Monday, May 29, 2017

Pomegranates at last!

May 28, 2017

Have you ever waited a long time for something?  Then in the waiting, you forget about what you
were waiting for....until that something happens.  You may wonder what I am talking about...Well I am talking about waiting for my pomegranate tree to grow and produce fruit!  After about 4 years, my bush finally produced its' first fruit!  It was so sweet and special...partly because I forgot all about it!  It is funny to eat it and say, "I waited four years for this!"  There must be a life lesson in here somewhere.  I am just glad I planted the little seedling and now we can enjoy the benefits.

We took a little trip to Bogoro Falls to celebrate Mother's Day and our wedding anniversary.   It is an absolutely stunning landscape looking out over Lake Albert separating us from Uganda.  We took a little hike up a riverbed to the falls and enjoyed splashing around a bit.  It is always fun to find a little adventure.  We are grateful to God for seven years of marriage and pray for many more.
Bogoro Falls

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  This morning I was reminded that the Lord is sufficient for our everyday needs, and how desperately I need to be fed.  We can't go without food for very long.  I was reminded that the Lord wants us to go from strength to strength and to not wear ourselves out.  Like the prophet Elijah, the Lord invites us to rest and have our needs met.  Lately I have been reminded of how human I am.  Working faster and seeing more patients during malaria season is tough!  It is hard to see 50 patients as a part-time pediatrician and feel like you are doing the best you can for each.  It is hard to walk by little bundles after the children die from severe anemia or malnutrition.  I do it almost every.  It is not fair and my heart breaks every time.  It can be a tough balance between work and home and I am so grateful for our nanny Maziga who helps me.  Emmanuel teaches me so much about love, patience, consistency, and gentleness and I pray that this will make me a better doctor.
Learning a few things about elephant grass

It's planting season

Challenge of Caring in Remote Locations
I am caring for a very special young girl named Jemima with nephrotic syndrome (a kidney disease where you lose protein in the urine) that I think has been caused by tuberculosis.  She has been in the hospital for the last 4months and has become dependent on steroids to control her disease.  Her medical regime is just too complicated to follow at home, so we wait for a drug called “tacrolimus” which was special ordered from India.  I hope to receive the medication this week and start it in hopes of tapering her steroids slowly.  This drug has made quite the journey, as it is simply not available in central Africa. 

  •       I contact a nephrology and critical care colleague about this patient. 

  •       A colleague in Ohio special orders Tacolimus from India with plans to hand-carry the drug into Congo.  We hope that it will arrive in time.

  •       My colleague’s children get sick and have to delay their flight to Congo by 3days, during which time the drug arrives.

  •       Flight from the USA to Kinshasa

  •       Lindsey contacts about 6 people with various connections to Kinshasa.  Samaritan’s Purse agrees to help coordinate the transport of this medication.

  •       Since there is no official mail system, UNHCR contacted to carry the drug across the Congo from Kinshasa to Bunia.

Pray for Jemima-for this drug to arrive and for recovery from nephrotic syndrome.

Life at Home
These last few weeks we have had personal health issues.  Warren was sick with malaria for about a week.  It is about the sickest I have ever seen him.  For the first time, I had to put an IV in my husband and administer IV medications.  Then this last week Emmanuel took a nose-dive off a chair fracturing his clavicle.  As he usually does he kept asking me to kiss the injury, but it just kept hurting.  After about a dozen kisses I told Warren, “ I think he broke his clavicle.”  Sure enough, a  greenstick fracture with point tenderness.  Poor guy.  It has slowed him down a little, but not too much!  Now I am just hoping that he doesn’t fall again.
Add caption

Emmanuel has started preschool with other kids of employees of our hospital.  He is learning words and songs in French everyday.  This is good for his social development to play with other Congolese kids everyday.  He is already using some new words and counting in French.  It is interesting to hear him choose to say certain words in French or Swahili, even if he knows the English word.  Language learning is a fascinating process.  We realize that he is learning on his own curve and how important it is to be intentional about language learning.  It is more difficult for kids hearing multiple languages, but then they are really learning several languages at once.  Some days a giraffe is a giraffe, other days it is a twiga.  Some days a cow is a cow, other days a ngombe.

Prayer Requests
We continue to care for the needy population of Nyankunde and know that this is where God has called us to be. 
  •        Pray for us to find our daily hope and strength in Jesus Christ.  It can be tiring and not so glamorous. 
  •        Pray for the rehabilitation of one of our hospital wards to be complete soon and for the staff working so hard and at great sacrifice. 
  •       Pray for our new administration as they provide leadership and accountability. 
  •       Pray most of all that the name of the Lord would be glorified in and through our lives.
  •       Pray for surgical coverage towards the end of the year/early 2018.
  •     Pray for our teammates as they return to the US for fundraising and family time.

Blessings in Him,

Lindsey for the Coopers

Our pretty dog Cocoa

The youngsters

Our team members the Larochelles headed back to the USA

With our friends and colleages in the treehouse

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Holy Week and Falconry

April 18, 2017
The three rafikis, "friends"
Holy Week Tragedy
This week started out with tragedy.  As we had returned from a church service on Palm Sunday, we read the news that two Coptic churches in Egypt had been targeted by ISIS bombings.  The liturgy had begun and the choir was chanting the Lord’s prayer.  “Our Lord who art in heaven.  Hallowed by thy name.  Thy kingdom come, they will be done.  On earth as it…..”  The remainer of the liturgy was completed by this choir “in heaven.”  This event really shook me up this past week.  I lived in worked in Tanta, Egypt, a few years ago.  I had Coptic friends and colleagues.  They told me how difficult life was, how they felt discriminated against.  The hospital recounted the challenges of starting up a Christian nursing school…My heart aches for Egypt and the many martyrs.  I kept thinking, Jesus must be coming soon.  This kind of thing is too dark and evil.

Suffering is not new in the church.  Jesus suffered as much as a man can suffer.  Humiliation, wrong accusations, separation, betrayal, pain, temptation, abandonment by those that loved Him the most.  Jesus knows the depth of the human condition and suffering.  Somehow this is a consolation that these Coptic Christians were not alone.  There are a lot of things that don’t make much sense on this side of heaven.  But regardless of what we are going through, our God, Emmanuel, walks with us.  He knows and He cares so much for people who are suffering.

The week ended with the hope of the resurrection and the celebration of Easter.  This year I was reminded how much I need to struggle to really understand who Jesus is and was.  I need to hear and receive the Good News regularly.  I am often slow to believe God’s promises even after hearing them clearly.  The disciples struggled to understand Jesus’ words when he talked about his death and resurrection.  Jesus appeared to people after the resurrection and many did not recognize him.  He was not what they expected.  After hearing his voice Mary called Him “Rabboni,” or Teacher.  Thomas needed to touch his hands and side and then calls him, “My Lord and my God!”  Everyone had different responses to seeing Jesus again, but what is common is that everyone had to experience His presence in some way. 

How do we experience the presence of Jesus in our everyday lives?  Through the poor…the needy…children…our spouses…through the Word of God.  We desperately need to seek out these experiences that bring us closer to Jesus so we can see, hear, and touch Him. 

On the homefront
There is always something new going on at our house.  This last week my husband has decided to take up falconry!  Last week we rescued a baby falcon who fell out of his nest, unable to fly.  All week we thought it was an eaglette, but on closer inspection it is definitely a falcon.  It is learning to fly, but does not yet have the ability to fly independently yet.  He tried to kill a mouse, but couldn’t quite do it, so the cat did it.  It seems that falcons eat only raw meat (and insects)!  In the US falconry requires a certificate acquired after two years of apprenticeship…in the Congo no such laws apply.  It should be an interesting process.  His name is Nimrod, a old testament character who is known to be a great hunter.  Stay tuned for more adventures with Nimrod as he learns to fly!

In other news, Emmanuel has a baby cat named Fiona.  He loves this cat so much and carries it around everywhere.  He likes to feed it milk and identify it’s ears, tail, and feet.  He hugs (more like squeezes) and kisses it until it runs away.

At the hospital
The nurses at the hospital went on strike two weeks ago due to delayed and reduced salary.  It has been a rough couple of months and the surgery department has not been very busy due to Warren’s absence in Iraq.  Hopefully things will be back on track soon and morale improves.  Keep Nyankunde Hospital in your prayers as we go through difficult economic times and the staff struggles to provide for their families.

Easter Celebrations

Yesterday we hosted an Easter egg hunt in the rain.  It’s funny because it hasn’t rained much for a couple of months and we are experiencing a serious drought.  .Just when it was time for the egg hunt, the rain started to fall!  The kids had a good time regardless.  It is my hope that they begin to associate spiritual meaning to the joy of searching and finding…to the beauty of the season of new life.  Here are a few photos from our Sunday morning service and Easter egg hunt…

Sunday morning sunrise service

Anna telling the resurrection story to the kids

Making rice crispie chicks

We'll miss you Martin family

Do you see any adults having fun?

He looks thrilled about the prep work!

Celebrating Victories in the Malnutrition Program
We recently had a special celebration of God's blessings in the malnutrition program.  Women and children were given the opportunity to give testimonies of what God was doing in their lives.  It was wonderful to hear about their special needs being met in the form of community, housing, farming, basic needs.  These women really see that God is their provider.

Specifically we gathered to honor women who were admitted and cured of malnutrition in 2016.  We had five graduates of the nutrition program, most if not all in the postpartum period.  Nursing their babies and pregnancy was too much of a stress on their bodies.  The ladies had new dresses for the occasion (see two of them pictured below).  We prepared mandazis (doughnuts) by hand and served drinks to all in attendance.  A good time was had by all!

Mama Ruth and Alice preparing mandazis

Ruth showing me how it is done

I rolled & fried these doughnuts myself

Noella and Bolini in their colorful new attire

We ask for your prayers as we continue to believe what God is doing here in Nyankunde.  
-Pray that we would provide spiritual care for people in great need.  
-Pray that we would be known for making Jesus known (and our good medical care).  
-Pray for the difficult financial times that we find ourselves in.  Pray for our colleagues who are struggling to put food on the table.
-Pray that the radical life of Jesus would cause us to live sacrificial lives for others.
-Thank God for the beginning of rainy season and hopefully the start of a good planting season.

Blessings and love,
Lindsey (for the Coopers)

Warren's other job...keeping this tractor running!
Mango season has begun!!!  I have no idea how many mangoes this kid eats while I am at work.😀

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Together in Thailand

March 16, 2017

Back from Iraq and Time in Asia
Warren is back from Iraq.  It is good to be back home together!  Thank you for your many prayers,   It is not easy being apart and for me to parent alone.  He is still working through some of his experiences.  I am so grateful that he was able to offer his surgical and leadership skills.  We continue to pray for the work of the field hospital and liberation of Mosul.  He is catching up on his “chronic disasters” here in Congo.  There is no lack of challenge here!
Thank you for your responses to our blog, and support during Warren’s time in Iraq.

We just returned from a medical conference in Asia and vacation in Thailand.  It was my first time to visit Asia!  Bangkok is a huge city, and quite easy it is to get around by train/plane/automobile/tuk-tuk.  Emmanuel ate at McDonalds for the first time in his life.  I kept saying, “it is so modern!”  I am not sure what I was expecting.  As always, it was a huge encouragement to meet together with other physicians from around the world and attend great lectures.  Emmanuel made lots of friends and rode an elephant.  What more could a kid want?  

We enjoyed several days in a place called Krabi on the coast of Thailand.  We did some snorkeling and playing on the beach.  Now Emmanuel has a better idea about where fish live, as there are not any bodies of water close to where we live.  We ate lots of padthai and fresh coconut.  We are grateful
Visiting the reclining Buddha in Bangkok

Thai style

"Look Mom, I'm under the fish!"

for these experiences together, as Emmanuel discovers his world.

Emmanuel loves having his Daddy back!  It is really special to see the relationship they have.  They could blow bubbles for hours (guess who gets bored first?) or make silly noises/gestures.  I know that he admires his Daddy and one day he will understand what he does everyday to “help people” when he rides away on his motorcycle.  I am grateful for all the wonderful experiences our son is able to have in the village:  playing with kittens, caring for his chickens, picking flowers, playing in the treehouse, collecting guavas, and stomping in the rain barefooted.  I hope that he will have great memories of his early years and the flexibility we have enjoyed as a family.  It is so nice to work close to home…everything is only a walk away.

I keep learning the same lessons over and over, like the fact that kids thrive on routine.  I can tell when Emmanuel feels stressed from traveling because he starts sucking on his shirt and wanting to be held more.  He loses his patience and gets more aggressive, especially when he can’t communicate (or understand) all his needs.  Our son is a picky eater and this all gets amplified when we travel.  He eats best in his own chair in his own house, in his own particular way.  So it is great to be home here in Congo again.

We are so grateful to have the support of so many friends and family members.  We need you!

Blessings and love,
Elephants can paint!!!

Vacationing with our friends the Bartons

Making Thai friends

Krabi, Thailand

Swimming in the warm blue waters!

Emmanuel's first haircut
The lunch choices were endless