Monday, February 1, 2010

journal entries from nigeria...

The whole purpose of this blog was to keep people updated while I was gone, but, between the ever failing internet, rare electricity, sharing one computer between us all, and impatience and frustration of writing a long note just to have it time out and delete...I was defeated.
My plan is to go back to work in the orphanage in June of' '10 and one of my goals is to do better at this! Im going to take my own computer this time and try to make it more of a priority, so...please keep me accountable!:)
But, whether or not anyone ever reads these, I wanted to write a couple memories/stories from my 4 months(taken out of my journal) there for the sake of my own memory and just to share with those of you who may take the chance of checking out my blog again(thank you!)...

May 12-14, 2009
(Ugo, the 3 yr old and hiv positive, was put in the hospital because of lingering malaria and really high fever,to be on iv's for 72 hrs.)

We were completely unprepared for little ugo to be admitted into the hospital so we did some quick planning...I would take the first shift of staying with him while Bev gathered everything we would need(in the hospitals here, you provide, medicine, water, bedding,etc.),and Ebuka would take over in the evening and spend the night with him(on the hard floor). The hospitals here remind me of what i would imagine a field hospital would look like, just with actual walls instead of tents. The nurses wear those funny little hats, there are no private rooms,beds lining up on either side of the walls, the electricity comes and goes(one time we had to reschedule an x-ray because they didn't have electricity that day!). Poor Ugo did NOT make putting in the iv easy! He screamed and kicked and had to be held down:( He cried for a long time and refused to eat or drink but finally fell asleep and slept for a long time in the hot, stuffy room. The strange dynamic of the hospital made it easy to meet other people, mostly family, patients and visitors of the patients. The Nigerians are such friendly people and no one that walked into the children's ward neglected to walk by each bed to greet the patients and family and offer their condolences(they will actually just stand there for quite some time saying, "endo", "endo", "ka", over and over which are different words for, "sorry').
There were many visitors throughout my shift that day and the other days I was there and I also got to know the patients and some of their family members who would stay there night and day excepting the time they would go to their homes and make food or buy some from the market and bring it back.
They were all curious what my relation was to Ugo and what I was doing there(in Nigeria) and no one failed to be grateful for what A Place of Hope was doing for these otherwise hopeless children. One thing that always amazed me was how clueless everyone was to HIV. Whenever I would mention that Ugo was positive for it, they were in shock that I had been holding him! Then I would patiently explain to them that you cannot get it by just touching, drinking after, or kissing and gave them a brief lesson on how you contract it. The ignorance on the topic of HIV and AIDS which is plaguing there continent, is amazing to me. Thanks to a program started by the US, these people have access to free, life-saving drugs, but because of their ignorance and fear of being ostracized, people don't know when they have it, how they get it, that they can get tested or that there are free drugs. They were amazed when I told them that with drugs, they have a chance to live a normal life!
The next day I stopped at the market on the way to the hospital to get bananas, hoping Ugo would want to eat something. I was there for 7 hours today and he slept almost the entire time, hardly drinking or eating anything. When I first got there, the nurse took the iv out because it was hurting him, but walked off and never put one back in. The entire day I asked the nurses, and later the doctor(who showed up once), to please put the iv back in, it being the only reason we were there in the first place, but no one did the entire day! What a waste of us being here! But today I did get to know the patient's and family better and was completely blessed by them! Everyone that is there is so kind to each other and acts like its own little family unit. One of the ladies, who's son was in because of his appendix, called me over to her so she could share their food with me(all I had was the bananas)! She offered me peppers, a big avacado, 5 oranges, and some wonderful pineapple. Another mom also gave me oranges. I'm sure these precious families couldn't afford their hospital bills yet they were more than willing to offer me what they could, their food. I hope I can be willing to offer anything I have to anyone at anytime.
The kids who were alert all looked so bored, especially one quiet little boy in a corner hospital bed, who I noticed hadn't had anyone with him in the 2 days I had been there, except for someone who dropped off some food and then left. It turned out that he had heart problems. I dug around and found some coloring books and crayons that I had brought in case Ugo woke up and split them up between 3 of the oldest kids in the ward. You would have thought I had handed them $100! They were so thrilled, I don't think they ha ever colored before! When I handed it to the lonely little boy who looked about 10, I showed him what to do and he replied, "I can try". Even the adults were facinated with the coloring books! I went back to each one and they were coloring beautifully and so carefully.
Later, the little boy in the corner brought me a boiled egg...his so sweet and only way of saying thanks...he might as well have handed me $100...
(Ugo improved and was released the next afternoon. I never saw those precious kids and their families again but I was so blessed by them and also made aware of a huge ministry available to kids and their families in the hospital!)

ugo with a fever(above)
normal ugo(below)

June 5, 2009
I am convinced there is no worse sound than a grief-stricken mother wailing over the death of her child...
Today me and Bev went into town and made our way to Bishop Shannahans (the hospital where we take our kids for HIV medicine and where Ugo stayed) to visit with a doctor that the Starlings knew and had been out of town for months. Bev and I went into his tiny little office that is connected (by a curtain) to the children's ward. We were just talking with him, catching him up on the kids and whatnot when I hear a weird moaning sound. I couldn't tell what it was at first but it continued to grow louder and louder...until there was no doubt in my mind that this was the effect of something bad happening, or that had happened, just on the other side of the curtain. I had heard that awful sound before, in Mexico, and was sure I knew the cause of it.
The doctor continued to talk but I was so distracted by this heart-wrenching sound that I couldn't concentrate. Finally, Bev asks the doctor if someone had just died. The doctor replied that no one "should have died", but walked into the ward.
Me and Bev follow him out and see a woman by the nearest bed to us, screaming and crying and wailing over the bed where a little boy lie still. The doctor walked over to the nurses who were attending the woman and than walked back over to us saying that her little boy had just died of falciparum malaria.
The lady went into such hysterics that she passed out and had to be put on a stretcher herself. While she was lying there, with her shirt raised up, I could see that she was pregnant.
I hesitantly followed the doctor back into the little office where he continued on as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened (which I realized later, isn't out of the ordinary there).
But I could not get the image and sound of the hopeless distraught woman screaming over her hopeless dead little boy. I tried to act like I was listening to the well-meaning doctor, but I could not control the tears as they came pouring down my face.
In the next room over is a woman who has no hope that she will see her little boy again, no peace of mind, no assurance can be offered, no Savior to run to in her darkest hour.
Is this not why I'm here? To offer this very hope? I am so thankful that I am able to offer physical hope and salvation to the kids in our orphanage, but what is this without the hope and salvation of Christ? This was a huge reminder of the urgency of not only giving physical help, but sharing the hope that we have in Jesus Christ and the victorious, hope-filled, abundant life that he offers to us! And I am not only to offer it to the kids that come through the orphanage, but to anyone that I meet, anyone that the Holy Spirit leads me to, in Nigeria and in Kansas.
Please Lord, let me not be afraid to share the hope I have in a hopeless woman in a hospital in Nigeria, or to a co-worker in Wichita, KS...

June 24, 2009

Luke 6:27-38...
These 12 verses are completely overwhelming to me. These commands are hard enough in the states where people stealing, borrowing and hating you aren't that big of an issue for me personally. But things that have happened to me and others and that I have seen here on a regular basis, are another story.
Especially with "Eva", who lied, cheated and stole from us(creating a very difficult and annoying situation for me when she stole, ripped and then returned my passport!), and a trusted pastor who lied, stole and hurt people close to me...just to name a few since I have been here. But these just make me look at these verses in a very realistic light and make me look at myself, my reactions and my heart all the more.
What I have to decide is if, one, we are to take every word literally and realistically, and two, if it is meant for Christians today...I truly believe "yes" to both.
Taking this to heart and action would be life-changing for me, but more importantly, for others (this is a huge testimony to the "enemies" and others examining my life). It is completely opposite from what the world(and sometimes even Christians)tell us!
I am praying that God really works in my heart and life in these areas and that one day these will be natural responses always (because of the Holy Spirit's control of my life)!

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