Heart Beginning's

"My daughter, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways." Proverbs 23:26

"The plan of beginning outside and trying to work inward has always failed and always will fail. God's plan with you is to begin at the seat of all dificulties, the heart, and then from out of the heart will issue the principleso f righteousness; the reformation will be outward as well as inward." EGW

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bonjour from the girls

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Manure: The New Way to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Date: 12-20-07

So the pigs got into our courtyard a couple nights ago and ate the flowers off my plants and ate the remaining remnants of two green bushedsby my door!!!! That's it. I'm planting a Cactus Garden!!! Take that you nasty pigs!!! So yesterday I went on a Cactus hunt. Now the front of my hut has 5-6 different types of Cactus growing and on the other side the only flowering bush that goats and chickens don't eat. I'm planting tons of those. Today George Veal (an Agriculturist from Loma Linda) helped me transplant a bunch of Banana Trees to make myself a little haven on the side of my hut. We needed Manure so off I went searching my neighbors property for any good looking manure. Boy were the natives getting a kick out of that. Finally I'd run out of places and headed up the path next to my hut. Then our closest neighbor that I haven't met yet came walking out holding a huge nugget asking if I would like more this size. Of course being in the Manure Search mood that I was I got very excited and we went running back to the back area of his hut where there was tons of Manure. Soon there were kids everywhere helping me pick up manure, and digging around in the straw. The dad and I had a great time getting to know each other over this amazing manure discovering. He told me I could come back anytime I want to. I think I will. Now that I've been in his compound once and digging around looking for manure we've broken down any barriers that there ever could have been. I love how God uses silly things like searching for Manure to open up opportunities for ministry.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inside My Courtyard

Date: 12-16-07

Puffs of dust rose from the path as I walked past huts surrounded by grass and brick walls on my way to the market to buy petrol. An occasional hole and leaning grass mat allowed me to get a glimpse of the happenings inside. It was Friday the day that I was heading back home to my hut after being away for a week and to tell you the truth I was excited. As I past the huts, I heard the pounding of millet somewhere inside, saw the brightly covered clothes hanging up after laundry day, and smelt boulle being cooked over the coals. I realized how fortunate I was I didn't have to wonder what was going on inside that courtyard. I knew and I was part of it just a couple huts down. I was one of them in a way.

So what exactly does go on in my courtyard. Push past the piece of tin that lies on it's side and enter into my courtyard with me...the tin "gate" creaks, cracks, and tries to fold in half as we squeeze through. Guess it's kinda like a doorbell - everybody knows you're home. Dorcus comes running with her baby doll tied to her back, I pick her up and play airplane with her ending with a quick dip in a bucket of water. Everyone is now laughing as Dorcus runs off barefoot to find her friends singing a song from church yesterday. Ruth and Esther are pounding Millet together, lifting high in the air their big pounding sticks. One after the other hits the Millet, a rhythm that shows when you are really a woman. Their shirtless little frames glisten in the sunshine. Howaa sits on the mat with her feet off in the dirt. Besille sits propped up with his little butt in the middle of her feet, a perfect toilet seat and yes it's been successful ;) He's throwing his hands up in the air and attempting to talk Mundung. Berthe is sitting on a small bench next to the fire. She has found a old pair off flipflops and is using them to prop the big boiling pot of Boulle up with her feet as she stirs the thick Boulle inside with a 3 foot long wooden spatula. Three chicks are balancing on an old pot from this morning's breakfast and trying to get the remnants of rice without falling into the black hole. Brennon is drawing up water from the well and carrying it to the garden beginning the evening water process. Washike sits on a log next to the first hut I slept in and is intensely copying page after page of writing from school. I lay down on the mat next to Howaa and look up at the bright blue sky and moving clouds above me. As I gnaw on a piece of sugar cane I know that I'm surrounded by a family that loves me. I'm refreshed by coming here. Life Is Good!!!

I know what the evening will bring; the huge giant 25 ft. by 10 ft. mat appears. We all stretch out on it under the stars. A lantern sits on the edge of the wall illuminating the case that holds the goods my family sells to their neighbors: sugar, salt, tomato paste, onions, garlic, sesame seeds, beignets, petrol, and hibiscus leaf tea. The radio is perched precariously on the grass awning above our heads. It gets its fuzzy reception best up there and even if it's only fuzz we are listening to it's still blared for the whole neighborhood to hear. If a good song does come on someone grabs on the pounding sticks and begins a native dance leaving us all in fits of laughter especially when Dorcus starts singing and trying to imitate what she sees. Anne is playing with my hair, a constant fascination here. A couple have drifted off to sleep, and the chickens have finally entered their little hut for the night. The night becomes quiet in a sense as the neighbors are having their nightly party, drums, yelling "ieieieieieiei", and singing will be heard until somewhere around 11:00. An occasional mangy dog adds it's high pitched howl to the chaos somewhere down the path. Slowly one by one we head off to our huts, a slight breeze blows the bright green curtain in my door way letting a little moonlight stream in as I crawl into my blue cave of mosquito netting. I blow out the lantern and am immersed in a darkness that you'll only find in an African Courtyard...scurry scurry scurry. That would be Mr. Mouse who has decided it's safe to come out. I make sure my mosquito net is tucked in. As long as he doesn't sleep with me I'm Okay.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Overalls, Snow pants, and Dolls at Church

Sonya and I found a pair of overalls and a Black Baby Doll in the back closet and decided to take them to my family. Dorcus embraced the doll with a hug, smile, and wide open arms saying "Bebe" over and over again. We presented the doll face to face with Besille (1 year old) his eyes got wide as he stared at the those eyes lookin back at him and then got the scared I'm gonna cry look. We then presented him with the little overalls. Howaa said he'd wear them to church the next day. I couldn't help remembering last week at church. Besille sat bear butt in the sand and in front of him his siter Esther outfitted in a complete snowsuit with the hood on (What I wanted to know is who sent a snowsuit to Africa?)

This Sabbath found Besille sporting his new blue jean overalls and Dorcus being a very good mommy with the doll half her size strapped to her back.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Video of My Courtyard

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to bathe a chicken 4 year old style

Date: 11-25-07

First of all a disclaimer for my lack of communication and very bad up keep of blog posting..Generator went capoot, phone not sending e-mail's for the last 2 weeks, and crazy days at the hospital. I will however try to get my priorities straight and keep you all informed. Quick update before the following story...I've been fondly renamed Giardiaella by my fellow SM's, my family has stopped feeding me boulle, my carrots have sprouted, the goat found it's way into my garden this morning, French is coming along nicely, and I love working at the hospital...praise God for the Joy and Strength He is so willing to give to us all. Thank you for your prayers, the strength of them is greatly felt.

Howaa "my mom" left this morning for Ndjamena, leaving a bawling 4 year old Dorcus behind. She stood at the gate and bawled alligator tears, the rest of the family just kept on eating breakfast. I decided this would just not do. Soon she was sitting on my knee and still bawling for the whole neighborhood to hear. A different approach had to be taken. This is when I remembered the little hand puppets Kevin had sent. Now would be the time to break them out. I carried her into my hut and there we found a very white chicken with red feather's. The crying began to cease as I talked chicken to her. Bauck, bauck. Soon a little smile came to her face and she reached out to take hold of the chicken. Her hand found it's way up inside and Mr. Chicken became her best friend.

When I arrived home from work I found her warming up water on the coals to give Mr. Chicken (fondly renamed "baby") a bath. You see white chickens, or should I say babies, get dirty very fast in Africa. Berthe the older sister told me that she'd held it up today before giving "baby" it's first bath today and kissed it 4 times. I'm glad to know that Mr. chicken has found a good mom. But how long he's going to last with a couple washing's a day I'm not sure ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Morphine, Malaria, Tyhpoid, and Appendicitis (Esther had it all!!!!)


Well on the 2nd of November (Friday) I took a trip to Kelo, Tchad that will not be soon forgotten. Short version goes something like this...Sonya, Esther, and I donned our head wraps and skirts and headed out to find motorcycles that would take us to Kelo. You see we had heard a rumor that there were packages waiting for us there. Now that's a hard rumor to resist checking out. We found two unfortunately we are a little novice and didn't think past the fact that one was putting the wheel back on his motorcycle and the other one was pumping up the tire with a bike tire pump. I'll blame it on the fact that we were just so excited about our upcoming "ADVENTURE!!!"

After we crossed the river in canoes with the motorcycles we started on the 1 hour stretch to Kelo that turned into 2 for Sonya and I and 4 for Esther. You see the Moto Sonya and I were on blew a tire, so we sat under a Mango tree for an hour and entertained natives who had never seen white people before. Have you ever seen a white person make a fish face? In the mean time, the tire on Esther's Moto came off. After much prayer, almost tears, making friends with the postal man, praying with the postal man, and sitting under a tree for 2 hours outside the post office we were all re-united. The only problem with our reunion was that Esther was in quite a bit of pain. She was having strange stomach pain that we thought was just aggravated from riding the bumping moto.

We arrived back in Béré without any complications except multiple marriage proposals from my Moto Chauffer. I told him I was already taken and that he'd have to talk to Kevin about that. Esther took some pain meds and seemed to be o.k. but after about 2 hours of being back, she collapsed in the hallway and didn't come to for about 20 minutes. In the meantime Dr. Greg and Dr. Audrey (the visiting doctors from Cameroon who switched hospital's with Sarah and James) went into action. I started an IV on her and gave IM pain med's. We hung Glucose and Ringer's and began to pray.

Soon the color started to come back to her face. She felt good enough to get up so she laid on the couch while we sang songs around her to open Sabbath. Sonya and I made a bed up for her in the back room of the hospital house and stayed the night with her keeping the fluids going she hadn't drank much all day. About 1:00 AM Saturday she woke up in terrible pain. I went to Dr. Greg, he came over, he found re-bound pain all over her abdomen. He increased the amount of Morphine she could have and started her on Antibiotics thinking it might be Thyphoid Fever. At 7:00 he did a Ultra-sound and didn't find anything of much significance, but the Thyphoid results did come back positive. The only question now was the stomach pain from the peritonitis that Thyphoid fever can cause or was this something like appendicitis, ruptured intestines, etc. I watched him pace outside the window Sabbath morning with his cell-phone as he made the decision to call in Gary Robert's the mission pilot here. Better to be safe then sorry. Along with Gary came Sarah and James. All day long Sabbath I gave Esther Morphine every two hours. Finally Sarah and James arrived. The three doctors conferred together and decided to give Esther two options. To be operated on here or to be flown out to Europe. You could feel the tension in the house as everyone realized what a huge decision she had to make.

Never before have I realized what a perfect group of SM's God has brought together here. The thought of Esther leaving seemed to leave a huge gap that couldn't be filled for the rest of the year. But we wanted to best for her, Sonya and I sat hugging and praying with her after she'd finished talking with her parents. Then the decision was made. She wanted to be operated on here. The decision to leave was risky because something could go wrong in the air and she wanted to be with people she knew.

Hans, Christina (The Portuguese volunteer nurse), and I headed over to the OR to bleach everything like it had never been bleached before!!!!!! Esther arrived and we had a group prayer...Esther was having Dr. Greg (A Surgeon) do the surgery, Dr. James assisting, and Dr. Audrey as backup, while Sarah did Anesthesia and I circulated. The incision was made and in no time one huge unhappy appendix appeared. It was at the point of bursting!

Sonya and I spent the next 3 nights sleeping by her side, keeping the perfusions going, feeding her fruit slushies made from dehydrated blueberries, nectarines, and fresh bananas, and trying to ease some of her pain. That girl is amazing, she not only has a lot of physical stamina but definitely found strength to make it through from God.

She is now eating pizza, has Malaria, and is up walking around some. The evangelical missionaries here who live about 15 minutes away have taken her in as their daughter and are nursing her back to health. They also have constant power and fans. Life is so delicate but praise God He designed our bodies and is the best one to know how to fix them.

How to Find a Moto for Your Trip to Kelo that will Double Your Travel Time


1. Pick the first shack you come to!

2. Speak as little French as possible.

3. Notice that the tire is off the bike they are offering you but figure that they know what they're doing.

4. Pay the guy half-of his sum before you start on your trip.

5. Watch as the other moto arrives, the driver whip off his handy dandy bike-tire pump and start a pumpin'. Looks can be deceiving!

6. Hike up your skirts, tie on the head wrap, put on your sun-glasses, and climb on the flat tire moto with three people.

7. Hit every bump in the road (there are a lot of them) without slowing down

8. AND POP...go swerving off the road and stop for a break under a Mango Tree. It's all good. It was getting a little hot in-between Sonya and our "driver" anyways!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Date: 10-21-07

Have I told you what a beautiful place this is? I'm realizing more and more everyday...God is opening my eyes to the beautiful faces, the beautiful smiles, the beautiful tiny black hands reaching up to me. Boy it sure does take time to feel comfortable in a place, to feel like you belong. I've almost forgotten at times that I look any different then them, walking through the market place bargaining for a piece of sugar cane feels so normal....that is until I look behind me and see 15 kids watching me...then you make a quick move towards them and poof they scatter with screams of laughter and giggles...or until I hear "Nasarah" being called out as I walk by...oh ya...I'm "Nasarah"...the white person. It used to annoy me hearing "Nasarah" like an echo in the Grand Canyon all day long...that is until I was informed of how we got that name. The first white people that the Nagerene tribe here saw were missionaries telling them of Jesus the Nasarene...thus "Nasarah"...now every time I hear it I reminded of why I'm here. Instead of irritating me it causes me turn by the Grace of God and grab both of the hands up stretched to me and spin them round and round and round.

Directions...How to Eat Sugar Cane

Date: 10-17-07

First of all if your jaw is sore at all don't even try...especially if your piece of sugar cane is a good couple inches around. After you've accumulated an audience for your debut in sugar cane eating you can begin. Sonya and I sat on a bench surrounded by my family. We'd just finished doing my laundry and were taking a break. A sugar cane break! Turn the sugar cane side way's...grab the outer peeling you don't eat with your teeth and pull as hard as you can, leaving slivers of green peelings in your teeth. You go at it again. The whole family is now laughing at Sonya and I as spit drips down the sugar cane and it still looks the same as when we started. Finally Berthe has pity on us and takes the sugar cane from our hands and grrrrhhh...whips that peeling right off with her teeth...and there you have it - mmmm. Yummy sugar cane that Berthe has just peeled for you with her mouth. Sonya and I bit in with gusto. Ok so it doesn't matter that it has Berthe saliva all over it as I chew and suck and chew and suck until all the cool sugar liquid is out. And then the FINALE...SPIT!!!! Encore!!!!

My Chicken Roomate

Date: 10-14-07

I sat having my devotion's when I heard a peculiar sound coming from Berthe's corner of the hut. It wasn't Berthe - she was already up preparing breakfast and it was still dark enough outside that I couldn't tell what was making the sound. Berthe's mosquito net started to move as something was trying to fight its way out. I peered into the dark intently waiting for something to appear and wondering if I should be prepared to fight or kill! That's when a little white head and yellow beak popped around the corner of the door. The hen did a quick assessment of her surroundings and made a quick run for the door. I figured that she'd just gotten locked in during the night but after a quick breakfast of bugs from under the banana tree she was back again to fight the mosquito net. This time the light flickered into the hut and as she pushed past the mosquito net back into her corner I saw 5 little white eggs nestled into the far corner of my hut. Yep, she had set up housekeeping. Now I'm just waiting for the devotional time when I will hear little peeps and the cracking of eggs and see a family emerge from the corner of my hut.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts of Home

Date: 10-13-07

What is it that makes my stomach do a little flip-flop as I stand at the sink at the hospital house washing dishes? I think it's because I miss the running water, the kitchen sink, and the atmosphere of the kitchen at home. In the early morning when all I can hear is some bird chirping I close my eyes as tight as possible and try to imagine myself in my front yard. As I sat on the edge of the well this morning while the stars sill twinkled in the sky and my family slept in their huts around me I thought of home. How much do you let your mind run in its memories and cravings for home when reality is here...when there is so much joy to be found surrounding you? Joy in the creations of God, joy in His strength, joy in His comfort, joy at the people He brings into your life, joy in the packages that arrived yesterday. How truly blessed I am. Although it does not deny the feelings I feel when I hear the birds that sound like the ding of a microwave, when I eat the beans and chips my family has sent me, when I see the picture of Kevin, when I smell the burning of sandalwood that reminds me of camping, when James plays guitar Fri. night. All bring a longing for home and friends and family, which cannot be denied. It is something I must embrace, give to God, and then find joy in the new baby goat that bounces like a spring at my feet, throwing his little legs up into the air. Maybe I should get up and do same?

Legs, Eyes, and Wings = Bon Appetite

Date: 10-10-07

It was pitch black inside my hut. I moved forward slowly trying to find my head lamp on the table I knew it was in front of me. I'd arrived home late and was hoping that my family wouldn't try to get me to eat anything. But once I found my headlamp, and had filled my hut with light I found out how wrong I was. There was Berthe at the door a bowl outstretched to me. I gave her a questioning look and peered over the side. Beedy black eyes that had been cooked to a crisp staired unblinkingly back at me. Yep, is was grasshopper season! "Mange" Berthe said and grabbed on of the tasty critters to demonstrate how. Before I knew 3 other siblings had packed themselves into the tiny hut wondering what all the commotion was. So I took a deep breath told them all to take one and on the count of 3 we'd all eat them together. CRUNCH! CRUNCH! I'd tell you it tasted like chicken but I've never had chicken. I will tell you I did have seconds though!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Covered in Mosquito's and Poopy Parasites :)

Date: 10-9-07

I have two new friends - one has visited before and the second I'm still getting acquainted with. I've decided that they're probably going to become very close friends. You know the ones that visit often. Unfortunately they love me and I do not return the feeling ;) You see the name of the first visitor is Malaria and the second is Giardia. Yes, I have the poopy parasite and the mosquito covered sickness all at the same time. I thought it was very considerate of them to visit at the same time!! Misery loves company!! Despite these little bugs having a hay day inside of me. I've really only been sick one day and it was only with a fever. Praise God. The fun part about Giardia is that you must be outfitted with toilet paper at all times!!! Thankfully in Africa you don't have to be near a bathroom to "use the bathroom". I defiantly wouldn't want to have Giardia in the states. Here you can just pop off the path and squat, I say bonjour to many people doing the squat as I walk by. As soon as my French gets better I might inquire which parasite friend is spending the day with them?

Night Shift

Date: 10-6-07

The first patient was held by his Nangerene mother, eyes closed and head flopped to one side. I checked his conjunctiva and found it completely pale. Another Malaria patient that the parents had waited too long to bring in. After hospitalizing him, starting an IV and finally finding a blood type match for the infant we hung the blood..then the IV went bad. It was dark by this time so we took him into the nurse's station to start another IV and there in his mother's arms his little heart stopped beating. We covered his face with the cloth his little body was wrapped in. The mother dropped her head near his face but did not cry a tear or utter a sound. I put my arm around her shoulder everything inside of me wanted to wrap her in one big hug. I looked around at the faces of the other nurses with me. Completely stoic. "God, I prayed please help me never to get calloused to the death of these little ones."

I returned to the pediatric ward to check on the other babies that we had just hospitalized and had placed two to a bed because of the overwhelming amount of patients coming in. Three blood transfusion's were running, all the Quinine perfusion's were dripping slowly, everything was pretty quiet except for the raspy breathes of the baby at the end of the ward. The father was sitting on the floor looking up at the IV with his lantern, making sure that it was dripping as I approached. This one didn't look like it was gonna make it through the night. I listened to his lungs and heard the typical malaria crackles and rales. The nurse on the Med/Surg. side told me to give Dexamethasone and Ampicillin. I did this and then there was nothing else to do but wait. I returned to the back of the building where a mat had been place for me to sleep over there and laid down. But I couldn't go to sleep because all I could hear was the gasping of the infant. "God," I prayed "Is there anything else that I can do?" The moon shown in through the window above me head and filtered down through the mosquito net as I waited for a reply. "Pray with them," came the reply. I struggled with getting up out of bed since it was already 1:00 and I new because of all the blood transfusion's going and Quinine perfusions due again at 5:00 I wouldn't get much sleep but the impression wouldn't leave me. I rolled over and fought my way out of the mosquito net, fished for my flip-flops, head-lamp, and made my way to the end of the ward again. I found the father in the same position..worry written all over his face, holding the lantern and watching the drip. He jumped up as I approached. I asked him if it is would be o.k. if I prayed with him and his wife for their baby. He nodded his head immediately, there in the flickering light of his lantern I held that tiny sweaty hand and asked that God intervene, I prayed that this little girls life would be spared so that she would have the opportunity to know a relationship with God. It was all in English, but the peace of God was there.

After finishing praying I found my way over to the med/surg. side to see if everything was o.k. over there. The generator had been turned on for a C-section and as I entered the building the nurse there grabbed me by the hand and we ran toward the patient latrines. There on the ground we found a new hospitalized mom holding her new baby in her lap, the cord still pulsating with blood from the placenta. Taking the cloth from the father I wrapped the baby and beginning rubbing her to get her to cry. As a small cry came from her mouth Job clamped the cord and cut it. And then we took off running to the labor and delivery room to suction and make sure that the infant was o.k. In the light given by the generator we found a perfectly healthy newborn. I returned for the mother and found a bed for her. The baby immediately began to nurse and in no time we had the placenta out and had given some oxytocin.

So tonight is another night shift. You never know what it'll bring but God does and He can handle any situation better than I could ever have been trained to handle a situation. He is the Great Physician after all isn't He?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Don't Try This in America

1.. Wash the bowl out with sand, rinse with water, and serve.
2.. Re-cap you needles.
3.. Do all dressing changes without gloves.
4.. Go barefoot in the OR
5.. Tell the nurse you're working with to wash out that Foley Catheter bag
you'll use it for the next patient.
6.. Take a shower in your back yard.
7.. Suck on your fingers to clean off you hand after dinner.
8.. Rinse of the suction tubing using your hands and then suck on the
other end with your mouth to continue suctioning the tracheal tube.
9.. Wear the same dress all day after your baby peed all over you.
10.. Throw all the flip-flops in your yard at the pigs that won't leave.
11.. Pile 26 people in a mini-van.
12.. Walk outside your door and pee, why go all 10 feet to the hole?
13.. Use the same IV catheter over and over again for trying to start an
IV on a patient until it gets a hole in it.
14.. Hang blood to gravity.
15.. As a nurse prescribe medication and dosages.
16.. Pile 3 people on one little motorcycle.
17.. Put your arm around a stranger and tell them that you're going to
walk home with them.
18.. Eat the huge locust on your corn plants...raw!!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Bottle Cap and a Pressure Canner

Date: 9-24-07

I sit her in Africa in the middle of trying to can pumpkin. My family gave me a huge pumpkin, I made pumpkin muffins yesterday with some of the prized Raisin's mom sent with me, but there was still a ton left. I decided to give canning it a try so that we could have pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. Pray that none of us die of botulism though ;) Mom told me that it needs to be canned in a pressure cooker under 15 lb.'s of pressure for 50 minutes. Well I've got them in a pressure cooker and they will be there for a little longer than 50 minutes to be safe. But as far as the 15lb's of pressure goes that would be a coke bottle cap. Hmmm..guess it's part of embracing Africa ;)

Wilderness Experience

Date: 9-22-07

It's a dark night outside, the crickets are humming, and the coal fire the pressure cooker is over is glowing orange out on the porch. It is here I sit overwhelmed by what an amazing opportunity God has presented me with here. It is a discovery that I can't help but share with you.

I walked into Sabbath School and joined our newly formed group of English speaker's, the sounds of the Mundo, Nagerene, and French language Sabbath School's mixed together in the brick building. We opened up to the weeks Sabbath school lesson and saw that it was on Hosea and Gomar. I strained to hear the conversation as the Quinine makes my ears feel like they are filled with cotton, I caught pieces here and there. It came my turn to read the next verse..and this is what I read.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart. And I will betroth you to Me forever, yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will even betroth you to Me in stability and in faithfulness, and you shall know, recognize, be acquainted with, appreciate, give heed to, and cherish the Lord.and in that day I will respond, says the Lord." Hosea 2: 14, 19, 20

Tears filled my eyes as I read this, I looked out the tall rectangular windows that lined the church wall, rice filled rolled in the breeze, a couple children ran by laughing, dragon flies hovered in the air that was beginning to get heavy with heat. I thought of my hut, my cot, my mat, my hole, my new family.

This was it! Tchad, this was my wilderness experience, I'm so sure of it now. God has brought me here to betroth me to Him forever in righteousness, justice, love, mercy, stability, and faithfulness! The incredible part is even if I don't do something incredible here in Chad He still wants to have a relationship with me, in fact it might be the very reason why He has brought me here. He always takes the initiative, all I have to do is be willing to be loved and that love relationship will cause the changes in my life. I can mess-up here, spend too much time at the hospital house, not learn French, and maybe not even do something amazing for God here..those are all earthly thing/accomplishments that gives us a sense of righteousness. God could care less, He wants us to focus on what is not seen what is eternal, He just wants to take us to the wilderness and for us to experience with Him true love.

I continued to read this morning and found this verse:

"Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us so that He may heal us. He has stricken so that He may bind us up..then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning: and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." Hosea 6:3

I know that the changes aren't going to be easy, but as I read the description of the love relationship that He offers if you embrace those trials in the wilderness experiences that He brings into our lives.I can't help but be excited about the possibilities

An Answered Prayer

Date: 9-21-07

I stood giving the 4th dose of Quinine to another fever soaked infant lying wrapped in a bright piece of African fabric. As I was checking to make sure the drip was slow enough I heard the gurgling gasps from the last bed in the room. The same gurgling gasps that had caused James to insert a tracheal tube the night before. The same gasps that lead us to suction her trachea out with a tube and our mouths and bag her to get her 02 sat up. This was the first patient that I'd been able to prayer with her family for her, she was a little 8 year old girl that had been through it all, the day before a truck had fell on her and brok her Tibia in one leg and her Femur in the other. And now this struggle for life. I ran to the bedside and began to suction, sucking so hard my chest hurt. Bust still I got nothing. I turned to call for help and that's when I realized I was in this alone. Sarah had gone for a bit to eat and Augustine (the other nurse) had disappeared quite some time ago. I turned on the 02 sat monitor and watched as she started to drop 83, 82, 81. Please God send somebody I prayed and went to try and suction again. No luck. I glanced over my shoulder and there stood a nurse from the other side who never ventures over to this side. Praise God. I handed the suction to him to try because he might have more suction power than me. I was going to get James.

James arrived and we suctioned, bagged, and gave albuterol liquid straight down her tracheal tube to loosen up the secretions. He 02 sat reached 98% being bagged. We taught the family how to bag her so that they could through the night. Last I checked on her before going to bed she was waking up blinking her eyes and moving some fingers. Praise God!

Fake Out

Date: 9-19-07

As I walked home from work I prayed with everything inside me that the meal wouldn't be spit-sauce and boulle'. I'd loved it last week but now this week and Quinine for Malaria has left me wanting to barph at the site of it. I surveyed the cooking pots on the coal in the courtyard and tried to say a happy "Bonjour, ca va?" as I spotted the creamy peanut butter being prepared to be poured in with the boiling okra. Oh boy..I thought as my stomach turned inside out. Am I gonna make it another 8 months? I ate 3 bites and had to quit, telling them it was my Quinine. For the 3rd time since being here I stayed the whole day with my family without returning to the hospital to e-mail/eat American food. Little baby steps. But unfortunately that meant dinner with my family!

As I watched them roast the feathers off the chicken I wondered what might be in store for me. I immediately knew it was leftovers when one of the girls headed for the food-hut which I have fondly named the cockroach hut. I watched as they washed off whatever might haven let by those nasty critters off the boulle throw it in some water to boil for 5 minutes and "voila" leftover's of cold peanut spit sauce and boulle on a dirty plate appeared in front of me. Two of the girls dug in, I tried one bite and the stomach said uhhhh, no. So I faked. I stuck my head in the light of the moon and acted like I grabbed some boulle, acted like I dipped and then sucked on my fingers for a llittle while and chewed. Boy what nutrition. I knew eating with my fingers would come in handy.my family never knew, and you never could've accomplished that with a spoon and eating from a bowl by yourself!!!!

The Challenge

Date: 9-17-07

And..it's on Liz is down 1:2. Sonya's in the lead only because she didn't have enough Garlic in he blood when she arrived. The mosquitos are buzzing with the most recent malaria score gossip as Sonya confronts Liz at the hospital steps. "So I hear you've got Malaria?" Liz display's the 0.05% p. paludisma on the "Bulletin Examen Labo." Welcome to the club James says when he finds Liz lying on the couch with a cool washcloth that Sonya so lovingly placed there. The next day arrives and the mosquito's have gone wild in the stands. "Did you see Sonya go to the Lab this morning - I hear we've infected another one!!!!!" Sonya, is searching the hospital looking in every room to tell the world the new score...or is it just Liz that she's looking for. She finds her getting over one of the hot flashes that have taken over her new Malaria filled body.

"So it looks like I'm winning 2 to your 1." Sonya, states holding up her newest Bulletin Trophy.

"Don't challenge me!" Liz replies.leaving both Sonya and Liz with the image of lying outside on their mats at night, arms exposed, saying " Her squito, squito, squito."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Questions for God

Date: 09-11-07

So to tell you the truth I don't know what I'm feeling right now! One things for certain you defiantly know that you're alive when you live in a place like this. Your emotion's won't let you forget it. One moment I find myself surrounded by little kids as I walk to the hospital - almost every finger has a little black hand attached to it. The next one of the nurses is frustrated with me because I can't understand what she's saying. Later I find myself wiping up bloody vomit from an old woman's mouth and she tosses and turns in and out of consciousness. The nurses from last night's shift have done something wrong, it gets blamed on me and because of my language barrier I have no way to stand up for myself. I guess that's one way to teach me to be humble and not open my mouth. Sometimes it feels like I'm a child playing nurse. Will I ever be trusted that I know what I'm doing? Will I ever feel useful? It's times like these when these question's haunt my mind that I'm reminded that maybe God didn't bring me here to do anything great, maybe He brought me here to change me, to develop a relationship with me. It's a wonderful thought but at the same time the hardest thing I've ever done. When you aren't doing something you begin to wonder why you're here away from those you love and care about, away from everything familiar. These are the questions that caused me to blink back tears as I sat on an old commode inside the nurses station. These are the question's I have to give to God and ask Him to give me the Joy for living life. For true joy cannot be found in what you do, what you have, or who your friends are. It must be found in Christ!

Clapping: it's the New Vogue

Date: 09-10-07

I walked into the pediatric unit yesterday morning and greeted two of my favorite boys with our signature handshakes and clapping rituals. We're attempting to get faster and faster but their coordination is somewhat lacking. I won both rounds by them messing up and was bugging them about it, what I didn't realize is that all the Arab mother's with their babies behind me had been watching. They were all laughing when one of the boys messed up. When I turned around I found 4-5 mothers all wanting to give "the clap" a try. Arab hands are very BIG!!! I'd never realized this. So we gave it ago the whole ward was in hysteric's as one after another mother almost hit me in the face because she forgot which hand was next! One mother couldn't get off the bed because she was holding her infant but was clapping her hands and motioning for me to come to her bedside. Today as I walked by beds and families sitting outside woman were clapping their hands and wanting to try again. Hey, laughter, its good medicine right?

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tchad Technology: Goat Dishwasher, Organic Trashcan, and Chicken Guard

Date: 8-29-07

So there I sat. Another amazing meal of spit sauce. You would think that there might be a large amount of clean up work to do after preparing a meal like that but you're defiantly wrong. Just set the pot on the ground and let the goat loose. As I sat there with my finger's covered in millet and okra I tried to decide whether to swallow or not. Good ole' momma goat was licking out that pot as fast as she could go. The family didn't appear to concerned; obviously it was just a part of Tchadian technology that I would have to adjust to. Or else take over washing dishes in the morning (which I have successfully accomplished).

Don't let yourself get to caught up in the goat dishwasher though - you haven't even heard about the organic trashcan. So there I sat. Two corn cobs downed and a pleasantly filled stomach. I sat holding the cobs in my hand and that's when my Mere' (the mother in my family) demonstrated the disposal of any and all trash items at their house for me. She finished the last kernel on the cob and lobbed it over her head in the direction of the banana tree. She motioned for me to do the same. O.k. here it goes I thought...so I tossed my trash into the tree. I felt like looking around to see if I was going to get a ticket for littering. Nope. The cob just joined all the other trash that has accumulated at the side of the courtyard. Yesterday I finished cleaning a wound of one of the girls and she motioned for me to throw the bandage under the tree too. Hmmm...not quite there yet. I promise to continue to stick all paper objects in my trusty Wal-mart bag hanging on my wall.

Last but not least is the ever trusty chicken guard. Forget owning a bull-dog. This momma hen has got an attitude. You see there are these 5 ragamuffin, up-to-no-good piglets that regularly find there way through the opening in the brick wall. They enter our courtyard and wreak havoc. That's when momma hen kicks in. She's had enough of their attitude and just knows that one of them is going to eat one of her babies. Head lowered and wings back she goes running full force at the little black and white piglet. When in close proximity she opens her wings, screams a cluck, and jumps onto the piglet beating him with her wings. Squeals could be heard for miles. They run squealing and clucking through the corn and okra until the little piglet finds that precious outlet. Now that's a "watch-chicken" for ya!


Date: 8-27-07

It's a night I'm sure not to forget. Life, it can be gone so fast. It was my first evening shift by myself at the hospital. Sarah and James were gone, Sonya and I were holding down the fort. I was standing next to Enoch a nurse who speaks a little English and who I would be working with that evening. When in walked a mother holding a baby wrapped up in the traditional African bright colors. Jabel, another nurse, opened up the babies Carnet ("medical records") and over his shoulder I saw a referral written from another clinic for convulsion's and seizures. I lifted up the blanket covering the baby. I tried to find a pulse on his feverish little arm. I couldn't find it so I went to listen to his heart - still nothing. I turned to Jabel and told him "no pulse". He didn't believe me and went to listen for himself. Then another nurse wanted to listen. I knew what I'd heard and wanted to grab the baby from the mother's arms and run to start CPR. But all the other nurses were just standing there. I was suppose to be the one in training. I started motioning to do CPR. They looked at me with a blank look and covered the baby's face with a blanket. I wanted to scream, my arms kept reaching towards the baby but the nurses were shaking their heads. The mother began to cry, her head close to the baby. That's when one of the African medical students came rushing in. He lifted up the blanket checked his eyes listened to his heart and grabbed the baby and ran. I went with him. He started compression and I started bagging. Thirty compression's, two breaths over and over again. Every time I gave a breath to the baby I could hear the fluid in his lungs. He was gone. We wrapped him up, covered his face and brought him back to his mother. I then and there vowed that if that ever happened I would grab that baby and immediately start CPR no matter what the others around me were saying.

The opportunity came too soon. I wasn't prepared. We went running over to the pediatric building when we heard the screams of a mother. I had assessed her baby that morning and had noticed her respirations were very labored. I told Enoch but he didn't seem too concerned but told me she was HIV and that's just how it was going to be. I was sure there was something we could do, but couldn't convey that to him. Now it was to late. Another nurse Tya was already by the bedside taking out the IV, the mother was rocking back and forth on her bed, screaming, hands against her forehead. I look around at the 5 nurses standing around the bed and that's when I got angry. "Pourqoi, Pourqoi, No.." (Why No ) and I motioned for CPR. They all just shook their heads no. I put my hands under the baby's lifeless body and went to lift her. The nurses put their hands on my arms and shook their heads. "Pourqoi" I shouted. Enoch took my arm and led me from the building. I stood on the side-walk outside so frustrated. Why weren't they doing anything!!! I didn't understand and they didn't understand me. That's when Enoch got through to me that she was HIV. Still I had to leave. I told Enoch, "Promenade, je retourne du bien tot" (I was going for a walk and would return). Tears streaming down my face I took a walk to cry, scream, and talk to God. Out into the fields I stood surrounded my miles and miles of rice fields and screamed. "Why God? What do you want me to do? How can I communicate with these people? How can I know what to do? Life goes so quickly.

I found my way to Sonya's hut. She was in the middle of getting her hair braided by her family but got up and came with me when she saw me. We stood out in a field for a hour crying, praying, and looking up at the storm clouds that were beginning to billow on the gray horizon. There in that field underneath those white billows, I felt God's reassurance. He wasn't going to let me down, I'm just a tool. I never have to feel alone or that my knowledge and language skills are all that I have to depend on. If God wants to act through me He will, if He wants to save a life through me He will, if He wants to heal someone through me He will. God showed me that in time I will know the language, but that right now I needed to pray for the families of the babies and right now I needed to put a smile back on my face and go back to the hospital so that He can demonstrate His love and care through me. I can not give this in and of myself it is only by His strength and praising Him for the opportunity to be used by Him that I can go on.

That night I walked home under a full moon, the clouds and rain had rolled onto another place. It was a reminder to me that God is always there like the sun and moon though sometimes the clouds and rain cloud your mind. But it is times like that you must remember that God is right beside you, guiding your hands, your feet, your words. Soon the moon will break through the clouds, so that you can see the path home. The times when you can't see the path you must trust that Christ is beside you and leading.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The White Girl is Showering!!!

Date: 8-23-07

So the whole neighborhood knew!! It was raining that morning when I got up so I skipped the shower and decided to be like everyone else and take my cold shower later in the day when it actually feels good. Unfortunately I forgot that there's also more people awake at this time of day. Take it from me 3:00 in the afternoon is not the best time to take a shower if you're in Africa and you're white!!

So I stepped into the round circle, which consisted of mats held up by sticks and up onto a couple of rocks placed for a shower floor. I began with the normal routine of throwing water on myself with a bowl. It was normal until I stood up from my crouched position. That's when I heard the giggles. Yep, the neighbor kids had spotted me. Five little heads stared back at my head and shoulders from their place in the court-yard. I probably should've waved and did a little dance but their mom saw them all staring at me and they got a good yelling. No matter how good the yelling, though, every time I'd stand up they would still be staring..and their mom yelling. The yelling I think encouraged the little piglet's from next door to see what all the commotion was about. I bet the kids sent him as a spy. The little black piglet and his 2 brothers came squealing around the mat wall. They gave a few grunts and decided that maybe they had the wrong shower circle. Personally I thought they could've used a good bath!!!

The 101 on Spit Sauce

Date: 8-20-07

1.) Wash your hands from the green tea pot with the rocks in it! VERY IMPORTANT

2.) Sit by yourself. Remember you're a guest and it's an honor to eat alone.

3.) Say Prayer

4.) Take your 3 middle fingers and dig into the boulle (a big ball of millet that has the consistency of oatmeal put in the refrigerator and taken out the next day, except scalding hot!!

5.) Place small amount in palm of hand a squish together to make a small patty. Stick it at the end of your fingers.

6.) And in you go to the spit sauce.

7.) Try not to sling spit (okra slime) on everything and everyone as your three fingers go from the bowl to your mouth.

8.) Remember you've been watched this whole time so prepare yourself for laughter as they watch you try and catch the stray okra slime that is still connected to the stew and your mouth.

9.) Remind yourself you're in Africa, it's okay to have food all over your hands, it's okay to bite down on rocks every once and awhile. Swallow and give it another go.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not your typical Africa


I expected to be surrounded by dry grass-land, but we have gotten more rain here in the last week than I've seen in quite awhile. That would be why they call it the rainy season! One night I walked home and the water on the path was up to my knees in places. Everything is green here, Sarah says that will all change in a few months. Trees surround the hospital, Mango's, Guavas, and Banana trees are the ones that I can identify. But just a short distance from the hospital is a green plain on which you can see for miles, short squatty trees (typical of Africa) pop up here and there, surround by brown termite hills some standing 5 feet tall, and fields of rice. There are no Lions, Giraffes, and Gazelles, although I did see a couple camels on the way here. The sun goes down here at 6:30 so I usually walk home in the dark. Not having any animal's to worry about is a plus. You only have to be careful to dodge all the frogs that hop out onto the path. They act like a deer in headlights when my headlamp light hits them J It feels more like the jungle right now and is actually getting chilly in the evening and morning's, it was too cold to take my cold splash bath this morning so thankfully I was able to communicate my need of warm water to my family. I'm not sure I should've taken a warm shower, it brought the cravings of home on the run. Kinda like using the toilet at the hospital compound. But like Sonya and I have been discussing; where else and when else could we ever have gotten this experience? You don't exactly come by it every day.

Migration of the Flying Termites

Date: 8-13-07

One memorable occasion thus far was when I came back from the hospital after dark last night. I went to brush my teeth next to a tree with my head lamp turned on. and got attacked by a migration of flying termites!!!! AHHHHH.. The head lamp came off very fast, and I moved away from that area very rapidly especially since they where trying to crawl up my scrubs. What totally threw me was the way all 6 kids came running when the saw the bugs. They started saying mange mange..which means to eat they started grabbing termites and stuffing them in their closed fists. They were yelling, screaming, and dancing up and down. This afternoon at dinner they brought them out still moving in a bowl. Thankfully they know I'm vegetarian so they didn't offer me any of them! Bon Appetite!

Songs of Home

Date: 8-12-07

I'm truly am thankful to be living with my new family in their hut, because I will learn French much faster and I will develop a relationship with the people that I never could've done otherwise. That is why Sarah and James put us with them, although there is room in the house at the hospital compound. I sat in the hospital office Friday night and cried for quite a while after seeing the couches, and toilet in the house. My desire for comfort and something familiar was almost overwhelming.it takes effort and the willingness to change to live with the Pierre and his family. That's when God reminded me that I wanted to grow, He reminded me that His strength is made perfect in weakness, He reminded me that He came to this earth for 30 years from Heaven.and I'm only here 10 months. It turned dark while I sat in the empty office of the hospital.during this time God gave me strength to smile, to get up and walk to my hutte. When I got there his family was all sitting around the lantern I joined them, we laughed and laughed as they tried to teach me words, and than they sang. Songs that I knew the tune to, and that's when I cried with them. They understood in their own way, the motioned to their faces about my tears, and all I could say was mon familia and hold Esthe who was sitting closest to me. The next morning all the kids left with me for Church. If they weren't holding my hands then one was holding me water bottle and the other my bible. During the sermon Ann one of the youngest crawled up on my lap and snuggled in.that's when I realized it was all gonna be OK.

Outdoor Showers, Little Holes, and Nalgene Traps

Date: 8-11-07

The interesting part of arriving at the hospital is that nothing ended up being like expected.. Sonya and I found out that we were going to be immersed into the African culture in a very real way. One of the Loma Linda Medical Students, Joe, who speaks French helped me carry my boxes to the Hospital's Cashier's Mud Hut home.there I met his family of 6 children and deposited my boxes in my new home. A Mud Hut which I share with two of the oldest girls. I'm afraid that I had envisioned something different than this, my shower, toilet, bed, concrete floor, American food, and English had disappeared. I crawled onto my cot after sitting around a lantern with my new family and tried to decide what emotion's I was feeling. Before I could decide though I received of gift of Cockroaches, thankfully I was surround by a mosquito net so I felt safe until I heard a buzzing and one hit my stomach.he'd gotten caught in my net. I grabbed my flashlight.and found him sitting at the top of my net. Should I grab him and throw him out? Nope, that would be disgusting! The next option my Nalgene, so his demise came to be a water death! I did not sleep at all that first night.I held onto my flashlight tightly all night, and every time I heard on crawling on the wall next to me or one flying by I turned on the light. The next night I realized it was ridicules and asked God to protect me.sound kinda silly.but I'm not to big on those little critters.maybe they'll grow on me, just like the hole I use for a bathroom and the large basket I take shower's in.

The Unknown

Date: 8-8-07

Well I'm here in Africa, we got in at 9:00 last night. Sonya's luggage didn't come in, so we spent the night here in Ndjamena at a house owned by the evangelicals. It is beautiful and so are the people. We went to the market this morning and got food, the cell phone for the internet, and beds.which we carried on our heads J It has been raining here so the roads are very muddy, the house we are in is surrounded by cement walls, wire fencing, and glass shards. There is a guard at the gate that lets us in and out. We will leave for Bere' tomorrow morning, Sarah told Sonya and I that where we are staying has changed. Because of all the people who are coming to the hospital there are not permanent rooms for us there. One of us will be staying with the Cashier's family who works at the hospital and the other one of us will be staying with another employee from the hospital and his family. They both have an extra mud hut they we can stay in. We will pay $50.00 a month that will cover the use of the mud hut and the family will also cook our food. Sarah said that it won't take us long to learn French that way! I'm not sure about the food but hopefully it'll all turn out O.K.

There are many unknowns but I know that God will give me the strength, wisdom, and courage to face them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

In the Clear

The departure date is set for Aug. 6, exactly 21 days away. After much e-mailing and prayer NAD cleared both Sonya and I to spend next year in Chad. We are waiting on our Visa's from the Government then everything will be set. Now for the packing part of things, 100 lb's for 10 months goes fast :) One new and exciting development is that Martha Ordonez a close nursing friend from Southern will be graduating at Christmas and has decided to join me at the end of January after she passes her board's. We are both thrilled. There are three other student's who will be in Bere' for the next year, Sonya Reaves, Hans Fly, and an accountant. Sonya will be meeting me in Paris and is a social work major she will be working on grants for the hospital, continuity of care, and I'm sure many other things. Hans is a translator who was at UCA for the last couple months teaching, he was attending Walla Walla College and speaks Spanish and French. I know absolutely nothing about the accountant, but it will truly be a blessing to have them to spend time with when the homesickness kicks in. Thank you all for your prayer's and support. I'm excited to be able to share with you the blessing's and experiences that God has in store. Love and Prayer's, Liz

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Travel Warning

I'm suppose to be leaving for Chad the 1st week in August, but as of yesterday I got a travel warning stating the the government was in a state of turmoil, and the the North American Division (NAD) will not send volunteers somewhere where there is a travel warning. Southern is checking into the warning, so I will know soon whether or not my call will be cancelled. Please keep the Bere' hospital and where I am supposed to go next year in your prayers.