Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ways to Pray

One of my favorite blogs that I follow is "In Real Life with Jamie Jo". She writes specifically to women who are full-time on the mission field. This week she posted a great list of ways to pray for women on the field. So I thought I would borrow and re-post it. Not all apply directly to me, but most do, and I thought it was a great list. A big thanks to each of you who regularly prays for us!
  • Encouragement in God's Word daily

  • Evidence of spiritual fruit being produced

  • Genuine love and compassion for the people

  • Satisfaction of accomplishing each task she is called to do

  • Someone to call a friend, to share burdens

  • Grace in family relationships

  • Clear communication with supporters and home office
  • Unity with coworkers

  • Adequate medical care when needed
  • Flexibility

  • Wisdom in setting priorities and diligence in keeping them

  • Finances

  • To remain hidden from the enemy

  • Adjustment/ continual readjustment to the culture

  • Salvation for unsaved loved ones

  • To not weary in well-doing

  • Willingness to suffer when needed - keeping eyes on the unseen reward
  • Cheerfully making necessary sacrifices

  • Victory over daily annoyances (noise, dirt, unreliable amenities, lack of conveniences, etc.)

  • Good relationships with local authorities (if applicable)

  • Energy, endurance

  • Spiritual renewal

  • Awareness, repentance, and freedom from besetting sins

  • To pray without ceasing

  • Rejoice in all circumstances

  • Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit

  • Daily needs (devotional time, rest, diet, exercise, solitude, companionship, etc.)

  • Discernment and diplomacy to proclaim the truth

  • Passion for serving others

  • Emotional stability

  • Health and safety of family on the field and of grown children / aging parents in the home country
  • Protection in travel

  • Hidden treasures: daily reminders of God's love, mercy, and grace

  • Balance of responsibilities (family and ministry outside the home)

  • Provision of educational needs for children, particularly those with special needs

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Diagnosis - Hysteria

This afternoon a 15-year-old, female, patient came to our clinic with a problem that can be somewhat common here. It's actually psychologically induced, but we always have to take care to make sure there aren't actual medical roots.

It's one of the conditions I had to learn about after moving to Kenya. They simply label it as "hysteria". It typically happens in women from Jr. High age through later adulthood. The best way I can describe it is that the lady just feels a need to check out for a little while. The patient typically faints or collapses. She then goes into a catatonic state where she cannot be aroused from anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.

The first time I saw it, I was baffled. The patient is really, genuinely, out. She doesn't respond to any stimulus, even the ones that we used to use in the ER to tell if someone was faking. But the vital signs remain stable and you can't find anything physically causing the problem. I most often see women go into this state when they are attending burials of loved ones.

The client today has quite a traumatic past. She is a child who has been living with HIV. Her parents are both dead and she was displaced during the post-election violence in 2008. She has been living in a displacement camp for the last 3 years and has not been able to attend school during that time. She sat and told us about how she was going to try to learn how to braid hair so she could get a job in a salon to save money to get back in school. Through a special program assisting children living with HIV/AIDS she was able to get a scholarship to attend our school Brook of Faith, through Empowering Lives International (ELI). This is her first week. She is in the fifth grade and trying to catch up.

My friend and colleague, Juli, and I had a lovely visit with her as she told us about her journey to Brook of Faith. In short, she is precious! I think she was overjoyed to get to spend some time with the white ladies in the village.

After she left Juli and I agreed that it was a simple case of hysteria while adjusting to a new environment. We both agreed that if we had been raised in the environment our patient had, we just might feel the need to check out every now and then too!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Waging War

Cervical cancer is a huge issue in the developing world. I would say that 99% of the women I see in my clinic have never had a pap smear. Unfortunately most cancers are usually not identified until a patient is in the final stages with metastasis throughout his/her body. Last year I looked at some statistics regarding cervical cancer. Unfortunately Kenya came up as one of the countries in the “red zone”; meaning that they have some of the world’s highest death rates related to cervical cancer. I consider this fact to be a tragedy when one considers how preventable and treatable this cancer is. I performed pap smears while I was working in the USA. But here in Kenya I was stuck with a dilemma. If I do a pap, who is going to read it and tell me the results? And secondly, what good is it to have results if I don’t have treatment options available for the patient? It would be totally unethical for me to tell a patient “You have pre-cancerous cells on your cervix, but there is nothing I can do about it.”

Last year I lost a friend in the USA to cervical cancer. I think that this personal loss strengthened my desire to wage war on this disease.

So while William and I were in the USA last fall, I was able to take a post-grad gynecology course through UCLA. The main focus of the class was cervical cancer screening and early intervention. What attracted me to the course was the fact that I would be trained not only to identify the problem, but also how to do something about it. The first part of the training was the classroom/lecture portion. Now I’m getting into the hands-on part where I’m doing an internship one day a week with a team of OB/GYN’s in Eldoret (the town about an hour from our home.)

Last week was my first day in the clinic in Eldoret. The physician I was working with was incredible. She was right at my side, but also got me right into performing the nitty gritty parts of the procedures. Once I complete my training, I’m hoping to launch a women’s health center right from our clinic in Chebaiywa. I want to turn my office into a make-shift gynecology exam room. Where I can assess, diagnose AND treat patients with pre-cancerous lesions.

We still have a road ahead in obtaining all the necessary equipment. But I believe with all my heart that God will open the doors and help make it happen. And I feel so blessed in that I’m able to actually do my hands-on training here in Kenya. It is so much better than if I had interned in a fancy USA office. As always, thanks for joining me on this amazing journey. I’ll try to keep you posted on my progress as I work to complete my training and prepare for a final exam later this year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sew What?

When I was in Jr. High my mother gave me a sewing machine. I have to confess I didn't really take to sewing. My mom had this great goal that I could make my own Easter dress. I was really struggling with every aspect of the process. She gave me two pieces of fabric to sew together and said "Michelle, really, only an idiot could mess this up, you can do it." So as you probably already figured, I messed it up. I think that was the last time I really tried to use a sewing machine.

Fast forward about two decades. I'm now a consultant helping to organize a group of ladies who are starting a sewing business. Go figure at the irony of that one! God certainly has a sense of humor! Because only He could call someone with absolutely no sewing skills and virtually no business skills to help with the launch of a sewing business. But I have to confess that I'm really excited to see what He has started with this group of ladies. I just feel like he is speaking to me saying "In your weakness I will be strong".

We would appreciate your prayers as we are in the very beginning stages of this new venture. We are hoping to find markets in both Kenya and the USA for the work that the ladies are doing. At the end of next week I'll be traveling to Nairobi to do some research on quality fabric and materials.

The ladies first project was to make quilts. Here are a few pictures from our meeting yesterday.

We have approximately 170 ladies registered in the group.

Some of the ladies display their first group quilt.

Another Finished Project (This one even came with pillow cases!)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Farmer's Wife

Growing up I always was fascinated with Little House on the Prairie and bygone eras. Turns out that this was a good thing since in many ways, moving to Kenya was like stepping into an era of the past. Who would have ever guessed that this American girl raised in the suburbs of CA would wind up living on a farm?

Saturday we had a major celebration in our village as friends of mine launched a new hospice ministry in our community. So I got dressed up for the event. Later while cooking dinner William came rushing to the kitchen door with this brand new little lamb. I helped him wash her with warm water. He then asked me to assist him up on the hill in our yard where our livestock stay. So I marched up (in my best dress) to assist. The mama was delivering the placenta right as we got there.

William needed my help managing mom and baby while he created a safe space for them to spend the night. Our sheep sleep in a pen that has slats at the bottom. The slats are so that we can easily collect their dung for our compost. Well the slats were a bit big for our little lamb and we were afraid she would slip through. So we moved the calf, cleaned out a shed and made a place for mama and baby. Turns out that in our excitement we left the gate open and one of our milk cows got out. So after chasing Daisy back in the pen I headed back in to finish dinner. I have to confess, on evenings like that one, I really do love being a farmers wife!

In other news, things are going well at the clinic. I've been doing ultrasounds on our pregnant moms. Today we picked up a case of twins. It was a huge blessing that we were able to pick it up during a prenatal visit. Otherwise we would have been dealing with the delivery of the twins just a few weeks from now!

Tomorrow I'm starting the hands-on part of the advanced gynecology training I started in the USA. I'll be going weekly to train alongside American physicians working at a teaching hospital in Eldoret.