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, 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.