed, etc , and even plays music for you when you run. I checked the App Store and discovered that, for muchechus (old ladies) like me, there is a "map my WALK" app, which I downloaded and have enjoyed using here. 

Along the way on my walks, I sometimes stop and learn something new or make a new friend. (Shh! Don't tell my workout coach that I'm resting!) 

Here are some pics from today's walking adventure 

I took the pic bc of his Tshirt - Burnet Bulldogs!! I bet whoever donated this shirt had no idea it would end up on a nice young man in rural Rwanda! 

This young lady put me to shame. As I'm huffing and puffing on my "power walk", here she comes, walking the same speed, while carrying two heavy rocks on her head - and being cheerful about it! I tried to lift the top rock to see how heavy it was, and I couldn't budge it at all. She was one of many on the road today carrying these rocks! 

My favorite stop today was when some folks picking coffee beans invited me to join them. I learned the kinyarwanda word for coffee (which I wish I'd written down because now I've forgotten) and really enjoyed meeting Simon, Louise and their friends. Starbucks ain't got nothin on our amazing Rwanda coffee!! 

They invited me to their home tomorrow, so maybe I can see how they wash, dry and roast the beans, too! 

Who knew exercise could be such an adventure, eh?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Losing & Gaining

Last week God opened a window to let me see Him do something really cool and so very unexpected. Even though I sat in a front row seat, watching Him perform a miracle, I still found myself heartbroken and vacillating between being joyful and (self)-pity-full.

Jules and his sweet mama, and his temporary, but no longer mama.  

It turns out "our" little Joshua Jules will not be ours after all. In order to adopt him, we had to find his parents, so they could sign a release form.  This took some major detective work, but finally we tracked them down.  Once meeting the mom, however, a long and sad story came to light.  Without going into details of a story that is not mine to tell, the bottom line is:  Jule's mama never quit loving him and never wanted to lose him in the first place and has been trying to get him back ever since she gave him up due to not having enough money to feed him.

Tea Time!  So glad this boy will have his own mama to care for him.....

She was willing to sign the release papers, but only because she thought she had already lost the chance to be his mama full time.  As we talked about this, the tears just flowed from her eyes.  As she told me her story, and I realized she had never wanted to give him up, I asked her, "Do you want him to come back with you?  Is that what you are wishing?  Because if that is what you want, I will help you. I do not want to come between you and your precious son!"

On a shopping trip with Jules in the "old days", back when he was with us. 

Jules getting measured for his school uniforms.  He was so excited! And he made all A's!

Jack with Jules and Jean Baptiste.  Oh, how Jules loved his big "brother", Jack! 

Even as I heard myself saying these words, my stomach felt as though an invisible hand was squeezing hard on all my insides.  I desperately wanted her to say, "No.  I love him, but I cannot raise him. You raise him."  But as I looked into her eyes while I was speaking, I knew what she would say.

Jules channeling Elton John.  ha! 

After school, Mugate and Amasi (bread and water) was a favorite and oft requested treat!  

A super fun day after school, when Sam organized a big water fight for the boys.  They had SUCH a
GREAT Time!  Soooo much fun.  

Sure enough, almost before I even finished my question, she nodded over and over again, "Yes!" And then she smiled so big and said, "Oh, Please!  I want my boy back with me!"

"Who, ME?  I didn't get into the stickers!  Why do you ask?"

"Okay, well, maybe I did play with a FEW of the stickers...."

I was so happy to have a chance to help reunite a family, but also so very devastated that this sweet, intelligent, kind and gentle little boy would not be mine.  I know that sounds awful.  But we had all come to love him so much.

Wearing one of Tim's medical coats while his clothes were being washed.....a future doctor? 

Wearing one of Ruthie's t-shirts!  (He was a very flexible clothes person.)

Jule reminds me of what an angel child might be like, if there are angel children.   He does have an impish side that likes to get into trouble, but his idea of "trouble" is the mildest form of trouble I've ever seen a toddler discover.
Besides bread and water, "macaroni and umucheri" (spaghetti and rice) was his favorite dish!
I know, not exactly the best nutrition choice, but this was his last meal at our I wanted it to be his favorite.  

Water WAR!  Sam should seriously consider a future in being a camp counselor.
Those boys had SO much fun that day!~

They had so much fun in this bath.  It was their first bath in the house.  All they could say, over and over, was...."The water is HOT!  The water is HOT!  Is it magic?"

 He is gentle, compassionate, kind, extremely intelligent (amazingly intelligent), thoughtful, loving, generous and so spiritual.  Seeing his little hands folded and his face turned upward with his eyes closed and such a serene look of trust on his face before saying a blessing at mealtimes or a bedtime prayer always took my breath away.  I felt like I was watching something so holy, so divine, that it was intrusive of me to even see his sweet face as he prayed.

I will miss this child!

I went to see him in his new home with his mama and big brother, William, and it about broke my heart.  His mama loves him so much, and her older child's relationship with her is evidence that she is a loving and responsible mom.  But she is poor.  So poor!  Their home is really only a dirt cave.  The walls, floor and ceiling are all dirt.  There is no electricity, no water.  The size is the same as my walk in bedroom closet back home, and I had an average to small size walk in, as far as those go in America.

It's the simple things.....

spaghetti eating race! 

That face!  Sheer satisfaction!  

Yes, he has his sweet mama back, but oh, how it hurts to see where they have to live.  We will be sending him to school, but where will he play?  Will they even be safe?  What if he gets sick there?  I am prayerfully trying to decide if I should beg again for them to move to Kibogora, so we can help them have better housing.

The family reunited.  So sweet.  Thank you, God.  (Even though it's hard!) 

It struck me tonight that MOST of the world lives like this.  We are the rare cases.  We Americans, the Brits, the Western Europeans, the Canadians......we are the few who live in physical comfort.  Our lives are busy, harried, stressful.  We suffer through divorce, bankruptcy, job losses, betrayals and more.  But we have beds, we have electricity, we have relatively clean water, and most of all we have food each and every day, multiple times each day.

MOST of the world (I've lived here almost two years and I STILL forget this most of the time) cannot say this.  Most of the world has one meal a day, if that.  Hasn't even a cave to call home.  Hasn't a bed.  Hasn't safe drinking water.

No wonder people long for Heaven.  Golden streets.  Eternal life.  Light.  Living water.  A Glorious banquet.  All we need.

No wonder we Westerners are the ones who often forget all about Heaven and don't long for it so much, but rather, spend so much money trying to run from going there.  For us, earth is a great place and we do not want to leave.  For others, it is an endurance contest.

God be with you, Little Jules.  Thank you for blessing me and my family with your presence these last months, off an on, since January 2013.  I won't forget you.  May God bless your mama and your brother.  And may He hold you always in the palm of His hand.  I can't wait to see what you will be when you grow up, my little man!

Big brother still remembered Jules from the old days and was SO happy to have him back.
Jules is 3 years, 8 months.  The last his brother saw him was when he was 15 months old.  

Looking at a picture of our children, and naming them all and saying "goodbye" to each one......

Again, this face says it ALL.  
Or this face.  

So proud on his first day of school!

First day of school. 

So exciting to take the MOTO on the first day of school.  (But it turned out, it wouldn't start that
day for some reason.  So, after this picture, we ended up walking! ha!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just another day in Kibogora

How can a place so beautiful, with such wonderful people, 
also contain so much pain and sorrow and hardship?  

This morning, I walked down to the hospital to deliver the police report for Specios, the special little ten year old girl who died last Sunday from being crushed by the huge road construction truck.

I found Tim in X-Ray, and handed over his report - only to see another heart wrenching situation. An elderly man, severely malnourished to the point of seemingly EVERY bone in his body protruding from his skin, his eyes looking like hallowed out wells of sorrow in his skeletal face, was being x-rayed. Somewhere, a while back, he had a tooth pulled. The remaining hole then became infected. The infection spread down into his chest and lungs, and now he can hardly breathe. His O2 stats are extremely low. Tim is operating on this man now, but due to the severity of his malnutrition, his chances are slim. 

Poverty has such a profound effect on Health, from so many angles. 

Before I left, I went to pray for a little 2 1/2 year old boy from Idjwi island who came in a few days ago with terrible, deep burns on over 30 percent of his little body, after falling backwards into hot cooking oil. His entire back, back of his legs and back of his upper arms are horribly burned. The risk of infection is sky high. The family is desperately poor like every other family living in Idjwi island. 

Our mesher is broken. So, Tim can't begin to do the repair work once he is ready for that, due to broken tools. Yet we cannot transfer him to the Burn Center in Kigali because he isn't Rwandan and isn't in the country with any papers. Like all other Idjwi folks, they just came to our hospital by boat, and not through a border station. They likely have no papers. The baby probably has no birth certificate or any other identification. 

He is a victim of the poverty into which he was born. 

 Even the fact that he was burned by falling into the oil is due to his poverty, as richer people have elevated cook stoves which protect
their children from this risk. 

After praying for little Erisha with his big brother, Patrice, and his mother, Mama Erisha, I walked back to the compound to say farewell to Dr Matt and Dr Marie Croft, who left today after serving with us for 7 months. Tim, Marie and Matt have worked hard together at the hospital, enjoying such camaraderie there. Marie has thrilled everyone with her baking delights (she even sent a goodbye gift of delicious scones and jam!!). Matt played on the hospital football team and Marie sang in the hospital choir. They started a staff aerobics and wellness/weight watchers program.  They made exercise fun and purposeful.   When I think of them, I think of this verse:  "Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:8.  That sums up Matt and Marie.  That's what they did.  They were an inspiration to us, but also just plain fun to have around.  We surely have been blessed with some brilliant Brits around here!  First Dave and Naomi, and then Matt and Marie.  And of course, all the regular Brits, too. 

We will miss our Saturday movie nights, our trips to swim in Lake Kivu, and just seeing them around. 

Saying goodbye is hard for me. Worse, seeing such suffering patients, especially when the chances that we can help them are very slim to none, discourages me as well, and makes me feel heavy and so tired. And I'm not even the doctor! Just think of what it does to Tim! 

But soon, our friends the Lands will be joining us here. And two of our kids will come home for term break. And before we know it, we'll see Hannah in July.  

For anyone who has time, we need prayer, and more than us, the patients and families described in the above post need your prayers. 

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.