In the female ward Esther’s phone rang. It was her older sister who had been at Esther’s bedside every day during her 3-week hospitalization. I heard her speak to Esther in Liberian English then ask, “howa you?” Esther, who one week earlier was fighting for her life, smiled brightly and answered, “I feel fine…I feel super!” Esther (not her real name) was admitted to ELWA hospital in mid December after she developed a fever and collapsed. Her sister told us that she had become increasingly weak over the past year and was vomiting frequently and losing weight. In the ER she was fading in and out of consciousness with a temperature that exceeded 103 degrees. Her blood work showed severe malaria and her HIV test was positive. After a week of IV fluids, antibiotics and antimalarial medication, Esther became increasingly alert and was able to eat. She was seen by the HIV counselors at the hospital. After gaining a clear understanding of her illness and the importance of taking her medication, she began anti-HIV therapy. Shortly after starting the medication, Esther became critically ill again, a condition brought about by the reconstitution of her ailing immune system. With diligent nursing care and continued antibiotics and fluids, slowly her strength returned.
Little C.K. is a one-month old infant who is pictured here on his day of discharge from the hospital. C.K. presented to the emergency room with sepsis and severe malaria. (One in twelve children in Liberia die before the age of 5 and the most common cause is malaria. This disease is responsible for taking the lives of nearly 4 thousand Liberians each year). Little C.K. had not fed well for a week and by the time we saw him he had a high fever and was barely conscious. After a week of aggressive care in the hospital he began to recover. He was vigorous, feeding well and gaining weight at the time of discharge. What this photo does not capture is the huge smile of relief on mom’s face. She realized that her child had come close to death and she left the hospital repeatedly giving thanks to God for saving her child.
It is a blessing to be here in Liberia, caring for patients like Esther and C.K. whose lives have been touched by the caring staff at ELWA hospital. We see infants with malaria, typhoid, diarrhea and sepsis, children who have been struck by cars, and adults with stroke, HIV, abdominal infections and tetanus. The intensity of illness and injuries here is a constant reminder of life’s fragile nature and the importance for our team here at ELWA hospital to continue to share Christ’s love with those that we serve.
In our training last March we were reminded of the need to “say goodbye well.” There is no more important goodbye than the one we will say to Josh, our son. Last week I had the privilege of traveling to University of Colorado, Boulder where he was completing a physics internship. The two of us embarked on a 4-day backpacking trip in the Rockies.
Fried trout in the mountains is a delicacy that I will never tire of. Fourteen inch cutthroat and an eight inch frying pan…”Houston, we have a problem.”
On night three, after a particularly difficult hike that included 4 miles at 12,000 feet on the continental divide, we enjoyed one of the most picturesque campsites that either of us has ever experienced. We were perched high on the side of a mountain on a shelf which was made entirely of tailings, the rock that was left over from an 1890’s gold mine. We sat at the campfire until late at night making potato dumplings, chatting, and enjoying the amazing beauty of the Rockies.
Beth and I are incredibly blessed to be moving to Liberia with Bethany and Bekah, and we are very, very grateful for Josh, our “anchor” in the States.
Preparing our home, letting go, telling our story, and treasuring the beauty around us; life has been rich and full this month as we continue to get ready for the next chapter.
Two weeks ago, the time arrived for us to say goodbye to our sweet golden retriever, Zuma. The story of how we found a family for her is but another example of seeing God provide for the details in life. A five year old boy is “beyond happy” to have a new buddy and our hearts are assured of the love Zuma will receive in her new home.
We barely had time to ponder the future of our piano when a dear friend with nine children contacted us and asked if she could “store” our piano for us. Turns out that they could use another one with so many little ones eager to practice!
Then I recognized the need to let go of what remained of the library of resources I had collected over the past 15 years of homeschooling. Amazing how fast the word got out when I posted this photo on Facebook! What a delight to greet the young moms eager to find items to help them enrich their supplies as they begin another year educating their children.
Frequently I searched for my calendar in order to pencil in another date to share our story with others. We have thoroughly been blessed by the kindness of family and friends organizing dessert nights for us.
We have been in the midst of projects around the house. What a gift we received when John’s brother offered to drive 40 hours round trip just so he could paint for us! A task that seemed so monumental to us, he cheerfully completed working from morning ’til night for several days.
We traveled to Idaho for a brief but joy-filled reunion with family members; treasuring the moments together while enjoying the simplicity of country life.
When possible, we took breaks from the daily demands of life to drive to our favorite local beaches. The beauty of the ocean brings peace and calm when so much is changing around us. Our hearts are full of gratitude for today and excitement for all that God has planned in the days and months to come.
After fifteen years of taking call for OB at Ventura County Medical Center a few times each month, I just finished my last night of call. The next baby I deliver will be a Liberian baby!
Recently I was at a train depot in Berwyn Illinois and saw this bench. I thought to myself, “Oh the stories this old resting stop could tell…” The bench has become a symbol for the current chapter of my family’s life: transition and waiting. Preparing for a home in a faraway land and saying goodbye to what is known occupies our days. Excitement and sadness intermingle. Thankful for the wonderful training we have received from SIM that explained transition with the analogy of a trapeze. We must let go of that first trapeze before we can fully grip the next. Sometimes we feel only the sense of the gap mid-flight. Then we are reminded of the richness and hope of each phase: past, present, and future. My mind finds peace gazing at the bench, imagining fellow travelers waiting and transitioning, thankful for the journey.
(Above Photo: Sweet times with Beth’s new friends, Purity and Patrice.)
I am so excited to be in Wheaton, IL with Patrice Miles for 4 days! We will be attending an educational planning seminar addressing issues such as:
What educational option is best for our children?
How can we help our children learn a second language?
How can we develop a workable educational plan for our family that fits our goals, values, and ministry?
How do we choose a homeschooling curriculum?
How can we prepare our children for the transitions they will make in leaving this culture and entering a new one?
I’m thankful for this great organization that is looking out for families living overseas:
What or who is a TCK or Third Culture Kid?
“An individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than the parent’s culture, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Elements from each culture are incorporated into the life experience,
but the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar experience.”
David C. Pollock, Interaction International
(This applies to Missions, International Business, Diplomatic Corps, and Military)
I am a TCK and am so thankful for all the work that has been done the last thirty years to define this unique experience.
The people of Liberia have suffered through fourteen years of civil war. In a country of 3 million, nearly a tenth of the population lost their lives and 800,000 were displaced as refugees. Now in the midst of recovery, the Liberians have renewed hope. We will be partnering with the local church to serve those in need.
John is joining the staff at ELWA hospital in Monrovia, caring for those who have lived through this difficult chapter. He will be involved in establishing a Family Medicine residency program. Beth will homeschool Rebekah and seek opportunities to serve in the healthcare, youth or orphanage ministries. Bethany will use her passion for photography to help communicate the ministry at ELWA. Josh will be our anchor in the States continuing his studies in physics.
In this country where so many have experienced such intense pain, the hope of the gospel is providing joy in place of despair.