Saturday, December 23, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
It is so exciting to see kids waiting to be seen at the Children's Wellness Centre! I walked in to see the waiting room full. It feels good to see months of preparation bear fruit. Thank you Mission of Mercy. Thank you Dr. Beyda. May the children that are seen there truly see the love of Christ!
Monday, November 13, 2006
Pepe was discharged from the hospital today, after 2 and ½ weeks. I think that she was just happy to be out of that place, and I don’t blame her. Finally, she is free of fever, and eating well, without vomiting. She is still taking TB medications and going for daily injections. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.
This week, I saw two cases of child abuse in the clinics that we did. One was out in a rural area, we asked them to take their shirts off so that we could see their skin on their abdomen and back. This little one came in with his mother, who had a baby on her back as well. I guess he was about 5 or 6 years old. When I turned him around to see his back, I saw some purple marks across his shoulder blades. At first I thought that it was from a purple marker. When I asked his mother, she started laughing. When I asked my interpreter what she was saying, he told me that she had beaten him across his back. I didn’t know what to say, but my interpreter took over on his own. I asked him what he told her, and he said that he told her that it is not appropriate to beat a child in this way, and that we did not want to see this again. This is a common thing, I am told, here in
Last week, one of our teachers at one of the Care Points had a big knot above her right eye. She was trying to cover it by wearing a hat. When I questioned her, she started to laugh. I think that a lot of Swazi’s laugh out of embarrassment. She responded that her husband had beaten her that morning. I asked what happened, and she said that he showed up at her house with another woman and she was very angry and hit the woman, so her husband beat her. She said that she knew that he was in love with another woman, but this was a different one that she did not know about. I asked her if she lived alone, or if he lived with her. She said that most of the time, she was alone with the children. She said that she filed charges against him at the police station, but she thought that she would go and take them back, because she wanted to show the love of Jesus to him since he was not a Christian. I thought, I’m not sure I could be that self-less. I told her that I’m not sure that was the right thing to do, and that he could not just go around beating her. I told her to pray about it before she did anything, and Daran and I prayed with her. She has 3 children, plus 1 or 2 of her brothers children that she takes care of. I asked her if the children saw what had happened, and she said yes they had woken up and saw the fight. We prayed that the Lord would bring peace to her home and give her wisdom. The next thing that I need to discuss with her is does she protect herself when and if she has sex with him. I pray that she does, but I don’t know, in this culture, the wife can’t refuse her husband. I need to talk to her about going for HIV testing. This is not something that will be very easy. This is a wonderful lady and I don’t want anything to happen to her. Please pray for her and her family, and for me that I may have the wisdom of the Lord in this situation.
We heard early this morning (Sunday, November 12) that one of the students at the school that Gabby attends was hit by a car at 2am and died at 6am. He was crossing the street to get a taxi to go back to school and an oncoming vehicle, with no lights on hit him and ran. Unfortunately, he had probably been drinking. He had been to a party for the Form 5 graduation. Some of his friends were with him and saw it happen. As of this morning, his best friend, could not be found, as he had disappeared from the scene and no one knew where he was. We are praying that the students will turn to the Lord and realize that none of us have a promise of tomorrow, and that we need to live each day as if it were our last.
Charles, Kristen, and Patrick are having a big youth event this coming Saturday (Invasion 2006), and have invited all of the youth in
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
That’s on the physical side. What about spiritual? I think Jesus gave heroic care. Comfort care is what we give when we give a watered down gospel or platitudes so as not to offend. God's wish is that none would perish. Jesus gave everything he had and was rightfully his that we might have a relationship with the God that created us. Dying on a cross as our atonement is heroic. Being slapped, beat, scourged by your own creation is a love that is heroic. There was nothing comfortable about what Jesus taught.
There are people here in Swaziland that give heroic care. Our Bible Club leaders and teachers give heroic care to the children at the CarePoints. There are friends and neighbors who will sit for days with a small child in the hospital to provide comfort, companionship, and love. There are women who cook every day for hundreds of children (not their own) at each CarePoint. These are the heroes here in Swaziland. Taking what little they have and making it an offering to the God that loved them first.
My prayer is that we would not miss the opportunities to be heroic. Not for applause or the limelight, but to be able to hear one day: "Well done good & faithful servant." Take the gift God has given you and be heroic where God has placed (or sent) you.
Monday, October 30, 2006
On the 19th of October, we had to admit PePe to the hospital, she had a high fever, bad cough, sores in her mouth and throat, and she was dehydrated. When I went to her homestead to see her on the Wednesday evening before, her heart was racing and she was extremely hot with fever. Her father said that she had only drunk about ¼ of a coffee mug of water all day. She had eaten one egg and one banana. I instructed him to start offering her a cup of water every hour. He was just letting her sleep and not waking her to offer her food or water. I told him that if we didn’t get some fluids down her, she would have to go to the hospital. When I returned the following morning, she was no better, maybe even worse. I told her father that she needed to go to see the doctor immediately. When the doctor looked at her chest x-ray and examined her, he decided that she needed to start on TB treatment, IV fluids, and IV antibiotics.
When we walked into the children’s ward, PePe looked afraid. When we put her in a bed, she began to cry, and say that she wanted to go home. The nurse had us move her to another bed in a more private room, when she realized that she would be on TB treatment. So I carried her to the room crying that she wanted to go home. By the time I made it to the room and sat her down, I had to go outside before I started crying myself. That hospital is not a nice place. It is very dreary, dirty and run down. The only bright spot about the children’s ward is the new curtains that were made by Barbara Conti (Patrick’s mom). They are such bright cheerful colors and they really help to brighten the place up a bit.
Susan (one of the cooks from the care point) has been helping to take care of PePe on and off for a while. She stayed with PePe the first night. She then had to go out of town due to a death in her family. So, she found someone else from the community to stay with PePe while she was gone. The care giver must take care of the patient and give her the drugs for AIDS twice daily when they are due. All that the nurses do unfortunately, is pass out other medications.
PePe’s father came to visit, the first or second day that she was there. Susan told me later that he made the statement that he was tired of taking care of this child. Susan told him that she would take care of her, if he would let her. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for taking care of her, yet he doesn’t want her to go with someone else.
It has been almost a week and a half since she was admitted to the hospital. During the first four days she received IV fluids, IV antibiotics, and one unit of blood, because she was very anemic. Now, she is able to hold food, fluids, and her medications down without vomiting. She is no longer receiving IV fluids. She gets an injection each day for TB and she is also taking pills as well. The doctors said that she would need this treatment for 60 days, but that she could go home after a couple of weeks hopefully and just come back daily for the injections. The problem is that we are not sure that her father is giving the medications for AIDS consistently and now we add TB meds that need to be given consistently.
I try to go by and visit her every day or every other day. When she sees me, she starts crying to go home. I saw her on Saturday, she is still fairly weak, but at least she is sitting up now. I took her for a short walk outside of the children's ward and she started crying again that she wants to go home. On Friday, Nthombie and I went to see her and talked with her for a little while. We asked her if she knows what happens to us when we die. Her answer was very sad. She said that we are put in a box and then put in a hole in the ground. I then told Nthombie to explain to her that only our body is placed in the ground, but that our spirit goes to be with Jesus. Nthombie explained, using a stuffed animal angel that we had given to her when she went into the hospital. Nthombie is one of our teachers, she has a special gift from God to talk to children. PePe seemed to understand and be satisfied with that. She is still coughing a lot and I can still hear her lungs cracking and popping when I hold her in my lap. I don't know if she will ever be 100% again, but if we can get her to a point that she can have a good quality of life, and not be in pain, I will be happy.
Please keep PePe in your prayers that God’s will be done in her little life, and that we can show her the love of Jesus in everything that we say and do for her.
Friday, October 20, 2006
We dropped off some of our kids stuffed animals and books for her today. To try and bring some cheer into her room. But in her high fever, I'm not sure how much she even recognizes. We'll visit her again tomorrow and Sunday, and Monday....
Mortality is real. Please pray for Teresa to have words of eternal comfort and peace for Pepe. Pray that Teresa has the strength and courage to be there for Pepe. Pray that Jesus is glorified in this situation.
God intervene in this country! Where is the serpent on the pole to stave off the affliction this country suffers?
Monday, October 16, 2006
Reflecting back on this past week with the Mission of Mercy medical team, we saw over 1700 people in 4 and ½ days. Many people came to know the Lord Jesus as their personal savior, and many were also tested for HIV. It is our primary goal that the spiritual needs of the people are met, and then that their medical needs are met to the best of our ability. It is also extremely important that they know their HIV status. Overall it was a great week, and many people were touched and blessed both spiritually and physically. It was a huge blessing for me to work with such a wonderful team of doctors and nurses, as well as all of the others that were a part of the team. Every person more than pulled their weight and sacrificially gave of themselves over and over. I was able to learn so much from this fantastic group of people. They also worked with and taught our Swazi staff of health care workers so much. Our Swazi health care workers are also a great group of people who also gave of themselves over and over this past week. I am so blessed to have such wonderful people to work with! The whole Children’s Cup team worked extremely hard to make this week a success. We also had other volunteers who helped us interpret, register, and counsel the patients each day. Thank you so much to everyone who was involved!
The first day of the clinics was the most stressful for me, primarily because one of our little ones who has been on treatment for HIV for two years was brought to us in extremely poor condition. As soon as Dr. Beyda saw this one, he was very concerned. She was very anemic, weak, dehydrated, with a high fever and cough. Immediately after hearing her breath sounds, he diagnosed her with pneumonia. He said that she needed IV antibiotics and IV fluids as soon as possible. We didn’t have all of the supplies that we needed for these things to be accomplished, so I got on the phone to get the supplies that we needed. Once we got some Tylenol, fluids, IV antibiotic, and oxygen going, she started to look better and her fever came down. Thank God that this team was here and they were able to save this little girls life. The next day, we gave her more fluids and IV antibiotics. She looked much better, but she was having diarrhea and not eating very well. When we saw her on the third day, we started her on oral antibiotics. On Friday, she looked better, but still not eating much and continuing with diarrhea and fever. We took her to see the doctor at the VCT clinic at RFM hospital. He looked at her chart and saw that the last time she was in, her CD4 count (an indicator of the immune system) was extremely low. It had been up to over 100 and now it was down to 7.4, which means that she has absolutely no immunity. We are afraid that her father, who is sick also, has not been making sure that she takes her medications properly, which would explain the drop in her CD4 count.
One of the ladies that cooks at the Care Point had been taking care of her before, and she was doing very well when she was with her. This lady came with us to the hospital, and I asked her to please take this little one back to her house and take care of her while she is so sick. This little girl is 9 years old and she looks like she is 6. My little girl, Joelle, who is 8 is much bigger than her. She also went with us to the hospital, and she was amazed that this little girl was older than her. As I watched the doctor examine her, I couldn’t help but start to cry, as I thought of how healthy she looked just a couple of months ago, looking at her now, so frail, thin and weak. The doctor at the clinic wants to see her back on Monday, and if she is not any better, he will change her antibiotic and possibly test her for TB. Please help us pray that the Lord will intervene and heal this little one, or if she doesn’t make it through this battle, that we will be able to keep her comfortable until the Lord takes he home to be with him. I need wisdom and strength for the task that is ahead, but I know that my God is able to do more than I could ever ask or imagine.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Madonsa CarePoint and the "Children's Wellness Centre" in Makholweni are essentially complete! With just final touch ups we'll be in good shape for the medical team arriving this weekend. Dr. Beyda and the team will be spending a day at Madonsa, Mangwaneni, Ngwane Park, and Makholweni next week to provide free health care to the children in each community as well as to the community as a whole. What a blessing! A major part of this outreach is having councilors and pastors from the local churches to be available for prayer. We are hoping that besides touching them physically, we'll have a major (and longer lasting) spiritual impact.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I was teaching the health care workers an update on how to do a physical exam and they brought this baby to me to do an exam on. He was full of scabies, and so dirty that I could hardly stand the smell. He needed a clean diaper desperately, but there was not one around. One of the ladies that cooks at the CarePoint is trying to help take care of this baby. When I heard that he was not getting milk, it broke my heart.
This baby is very malnourished. I gave the lady that was helping take care of him some medicine for the scabies, and told her that I would bring some milk. The next day, when I brought the formula and mixed it for him, there was no bottle, so I put it in a cup. The baby gulped the milk from the cup like there was no tomorrow. I wanted to cry, I knew that this little one had not had milk in a long time. I tried to take the cup away, and he reached for it. Milk was going everywhere, but he didn’t care, he wanted that milk. It was gone in no time. I told the ladies at the CarePoint to feed him 5 or 6 times a day while he was there, and send some formula home. Later that week, I came and the baby wasn’t at the CarePoint. They said that the mother showed up and the baby was at home with her. I sent formula home and showed them how to mix it. I pray that we can keep this one healthy and help the family take care of him. I know that the Lord loves this little one more than I can imagine. Please pray for me that I will have the wisdom that I need to know how to handle this situation, and many more like it.
Friday, September 15, 2006
I can remember going into the Spar (supermarket) or CashBuild (Swazi Home Depot) and being so intimidated by everything. Now it’s no big deal. Police roadblocks don’t bother me as much as they irritate me now.
So what have we accomplished in the past year? Teresa has been making weekly visits to the CarePoints to provide basic health care. We’ve taken responsibility for the CarePoints at Makholweni and Madonsa: meeting with the cooks, teachers, and Bible Club teachers to make sure the goals Children’s Cup has set for each area: food, health care, Bible Clubs, informal schooling, and anything else that you can think of. Trying to get each group or individual to work together to meet the needs of the children. And I’ve been the front man for Children’s Cup construction. Now trying to coordinate at two different sites all the material and workers. Doesn’t seem like much when you put it down like that. But I was driving home from Makholweni this evening and all the kids at the CarePoint and all the kids along the road that had already left were laughing, shouting and waving “Bye Bye”, “Bye malungu (white man)”, “Hello how are you”, “I’m fine, how are you”……. Smiling happy kids. Who had a good meal and learned about Jesus. That says a whole lot more than trying to describe what we’ve been “doing” and says a lot about what has been accomplished: by God’s grace only.
I look at the transition our kids have made and am so proud. They were literally thrown into a new environment: new schools, new friends, and new soccer teams. Like us: new everything. They have done exceptionally well. All are doing well in school, if not excelling at a curriculum (if I can say it) is harder than what they had in the States. They’ve started Bible studies, led other students to Christ, and been lights to their campuses. We couldn’t be more proud of them and their witness here.
So where do we go from here? While we are looking forward to visiting family and friends in December, our hearts are set on continuing the work here: to reach more kids and to be there as they grow: to see them reach maturity in Jesus: which is their (and this countries) only hope.
A special thanks to all our friends and family for you prayers and support. We couldn’t have done any of this with out you. We pray God’s richest blessings on each and everyone of you. You share in each victory and blessing here.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
We're back now, the kids start school tomorrow, and we at Children's Cup have to push to complete the CarePoint and Clinic before October.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
We all learned a great deal from Dr. Beyda. One of the things that he focused on was building a covenant relationship with the patients that you see as a health care worker. He not only taught , but modeled by example the things that he taught. He allowed the students to practice doing their physical exams on him, and also allowed them to do an 8 man lift on him from the floor to a table. He was very brave, but they did an excellent job. The students are all very bright and will be great health care workers. They are practicing what they have learned this week. They were so grateful to him for sharing his knowledge with them. They had him sit in a chair and literally lifted him up before the Lord and prayed for him. He was very broken and deeply touched by this.
While Dr.Beyda was here, he diagnosed one child with cerebral palsy, just by observing and assessing him. He is going to send me a physical therapy program for strengthening his legs that we can teach his go-go so that he may be able to walk better with his walker. I was amazed at his vast knowledge. He took the students outside at the CarePoint where the children were playing and had them pick out the sick ones and bring them to him. As he saw them, I took notes, and got medicines for them. He pointed out protein malnutrition in several of the kids. One 22 year old mentally disabled girl had a seizure right in front of us. He diagnosed the type of seizure, and asked to see her medicines so that he could readjust them. This girl was having several seizures a day and always falling on the same side of her head. She had many injuries on that side of her head and eye as well. Dr. Beyda told me to get her a bicycle helmet to protect her head from further injury. He not only shared his knowledge with us, but also his compassionate heart that goes the extra mile to care for those in need. Thanks again to Dr. Beyda for everything!
Update about 3 year old girl from Government Hospital
Remember the 3 year old girl that I have written about before that was terribly sexually abused? She has finally been discharged from the hospital and placed in the Sandra Lee Center, which my friend, Robin runs. I saw her a few weeks ago at a school fair. Some of the students go and get the kids from Ward 8 (abandoned children’s ward) and bring them to activities like this. At that time she was still living in the hospital, and that same scowl was still on her face. We tried to get her to smile, we took her in the jumping castle, but she was not impressed at all. As of last week, Robin was able to take her to her new home, the Sandra Lee Center. She is adjusting beautifully! She is now smiling more than frowning. She loves her new home. If you were to visit, you would find her with a backpack on her back and a baby doll in her arms, playing happily and smiling. She is now getting the love, care, attention, and nutrition that she so desperately needed.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Teresa and I were driving back from Manzini on Wednesday evening and were struck by the view. Blurry picture at 130Km/hr doesn't do it justice.
The "Nurse's Station" we are building at Makholweni is nearing roof level. This project is being funded by Mission of Mercy. We should be able to put up the trusses next week. We are constantly amazed at the level/quality of health care available by the vast majority of the people here in Swaziland. We try to take the care of the people who work with us by taking them to the private clinics. These provide respectable care; but the government run hospitals are "less than optimum". The daughter of one of our Bible Club teachers received second degree burns from her upper thigh to her toes this weekend from boiling water. The government hospital sent her home with panadol (like tylenol) and said come back in two weeks; that was Sunday. No antibiotic, burn treatment, nothing. The picture shows her bandages and swelling on Monday morning. We took her Monday afternoon to the Imphilo Clinic. They took very good care of her. She is going back every two to three days to have the bandages changed, is on an antibiotic, and is doing very well.
We are not trying to provide the level of services the hospitals (are supposed to) provide, or the clinics (although their cost is out of reach of 98% of Swazi's). Our goal is to help provide basic preventative health care to keep the kids at our CarePoints out of the hospital entirely. Please pray that the governmental approval process and funding continues to go smoothly! Pray that God's healing would be evident through each one of us here.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
The 14 people were made up of teachers, Bible club leaders, cooks, and community members. These guys got a lot of information in a three day period. They asked good questions, and really got a lot out of the training. Many of them got tested themselves, which is a step in the right direction. They were very appreciative for the training that they were given and expressed this very sweetly, both to the staff at the clinic and to me. I believe that the information that they gained will help them, not only at the CarePoints, but at their own homes and communities as well. If the people of Swaziland can be taught of the importance of testing and that even if they are positive, it is not the end. Treatment is available and it is free. So many lives can be saved it they will only get tested and start on treatment. The stigma that goes along with being HIV positive here is amazing. It keeps people from being tested and getting treatment. So I think that this training was a wonderful thing, and I am very grateful to Baylor for arranging these sessions and teaching our workers at Children’s Cup.
I tried with all my might to understand the training myself, but since the majority of it was in SiSwati. I had great difficulty following what they were talking about. They wrote on the board in English, so I could follow, while they were discussing those things. As soon as they got off of the subject on the board, I was lost, only picking up a word here and there. It was a blessing to serve these precious workers these three days, as I was in charge of making sure they had food and drink for tea time and lunch time. May God richly bless these precious workers in His field.
Update about 15 year old girl from Madonsa
I mentioned a while back a little 15 or 16 year old girl from one of our new CarePoints (Madonsa). We did a clinic there a few months ago, and when this little girl walked in, we all knew that she was sick. She was very thin, her heart rate was very rapid, and she just looked extremely ill. When we asked her age, and she said 16 we all were amazed, because she didn’t look a day over 10. She had a severe cough, diarrhea, and was very malnourished. We started trying to find out who her family members were, so we could see if we could get her tested. First, I treated her with antibiotics and cough medicine, and we brought her some mealy meal with extra nutrients in it. After about 2 weeks, she was a little bit better, but still not well. I think that I put her on 2 rounds of antibiotics and then we had a meeting with her mother, who also looked sick herself, as well as very thin. We told her that once she finished this second round of antibiotics, it she was not well, we needed to get her to the clinic. Once she completed them, I saw her again, and she had improved, but still was not well. I knew that she needed to be tested. At this point, we explained to her mother that if she wanted us to help her, we needed to take both her and her child to the clinic in Mbabane so they could be tested for HIV. Her mother agreed and we brought her for testing. It turns out that they are both positive. The doctor wants to work on nutrition before starting ARV’s. So he explains the importance of good nutrition and eating many small meals a day. Two weeks later, when she returned, she had gained 2 kg. The doctor was very pleased and now we are waiting for her CD-4 count to come back to see if she needs to start on ARV’s.
It turns out that this little girls’ birthday is April of 1991, which makes her 15. I thought about my own 15 year old daughter who was born March of 1991. I look at this thin little girl, and then at my daughter, who is a great athlete, and is very healthy, and I am very thankful to the Lord for His mercy and grace on us. However, I pray that this little one has a chance to be healthy as well. She has not been able to continue to attend school because she has been so sick. She also has a hearing loss problem which her mom says that she has had since birth. I pray that we can help her to return to a state of health that will allow her to return to school and to live a healthy life.
When I walked into the clinic this past week and this little one saw me and recognized me, it gave me great delight to see the smile light up on her face as she waved to get my attention. I brought some colors and coloring books for her and the other kids to use while they were waiting. It gave me great joy to watch her color a picture of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Then I asked her to write her name on her paper, and she wrote it very neatly and precisely. I have great hope that the Lord will help us to be able to help this little one return to a state of health in which she can return to school and also come to the knowledge of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as well as her mother. Please help me pray for these precious ones that the Lord loves so dearly.