Monday, April 28, 2008

How Do Your Tea Times End?

Today, being Monday, is a favorite time of mine. I actually look forward to Monday afternoons. Tea Time. No, not the British flair. There are no biscuits or scones. Gambian Style Tea Time. It doesn't happen at a specific time everyday, except at my place. Mondays from 4:30-7. Anyone who comes can join the fun. I like to tease that the national beverage in The Gambia is Attaaya. (Chinese Green Tea, but believe me this form has caffeine.) They brew it in little teapots. Then add a lot of sugar. When it is nice and strong, it is poured from one glass to another, to get a nice head of foam. Then the two glasses are rinsed with water and the serving begins. : ) Each Monday, my friend comes to brew the tea and have a chat. Today, she arrived a little later than usual and was in a bit of a hurry, no time for tea, let us just do the milk (warmed and then mixed with sugar, add a little vanilla and YUM!) So, I agreed, that was okay with me. Then I learned she had a baby naming ceremony celebration going on at her compound. So, she brewed, we all chatted.... by the end there were six adult women, one teenage gal and five young girls. We all enjoyed the milk.

My friend left and told me that next week she wouldn't be able to make it, but in two weeks she would be back. I stayed and chatted with the others and then slowly they left. It was a little early and still light out. So, I picked up my magazine and settled back to enjoy a rare quiet moment. About twenty minutes later I looked up to see my friend walking back into the compound and behind her was a horse and cart. I saw about five young men on that and behind it was my friend's husband, who is one of our ambulance drivers. My friend then told me, her son (most likely a nephew) was hit in the head with a metal door. It fell on him. I did a quick assessment and asked her husband to get one of our Gambian staff nurses to ride along with them in the ambulance. I ran for supplies and started an IV, by the time I had the patient ready for transport all the necessary staff had arrived. I worked right at the horse cart. (I just brought out the supplies I would need.) My coworker Teresa thinks she needs to follow me around with a camera. I was starting the IV as she came upon the scene.

By the time they arrived at the referral hospital, the man was awake and when asked where he was he said he was at my house. I am not sure what to think of that... my house looks like the inside of an ambulance. No, I took it as a good sign, he knew my name and that that is where he would go for help. Pray for BD. He stayed at the referral hospital just long enough to get into their ambulance for the ride to the city hospital on the other side of the river. Again, I am praising God for the resources he has given us to help our neighbors.

You just never know how Tea Time may end. Now we know why my friend needed to leave early and why the rest of the group left earlier than normal. God has an amazing plan!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things that bite...

Okay, years ago when I told my family I was going to be living in Africa.... there was some laughter. I HATE bugs, spiders,snakes,etc. I have done pretty good here, by the grace of God. I have seen a few snakes, most of them are dead when I see them. (PRAISE GOD) I have lizards living in my house (they eat mosquitoes that carry Malaria, so they are welcomed). I have had the rare scorpion, centipede, baby snakes, and a critter from the mouse family.

I woke up this morning to find this cute(?) little (okay, I added the fly swatter so you could see he isn't exactly little) critter, dead at the side of my bed. Apparently he was under my throw rug and met his demise because he couldn't see what was landing on him.

The last few mornings I have awoken with strange bites. We are now wondering if this is the culprit. I don't want to really think about it. I took the photo across the street to my tomaa and she said yes, they bite. Deb says that they bite but it doesn't bother you right away and then it gets sensitive to pressure. YEAH! That's the one. He feasted on my leg the other night, three right in a row.

Gives new meaning to sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

Thanks for your prayers.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

APRIL 2008
Lately I have had my hands full. No, not with Adama and Awa, but I thought they were a cute picture of full arms. Their mother is a dear friend and this is her second set of twins. The older set is now five. Hadam also has a three year old girl. She really has her hands full.
I am very thankful for your prayers and partnering with me in the ministry here in The Gambia. It has been an interesting time. I will give you a review of the last few months.
Wow, it has been a long time. January is suppose to signal the start of the quieter season at the clinic We really haven’t seen that as I am still being called in frequently for children with severe Malaria. Once in a while I get called down for an adult that needs medication and couldn’t make it during the clinic hours.
One of the encouraging things that happened in January was a visit from our regional administrator and his wife.(Ron and Ann Washer) They brought along a couple who are looking to change fields of ministry. It was a blessing to hear about their many years of service in Zambia.
I was making home visits to a few patients in the NK area. One of my patients came from the city to be treated here and refused to be transported to the referral hospital. When he was much better, I did finally convince him to go, he needed TB testing. I enjoy the home visits as it gives me an opportunity to get off the compound and into the village; all though the late at night home visits aren’t as much fun. Teresa usually joins me on these as my chaperone and driver.
For a short month it was packed full of things. I found myself making more home visits and getting ready for our quarterly field meetings. These were held in Banjul and the three of us packed up and went across together. We had some fun shopping. You would have enjoyed a picture of the vehicle when we returned to NK. I (sitting in the back seat) was part of the baggage.
During our team meetings, it was decided that I will return to the USA in June to attend MMI (Medical Missions Interface) and represent The Gambia. Please pray with me that I would present the clinic ministry in God’s view and that God would provide short term help in the form of Dr.s and nurses to come to The Gambia and help during the busy rainy season.
During this month I was also preparing for short term help in the form of an MD and maintenance on the compound in NK. How much whitewash do you need to buy for all the buildings we have? We made a guess and I have two big buildings and three small buildings to go. I think we guessed pretty close. God blesses!
On a family note: My niece, Jessica Fish, emailed me; she is planning an August 2nd wedding to Patrick Gernert. The wedding will take place in the Adirondacks. I am planning on spending my yearly vacation in the USA so that I may attend this happy family event. I am praying that I may be able to touch base with my supporting churches in that area while I am there.

God has been quite faithful to the three of us gals out here in Ndungu Kebbeh. We have experienced safety as we travel, safety from the snake that wanders our compound, joy in our work and God blesses us in that usually only one of us is sick, or physically down at a time. The other two are great at encouraging the one that needs help. Our prayer meetings can get very lengthy as we share with each other the joys and heartaches of our individual ministries. Praise God this month saw the believers returning more faithfully to Bible study and I was able to start a Bible time for the children at the Literacy Centre’s Library.
This month saw the arrival of the Marrie family. Stacie was a BIG encouragement in the clinic. I know we didn’t keep her quite busy enough (I was thankful it was quieter) and she would have to call me for in the evening and night visits because we no longer have an interpreter on the grounds. I did send for her one time. The guard (who really doesn’t speak English) arrived at her house, knocked at the door and said “Doctor, Soxna, Lopitaan you come.” And come she did. I kept Jim busy with various unpleasant maintenance projects. I was also busy this month doing electrical work at the Literacy Centre (I changed out their inverter) and plumbing work on the compound with Jim.
I started the kids Bible time at the library and it was cancelled for two weeks due to Easter break. We had a quiet Easter celebration. The Marrie family doubled our church attendance. We viewed a few clips from the That The World Should Know series by Ray Vander Laan and Focus on the Family. It is a great video series about the Holy Land. We then had an Easter meal together and lots of fellowship.
April continues in the steps of being a busy month. Stacie Marrie led an In-Service Day for the clinic staff. It was a fun day, a bit hot in the classroom and Jim would say it was really hot where he spent his morning… a hot aluminum roof. The staff enjoyed their lecture topics and the Gambian meal that followed. I was a little run ragged by the end of the day; my house had three cooks and the clinic staff traipsing through. It was a fun day and I am glad we were able to offer this training to our staff.
The Marrie family left on the 10th of April. We hope they get to return to warmer weather than what they left. After spending a few 100 plus degree days here, forties may not feel so well. I praise God it is still cool in the mornings and evenings. The Marrie’s would laugh when we would mention getting a sweater or blanket.
1) The Bible club with the neighborhood children has started and I have over forty in attendance each week.
2) The Marrie family came and they were a blessing in the clinic and doing a lot of work around the compound.
3) The believers have begun to return for regular Bible study.
1) The young woman who needs to have emergency surgery is still waiting. The family said the doctor will now do it on 21 of April. Thank you to those who gave money toward her surgery. I will keep you all informed as I hear.
2) MMI June 19-22, I will represent The Gambia. I am asking God to provide short term help for the months of August through December. I have eight weeks remaining: mid Sept- mid Oct and the month of November. Pray for my travel and time with Family and churches. Pray for transportation needs to be worked out.
3) I am having difficulty with my hand and arm. I am not sure what is going on, I have resumed all my therapy.
4) Pray for my meeting with the Department of Health regarding my returning to the US this summer. Also, pray that God may fill those gaps in the fall with short term MDs and/or nurses so that we can open the clinic full time and open the hospital.

Phil 3:14 As I serve God here in The Gambia, I press toward the mark.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Crazy Period of Time

I think I should change my goal of writing a blog frequently. I have had to crazy a life.

I should share some of the successes God has given to me and my patients. One of our bakers is a diabetic. He was really sick in February and our Gambian staff treated him. When he did not improve he came to see me. I was able to check his blood sugar and discovered that he was out of control. I sent him to Banjul. The Drs there treated his pneumonia and sent him home on his oral diabetic meds and had him purchase a vial of insulin. He was then told to see me the next day and I would start his insulin. HA-HA. NOT! I adjusted his meds for a week and read up on insulin. I prayed a LOT. Finally, I had to face it, he needed insulin, but not as much as the dr in Banjul thought. I reduced it and gave him his first injection, explained what to do if he felt like his blood sugars were too low. That started my twice a day trips to his compound. I was able to decrease the insulin dose further and teach his wife and daughter how to give the injections. I had to go into Banjul to pick up Dr Marrie and family, so I left the medication filled syringes with him. His daughter did a pretty good job while I was away. Praise God I was able to continue to decrease his insulin and now he is feeling great and on just oral medications! God is good. The family tries to give me the credit, I won't take it. It has opened the door for talking about God and how HE provides. Yesterday I saw the baker in the clinic. He is feeling and looking great. He told me his children would be bringing me something that afternoon. I received the nicest loaves of bread I ever saw. They were tasty.

I recently saw a four month old whom I had treated at home for an abcess when he was just a newborn. He is growing so fast and is so big now. His mother and I gave praise to God for helping him.

Dr. Stacie, Jim, Ryan and Megan have returned to the US of A. It is lonely, (aka quiet) here now. Teresa and I miss Megan, she was full of energy and fun to have around. I would love to rematch Ryan in ping pong. I think we are even, two games a piece. How did I let him leave the country with that score. HMMM

Before Stacie left, we had an In Service Day for the clinic staff. It was a fun, hot day. Stacie gave three lectures, I only gave one little one. I over saw the good stuff, breakfast and lunch!

Well, Blogger won't let me up load the photos I have for this post.... so until later. Have a wild one!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What a WEEK!

Okay, so I just briefly looked to see how far I had gotten in my last blog. I was shocked to see that it was posted over a week ago. What a poor writer I am getting to be.

Knowing that our AC pump had not worked in more than a year, and since I had help here. It was decided, mostly by me since I would be overseeing it, to replace the pump. We had a replacement pump in the tool shed. There were a lot of things in there I had never really seen before.

Changing the pump was an experience. First, we did not have to go down the well. (Like there was NO chance that was going to happen.) We did have to do some heavy lifting and playing with wires. But the actual procedure was pretty basic. I could do it again. Duane had given step by step and pretty specific directions. Send a big thank you to God for working Internet so I could correspond with Duane. (there was a little problem with the Internet, but it only lasted 24 hours and it was the weekend, so that was good.)

Tuesday was the day we changed the pump. Monday we had a field trip to the Roots village of Juffren and Albrada. We learned some interesting twists to American history. It was my fourth or fifth trip, so I am pretty experienced at bartering the price of a trip to James Island (the holding place for the captured men and women before boarding the slave ships). I bartered the price from a total of D1000 down to a respectable D300. Whew.

Wednesday started another clinic week. We had experienced a problem when reconnecting the pump wires at the well, two labels fell off. Not cool. We attempted a quick switch and waa laa... water! Praise God!

Back to the clinic, we are still experiencing a fair amount of Malaria. This week was no exception. We saw a variety of patients which was fun for me. Stacie (a pediatrician) is here for this month. All though I stretch her out of her comfort zone, she has been a great source to have round. I made sure my toughest cases (all adults) had an appointment while she was here. I appreciated the consult and was glad I hadn't made any errors in judgement or treatments. God is good!

Friday was an exceptionally slow day in the clinic. That is until the staff went home. On his way home one of our staff members passed a family coming to the clinic with two sick children. He came with to assist with their treatment. That was nice of him. The little boy was very sick. He started seizing at home and was still seizing. He seized a long time in spite of medication we gave him, just before he left for the referral center the seizures stopped. Stacie and I both examined him and I ran the labs and helped her with medicating (I know where all the supplies are). we sent two different ambulance trips that afternoon and then just before dinner another patient came, an adult who didn't want to come in that morning. Stacie heard him calling out on the compound trying to find the doctor. Our guard was making rounds and didn't see the guy enter. I was trying to take a nap. I heard Stacie say, "I would take care of him, but I can't talk with him". I yelled out, I am coming in English and then in Wolof.

Friday evening is pizza and a movie for the SPTs. We extend invitations to all who are on the compound. So the Marrie family have been joining us in our weekly entertainment. This week, they provided the film. Ryan wanted to share Spider-man Three with us. About five minutes into the conversation we heard a voice at the window, which usually means a sick person has come. This evening it was a woman in labor. Our village birth attendant was in another village attending a family member's funeral. Salifu, one of our nurse/midwives, had gone to the city to visit his children, and Wurribella's husband refuses to let her work at night (smart man, he is not living in the home and they have a small child). So, the woman's escort thought of me.

I do not like birthing babies. However, since I know how, I agreed to help. She had six children at home. I figured I would be back before the movie was over... boy was I wrong. Stacie came to see what was happening. The answer... not much. Finally, about four thirty am, I said I was going to get the driver to drive us to the referral hospital. Her labour had arrested. During our 40 minute transfer she had only two small contractions. I made it home at 6am. I still had stuff out from making Pizza the night before. It was 7 am before I crawled into bed. I asked our guards to tell the visitors for the day that I was sleeping as I was up all night. I am so thankful I remembered to do that.

Today we went visiting and I saw her escort. She delivered a baby girl at 5 PM. ugh! The mom must have been exhausted. I hear the baby's leg has a problem. Stacie and I will go visit her tomorrow or Tuesday. I have to go to Banjul tomorrow. So we shall see what gets done.

Thanks for your prayers. They sustain me on these crazy days.