Saturday, October 3, 2015

We never know what the 'morrow may bring.....

Many of us, myself included, take tomorrow for granted.  We plan for tomorrow, next week, next month often to the point of not enjoying or living for the day!  Some of us may clarify our plans by stating "if the Lord wills", but we really believe our plans will work out.

Take my plans for this week as an example.  I have been planning a trip to the states for October and November since early this year.  I made my plane reservations in August and had appointments to go to the dentist, eye doctor, dermatologist and to get my hair cut!!  Last week, I began e-mailing friends and others involved in my work here in Tanzania so we could see each other and discuss more future plans.  Then, BOOM!

Everything changes at the drop of a hat!  OR I guess I should say a "slip and fall".  The day before I was to board the plane for America, I slipped getting out of the shower and fell with a THUD on the concrete floor.  All plans have now gone out the window!

I have been transported to Dar es Salaam where I have been in the hospital since Tuesday.  My diagnosis is a "burst" fracture to my L1 vertebra.  I have heard others complain about back pain before, but oh, my!!  This is some definite PAIN.  I am unable to sit or stand for two reasons.
First the pain is excruciating and second because there is fear of a bone fragment doing damage to the spinal column.  At this time, I am so blessed that I can move all extremities without a problem.

Now I am unable to make any plans....this is difficult for me.  It is proving quite difficult to find a way to fly to the states with this problem.  Appointments and meetings are being cancelled until ?????  Everything now depends upon first getting to the states and then on the confirmation of the diagnosis and then a plan of treatment.

What does the 'morrow hold for me?  I am not sure of the path, but this is what I continue to know....

God is good and He is right here with me.  His timing and His plans are always right.
He will help us find the new path which He has planned for me.
I will continue to serve Him and praise His Name.
I will continue to serve the people in Chimala and help them physically and spiritually.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

The joy in my life....

....is found in ways which may be very different that those of your life.  God brings joy to my life every day in many ways.  Knowing that God is with me, surrounding me, leading me, protecting me and strengthening me is my constant joy.  But then he gives me gifts daily which brings special touches of joy.

Working side-by-side with the special and wonderful staff of Chimala Mission brings deep joy each day.  So many of these people have become very special to me and will always be in my heart.  We have struggled, cried, laughed and prayed together over the last three years and will hopefully have many more challenges and successes in the future.

I am asked frequently to post pictures of my work here and especially pictures with me in them. This is often difficult for two reasons.  When I am working, I am thinking about what I am doing and the people I am helping.  Sometimes, I think afterwards that I should have taken a picture, but the moment is over.  Secondly, some of the things I do would produce pictures which you would not really want to see.  However, I often give tours of the hospital to visitors to our Mission from other countries.  I did this last week and one of the visitors took some pictures.

 This is a picture of our OB nurses and mid-wives who were on duty when we rounded.  The labour beds were full of women in labour and this little one below was just born the day before.

 The hospital does not provide food for the patients.  Their family comes and cooks for them.  The above picture shows our current cooking site.  It is in need of re-building.  The rocks and bricks have broken down over time.  We are looking to re-build with new types of cooking sites which are safer from burns and will provide the women with a work area containing less smoke.

 Here we are all admiring the new laboratory which was completed this year.  The only items which remain to be done are:  1)add tile flooring  2) a bigger blood refrigerator  and 3) obtaining additional laboratory equipment.
 The refrigerator above is our blood bank frig....but as you can see NO BLOOD!  We struggle daily with the need for blood as the district blood bank has no blood and has not had any for more than 2 months.  But thanks to our visitors, 4 units were donated!  And I might add were all used within 5 days.

 Over time, the staff and I have built really good working relationships.  I teach them new things and remind them of things they have forgotten with time.  Over the last 3 years, I have witnessed a huge change in their attitudes and quality of care.
Here family and patients who are able gather to spend time during the day.  We have strict visiting hours because we have wards with many patients.

Last Saturday at my mobile clinic, a man came with a burn to his face.  He is epileptic and fell into the fire.  He had been burned on Monday, but was just coming for treatment.  He had no money for the hospital and was unable to eat due to the facial pain with movement.  We were able to send him to the hospital for treatment and covered his expenses with work fund support which donors send to me.  Of course, I did not take his picture.

We also had a family come to the hospital to inform me that one of the patients we make home visits to was really sick...but again no money to bring him to hospital so could I help them.  We brought him to the hospital as well and were able to improve his health and return him to home. Again, helping him was possible through the work fund support I receive from donors. Without work fund support, many would not receive the care they need.

This little girl came into the hospital about a month ago with facial burns.  She was unable to open her eyes.  As you can imagine, facial burns are very dangerous due to possible respiratory complications.   However, this little girl is doing very well.

Each of the photos and comments I have made above bring me joy.  To be able to help those in need and those less fortunate.  To be able to show love and care to those around me.  To, hopefully, be an example of love and care which will lead them to Jesus.  Joy abounds when you are working with God to help His children.

I wish you all a great day and pray you find joy as well.  Perhaps you can share in my joy by helping support my work fund.  Information is on the right-hand sidebar of this post.  May God be with you and your family always.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Missionary Challenges

I have read several posts from other missionaries over the past several years which have expressed my feelings so very well.  It is difficult for me to write about the challenges of being in the missionary field for several reasons.  First, I am so blessed in all I am doing that it seems petty to talk about the challenges.  Second, missionaries (in my opinion) are often afraid to discuss challenges as it may offend someone or cause them to lose support.  And then there is the ole' saying "Don't air your dirty laundry".

A few months back, I was talking with another nurse who had taken some courses in "Being a Missionary".  We were discussing the different challenges which are faced in missions and she told me that on one of her exams was this question - "What is the biggest challenge for the missionary?"  The answer:  "Other missionaries".  I was shocked, but then realized that this is also one of my biggest challenges.  It is a pretty sad fact.

I don't know if all missionaries do as I did, but I do know that most come close.  I so wanted (and felt like God wanted me) to share my gifts and talents with others who were less fortunate than me that I sold everything, gave up a good job, left my family and moved to a foreign land.  I do not tell you this for any other purpose than to say that the majority of missionaries are people who feel so strong about their calling that they will do everything they can to make it happen.  Many of you also have callings...not missions....but other calling which you will do everything you can to make them happen.

Missionaries have no steady income for the work they do.  They have to rely on their church families, friends and people who love to help mission works in order to have money to pay for their day to day expenses, work expenses and salaries to cover future needs.  This is another BIG challenge which most, if not all, missionaries face.  It is difficult to ask for support.  (On the other side of the coin, it is difficult for donors to know what will come their way tomorrow.)  Missionaries have a lot of faith in God to provide open doors, open hearts and open wallets. Without support, mission works cannot be done.  One of the biggest support challenges comes when a supporter suddenly decided he cannot continue supporting someone.  That sudden loss of money can be devastating to a missionary's work.

Another huge challenge is emotional support.  Culture shock is a great challenge for many missionaries.  Along with the culture shock comes the reality that friends back home continue with their busy lives and many times lose touch with you.  And it is truly difficult for friends back home to understand what each missionary is going through...Nothing for the friend has changed.  For the missionary...EVERYTHING has changed including the loss of a previously wonderful support of friends.

And the last challenge I will discuss is spiritual support.  Every day, each missionary is pouring out spiritual support to others, but there is no one to pour spiritual support back into the missionary.  Personally, I like to listen to sermons from my home church and, of course, I do Bible studies on my own.  However, spiritual growth and support is difficult for the missionary.

Please do not misunderstand the comments I have made in this blog.  I am VERY happy with my choice to become a missionary and I absolutely love where I am and the people I work with daily.  I am making these comments to let you know that the life of a missionary is not any easier than the life you are living back home and, in fact, has it own challenges.  We are not living a "vacation" life on someone else's dime.  AND we are very dependent on the generosity of others for our support.  Your emails and face book comments are needed, appreciated and let us know that we are not forgotten by our friends. The blessings I receive far out-weigh the challenges, but the challenges still remain.

Please pray for missionaries, support them, email them and encourage them in whatever ways you can think to do so.  YOU are one of the  KEYS to our SUCCESS.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Lord is adding daily to His Kingdom

The Gospel Chariot has come to Chimala!  For those of who do not know what the Gospel Chariot is, let me give you a little information.


This large red truck travels throughout much of Africa helping to spread the Word of God and teach the Gospel.  This truck is carrying a platform, speakers, chairs, and has a baptistry.  When the truck arrives in Chimala, our preachers join the drivers and travel in our area to many.  Just this week at one village, 17 souls were added to the Lord's kingdom and 2 were restored.  Praise His Name!  Spreading the Word of God is our number 1 priority as missionaries in this land.

The name of Chimala Mission is known all around this country and especially that of the hospital.  While I cannot stand up and preach, I can help the people of this land with their much needed healthcare through the hospital and our mobile medical clinics.  It is amazing how many people I now know and help each month.  By working with the hospital in improving its services and financial status, we are able to reach many who are in need.  We have a wonderful and Godly man who reaches out to the sick daily with prayer, scripture and Bible studies.  Many patients and family members are receiving the Word and following the Gospel.

Much work for the Lord is being done in Chimala and its surrounding area; however, none of these works could be done without the support of our brothers and sisters in America. Many people think about the sacrifices missionaries who go into foreign lands make, but the work is not done by only those who go.  Sacrifices must be made by those who stay behind to support those who go.  I would like to remember those who sacrifice so much back home and I want you to know that your support is reaching the lost and bringing them the Word.


Friday, July 10, 2015

I'M BA-ACK!!!!

Ok, so here is why 2015 has not been a good year, or even a bad year...but more of a disaster when it comes to me keeping up with my blog.  The first thing is the terrible internet.  It seems to continue to get worse and worse each month.  How I long for the good ole' days of dial-up!  Yeah you heard (or read) me right.  I think dial-up would be more reliable and less irritating that what I am getting here in Chimala.  If we want to keep up with the world, we have to travel an hour to the east or an hour and a half to the west.  BUT, I have decided that I will get you caught up and do my best to continue sending you information.  I do not believe I will be able to send as many pictures as I used to...but will promise to send some.  I continue to request high-speed internet every time I speak to any government official or anyone who wants the hospital to send documents via e-mail.  There are times, we try over, & over, & over & over and still it may take two-three days before the documents actually get sent.

The second problem I have had is....I just haven't been able to find the time.  In brief review, last year in March/April our accountant walked out without any notice leaving me to fill that position.  We did hire a great new accountant in May, but it took several months to get him up to speed on all the records.  Then in September, the CEO of the hospital retired leaving me to assist in covering that position.  We just hired a wonderful young man to fill this role in May of this year!  He is learning quickly, but also has much more to learn.  We also entered into a partnership with Walter Reed - Tanzania in order to provide better and more services to our HIV patients.  As you probably remember me saying before, we have many HIV patients. Our current registration is over 5,000.  This partnership provides us with many resources we desperately need, but as it is an American funded program there are many reports and documents which have to be written and provided throughout the year.  This has added MUCH to my work-load.

The first 6 months of 2015 have seen some continued improvements.  Our staff have truly begun to come together as a working team.  Now I don't mean to imply that every one is on board...but the majority of the staff are coming together, working for a common goal.  Better patient care, better work environment equal better outcomes for all.  We have placed some different people in some of the leadership roles and have found most of them truly taking on that position with great success.  As I mentioned above, we have added a new young man, Jacob, as our head accountant and another, Shadrack, as our "Health Secretary".  This position is in place of the previous CEO position.  Our hospital now operates with a management team as it's leadership instead of one person.  The team consists of the Health Secretary, Doctor in-charge, Accountant, Matron (Nursing Manager) and myself.  We have found this team-approach to be very effective and welcome by the staff.

We have remodeled the laboratory with donations from many of you and some assistance from our Walter Reed - TZ partners.  We have now decided to add tile flooring to finish it off nicely as well as some proper rolling stools for the staff to work from.  We now believe with our better physical facilities, we will be able to obtain some assistance in obtaining the addition laboratory equipment which we are in desperate need of. For example, chemistry and hematology machines.  We have also updated and remodeled our CTC department which is the area treating our HIV and TB clients.  This area is now more structured which increases efficiency and it has been painted which provides a more welcoming area for our clients.  We have purchased a new cautery machine for our surgical services as the one we obtained in the 90's from a donor in the states finally died.  Our goal is to add a new surgical sterilization machine, solar powered generator system and remodel our x-ray department before the end of this year.  Whew, I tired just thinking about all this work ahead!  However, it also excites me to see this hospital upgrade from the horrible conditions it was in just 3 years ago. 

May and June, we were busy with our normal work and hosting visitors from Harding Universities Nursing Program.  It is always a pleasure having visiting students come and learn just how blessed they are with the things they have for healthcare and to learn how the medical staff in this country work with so little.  It becomes a learning experience for all involved.

We also had several interesting patients in the last few months.  The first one which comes to mind is the man who came in with a hippo bite to his bottom!  Yes, a hippopotamus bite!  He said he went outside his house and there was a big hippo.  He turned around to run back inside, but the hippo took a little fresh meat from the man's bottom before he was able to make his retreat.  I never though to ask him how long he had to wait for the hippo to leave before he could come back out of his house and seek help.  Bet that's not a situation any of you have seen in the ER lately?.....or ever?......

Another situation we had that same day was involving an albino child, his mother and uncle.  Many in this country continue to believe in witchcraft and juju.  Albino children are believed to hold special powers.  The mother of this small child was brought into the hospital with defensive wounds to her head, arms and hands she received while defending her child against a would-be kidnapper.  The uncle was the thwarted kidnapper.  The uncle wanted to kidnap and skin the albino child to use in witchcraft and juju.  The situation was very sad and emotional for all who were involved.  Thank the Lord, the child was not injured.  I do not know the numbers, but there are stories in the newspapers here several times a week concerning albino children who are kidnapped and murdered for body parts.  I have a few albino children in my mobile clinics, but see them only on occasion as the families keep them close by and well guarded.  I do take medical needs to them such as sunscreen, sunglasses and hats.

The mobile clinics are going well.  As you may have read in one of the newsletter articles I wrote, we have now started a new congregation at the first mobile clinic we started.  This is a direct result of the clinic and outreach services provided to the clinic clients.  Several people have also either re-dedicated themselves to Christ or have been baptized in different clinic areas as well.  I am praying to begin another 1 -2 clinics in the next 10-12 months.

I continue to pray for guidance, wisdom and strength from our Lord for this work and I also pray for your financial support.  Without financial support, we would not be able to reach people for God's kingdom.  Hopefully, I will be able to communicate better in the future, thereby letting you know what is being done in the Chimala area to strengthen and grow the Kingdom of the Lord.  May God bless our efforts.

More to come...........










Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 in numbers and pics

Wow, I was terrible about keeping you updated in 2014.  Let's pray I do a better job in 2015.  I must start by telling you that 2014 was a very busy and productive year.  None of the accomplishments listed below would have been possible without those of you who have supported this work.  Let me THANK YOU and ask that you please continue to support us.  If you are not currently a supporter, please consider helping us with this work in 2015.

So let me recap 2014 for you in numbers and accomplishments.

HOSPITAL
IMPROVEMENTS:

Purified water system implemented for the hospital
Roof built over the water platforms and equipment
Added an additional Registration clerk and window for faster service due to increase in patients
Laboratory remodel begun.  2 out of 3 rooms are complete including new windows and tables
New equipment - CD4 machine and 2 new refrigerators in laboratory
Redesign and building new incinerator to handle the large amount of waste we have
Added additional accounting clerk to help with the large increase in insurance claims
Remodeled all ward bathrooms adding tile to walls and floors, new doors, paint, etc.  Much needed complete over-haul
Weekly nursing classes provided to nursing staff

NEW SERVICES PROVIDED:

Free male circumcisions
Free female cervical cancer screens

NUMBER OF HOSPITAL PATIENTS:

New patients have increased from 600/month in 2013 to 1,100/month currently
On average, we deliver approximately 250 babies/month
Provide approximately 500 vaccines to children per month
Provide approximately 800 well child exams per month
Average 70-75 in-patients per day.
See an average of 1,100 HIV patients per month

EVANGELISM:

Bible lessons and tracts distributed                                  23,810
Teaching with patients/families                                       31,658
Praying and comforting sick/families                                6,526
Follow-up visits to people in villages                                1,039
Baptisms                                                                                 42
Restorations                                                                            19
New congregations started                           1 with 17 members
Restored churches                                          1 with 6 members

MOBILE CLINICS

We now have 5 clinics which provide services one day each month to a remote village
              2 were started in 2013 and 3 in 2014
The plan is for an additional 2-3 clinics in 2015
Each clinic averages 50-60 patients
On Oct 28, 2014, we decided to incorporate WBS (World Bible School) with the clinics.  Below are the numbers for just two months of WBS.
                          Number of WBS students                   134
                          Number of students baptized                  3
                          Number coming to church                    14
                          Number restored to the church             11
                          Considering baptism                               9

As you can see by this report, health evangelism is working and offers a great way to reach out to the community for the Lord's Kingdom.  We will continue to pray for support for our efforts and for those who still need to be reached.

Enjoy some of the pictures below: