Thursday, April 18, 2013

Creepy crawlers......

Not far from the house I live in is a fish pond where this interesting creature was found.  He was pretty much dead when I took these pictures.  The guys who caught and killed this one told me there were several more of them in the pond.  I sure hope they stay in the pond and don't wander to my place.  I wouldn't want him on my porch any more than I welcome the snakes!

I am always on the look out for snakes and luckily have not had too many close encounters.  However, I recently met a young man who was not so lucky.

This young man, age 22, was working in the shamba (which means farm) when he was biten by a snake.  He believes it was a cobra.  I met him the day after he came to the hospital.  I was informed that after he was biten, he was treated by a local medicine man.  I have heard lots of things about local medicine men which are not often good, however, I believe this one probable helped to save this man's life.  The medicine man cut open the area around the bite which caused him to bleed.  When he arrived at the hospital, his leg/foot were very swollen and bleeding badly.

The bleeding probably helped to decrease the amount of venom which remained in his system.  Due to the swelling, the skin blistered and cracked open.  These pictures are after some of the skin has had to be removed.    This young man is very blessed because no anti-venom is available .  The care we can offer is supportive only.  He is receiving antibiotics,  pain meds and dressing changes.

I visit him every day to see how he is doing.  The swelling in his upper thigh has begun to decrease and he tells me that the pain is now minimal.  I am sad that he was biten by the snake, but I am extremely blessed by having met him and been able to help him.  Every day he blesses me with a big smile and a thumbs up.  I pray that God continues to bless his health and that he is able to return home soon.

We have actually treated several snake bites in the past few weeks.  Many people are working in the shambas.  It is very hard as a nurse from America to get used to the not having all the healthcare abilities we have in the US.   Not having anti-venom for snake bites is only one area where we do not have the abilities to treat patients here in the same manner as we do in the states.   I am beginning to work more and more with the doctors and staff at the hospital.  I see children, teenagers and adults come in with various illnesses and death is unfortunately a frequent occurance here.  Please pray for the people here and that God will bless the care we are able to give.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Busy at the Mission.....

I have now been living here at the Chimala Mission for 3 months!  In many ways it does not feel that long; but in other ways it feels longer.  I know many of you can relate.  I love that I am able to stay in touch with family and friends so easily.  It must have been much harder for missionaries before cell phones and internet.  Skype is great.  I am able to not only talk for FREE!, but I am able to see my family which helps us feel closer.  I miss things like my church family, my dog, American food choices, and good roads to drive on.

However, I am so happy to be a part of a new family.  I love my new "missionary family".  The Wagner family and I have really become great friends, family and co-workers.   I spend much time at the hospital and shop area.  I have become acquainted with most of the staff in these two areas and have made some good "rafiki's" ("friends" in Swahili).  I am planning to begin spending more time with the CBI (Chimala Bible Institute) staff and students this month. 

My swahili is still not too good, but I am making progress.  I am finding that learning a new language comes very "pole pole" for me.  (that means "slowly" in swahili)  The Tanzanians are very forgiving when I make mistakes and quick to inform me of what I should be saying!!  Sometimes they are also quick to laugh.  Oddly enough, I find they laugh more when I speak to them correctly in swahili!!  I think it puts them in shock!  :)

Most of my time is spent at the hospital.  I have spent these last three months learning how the hospital operates.  Unfortunately, there are many areas which need improvement.    The registration area is one place which is in desperate need of organization.  The charts which are currently being used are simply sheets of paper folded in half and then filed.   The outpatient and inpatient charts are also kept separate, therefore, you do not get a full picture of the patients history and condition.  It is horrible in my opinion.  And in the mornings when the patients started arriving to register, they push, shove and crowd around the check-in window.  It looked like a mob. 

So, this was one of the first areas I started looking at.  When the patients arrive for a consultation, they are now given a small wood square with a number on it and sent to a specified area for waiting.  The registration clerk calls them up to the window one at a time by number.  This has begun to work very well.  The next improvement will be new charts beginning May 1st which will contain both outpatient and inpatient visits.

I also go to each patient ward and often review patient charts, perform assessments and speak with the patients, family and staff.  If a patient has been in the hospital for many days, I try to see them frequently.  It is amazing to see their faces light up when I enter the room.  I say prayer with them when I can.  I wanted to pray with the patients in the Female, OB and Children's ward daily; however, I still need an interpreter and my interpreter is Hamisi, who is a Christain male.  Some felt that it was not appropriate for me to say the prayer and have Hamisi interpret.  So that is why I will begin working more closely with the CBI students.  I want to form a group of students who will go to each ward every day seeing, talking and praying with the patients.

Now, I am busy in other ways as well.  Currently I am having repairs done to the house I am living in.  The trim on the house was badly rotted and termite damaged.  The roof over the back porch leaked and the door & frame to the back building was almost half eaten by termites.

This is Niko and he is busy painting the exterior trim as well as the front and back porches.

This is Issac.  He is a security guard at the hospital, but is working for me on his days off to repair my roof and replace all the rotted and termite eaten wood.

This is Sara.  She is 16 years old and trying to learn to be a seamstress.  She pays a lady in Chimala to teach her sewing every morning.  Then she comes to my house at 1pm and is sewing curtains for the hospital.  She is very thankful for the job and is doing great.  Of course, she speaks no English and as I stated my Swahili is still very minimal so communication is often a challenge.
We try to take a break from the mission on occasion.  Last Friday afternoon, we went "bird-watching" with Wolfgang.  Wolfgang is from Germany and he comes every year to study birds here in Tanzania.  He stays here at the mission.  He took us with him and showed us what he does.   In the picture above you can see us walking through the tall grasses.  At one point during our hike, Wolfgang informed us to all walk closely behind him and in the same path as him because there was a "spitting cobra" in this area.  We all just looked at each other, laughed our little nervous laughs and continued on.  I was secretly hoping to see it, but of course only if it was around Wolfgang and not me!


Here he is using a GPS tracker to attempt to locate one of the birds which he has tagged.  We could hear the GPS signal, but were unable to find him in the grasses.  So Wolfgang decided to show us some babies.
To find the nest, he did not use a tracker....he just walked right to it.  I do not now how he did that, because there were acres of talk grasses and trees which all looked the same to me.  He brought one of the babies for us to look at and touch.  I always thought that if you touched a baby bird, the momma wouldn't come back to care for it.  But as you see, that is a myth.

Here Wolfgang is returning the baby to its nest.  You cannot tell in the picture, but the nest is built deep into this bush which is heavily armed with inch-long thorns on it.  This momma doesn't want predators getting her youn 'ins.

As it turns out, the rice fields and surrounding plains are a haven for many different types of African birds.  Wolfgang says this area is well known for having the most number of different varieties of birds. 

Hope you can see these brightly yellow-colored birds.  With binoculars, they were fantastic to see.

And at the end of the day, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset provided by our God.  It was a very enjoyable retreat, if only a couple of hours long.

Remember, no matter where you are in the world....