Wednesday, November 20, 2013

God is Great

Precious is a 2 year old patient who came in with vomiting and diarrhea. After a couple days, her abdomen became acute and she was taken to the operating room and found to have intussusception. This is a condition where one part of the intestine slides into another part of the intestine causing a bowel obstruction. After the surgery, she was very ill with a persistently distended belly, total body edema, and electrolyte abnormalities. She had a fast heart rate, fast breathing, fever, and pain.

I would check on her several times a day and see her mother’s usually smiling and confident face. Only once did I see her mother become tearful. Then on Sunday night, the electricity went out and she had no oxygen overnight. I thought for sure she would die that night. I would wake up in the night thinking that she must have slipped away and that the Surgical Ward just hadn’t called me to let me know. I finished my call week and turned the case over to Brent on Monday. I was spent worrying about her and just could not face her mother again to tell her that we were trying, but that her condition was not good.

She lost her IV on Monday and they could not replace it because of her body swelling. Maybe that was a good thing, because when she began to drink, she was able to self-regulate. I could not bring myself to see Precious and her mother again until Thursday, when I heard she had turned the corner.

Today, about 2 weeks later, Precious was sitting outside picking the leaves off of the huckleberry stems to make Njamma-jamma, the local greens eaten everyday with fufu. She won’t let me touch her, but she did let me take her picture. I said to her mother, “God is good” and she said back to me, “God is great.” And isn’t that the truth.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Walking to School

We wanted to share a video of the students singing and praying on their way to school here.  
If you look closely, you can see Elizabeth and Julianne marching along.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ode to Cheese

Oh, how we miss you Cheddar and Pepper Jack, Blue Cheese and Havarti, Mozzarella and Colby.  Laughing Cow, we’ve grown to like you, but, oh, Mr. Laughing Cow, real cheese you are not and will not be. We’ve grown to eat cheesy rice without the cheese and Mac and Cheese just isn’t the same when Mac is all alone. Pizza breads are good with just sauce and French Onion soup is nice with bread, but both would be great with a sprinkle of cheese.

We are hopeful that you are coming with the next visitor passing through customs. Remember you are not a food item when asked by the customs officer. You are medicine desperately wanted by a family in Njinikom.

Friday, November 8, 2013


Last Sunday as we were waiting outside the church for the 6:30 am Mass to finish before we went in for the 8:30 Mass. A brother (14 yo) and sister (12 yo) came up to Jennifer to talk. Both are HIV positive, presumably from birth, as their Mom is as well. They were reporting to her that their CD4 levels (the cells in their blood that fight off infections in the body) had increased and that they were taking their medications faithfully.

It was such a profound moment for me. These young children face such a difficult life to begin with and now, with their HIV as a lifelong chronic disease, their day to day routine is so different from the cares I had as a child.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

St. Martin De Porres Feast Day

St. Martin de Porres Catholic General Hospital was named after St. Martin de Porres. The Feast Day of St. Martin De Porres was celebrated with a special Mass at the hospital attended by the staff and patients.

Martin de Porres, O.P. (December 9, 1579 – November 3, 1639), was a lay brother of the Dominican Order who was beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people and all those seeking interracial harmony. Juan Martin de Porres was born in Peru of Spanish and African or possibly part Native American descent. He was noted for work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital.

This picture is in front of the sign commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the hospital (1963 – 2013) which was celebrated earlier this year. Often, for special occasions, fabric is created as part of the commemoration. Sr. Xaveria generously had these special outfits made for us out of the 50 th Anniversary fabric. Elizabeth even designed her own dress! The words on the fabric are Faith, Discipline, and Selflessness, with the name of the hospital surrounding the picture of St. Martin de Porres.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Few Luxuries

Mount Boyo

Although our food options are more limited here, we do have a couple luxuries here that we didn’t have in Guatemala. Our water source comes from a spring on Mount Boyo and is clean and drinkable directly from the tap. This means that we don’t have to purify water, we can brush our teeth with the water in the sink, we can just wash fruits and vegetables and do not have to soak then in iodine or bleach water to eat them raw, and dishes, cups, and eating utensils do not have to be completely dry before using them. We also have hot water in every tap, including the kitchen, not just in the shower. We used to boil water to wash dishes, but we don’t need to anymore. There is also satellite TV in the house. Although most of the channels are in French or Arabic, we can get international news at times.