Sunday, November 25, 2012
By now, many of you have heard of Bernadette, our 4 yo Togolese girl came into HBB 5 weeks ago with vomiting and fever and headache. While these symptoms are the norm for most of our kids with malaria, her headache pain went beyond normal. Our suspicions were verified after an emergent MRI in the capitol city revealed a large mass in the back of her brain. Radiologist in the US were consulted immediately and all agreed that the mass was most likely a pilocytic astrocytoma--a benign tumor.
Unfortunately the location and size of the tumor was pushing again other structures and making it difficult for the fluid in her brain to exit. This was causing the fluid chambers in her head to get bigger and bigger, resulting in dangerous pressures in her head.
She was started on some medication immediately to try and keep swelling down in her head while we tried to find her a place to go for intervention. There were many barriers in the way to finding her adequate treatment quickly, since Neurosurgery is for the most part, not available in Togo.
The two options pursued were to find a hospital either in the US or neighboring Ghana willing to take her case. We committed to following leads fully with both options, until one was clear. And although it would seem much easier and obvious to send her to Ghana, the Lord kept opening doors for Berna to go to the US. The hospital I trained at, Kosair Children's Hospital was willing to take the case pro bono, led by the efforts of Neurosurgeon Dr. Ian Mutchnick. All the other hospital teams that would be needed for her care also volunteered their services. A charitable organization, Healing the Children (HTC), offered to pay for travel and living expenses. Even obtaining her nationality (something just in Togo), passport, and visa took place in a reasonable amount of time. It was quite evident the the Lord was sending Berna to Louisville, KY for help.
Plane tickets were booked and plans were made for me to travel with Berna to Addis Ababa on Oct 31st. We were going to stay for two nights so that a representative from HTC, who was already in Ethiopia, could take her through to the US. Up until this point, Berna had been able to stay out of the hospital by taking regular meds at home. Then 2 days before departure, she began having severe pain once again and was admitted to HBB. It was evident that her health was deteriorating, but she was stable and we were going ahead with the plan since it was her only chance of survival.
We left to spend the night in Lome, the capitol, in preparation to leave the next morning. Her mom had said a courageous good-bye at the hospital, not knowing if she would see her daughter again. Berna's pain was harder and harder to control and as she spent the night with me in my room, I passed the hours pleading that the Lord would save her while keeping my hand on her chest waiting to feel the cessation of movement. I questioned whether or not we should take the flight. Was I being selfish to take the risk of Berna spending her last moments alive on an airplane instead of in the arms of her loving parents? What would I do if she died on the plane? How would she survive the journey to the US without a nurse or doctor with her?
The next morning doubts filled my heart and mind. But each time I thought about canceling our trip, it seemed like I was saying to the Lord, "I don't trust you." He had guarded her life up to this point, and orchestrated so many amazing people and avenues for Berna. I sent some e-mails and let everyone know that I was unsure if Berna would make it alive to the states and plans were made to take her to a hospital in Ethiopia for a smaller operation that could stabilize her so that she could complete her journey to the US. It seemed like I would touch Berna's head and say to her, "Hold on!" while at the same time the Lord would put his hand forth on my head and say, "Hold on!"
I backed her in the African style and we worked our way through the airport. I got a lot of strange looks as the "Yovo" carrying around a Togolese girl on my back, but my focus was elsewhere. We took our place at the gate and waited....and waited....and waited. While time was of the essence, our flight was delayed by over 2 hours. I sat praying and people-watching, wondering what other people where thinking about. I'm sure business people would be late for meetings, reuniting families would have to wait, and vacations would be temporarily post-poned. As everyone was getting more agitated and frustrated all I could think was "Your life will go on. Late or early, your overall life will go on after this, never to be thought of again. This girl in my arms is holding on for her life."
We eventually departed for Ethiopia. I layed Berna down in her seat, head against the window and feet in my lap. She would never remember this part of her journey nor conceive of the distance we were traveling. No one would speak her language where we were headed, not even me. Nor would she recognize the food, the people or even the weather! She just had to make it there.
Hold on Berna.
Hold on Kelly.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Meet Samuel and Ezekiel!
These little ones are our two newest preemies that have been around for the last few weeks. They were born at 32 and 29 weeks respectively and have been doing great! Both moms have been very faithful in caring for these little ones as they must stay at the infant’s bedside each day and can’t return home due to breast-feeding. It can be a very long and tiring process that is often discouraging. We try and give the moms small ways of showing them that their little ones are moving towards going home.
Often our premature infants, they struggle with something called NEC (Necrotizing Enterocolitis), which is where the gut gets infected. NEC is somewhat of a mystery in the neonatology world and new recommendations are coming out all the time as to how to prevent it. One way is to make sure that babies get breast-milk. Strangely, although all our babies are receiving breast-milk, the occurrence of NEC remains a top reason that our preemie babies don’t make it home. The Lord has been gracious in keeping our two little ones NEC free so far, so please pray that this continues!
I am also currently in talks with some helpful people in the states regarding TPN. This is where our tiniest babies could receive nutrition through their IV while we slowly advance how much milk they can take each day. Currently, we just have fluid with sugar and salt which doesn’t provide the proteins and fats that they need to grow well. Pray that we might find a solution that is both accessible and affordable for the Togolese.
|Update photo on Akou (Ruth), our smallest preemie!|
Please also be in prayer as to how you might be able to help these families with premature infants. They often have to stay a month or more in the hospital, which is almost always beyond their financial means. We work hard on providing great care while limiting the amounts of labs and radiology in order to keep cost down, but caring for these little ones takes a lot of resources! A benevolence fund exists here at HBB to help families like those of Samuel and Ezekiel pay for the cost of care without depleting the families of all of their resources. We also accept knitted or crocheted hats for these little ones!
Many of you have also been joining me in prayers regarding a little girl named Bernadette who was discovered to have a brain tumor. So far the Lord has kept her as well as possible and we wait to see if her best option for care would be either in Ghana or in the United States. We have some awesome people working very hard to pursue all possibilities to find her the best care in the quickest amount of time. Please continue to pray, as either option will require a lot of resources, time and energy. I am currently looking into both options equally and seeking the Lord’s direction in where he would have her go. A trip to the states would require that she travel without her parents, and stay with a host family that will not speak her language. I know the Lord already has plans in place that will glorify and lift up the name of Christ. Pray that we might have peace regarding this truth as with trudge through the seas of seeking medical care.
Thanks to all of you who continue to partner with me in ministry through prayer, encouragement, visits, and your continued Love.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
So this is actually the second attempt at writing this blog post. The first attempt gave said that I came to Kenya for a conference and that things went well, etc, etc. It was somewhat of a boring list of happenings. All of it was true of course, but somewhat lifeless. I am, in fact, here in Kenya at a retreat/conference for all of the Samaritan’s Purse staff that works in and for Africa. It’s a time to get together and be encouraged and see what the Lord is doing throughout the continent. I have to confess, though, that during the majority of the conference, my head was involved, but my heart was just…..not. I met amazing people who were doing great things with the Lord’s help. We heard amazing talks and messages from God’s Word that filled with Spirit and Truth. I even got the chance to give a short story/testimony to the work that God is doing in Togo at the hospital, and in me personally. But still, at the end of the day I felt…….flat, unmoved, and far away. I couldn’t tell you when I started to feel this way, although I knew it had started before my arrival in Kenya—disenchantment with my work at the hospital, an inability to connect with my patient’s suffering, becoming frustrated easily.
On the second to last day of the conference I went to a workshop that took us through a look at the parallels between the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt in the promise land, with Jesus’ life and ministry in the New Testament. Although I had read these passages many times, the Lord was speaking to me anew as if to remind me personally, “Kelly, I haven’t done anything by accident, and my plan for my people carries on today.” I had then realized that I had given up reading of His Word for the purpose alone of meeting with the Lord. I had been doing “studies” and readings in order to be able to give devotions on my scheduled day at the hospital and reading books about great Theologians of the past. But reading about Christ and experiencing Him are not the same. I had been exchanging my time for building a relationship with Him for gaining head knowledge about Him and had not even realized it.
The very last day of the conference the Lord graciously reminded me of the love I have for Him and the perfect love He has for me. The theme of the conference was “Taste and See that the Lord is Good.” A pastor gave us a great reminder that the Lord’s goodness is well translated as the Lord’s generosity. He is waiting for us, as children of God, to ask for the things we’re lacking—love, patience, kindness, compassion, mercy, self-control. “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:13
In the evening a pastor from Kenya spoke on the passing on of the baton from Elijah to Elisha in 2 Kings, and the choice we have to pursue the work of the Lord or to sit by at watch others carry on the calling. It was a message of renewal and reminder for me; that I want to go the distance and finish the race at a finish line that He has drawn.
I went to dinner that night (tonight actually, as I’m writing this) having a renewal and awakening of Christ in me. During dinner a fellow Samaritan’s purse worker pulled up a chair and sat beside me. I had seen him throughout the week but never met him or spoke with him before this point. In fact, he was teaching one of the break-out sessions that I did not have an opportunity to attend. He said hello to me, of course, and said that although he didn’t really know me, the Lord had burdened his heart to pray for me all during the conference. He said, “I don’t think I have the gift of intercession, but the Lord continued to put you on my heart throughout our days here.”
I was quite overwhelmed; that the Lord would speak to this stranger to intercede on my behalf, before the Lord, during the days that I was not able speak to the Lord myself. I proceeded to thank the gentleman for his encouragement and prayer. I told him some struggles I had come across in Togo. Afterwards he said, “I think this is the real you right now. At the start of the conference it wasn’t the real you. It just took a few days for you to get here.”
Wow. What am amazing God we serve! That the inner struggle within my own Spirit was revealed to a fellow believer apart from all human communication, so that my heart could once again shine with the love of the Lord. What mercy and grace He has for us! This is the Lord whom we serve and the reason we have for continuing the work, HIS work, throughout the world.
To HIM be all glory, honor, and power forever. Amen.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
August began bitter-sweet when on the 10th, one day before her 4th month birthday, we sent Akou home to live with her family. The day was much anticipated by her mother who had sat attentively at her bedside for 122 days, awaiting the fate of her premature little girl. She had more than doubled her birth-weight, was taking all of her feeds by bottle and no longer had any reason for an IV. As I celebrated with her family and the hospital staff, I realized that this little fighter had become a part of our family as well. Gathering around the scale each day, holding our breath to see how many grams she had gained or lost, became part of our morning ritual. We were all united in hope and prayer that the Lord would somehow provide care that was beyond our resources…….and He did.
Although I am sometimes sad to look in the corner of the Pediatrics Ward and see an empty isolette, I am quickly reminded that the emptiness is a sign that she is home and thriving. While we often have empty beds in the Pediatrics Wards due to death, the Lord, in His mercy and grace, chose to show His power through Akou.
As I have previously mentioned, infants here don’t get named until the family feels confident that the infant will survive. Initial names are given that are based on the day of the week the child was born (Akou is for a girl born on a Wednesday). I had often asked Akou’s mom when she was going to give her a name. Often she would just smile and shake her head. So naturally, when I saw her a few days after she was discharged from the hospital, my first question was “What is her name?!”
I’m not sure if she will ever be anything but Akou to me. But in the Old Testament, Ruth was a symbol of loyalty, kindness, and redemption—what a true testimony to what God has already done for her in her life thus far! Please continue to pray for Ruth and the future the Lord has in store for her. Thank you for being a part of her journey and interceding on her behalf in prayer. Let us praise the Lord together for what He has done so that His glory may be known in many nations today!
Grace and Peace
Thursday, August 9, 2012
Stories from the medical mission field are often about the people whom we are trying to serve in the home country. But there are many players involved that help make the work here possible: the national workers, long-term missionaries, support staff, and short- termers.
I was blessed to live with a short-term missionary, Amanda, for my first few months here in Togo. She is a Physicians Assistant from Wisconsin who quit her job as a Neurosurgical PA to come out and help the team here for 4 and-a-half months. Despite having a fiancée at home and a wedding to plan, she gave her heart each day to the patients here at HBB, sharing the love and peace of Christ. Affectionately known as "Mama Amanda" in our house, she proved to be the most responsible person in the house, despite being the youngest! Not only that, but she became such a dear friend and blessing to me during her time here. One can never under-estimate the power of listening ear, an encouraging word, or just someone to laugh or cry with. She taught me fun lessons, like how to make homemade bread and yogurt (which I’m now addicted to!) as well as more serious lessons like how to listen and take time with patients regardless of how long the day has been. I will miss her greatly, but know that the Lord has other plans for her life. I know that she will be spreading the Good News of the Gospel no matter what country she is in, but pray that we will be able to meet again soon this side of heaven.
|Having fun being silly with Mama Amanda in the chair!|
Our Togo team was also blessed to have 9 students from Master’s College in California come out and volunteer for 6 weeks. The team took on the daunting challenge of re-organizing our storage house of supplies, which was LONG overdue (they even found a few items that were older than the hospital itself!). They were also able to follow the medical team in the hospital and tackle many personal projects for various missionaries. The team was an amazing encouragement, always joyful while they served in less-than-glamorous ways. Please continue to pray for the team as many of them have expressed interest in future overseas missions. There is a lot of time and distraction in-between college and getting to the mission field. Pray that each one may follow the call that the Lord has for them.
|Master's Team girls, Amanda on my right, Rhonda on my left (hospital midwife), roommate Susanna next to Amanda|
Last, but not least, my dear friend Monika who I lived with in Switzerland, was able to come out and stay with me for 3 weeks in July. The Lord had blessed me beyond what I could have expected through our friendship during language school. Her willingness to share her life and home with me made my time in Switzerland a time of fellowship beyond just attending language school. When she told me she was coming to visit, I was overwhelmed by her continued support in my journey. She was able to experience a lot of “firsts” while in Togo, especially in the areas of foods! And despite coming for vacation and relaxation, she was a huge help in the area of translation at the hospital and nursing school. The visit was a true blessing from a friend who had already been such a vital part of my journey in getting to Togo, and it was exciting to get to share the ministry with her.
|From Left: Susanna, Amie (my roommates), Monika and Me in Lome, Togo|
Please know that so many of you are a huge of the ministry here, even though you are far away. Many of you sacrifice finances, time, and energy in supporting me here in Togo and it doesn’t go unrecognized. I never feel alone here because there are so many of you praying for me, sending e-mails and encouragements constantly. Your involvement makes my ministry here possible, so thank you!!
Grace and Peace
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The month of June passed without me knowing it! Life at the hospital and here in Togo has become my “norm” and I have settled into a routine. I am constantly amazed at the variety of illnesses I see here, and find myself waist high in textbooks trying to find the best way to diagnose and treat without the labs and medications I am used to having. It is very challenging and refreshing to actually give things over into God’s hands and watch him work as The Great Physician.
Many of you have already heard about Akou through facebook. For those who don’t know, Akou is a 26-week-old premature infant who was born at home and brought into the hospital at about 3 hours of life and weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. The first miracle is that she was alive, period. A 26-week infant born in the US is normally put onto a ventilator immediately, or at least some intense support to help the baby breath. We don’t have these abilities at HBB, so we put her on a nasal canula, as well as antibiotics and another medicine that helped her remember to breath. Then we prayed.
During the first 2 days, she stopped breathing twice and required chest compressions. After day 3, she showed herself as a true fighter and hasn’t required any major interventions since. We didn’t have a way to provide adequate nourishment through an IV (called TPN) so we slowly ( SLOWLY) started feeding her. After many weeks of minimal growing, she started picking up weight. We were able to find a food scale so that we could weigh her in grams and know exactly how much she was gaining each day. Many of us gather around the small scale each morning to see how many grams she has gained.
Today she is 90 days old and weighs about 2 lbs 3 ounce. We are praising the Lord for each and every gram. We celebrated her “1000 gram” weight achievement with chocolate chip cookies (poor Akou only got more breast milk) J. Her faithful mother has stayed with her the whole time, despite having two other children to take care of. Her dad is able to visit every few weeks and is always so joyful to be able to hold her. She is the smallest infant we have ever had survive for this long at HBB. Please pray that the Lord would graciously continue to guard her life and protect her small body from infection and feeding difficulties. Please also pray for her family, especially her mom, who has patiently stayed by her bedside all this time. And of course, pray that her survival may be a testimony, to all who see her, of how the Lord has knit us together for His purposes, He cares for us, and He desires us to grow in Him.
|sweet Akou with a little smile for you|
Thanks to each one of you who have joined me on this journey in so many ways. Your support, prayers and encouragement reach further than you realize.
Grace and Peace.
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
But then, the Lord poured down his mercy and Frederic began to move his arms. Slowly but surely, each day he became more and more awake until one day, he reached out to shake our hands and smiled. A few weeks later, he walked out of HBB without any assistance.
And this work, is spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ for which there is no greater HOPE:
“For God so Loved the World that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21
Last week a healthy baby girl was born and the new dad could not be prouder. He explained to me that she was going to grow up and get a “good education in the United States.” I smiled and said that she better come back to Togo afterwards and help her country. The next day the little girl was going home. I used to ask for what the baby’s name was, but naming of children in Togo doesn’t happen until much later (weeks or even a month later after they are more sure the infant will survive) so I stopped asking. In the mean time they are given names that are based on the day of the week they were born. But when this dad saw me he stopped me and said, “We want you to give her a name.” I was taken back by the timing of the name being given, and by the honor they were bestowing upon me to give it to her. I thought about the last month at the hospital and all the joy this dad had for his daughter. I marveled at the way he was not waiting to name her, but instead planning her future.
I looked down her perfect face and said, “Her name will be Hope.”
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I am officially living in Tsiko, Togo! It has felt like a long time in the making, but I have arrived and have started working at the Karolyn Kempton Memorial Baptist Missions Hospital (AKA HBB by the locals). For those of you who don’t know, I left Switzerland on March 23rd and traveled to Chicago where I got to spend about 7 days with my family. I was so blessed during my time in Switzerland with a church base, an amazing Swiss woman, Monika, to live with and other amazing friends. I was sad to go but excited to be able to visit my family in the States. It was the first time in a while that we were able to be together in one place and it was quite a blessing! The Lord was gracious and the airfare was actually CHEAPER to go Switzerland à Chicagoà Togo than direct to Togo from Switzerland. I was able to see my extended family as well, including some aunts that I hadn’t seen in many years. It was difficult to leave family, but I had no doubts that I was following the Lord in where he wants me to be.
My arrival in Lomé, Togo (the capital) was largely uneventful and I was greatly relieved and thankful for having received all my luggage! Thank you to everyone who was praying! I spent 2 days in the capital trying to accomplish things such as money exchange, visas, and shopping for necessities. It just so happens that the Mercy Ship is docked in Togo until mid-July and I was able to take a tour. This is a huge ship run by a Christian organization that travels to West African countries bringing free surgical care to those in need. We even got to see some patients that HBB had referred for treatment. It was an amazing ministry where people could get physical healing along with hearing spiritual truth. Please continue to lift up their ministry in prayer!
I finally arrived in my new home Tsiko, Togo on April 3rd. The other missionaries were extremely welcoming and gave me a few days to get settled in before starting work in the hospital. (Truthfully, they planned on giving me 2 weeks to settle in before starting work, but I “happened” to wander into the hospital on April 5th instead!)
The first week has been bittersweet. I have been away from practicing medicine for about 9 months and it was great to be back doing what I love. Unfortunately, in the seven days I have been in the hospital, 6 infants have died. It has been sobering and frustrating despite my mental preparation for such. One child was born very prematurely at home, and by the time the family arrived at the hospital there wasn’t anything that could be done for the small baby boy. That day happened to be Good Friday. I got to sit down and talk with the mom about Good Friday. I told her that the Lord knew her pain because he had also lost a son on this day. And because his Son was raised on the third day and concurred death, so too can we conquer death through Jesus Christ.
I have also been reminded of, and been able to share, the story of King David in 2 Samuel 12 when he fasted and prayed for his sick child for seven days, after which, the child died. Surprising to elders of his home, (an myself!) after learning that his child was dead, David dressed himself and began to worship the Lord. His reasoning? “When the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” What a response!!!! I don’t think David’s response was callous to the death of his son. I believe it showed great faith, understanding, and comfort in the Lord. David knew that the only way to see his son again would be when he himself died and is in heaven, which prompted him to worship!
For the believer, this is a temporary place where we live by faith, waiting to see God face to face in Glory. Sometimes, God is gracious and allows me as a Pediatrician to extend the lives of those who are ill. But death awaits us all. I hope and pray that the work I will be doing over this next two years goes beyond the list of who lived and who died. For if my purpose here is to “heal all of the sick”, it will be a losing battle from the start. For no doctor conquers death with their remedies, they just delay it for a time. But, if lives can be extended for the purpose of meeting Christ, repentance, glorifying Him, and becoming more like Him—then the battle will be won……the battle has already been won!
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…that I might make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
Grace and Peace
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
2 Corinthiens 3:18
Nous tous dont le visage découvert reflète la gloire du Seigneur, nous sommes transformés en la même image, de gloire en gloire, par l'Esprit du Seigneur.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
I'm not sure what I was expecting when I arrived here in Switzerland four and-a-half months ago--cheese and chocolate, I suppose! While I have enjoyed PLENTY of both, I have found that my time here has provided just as much of a spiritual education than a language one.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me can attest to how difficult it is for me to remain silent. As my dad put it recently (I inherited the trait from him): "It's like a fire-hydrant is filling your mouth with water and it has to burst out!" While this is a completely accurate description of us both, unfortunately, many times I walk away from conversations wishing I had guarded Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."
Thankfully, we serve a God who is patient and kind, yearning that we become more like him everyday. In that process, He must burn away that which does not look like Himself- John 15:2 "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." While in language school, I spent many months understanding conversations around me without yet having the ability to speak the language. As you can imagine, this was extremely frustrating for a extraverted person like myself. It is much like a 2 year-old child who is able to understand those around him/her but is forever crying and screaming because they can't communicate their wants and desires--hence, The-Terrible-Twos!! I felt like a fire-hydrant wanting to burst, but knew that my foreign English words would fall to the ground, and my little French knowledge wouldn't begin to communicate my thoughts. I had an internal "Terrible- Two's" battle going on within me. I felt like the people around me NEEDED to hear "the important things" I had to offer to the conversation. It sounds dramatic, but it really felt as though my personality was being taken away.
But over time, the Holy Spirit took my times of silent frustration and showed me how to listen. Not only to listen to others, but to listen to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. It was as though the Lord said, "Maybe they don't need to hear what YOU have to say. Maybe you should wait until you know what I have to say." OUCH! There came a time of repentance, realizing that I more often speak without asking the Lord for wisdom or truth in the matter. I offer solutions to problems that are wrought with my own opinions and subjective truths.
When the time came that I was more able to speak the language, I was still like a child with only a fixed amount of vocabulary to express my thoughts. I had to decide what was the most important point, and choose words carefully and thoughtfully and slowly. ( I realize that many of you who know me are having a hard time picturing this!!) I had to spend time weighing my words, their necessity, and their truth.
I have come to realize that I currently reflect Christ more in French that I do in English. Jesus always chose His words carefully, and exactly--admonishing , encouraging, mourning, healing, and showing the way to the Father. There are times when I feel like the fire-hydrant still fills my mouth and I must speak, even in French. But I pray for those moments to be when the Holy Spirit fills my mouth with Gospel truth so His message of repentance, healing and forgiveness can go forth.
Being transformed into the likeness of Christ means recognizing the parts of ourselves that do not resemble Christ and asking Him to remove them. I do not pretend to mirror Christ, with the clear edges that make it difficult to tell the original from the reflection. But like a sea reflecting the mountains, I do pray that the choppy waters blurring His image may be stilled, so that His face can become more clear to those searching and seeking for Truth.
Grace and Peace
Monday, January 30, 2012
Greetings everyone! I can't believe it is the end of January already! I have been here in Switzerland for exactly 3 months now and the time has flown by. I am still attending class 5 days a week for about 3 hours a day and taking the rest of the day to study, build relationships, read, crochet, and catch up with family and friends.
January 21st was my 31st birthday and although it was difficult to spend it away from home, my Swiss friends made it a wonderful day filled with cheese, chocolate, conversation, and lots of laughter! A special thanks to my adoptive community group at sojourn who sent me wonderful birthday cards that they made themselves. I was able to talk to my family via Skype, and my mom is arriving in Switzerland tomorrow so we can celebrate my birthday and her "I'm finished with Cancer treatment!" celebration!
As you can see, I am also busy trying to make hats for the babies in Togo (see the Crochet TOGO tab) and I'm trying to work on other things I (and you!) can make for some of the children. If you have any ideas or want more information how you can help, please send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
I have also started to look into ways we can improve the lives of the Togolese children outside of medicine. This brought me to the subject of literacy, of course! In the United States, 99% of people over the age of 15 can read and write, compared to 53.2% in Togo. Togo ranks 167 of 183 in literacy rates. What better way to start to fight illiteracy then giving children books! Currently I have started discussions with Scholastic® who has agreed to set up an account for me in which people and/or companies can donate money into the account towards the purchase of books. I currently do not have all the details ironed out, so please continue to be in prayer over this project as we try and get it started. If it goes through, we have to decide whether we have the resources to give to books away or if starting a library of sorts would be more beneficial and/or realistic.
I am also quite close to booking my ticket to Togo. I should arrive on either March 31st or April 1st. Please be praying for my upcoming transition as I know these next 2 months will pass very quickly. My time here in Switzerland has been a true gift from the Lord, in many ways, but I am eager to get to Togo and start the work I know I am called to do. I appreciate everyone who has partnered with me with encouragement, finances, and prayer. They are all gifts that can never be repaid and I pray that Lord will use all if exponentially to further His work, as I know He already has.
Grace and Peace,
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Notre-Dame Cathedral. Paris, France
I was hoping to write a Merry Chritmas blog, but failed. I pray that everyone had a joyous time spent with friends and family, remembering that Jesus Christ is worth celebrating year-round!! I pray that the time we take to praise the Lord for His gift of sending the Son doesn't stop just because Christmas is over!
Although I miss my friends and family dearly during this time of year, the Lord blessed me with some new and old friends. I got to spend Christmas in Grenoble, France with some missionaries who I had "met" through e-mail and phone conversations a couple years ago. There are also in language school as they prepare to move to Mali, Africa. They invited me to stay over Christmas and we had an amazing time of fellowship, fun, and FOOD! We spent a lot of time visiting Christmas marchés (outdoor markets with tons of stands selling homemade goods, crafts and amazing food!), watching classic christmas movies (like Elf!) and laughing. It was a true blessing!
Some amazing friends from my home church, Sojourn, also put a fun video together filled with messages from friends who are part of community groups who have "adopted me" as a missionary. It was an unexpected, overwhelming gift that I have re-played many times!
Then, on the 29th of December one of my best friends from Louisville, KY along with her parents, came to Switzerland for the week! Although the trip started off with me over-sleeping, missing my train to meet them at the airport, and some American credit card issues.....the visit was amazing and we have stories to keep us laughing for years to come!! It was quite surreal to have them here and I was sorry to see them go, but was so grateful for the time with them. I was able to function as a mini-translator during the trip which was fun and helped me build some confidence using French in everyday life.
School starts up again on January 9th and will continue for me until the end of March. I had originally planned to leave Switzerland in Mid-February and was quite determined not to extend my stay; but after several people advised me to stay, including the doctors in Togo, I decided that the Lord's wisdom was speaking through others, and my own pride of "finishing in 3 months" should take a back seat. I know that the extended time hear will only be better in being able to speak clearly with my patients and their families in Togo, and it is a gift.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and sending words of encouragement! I just found out that my mom is coming to Switzerland for about 6 days on February 1st. Please pray for safe travel for her. We will be celebrating her completion of cancer treatment and my 31st birthday, so I think it will be a very sweet time together.
Press on in the faith
no matter the cost
for He will be waiting
when all else is lost.
Grace and Peace