Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Safari and Stories of Patience and Hope

April 20, 2016

Greetings friends and family!  It has been a long time since we have written.  We just returned from a trip to Greece for a Christian Medical and Dental Association medical conference and a visit with Warren’s family in Switzerland.  We were so grateful to be able to attend again and re-connect with our friends around the world.  

Easter Celebration
We hosted a Samaritan's Purse Easter meal, Easter egg hunt for missionary kids.  A community has really formed here, in contrast with our first Easter here when we were the only missionary family at Nyankunde.  It is a joy to share life together.

The Mediterranean coast of Greece is quite cold this time of year, but this did not stop us from swimming in it!  At the conference childcare was provided so Emmanuel was able to play with other kids all day allowing us to attend educational sessions.  I feel better equipped to read a peripheral blood smear, to expand my screening for HIV, and incorporate more medical resources into my practice.  It is inspiring to hear about people’s ministries around the world.  It was fun to meet the other folks working in different parts of Congo, in particular from Vanga Hospital.  Plus we enjoyed hanging out with our fellow colleagues from Nyankunde out of the work context.  Our kids really love each other and are so close in age.

The Folmer & Larochelle family

Can we say future trouble?

I knew that our child was very ACTIVE but this conference confirmed this fact, as there were many children his age that he ran circles around!  We met lots of new people due to our curly haired, busy, little boy.  I love how outgoing he is.  Whenever he walks into a room he is instantly looking for a friend to play with….whether the child he pursues likes it or not.  He really has a charming smile and friendly nature.  They had a children’s program at the end of the conference.  Emmanuel simply went up on   It is fun to watch.  My biggest scare was his running away from me in the lobby of the hotel down to the ocean with our friend Joe Harvey chasing him.  As good as it is to be away, it is so nice to be home.  Emmanuel instantly reconnected with his nanny Maziga and our house crew.  He embraced his dog Cocoa and has been running all over the place.  We did not make any weekend trips to historical sites, maybe in the next couple of years when Emmanuel can be better directed.
Joanna and Lukas Folmer
stage and joined along with all the older kids during their singing and dancing.

A highlight of our trip to Europe was the opportunity to visit Warren’s parents in Basel, Switzerland. 

We enjoyed wonderful meals and conversation as always.  Emmanuel laughed so much with his grandmother Anita.  We rode many trams all over the city, went shopping and to the zoo, the pool, and out to eat.  We have never seen the national animal of Congo, the okapi, a cross between a giraffe and a zebra...but we
The elusive okapi, that prefers to always show its backside

Emmanuel said "shh" for "fish"
saw this animal at the zoo in Basel!  And Emmanuel was very excited about seeing a fish for the first time.  
Our friend Mike Upio, a physician from Nyankunde, is completing his advanced degree in Basel and we were able to re-connect with him.  We were able to speak at a supporting church in Basel, which was a blessing.  We bought Emmanuel a new scooter that he rode all over the place.

The Value of Patience and Hope

Do you find that the best lessons in life are learned through experience?  Not from a book, a TEDTalk, counselor, etc.  Although all these things are great, there is nothing quite like learning something firsthand.  I have been learning profound lessons from God about enduring hope and patience through my patients.  I shared these stories with Basel Christian Fellowship during our time in Switzerland.  I was tempted to give up on both of these situations and send the children home on palliative care, but I really believe that the Holy Spirit prevented me from doing so.  I hope these stories will be a blessing to you too.

The first is regarding a toddler named James (name protected) who had been in the hospital for the past 4months with HIV and its’ infectious complications.  He was losing weight, had daily fevers, was not developing, had general irritability, and had signs of tuberculosis.  He typified almost ALL of the bad complications I see in children.  Like so many other pediatric patients, the disclosure of a diagnosis of HIV is complicated and can fracture families.  In the end we diagnosed the mother with HIV, but sadly she did not want further discussion or treatment.  Over the following months the child showed steady improvement on anti-retrovirals and antibiotics.  I did not have peace to send him home, wanting the mother to accept her own condition and pursue treatment.  I knew that the health of the child and the mother were intimately linked.  All we could do was pray and wait.  I am not sure how many times we asked the mother if she was willing to talk.  The answer was always no.  Finally one day she accepted our proposal and attended a counseling session.  Today she is on treatment with her son.  This is HUGE victory. 

What changed this mother’s heart?  I don’t know, but I do know that she experienced transformation.  I think the Holy Spirit was involved and that she was learning through experience.  These are powerful things.  She witnessed her child steadily improving-starting to walk, smiling, gaining weight, and experiencing life again.  This gave her HOPE and COURAGE for her own life.  All the glory goes to God for this.  It is hard to wait sometimes when it seems like you are constantly hitting a wall, but the Lord is always faithful to answer.

2 Peter 3:9 says, “ The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Yes, Lord you are not slow to fulfill your promises.  Your timing is perfect.

The second story is about a child named Demetrius, aged 7years.  He came in from another hospital with arthritis and long-standing fevers and what looked like clinical typhoid.  We treated him like typhoid but the fevers continued, the pain became so debilitating that he could no longer walk, and he started developing bony abscesses everywhere.  He started on treatment for tuberculosis and we started painfully draining abscesses every other day.  Every day it seemed like he had a new problem and the pain continued to worsen.  Every service in the hospital knew Demetrius-physical therapy, nutrition, surgery, pediatrics, the chaplains, and the local health center.  We kept doing ultrasounds on his painful bones.  We added a fifth drug to cover tuberculosis of the bone and he started to get better.  The fevers went away and he had less pain.  Finally we were able to transfer him out of the ICU.

Several times I felt like I was failing this young boy.  It is really hard to see a child suffering , to feel helpless to change things, and to feel like you are missing something.  I told Warren that Demetrius would either get better or die while we are doing everything for him.  I was not willing to give up.  A few weeks ago the family thanked me for loving him and not giving up.  In essence they said, “You listened to us when there were daily problems and he was getting worse.  You just kept going.”  I simply said that God never gives up on us.  He sees all of our situations and wishes all of us to come to Him.  Our God’s patience and steadfast love is unending, no matter what the circumstance.  I told them that I was simply His representative.

I am so humbled to have participated in the care of these two children.  I count it a privilege to participate in the Lord’s work.  I learned so much from these two boys.  I have a long way to go in learning the virtues of patience, hope, and steadfast love.  Paul says, “ Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly love, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience”  (Colossians 3:12).  I think these virtues are so important and a good check for our spirits as we work together with friends, colleagues, and patients.  I hope that these stories will be a blessing to you too.

Longevity on the Missions Field
I ran across an article the other day about longevity on the mission field by a pioneer missionary with YWAM named Tom Bloomer.  It struck a chord and I encourage those interested to read the article at:  In essence he says that missionaries need to learn how to do three things:  maintain hope, grow faith, and do spiritual warfare over their mind and relationships.  Hope is sustained though the reading of Scripture, prayer, and hearing and giving testimony of God's faithfulness in the community of believers.  The enemies of hope include "passivity, disappointments and complaining."  Faith is maintained through obedience and is seen by its results.
Finally spiritaul warfare over mind and relationships involves dealing with conflict, avoiding gossip and critical talk of others.  He says we must not be afraid of differences, but see them as a pathway to maturity and intimacy.

Here are some prayer requests:
Pray for the staff of our hospital who need to be paid and for wisdom for the administration in dealing with financial issues.  
Pray for us to hold hope for others and to live out the Gospel in our own transformed lives.
Pray for two recently abandoned children (one a recent graduate of our malnutrition program) who are in the custody of hospital staff on the pediatric ward.  We need wisdom along with our village chief as to what action should be taken.
Pray for new financial and prayer partners for our ministry in Congo.

Blessings to all of you,

Transferring food from spoon to spoon (fine motor skills: A+)

Monkey see, monkey do

Campsite of explorer Stanley in Eastern Congo in 1880


  1. I just love your blog! Glad to have you guys back! It's lovely to see these beautiful pictures and hear these stories of hope. Sheryl

  2. Such a great post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Thank you for these updates, Lindsey (and Warren). We're always so encouraged by the work you're doing, and grateful to be reminded of the hardship, hope and healing your patients experience. I've also enjoyed watching Emmanuel grow, our son Samuel is just ahead of him (2.5 yrs) so fun to see them grow together!