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

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Thought from a Quiet Friday Evening

It's incredible to me how the lesson's in life don't end, I thougt that they might get easier upon returning from Africa...but basically you're just in a more comfortable place to experience this time of learning. I am thankfull to God for this time, but that doesn't alway's mean it's easy!

After returning home from Africa I felt this numbness spiritually but I find that often when you are hurting from something in your life is when God can finally seep in through the cracks. Even when you've been trying to make it work all along.

I suppose what He is teaching me now and now that I think about it the whole time in Africa is that IT (meaning everything) is IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT CHRIST! For so long like I said I've felt numb, and recently I have felt this desire to become a better person, to have my life filled with ministry, to start up a minisitry to the homeless, to be a blessing to all those around me, to change...and it finally caught up to me tonight...I was feeling like I was failing! Tonight I listened to a sermon (from the His Robe or Mine book) and felt an answer from God. None of those things are going to make me a better person, those things are working from the outside of my life which is completely backwards from the way it should be, Christ wants to work from the inside out. From my heart out. I loved a thought that Frank Phillips shared...Christ doesn't work on an improved you...when He has your heart He transforms you into a new creature. Oh how badly I want that, but I think that Satan often gets us off track so easy...we see the outside of the end result and try to work towards it and end up getting it all backwards. Mom reminded me tonight of an experience that I had in Africa and of something that I had told her. It was after two babies had died and I was feeling helpless..."If God needs to use me to save someone He will" in this I must trust. It is Chrsit who does the saving not me!

Let me share with you one of my mother and I's favortie quotes that we often quote to eachother.

Isaiah 30:15
"For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved: in quietness and in confidence shal be your strength:..."

Bon Sabbat

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Loma Linda: A cold trip backpacking!

So my main suggestion would be not to camp at 9200 ft. in the month of October with a 4mth old puppy and no fires. Brrrr! Yes, it really was as cold as my toes told me it was...the Ranger's confirmed it on the way out; "Did you guys get the 3 inches of snow expected?" Cali isn't as warm as it used to be :) It's been awhile since I've posted anything...so a quick update...I've moved to Loma Linda I'm living with Rachel and Kyle, we now own a puppy named Chaco...who has become the crazy wildness in our life! You can be sure you'll here more about him later. I'm working on an MICU floor and on another learning curve...but God has blessed with wonderful peope to work with!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Home


Snow capped mountain peaks poked up through the clouds as Kevin and I flew across the cascades. We were in route from Paris to Seattle, in route home. It was May 12; the day that I had dreamed about for 9 months. Was this day really happening to me?

The last three weeks had been filled with so many changes that I felt almost in recovery mode as I sat on the plush seats of the jet, using scented warm washcloth’s, and eating off my own plate. I found it hard not to stare at all the white people that surrounded me. After speaking to the stewardess on the Air France flight in French…I decided that I had not learned French I had learned African French. It was hard not to respond to their question’s that they ask in French because I understand what they are saying, but when I respond they grimace and look extremely confused. Oh well…I’ll just mark it down as another humbling experience 

Kevin and I had left Ndjamena on the evening of the 11th after returning from a 3 day trip to Zakouma National Park. We had flown up there with Wendy, Gary and their two children Kaleb and Cherice. We slept in little thatch bungalows, with hot water and flushing toilets. At night we could here the lions roaring in the distance, one night around midnight I heard noises outside our window. I got up and opened the door to find two dark forms of elephants on the lawn outside our bungalow…having a grassy midnight snack. We saw the Giraffes that I had always dreamed of seeing, many Elephants, different African deer, Warthogs, Ostrich’s, Lions, Water Buffalo, Storks, Monkeys and Baboons. Within the first couple hours of being at the park Kevin and Gary managed to get charged by a momma Lion, we’re thankful that they are still with us ;)

Leaving Béré was hard and filled with many tearful goodbyes, but I was at the point were I had to get away…I wasn’t sure how much more I could handle, especially since for the last week we had been without a doctor. Maybe it was because I could see the end in sight. Even though I was dying to get home, it was still hard to leave. Before leaving I had a party with my family. We all crowded in my empty hut, a couple evenings before I left, there I’d set up a slideshow of the year on my computer with the up-beat music that they love. Kevin had also made a treat of cherry and orange jello for them to try. They would get so excited when one of their faces would appear on the screen, laughing and pointing. Kevin and I got more laughs out of watching their faces as they tried the slippery jello that we spooned onto two big plates for them to eat. Then I handed out all the stuff from my hut and clothes for the girls.

A couple mornings later we ate our last breakfast of beullile in Africa. I hugged the girls goodbye as they left for school, they ran out the gate crying and Howaa ran behind the grass fence that surrounds the cooking area sobbing. I went back there with her and we held each other. I never thought that I would become so close to my family, and now here I am leaving a part of my heart in Africa. Dorcus did not understand what was happening as I hugged her goodbye and walked out the gate…Howaa says she will when I don’t come home. How blessed I am to be so loved by a family in Africa and in America…to be brought into their home, into their lives, to become one of them, to work, sleep, and eat along side them. It is an experience and a love that I shall never forget.

We boarded the little puddle jumper of a plane from Seattle to Spokane…I was getting giddy, unable to keep from smiling. This is it…Rachel, Mom and Dad were only 45 minutes away. The planes wheels touched Washington ground and we walked down the stairs and into the crisp 60˚air…from 115˚ it’s a big change. Once inside the airport, I ran through the gate into the arms of my family. Finally I was home! Mrs. Ekvall, Vanessa, and Kevin’s Grandpa and Grandma were also at the airport to welcome us home. Upon arriving home mom had set up a feast of Tamales, refried beans, chips, and salsa. It was beautiful…I wanted to take a picture.

Re-adjustment has not been too bad. I was slightly overwhelmed by the vast array of color’s in Target, a little nervous about driving for the first time in 9 months (especially merging on the high-way), and tried to find the matches to light our stove for cooking. I called Howaa and Pierre a couple days ago and hope to keep in contact with them.

I want to thank you all for you prayers, support, and encouraging e-mail’s/cards/packages, I can’t imagine what this year would’ve been like without knowing that you all were rooting for me. May God bless you abundantly for all that you have done.

Love and Prayers,
Liz

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Sand, Urinary Stones and Babies

5-3-08

The wind whips up whirlwinds of sand that pelt your face and find you waking up in the morning covered in sand. Mmmm, gotta embrace the grit, mixed with sweat it makes for quite the natural skin exfoliate! That Friday morning found me in just that situation. It had been a windy night, the rooster crowed and I pulled my head from out of under the sheet shaking the sand from it and looked over to see Kevin still sound asleep under the eave of his hut. A few stars still twinkled in the sky, but in Africa as soon as 5:30 am hits, you have no choice but to awake with the goats and chickens or otherwise you take the risk of getting trampled. Sleeping outside on your grass mat has its positive and negative sides!

Kev and I joined Pierre, Brennon, and Washike for a beullile sharing session at breakfast. Kev's new favorite food is the beignets that Howaa makes every morning which we tear up in our beullile. She's determined to have him fattened up before he leaves!

I locked up my hut and lived my dream of walking down the sandy path to the hospital with Kev. It was the start of a beautiful day which was just about ready to get insane. You see we are once again without a doctor. The hospital administrator was gone, and the African surgeon who sometimes does surgeries here at the hospital (Dr. Ongram) was in Kelo. I had just finished doing all the dressing changes on patients, starting a urinary catheter on a lady with a vagina fistula who'd pulled her last one out during the night, and doing rounds with the head nurse Jacob, when the chaos began.

We called Samedi (the janitor turned surgeon) in for a hernia on an old Arab lady. He approached me on the floor and asked if I could assist. I told him I could, but the other nurse would be leaving at 1:00PM so I needed to be back on the floor before that. So in we went. Hans was circulating and giving IV meds, I did the spinal anesthesia, scrubbed and soon we had one patient done. With another lined up, a Dilation and Curettage (D & C), on a mother who had her baby 1 month ago and had been bleeding ever since. After doing the spinal on her, we found that her uterus was full of fluid. Samedi called an end to this D & C and said we'd have to wait for a Doctor. By this time sweat had soaked all of our scrubs. It was running from under our hats and down into our eyes and filling our mouths with its salty taste. We thought we were done, but that's when a nurse popped his head in the door and told us he thought there was a possible C-section sitting outside. A quick examination showed almost 48 hours of labor and presentation of the baby mouth first, yep she was headed into the OR. In between starting a catheter on her along with antibiotics a little boy arrived who a week ago had an operation performed on him to remove a urinary calculi (stone) and now he lay here on the stretcher pee squirting out of his incision right above his pelvis bone. I started a catheter on him. We were all out of pediatric urinary catheters so I had to use a 12fr on him. We then transferred him to a mat outside to wait until after the C-section for further evaluation.

We were running low on help, so Kev came in to take the baby. I did the 3rd spinal for the day (thanks to the teaching of Dr. Bond) and soon we had out the baby with the biggest head and lips I'd ever seen. After having his head compressed on the pelvic bone for such a long time his whole head had become edematous. I did a quick suction, Samedi cut the cord and I handed him to Kev. Shouting out instruction's for resuscitation. Kev was doing compressions with the help of Hans bagging and suctioning, but still no cry. I un-scrubbed and joined in the efforts. Soon he took a gasping breath and a faint heart rate could be heard. I began suctioning with the mouth suction piece removing a couple ml. of phlegm from his throat. After about 10 minutes we finally had a cry. I re-scrubbed and rejoined Samedi who had already sewed up the uterus. I finished by sewing up the skin and soon we had her transferred to the floor. Yes to the floor, it was 3:00 PM time for change of shift and the nurse who had been working with me had left early and left all the 1:00 PM meds un-done. Frustration central. I finally headed home with Kev at 4:00 PM and upon arrival at my courtyard collapsed on one of the mats. We lay there talking about Africa, its frustration's and its beauty and starring up at the vast clear blue sky above us.

That evening found us at the hospital house singing to bring in the Sabbath. We headed to bed at 9:00 PM laying our grass mats once again out on the sand. At 3:00 AM pounding awoke me on the locked tin door of our courtyard and to the question, "Is Liz here". It was the guard from the hospital. The nurse at the hospital wanted me to come, there was a four year old boy with urinary retention and he was at a lost of what to do. I donned by scrubs and walked down the dark path to the hospital. Half-way there I could here the scream's of the little boy. A urinary stone had made it's way all the way to the tip of his penis where it was stuck. I tired pushing it out with tweezers, and pushing it back in hoping to be able to relieve his urinary retention with a Pediatric Naso-gastric tube (the smallest size of urinary catheters left was 18fr). Nothing budged. I worked for about a half an hour with him and that's when a very large momma arrived in labor, making for two momma's in labor. I joined the night nurse in the delivery room just as baby #1 made its entrance into the world. He wasn't breathing so I began resuscitation as the other nurse changed gloves and delivered the next baby whose head was already cresting. Finally the baby I was working on let out a loud cry as baby #2 also let out a cry to let the world know she'd arrived. Two new lives squawked out their protest as we stood on the cement floor covered in fluid and blood. Now back to the little boy!

I was looking over books on anatomy in James office trying to see if the urethra narrows and if it was possible for the stone to come out, when a sleepy Kev arrived at the hospital. We agreed that if it had made it that far it had to be able to come out the rest of the way. After another ½ hour of screaming and kicking I sent the guard to get Samedi. Samedi arrived we immediately gave an IM dose of Ketamine and he began to work with the tweezers. Soon a little piece of the stone broke off allowing us to pull it out with a sigh of relief. I inserted the pediatric NG tube into his bladder and taped it to his leg since there's no balloon to blow up in the bladder.

Kev and I walked back to the hospital house it was an early 5:00 AM Sabbath morning. The sky was beginning to brighten as we fell asleep on cots at the hospital house.

Two days left of work here at Béré Adventist hospital, is it possible? Is it possible that next week I will be sitting down on a plane next to Kev, and then set foot on American soil, hug my parents, eat homemade tamales, sleep in a bed with lots of blankets, and to talk to my sister till late in the night. But as these next days go by I ask that you will remember the hospital in prayer. Satan has quite a battle-field set up here. Without a doctor and a hospital administrator he even takes more advantage of those who come here for help. Pray for wisdom; pray that we will remember to depend on Him, the great physician, and not ourselves.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pastries and Sensory Overload

Date: 4-15-08

Today I realized for the first time to what extent I've forgotten about the civilized culture. Esther, Hans, and I are up here in Ndjamena, waiting for Kevin's plane to land. Last night we went to Anne and Richards because they are up here too and they gave us a gift to go to a pastry restaurant this morning for breakfast. The truck driver picked us up at 9:30 and we bumped along the back roads littered with trash and Arab women selling vegetables. Soon we reached the paved street. Vendor's lined the sides, little girls trying to sell you peanuts, moto's whizzing by you, open sewer, and men sticking watches and cards in front of you. All of these things now so normal to me. Then we opened the door to the pastry shop none of us were prepared for the effect it would have on us.

It was like stepping into a little America. It was clean with air-conditioning, little black tables and chair's, glass show cases with an array of pastries displayed, and more white people all in one place than I've seen combined in the last 8 months. We were seated at a table and a waiter came to take our orders. We had invited the driver Levi to come in with us. For some reason his presence was very reassuring. As the waiter brought us fresh pressed juice on a tray with straws and ice, Esther's eyes started to look on the verge of tears. Finally I understood why the African's stared at us so much. I was having a hard time not staring myself. We sat in silence overwhelmed by absolutely everything. I suppose that I've never really stopped to think about how living in a hut has changed me until I'm in a situation that brings out everything that Africa has changed. Can it really even be put into words? I haven't forgotten what it's like to live at home in the USA, in fact many a day I've daydreamed about it. But why now,when given the opportunity to experience a little bit of those dreams all we wanted to do was leave. Was it sensory overload, or was it the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about how Howaa would react in being in a place like this?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Hallas Fame, Hallas"

Date: 4-1-08

She lay as stiff as a board, toes pointed straight, jaw locked, and stomach muscles tightened. Her eyes blinked with fear as Tetanus took over her little 4 year old body. Her Arab father lifted her from their mat outside and carried her into the pediatric ward where I could start her IV perfusion. As he picked her up not a single limb moved on her body, he could've held her only at her stomach and she would have stayed completely stiff.

Esther and I were giving round the clock medication to her because Dr. Bond didn't trust the nurses to give the correct dosages of the medication he was prescribing. Tonight was my shift on the midnight dose. I pushed the diazepam, Peni. G and gave her an IM injection. "Hallas, Fame, Hallas". I whispered in the darkness of the ward "It's finished, Fame, it's finished". Her whimpers quieted and I patted her rock hard stomach and smoothed her little Arab dress. After 5 days of treatment her feet had started to relax a little bit and this evening her mother had stuck a little pair of Arab shoes on her feet.

The next morning at 6 O'clock I arrived for the next dose but this time armed with just more than medication. Her little brother stood by her bed and a smile broke across his face as I pulled out two balloon's one for him and one for his sister. Soon shouts of gleeful laughter echoed through the ward as he chased the bouncing balloon. Fame held onto her balloon with a little fist that had finally loosened up and looked up at me with wide eyes. Would she ever be able to walk again? Would she ever live a normal life? I suppose that's why I yearn for God to come more than I ever have before.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ketchup Craving

Tonight the Ketchup craving hit the SMs. Esther walked in and sat down next to me, looking at the little bottles of Ketchup that someone had sent Hans. "Those look so good. If I opened a can of hot dogs would you eat them with me?" I looked at her and smiled that's all she needed and she was up to find the recently sent can of Big Franks. Yes, there was rejoicing at the SM house tonight as Esther, Hans, and I sat around of bowl of ketchup and a can of Big Franks.

The funny thing is that this isn't the first time. I wonder if there is some ingredient in Ketchup that we don't get here in Africa. A month ago I came in from work and upon seeing the bottle of Ketchup sitting on the table I just knew I had to have some or else I might go crazy. I searched the house for anything I could have it with. Nothing. That's when it hit me. The chicken coup. I headed out there still in scrubs and with my stethoscope around my neck praying that an egg, just one egg would be there. Nope. Just my luck,just chicken's..and fried chicken wasn't an option. Coming back I almost gave up and then it hit me. Patties. So just for ketchup I made up a whole batch of patties. Mmmmm boy was that ketchup amazing!

Is anybody a little bit warm??

Date: 3-18-08

It was 9:00 at night and I did a double take at the thermometer. Did it really say 95 degrees. Is it possible to find sleep in this temperature?? I looked down at my hands. They were glistening with sweat. Stan and I immediately decided to go wet down our shirts.

I sit in a chair doing consultations across from me an African man has beads of sweat all over his nose. Drip, drip, drip and it's not a runny nose or fever.

I pulled the grass mat out of my hut, put it under the little mango tree, under a full moon, and laid down with my pillow. I had to fall asleep out here it was too hot in there!!! But with a full moon you get one thing and one thing only: a neighborhood party who turned on the lights. For them it's like having electricity all night! And of course my family would have to choose this night to begin pounding rice and having a family meeting.

When you can take off you underclothing and wring them out with sweat..IT'S TOO HOT!!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Out in the middle of...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stan, are you okay??

Date: 3-12-08

Let me bring you up to date. On the 23rd of February I ran across a dusty field with tears in my eyes and met Stan Wheeler outside of the church here in Béré. It was like having part of my family here. Stan is here fixing everything planes, generators, screens, hospital beds, gate locks, etc. You name he can fix it! In between the fix it job's he's visited my hut and had some boulle and spit sauce, Mmmm ;)

Today the 12th of March the 4 of us SM's, Stan, and Andre (the hospital administrator) took off on an exploration of Africa. All of us Nasarah's (Nangere' for white person) climbed in the back of the truck to get the most of the trip. We were going to Andre's village 200 km away, Lere'. Supposedly we we're going to see elephant's, waterfalls, and live with his family for the weekend. We bounced along, wind blowing our hair every which way, and praying that the driver would get us to Lere' in one piece ;) Finally we stopped to have the oil-filter changed. Stan climbed out of the back of the truck and found a place to sit down leaning his head back up against the wall of a tailor's shop. School had just let out and droves of children flocked to the shops to stand and stare. Stan finally looked at me and said, "Maybe I should start that Cipro. My throat is just getting worse." He'd had a sore throat for the last 3 days but just thought it was all the dust and smoke.

We moved things around and he climbed inside to try and get some rest. We climbed in the back and we're off again. He appeared immediately to have fallen asleep. About ½ hour later the truck slowed to a stop and I saw Noelle the pastor sitting next to Stan making some motions. Esther and I climbed out and got in next to Stan, he couldn't move his hands, legs, or head. The first thing I thought was Heat Stroke. We starting pouring water into his mouth, soaking his shirt, head and fanning him. Finally he started to come to a bit, enough to start eating something. Maybe his blood sugar was low. We tried giving him some fruit leather but he couldn't chew it. Thankfully Wendy had sent some Pumpkin Bread along that he was able to get down. The truck was beginning to overheat so we had to keep going. I climbed inside with Stan continuing to feed him, fan him, and keep the water going down. We arrived in Lere' about 45 minute's later stopping at the pastor's house there. We moved Stan to a carpet in their courtyard where he started to feel worse even with all the food and water we'd got down him. Yep, it was time to call Gary.

About 30 minutes later we were back in the truck on the way to the local hospital to get some Serum Glucose, Ringer's and an IV Catheter before meeting Gary at the airstrip that was only 7km away. We spread a mat out next to the airstrip and there with Hans squeezing Stan's arm and using the alcohol wipes from his first Aid Kit I started an IV and a Serum Glucose perfusion. Natives began to accumulate in a large group around us and heads tipped upward as the airplane emerged through the dusty clouds above us.

Holding Stan's perfusion in one hand and my backpack in the other we climbed into the back of the plane and took off without barely a chance to wave goodbye. We had 45 minutes till sundown and we were pushing it to be able to land back in Béré before sundown. Stan collapsed inside the plane head against the window, arms flopped to the side. I hung his perfusion from the seat belt holder near the roof and doused him again with water. My stomach was a little tipsy but I'd never thrown up in a plane before. But about 10 minutes from landing everything that had gone down that day came right back up.

Wendy met us at the airstrip, on the four-wheeler, shining light's so that Gary would know where to land. Gary went and got a truck from Anne and Rich's and soon we were on our way to the hospital.

We helped Stan into the ER room and immediately did a Glycemia test which was 116 and took his Blood Pressure, everything was normal. Gary suggested doing a sputum test. The hospital was abuzz since Dr. Bond was finishing off his 5th surgery for the day so we helped Stan over to the hospital house and to the shower where he could get cleaned up and cooled off. Finally we had him in bed where he fell exhausted. I put up his mosquito net for him and then went back over to check on his test. It was positive for Strep. The Cipro he'd starting taking that morning should take care of that. After talking with Gary we decided that he'd probably experienced Heat Stroke, and the Step had just hit hard core. The next morning he looked much better, and is now up getting around and eating good. Still it was quite a scare and we're thankful that he's healthy again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Lapia

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ants!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Inside My Hut

Here is a look inside Liz's tidy living quarters. I'm sure you will be impressed to see how she's turned a hut into a home...

A Night with the Nomads

Email is still not working out of Bere. This blog post was received via an email from Camilla (a Danish Medical Student)when she arrived at home in Denmark. Thank you Camilla for forwarding the blog.

Date: 2-2-08

Sarah and Hans galloped past leaving Sonya, Esther, Camilla (the Danish Medical Student) and I in a cloud of dust. The sun beat down hard as the 4 of us walked the sandy path slowly leaving behind the huts and animal noises of Béré. At the edge of town we stopped at a large compound, stuck our heads in the big blue gate and waved to three fellow hospital workers eating their lunch. They responded vigorously waving back and wishing us the best of time at the Nomad/Arab village this weekend. And so we continued on, dust puffing up under our feet as we past woman carrying pots on their heads returning from the market. The hot season has finally arrived! Sweat trickles down our back as Soya, Esther, and I sing silly camp songs to past the time and entertain Camilla.

The trees in the distance signal that we are approaching the outskirts of the Nangere village. Children stream from huts shouting Nasarah, Nasarah. Soon we find ourselves mobbed by chanting, yelling children all who want to touch you. They followed us the rest of the way to the Nomad village, stopping right outside the makeshift thorn fence set up around the huts of the Nomad's whom we would be visiting and spending the night with. We entered and began the long Arab greeting shaking all adult and children's hands. Hans and Sarah had already arrived and made themselves comfortable on the carpets and pillows that had been laid out for us. We took off our shoes and joined them. One of the boys prepared tea in a little golden tea pot on coals, while the rest of the children stood wide-eyed staring at us A few brave ones approached and touched my hair when I took off my head wrap.

The shyness immediately disappeared when Sonya took out her balloons. Soon colorful balloons where bouncing up and down and children were shrieking with delight. A bowl of water was brought out and we washed out feet and hands; preparing for the evening meal. We had been warned they would probably serve us meat, being honored guest and all, but boulle and a dip appeared. Half-way through the boulle we heard Sonya say, "Are they dragging something over there?" We all turned and saw a group of 3 boys pulling something in the dark to the edge of the camp..yep; it looked like we might have a little meat to eat after all.

A flurry of action began near the cooking pots, fire danced, and Arabic music chants filled the star filled night sky. Soon we all found ourselves asleep on the carpets covered by heavy Arabic fleeces. A couples hours later we were jolted awake, coals glowed where the flames had once leaped, children had gone to bed, and the sheep had been prepared! The Man of the house stood with a huge platter of rice and the choicest part of the sheep (the innards) and called our names. Now it was time for dinner, the boulle was just an appetizer. We all shook our heads, crawled out from under the covers, and squinted at the food that lay in front of us. There was no choice we were honored guests we had to eat it! Esther and I looked at each other. Neither of us had ever eaten meat before, and this looked just plain scary. Esther being braver than I ate some big chunks of meat. I had a little piece here and there with the rice. Everyone else dug in, nobody seemed to want the little pieces of liver that kept appearing. Sonya would toss them to Hans' side and Hans would push it over to Camilla. Finally it appeared that we'd made a tiny dint in the meal and we indicated that we were done by washing our hands.

They removed the platter and then signaled that we were to move into the kitchen hut to sleep for the rest of the night. We pushed past the grass curtain dragging the carpets in the incense filled hut. We coughed and sputtered trying to decide if we would be able to breathe during the night. Finally we all bedded down and were almost asleep when something began to rustle in the plastic next to Sonya's head. We all sat up, feeling for our head lamps. The click of a head lamp revealed beady little eyes of a white kitten staring back at us, hmmm, would we ever get to sleep, would there be another course to eat around mid-night?

Sunlight steamed through the slits in the grass curtain, donkey's brayed loudly outside the door, and children's voices broke through the cold morning air. I pushed my way out from under the heavy covering and put on my head wrap and chacos. Morning breakfast preparations were under way as I took of down a little path that led towards a huge heard of cows. The path veered to the right and I soon found myself sitting under a huge African tree, praising God for the beauty, magnificence, and peace that can be found in his creations.

The rest of the innards were served for breakfast except this time with pasta. Before leaving we put colorful hair ties in all of the girl's hair and gave little toy trucks to the boys. The grandpa of the family seemed to get more entertainment out of the trucks then the children. He soon had has little bag of sugar placed on the dump truck pushing it back and forth across his mat a huge smile spreading across his face.

Sarah and Hans mounted the horse and us girls took of down the sandy path once again, this time shouting, "Affa, affa, affa." and waving good-bye to our new found friends, friends who would always welcome us into their home even though we could not speak their language. It was the fellowship that mattered, the smiles, and the play time with the kids. It was a time that will not be quickly forgotten by them or by us.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Saturday Morning

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

James is here for rounds, so I gota go

Posted by Liz's Dad.....

Lisa and I talked to Liz, Esther and Sonya on Esther’s cell phone on their Monday morning the 11th of February. Because of the Rebel attack on the capital, the government shut off most of the cell phone towers and also the internet. As a result, the emails that have been sent to Liz are still sitting there waiting for the equipment to start working again. Esther had Malaria and was getting IV Quinine at the Hospital. Liz was working at the Hospital with a baby that had 2nd degree burns on his legs and lower body. His 18 year old mother did not check the water temperature prior to putting him in for a bath. The baby is doing much better, but does a lot of crying. Liz told us that life is not much affected by the attacks at the capital. They have noticed that some of the food prices are higher at the market. Some of the medicines are also harder to get a hold of. The daily temperatures are starting to rise. She said that they have been around 95 degrees during the day. It’s headed for 120 degrees in the next several weeks! Liz sends her love to all of you. She says that she has some blogs and large emails written to send out when the internet is back working. After a good visit with Liz on the phone, she said, “Got to go, James is here for rounds”. Please continue to remember Liz and the Hospital staff at Bere in your prayers. They are safe right now, but things can change so fast.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Liz's Medical Dictionary

Date: 1-30-08

Giardia: A pear shaped bacteria that causes you to leave your place of employment at lightning speed, racing across the sidewalk, dodging incoming patients, to make it to the nearest toilet/hole. Most cases result in sever toilet paper deprivation and bring on a frantic search through the recently sent packages for little packets of Kleenex. In the case of electricity failure you should keep a couple gallon buckets of water next to the toilet at all times. Use of native toilets is advised as the ceramic type with waiting water in them tend to have the splash and spray affect. The native hole method will allow you to go through a ½ roll of toilet paper in 4 hours instead of a whole one. Consult with fellow SM's for support and Gatorade drinking parties. Using filtered water at all times is advised.

WARNING: Wearing more clothes will not muffle the loud noises coming from inside of your stomach during staff worship!

Caught Red-Handed

Date: 1-29-08

Today found me sitting on my cot, curtain pulled to cover my door, and two Nalgenes and water pump sitting at my feet. Pumping water from the "dirty water nalgene" to the clean one. I was going as fast as I could, hoping my family wouldn't bring diner to my hut just yet and catch me cleaning the water they drink so freely. That's when the curtain parted and a plate of fried sweet potatoes entered followed by a little black head. Caught red-handed; she kinda-of cocked her head like what in the world are you doing, placed the food on my mat and retreated as I sat with filter in hand. Oh well maybe they'll come to me asking to use the filter since Berthe had to stay home from school with diarrhea' today. Personally I refuse to live up to the name, Giardiaella, which was so kindly bestowed on me by Sonya. This last week brought the 2nd and I hope now with the filter (sent by the Carter's) the last. I must say though in refute to Sonya's lead in Malaria I have her 2:1 in Giardia. Today we sang her our dubbed Giardia initiation song as we handed her the lab results with a big fat red Giardia written next to her stool test. Hans, Esther , and I (all veteran's) sang her a rousing version of "When your drivin' in your Chevy and your feelin' somethin' heavy, diarrhea, diarrhea."

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mat Time

Date: 1-28-08

Have you ever taken the time to lay down under the vast expanse of sky above you just as the sun is going down and stay there long enough to watch the stars appear as the transformation from day to night occur. I realized that I never had as I took mat time tonight. I was feeling sick to my stomach so I curled up with my hoody and watched as God scattered his gift of twinkling glitter across the sky. It made me feel so very far apart from all of you but so close to God. As a satellite streaked its way across my expanse of African sky I whispered, "Take me with you." as I imagined it circling the earth and flying across the sky that covers Mom, Dad, Kev, Rae, Kyle, and all those I love so dearly. But then I thought of the time that is only 3 1/2 months away when I will sit under an American night sky and long for the beautiful simplicity of African life. Of time to watch my families faces as the sound of popping popcorn fills our courtyard, to laugh together as Dorcus attempts to do a Nangere dance little feet pounding, and arms flapping to the beat of the scratchy radio, for the family prayer said by the light of a lantern as drums beat somewhere in the night, yes someday I will miss this mat time!

Qualified, Licensed, Degree...what's that? Know what you're doing...hmmmm maybe :)

Date: 1-26-08

After delivering two newborns last night, prescribing Quinine perfusion drips, performing a cesarean, amputating a gangrene leg, suturing a head wound...okay so maybe the cesarean, amputation, and head wound part isn't true. But you never know the day when it might become true because you don't have a choice. All the deliveries I've ever done were as the baby was falling to the ground...but last night brought a new experience....a 22 yr. old woman in labor at 2:30 AM and with her previous delivery only made possible by a symphysitomy (cutting the pelvis bone). When I first checked her I could feel the hair on his head as he started the decent into what I hoped was now a big enough space for him to get through. It was just Sonya and I there to help her through her labor...good thing she didn't know I'd only caught falling babies...never helped deliver a difficult one. She never once screamed...just held onto her legs and moaned...as a headful of hair made a difficult entrance into a lantern lit room. Blood and meconium gushed out onto the table over the baby's head and off onto the floor. his shoulder's where stuck. I grabbed the bulb syringe to try and get as much poo as possible out of his mouth before he aspirated it and told Sonya to go get James. By the time he had arrived...I'd somehow figured out the way to turn him and out he popped screaming. That made for the 2nd birth of the night...aided by a social worker and a nurse who'd only caught falling babies.

"God does not call the equipped but equips the called."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

God, Please help it not to kill her

It was almost midnight so I headed over to give midnight meds and that's when I found her. She was 22 year's old, a mother of a 4 day old baby, and she was now struggling for her life. As I approached her bed in the corner the light from my headlamp illuminated what I'd heard when I had entered the room. She sat upright leaning forward, breathing rapidly, exhausted, and with the look of panic in her eye. I couldn't find a blood pressure on her at all and couldn't feel her pulses in her extremities. Her jugular veins were pounding at 180/min and her respiration’s were 40. The confusing part was all the edema in her feet, abdomen, and the crackles in her lungs. Why all this fluid overload and zero blood pressure? And why were her conjunctiva completely white and her hemoglobin 12.9. I didn't understand! The family crowded around the bed as I finished examining her. I grabbed her papers and headed to wake up James.

He told me to run Ringers until I could find a Blood Pressure. I went back started a new catheter on her and ran 3 flacons of Ringer in. Her struggle for life pulled at my heart, she was the same age as me! I stood by her bedside watching the Ringers and rubbing her back. Before trying for a Blood Pressure again I asked her brother if I could pray with her. He nodded in agreement. The room became quiet and I pleaded with God. I know they didn't understand exactly what I said but I hope that they felt the peace and comfort that comes when the Holy Spirit fills a room. I checked her blood pressure, nothing, and her pulse was up to 200/min. Meanwhile the concerned husband pulls me to the side and shows me their 4-day-old baby. In the light of their lantern he peered up at me, his mouth smacking away searching for milk.

"He hasn't eaten for a day, she's stopped giving milk, what do I do?"

The only thing I could think of was the Oral Re-hydration Salts we had, other nursing women here don't like to take other people babies in. We put the ORS in a little bowl with water and sucked up some with a syringe. He latched onto the syringe with force sucking and sucking, syringe after syringe full. I told him this would suffice for tonight, but tomorrow he had to find someone to nurse him.

After giving him a couple of syringe fulls I headed over to wake up James again it was 2:00 AM and I was dreading it. I walked to the gate by the light of a large half-moon praying that God would give James the wisdom to know what to do. I told him her vitals and what I had done He was quiet and then I heard him say, "Well it sounds like we've got a cardiac problem on our hands Unfortunately it's hard to know what kind without an EKG."

He'd already tried Furosemide when she came in thinking it was fluid overload and now we'd tried giving her fluids and nothing was working. No way to test Cardiac output, no way to have an EKG, and even if we could, we did not have the medication to treat whatever it might be.

"Well, looks like there's one last option that I can think of. There are 2 flacons of Beta Blockers (Propanolol) in the OR. Take my keys and go ahead and give her 1 ml. at a time slowly waiting 15 minutes in-between watching her pulse. Hopefully it'll slow her heart down enough to allow it to actually fill up and push blood out to her body."

I grimaced, if NCLEX got a hold of this I'd be fired! "What about not knowing her Blood Pressure?"

"Liz, it's the last option, it might help, it might not, but it's the last possibility that I can think of that might help her. Just push it slow!"

"I hope I don't kill her," I said, as he handed his keys over to me.

"You wouldn't be killing her, she's going to die and there's the small possibility that this might work, if not she'll just die sooner."

I closed my eyes, squeezed back the tears, took a deep breath and took the keys. As I walked back to the hospital beneath the flowering mango trees that scattered moonlight on the path, I lifted my hearts cry to God. "Please, she's my age, help it not to kill her."

Back at the hospital, I woke up Sonya and asked her if she'd come with me, I couldn't do it on my own. With medication in hand we walked toward the flickering light of the lantern at her bedside. Sonya touched her feet, found them cold, and began to rub them while I mixed and pushed her 1st dose. Within 15 minutes her pulse was at 124/min. I gave her another ml. (5mg.) and then had to leave to start on giving 5:00 AM Quinine perfusions. As light begin to push its way through the windows and illuminated the bed of a little boy with Meningitis, a family member arrived at his bedside where I was giving meds and motioned for me to come. I knew in my heart what had happened.

I arrived at her bedside. She sat leaning up against the cushion Sonya had paced behind her, head now bowed, the struggle over. I removed her IV and turned to her husband, put my hand on his shoulder and squeezed. He stood stoic, stunned by what we all knew was coming.

Sonya and I went back to the consultation room and I finally sat down. Looking out the window we saw him sitting on a brick bench under a Mango Tree head in his hands.

As I walked home I passed him holding a donkey and waiting at the crossroads for the 4 approaching women in the distance. As I passed them the moans that came from deep inside brought on the tears that had been held in al night. I turned to look back as he pointed them in the direction they had taken his wife. The sandy path blurred in front of me. I went immediately to my cot and finally fell asleep not waking up till 1:30. The sun was now high in the sky and one of the girls had placed a bowl of beuille on my mat while I was sleeping. Before eating I closed my eyes and thanked God for giving me the strength to make it through the night. I thanked Him for never leaving me. I thanked Him for the opportunity to pray with the family and laid all them in his hands.

As I ate my beuille, I was reminded of a thought from Medical Ministries that I hand underlined and had thought about during the night as I longed to be able to speak of Jesus to them.

"Living and working under the constant impression, "Lo, God is here," brings hallowed influence which the Spirit is ever impressing on heart and mind."

It's my prayer that through our touch and the presence of God she felt this. It's my prayer that someday we'll meet in heaven.

"We shall sing on that beautiful shore, the melodious song of the blest, and our Spirits shall sorrow no more not a sigh for the blessings of rest. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore. In the sweet by and by, we shall meet on that beautiful shore.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Toilet Paper....What's That?

1-18-08

So it's that early morning time...I grab a peice of kleenex and head to the place I have fondly come to call "the hole". After 5 months of doing the squat it has finally become a comfortable position...unfortunately this morning found me in a quandary. One peice of kleenex just wasn't going to do the trick. So it was time to learn to do things African style. The cardboard box that someone had thoughtfully paced next to the hole...had slowly been diminishing and now it was my turn to help in the tearing down process. Let's just say...a cardboard box wipe isn't the best thing for your skin...but it works. Hopefully somebody makes it to Kelo soon!!! (They've got toilet paper there!)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Home is Where Your Hut Is

As the sights along the road became familiar a feeling of excitement began to fill me. I wonder if my "family" was waiting for me. The Béré sign came into view my moto driver pointed at it and I nodded. We curved to the right and took off on the sandy path that leads to the hospital. We past Sonya's courtyard - her family coming out jumping up and down, waving, and shouting. We waved back. We were coming home! We pulled up to the hospital compound, drank a couple huge glasses of water and began with our second Christmas Celebration. Yes, each of us had a huge stack of packages to open. We sat there for a couple hours savoring each package and exclaiming over each other's discoveries of what was inside them. With Christmas over it was time to head home. Each of us packed up our bags and things from our packages to give to our families. When I opened the hospital door I found the 3 youngest girls in my family all smiles. I picked us Dorcus swung her around and gave the other two hugs. They each grabbed something I was carrying and the constant chatter began as we headed home. They told me about the New Years celebration and what each of them had gotten. They told me that Berthe was going to scream when she saw me. I told them we should try and surprise them. So we took off on a path that came out at the back of our courtyard. I told them to be quiet. They started shhhhinng all the neighbor kids as we approached the courtyard wall on our tiptoes. That's when Washike, and Howaa spotted me. Lee, lee, lee and heads began to pop up over the wall. Then Berthe came flying around the corner at the end of the path running at top speed with her arms out shouting lee, lee, lee. I wanted to cry but instead ran to her shouting "Berthe." She hugged me tightly for a long time. When we entered the courtyard greetings were being shouted everywhere. Howaa came running to me and hugged me in only a way that a mom can. Yep, I was Home, home to my hut. I immediately sat down on the mat and told them about my trip as I handed out dried fruit, lotion, lip gloss, flashlights, and other things from the packages. I've never seen people get so excited over such little things. They were absolutely radiate. That night I slept so well after drinking a cup of hot milk and eating beignets. How did I ever think I would be better off at the hospital house. God knew what He was doing all along. He was giving me a home and a family who loved me.

The Sacrifice

After sitting 8 hours in Maroua waiting for a bus to arrive to take us to the Cameroon border we finally arrived at our first police check before crossing the frontier. Hans sat in the front of the taxi that we had found with the driver and us three girls in the back. Military men surrounded the car talking to Hans, checking his passport, and peering in the window at us. One approached my side of the car and started talking to me. I played the dumb, I don't speak French part. We could tell that Hans was starting to do some bargaining. Finally we pulled away. Hans turned back to talk to us with a smirk on his face. "Do you know what they wanted?" He asked. We all just raised our eyebrows. We had our ideas but weren't sure. "They wanted me to leave one of you with them, but I told them it would be too much of a sacrifice." They argued saying that didn't make sense he had three of the white women. Our driver stated that everyone wants a white woman. And Sonya commenced to say that "It's not easy being this beautiful and white." We like to think it's as Sonya stated but really the hardcore reality truth is that it's not the beauty, its not the white skin, it's the pass to America that they want!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Don't wear chap-stick on a moto ride!!!!

Date: 1-3-08

As the trees whipped by and my head wrap flapped in the wind behind me I licked my lips and got a mouth full of dirt. Ohhh, that was nice. Yep, we were on our way to Nigeria from Cameroon and I just learned a very important lesson: don't ever put on chap-stick before a moto ride especially in the dry season. It's a recipe for how to get a gritty mouth for the rest of the day. Over mounds of dirt we flew, through herds of cows, by groups of waving children, and through 3 inch deep sand causing us to almost wreck a couple times. Finally we arrived at the Nigerian border and entered the market without any problems. The market was huge, we pushed back sheets and sheets of brightly colored fabrics, stopped to admire all the brightly colored peppers, and eggplant, bought some avocadoes for guacamole, held our breath as we walked through the meat market trying to keep the flies from flying up our noses, bargained for pink, green, and purple scarves that we hoped would disguise our whiteness, and paused to smell the pink and red Arab perfumes put into old medicine bottles. Our senses were on overload as we headed back to the border, one more country in Africa down and a very long moto ride ahead of us; a very long moto ride that would leave us all with very sore backsides, and raccoon eyes from the dust and sun glasses.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Nalgene Smile

Date: 12-25-08

The morning sun filtered through the crack in my tin door. I opened my eyes to my first Christmas Day away from home. I bundled up in my sweatshirt and pants and opened the door to let in the first rays of morning light. Curled up with a fleece blanket on my mat and I opened up my bible for a Christmas morning time with God. Soon I heard the familiar, "Lee, lee, lee" letting me know that breakfast was served. "Je viene" I called out, as I slipped on my Chaco's. I sat down for a meal of white rice and tomato sauce. It didn't sit quite right on my stomach so I headed back to my hut after eating a little bit. There on my mat sat the gifts for my family. Now would be a good time to give them their gifts I thought and headed outside with the pile. As soon as Pierre caught sight of the new purple Nalgene (Vanessa had sent in her package) that I was holding towards him his hands shot out to grasp it and his face lit up like a Christmas tree. "Como, como, como" he kept repeating over and over again as he turned the Nalgene over and over again in his hands. He said thank you over and over again so many times. You see beside us Americans, only one other person has a Nalgene at the hospital and he's basically American (at least wants to be). Usually they drink out of old oil cans, or medicine containers. Next I handed out scarves to all the girls who immediately put them on their heads and wore them all day very proudly!! The picture book of landscapes in America that mom found at a second-hand store kept not only the attention of my whole family but also all the neighborhood kids for quite some time! It was a great Christmas. Couldn't be better after all those SMILES!!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Making Peanut Butter

Friday, January 4, 2008

Does it take 9 months for a white person too???

Date: 12-22-07

Friday found us heading to the market. Us being Sonya, Esther, Wendy, Cherice (1 yr. old), Caleb (2 yr. old), and myself. As soon as we stepped foot outside of the Toyota we were mobbed!!! Fifty kids surrounded us, touching Caleb, and shouting until he started to ball. We walked the 1/8th of a mile to the market barely being able to move because the kids pressed in so close, bumping us in all the places we might have money hidden. It's never been like this going to the market - what makes it so different today?? Yep, it was defiantly Wendy carrying Cherice on her front and a crying Caleb in the other hand. It's like they'd never realized that white babies exist. We surrounded Caleb and tried to keep them from touching him but somehow a hand would always manage to squeeze its way through trying to find out if the this little white moving creature was real or not. Finally we arrived at the Arab market where we get phone minutes. The Arab owner decided to take things into his own hands. He soon had out a rope swinging it widely and the group dispersed for a couple minutes and then regrouped again surrounding the shops in even larger numbers. Finally we finished with the phones and decided to take the back path to place where the lady sells tomatoes. We didn't lose any of them. As we walked back to the Toyota another man appeared with a green stick, walking in circles around us, whipping it at the kids. It kept them at about 5 feet away, creating us as the nucleus of some strange happening in the little village of Béré.

Last night Hans enlightened us as to maybe one of the reasons the white babies are such an attraction. Upon arriving at his hut one of the boys in his family asked him if it took 9 months for a white person too?? They also where amazed when Esther was able to have her surgery here. They thought white people always had to go to Europe because they were different than black people on the inside and couldn't be operated on here. And yes the reason all the babies cry when they see us is because the Arabs have spread the news for the past couple centuries that we white people (Nasarahs) like to eat little black kids. I don't ever think we will become a normal sight. Sonya and I are considering trying the Charcoal trick someday and seeing how that goes over but I'll save that for another blog!!!