Friday, January 30, 2015

At the market

Stephen doesn't make it to the market very often, so I had to document his trip to the look for certain things in the hardware stores.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Looking for peace

It was a blessing to see this man leave the hospital, because when he came in he was wasting away and had kidney failure. In looking for the usual suspects, we came up empty.  But three weeks later he was gaining weight, had improved renal function and was doing better.

As part of my evaluation of him I asked him if he drank alcohol.

"A little, " he replied amid tsks tsks from his wife and mother who were with him.  

"Masanga?" (a local palm based wine)

"Yes."

"Liktoko?" (congo version of moonshine) 

"Yes."  

After informing him that some bad brew may have impacted his other medical problems, I asked him why he drink so much.  

"To find peace, to get away from trouble," he replied.

"How's that going?"

"Not so good," he said, shaking his head.

I then I had the pleasure to tell him how Jesus came to give him real peace.  I was able to introduce him to a God who isn't cool with his sins, but loves him so much that he made a way to get those sins taken away; not so he could just keep looking for peace in the wrong place, but so that he could find real peace with God.

A couple days later, I could see his disposition change.  He had spoken with our pastor/chaplain and had decided to turn his life over to Jesus.   And yet he still had kidney problems, yet his body was still eaten with infection, his weight was still down, he was still vomiting medicines, but his attitude changed.  He'd found peace, the giver of peace and that was enough for him.

Therefore, as he walked out of our hospital, getting better physically and meeting Jesus, I was happy for him.  I'm praying he continues to search out that true peace that he found here.

Thanks for praying and partnering,

Stephen

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pediatrics

Stephen working in Pediatrics :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sports Ambassadors

In December our return to Impfondo from Brazzaville was delayed for a few days.
The good part about that was that we had a chance to observe some of the pro-tour that Sports Ambassadors had in the Republic of Congo.

The Cuthbert family, from Northern Ireland, arranged and organized the tour.
The football (soccer players) who came were able to play in teams in Brazzaville and travel to other towns and villages, using sports to open doors for building relationships and sharing the good news.



Some of the action
Everyone wanted to talk to the players after the game.

Our CMA team in Brazzaville helped with logistics and translating.
Anne Stephens is helping to translate for the press interviews.
The Cuthbert family has now joined us in Impfondo, and we are looking forward to seeing their ministry grow and develop as they work with the local church to do sports ministry! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Coma to walking

This little girl came in at the first of the year after being increasing unresponsive over a period of 5 days. Her parents had taken her to a local health center where she received some malaria medicine, but she got worse. They watched at home for 3 more days before bringing her to the hospital.
a little camera shy
Did they live far away?
Nope, less than a kilometer away from the hospital.  They simply hoped she would get better on her own.  When she started having seizures, they decided enough was enough and brought her to us.

When we initially saw her she could not talk, would only moan and open her eyes to pain.  She couldn't even tell where she was hurting.  We started malaria treatment again and tested her for meningitis among other things.  We treated her seizures and started tube feedings through a tube in her nose.  For 4 days she stayed in her coma, then she was alert enough to pull the tube out herself.  The next day she was crying and disoriented.  One week after her initial presentation, she was walking on her own and could tell me her name.

Why do I share this?
First, to underline the lack of hope.   Sometimes our patients come from far away, and they take so long to get here because of transport difficulty.  Sometimes it is money, but sometimes it is just not wanting to admit that there is something wrong.

The denial turns quickly to hopelessness that there was nothing to be done anyway.
Each child like this- that we can bring back from being mostly dead- is another story that is told in our town that helps people believe that maybe kids do have a chance.
We can give hope that there is a chance for life.

Second, I want to point out that little things can make a big difference.  Just giving this girl a way to have safe nutrition, treating malaria with basic drugs, and watching for other problems was enough to give her a chance to make it back from the brink.

Third, it's always good to see answers to prayer.  This is tied into the first reason, but when parents and caregivers hear us praying for the patients, when we remind them to honor and praise God for the times He gives grace- those stories are also told and retold in our community.

So thanks for praying, thanks for being a part of what is going on here, and keep it up.

Stephen

Monday, January 19, 2015

Celebrations

We've had lots of reasons to celebrate in January!

In addition to our celebrations at Christmas Sunday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (and the second part of Christmas Day), and New Year's Eve, we had some special birthdays to celebrate.  We had parties for Papa Siko and Mama Sarah on their birthdays.

(And both of our boys have January birthdays.  See Ian's birthday and Caleb's birthday on our family blog.)

We're going to continue our celebrations with a trip to South Africa for our CMA Congo field forum.
There are some things scheduled to post on the blog while we are gone,
and we'll be back in February!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Around the Web

Ninelle's Heart by Elliot Tenpenny

Ninelle's story began a few years ago. She suffers from a disease we have addressed before, rheumatic heart disease. This disease effects many throughout Africa and while preventable, is silent until it is far too late. While Ninelle was growing up, sleeping in close quarters with many of her brothers and sisters, she most likely contracted an infection multiple times without knowing it. This infection lead to the silent destruction of her heart valves. With this disease the blood can not be pumped throughout the body. The person slowly has the feeling of drowning to death from the backup of blood and fluid in their lungs. Unless something is done each person inevitably dies from heart and lung failure, often at a very young age.

At 27 years old Ninelle has already lived far longer then many people who suffer from this disease. Also, in testament to her strength during this time she has given birth to three children. The last child, birthed through a huge work medically and surgically by Dr Laura Foudy. Never the less, over the years Ninelle has continued to develop a progressively worse ability to breath. Since my arrival here she has been in and out of the hospital and often can barely breath. Her family are one of the more supportive in the area. Her grandfather is the retired pastor with the sight problem we were able to give an audio bible earlier this year. The family has been caring for her around the clock for the last few months.  Read the rest of Ninelle's story here


Erik and Kara Scharrer worked for a short time in Impfondo while we were in the States.  Their trip was featured on Samaritan's Purse this month.


“Two years ago, we were unsure if Erik would ever be able to practice medicine in the same way again,” Kara said. “God taught us patience, trust, and healing. He taught us His timing, His will, and His answers. Erik’s recovery and return to work a year ago was such a blessing and a gift. Now it’s time to use this gift that God has granted him and help others who aren’t so fortunate.”

As God’s plan unfolded, Erik and Kara found themselves traveling to the Republic of Congo to serve for 18 days at Pioneer Mission Hospital through World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse. It didn’t take long for them to see why the Holy Spirit drew them to Africa.
“I have fallen in love with this culture, with these people, and this hospital,” Kara said. “I find myself awake before necessary in the morning, eager to start the day and see what lies ahead. I long to know about the patients, their families, the hospital, the town, and the missionaries. I love watching my husband in his element, and I am so thankful for the gift God has given to him to practice medicine and save lives. Amazing!”

Erik and Kara were welcomed by the hospital staff. Kara joined the physicians on rounds and served as a childbirth attendant, while Erik treated patients and assisted with surgeries.  {Read more about their experience here}