22.1.23

MK Teacher Day in the Life!

By Glory Guy I have had the immense privilege of being one of the middle school MK teachers in Kibuye for the last year and a half, and I couldn’t be gladder that I took the phone call in March 2020 where a dear friend asked me, “Would you consider teaching in Burundi?” This job has been such a joy, and will continue to influence my life as both a teacher and a human even after I leave Burundi.
Kibuye is in desperate need of another teacher for the 2023-2024 school year, so as we pray and hope for another teacher, here is a picture of a day in the life of an MK teacher! 7:50 am – One of the teachers rings the school bell, and for the next ten minutes there is a flurry of laughter and changing from outside shoes to inside shoes as students head to their first class of the day. I open the curtains, turn on some music for the morning and set up the bellringer for my first class at 8 am, which is 8th grade Reading and Writing.
8:00 am – My two eighth graders and I have spent the past year and a half in class together for most of every day, so I have the privilege of knowing them very well. They are my students, but I wear many hats with them, teacher, big sister, aunt, babysitter, the one who comes over for movie night, etc. This is one of the sweetest things about life in Kibuye that is different from life as a teacher in the States, I get to walk with my students for multiple years and watch them grow, academically, spiritually, emotionally, etc. I teach them for three blocks every day, Reading and Writing, Language Arts, and History. As eighth grade is the last year at KHA, we are currently preparing for major transition as they head off to a new school next year.
8:50 – My students transition to Bible class, and I head home for a quick 20-minute coffee break, before I teach my next class at 9:10.
9:10 – My second class of the day begins, 4th and 6th grade Reading and Writing. We do not currently have any 5th graders at KHA, so 4th and 6th grade are combined for this course. This class is slightly differentiated due to difference in grade level, so we do our Reading work together and I alternate in teaching 6th and 4th grade Writing depending on the day. When I work with 4th grade, 6th grade works independently and vice versa.
10:00 am – Students flood out the front door for a quick 20-minute recess. They run home for a snack, jump off the swings on the playground, ride on the zipline (so cool, right?), or hang out on the school’s front porch. My two roommates and I walk the approximately 30 step commute between our home and the school, and greet our house helper who is washing the dishes or baking in our kitchen. We debrief telling funny stories about our mornings, while we make more coffee or tea, grab a quick snack, hang laundry, pull various things (such as cheese, cooked vegetables, quiche, ground beef, etc) out of the freezer to defrost for whoever is in charge of dinner for that evening.
10:20 am – Recess ends, and my third class of the day begins. This class is middle school Language Arts with 6th and 8th grade students, who are two sets of siblings! We begin with my students’ favorite part of the da,y when they are given 20 minutes to read to themselves! We put on classical music and our twinkle lights, and students have the option to read on the carpet, at or on their desk, on our little back porch, or even in a tree. At 10:40 we reconvene for class, and 6th grade and 8th grade divide based on grade level for their grammar or spelling lessons for the day. Depending on the day, I work with one grade level while the other grade works independently.
11:30 am – This is my planning period, which also doubles as a time when I supervise 4th grade Language Arts. From 11:30-12:10 I plan classes for the following week and catch up on grading, and if fourth grade has any questions I work with him to answer those.
12:10 pm – This is one of my favorite parts of my day, when the middle schoolers begin their chores! This includes sweeping, wiping the blackboard, taking out the trash, and cleaning the chalk board erasers in the school before they head home for lunch. During this five-minute period, I put on a favorite Disney song of the day and we dance and sing along as chores take place!
12:15 – 1:15 pm – Lunch time! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I head to a family’s house for lunch. This is one of my favorite time blocks in my week. I get to spend time with a family that I love, and put on my “auntie” hat rather than my teacher hat. I get a chance to chat with friends and teammates and play with sweet kiddos who I don’t have in the classroom! On Wednesdays, our only middle school girl comes over to our house for lunch. She is the only girl above age eight on the compound, so we take Wednesday lunches to get some gal time with her.
1:15 – 1:50 pm – This is my second to last block of the day, which is 4th and 6th grade History. This year we are taking on the Middle Ages, studying knights, castles, and epic battles, needless to say my three boys in this class are thrilled.
1:50 – 2:30 pm – I send my 4th-6th graders off to their next block, and 8th grade comes in for the last class of the day, which is American Government. Though we live in Burundi, most of our missionary kids end up at other schools across the world for high school, whether that be at a popular boarding school in Kenya, where many of our Kibuye kids go, or a school in the States. This also doubles as our “read aloud” time, where my students draw, craft, or most recently finger knit, while I read aloud a class novel for about 10 minutes. We most recently finished S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, which they adored. One of my favorite parts of my day is getting to read aloud and discuss books with my students. They are thoughtful, inquisitive, asks lively questions, and are always so excited for this time.
2:30 – 3:00 pm – Though students head to one of their specials, be it Music, P.E, or Art, I finish tidying up my classroom and make any last-minute preparations for the following day before I pack up and head home for the afternoon!
3:00 – 6:00 pm – This part of my day looks a little bit different depending on the day of the week! Sometimes, especially on stormy days, I let the rain lull me to sleep for a quick nap after school. Other days I do laundry, go on a run, curl up on the couch with a book, puzzle, got to various team meetings, or hang out in the hammock with kiddos in our backyard after school. Wednesdays are my day for dinner, so I usually begin prepping for dinner between 4:00 and 4:30 for 6:00 or 6:30 dinner with my roommates. Usually, this is interrupted in the most delightful ways by children tapping on our screen door to say hello, to drop off a can of corn or mushrooms from their mother, or a flower they picked in the yard, while other days they request to play or just want a hug.
6:00-7:00 pm – dinner with roommates or teammates depending on the evening!
7:00 – 10:00 pm – During this time I respond to emails, talk to people on the phone who live in the States or on other continents with different time zones, and wind down for the evening. I fall asleep to the sound of rain or of crickets, and another Kibuye day comes to an end!
Thanks for following along on this glimpse into the life of a Kibuye MK teacher! It is an honor to be a part of this team that has dedicated their lives to the work of the Lord in Burundi!

12.1.23

Doesn't Mean You're Doing It Wrong


 Where no oxen are, the manger is clean.

But much increase comes from the strength of an ox.

-Proverbs 14:4

I read this proverb this morning.  It does what proverbs do best, namely to pithily state something that is universally accepted, and then leave you to connect the dots.

Generally, I'm a fan of order.  Unapologetically, in fact.  There is something about bringing order out of chaos that rings of creation by the God in whose image the Bible says I am made.  In the hospital, and outside the hospital, I spend a lot of time trying to solve problems.  And oftentimes, those solutions take the form of trying to develop a good system.  A system that documents medicine doses given.  A system for determining how our construction projects will be funded.  A system for approving student thesis research projects.  These are all good things, and what's more, I think they are one of the significant contributions that I and my teammates make to various situations we encounter here.  I see a well-functioning system in place and it feels so right.

In other words, I like a clean manger.  Quite a lot.

Generally speaking, though, we do not live in a world of clean mangers.  And by the way, this proverb is being ridiculously polite, and I think we all know it.  I mean, yes, it's true that the oxen will leave the manger dirty, and there is a nice parallelism between the manger void of food and the harvest of food that the oxen produce.  But we all know that the manger is not where the real mess is.  Oxen leave quite a bit more in the stables before they go out to their work.  The stable is not clean.

I can relate to that.  For all fires I try and put out, or all the systems I try to put into place to prevent the next fire, things fall apart.  The day feels like whack-a-mole.  Even 60% feels super great sometimes.  This world is good and fallen and messy.  Our efforts at creative order in this world are good and fallen and... messy.  Actually it can be quite dispiriting.

I like a clean manger.

Proverbs' personification of Wisdom walks in the door and retorts, "but do you like an abundant harvest?"   I see where she is going with this.  I glance up at her as if to ask "do I really need to answer that?"  She looks back as if to say the same thing.  

"Yes, I do," I say begrudgingly, but still appreciating the back-and-forth. 

"Then it's going to be messy," Wisdom replies, "but that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong."

***

Aside from the oxen argument from the natural order, why is this mess necessary?  Couldn't we be free to create order without it.  Last year, I read these words from the late, great Eugene Peterson in his Under the Unpredictable Plant:

A group of seminarians I was leading on retreat once asked me what I like best about being a pastor.  I answered, "The mess."  I had never said that before; I don't think I had even thought it before.  The answer surprised me as much as it did them...Actually I don't like the mess at all.  I hate the mess.  I hate the uncertainty.  I hate not knowing how long this is going to last, hate the unanswered questions, the limbo of confused and indecisive lives, the tangle of motives and emotions.  What I love is the creativity.  And what I know is that I can never be involved in creativity except by entering the mess.

I think this is quite true, and I can relate to it.  Thus, to act in imitation of my Creator, I will enter the mess.

Even more so, I think that I am (very slowly) learning that this is how we grow in trust.  How should things be in this world?  It's a good question, and part of the answer is that we are to be trusting God.  And how would we learn to trust without things happening in a way that is other than what makes sense to us?  

The manger is not clean.  We need the mess.

***

One Kibuye way of expressing this over the years has been to reference "thorns and thistles".  In Keller's Every Good Endeavor, he references these words in Genesis 3:  "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field."  

Keller's point is that sometimes our work in this world is full of hardships and brokenness, the "thorns and thistles".  Why?  Because the world is broken with sin.  Why is that important?  Because, though it means that the presence of such difficulties is a sign of something wrong (we know this intuitively), it does not mean that we are doing something wrong.

Yes, we have days like that.  So you do, I imagine.  We walk home and catch the eye of an old friend who happens to also be a teammate.

"How's the day?"

"Thorns and thistles."

A nod of understanding.  Sometimes, it's a mess.  But that's not a sign necessarily that you're doing something wrong.  It may be an opportunity for creativity.  An opportunity for trust.  Maybe it means that the oxen are hard at work.  We await the harvest.  Courage as you wait.

6.1.23

State of the Hospital Address

by Carlan

This is an extract from the message I shared with our teammates at the start of the year. It has been edited slightly for this audience. I hope it will encourage you too.


L’essentiel est invisible aux yeux; ce n’est qu’avec le cœur qu’on voit. -Antoine St-Exupéry
(The essential is invisible to our eyes; it is only with the heart that one [truly] sees.)


God gave Kibuye Hope Hospital many good gifts in 2022. Not least among these is the presence of two Samaritan’s Purse post-resident doctors, Drs Ben Roose & Selina Thomas. We struggled in other areas of staffing last year, particularly without a DAAF, but specialist physician coverage was on solid footing. With four surgeons (plus some short- / medium-term help) and three family doctors, residency training moves forward. PAACS officially started their second class this month and FM is getting ready to submit their dossier for internal and external reviews. We also hosted five visiting residents/fellows in FM, ophthalmology, and emergency medicine, a record number for Kibuye.

When wells and fuel ran dry in the middle of the year, God brought us some amazing encouragement via outside support. MSF (Doctors Without Borders) took over paying for severe malaria cases. We performed 61 cleft lips / palate repairs (with the support of SmileTrain), put in about 300 intramedullary nails (a way to surgically fix a broken leg bone) from SIGN — making us #10 in the world, and enrolled over 30 kids in the only retinoblastoma program in the region (sponsored by SEE International). AMH (African Mission Healthcare) continues to support this work and help us fundraise for big projects like the massive Peds Building (which hit max capacity in its first year in usage, BTW). And of course our mission, Serge, continues to shower us with financial, logistical, and spiritual support. Our hospital was able to score maximum points in our quality of clinical care evaluations that happen every quarter. Things are getting better. There is much room to grow, but progress abounded in 2022.

For the year upcoming, I hope to see the hospital take greater strides towards community and organizational sustainability. Caleb is building our capacity to be totally grid-independent for water and power. Michael is setting the stage for an information technology revolution at Kibuye with distributed digital X-rays and improved charting / tracking software applications. With the new leadership structure of IMeLEA in place, we are hoping to move Kibuye Hope Hospital towards greater financial independence, with a large part of that being an upgrade to National Referral Hospital status. I’m personally committed to getting some additional quality measures in place and executed effectively.


Some of these are bold goals, audacious even in the face of years of struggle and difficulty to chart a new course, but I believe that God has given us the right team at the right time to accomplish these and many other good works in the year ahead. But I want to leave you with one number and one story that I think illustrate the best work we have to do here, that doesn’t require anything other than showing up for our patients, students, and colleagues every day.

1523

That’s the number of patients whom God saved at the hospital in the last twelve months…at least that the chaplains know about. With the median US church attendance being 65 according to a 2021 study by Lifeway, that is like planting >23 churches in a year!

And maybe not all of those are new conversions or good soil that will bear fruit 30-, 60-, and 100-fold, but many are like Divine* (not her real name), a 32 year old woman whose husband left her when she delivered their 3rd stillborn baby. She was destitute and paralyzed by despair. Where could she go? What would she do? Yet into her dark cell of depression and abandonment shone a ray of hope from one of our chaplains. Could he pray with her? OK, I guess so.


He shared with her about true Hope. She repented of her sins and confessed Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord that day.  That painful, horrible day had brought new life to Divine’s soul and she was released from the fear of the hex placed on her by a neighbor, freed from the shame of being unable to bear children and now being a functional widow, filled with a love everlasting that wasn’t at all based on who she was or what she had done but on who Christ is and what He did.

Let us press on into 2023 and pray that our Master and Friend will continue using us as He reaches into the brokenness of our world to bring forth beauty and grace!



15.12.22

End of the Year Donation Opportunities

Kibuye Hope Hospital has continued to grow in 2022, as in years past.  One former student returned to visit last year and told Eric that Kibuye is where "buildings sprout like mushrooms."  Well, it's true!  While we are trying to focus more on staff development and personnel growth these past few years, there are always needs for more buildings, or renovations of current spaces, in order to accommodate increased patients and services.  We have been blessed by the generosity of so many individuals, churches, and organizations over the past 10 years.  If you're interested in making an end of the year donation to Kibuye, here are some ideas for you:



1.  Resident Housing
With the start of the PAACS surgical program, a continued internship program for 12 doctors, and an upcoming family residency program in the next few years, we are rapidly running out of housing.  When all of our residency programs are up and running, we'll need space for over 20 more doctors and their families.  A team from EMI came and drew up some plans for a housing unit of 5 studio apartments and 2 family housing units just inside the main gate to our housing area.  We'll need just over $100,000 to finish the units.  Click here to donate (resident housing in the memo line).  


2.  District Health Office
While this building is technically outside the hospital, the district health office, or BDS (en francais), is an important part of our life and work.  Kibuye is a health district made up of 17 different health centers, all of whom are staffed by a number of nurses (and the occasional doctor) who provide care for thousands of Burundians at a lower cost/lower acuity than the hospital.  Lots of essential work like prenatal care, malaria treatment, vaccines, etc are done at these health centers.  The district health office houses staff to oversee this variety of care and work being provided, and they need more space just outside the hospital walls, which will enable them to expand their care and also give the hospital more in-wall space to grow.  We need about $150,000 for this project.   Click here to donate (BDS or health office in the memo line)

3.  Nutrition Program
SO many of you have given to this fund in the past.  On any given week at Kibuye, between 300-500 mothers with malnourished children come every Monday and Thursday to receive a meal, some health maintenance, and a kg of busoma (a nutritional porridge) and a hard boiled egg to take home.  The rains have come late this year to Burundi, causing increased food shortages and increased rates of malnutrition, so we've seen numbers rapidly increasing even over the last month.  This fund also pays for meals for inpatients at the hospital, porridge and beans and rice, so that patients have the nutrition and strength to be able to heal.  Altogether this fund needs over $150,000 per year to continue on, but the amazing thing is that it costs less than $1/day to feed one patient and their caregiver.  Click here to donate.

And finally, if you're interested in contributing to some of our new teammates, the link to that blog is here.  Merry Christmas to all of you, and thanks for the many ways in which you continue to partner with us.  

8.12.22

New Team video!

 A few months ago, we shared with you a video created to celebrate the new pediatrics building here at Kibuye Hope Hospital.  The video was put together by friends of ours at SEAM (Serge East Africa Media).  While they were here, the guys also took extra footage to be able to create a new team video for Serge Kibuye.  Our old one, while fantastic, is now about 7 years old and is starting to look a bit outdated. So, we are happy to announce the release of said video, finished just in time for the holidays.  Enjoy.  And we are grateful that so many of you have been a part of our work at Kibuye this past decade.  You are truly partners and friends on the journey.


Kibuye Hope Hospital.mp4 from Serge East Africa Media on Vimeo.

Or click here to watch the video on Vimeo. 

29.11.22

A Great Light

 by Rachel


I was just getting ready for bed last night when my phone started ringing.  I only ever get calls these days from the hospital, so my phone starting to ring produces a bit of a Pavlovian panic response akin to the code pager, for those who understand that analogy.  I wish I could say that every time I get called up to the hospital I respond with joy at the opportunity to go up and save some poor woman's life, but if I'm honest I'd almost always rather stay in my pajamas and climb under my blanket and stay warm and cozy.  Last night was no different, but it was clear after talking to the doctor on call that the transfer patient needed an urgent hysterectomy, so I changed into my scrubs and headed up.

It's not a long walk to the hospital from my house, but at 9:30pm it's dark and deserted.  The guard at the front gate walked up with me and we stumbled together over the bumpy dirt road, illuminated only by 2 fluorescent lights on the local school building.  It's hard to imagine a darker place than the rural part of a country with minimal electricity.  In the OR, the patient was unconscious.  My team did well and we were able to stop her bleeding and transfuse 3 units of blood.  But she never regained consciousness and died not long after we sewed up the skin.  We had done what we could, but she arrived too late for us to save.

I walked out the back gate of the hospital and looked up at the sky.  It was a brilliant sky last night...perfectly cloudless and cool and the stars were definitely twinkling.  Ahead of me I could see the reddish glow of Mars sitting next to Orion, and Jupiter shone brightly right overhead.  The idea that I can look up in the sky and see actual planets never ceases to thrill me, and I found my imagination wandering down the path of what the Christmas star must have looked like.  What an amazing sight that must have been.  The guard walking me home must have wondered why I kept staring up, tripping along, instead of down at my feet.  Isaiah 9 kept playing over and over in my head as I walked.  "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."  It's a verse as true today as it was then and I was struck by the literalness and figurativeness of it at the same time.  My friend Jennifer posted a blog this past week and she wrote that the light shone on the people IN the darkness.  In other words, you have to be in the dark in order to appreciate the light.  "The darkness is not a sign that the light has been defeated.  It's a sign we're in the right place to wait for it."  

I can't see the stars and the planets and the immensity of the universe unless the night is dark.  I can't appreciate the light and the promise of hope to come nearly as much if I'm not face to face with the brutal reality of death and limitations and sorrow and grief.  Isaiah wrote in the present perfect tense: have seen, has dawned.  A verb whose action starts in the past but continues into the present.  The Light has come and is here and is coming again, and it shines precisely where I need to see it most.

I walked back into the gate and said good night to the guard.  Turning down the path to my house, I saw that the Christmas lights on our tree had been left on to welcome me home, although everyone else in my house was asleep.  And again, the lights shone all the more brilliantly for the dark night and the absence of lights in the rest of the house.  This Advent season, I want to wait for that light and remember. 

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 

20.11.22

Musical Guests

by Julie Banks


As the Music teacher for our missionary kids, I’m always trying to find creative ways to allow the students to experience music in any way that we can. When I was in elementary school, I remember taking a field trip to the Symphony Orchestra to learn about stringed instruments. I remember the blasts of brass instruments in the marching band of the local football team, and I remember singing in large choirs. Well, we don’t have any of those experiences to offer the kids, but what we do have is a surprisingly musical team!

Here is a little glimpse of our “field trips” to different houses around our missionary compound and our musical guests who are generous to let the students see first-hand several musical instruments.

We made our own paper ACCORDIONS so that we could “play along” with Uncle Eric (McLaughlin) as he demonstrated this oh-so-complicated instrument! 




Aunt Michelle (Wendler) shared her CELLO with us, and even let the kids take a turn.



Who knew Uncle Michael (Harling) played the FRENCH HORN? This is one he actually found in Burundi, and he is replacing parts and fixing it up!


Uncle Eric showed us why the PIANO is considered a percussion instrument. The kids loved watching the hammers inside.


One time we had a British nurse visit us for a few days, and she just happened to bring her VIOLIN!


They even got to rock out while Liam Banks showed them how cool the ELECTRIC GUITAR is! (video)


So fun for these kids to grow up surrounded by musicians!





13.11.22

Eight Stage Professionnels Finish their Training

by Logan Banks

At the end of October, our community celebrated the graduation of 8 stage professionnels. These are new medical graduates who spend a year at Kibuye Hope Hospital in a traditional rotating internship, where they spend three months on each of the four main hospital services (Pediatrics, Internal medicine, Obstetrics/Gynecology, and Surgery). We are especially grateful for our partnership with African Mission Healthcare which supports this program. 


This is the sixth class of graduates of the program since it started. With 8 interns, this was our largest class to date. They came from all three medical schools in Burundi: Hope Africa University, as well as the University of Burundi, and the University of Ngozi. Over 30 stagiaires have now graduated from this program. 


As they spent time on each service, it was encouraging to me to see how much they learned over this period. They also noticed this, and remarked during their graduation ceremony how much they had grown as physicians and people over this internship period. 


They lived together in an intern dorm on campus, and really bonded over the 12 months that they were here. It was great to see them form friendships with each other.  And we had a great time celebrating the end of their studies.  Here are some pictures from the event. It was a wonderful evening, and we're proud of all the graduates.  


As the Director of Medical Education, I served as emcee
for the event, but it was a team effort!

Dr. Axel, one of the graduates, with his diploma and 
the heads of the different medical services. 
The graduates also received a certificate of competency in
performing c-sections, a certificate of competency in minor surgery,
and a lapel pin shaped like the Burundian flag.
Some also received a certificate of competency in OB ultrasounds. 


All of the graduates with all of the missionary doctors. 

We had good fellowship, and a delicious Burundian dinner

Dr. Juste wearing traditional formal attire, shares the 
celebration with his wife and baby.

The graduates also gave a speech thanking Kibuye Hope Hospital
for this training, and gave us a gift of a group photo to remember them by.


5.11.22

Map of Kibuye

 By Michelle Wendler


I wanted to share with you the updated map of Kibuye that I just finished watercoloring. 

The houses are in red, and the hospital buildings are in blue. You can see directly in the middle in-between the housing compound and the hospital is the village church. The buildings to the right of the church (in light brown) is the Kibuye school, and to the left is doctor housing, storage, student dorms and at the top left the new student center. 

Below is the map of Kibuye I did in 2018. A lot has been added since then!




26.10.22

Already and Not Yet

By: Erica Ause

One of the hardest parts about living in Burundi is learning to hold the hardness of life together with the beauty, joy, and love that is found here. 1 John 3:2 says, "Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is." Basically, while Christ did come and bring us Heaven after death, we are still waiting for when he comes again and brings the new heaven and new earth that will be without pain and suffering. It is the already, and the not yet and is our reality, whether we see it or not. But in this part of the world, it is unavoidable.

This past year I taught writing to an American boy who lives in Congo, and he expresses it well in a poem he wrote about his country:

Congo
Violent, Peaceful
Fleeing, Praying, Helping
Sad and beautiful country
DRC

This poem shows the understanding of a child that the world is not good nor bad. It is both at the same time. There is fleeing, praying and helping that exist together. There is sadness and beauty alongside each other. There is violence and peace in the same places. This 10-year-old boy encourages me to follow him in his acceptance that this is how the world is and to see both as equal realities.

A place that our team experiences this dichotomy most acutely is in the Hospital. I want to spend a little time sharing a little of what happens at the hospital where our team serves.

Some Background:
When the team arrived in Kibuye in 2013, there was already an eighty-bed hospital with about ten houses for staff. Now, the hospital has around 350 beds and there are about thirty houses for doctors This is a large change and has created more chances for doctors to be trained, to be given jobs, and for care of patients in and around Burundi. The hospital is connected to a university in Bujumbura, the largest city in Burundi. Therefore, many medical students come to Kibuye to do their internships needed for school. The services include OB GYN, pediatrics, urgent Care, Family medicine, ophthalmology, and surgery, along with food distribution, and courses for medical students taught by the doctors, discipleship and prayer. So far Kibuye has graduated around 310 African doctors since 2014. It is quite a large operation happening!
Below are some pictures of graduation celebrations, our team (+some visitors) moments of teaching and surgery. Everyone hard at work!



I asked several doctors here what the hardest and best parts are about the hospital. Overall, their responses reflected the simultaneous hope and suffering that I have come to understand over my year and a half here. One med student said that the best part is “when I get to see a patient happy because she was able to help them. But the hardest part is to see patients get worse and worse and to be unable to help them.” This is the already and not yet. Yes, there are some amazing things happening here, and people are healed who would never have had a chance without this hospital. And there are still people that die because the world is what it is.


One doctor told me that the best part is "watching a lady hold her first baby after multiple losses" and getting to be a part of that moment. The greatest challenge is seeing a patient whose illness you recognize, whose treatment you know, but also knowing the treatment isn't available in this country, and is too expensive. Yes, there is hope, but often it feels like there isn't enough.

I think the most notable line in the poem Congo is "Fleeing, Praying, Helping". Sometimes, the problems weigh so heavy that I do feel like fleeing, but really the answer is to pray. To pray that God would help us feel the sadness, see the beauty amidst it and move forward to help. This is an exhausting state to live in, but I wouldn't change it, because it reminds me how much I need to depend on God to help me live in the world we have been given.

I will leave you with an illustration. My roommate Jenny was an occupational therapist before she was a teacher. She has used this skill to love and work with the children in the hospital who needed help in that area. One child she worked with was an 8 year old girl who came in for malnutrition. When she arrived she could hardly sit up on her own, was very weak, and seemed to have some sort of mental and physical delay. Many people said that her situation was too hard and unknown, and that there was no way to help her. But God kept putting her on Jenny's heart, and every day she went to pick up this little girl, play with her, stretch and use her muscles, and try to make her laugh. Over the next few weeks, she started to walk on her own, to recognize Jenny, ask when she was coming, and get herself out of bed when she saw her walk into the room. She began to play, smile, and enjoy herself; all things no one ever thought she would be capable of. Jenny said a hard goodbye to this girl she had grown to love as she was releases from the hospital having made some improvements. Months later, this little girl came walking and smiling back into the hospital, all chubby and strutting like she owned the place. How good is our God!!
Telling you this story could go many ways, but what I want to highlight is how this miraculous story is an example of sadness and beauty, of already and not yet. It is representative of the healing that happened on this earth when Jesus brought the kingdom down. And yet, we are still not in the home we were made for. Just as this girl's healing happened in a hospital, which was not her home. We can only continue to pray that little Joy will grow knowing the Lord and eventually find her eternal home with our Lord and Savior.
Joy at the beginning of her stay doing some exercises with Jenny:


Joy when she came to visit a couple months later:


This picture has nothing to do with the hospital, I just love it a lot. These girls were SO EXCITED to have their pictures taken, they just couldn't control their giggles!


(It's also the only picture on this blog that I took, the others were taken by a number of different people in our community).

Please just pray for this place. For the people who live and work here, and for those who come to stay at the hospital! Thank you all for your ongoing support and care. Love to you all.