Sunday, December 29, 2013

Funeral for Baby Karlin

Today the entire Chimala Mission family is mourning the loss of a precious little girl.  Karlin was the 6 month old daughter of Dr. Peter and Victoria.  Victoria works at the Herring Christian School here at Chimala and Dr. Peter is one of our wonderful doctors at the hospital.  As you can imagine, Dr. Peter is especially devestated because as a doctor he helps so many and yet could not help his own daughter.  All of the other doctors and myself who also cared for her and sat by her side for hours are feeling the loss very deeply. 

Baby Karlin became ill on Christmas Eve and did not really respond to any of the treatments which we tried.  Yesterday morning, she really took a turn for the worse and we all felt the burden of loosing the battle.  I stayed with her for most of the afternoon with our Medical Director, Dr. Mahenge.  Dr. Mahenge was actually with her when she finally passed away.  He did everything he could.  Please pray for the Peter family and for the Chimala family as well.

Today is my first time to participate in a Tanzanian funeral and I will share with you what I can.  However, please understand that I do not feel it is appropriate to take pictures at this time and so my words will have to be enough.

I feel so helpless. Dr. Peter lets me hold him while he cries. But there are no words which can really comfort him at this time. He knows that everything was done and that God has a plan, but he still feels the pain so deeply. I cannot know exactly how he feels as my child is alive and well. I know that some of you have experienced such a loss and do understand how much he hurts.

Family and friends have been arriving at the house all morning.  Many are bring food, chairs and money to help this family.  Friends are digging the grave and a carpenter is working on the casket.  The nurses from the hospital and other women from the schools are working together to cook food for everyone.  It is so amazing to see all the women making the walk to the water well and then walking in single file with big buckets of water on their heads to Dr. Peter's home.  They have five different fires going all with big pots of food cooking on them.  One of the lady's was swinging an axe to cut up wood for the fires.

The men all gather around Dr. Peter to comfort him, while family and close friends are sitting everywhere in the house surrounding Victoria, the mother, with cries and comfort.  Baby Karlin is wrapped in cloth and laying in her bed awaited the funeral service.

Even tho I know most of the people here, I still don't feel like I fit in.  The women are cooking and anyone who knows me, knows I am not a cook and don't feel comfortable attempting to help in this area.  I know the men better because I work with the doctors and administration more than the nurses and I attend daily devo's with the guys at the shop.  However, there are no other women with the men.  They tell me I am welcome to come sit with them, but I don't.  So....what can a white woman from the farms of Oklahoma do to help?........she gathers wood!!!

I gathered what I could from around the houses, filling the back of my truck and took it down.  Thresa who is here visiting from Oklahoma is helping me.  Once we unload this wood, the women ask if I will go get more.  I take one of my friends, Leda, with us and off we go.  Most of what is on the ground is too green having just fell during the recent rains.  We find the left over wood from when the school was in session and decide it will have to due for today.  And wouldn't you know begins to pour rain.  So, Thresa, Leda and I load the back of the truck again with wood in the down-pour.  When we arrive back at the cooking site to unload, all the women are gathered in a huddle under the one tarp for cover.  As  we unload the wood, they all clap for us and our effort.

We took a brief few minutes to dry ourselves, change clothes and return to Dr. Peter's house.  The men continue to gather in the front of the house, while some women are inside singing songs and most are out back cooking.  They now have 9 fires going with rice, beans, cabbage, tomatoes and onions, and meat cooking.  The car with the casket arrives.  My heart continues to break as they pull out a small pink casket with hearts and flowers. 

They take the casket in the house and I hear the mother wailing (crying) as the baby is placed inside.  The casket is then draped in black and a wood cross placed on top.  The casket is then carried to the front of the house and placed on two stools in the middle of all the people.  We stand in a big circle for the service.  I cannot quit watching Peter.  His pain is so visable on his face and in his eyes.
When the preacher is finished speaking, the casket is opened for us to go say "goodbye" to the baby.  After we say goodbye, we walk to the cemetary.  Oh, and did I mention that it continues to rain.

Upon arrival at the cemetary, the casket is placed next to the grave site.  The men gather around the site and the women remain in the back.  Mother is placed sitting on the ground just behind her husband.  A short service is held, baby placed in grave and grave covered by several men.  Someone has made a paper-mache cross to place at the head of the grave.

After the grave site service, we walk back to Peter's house for lunch.  The men and women are served separately, men having chairs while the women stand.  Many friends and family will remain to visit with the family.  I am told the number of people is small due to the rain.  However, there are MANY people here.  I won't even estimate a number. 

Thresa and I have now returned home.  I continue to pray for God's blessing on Peter and Victoria.  Only he can give them the true comfort they need.  There is nothing I can do or say which will help their pain.

Please take time to say a pray for my friends.  Thank you and may God Bless you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December Mobile Clinics

The clinics this month went very well.  I was a little concerned because Rene Wagner who is my partner was on furlough in the states.  For the well child clinic at Mapongala I was blessed with the help of a young visitor to the mission.  Steven Akins from the states spent 2 months here and was of great help this month especially at this clinic.  We saw 83 children.  The day was fun and productive. 

Today, we held our 2nd mobile clinic at Mfumbi.  Again, my partner Rene was still in the states, but I was blessed with the help of Thresa Clavier from Oklahoma who arrived just last weekend.  Thresa was of great help.  We did not see as many patients today as we did the first day we held this clinic.  However, I believe each month will bring us different challenges.

Our numbers were only 46, but we were able to handle a couple of challenges which some of the people were dealing with.  One lady had attended our clinic last month with bilateral lymphomas on her thighs.  We informed her she should have surgery to help her mobility, however, she did not come to the hospital.  She did come to clinic today and explained that she wanted to have the surgery but did not have anyone to help her after surgery while she recovered.  After talking with a couple of the church members, it was decided that the church would discuss how they could assist this woman with her care.  This is exactly how the church should work to show others God's love in action.

A second challenge was a woman who I saw last year when I was here.  She has a large scar-like area covering one-half of her face.  When I left last year, we felt the area was improving; however, it is much the same now.  Dr. Mwakeposa who helps me with the clinic feels she needs to be seen by a dermatologist in Mbeya, but someone will need to assist her with travel and navigating the medical system.  It may actually take several trips to the city before she is successful in seeing the specialist.  Again, the members of the church and myself discussed our options and were able to come up with a plan.  We will begin working on our plan this next week to see if we can successfully get her to the Dr. in Mbeya.

We started our clinic with praise and prayer.  Every patient was prayed for by one of the church members and then we ended the clinic with discussion of the people who are in need of help and prayer for them and that we as God's children will be able to glorify Him through our service.

Now on a different note.  As several of us stood outside discussing one of the cases, a snake was noticed just a short distance away.  I have no idea what possessed me at that moment, but I picked up a board which was between me and the snake and went after it.  As I got nearer, the snake turned toward me and a black cape opened around its head! It was a cobra!  Someone yelled for me to get back, but once the snake turned to head away again I continued after it.  Again it turned toward me opening its cape.  At that moment, I decided it was time to show that snake who was bigger and I slammed my board down on it behind its head.  Hamisi, my interpreter, then came with another stick and completed the killing process.  I was so proud of myself.  I would have hated to left that snake get away and then have a child from that village come to the hospital with a cobra bite.  One less threatening snake!!!! 


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Safari

A friend from Edmond, Oklahoma, Thresa Clavier arrive this past weekend to visit Chimala Mission for a couple of weeks.  We decided to treat ourselves to a safari at Ruaha National Park for Christmas.  So on Christmas Eve we started our journey.  The drive was very nice with the weather not too hot; not too cold; just right!  Of course, everything is new for Thresa and I enjoy seeing the things which she delights in.

We arrived at our hotel around 3pm and were greeted with the traditional warm cloth to refresh with and a cool glass of juice.  Our juice was "Baobab" juice which is from one of the trees growing in the area.  Very nice.  We sat on the balcony and enjoyed the view.

Christmas morning, we had breakfast around 7am and headed to see the wildlife around 8am.  We had a wonderful time.  Below are just a few of the pictures I had the opportunity to take.  I am so blessed to be serving the Lord in this beautiful country.

Genesis 1:24-25
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: liivestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind".  And it was so. 25.........And God saw that it was good.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

First Mobile Medical Clinic a success

Yesterday, we held our first true mobile medical clinic at a village called Mfumbi.  I have been planning to begin mobile clinics since I moved here in January.  As you may recall, we did start a mobile clinic at Mapongala in June, but this clinic is for well baby/prenatal care.  Our new mobile clinic is for all patients with whatever complaints they may have.  I picked Mfumbi to be the first clinic because last year when I visited here, I held a small mobile clinic at that village. 

Many of the Mfumbi Church of Christ members were on hand to help us.  Our team included Dr. Mwakiposa, Menard, Hamisi, Stephen and myself.  We were very busy from 8am to 4pm.  We saw 92 patients, dispensed 312 medications and performed 26 lab tests.  Three HIV positive patients were identified and referred for appropriate consulting and treatment.  One 8 year old girl was identified to have heart disease and referred to the hospital.  We also identified 6 others who were in need of additional medical investigation and treatment.  One such patient will be having surgery next Monday.

One lady from the church took the children to sit in the shade under a tree where she read Bible stories to them.  Several men from the church took turns meeting with people after their medical consult and prayed with them.  The day was a huge success.

We will hold a mobile clinic at Mfumbi on the last Saturday of every month.

NOTE:  I have been attempting to send this report for 5 days.  I wanted to send you some good pictures of the day, but the internet is not I have decided to post only the report.  If I can get the pictures posted later, I will share.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Where in the world is Cheryl???

The last month and a half is really a kind of blur.  I left Tanzania on October 2nd to go back to the states for a 5 week furlough.  The goals of the trip were:  1) see family; 2) raise funds; 3) go to a CHE seminar.  I knew that 5 weeks would go by fast, but fast does not describe what actually happened.

As we all know, God's plan is perfect and he knows before we do what is before us.  When I arrived in Oklahoma, my mother had just had a simple outpatient rotator-cuff repair on her right shoulder.  What we thought would be no big deal turned into a roller coaster of medical issues for her. Over the time I was at home she went through 2 surgeries, a multitude of other health issues and was in the hospital for 3 weeks.  We all are so thankful to God for having me already in the states when all of this occurred.  Mother is now recovering at home and getting a little stronger every day.  God is good!!

So goal number one was accomplished as far as spending time with mother and daddy, but NOT what I call fun time.  We never really even discussed issues going on in each other's lives.  We were only focused on getting mother better.  I missed visiting with my daughter and grandchildren.  I spent very little time with my sister, brother and my nieces and nephews.  All in all, thankful for visit, but NOT what I had expected.

Goal number 2 - raising funds.  I was able to visit the NYA church of Christ which is the sponsoring church for Chimala Mission.  They prepared a wonderful potluck lunch for me to share with them and I enjoyed talking with them about my work at the Chimala Hospital and plans for mobile medical clinics.

I also had the privilege of visiting a new congregation to me....the Northridge church of Christ in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  My visit was short and I was only able to meet with the Elders and leadership.  However, the visit was very productive and hopefully will help to build better relationships in the future.  I wish I had had more time to visit with them.  They were a great group of people.

Unfortunately, these were the only two visits I was able to make during my stay in the states. So goal number 2 had a little action, but again not what I expected.

Goal number 3 - CHE Seminar.  I did attend the CHE seminar while I was home.  CHE stands for "Community Health Evangelism".  It covered ideas which many have been successfully using for many years combining Medical Mission and Evangelism together.  This is my focus in my work.  I found the seminar to be very informative and added many ideas to how I should proceed with my work.  I was blessed by this opportunity.  Goal obtained!!

I have now returned to Chimala.  I am so grateful to be back in Tanzania.  I am looking forward to getting back into the trenches so to speak.  I will be updating my blog for you to follow on a more regular basis and so hope you will follow My Journey with me.

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer at Chimala or would like to help with my support, please contact me at  Or if you would just like to be a pen-pal, I would welcome the encouragement.  May God bless you and yours.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September review in Pictures

September is almost gone and my writing has again been poor.  Not writing does not mean that nothing important is means I have been Busy!  I will try to show you the work in pictures with just a few words.

These are the "behind the scenes" guys.  The estate workers.  Some are carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, ditch workers and machine shop workers.  They work wherever needed.  I can keep them busy by myself and yet I am only one of many who require their help daily!

 Pediatric patients lining up for physician rounds.
Paulina, a med student from Germany and Dr. Peter seeing pediatric patients
Leda keeps our medical stores in order.  She and I are planning to put the inventory on computer and design a more efficient system for ordering supplies each month.  Currently it is taking two - three days to determine what supplies are needed.

This is the out-patient waiting area.  Mondays and Tuesdays are usually the busiest.
Paulina and Dr. Peter with other staff performing a C-section.

Francis, our new pharmacy assistant.  We are so glad to have this level of pharmacist.  He is the highest educated pharmacy worker we have had in many years.  He and I are also working on a new system for his ordering process.

Here we are repairing the springs on the pediatric beds and then painting them to make them look good as new.  Let me tell what tho`, carrying those beds up hill from the hospital to a place to paint them was torcher.


 We were also able to get rid of 5 more nasty mattresses and replace them with new ones due to people who donated money to my workfund.  We placed them in the private rooms and also re-covered some chairs which were in bad shape.  I am learning to do all kinds of things!
Three additional beds were put into use in the male ward.  There are many times when patients are lying on the floor because we do not have enough beds.  It is my prayer that those times are less and less.  Since March we have put a total of 7 more beds in service.

 We were also able to purchase 2 new suction machines which were in desperate need.  Previously we only had one for labour and delivery and one for surgery.  Now we have two for use in the wards.


Teaching is another thing I enjoy doing.  Here I am teaching fire safey to the dorm moms (dads). 

 One weekend, we took time away from hospital and had a picnic at God's Bridge.  Relaxing once in a while amoung God's beauiful world is just what the doctor ordered.
 While we were there, a group of school girls arrived.  They were so fun.  They loved Lexi and Paulina. 
James is one of the drivers and my preferred driver.  He also enjoyed the view and the time to relax. 
Here we are having lunch in Mbeya.  This is where we have to go to do our grocery shopping.  Mbeya is about 90 minutes from Chimala..
I saw a brownie mix at the store and was really surprised and excited.  I decided to buy it so we could all enjoy a treat.  I purchased several items along with the brownies and was quite shocked at my total, but paid and continued home.  Once we arrived at home, I looked closer at the receipt only to find that the brownies cost me $18USD!!!!  What????  Guess that will teach me to buy a treat without first checking the price.  NO MORE brownies for me from Tanzania.  And I might add....they weren't worth the price.  Of course, once I knew the cost, they would have never been good enough!
This little one made my day!  Most children are afraid of the white person.  This little girl was laughing out loud at me!  Such a joy for her mother and me.
Dry season in the plains.  This picture is from the village "Kapunga".  I plan to start a mobile clinic here in the near future as well.  These families work during the rainy season in the rice fields, but really struggle at this time of year.

September has been a busy, productive and wonderful month.  I continue to pray that God will provide continued support for this work and allow me to be a part of it.  May God bless all of you.

Monday, September 2, 2013

August Work Update.....

WOW!  REALLY!  Has it been that long since I sent you an update??!! I promise that I have NOT been on vacation or takin` it easy.....

We have been working on a lot of organizational and accounting issues for the past 3 weeks as well as continuing to improve the hospital environment.  In accounting, we are working on a better general ledger spreadshead which will assist us with keeping a closer eye on our income and expenses.  Also, we are developing a new system for our Outpatient accounts where the monies will be collected in the accounting department instead of in the pharmacy.  We would like for our pharmacist to be focused on pharmacy and not accounting functions AND it is wiser to have the monies all collected in the same secure area.

To accomplish the Outpatient Accounting changes, we are making some minor updates and changes to the accounting office.  We are adding a second collection window so we will have one window for Inpatient Accounting and a second one for Outpatient Accounting.  These doors/windows will not be allowed to open, thereby making the accounting/money collection area much safer. 

From these two pictures, you can see from both of the new windows.  Below is Sobi, who is our inpatient collection person.  She is happy to see the changes.

We also painted the area while we were working on it!  Picture of the completed project coming soon!

The new screens and window frames have now been completed in the male ward (OB and female were completed last month) and work will begin on the childrens' ward this weekend.  We are making it harder and harder for those pesky mosquitos to get to our patients!!

The top pic is of one of the windows in which the screen has a big hole.  Below is after the new screen and window frame has been installed. 

The registration area continues to grow.  We have had to add 2 more book shelves this last week.  It is amazing at the number of new patients every day.  Of course, you must remember we changed systems in May and therefore all patients became 'NEW" patients at that point.  However, I would have thought we would have more repeat patients than new ones at this point.....not true.  More than 1300 new this month making our total patients charts more than 6,000!!


As you can see, we now have 4 shelves FULL and have a good start on the 5th one.  I doubt it will take us long to fill the shelf and 1/2 we now have empty.

I am also working on several challenges.  As you know I am still searching for supporters to help fund me and the work I am doing here in Chimala.  The Lord has been providing through many people, but the need continues.

Our laboratory is in need of equipment; we need a machine to perform CBC counts and another one to perform Chemistry profiles.  These are standard blood tests which are performed at doctors' offices and hospitals in America.  At the present time, we are only able to perform one piece of a CBC which is a hemoglobin to check for anemia.  This equipment is very necessary and also very expensive.

Other equipment needs include portable suction machines, a large steam sterilizer for the OR and another commercial washing machine for the laundry.  Please keep our needs in your thoughts and prayers.  I am praying for the monies or for donations of these needed items.  If you are able to help us in any way, please contact me.  My e-mail is

Below is an "advertisement" for another big need we have here at Chimala.  I am definitely praying for an answer to this prayer.  I would love to have at least four short-term medical teams here throughout the year.  Currently, we have one from mid-May to the end of June.  If you know of a group who is looking for a great place to experience short-term missions, please consider making this your destination!!

                 NEEDED:  Dental Services and Supplies

Here at the Chimala Hospital we have a fantastic dental clinic area and a great need for services.  We also have a dental assistance trained in dental hygiene, tooth extraction and more.  HOWEVER, we have been unable to employ a dentist and to obtain dental supplies.  We are seeking Dentists and Dental Assistants who are looking for a GREAT short-term mission experience!  Tanzania is a beautiful country to visit and I assure you that there will be many who you will be able to serve.   Please look at your calendars and let me know when to expect you and we will provide you with an AWESOME experience!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Moto and Watoto

Fire (moto) and children (watoto) oil and water, they don't mix.  Every day, I hear the cries of the children who have been burned as they get their dressings changed.  I go in and hold their little hands, talk softly to them and silently pray for God to take away their pain and fear.

This is "Traines" and her mother.  During the dry season, many grass fires are started and many children find themselves to close.  Their clothing catches on fire and then the little ones are burned.  Traines has 3rd degree burns to her body, right arm and left leg.  She is 4 years old and just a sweet as she can be. 

This is 3 year old Akishel.  I haven't quite figured his burns out.  I was told he was burned in a rubbish bin fire.  I didn't want to show you the burns because they are so bad, so I took the picture after we had put the silvadene and dressings on.  I would tell Akishel "pole sana" which means "very sorry" and he would tell me "asante" (thank you) as the big alligator tears gathered in his eyes.


Swaiba is 4 years old.  She, too, got to close to a grass fire and her clothing caught on fire.  And below is 3 year old Kenneth.  He is my special friend.

Again, Ken was caught in a grass fire.  And he cries big alligator tears too!

Unfortunately, these are not the only burn victims we have had recently.  They are the ones we have this week.  The dry season is also the cold season here.  The temperatures get down to the low to mid 40's.  Doesn't sound too cold for those of us who live in the US, but for people with no coats, no heat and who live in mud is cold.  Many heat water over a fire for bathing during this time.  We have had several children who were burned on their feet, legs and bottom due to being placed in too hot of water!

These are God's children, my brothers and sisters....your brothers and sisters.  Chimala Mission Hospital is the only hospital within an hours drive in any direction.  (And that is if the people have a way to drive.....most walk!)  Please help me to stay here to show these little ones God's Love.  Support the hospital as we strive to provide above standard care for this area at a cost which they can afford.  Pray for the mission....pray for the staff....pray for the children and all the patients.....pray for God's blessings and mercy.

I encourage each of us to read and meditate on the Word of God as written in the book of James.  Here is write only the words from James 5:14-15a

" (14) Is any one of you sick?  He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. (15a) And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

God's Bridge

It always amazes me at the wonderful things God created in this world of His.  All around the globe are many beautiful splendors which many of us know about.  However, there are untold numbers of wonders created for our pleasure which are enjoyed by a few.  God's Bridge is hidden in the south of Tanzania and is completely natural and full of God's handiwork.  As you all know, pictures can never capture all of the beauty but I will share the pictures I have.

We walked up this rocky path.  I really wasn't sure where I was being lead to, but I was trusting my guides they were taking to see something awesome.  The path was a little steep, VERY uneven and quite intriguing.

After the climb up, we leveled off a little and then came to the steep steps down....Here the grass was gress and I could see a river.  It was starting to really catch my eye.  (however, I was not doing too well at catching my breath!  Whew, I am out of shape!)

It's looking good......

Wow....look at this.  This bridge over the water is completely made of rock and is naturally formed.  The rocky path we took to get here was the top of this bridge.

Because this is located out in the middle of nowhere Tanzania, it is very quiet and the weather is lovely.

I could hear in the not to far distance some waterfalls.  Once I slowwly climbed my way back up the steep stairs onto the top of the bridge, I looked closer to the sides of the bridge and found the waterfalls.  I could not however find a safe way to get down to the falls.

And just to prove I was really there, I managed to take my own picture at the bridge :)

While spending time at God's Bridge, in the majesty of God's creation, I had to stop and spend some time in prayer.  I am constantly reminded each day through the beauty of God's world that He lives, He loves me and He paid my ransom with His son.