Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Easter Letter to our Grandchildren

 Dear Kes, Miss Mads, Landon, Lexlex, Claire-bear, Natnat, Benj, Autumn, and Oliver,

Today we wish we could be with each one of you!  What a special day it is…Easter…this day we celebrate that Jesus beat death and Satan and came back to life! 
We celebrate because when Jesus did this, He made it possible for each one of us to become clean and pure before God!   Jesus took our punishment for sins and paid for them on the cross.  All we have to do is to accept His gift of Salvation and ask Him to forgive us! 
And then we're Clean before God!  We are His children!  That's really something to celebrate, isn't it?! 

We were very blessed when God gave us your dads to be our little boys!  We wanted to do a good job raising them.  Sometimes it was hard, other times, not so much and a lot of times it was fun.  We love them very much!

And then your parents were blessed with each one of you.  And we got to be too! 
We love each one of you dearly.  It's not easy for Nana and Papa to be so far away from you a lot of the time.  Every now and then, Nana will say to Papa, "I sure wish I could hug my grandkids and make a craft with them today!"  And some days when it's hot, Papa will say to Nana, "I wish I could go pick up my grandkiddos and take them all to Dairy Queen!!"

So why do we live over here?  And give up our times with you?

In our lives, Nana and Papa have messed up at times, and you know?  When we came back to God to say how sorry we are, He has always come running to meet us and to forgive us!  He gives us back His joy and peace!  How can we not want to tell people who still don't know about Jesus' love, so that they can have a chance to ask Jesus to save them?!

God has called us to be His Disciples (or His followers) when He saved us.  So we are doing what a disciple does.  He follows and obeys His Master.  That's not always easy or what we want to do, but it is the way that we choose to live because we owe Jesus our lives and we love Him with everything in us!  And you are special because, that is the way your other grandparents have chosen to live too.

We know that sometimes you don't think it's safe for us to live out here, but WE don't want to live safe and easy…many followers will choose to do that. 
We know that it will cost us something to follow Jesus.  But it is our JOY to live for Him and to be right where He tells us to be. 
We know that obeying Jesus' commands is the key to full protection from the enemy.  Obedience is what places us in the shadow of the Almighty God, and any evil that comes against us will have to go through God first!  Isn't that the best Safety of all?  We know so!
So Papa and Nana know that one of the best blessings we can give to each one of you, is for us to live in obedience to Jesus.  He blesses our obedience and turns around and He blesses you too!
There is no greater Joy than living in close fellowship with Jesus!  We know that from Experience.

We trust each of you to Jesus and we pray for you faithfully and we always will!
Happy Easter!!!  
With hearts bursting with love for you,

Nana and Papa

We dedicate this song to you today:

To The King

Friday, March 29, 2013

And Not a Drop to Drink!

I DREAM about water these days.  

I dream about holding my nose and jumping off the rock up at Lake Yonah and landing in the cold water, sinking down and then pumping my legs and arms to get to the surface!   

I dream about walking in the surf along the ocean at Surfside Beach.  

I just dream about water alot these days!  

My obsession is, I'm sure, in part for two reasons.
No. 1 reason is that we've just started Hot Season this year (March) and already we've hit awfully high daytime temps (114).  Cool, refreshing water just sounds good to everyone right now!

No. 2 reason has to do with the fact that most of our village is going through a water crisis right now.
The water pump where we usually get our water, broke last month and there's no money to fix it.  Never mind that we all paid for every bucket of water we pumped over the past several years, with that money supposedly going into a "caise" to be used when repairs were needed.  But apparently there's no money for repairs and nobody's bothering to ask where it is.  It's like that ... we just learn to accept it.

Then last year World Vision put in a drilled well with a pump to a water tower just outside of the village, not too far from us.  They plumbed to many pump stations in the village and even laid the pipes for eventually connecting homes to a water system.  It was really nice to have water spigots throughout Makalondi and eased the lines at the well.

Well, evidently, the man whose land they put the well and tower on, insisted that he be the guardian of the system, which included a generator to maintain.  That was used daily to pump the water up to the tower.  It turns out that this man in charge is a subsistence farmer who knows nothing about a generator.  The generator broke so the town leaders came to Gary to ask him to look at it and see if it could be fixed.  What he found out was that it hadn't been properly maintained, overheated and it "threw a rod" and ruined the generator.

So the leaders asked Gary to help... to see if W.V. would repair it or send a new one (remember, we've all been paying water fees toward the day of repairs needed).  After inquiries made by Gary in Niamey and in Makalondi, it turns out that once the project has been installed by the donor, it is then turned over to the village to maintain.  Makes sense.  And of course there's no money, for some reason, for those repairs. 

So, No, there will be no water from the water tower this hot water to all the water stations.  And  one of the wells is out of commission, so no water from there either.

What that means is a VERY hard hot season for our neighbors and ourselves... already people have reduced their bathing, their washing of clothes, etc.  All that means is that disease will be on the rise as well... dirty water will be reused and dirty water will be drunk.

If our worker goes to the only other well in our half of town, he has to stand in line for 3-4 hours just to get a 10 gallon jug of water filled.
What it means for Gary and I is that we have now taken to hauling barrels with us when we go out bush.  

On Thursdays, I put a couple of barrels in the back of my truck and while I'm at the clinic, I pay a young person to fill them up at their well.
When Gary was teaching at the Dry Season Bible School all last week, each day he took a barrel and filled it before heading home each evening. 

We manage right now to bring home enough for our use and some for our worker and his family.  

Unload the water from the barrel into a big bucket, dip a smaller bucket in and carry the water around to the barrel at the base of our water tank.  Then pump the water from that barrel up to the tank!  My husband is a HARD worker!!

It'll be interesting to see how the village decides to handle this issue...  
It'll be interesting to see how I learn to cope with my water obsession! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

From my Journal...a week (and more) of my life

Thurs. Feb.14th - At clinic today, Pastor Bori asked me to talk with him to a woman patient wearing a hijab (Islamic head covering).  I sat down beside the woman, who is a Gourma (and a Muslim), and she told me that she suspected she is pregnant, and showed us the birth control pills she had been taking.  She wanted to know how she could have gotten pregnant while taking the pills.  When I looked at the pack of pills, I realized that she had been taking them wrong.  She was taking them backwards.  When I explained this to her, she laughed, but quickly became despondent.  Then she wanted to know if we could do an abortion for her.  We told her we would not, and why.  I talked to her about how God gives life and that we don't have the right to take life.

We talked to her about her situation.  She has 5 other children…the youngest is not quite a year old.  Pastor asked her if someone else in the family could take this baby, like her mother.  She reminded him that she had given her mother one child, but the grandmother couldn't keep up with the child and it had fallen down a well and died.  Pastor told me all this and then said, "I remember that… I was the one who went down and brought the baby up".  The woman put her head down on her arms, leaning on the desk and said, "I just can't do this. I can't do this again."

I put my arm on her shoulders and asked her to please let us help her.  I asked her to please not go to a traditional medicine man for a potion to try and end the pregnancy….  I also explained that by taking some potions, she could end up dangerously ill herself and possibly die.  I told her that we would be glad to do all her prenatal check-ups at the clinic; she would get vitamins to help her be strong for the delivery, and if they still didn't want the baby when it was born, I would be happy to find a family for the baby.  I reminded her of the many women who would love to have a baby, but can't.  We asked her to give us her promise that she wouldn't take some village potion, or do something rash, but she wouldn't do that.

So we asked her to take a note to her husband for us.  In the note we asked him to come and talk to us about his wife's health.  Maybe we could convince him to keep his wife from taking a potion…

I left clinic that day feeling a heavy burden for this mom and the baby, whose life is in a very precarious situation.

Sunday, Feb 17th - This eve. as we were loading the truck to come into Niamey, Janjua (who's an elder in our church) came to ask us to take in a baby girl.  The mom (his sister) had died in childbirth on Jan. 7th, the Father is 67 and blind and there are 5 or 6 other children at home.  His Older sister, who is 50, took the baby, but had to stop her work of selling spices, herbs & leaves around town to care for her and she has her own children to feed.  They asked us to find a family for the baby.  They couldn't afford the formula either.

Came on into Niamey - I sent out a text message about baby girl to 3 couples and the B's were the first and only ones to get back to us that day.  They want a baby.

Mon. eve. Feb. 18th - At Bible study this eve., I told my group the story of the pregnant mom and we prayed for her and for baby.  We prayed that God would preserve this baby's life!

Tues. Feb. 19th - Went and picked up a drug order for the clinic and then saw a few patients.  One is a missionary kid with a boil and another is a missionary child who has been sick off and on over the past 4 months.  Her main symptom now is occasional fevers and fatigue.  She's already been treated for malaria.  I ordered lab work, and when I got the results and saw that the white count is over 15,000,  I arranged for us to have a consultation with a colleague missionary doctor in the afternoon.  Later at the grocery store I picked up diapers, bottles and some formula to take out with us.

Wed. Feb. 20th - drove back out to Makalondi in late aft.  Around 6pm Janjua and the Aunt brought baby girl.  When I took her I asked her name… the Aunt told us her name is N kan sund'a, which means "I won't forget you"… in honor of her sister.  They asked us to take her right then.  I called the B's and they confirmed that they want her.  We took baby that eve.  

I fed her 90 ml of formula and then gave her a bath, put on diapers, a new gown… she's wide awake and alert, looks around, holding up her head.  Lisa is in Makalondi at the other house so she came over and got some good pictures of baby before we fed her again and put her down for the night…in her "bed" of the "turned-around-bench" in our room.  She slept 6 hrs. before waking for another feeding.  Woke at 6:15. 

Thurs. Feb. 21st - Clinic day, so I packed a diaper bag, put a carry-on suitcase in the back seat, laid a pillow in it and then strapped Nkansunda in the bed.  We took off for clinic at Hanlonli.  She did well most of the day, waking for feedings, and only once crying for awhile till she fell off asleep. 

Busy day at the clinic…saw close to 45 people.  Some very sad situations… the wife of our area Chief, brought their 15 yr. old daughter who has spiritual/physical problems which keep her arms rigid at her sides; a Fulani couple with a 12 yr. old daughter going paralyzed…started in one leg, moved to the other and now is moving up the back; an old woman with a leg ulcer for 20 yrs. now; a Father who brought his 5 yr. old hydrocephalic daughter, who's already lost the use of her legs, but still has arm/hand use.
We began wound care and meds for the old lady.
I referred the two other children to Dr. Senoussi, the Neurologist in Niamey.  
The Fulani couple is going to go in on Sunday to get a consult with the Dr. on Monday.  And we gathered the staff and prayed for deliverance and freedom for the Chief's daughter.

The pregnant mom came back today, but her husband didn't come with her. When I asked why he didn't come, I was told something about 'shame'.  She was carrying her youngest child on her back.  She asked us to do a pregnancy test, which we did…and it was positive.  Disappointed, she told us that she had taken a potion from a local medicine man and that it had given her a headache and made her eyes hurt, but that was all.  She again asked us to do an abortion and once again we explained to her why we wouldn't.  
We again offered her good care and help with the baby…but she was flippant and dismissive, saying that she couldn't always come for check-ups because of work and distance and she avoided any serious discussion.  As she left, all we could do was to pray for her and the baby. 

Chief's wife and daughter rode with me going home - I dropped them off at their village.  Little Nkansunda slept the whole way home over that bumpy "road".

Fri. Feb. 22nd - Baby girl is pretty easy going… she has a crying jag occasionally, but I think she just wants to be held all the time.  After all, that's the way her aunt kept her…on her back.  Finally I put her on my back, the African way, and she was happy…and fell asleep there.  I made a Butter Pecan birthday cake.

Sat. Feb.23rd - My birthday…I'm 59 yrs. old and I'm up with a baby for a 5:45 a.m. feeding!  Now there's an unusual Birthday!   While she was napping this morning, I made the cream cheese frosting for the Butter Pecan cake I made yesterday.  This is my favorite cake…  We had a simple supper and then Gary gave me some nice gifts.  After Nkansunda had her bottle, we enjoyed the birthday cake, complete with some candles to blow out.

Nkansunda has run a high fever today…so I started her on a malaria treatment.  She sounds a little congested as well.

Sun. Feb. 24th - I packed up all of the clothes and baby items I have for Nkansunda.  We packed our bags…and by mid afternoon, we were leaving Makalondi and heading to Niamey.  

On arriving in the city, I called the B's and told them that we would be at their place shortly.  When we arrived and got out of the truck, I was holding baby.  P. and B. came out and P. welcomed us…B. came up and I held out Nkansunda and said, "Here she is. Here's your baby girl!  Congratulations to you both."  B. took her, and her eyes took in all of her new baby!  We were invited in and over fruit juice, we shared her story (what we knew) and passed on all the tidbits of information on feedings, schedule, medications, etc.  And then it was time to bow out and allow them the time to begin being a family…time to just get to know their new baby and begin to bond.
And then we asked them one little thing… could we be considered Nkansunda's honorary grandparents in Niger…her Nana and Papa here?  And they gladly consented. (smile)

Went to bed early this eve….