Sunday, August 28, 2016

Emmanuel, the Birthday Boy

August 28, 2016

Emmanuel’s Birthday

It has been a busy week in the Cooper household!  The BIG news is that Emmanuel turned 2!  Where has the time gone?  There are lots of kids pictures in this blog, as an aside or an apology?!  He ate his birthday candle and fed his cupcakes to the dog (not just one, but two)!  We have been practicing singing “Happy Birthday” for months now.  I think he was a little surprised when everyone seemed to be singing around him.  He liked blowing on his celebratory party streamer.  It is so much fun to see him growing and developing every day, learning new words.  Both Warren and I would like him to replace his repetitive “What’s that?” with another phrase.  I love little boy hugs and kisses and spending time in the afternoon with him.  Now that he is two years old, he prefers his stroller less.  The other day he ran all the way down to the airstrip with us and Cocoa, instead of riding in his stroller.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from

him.  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth."  Psalm 127:3-4  Children are truly a gift.  We are so grateful that the Lord has given Emmanuel to us.  We are reminded on birthdays to celebrate his life and dedicate the way we raise him to the Lord.

A Special Visitor
In addition we have had a special visitor with us this week, an American internal medicine/pediatrics ICU doctor named Nicole. 
The funny thing is that it took her 4 days to travel 500km from central Congo to our village in eastern Congo, by air.  It literally would have been faster to travel to and from Europe than to travel in country.  It is wonderful to have a new friend and colleague!  Our residents were able to hear about her area of research on the pathophysiology behind cerebral malaria/meningitis.  It is just crazy that we don’t really understand why some people die from the complications of cerebral malaria and others survive.  Her visit was such a blessing to us.  It is really beautiful to see how God can accomplish amazing things through people who are open to His will.  It was an encouragement to me personally to be able to see cases together and feel like I am providing good care to people.  We look forward to meeting the rest of her family someday and exploring ways that we can collaborate and encourage each other. 
Our medical staff with Dr. Nicole

Sports Team from California
We were blessed to host an evangelistic sports team from California at the end of July.  This is their fourth trip to Nyankunde to meet and encourage the youth.  The youth gathered in the morning to study the Word of God and be encouraged through Scripture.  In the afternoon they then taught each
Mek and Emmanuel are buddies

Sports team from California (plus Sheryl)
other and played sports.  They have maintained relationships with the youth over the past 6 years or so and know their stories.  Many of them have received scholarships to study at Christian universities, with the prerequisite that they return to work/teach in their home village.  This really is a highlight of the summer for many of the youth.  They develop leadership skills and close relationships with one another.  We housed the team in the guesthouse and organized their meals and life needs.  It is an honor to serve in this way.

The theme of their two weeks here was to “Racheter le temps” or “Buy back the time”, or in the words of Ephesians 5: 15:  “Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  It is a very convicting question of how we use our time.  Are we making the most of our time to love others?

“You are what you eat!”
Have you ever heard the old adage “You are what you eat”?  People definitely have a good grasp on this concept, maybe better than we Americans do.  Food is perhaps the most widely discussed topic!  It is almost a personal question when you ask someone, “What did you eat today?”  What you are really asking is more than the food they actually ate.  You are asking for a little window into their world, their social support, knowing what they are planting in their fields (whether successful or not).  I have grown to enjoy the interaction of asking my Mamas which foods they are preparing for their children.  The most common plate here is foo-foo (cassava root) and fish with perhaps a cooked form of spinach on the side.  Whenever I get this food history I say, “He is a true Congolese kid!”

Often there is a partial understanding (or complete misunderstanding) about nutritional concepts, and   It is fascinating.  As Americans we have a lot of beliefs around food too.  When you are sick, don’t you need to eat chicken noodle soup?  If you have been sick, don’t you need to replenish your Vitamin C?  Maybe chamomile tea with honey for sleep?  During pregnancy women seem to require chocolate and ice cream.  You get the idea.

a lot of beliefs.

In Congo when you are sick you need to start with vegetable soup too.  I am told that carrots are necessary to eat when you are sick to strengthen your eyesight.  New moms need to eat squash leaves and beans to keep a good milk supply.  When you are anemic you need to eat more green vegetables.  It is true that green vegetables are rich in iron and can help with anemia, but the response is not immediate like everybody here thinks. 

There are some funny beliefs like drinking a red soda called Mirinda helping with anemia.  It is true that Mirinda will keep up your blood sugar though during a malaria crisis.  I think somehow the color of foods is more significant to people.

It is true that after weeks of an unhealthy diet lacking in protein, one begins to show external signs of swelling, lack of energy, etc.  A diet lacking in iron eventually leads of anemia, weakness and fatigue.  A diet high in fat/sugar is quickly seen in added weight and an increased waistline.  These are obvious things maybe, but often we don’t analyze the things that we eat.  We all need more fruit and vegetables, less processed foods.  So we are to some degree what we eat.

Prayer Requests
Please pray for Alili, a young boy that Warren wrote about a few weeks ago.  He is back in the hospital with respiratory difficulties and a mass pushing on his trachea.  Just minutes ago Warren was called into the hospital to do an emergency tracheotomy.  He almost died.  Pray for wisdom in knowing how to treat him.  He is such a special soul.

Pray for us as we continue to build our ministry support team.  If you are interested in being involved with our ministry we would love to hear from you.

Pray for new ways to invest in the hospital staff and various ministries.

Pray that we would represent Christ well in our words, deeds, and relationships.

The kid pile-up

...right before he fell over

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A post from Emmanuel

Hello Everyone!

I wanted to tell you about my day.  It was a fun Saturday.  I got up in the morning and got my diaper changed.  Then I had breakfast and spent a couple of hours with Maziga, my nanny.  My parents had to go to the hospital, as usual, but I had fun playing and helping in the garden.  

Around 11 am, my dad came home and we got to go on the tractor.  We drove down the hill and I enjoyed waving to everyone we passed.  We dropped the tractor off and went to see the airplane.  As we were walking around the plane, the pilot told us that he was about to make a little flight and we could go if we wanted.  Of course we wanted, and we jumped into the airplane and made a 15 minute flight.  We flew over some amazing waterfalls and rock formations.  Congo has its problems, but it is such a beautiful country.  We landed near a big river and we got to wander around for a bit.  I met some new friends.  We saw cows and birds.  Thankfully we didn't see any crocodiles.  When all the passengers had arrived, we climbed back into the plane and took off.  On the way back the weather turned, and the sunny day turned into a rainy one.  We landed in a light drizzle, which became heavier.  

We walked up the hill, but by the time we reached the hospital, it was raining pretty hard.  My dad wanted to stop and see how an operation was going.  I went into the operating room with him and we saw a patient who had been transferred to the hospital.  She had been operated in another hospital, but was not doing well.  I got to see all the guts opened up.  It was somewhat disturbing, but fascinating nevertheless.  I tried to touch the shiny instruments on the sterile table, but my dad wouldn't let me.  He tried to leave me with the ladies in the sterilizing room, but I cried until he took me back into the operating room.  

It was raining pretty hard by now, but we happened to see the pilot driving by on the road and we motioned for him to stop and pick us up.  He gave us a ride back up the hill and we ran into the house.  I was pretty cold, but I felt better after a change of clothes.  We had spaghetti for lunch.  

After lunch I played for a bit and then I took a nap.  I woke up after a couple of hours.  I take my afternoon naps pretty seriously.  We went for a walk around 530 pm.  It was pretty muddy from the heavy rain.  After the walk we went to eat dinner with some of the other families.  We had pizza, but I was kind of distracted by the other kids.  I played pretty hard with Luke, Miriam and Lukas.  At one point, we had a screaming competition.  We ran back and forth down the hallway.  I was delirious with the excitement.  When all the dishes were done, we went back home.  After another diaper change, a struggle to get my teeth brushed and a bottle of milk, I was deposited in my crib.  I was pretty tired after a long and eventful day, but I fought the need to sleep.  I cried and cried, but no one came to my rescue.  Finally, I succumbed and settled down to sleep.

It was a pretty good day.  I think I have it pretty good.  I love living here in Congo.  There is so much to see and do.  I'm learning lots of new words.  I am picking up words in English, Swahili and French.  Mostly I just invent my own language.  My parents are trying to learn it.  I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I'm sure it will be full of adventure.

Emmanuel Cooper