It has been a while - forgive me for the delay between now and my last update. There has been quite a lot going on here the last few weeks!
You may remember the catholic orphanage I spoke of in a previous update. There is a group of 4 columbian nuns who run an orphanage in a village quite near to us. We often work with these nuns as they bring the orphans into our hospital when they need care. I’ve grown to love these women their heart to serve and the work they do. In February, a group of armed men (reported self proclaimed jihadists) kidnapped Gloria - one of the nuns - and she has not been heard from since. Kidnappings are not new to Mali, but this has been the farthest south and felt closest to home since we know Gloria. I ask that you join me in continuing to pray for Gloria - wherever she may be - for her safety and her release. God is sovereign and cares deeply for Gloria. Pray for the men who kidnapped her. Pray that she is a light to them, and that they will come to know the power of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Malaria strikes again...
I have been quite sick the last couple months. I’ve had malaria a couple times with recurring fevers. I had an allergic reaction to one of the medications used to treat malaria and broke out in a rash all over my body, and honestly I have had weeks on end of feeling physically very run down. I’ve felt much better after this last malaria treatment - praise God! Please pray for my health to continue to improve, and for me to continue to lean on God when times are difficult even when health doesn't improve. I am so grateful for all of your prayers!
Your friendly neighbourhood mechanic...
One thing I love about Koutiala, is the neighborly love of this community. Many times I’ve been able to count on the aid of a stranger to lend a hand. Mariam and I set out for church on 2 motos one Sunday morning. We brought with us 2 women - long term patients from our hospital - who were wanting to join us for church. Halfway to church, in the midst of acres of cotton fields, my moto died. I couldn’t get it going again with all the usual fixes. Before we could decide what to do next, I had 5-6 people around me all trying to get my moto started again. No one could get it moving. One man came out from the cotton field, and said he was a mechanic. After he discovered I needed a new spark plug, he sent a young man to take the spark plug out of HIS own moto to replace mine. I was then able to go buy and replace that spark plug and return it to the man in the middle of the cotton field. Something that could have felt frustrating or turned into a really long walk home, turned into such a nice way to meet a new group of people, and make a new community of friends on my route to church. One little boy came and sat with me under a tree and gave me “advice”. He had a very serious, concerned, cute little facial expression and waved his little finger at me over and over. I later learned he was saying… “Listen white girl - you just run as fast as you can and push your moto and it will get started again, so you better run really fast”… haha!
At the hospital, I have been wanting to better get to know the Malian nurses and nurses aids that I work with in pediatrics each day. Each day I rotate working with all 4 different “équipes” (or teams). Each shift the same team works together, which usually consists of 1-2 nurses and 4-5 nurses aids. They rotate which days of the week they work, but they always work with the same team. Most of these teams have worked together for long periods of time. This last month, my roommate, Mariam, and I invited over each team for a dinner and game night. It was a wonderful time to get to know my colleagues better and get to laugh and have fun with them outside of work. I am thankful as I continue to learn French, little by little I am better able to communicate with the nurses, and have even begun making good friends. These peds teams are my co-laborers to share Christ with the patients we serve in the hospital. Pray that we join together in the mission to make Jesus famous in all we do each day in the patients we serve; that we would work together and boldly proclaim Jesus.
Never thought that would happen...
A few fun random happenings around here have included a visiting vet team that “fixed” our pets on the front porch of a neighbors yard. Ray has been fixed, and the vet taught me how to intubate her and get her IV going. There are a couple things I never thought I’d do haha. (And yes she is healthy and alive haha :)
One day riding my moto home from work, I passed by a couple young boys on horseback. We don’t see too many horses in our town, as donkeys are most often used for work. I spoke with the boys, made a few freinds, and they let me take one of their horses for a ride! I was thankful for this afternoon as it felt like a little piece of home in Texas to be able to go for a quick “trail ride” in the middle of the afternoon.
Pastor Enoch’s orphans have found a good home to live with enough space, and have enough money to pay rent and supply milk/food for the little ones this next year in the interim before the big property becomes available for an actual orphanage. Thank you for your generosity! Pray for the ladies and family members caring for these little ones day in and day out. Praise God, a local Malian family has decided to adopt one of the older girls and provide a home for her! Adoption here is not common as it is very costly to add another family member to an already usually big family. Praise God for a willing heart to provide for these kiddos. The 3 youngest babies had been in and out of the hospital often the end of last year, and one (Marie Elizabeth) was very sick. They are all doing well now and gaining weight. Pray for their health and for them to come to know the Lord as they grow.
She is one my local freinds here in Mali, who I’ve grown close to. She is helping me learn French, and I am helping her learn English. We meet each week to practice French/English, and lately we have had some time to hang out do some fun things together. She has taught me to make “ouijila” which is this amazing steamed bread dipped in sauce (most often with fish) common in the North of Mali. She is a part of a theatre group in school and I’ve seen one of her plays - she is very talented! We have also been to the “coiffure” (hair salon) to have our hair braided (moro moro - long twist braids with added hair mesh). Because pourquoi pas (why not)! Some of my favorite times here have been spent chatting in her courtyard with her and her family. Her family is precious, and has even become like family to me. Zeina and her family are part of the majority religion here - please pray they come to know the loving, saving power of Jesus, and that I would bodly share the hope that is within me because of our Savior. I would love more than anything for my new family to experience the Truth.
Lessons from Leah:
Meet Leah. She has a progressive cancer that needs chemo and radiation, of which we can only provide the chemo. This little girl and her family have completely captured my heart the last few months she has lived in our hospital. When she arrived she barely spoke and her father carried her around. She had a massive tumor on her face, that made it difficult to eat or talk. After several rounds of chemo she perked up and easily became the liveliest little girl I’ve met here in Mali so far. The tumor left her blind, but that never stopped her from seeing the beauty in life. Each morning on rounds, Leah was the highlight of my morning. She wanted to sing/clap/dance with the nurses and docs and praise the Lord. She would get everyone singing, laughing and dancing with her. Her joy was infectious! Every day she would grab our hands and tell us how “beautiful or pretty” we were, how “beautiful” her little baby brother was, or tell us how much she was eating. Remember Leah is blind. She has taught me a few things….
1 Beauty is not always seen with your eyes
2 Joy does not need to depend on your circumstance
3 Even if you are suffering - it is completely possible to be the one
giving joy and life to everyone around you - in the way she brought
me joy each day!
Leah left this earth yesterday to be with her heavenly father. We always asked Leah if she knew Jesus, of which she always said yes and seemed to understand His love for her. Pray for her family as they travel home without their sweet Leah. I praise God for the joy and life she brought to us working in the hospital, and the lessons she taught me.
2 Corinthians 4:7-11
But we have these treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be also revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
I grow to understand more and more I am/we are simply jars of clay. Fragile, breakable, moldable. It is not who we ARE or what we can provide in this earthly body that brings our worth - we are simple jars of clay; but what we carry inside - the power of the resurrected living God - is where our strength comes from. HE is worth all the glory & honor and is worth giving our whole heart and life to serve. It is Him - giving us that strength - that allows us to continue to live in this broken world filled with death and sickness and keep going. When friends are kidnapped, babies and sweet little cancer patients are dying, and malaria won't seem to go away - the reason we continue to serve is knowing we are living for a king who has already conquered death. A God and king who is bigger than fear and greater than sickness.