Monday, December 1, 2014

Weather Report

How can you not love Togo?!
I am not one to write blogs that I like to call "Weather Reports"--lists of things I've been doing and will be doing over the last several weeks. But seeing that my last note was over 8 weeks ago, I will be making an exception!

September and October were filled with working, actually. Thanks to some very generous folks at Kosair Children's Hospital and University of Louisville Pediatrics Department, I was able to work about 20 overnight shifts in the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Department. Many of you know that a long-time life goal I had was to practice Pediatric Heme/Onc, but life took me in another direction! Being able to once again take part in this area of US medicine was really wonderful, despite the overnight hours! The great news is that I was able to reconnect with some of the doctors who work in this area and meet the new director as well, who has shown interest in helping develop more sustained Heme/Onc treatments in Togo. This has been a long-standing need, so please pray as we work out the logistics of finding medications and the best possible diagnostic techniques. 

I was also able to reconnect with some amazing doctors and researchers in the U of L Neonatology Department. If you have been following me during my Togo journey, you are all too familiar with our volume of premature infants and newborn care. During a meeting with two of these wonderful people they asked if I had a transcutaneous bilirubinometer. This complicated term is basically a way to detect how jaundiced (or yellow) an infant is without having to take a blood sample. Because of our babies dark skin, jaundice can be difficult to see, but checking a blood level on every infant is cost-prohibitive. I told them that I did not have this machine but that I had been desperately hoping to obtain one for the past 3 years! This wonderful woman Paula replied, "I think I have one in my closet at work. Would you like it?" PRAISE THE LORD!!  Of course, I replied with a resounding YES! This amazing gift saved us thousands of dollars, so please pray that the Lord blesses the generosity of these folks! 
Three of the Togo Pediatricians together in Louisville!

November started off with the Global Missions Health Conference-the largest Medical Missions conference in the world! Thankfully there were so many folks there who have served in Togo or will be serving in Togo, and we had a wonderful get-together one of the evenings that allowed everyone to meet and share stories. Elizabeth Fernandez (on the left) will be spending 2 years in Mango with me as part of the Samaritan's Purse program (the same program that I just completed). Kristi Tebo (on the right) was also in Louisville and she is also a Pediatrician that will be spending 2 years in Togo as part of the SP Program. She will be heading to Togo in about a years time to continue the work at HBB, the southern hospital. The Lord is sure raising up Pediatricians for Togo! 

I also spent 2 weeks of November back at the ABWE office to complete my last official steps of training. It was a great time of reuniting with other Togo missionaries working hard towards getting to the field, as well as meeting so many others who are waiting to be sent out all over the world! We received some great training on conflict resolution, finances, spiritual warfare, and leadership. 

My very last steps to be completed before flying back to Togo are the completion of a New Testament and Muslim Studies class.  With my departure date approaching (December 29th!) I decided to move back home to Chicago in order to spend more time with my family.  With my medical license and sending church Sojourn being located in Louisville, it was where I needed to be during my time back home. I am looking forward to getting to spend more consistent time with my family over the next 4 weeks. One of my grandmothers' health is very poor and I will likely not see her again after I leave this time. 

It's always difficult to look ahead to all that I will miss out on being far away--track meets, basketball games, holidays, and school plays. But I know that I'm supposed to be in Mango. I know it with all that I am. I'm obviously not a parent but I do think I have a glimpse of what it's like to be one--loving each child with 100% of your heart. You cherish the sweet things about them while praying that the Lord will change the parts that need refinement. Meanwhile you can't imagine your life without them. 

My sister Patti and I with the Marshall Fields Clock in Chicago.
Although this store is now Macy's, we refuse to accept it!
This is a glimpse of what it's like to be a missionary in a foreign land. I want to be in Togo with every fiber that makes me whole. But I long for the same thing regarding being here in the US with my friends and family. I can easily list the beauty and horrors of each place, the pictures of grace and need for redemption on both sides of the ocean. I'm grateful to be living in a time where I don't have to choose one over the other. Missionaries no longer pack their belongings in a coffin and kiss their loved ones once and for all. I often joke that we live during a "wimpy" missionary time, where Skype and airline tickets are always at our fingertips. Maybe the Lord knew I needed to live now instead of back then. Maybe I wouldn't have gone. 

Please pray for my time remaining here in Chicago. Pray that I would spend it well and balance the preparations to go with the joy of spending hours with family. Pray for my upcoming transition back to Togo as I re-experience the culture shock of returning. Pray that I will transition well, and not overwhelmed by, my new living situation (I will be living in town on a small compound with a Fulani family, opposed to on the hospital compound). Please also pray for new prayer and financial partners. I am overwhelmed and grateful for everyone who has sacrificed to make my departure possible. It's only because of your prayer and gifts that I will be in Togo in time for the hospital doors opening. A few partners have had to step back which is leaving an opportunity for anyone who has considered monthly giving to join in! 

Please let me know how I can also be praying for you during this time! I consider it a privilege to be a part of petitioning the Father on behalf of you, as it brings me an opportunity to also Praise Him when those prayers are answered. 

You are loved.
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