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.