Monday, March 30, 2009

In God's hands...

There’s a fine line sometimes between trusting your child into God’s hands and trusting your child into the hands of a medical professional. In a country where healthcare is often practiced so poorly, one could argue that at times maybe it is better to leave things to God. Going to a ‘doctor’, who can be anyone from a doctor, nurse, dispenser, medicine man, drug peddler, etc., can definitely make things worse for a child. I have seen the aftermath of some of their ‘treatments’.

On the other hand, although God is able to do all things, to heal all disease, He does not always choose to do so. I believe He has equipped people (medical doctors for example) to be able to provide medical help to those in need. And even more so, I believe He has given mankind common sense to take their very sick children to hospitals for help.

One mother this week disagreed with me. I had already let in my set amount of patients for the day and her very malnourished child was among the 15+ children being sent away. I explained that I already had too many kids in the clinic and that what her child actually needed was to be admitted at the feeding center in town. She did not need a referral letter, but could just show up with her child, pay a small fee and be admitted and start receiving the food she needed. The mother got angry. If I did not help her child she would just go home. She would say we did not want to help. I explained again that even if I saw her, which I couldn’t, there was nothing more I could do. The mother was not listening. She boldly stated that she would let God take care of her child. If He wanted her to live, she would live. I agreed with her that God could help, but also made it clear that God put people in place to help her, and that there were people at the feeding center who could help her child.

By this time the other mothers, whose kids I could also not see that day, were getting involved, telling this mother to take her malnourished child to the feeding center. None of it helped. In the end I had to let it go. The last words I heard the mother say were: “If she dies, well, then so be it. I have five other children at home.” This time I had to leave things in God’s hands…

Simple tv dinner...

Just to give you an idea of the maze we call our new home! Our house has three floors. Each floor had a front door and a back door. These doors always need to be kept locked (for the most part). You would think that getting some leftovers, heating them up and sitting down in front of the tv would be a simple matter. Think again.

Vez and I started in the bottom floor kitchen where we were making milkshakes. Milkshakes done, lets go back to our floor.

Out through the back door on the bottom floor. Up the stairs. And in through the back door on the top floor.

We then realized it was dinner time and remembered the left over hamburgers. Where are they? Oh yes, in the kitchen on the middle floor.

So, out through the front door on top floor. In through the front door on the middle floor.

Burgers, lettuce and condiments found. Now where do we heat this up? Oh yes, in the kitchen on the ground floor.

Out through the back door on the middle floor. In through the back door on the bottom floor.

Microwave located. Burgers heated. Ready to eat. Where can we sit and eat? On our floor – the top floor.

Out through the back door on bottom floor. In through the back door on the top floor.

High time to sit and eat in front of the tv with our ‘not-so-simple’ tv dinner. Of course, if we had planned out this obstacle course from the beginning, we would have probably only used the back doors and not kept locking every door behind us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

First clinic day...

What will this day bring?
First day of clinic after 6 weeks of being closed.
How will patients know we’ve re-opened.
Will there be 10 people waiting outside the gate with sick kids or 100?
I prayed I wouldn’t have to send many patients away.

The maximum I wanted to take in for the day was 35 patients.
While the nurse shared tickets I zoomed through the line to pick out very sick ones.
The last 2 patients were kids I know well, so I chatted with the moms.
Soon enough, I learned that they were numbers 35 and 36.
Of course, I ended up letting all 36 in!

The day went well.
There was one very sick child in respiratory distress.
But thankfully the NGO hospital had a bed available.
A couple of other patients were on the border of needing admission.
No beds left at the NGO hospital so I treated as outpatient and would see them back.

So, what did the day bring?
36 patients.
10 hours of work.
Thankful parents.
And a privileged doctor.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Back to work.
Great to see staff.
Only 1 patient scheduled for follow-up.
Namina – the girl with a hole in her cheek.
Praise God the hole is getting smaller!
I was worried about her while I was away.
And having to send advice/instructions by email made things tricky.
However, I was very thankful to see the improvement.

At 3pm I had already sent my staff home and so decided to sort my room a bit.
One of the plusses to our new house is definitely the 2 minute walk to/from work.
A new room, where to start?
I decided I needed to figure out where to put my furniture first of all.
I ended up moving my bed around to 4 different spots in the room before being satisfied.
It was then time to unpack; first the suitcases, then the boxes.
The first suitcase was easy- it was basically gifts, goodies and lab tests!
The boxes took a bit longer.
I spent Saturday unpacking the last few boxes, putting up pictures and candles.
My room now feels a lot like home.

24 take offs/landings later…

…I arrived in Sierra Leone.

My plane ride was uneventful and I had 4 seats to myself! Arriving at the Lungi airport was chaos as usual with 101 people trying to “help out”. I actually was thankful to have one of the porters help me out with my luggage. Once I broke free from the mob trying to persuade me to take every mode of transport available (helicopter, hovercraft, watertaxi, ferry), I bought a ticket for the watertaxi. When the shuttle bus dropped us off at the beach hotel where the taxi leaves from I wondered if I chose correctly. The place was dark, no electricity and no boat yet. But we soon went out to the jetty (with lights) and the boat arrived. Many waves and a few quick prayers later, we arrived safe and sound in Aberdeen where 3 of my teammates were waiting for me.

I was home. Home but not really home since our team moved houses while I was away. Although I have lived in Freetown for 4 years now, I was being shown around in a new house and felt as if I was in an unfamiliar place. It felt weird being the one who has been at the clinic the longest. However, I soon found out that everyone is still figuring things out in this house. For example there are 3 floors, each with a kitchen. It seems the contents of the 1 kitchen we used to have are now divided between the three; some have a water kettle, others have a microwave, another has an oven. It takes a little running around and searching to find what you’re looking for! I had to search around for powdered milk one night; finally found it on the middle floor kitchen. At times it feels a bit like camping. But I’m not complaining; I just arrived. Others have been ‘camping’ like this for a month now.

My room is great. Good size with view of both the mountains off to the left and the ocean straight ahead- all be it a very small bit of ocean in the distance. My first night in my new room was not the greatest. The abundance of mosquitoes (which were never to be found in my previous room) kept me up a fair bit of the night, and I was even sleeping under my net! And new noises such as the little kid neighbor crying at night, the helicopter taking off and landing, loud music on the street made me stir now and then. But, when all is said and done, I have a lovely new place I can make into yet another home!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ready or not...

It was inevitable. My holiday came to an end. I had a great time- my holiday was so diverse. 4 continents in 6 weeks! So many different experiences: from medical lectures to riding elephants to zip-lining to cuddling with my nephew to hiking in the mountains to playing with my nieces to walking along the beach with my parents to catching up with family/friends. And very little responsibilities! In the last week or so of being in Holland I was asked a couple of times whether or not I was ready to go back. My response was always the same: “no, not yet, but once I am there I will be ready to be there.” And I was…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Beach in Holland...

Walking along the beach with my parents in Dishoek, The Netherlands. Sunny yet still a little bit chilly.

Family portraits...

While I was in Colorado, a friend of Stefan and Genae's offered to make family portraits for them. So lucky me it took place while I was there. I held Porter between some of the shots, laughed when he went pee on my brother and even got in on a few shots. Here are a few of them. Isn't my nephew the cutest! Photos are done by Center Avenue Imaging

Hiking in CO...

Beautiful day for a hike.

Amazing nature.


Porter's very first hike!

Many photo opportunities!

Family & Friends & Food.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thai resort...

Suan Bua Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand: peaceful. beautiful. welcoming.
This is where most of my time was spent, as we only had 1 1/2 days off (which I packed full with touristy stuff!)
Fortunately outside the weather for the most part was lovely- only chilly in the early morning and evening/night. Unfortunately they kept the ACs in the lecture halls on, so it was quite cold inside! There were places to enjoy meals inside and outside and multiple buffet lines. A great resort for lectures, meeting with people and some quiet time.

Thai dinner&dance...

Enjoying a wonderful Thai dinner. Seated on comfy cushions, eating delicious food, listening to Thai music and watching the dancers in their various costumes. It was a great way to get into the culture a bit more. We ended the evening with Thai fireworks as seen in the last picture. After the evening program we continued on to the night market...

Elephant show...

One of the outings during my stay in Thailand was a trip to an Elephant Camp. I wasn't quite sure what to expect but we ended up seeing an elephant show first. Did you know that elephants can paint? play football? and give massages? Well, I too was surprised. It was great seeing the elephants paint (although their owners did put the paint on the brushes). The most surprising of all was that while most elephants painted similar paintings of trees, there was one elephant that made a special Valentines painting, seeing as it was Valentines Day. I wonder how they got that message across to him?! I was impressed. And believe it or not these paintings were selling for $55 each! After the show we enjoyed an elephant ride. Although it was all pretty touristy, it was a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Africa preparations...

These wonderful creatures are a part of my Africa preparation. Yup, 5 days from now I'll be flying through the sky towards Freetown. Time to start making some mental preparations and of course time to get a few odds and ends. (and maybe catch up on some blog posts) I love having toys in my office for the children to play with. So, that's always something I look for when I'm home. Of course, they need to be BLEACHABLE. I was walking through the market with my mom this afternoon and we couldn't help but notice some toys hanging from the stall. On second glance we noticed it was actually the pet stall. No problem. A toy is a toy right? Okay, so they're dog toys but I'm sure the kids will love them too...colorful, bright and most of all they are SQUEAKY! And we even got a discount telling the salesperson they were for a clinic in Africa. I love it!

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~