Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Advent Greetings & Prayers for Congo

Nebo the parrot has met his match!

December 20th, 2016

 Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is upon us!  We continue to be blessed by our missionary community here…you wouldn’t have believed the grandeur of our Thanksgiving feast.

Well yesterday was the long-awaited day for Congo, December 19th, the end of Kabila’s “reign.”  This was the planned election year, however an election was never organized.  It seems that Kabila wanted to change the Constitution to stay in office…apparently this is a common occurrence in African countries.  We continue to pray for a peaceful transfer of power and upcoming election.

We are in throes of “toddlerdom.”  Living with a 2-year old is a bit of a frenzy!  In a 2 minute time period, Emmanuel can be taking ornaments off the tree, throwing the cat,  pumping the “pump soap” all over the floor, drawing chalk scribbles on the cement, taking shoes off, climbing into the back of the car, dragging his airplane all over the place.  We are working on listening, obedience, and rewarding his behavior consistently.  His joy is tangible,
and laughter contagious.  It is fascinating to hear him say phrases for the very first time.  For all of you that work with children overseas, Looney Tunes, is really funny for all ages and crosses language barriers.  We love Chip and Dale, the chipmunks who talk really fast!

Christmas Preparations

Christmas overseas looks different than it does in the United States.  Sweets (cookies, candies, eggnog) are an unknown to people here, and definitely non-essential.  I was talking with a Congolese friend today who was looking forward to eating meat (if possible) and a meal of foo-foo and cassava
Carrying the Christmas tree home
leaves.  A Congolese Mama really wanted me to buy her beans so that she could afford the work on her Christmas dress.  Christmas is more of a time of coming together as family and sharing food and song.  I am hoping to learn some Swahili Christmas carols this year. 

Christmas takes a bit of planning…gifts are either made or purchased a year ahead of time.  It is little things that I look forward to.  I buy butter, a luxury, to make shortbread cookies and will try Norwegian rosettes again this year.  We have a couple of small Christmas trees, an Advent calendar, nice candles, and Christmas bears.  It is always nice to break out my Christmas piano music.  I appreciate the simplicity of Christmas here.  Commercialism has not arrived to Congo.  It is fun to find new traditions as a family and to see Christmas again through the
Joys of decorating the tree

eyes of a child.

We enjoyed celebrating Christmas together with our team of Congolese and ex-patriate team of practitioners.  They are a great bunch.
Junior, Deborah, Tim, Job, Alice, and Faustin

As a family we are blessed and we want to share what we have with others.  I am reminded to give of myself and not store up treasures on earth.  I want to help people live healthier, more stable lives.  We do miss our family and friends back home greatly at the holidays.  We really do appreciate receiving your greetings by mail/email/phone calls.  Thanks in advance for remembering your missionary friends.

Pediatrics and Research
When coming overseas I did not imagine being involved in clinical research.  I have been working with Mayo clinic on a research study looking at systematizing our care of ICU patients.  We are finding a significant difference in morbidity and mortality as we have adopted a new system for completeness of rounding.  The improvements in mortality are especially remarkable for the malnourished population.  It is our hope to share these results that I believe can really improve care of the most vulnerable children in Congo and elsewhere.  It is a reminder that good nutrition is a major factor in survival.

Thank you
We appreciate your emails and support since our last newsletter.  I am reminded often that our work on the field is interdependent.  We really do need your encouragement!

·      Pray for this Congo as we are in uncertain political times.  Pray that unnecessary lives would not be lost.  Pray for a democratic process.  Pray that the reconciliation talks led by the Catholic church would be productive this week.

·      Pray for the world, for Aleppo, for Mosul, for so many places suffering from war and disease.

·      Pray for Samaritan’s Purse deployment of a field hospital to Iraq to respond to the medical needs there.

·      Pray that we would represent Christ well in our medical work and words.  Pray for the various evangelistic campaigns in our area this Christmas, that people would invite Jesus to be part of their lives.

Have a blessed Christmas!  Slow down, smell the evergreens and love well!


Lindsey and Warren Cooper
Emmanuel at the market.  I think he found every umbrella, much to the amusement of all the ladies.

A different umbrella
Emmanuel and his friend Jonas

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October Birthday Celebrations

October 11, 2016

Greetings and happy fall from Nyankunde!  Our BIG news these past few weeks is that we have a new baby African grey parrot named Nebo.  Emmanuel is having lots of fun playing with him and learning how to feed him.  

True Religion
I was so encouraged by one of my Congolese brothers last week who works in partnership with the health center.  I shared previously about a young girl named Neema, age 3, with tuberculosis who is walking for the first time.  She was discharged from the hospital 2 weeks ago and has been followed by a community health worker on a regular basis.  We have been ensuring that the family has food to eat, a dry place to lay their heads, and are taking their medications.  This is truly a vulnerable family, a widow and her daughter who is severely visually impaired with her children.  They have essentially little to no resources. 

My Congolese brother has offered to share one of his fields for this family to cultivate, as well as room to build a modest dwelling.  It is so encouraging to see a national make this sacrifice for someone who can’t do anything to repay them.  It is the Lord who sees such actions and will bring blessings a 100-fold for our modest investments.  This is true religion, to share with those in need and to help widows in their distress.  This is quite possibly one of the greatest highlights of my time here at Nyankunde…to see a family get back on their feet and to see people love each other so deeply from the heart and in doing so, love Jesus.  If the world would really take this commandment seriously, so many problems would be solved. 

James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted from the world.”

Celebrating Birthdays
Just in time for our birthdays (yes, we share the same day) my husband has completed an amazing tree house in a nearby mango tree.  It is essentially a big deck up in a tree with shade underneath.  He even installed a table and light up in the tree for hosting treehouse meals. There will be a railing all the way around it to keep kids safe.  He is a bit of an engineer/architect and is able to see design in the world around him. I am so grateful for his gifts and industrious spirit to make everything just a little nicer around him.  We hosted a birthday party in our treehouse for six Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) missionaries who have birthdays within a week of one another.  It was a good excuse to celebrate fall as well with mango pie, pumpkin cake, and spicy chili!  I am finding that I do miss the seasons, especially the colors and cool nights of fall.  I received two guinea fowl for my birthday from Warren, now added to our collection of outdoor chickens.  It remains to be seen whether they will “fly the coop.”  This was truly a unique birthday gift!

Our family is headed to Uganda with one of the other doctors, for a few days of rest, enjoying nature, and to make some necessary purchases for the hospital.  It has been a busy season and the best way to get a break is to leave Nyankunde.  Stay tuned for the fun and exciting adventures, maybe some zebras and giraffes!

-Pray for our short vacation in Uganda, that it would be restful and an encouraging time as a family.

-Please pray for peace in the Congo, as we are supposed to have an election for President on December 19th.  There has been a lot of violence in Kinshasa, as the election proceedings have been far from planned.

-Pray for our son Emmanuel to make great progress in his language acquisition (English, Swahili, and French).

-Pray that we would meet the spiritual needs of our patients.

If you would like to be on our postal mailing list or receive a prayer card, please send us an email and we will be happy to be in touch:  warrenandlindsey@gmail.com.


Lindsey for the Coopers

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Passionfruit Harvest in September

September 6, 2016

Joy and sorrow.
This past week our hearts have been heavy as we learned of the death of a close friend after a serious accident.  We have also lost many patients lately.  It is pause to consider what we are doing with our lives that really matters.  It gives joy to remember who our friend was, yet at the same time it brings sorrow.  We know she knew Jesus and that we will see her again. 
Passionfruit flower, a beauty

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked...Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."  2 Corinthians 5:1-3; 5.

Indeed, we are travelers on a journey and this earth is only a temporary home.  We have an amazing life ahead of us.

Peace and pain. 
Furaha is a girl with diabetes that we have been managing for the last few years.  After a long struggle to manage her medical problems, she developed kidney failure.  We did all we could for her, but in the end I sent her home on palliative care with her family.  God can do miracles and sometimes he does, we will see.  As I spoke with the family who has suffered and given up so much for their daughter, they can’t imagine having done anything else.  Life is so valuable.  Even suffering has a way of bringing out love.  There is peace knowing we cared for her, even though it hurts.  The meaning of her name Furaha is "joy" in Swahili.

Strength To Walk Again
I was reminded again this past week that we care for patients so that they can tell others of the goodness of God.  As patients are healed they bear witness to others, and God receives the glory.  So many times in the New Testament Jesus heals and the result is many people praising God, not simply the one healed.  My jaw dropped recently when one of my patients walked into the pediatrics ward for a clinic follow-up.  Delphin was hardly able to walk in April due to tuberculosis affecting multiple bones in his body.  After many arduous surgical drainages and lots of pain, the infection seemed to be under control enough to go home.  I had his story translated into Swahili and told the family to share the good news with their friend and family. 
Wbat a great kid!

What joy to see him walk with a smile on his face!  The purpose of this visit was to see if he should start the academic year.  I gave a wholehearted “YES!”

One of my other patients stood for the first time last week.  Neema is a 3year old who has been struggling for months with the neurologic complications of tuberculosis.  She has been all smiles these past few weeks, able to sit independently and swallow food.  Just as we were watching Neema stand, we asked, “Can she walk?” Her mother said “No.” I think Neema heard us.  In an instant, she walked towards the door, holding onto the bed.  It was as if she wanted to show us what she could do!  What joy!!!  Neema means "grace" in Swahili.

Not apple picking, but passionfruit picking
I have been reminded to treasure Emmanuel this past week!  It keeps me going when work is difficult to know that I can come home and play with him.  He is growing so fast and is really such a sweet little boy.  He is learning to communicate his wants and needs, so there is far less frustration on his part.  I am learning patience as we ignore the occasional tantrum and focus on the good things he is doing. 
Birthday celebration with Emmanuel's aunties

He was very interested in the video of a certain "baby" (himself!)

We took a fun trip together to buy passionfruit on Sunday.  We may not have apples in Congo, but we do have an abundance of passionfruit.  This is my new favorite fall activity.  Emmanuel was really excited to load the fruit in the car.  He wanted to help washing the fruit.  At one point we filled the bathtub full of fruit and warm water and put him in it!   We bought $12 worth of fruit and have over 15L of concentrate to make >60L of juice!  I do miss the temperate seasons here in Africa…so it is perfect to have little things to remind me what time of year it is back home.

We look forward to your emails and responses to our blog.  It helps us to feel connected to the rest of the world.  If you haven't dropped us a line recently, we hope you will do so.

Blessings and love,

Lindsey (for the Coopers)