Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Visual Updates

Sorry its been a while. With visiting teams and so forth I had been super busy. Then the internet was down for the better part of a week, go figure ;) So, here are the visual and written updates you've all been requesting. Blessings from Guinea-Bissau!
PS- please pray for peace during the upcoming election in Senegal

Sean & his new puppy "Klinik"

This dead rat measured 28" from nose to tail... ewww!
He was about to be dinner too!!!

View from hotel in Z-world (Senegal)

Pete & kiddos  :)

Village Fun

I kema

She burned: her body, my heart...

Willboy.  Three years young, 2 ½ feet tall, flashing white smile and big chocolaty brown eyes. A story which was just beginning to be unfolded by our heavenly father and a life which was abruptly turned upside down after some sort of horrific incident which led to >40% of her body being covered in burns. For 3 weeks Willboy fought for her life. Multiple medical teams treated her, starting with Sean and myself in Catel, the hospital in Sao Domingo, and then the team at ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Simon Mendez , a hospital in the capital, Bissau.

The first night we saw her she was mostly unconscious, responding only periodically to pain. Her lungs were bubbling full of fluid, our nostrils were pungent with the infection oozing from her burns, her eyes were swollen and oozing, and she barley flinched when we cleansed her burns and started her IV. Within the first few days, with hours of wound cleaning, antibiotics, antipyretics, intensive rehydration therapy, and a prayer network that stretched across at least 3 continents, little Willboy was making progress.

 She first began to open one eye, then two days later was able to open both. Next she began to move around and adjust herself for comfort and resisting wound cleansing. Finally she began to speak, requesting and then guzzling down the mango juice we always brought her, and eventually starting to eat again. God was working in more than just her little body. As the days went by we began to see changes in her surrounding family. They became not only tolerant but accepting and encouraging of our prayers at her bedside. In the weeks which followed we saw a remarkable change in their attitude toward Willboy’s life and toward God. As their trust for us grew this family who initially seemed to throw up their arms in surrender to her impending death, saw hope and managed to get funding to get her to the capital for proper hospital care.

At Simon Mendez, she was greeted by a great nurse. He was brief but confident. He worked cooperatively with us and was gentle and reassuring with Willboy and her family. He used his personal cell phone to call and give us updates and let us know when she needed more medicine and supplies.

Last Friday, February 17, Sean and I were able to take transport up to Bissau to visit Willboy at Simon Mendez. As we walked into the trauma center, I soon made eye contact with the nurse who’d been keeping us up to date, and he escorted us up to her new room. Her family greeted us excitedly and Willboy herself offered half a smile after her aunt reminded her in Balanta (their tribal languge, at only 3, Willboy didn’t yet speak much Kriol) that the white people who always bring her mango juice had arrived. The nurse tracked down the physician managing her case. They gave us positive updates, I listened to her lungs which were sounding much improved, and her skin was continuing to heal. They’d restarted a line in her right hand which she was getting LR as well as IV antibiotics. They reported a strong appetite and some of her most superficial burns were already covered with new pink skin. We reminded her family that we, along with many of our family and friends around the world were praying for Willboy and them as well, bought her some additional medications which she needed refilled, and headed back to Catel with high spirits.

Yesterday, exactly 1 week later, as I entered the gate after a 25 mile trip home from Ziguinchor, Senegal, which took approximately 4.5 hours on transport, Sean whisked me inside and delivered the news . Thursday evening, while I was in Senegal night before he’d got word that Willboy passed away.  Wrought with emotion I sat down and wondered how this could be. How this little one what first seemed to have no chance, held on for nearly a month and made marked progress yet was no longer with us. How a family, who we wanted so much to show the love and hope and strength we find in Christ, would perceive this. Would they think our heavenly fathered had abandoned her?  Would they question His tender loving care that He has for each one that’s born, which we longed for them to recognize. We don’t know.

As our understanding remains significantly limited by our earthly minds, we are often unable to comprehend the ways of our heavenly father and won’t have satisfactory answers for many of their questions. I’m convinced it would be no different if we spoke the same language. We do know, however, that he loved this little one. He cherished Willboy’s smile and relished her laugh. He loved her more than her family did, more than we did, more than any of us can even imagine. We know that He grieved with the family, and shed tears as she endured the painful suffering when her burns began to heal, and we know that He never left her.

God, I thank you for being here. I want to praise you for your relentless pursuit of your children. I thank you for working even in the most tragic situations such as this. Father I pray that you’ll continue to reveal yourself to Willboy’s family and give us wisdom in our interactions with them. Lord help us to know how we can offer support and be reflections of your love in this time of suffering.

And so, our hearts are wounded as we grieve the loss of God’s precious child. Please join us in prayer for Willboy’s family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Just Might Be A Missionary in Africa if…

1.       Your team refers to a tall wooden cabinet as “the refrigerator”

2.       You buy, enjoy, and don’t worry about the fact that your roasted peanuts were roasted in some sand. And I don’t mean clean packaged sand. I meant sandy dirt which was inevitably scooped up by some woman or child from somewhere near the area of the fire, and dumped into a pot with the nuts so they wouldn’t burn.

3.       You cross an international border to get online

4.       You’ve been stuffed into the back of a van which was already carrying 38 passengers

5.       You not only tolerate but begin to crave bean, egg, spaghetti sandwiches.

6.       You actually now prefer bucket showers

7.       You have a hard time remembering to “flush” when you’re away at hotels with indoor plumbing

8.       People walk into your clinic with complaints such as “there’s an animal in my stomach” and one of the most common complaints is machete wounds.

9.       Ibuprofen: Guinea Bissau ::  Narcotics: the United States

10.   You mix up banana bread before 9am so that it has all day to bake in the solar oven. Pray for lots of sunlight because if its gets too overcast you’ll have to go next door and pay the baker with a few Ibuprofen to finish baking it for you.

11.   You speak a language where “yo” is a verb, adjective, noun, you name it. It’s a complete thought.

12.   Everyone in the village knows which dog belongs to your teammate because he’s gentian violet purple due to his little skin problem.

13.   When someone says they’ll come  over around noon, you actually leave the house around noon to go buy some food, then you come home and get a shower, and finally you begin to cook expect lunch will be ready by the time they arrive.

14.   You wonder if your outfits either really dirty or ugly if no one has asked for it within the first few hours your awake

15.   You stare and point and then say “hey look, there goes a branco” when a car drives by with a white person inside.

16.   Half your teammates don’t own washcloths… nuff said

17.   You go “swimming” when you need to unplug the pipe in a cylindrical reservoir which collects water pumped for the well to water the palms… and you love it!

18.   A chicken has snuck in and laid eggs on a pile of your teammates’ dirty laundry in your bedroom… three days in a row!

19.   During an important phone call to a college in the US you say “sta ban” (its good) then hang up. Then one of your teammate erupts in laughter realizing that the person on the end of the line is probably wondering what on earth you just said to them.

20.   You and your teammates have already planned lunch dates where you will talk in a “secret language.” You’re actually planning to speak in Portuguese Kriol, a language that less than 0.2 percent of the world speaks.

21.   You don’t find it unusual to have a cow, a few pigs, or several goats tied on top of  your transport van… in addition to the (on average) 25-35 people, their small children, chickens, and others goods to sell packed inside.

22.   A kid walks through the gate and toward you with some sort of new pet in hand. Appears at first to be a puppy or something. Once he gets closer you realize it’s a GIANT dead RAT he’s planning to roast and eat.

23.   You’re in the clinic alone and suddenly it sounds like a little kid is coughing and coughing. So you get up and walk out on the veranda only to find a kid (the kind with horns and fur and on 4 legs) coughing up a lung. Good

24.   Members of your team say things like “I brought LOTS of underwear to Africa, at least 4 or 5 pairs.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Learning to Eat Grapefruit

Here I am, less than 2 months before my 26th birthday, and this week I ate my first grapefruit. And my second, third, and actually probably my first dozen grapefruits! We obviously have grapefruit in the States, and I’ve tried them many times, but on each occasion found them to be sour and unpleasant and therefore I avoided this refreshing fruit, along with its nutrients, for the first quarter century of my life.

Despite the stifling afternoon heat, to many people’s surprise, this isn’t a paradise of tropical fruit. Bananas, oranges, grapefruit, and ankol fruits are the only fruits really available right now. I’ve been eating bananas, but the small supply that the women sell runs out quickly, the oranges aren’t that good, and I’ve been watching the others eat the grapefruit, wishing that I too could enjoy the refreshing fruit. The YES team leader came back to the house one day and proudly professed that he’d just purchased 5 grapefruits for 100cfa (roughly 0.20USD). The very tiny bananas are 3 for 100cfa so clearly the grapefruit is a much better deal. I couldn’t take it any longer. With so little fruit available, the afternoon sun scorching a bit more each day, and a limited budget, I needed to force myself to like this grapefruit. Though I dreaded that nasty tart taste I remembered from prior experience, I asked Pete to let me try just a bite of his to see if maybe I could tolerate it. I braced myself but found it to be surprisingly…not terrible.  I should admit that I then cut my first grapefruit wrong, they all had a good laugh, and I had a fun time trying to eat it! As I sat there enjoying the refreshing nourishment from my first grapefruit, I thought about how many other things, like grapefruit, I’d avoided for fear of the displeasure they’d cause, and the nourishment and growth I had been missing out on.

I am so thankful that our God is patient, and faithful. What an awesome way that He chose to remind me that when He’s calling us to experiences which may at first seem rather bitter, He is always truly wishing to bless us.


Today I’m thankful for God’s beautiful creation. For the awesome team I am here with. For the amazing sunrises here in the West African plain, for the tall silhouettes of waving palms, for many tiny goats running all over the village, and of course for grapefruit.


God is good… ALL THE TIME!