Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April showers will bring May flowers

Looking back at this past year, April was my favorite month.  Everything is green and lush and it rains almost everyday.  Fields are being planted all around us and people are hard at work.  When it rains here, it really rains!  Our garden is flourishing and we are harvesting vegetables on a daily basis for dinner.  We plan to plant peanuts in the the field behind our house this week...rather with our hospital work we will pay a group of people to prepare the ground for planting.  

Our newest Warren-designed oven

March finds me more than halfway through my pregnancy (22 weeks)!  It is such a
My little baby bump

miracle to watch a baby growing and developing inside of you.  It is such a slow but certain process.   I am finally certain when the baby is kicking and moving about.  I am incredibly thankful for my good health and plenty of fresh
foods to eat.  All I have experienced is fatigue; it is more difficult to work all day long without sitting down.  I plan to slowly reduce my hours as the pregnancy progresses. 

I often wonder what kind of parents will we be.   I know how to take care of a child’s medical and emotional needs, but I have never had my own child. There are so many unknowns. Who will this little person be?  What will they be good at?  We're getting more and more excited about what the future holds.  I can identify a bit with Mary when she says "My soul magnifies the Lord...may it be onto me as you have said. ". We want to be good parents who point to the Lord in all we do and say.  We leave the rest up to Him.  He already knows who this child will be and is our job to trust Him and not worry too much.

Being pregnant in a different culture that my own is an interesting experience.  Overall I would say that pregnancy is a private affair here....in fact most people do not announce their pregnancies.  I have told a few people, but I know the word spreads rapidly.  This is so different than American culture where
everyone celebrates upcoming babies with showers, gender revelation parties, and excitement.  Maybe pregnancy is such a regular part of life here.  Most women here spent most of their adult lives raising children and having babies.  Babies come and babies go with infant mortality as high as it is.  Maybe women don't want to set their hopes too high.  I do miss being able to rejoice and wait in expectation
alongside family and friends.  In a funny way, I miss being able to announce something to a group of people.  Warren and I share much of this together as we look at weekly ultrasounds and see the baby's physique taking shape.

Pediatrics is as busy as ever.  Most days I am responsible for about 50 patients.  I care for more patients on a daily basis than I would ever have in the states.  This past week I diagnosed two children with tuberculosis, one of the spine and yet another case with meningeal involvement.  Our nutrition program
is "hopping!"  This month Samaritan's Purse is starting up community nutrition care groups for at-risk children and their families.  We are hoping to provide community follow-up to those being discharged from the hospital nutrition program.  This will involve community gardening and hopefully engage the fathers in field preparation. Last week the SP team was doing a community assessment in a nearby
community and was led to the home of a new mom and her twins struggling to survive.  The woman was too weak to stand and needed to be transported to the road for emergency evacuation.  I am convinced that this little family would have died.  Pray for them.  The babies
are gaining weight and looking stronger everyday.  They are not out of the woods yet.

This last month I said "goodbye" to a little girl named Anifa.  She had been under my care for much of the year for her advanced skin condition pemphigus vulgaris.  She experienced many complications related to the side effects of steroids and was more and more debilitated.  The family could see that it was time to shift gears and go home.  She spent five days out of the hospital before going to her
eternal home.  Her mother visited us today in pediatrics and told us the last thing Anifa said before she died was that she could hear children singing.  She said that she wanted to join them.  I love the thought of children welcoming Anifa to heaven, it brings tears to my eyes every time.  DR Congo was not Anifa's home, she was only passing through.  I am thankful for the healing that took place within her family as they rallied around her during her last months.  May the Lord give us the eyes to see the significance of our lives and cherish our days.

Nyankunde Hospital is undergoing a rebirth.  It is a Congolese mission hospital 
once again, this time run by nationals and the local church and not ex-pats as
it once was.  Many buildings in the area are still in shambles from the war but 
many have been re-built.  People who once lived here come back to see the
renewal and life starting again.  People cry, they reminisce..."I used to live
here, " or "I was born here."  For many there still is a significant fear
factor, some do not want to live here again because of the memories, but overall
life abounds once again.  Nyankunde is a prospering village again, the people
continue to struggle with food security but they have plans for the future. 
There are more fields being cultivated this year than last and we have to fight
to keep our small garden plots.  Now displaced peoples take shelter in
Nyankunde.  It is exciting to be part of the changes happening here, the
training of Congolese doctors and nurses again.  We see people from all over
eastern DRC for a diagnosis and treatment.  We see our share of heartaches and
many with advanced disease.  It is my prayer this next year that the spiritual
ministry here continues to grow, and that we would be known for this.

We have a beautiful young pup named Rosie, a bull mastiff.  She is growing by leaps and bounds and
Rosie at about 9 weeks old
is 12 weeks old.  She doubled her weight this past month and is about 12kg!  She was so small at first that I insisted we keep her enclosed from the threat of owls at night.  I no longer fear the owls!  She is lots of fun and already knows “sit” and is learning “come.”  She has no fear of goats or pigs and approaches everything with a curious spirit.  Most passer-bys pass to the other side of the road when they see us coming with one phrase: “mama wey.”  We are spending lots of time with her and exposing her to lots of new things.  She loves picking everything up, eating bugs, chewing shoes, and eating fish and Goma cheese rind.  We are thankful to have a dog again.  We hope that we can train her well before the baby comes in August. 

Rosie now at 12weeks of age

We are grateful for your support and interest in our lives.  It is a privilege to serve here and see God at work. 

Some prayer requests:
 1) Pray for the health of our baby we wait with anticipation.  Pray that God would continue to give us joy in this season of preparation.
2)   Pray for our future plans to serve in Congo to become clear.  This is a logistically challenging place to live and work.
3)   Pray for a profitable time at an upcoming medical conference in Greece at the end of April/beginning of May and for the week following that we will spend with Warren’s parents.  Greece here we come!
4)   Pray for the many medical challenges we face daily and for insight into the spiritual needs of patients and families.  Pray that Jesus would be known here at Centre Medical Nyankunde.
5)   Pray for humility of spirit and service as we treat and work alongside our Congolese colleagues.


Lindsey and Warren Cooper
Pediatrics team
A night with Dr. Chantal before her departure to Bunia.  We miss her.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are so awesome! Thanks for all your hard work. I love keeping up with you and seeing all the incredible impact you're making in the DRC. Praying for all of you and missing the Coopers! P.S. - Rosie is ADORABLE and I am obsessed.