Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Emmanuel's Welcoming Party

September 24, 2014

This past week the hospital hosted a little party to celebrate Emmanuel’s birth.  Originally it was going to be only the operating room and intensive care unit staff, but as you can imagine everyone
came.  Many of the staff have been praying and concerned for my health, so it was good for them to see us coming out. 

One of the pastors gave a dedication and blessing over Emmanuel from Psalm 127:3-4: “Sons are a
Pastor Remy prays for us
heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.”  Then various staff members took turns giving words of blessing and thanksgiving.  We sang a hymn in Swahili.  Warren was given an opportunity to introduce Emmanuel to everyone and explain the significance of his name.  He said just like the meaning of our son’s name, God promises to be with us in difficult and joyous times.  Oftentimes joy and sorrow are experienced together.  He thanked everyone for praying for and supporting us.  He explained that we gave Emmanuel his father’s name “James” as a middle name.  His grandfather was a missionary who has given his life for the spread of the Gospel.  It is our hope that Emmanuel will follow in his footsteps.  Many people affirmed that they hoped our boy would be a missionary.

Dr. Mike, the physician who is responsible for helping to rebuild Nyankunde Hospital after the war, asked to say a few words.  He thanked us for coming to live and work with them, saying that this brought them honor.  He said it was an even greater honor that we had decided to give birth to our child here.  This has been our prayer that people would feel honored and valued and that we want to share life with them.  It was special to look around the room at people who cared
Dr. Mike Upio and staff
for me in the hospital and helped us in various ways.  Our Congolese colleagues have become like family.

Dr. Remy, the head of our health district, said that Emmanuel would always have Congo in his
Dr. Remy

blood.  Dr. Remy said that he will always be able to say, “I was born in Congo” and would belong to this village of Nyankunde.  I think birthplace has a much deeper significance here in Africa than it does for an American.  For the average American, birthplace is just a detail to complete on official documents like passports.

Gifts were then exchanged.  We should have anticipated our gift, given all the noise outside the We also received a wall hanging with Psalm 127:3-4 inscribed in seeds and “Centre Medicale Evangelique” t-shirts.  We were told that after an animal is gifted, extended family and friends are then allowed to hold the baby.  At
Mr. Hairy the goat
conference room window.  Yes, indeed Emmanuel received his first goat!  His name is Mr. Hairy who now lives in our front yard and loves eating my flowers! 
Mama Ruth and Emmanuel
this point Emmanuel was passed around and photos were taken with him.

No party is complete without snacks…so the sodas and doughnuts (mandazis) were passed around last.  It was a special little party for us.  Meaningful to have so many people we know and care about in one room.  We felt honored that we were included in their traditions.  We were touched by everyone’s concern for my health and complete recovery.  It was wonderful to celebrate his precious life with our Congolese friends.

Stay tuned for more tales of a little boy and his family.

Blessings and love,

Lindsey and Warren
Richard and Emmanuel

Friday, September 19, 2014

An Update from the Cooper Family

September 19, 2014

“But as for me, I will sing of your power.  Each morning I will sing for joy about your unfailing love.  For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.  O my strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.”  Psalm 59:16-17

Here I sit almost four weeks after giving birth to our first child with a story to tell.  We have a beautiful
little boy named Emmanuel who loves to eat and is gaining weight like milk is going out of style.  We are so thankful for him.  This has also been the most difficult time of my life, and consequently my husband’s life.  Since having a caesarian-section over three weeks ago, I have been quite sick.  I have required re-interventions to drain an old abdominal bleed whose cause is unknown.  My intestines did not function for about two weeks.  There were days that I struggled physically to get out of bed.  I have experienced a lot of different kinds of pain and have become good at describing it.  I have needed help bathing and transferring.  I needed a steady arm to ambulate.  I have felt weak and wanted to do more to care for our beautiful baby.  Everyday I looked for “small victories,” but some days I struggled to find them.  Sometimes the day ended with me simply knowing that God was with me.  He knew my struggle and was able to catch my tears.  I am about 25pounds lighter (some of that is the baby!) and so thankful to be able to eat good food again for the past week.  I am thankful to be able to take over more of the care for Emmanuel.  I am on the mend, thanks be to God.

Through all of this, my husband Warren has been both an amazing new dad and husband.  He has stayed up with Emmanuel for nighttime feedings.  He has taken very good care of me, from the c-section to managing my complications with the Congolese doctors here.  He has challenged me to do
 A common event in our household
the difficult things, like moving despite the pain.  He has put in IVs and made it possible for me to be cared for at home, albeit one evening that he spent with me in the hospital.  I have been grateful for my dear nursing friend Heather who been a constant encouragement and prayer partner, faithfully taken my vital signs, cooked me good food, and helped me adjust to being a new mom.  I am grateful to Heather’s husband and mother who have also been present in a supportive role.  We have many Congolese friends and colleagues who have visited and prayed for us.  I am grateful to a missionary friend who gave me his blood when I was in need.  We have other missionary friends who have shared their food and prayed with us.  I am grateful to the doctors and nurses at CME-Nyankunde who gave me anesthesia, took my vital signs, did home visits, and delivered medications and drew labs at the house.

It has been very significant to the Congolese that Emmanuel was born here at Nyankunde.  They say “he is one of us!”  The vegetable ladies (ladies who sell vegetables in front of the hospital) have been calling him “Nyankunde.”  It used to be that many missionaries had their babies here, but it has been many years.  We want the local people to know that this village is safe now and that we believe a new day has come.  It seems funny that giving birth to a baby could help give people hope, but I believe it can.

We chose to name our baby Emmanuel which means “our God with us.”  This has been a good choice
Me and Emmanuel
of names.  There have been many times these last few weeks that I have been reminded of the simple fact that God is with us.  He is our refuge and in Him we put our trust.  Even as I received a very disorienting medication called ketamine for a procedure, when I did not know who or where I was I had our little boy’s name in my mind: “Emmanuel, our God is with us.”  I knew it was God who gave me this consolation when I needed it so desperately.  He wanted me to know that He was with me and that I did not need to be afraid.  I needed that.

Many of you have wondered how we are doing, so this is an update as we are emerging from a challenging time.  Give thanks to the Lord with us for health and recovery and for the amazing blessing of children.  We need your prayers as I (Lindsey) continue to recover.  Stay tuned as our next posting will be about the hospital's celebration of Emmanuel's birth, a really special time.  Can you guess the gift we received for giving birth in this little village?