Manga Lately

Forgive me for this long lapse in communication! So much has happened with Manga and some of you are up to date (ish) from emails.

October 2015: Manga was scheduled for an eye procedure to help her tear ducts drain appropriately. When she got to Kenya this was postponed by the eye surgeon multiple times because of infection around her nose. She was also diagnosed with recurrent malaria and did not respond to initial treatments, so had to have a special medication. She later also had surgery to remove part of the metal plate that was in her nose from her original surgery last April, possibly causing her wound to not stay closed.

November 2015: Manga was a patient in the AIC Kijabe Hospital and Kikuyu Eye Hospital. She did have her eye procedure and was sent back to Kijabe to recover.

Mid-December 2015: Manga and her mother Sunday, traveled back to Doro as she continued to heal and recover from her procedures.

February 2015: Manga had the tubes removed from her tear ducts by a visiting eye team from Kenya. She continues to heal and is a fun and happy little girl.

I think I’ve said this before, but if you had told me what all would occur through this past year, I probably would not have believed you. God has been faithful to show up and provide for EVERY single detail of this little girl’s story. Even with multiple unexpected detours in the road, He provided right when we needed Him to. You can’t make any of this up, and I’m in awe of His love for her, which is the same love He has for each of us. I know many days I don’t feel deserving of His love or worthy of His love. But He gave Himself freely for my sins, that I might have life everlasting in Him. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And that’s why I’m here, so that I can give back myself and show some of the grace that has been bestowed to me as I love others and share Christ with them.

Left: Manga chowing down on some food in the market after her procedure was postponed. Right: Manga & I while she was in the “big” hospital west of Doro.

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Sozanne & Teti

I’ve known Sozanne for a while now—she comes to our small church in the Nuba village. She’s tall, beautiful, and has such a sweet spirit about her. One weekend, we had a party for my boss, Cathy, as she was planning to leave South Sudan for about 6 months for her home assignment. The ladies from the church came over, and we had a wonderful celebration. Right as the ladies were leaving through one gate, another few ladies came through the other gate. Not realizing the time for the party was already finished, we went ahead and served them water and juice, along with a few snacks.

When the women were starting to say their goodbyes, I began to talk to Sozanne about her 2 month old son that I was holding, Teti. I knew he had been to our clinic 2 days before, but I didn’t like how he was breathing. I asked if we could take him to the clinic and give him some medicine to help him breathe better. So, off we went to the clinic on the four wheeler, and I was able to supplement the medicine he was already taking with another medicine to help his breathing. He was still pretty sick, so I told her that even if she was unable to come to church the next day, I still wanted to check on him after church.

The next morning, as we were sitting in church singing, Sozanne comes in with Teti and sits down. It didn’t take long before I could hear his labored breathing from my seat across the small church. I took a stethoscope and quickly listened to his lungs and then told her we should take him to the bigger hospital. As we walked away from the church, she said he had slept well during the night, but then his breathing became labored that morning and he vomited his medicine. After quickly doing a more thorough exam at our clinic, I drove them up the road to the hospital to be admitted for monitoring.

Flash forward to the following Friday. I went by Sozanne’s as I was heading to our ladies bible study to see how baby Teti was doing. She was not home, but came quickly looking for me a little while later. She was so joyful! She started sharing her life story, with part I had never known.

Before this child, she had another baby, who became sick at 8 months old. He was given treatment for malaria, but couldn’t stop vomiting and having diarrhea. After 2 days of injections, he was not improving, and was to be sent to the local hospital for inpatient care. As she walked across the airstrip near her house, the baby died. So when the week before I had told her we were sending her baby to the hospital for care, she thought the Lord was going to take this child as well.

Sozanne shared how the morning before she came to church with Teti, her M husband told her to stay home. She said she wanted to go to church and she believed God could heal her child. When she got to church, I told her we needed to go to the other hospital, and then some fear from her previous experience crept in. She became worried for her child’s little life, but knew she had to trust in God. After 4 days in the hospital, Teti was released. She came home rejoicing that God had healed her baby. She said her husband was happy as well and so thankful that their child was ok.

Sozanne knows it was God who healed Teti and is praying her husband would come to know Christ personally. Please join with us in praying for her husband to come to know Jesus Christ and trust Him with his life.

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Mosquito Nets

The days have been flying as we’ve experienced a pretty late, but heavy malaria season. Thankfully, things seem to be slowing down. As you enter the cool season in the states, we do here as well, but I like to think of it as the “time when the mosquitos die” as we prepare for hot season. They show up in the mornings and evenings in masses. Now while I know those of you who live in the south can definitely relate, how often do you worry about getting a deadly disease from these pestering creatures? Here that is a fear and legitimate concern for many. And, the most effective and best option is for patients to have a mosquito net in good condition.

A few months ago I talked with one of our directors and we were able to get permission to buy 500 mosquito nets. While 500 seems like only a drop in the bucket when you have 60,000+ local people and 30,000 refugees in the nearest camp, along with another 100,000 spread across the other 3 nearby local camps, I was excited. The nets came on the flight just in time to help us with a huge need. We set up a program to give a net to children under the age of 5 who test positive for malaria. If every child who came to the clinic under 5 was given a net, they would be gone in a week. While those who live in the camp have opportunities (although they may be rare) to receive nets from other programs and organizations, the host community does not have that luxury. Many people who come to our clinic are from a Mabaan town named Kortumbak, north and closer to the border (a 4-6 walk depending on who you ask) from Doro. They do not have a market like Doro, much less health care resources. The majority of our patients from Kortumbak come because they have malaria, and we have had several small children who were very anemic as well from this disease. Below is one boy, Mohammed, a week after being discharged from the hospital. His hemoglobin (telling how much blood he had in his system) was around 4 (normal is about 12-12.5) when he had come to us. He was very sick and pale. After going to the hospital and getting a couple blood transfusions and treatment for malaria, he was doing much better. I am so thankful we were able to send a net home with this family and many other families who are struggling with malaria in this season.

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Manga Update

If you had told me back in February everything that would need to happen to best care for this sweet little girl, I might have become overwhelmed. It has been incredible to see how God has provided for the multitude of details for her first trip for surgery to remove her frontonasal encephalocele and for her second (unexpected) trip to Kenya.

Waiting in the airport in Lokichoggio, Kenya

Waiting in the airport in Lokichoggio, Kenya

About a month and a half ago, Manga’s mom Sunday brought her back to the clinic with a small area of swelling on the right side of her nose and under her right eye. After consulting with one of her doctors in Kenya, I prescribed some antibiotics and asked her to return for review in a few days or sooner if the problem worsened. 2 days later I was on call and at the clinic on Saturday afternoon when they returned. The area had become a large mass on the right side of her face and she needed to be referred to our local hospital for more specialized care. They were able to help her temporarily, but after talking with doctors in the US, Canada, and Kenya, it was determined best for her to return to Kenya for a procedure by an oculoplastics surgeon. Thankfully the recommended doctor agreed to see her and helped me schedule an appointment.

Again, in the Lord’s good timing, Sunday and Manga’s documents were ready (mostly from their previous trip) and they were able to come along with me as I headed to Kenya for my scheduled R&R. The day before we left Doro, again they returned because of a new abscess on her face. We were able to drain it and put her on more antibiotics, but it was affirming that the procedure that was scheduled was definitely needed to prevent her from having these recurrent infections.

Killing time between doctor appointments

Soon after our arrival in Kenya, Manga followed up with one of her previous ENT doctors and had a CT that showed infection around her lacrimal gland and her nasal bone. That doctor, knowing Manga was scheduled for surgery the following week, got her admitted to the hospital and started on antibiotics over the weekend. I went with them to their appointment the following Monday with the oculoplastics surgeon. As I had feared, the doctor was hesitant to do the surgery when scheduled that week because of the underlying infection. So, back they went to the hospital in Kijabe for more antibiotics for a couple weeks.

Today, about a week after that appointment, Manga is looking much better. She is scheduled for surgery at a hospital in Nairobi next Tuesday, October 27. Unfortunately, I have to head back to South Sudan, but again the Lord has provided. A former co-worker that is Southern Sudanese and studying in Nairobi, has agreed to help Manga and her mother navigate the hospital in Nairobi and serve as an Arabic translator for them. She will be in the hospital for about 3 days next week. She will then come back out to Kijabe where her main doctor can follow her and while they await her surgical follow up appointment about 2-3 weeks after surgery. If all looks ok at that time, she could then return to South Sudan. Please remember her in your prayers–that she will have complete healing and this procedure will help her not have any further complications. Thank you to the many who have loved her and her family, prayed, sent funds for her care, and continue to ask how she is doing. This is definitely a team effort.

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The walk to Thomaji

Multiple months ago (I won’t share how many since it would be very embarrassing how long it has taken me to write this blog), my old teammate Evie and I went to a village about an hour and a half walk east-ish from Doro. The original plan was for me to leave work a little early around 2 or 3 so we could start walking with a group of pastors from the village soon after that. After a busy day and an unexpected meeting that I needed to attend, we started walking around 430pm. We walked with one pastor to the market to meet the others, just as thunder and rain started. The closest shelter was a little restaurant with a tarp ceiling and walls and we quickly ducked in as the rain came pounding down.

About 45 minutes later, the rain let up a bit and the pastors took of their shoes and socks, rolled up their pant legs, and asked us if we were ready to go. Off we walked out of the market into thick cotton-like mud. About 100 yards and 15 minutes later it was very apparent that wearing our sandals was not optimum for walking with any type of speed. As we stopped to take off our sandals with 2-3 inches of mud stuck to the bottoms making them look more like moon shoes than sandals, we were also asked to hand over our backpacks. We knew better than to argue, and over they were handed to a young woman with a baby only a few months old strapped to her back. She quickly bundled up 3 backpacks in a cloth and put them on her head before gracefully taking a large lead ahead of us. As we walked, I had to turn the medical side of my brain off as I stepped in thick mud full of sharp thorns and who knows what else.

Another few hundred yards ahead the rain started again. As we neared an open field that is normally a 15 minute walk from my house the rain began to pour. Then it began coming at us in a pelting sideways fashion that actually was kind of painful. I think this is what some would call “raining cats and dogs” as I felt like I was being hit with something as I walked. But on we traveled, with no large trees to shield us from the rain and really no time to waste before dark. After we reached the edge of the field with multiple slips and slides and almost face plants in the mud, we needed to go up an incline. I went after I watched the pastors do it ever so gracefully, with Evie behind me. I made it a good 2/3 of the way up before losing momentum and starting to slide back down, into my friend. Thankfully, as I came towards her she gave her best cheerleader move pushing me back up until I was able to reach the top. Then I see a group of local women in hysterical laughter after watching the khawaaja (white person) attempt to climb this hill barefoot. Just to get to the edge of “town” had taken us (in my head at least, well over an hour).

But onward we went, chasing the daylight. We were able to keep a decent pace after we got out of town and to areas where the rain had not come. As we walked, our group grew a little as people also walking to Thomaji were coming home from work behind us and were quickly able to catch up to our pace. At one point there was a snake in the path and I was thankful to be with men who quickly killed it. Soon after that I think I decided it was a good time to put my sandals back on (not that they would actually help me win a battle against a snake)! Later we cross the river, that was low since it was early in the rainy season. By the time we reached Thomaji, it was about 730pm. The 1 1/2 hour walk had turned into a little over 2 hours. But, we made it! After the adventurous trek I had a new perspective and respect for those who: 1) walk to the nearest market frequently that is 1 1/2 hours away, 2) walk to the nearest clinic (our SIM clinic in Doro) 1 1/2 hours away–sometimes having to cross the river when it is high with/usually carrying their sick children and 3) the peace and blessing of living in a small village.

We had a lovely few days with Pastor Daniel and his wife Mariam, seeing the local school where the classes are held under big trees, spending time with the church community, and just enjoying life away from “town.” Hope this helped you get a good mental picture and some laughs; below are some photos.

Impressive!

Soaking wet on part of the walk

Soaking wet on part of the walk

Some of the ladies

Hanging out, waiting on some tea

School under the tree

Pounding sorghum

Pounding sorghum

Our outdoor beds, right next to the kitchen

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The Nubian Ladies

Here in Doro I attend the Nubian church. The great thing about this church is that it really isn’t just a Nubian church. It is filled with Uduk, JumJum, Mabaan, Nubian, and believers from other tribes. Some of my dearest friends are the ladies that attend this church. Every week we spend time together for Bible study or doing outreach in the camps. A lot of times we are doing what we can to encourage these women in hard times. There have been many a conversation over coffee, tea, and waiting while someone prepares the coffee or tea about life and God. I am thankful for the strength these women portray day in and day out despite difficult marriages, struggling finances to provide clothing and school supplies, and walking through each day with a smile and joy.

On my porch after a goodbye party

On my porch after a goodbye party

My sweet friend, Joy preparing cofee

My sweet friend, Joy preparing the coffee beans

Coffee time

Coffee time

Peanuts in your coffee...so good and drowns out the strong ginger aftertaste (i.e. burning)

Peanuts in your coffee…so good and drowns out the strong ginger aftertaste (i.e. burning)

Please pray for them–that they would stay strong in their faith and continue to persevere through difficult circumstances. Pray that they would be able to live out their faith and share with others. Pray for wisdom for myself, that I would be able to love, encourage, and walk through life well with them.

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Borfa

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One of the areas that I have friends within the camp is in the Borfa section, which is one of the Uduk people groups. They are refugees from Blue Nile State in northern Sudan, and for many of them, this is not their first time living in a refugee camp. Many spent years in Ethiopia before returning for approximately 4 years to Blue Nile State, and then relocating here in 2011. Some of the ladies who work in our clinic are from Borfa, and they are some of the most hospitable people you have ever met.

Every Sunday after church they have fellowship together. There is a rotating group of women who cook food for countless people in the congregation. If I come for a visit after going to the Nubian church, I will find them sitting under the trees, chatting, nursing babies, or singing songs from their hymn books. It is such a joy to get to spend time with other believers, even if I can’t communicate well in Tw’ampa, their mother tongue. But, we find ways to communicate–whether Arabic, laughing, or hand gestures. They spend the entire afternoon together, drinking tea and coffee, and visiting. Then there is another short service in the afternoon before they share a meal together. We are always invited to join in with them, and can easily stay until right before the sun sets. There is always a group of ladies willing to walk us part of the way home. I am thankful for these women and their sweet, encouraging spirits.

Hanging out with some of the ladies indoors during a dust storm

Hanging out with some of the ladies indoors during a dust storm

Sunglasses are cheap entertainment

Sunglasses are cheap entertainment

Cups of tea on a table made from a vegetable oil tin

Samiya & I

Samiya & I

Can you tell what we just taught Axa?

Can you tell what we just taught Axa?

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