Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sowers Family 2013

Our Christmas Newsletter and update on our family. We have enjoyed receiving everyone's Christmas cards this year and keeping in touch with friends.

Brandon- The head guy, the leader of our family. Brandon is still working for the FSA in butler county. We had a challenging October while the government was on furlough unsure of what was to come. Brandon continued to provide for our family after being able to get his CDL and pick up side jobs working for Sinclair elevator and other farmers. Brandon is a hard worker as he continues to work weekends driving semi in addition to his FSA job and having pigs here at our house. He enjoys spending time with his family and having the girls help him on the farm. Brandon has also grown an "Epic" beard this year making him famous and better known as Yukon.

Nicole- I made a big change this year by quitting my job at Covenant.  It was a hard decision but what was best for our family.  I continue to work in the ER once a week in Waverly and every 3rd weekend as a "House Supervisor"/resource nurse. I've enjoyed my new role and set schedule.  Along with this job I also serve lunch at times at Teagan's school,  drive the bus (also got my CDL:), and school janitor, and tutor for 6-7 year olds at our homeschooling group that Teagan and Harper attend on Tuesday's. I also was able to return to Zambia for my second year. Zambia feels like a second home to me.

Teagan (5)-Started Kindergarten at Timothy Christian school.  She's enjoyed going to school M-W-F and being home with mom on the other days. She is an excellent reader and loves to be with friends. Teagan continues to take Horse Lessons and loves to ride. She also just picked up piano lessons and really enjoying it.

Harper (4)- Oh Harper is our energetic keep you on your toes kid. Harper struggled at first having big sister gone a few days a week but is starting to enjoy being the oldest and has matured a lot in the last couple months. Harper is doing great at our homeschooling group and is eager to keep learning.  Harper's favorites this year at school are the solar system and geography.  She also began gymnastics this year which has been excellent outlet for all that energy!!

Blakely (3)- To say she's obsessed with horses is an understatement.  So much we decided to have her start taking lessons this fall. She is a great listener for her teacher and is constantly saying "wide around" and "woah". Blakely also isn't afraid to talk to anyone and be prepared she LOVES to talk and tell stories.  (She's a lot like her mamma ;)

We've had our challenges this year which I'm sure others have too. But reflecting back over 2013 we have been incredibly blessed. God continues to provide for our needs and show his love for us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Furlough Day #15

Currently Brandon is furloughed by the federal government,  his work is considered "non-essential". A lot of this makes me angry,  scared,  and anxious.

The media makes me mad, there is no such thing as non-bias journalism. Please report the facts not your opinion and quite frankly I think your way off on your opinion!!

I'm scared,  I look at our country and just can't believe where we are at.  The scary part to me is that there is a vote, we voted to be controlled by our government (well i didn't,  but obviously many people did).  The people want the government to control their medical care, their food, their families, etc. When did we go from limited government power to here you control of it??!! When did we become such a divided country?  There will be no middle grounds there is only a winner and a loser in this government shutdown. We have seen no compromise from imo a particular side...it's their way or no way! (That's scary stuff)

And I'm anxious!  Brandon is the provider in our house. He makes around 80 percent of our income.  He is now on his 3rd week of no pay. Senate has not passed the bill the back pay them. We don't have any idea when this will all end!! I like to plan, I like to know what's going to happen next, and I hate surprises.

With all this anger, being scared, and anxiety I just keep turning to God. Knowing God will provide for our needs, our family will eat, we will have shelter,  and heat in the winter.  God comforts me.

There have been days ok really moments in each day that the anxiety creeps up, I get a little crazy,  a little obsessed,  look at too much news, and I lose trust in God. But I can see God at work......

I'm thankful it is harvest time which provides Brandon with some work. I am thankful for friends who have been more then willing to find hours for Brandon to drive semi and haul grian or to work in the field. I'm thankful Brandon has his CDL. I'm thankful Brandon is willing to work so hard for our family because he loves us.  I'm thankful my parents have been so willing to help, they've watched the girls when Brandon and I both worked on the weekend,  they gave us extra food, they've listened when I'm frustrated or just need to talk. I'm thankful for our church who have been supportive and praying.  I'm thankful that some day I will be able to read about this in the history books. I'm thankful we had a great harvest this year in our garden. I'm thankful we had a tree full of pears, I'm thankful that friends have had way too many apples on their trees and have been willing to share. I'm thankful for the amazing weather we have had this fall.  I'm thankful for my 3 little blessings. The list could just go on and on. Even in the hardest of times we have so much to be thankful for!!

For now I need to focus on the good,  not the bad and leave the rest up to God.

Joshua 1:9

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First Day of Kindergarten!

Teagan started Kindergarten today! It's hard to believe she is already 5 and starting school.  Brandon and I have prayed a lot over the last year on making a decision of sending Teagan to school and what is the best fit for HER.

We are really excited to have her at Timothy Christian School. Her kindergarten class is only 5 kids and she only goes Monday, Wednesday,  Friday.  They started the morning with chapel and I love that God is the center of their education. 

Teagan did great,  I didn't get a goodbye or anything. She was ready to go, ready to learn, and I'm sure she will have a great day!!!

Harper didn't handle it so well...there were a lot of tears, a lot of when is TT coming home, is she on the bus yet?, and it is only 10:30. Luckily it's a short day :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sink or Swim

My girls won't be on the swim team anytime soon or probably ever but swim lessons are going much better then last year.

We made the decision to not do group lessons this year because my children were traumatized by the forcing of jumping off the diving board last year. They want nothing to do with being near the deep end and for right now that's fine with me.
This week we are doing private lessons with a high schooler the girls know from church.  It has gone so much better and the girls are becoming more comfortable in the water. 

The girls might be scared of the diving board but put them on all the rides at Arnold's Park and they aren't scared of anything! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Random facts about my trip in Africa

I showered 2 times in 10 days.

I got zapped both times I showered, electric current I felt to my toes. (It hurt!)

Both showers were very cold!

We lost electricity one night and packed meds in the dark.

The best meal we had was in Susu at the feeding point after we served the kids on kids day. They make some good chicken!

Nothing seems to go as planned while you are in Africa.

The Kwacha is easier now that they dropped 3 zeros, the pound still confuses me!

I dislike London. 

Leading a team is hard yet rewarding.  I had an awesome team!

I am bad about being a back seat driver!  Even 4 rows back, at times you just have to close your eyes!

Spider's eat bugs so don't kill them.

Ant Lion's really bite and it hurts!

I am getting old I was worn out after running one lap of the field with the nursery age kids!

Teaching kids games in a different language is hard. But they did love the hokey pokey :)

When Chipolopolo plays you don't actually have to be watching the game you know when they score by the hollering and cheering.  Plus the adorable little boys running down the dirt road screaming Zambia Zambia!! Football aka Soccer is very exciting :)

Saying goodbye is hard.  I have cried a lot!

I love Zambia! I love Susu! I can't wait to return!

Care Worker appreciation

One of my favorite days of the week is Care Worker appreciation day. The care workers are the leaders in the village they walk the paths daily,  they know exactly who is sick, which children are orphaned,  who the most vulnerable are and what the needs are. They don't get paid to care for their community, there are no rewards,  they just have hearts of gold and really care about the village of Susu.

We get to treat them one day. It's a special day and there is lots of food,  and a fun game of bingo.  They come dressed in there very best and we all have a great time. We build closer relationships with them. We also sing and dance praising God for the work he has done throughout the week.

I love seeing the smiles on their face and how they light up when they win a game of bingo :)

At the end of the day it was hard to say goodbye.  I talked with pastor Sanday and told him to not forget me that if I don't return next year I will be back in Susu some day. I hope I can start supporting Susu more and continue to build relationships.  As far as what next year holds only God knows for sure.

Clinic Day 2

Clinic day 2 went so much smoother and I felt the team was a lot more prepared and we headed straight to work.  I got off the van and headed straight out to a hut with Godwin. We went out to see Esther who Corrie and I saw on Monday during home visit.  Esther had a blood pressure of 202/90 on Monday with a large abcess on the side of her cheek.  Today her blood pressure was down to 150/78 and the abcess was slightly smaller.  We had given her bp medication and an antibiotic that appeared to be working. She said she felt stronger and was very appreciative! Godwin and I made it back into the village by 10:30 and the team was doing great.  I had already walked 6K wow! I got my work outs in this week. 

I again helped assess prenatal women doing blood pressure and glucose test. There were more women today for the class. After the class I went and started assessing Men in the clinic.  I saw a wide variety of symptoms.  A lot of people come in to get medication they may need through out the year. Unfortunately we are the only medical group that comes to Susu, so they haven't seen anyone since August 2012. I can't imagine what it would be like to not have access to things we consider basic such as Tylenol and ibuprofen. 

Yesterday we de-wormed all the School children and today we saw some that couldn't make it or don't attend school that also needed de-wormed. It was a very busy day but I had an awesome team who worked hard to accomplish seeing around 390 patients!  That is a lot for 9 nurses.

The patients also had to have their assessments reviewed by the Zambian nurses. To follow the law in Zambia and since we don't have Zambia nursing licences this is required. Today we had 3 nurses from the St. Pauls clinic about 10 kilometers from Susu. I was surprised that two of the nurses were men. Nursing is becoming a lot more popular in Zambia and there is a very high need for nurses just like in the US. All 3 nurses we're very intelligent and helpful we enjoyed getting to know them and see how they practice medicine in Zambia.

Many of the children we saw today were wearing their sunglasses and new pillow case dresses they received yesterday at kids day. Such a joy to see the children smiling and happy.

The end of the day was hard. It's time to say goodbye to the community of Susu. We take one last ride down the bumpy road and for some we know we will return next year and for others we're still unsure of God's plan. We pray that we left a huge impact on the community and that we will never be forgotten. They may not understand what we said but they will always remember how we made them feel. The love that we showed,  the comfort that they felt and the hope they have for the community.

We ended with one more circle of prayer. Dancing and worshipping God, singing This is The Day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice! As we drive away,  I look out the window to a village I love, tears start to roll down my cheek, I leave a special little girl I think of as my own, friends that I now consider family and I know God has big plans for Susu.  I pray I continue to be apart of that plan! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kids Day

Celebrating the Kids! These children may not have a lot, some have lost one or both parents,  but they are still a blessing from God. God chose them, and he knows them, he knows every hair on their head so lets Celebrate God's gifts :)

Luke 12:7. Indeed every hair on your head is numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than sparrows.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Holy Home Visits

We had a wonderful day going on home visits. Hands at Work is changing a little and working towards making their Visits stronger and more faith based and building relationships with those we see in the home, they now call them Holy Home Visits. We spent a lot of time with each family,  listening to their stories, seeing where they live, and assessing their medical needs. We were able to provide antibiotics,  blood pressure medications, wound dressing, tylenol for fevers, cough syrup, and oral rehydration packets.

We also went down to the river and brought back water on our heads. I tried really hard but I think I need to work more on this at home. Maybe I will start doing the chores at home carrying the feed buckets on my head lol. Jk Brandon that's not going to happen ;)

And what everyone has been waiting for...ok maybe you weren't but I totally was....I got to see my sweet Inez today!  She was absolutely beautiful she came around the corner saw me and she came running to my lap and continued to sit with me during the whole visit with her grandparents.  We played, we giggled, we sang, and we snuggled. ..I LOVED every minute with her wish it could be longer!!

Letting Go of Control

When traveling to Africa there are a lot of unknowns, I have to give up a lot of control.  I have to know without a doubt God is in control. 

I was losing this sense of control I thought I had, by Wednesday I knew I had no control and I gave up trying to control it because I was done, it was over, only God has control.  When I finally realized this and I surrendered control I found an overwhelming sense of peace knowing I don't have to worry, I don't have to try to control, He's got this.....God's got this!!

I no longer have to worry is the plane going to land....because guess what? I can't control that. I can't control the weather, I can't control the flight delays, I can't control a lot of things. But I can control me and answering God's call to serve him, to follow him, to listen to his plan, to let him have total control.

So here I sit in London with two old friends and 6 new friends ready to serve,  ready to follow God to Susu and I can't wait!!

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord

Day 2 of Home Visits

Today was a difficult day. We arrived in Susu and were informed of the death of a sweet little girl Naomi. Naomi was 2 years old and had hydrocephalus and a cleft palate. Her mother had moved to Susu to live with her Grandmother after her husband left her claiming Naomi was not his. This is common in Africa for father's to deny children with special needs. Naomi's mother was young and had no one but she was blessed by her Grandmother and the community of Susu. I was able to pray with Naomi and her mother on Sunday in church. One of the other nurses Brittany had gone with our host from Hands at Work Robyn to assess Naomi on Monday.  Monday was a good day for Naomi she had one of her best days in a long time which made it difficult to hear she passed in her sleep last night. The funeral started today and Robyn and Brittany were able to attend and have built an amazing relationship with the mother and able to give her a lot of support.  Our team also collected an offering and we were able to buy a coffin for the burial which will take place tomorrow. 

The rest of us had to continue on and assess the needs of the sick and vulnerable that would not be able to make it in to clinic. Today I was with Erin.  She is truly an amazing nurse who is very intelligent and has a lot of compassion for the needy. We first went to a home where a little girl around the age of 2 or 3 had a large burn to her lower leg from a fire that caught to her dress. We were able to assess it, clean it, and dress it. We also provided pain medication and an antibiotic. They were so appreciative because we also left them wound care supplies and education on how to care for the wound. Hopefully the little girl will come to clinic Friday so we can see the progress.  At that same home we assessed her Grandmother who was complaining of high blood pressure and pain in her knees to the point she now scoots or tries to crawl when she needs to get some where. She is no longer able to get to the clinic to get her medication.  The closest clinic is called St. Pauls and would be approx. a 10 kilometer walk from her home. A lot of her pain seemed to be arthritis in her knees and in the states she would most likely be getting a double knee replacement.  It is hard to think about how easy we can access medical care at home but feel as though we can do nothing in Susu.  We provided some BP medication for her and also some pain medication so for a short time hopefully she has some relief and comfort.  We also prayed for healing over her and her granddaughter because truly the ultimate healer is God.

We walked further on and met with another family who had many needs. The grandmother had just returned a few days earlier from Lusaka about a 3 hour drive from Susu and she had been staying in the hospital there. She was diagnosed with what was described as pericarditis and this is where I was glad I had Erin with me :) She is an excellent Cardiac nurse and she was able to educate and provide them with a lot of information. She was on all the right medications from Lusaka hospital which was encouraging however there was still not a lot of other treatment we could provide. We also treated her husband who had a wound on his foot from dropping something on it at work. I was able to clean It and give him some supplies to keep it covered.  The wound did not appear to be infected which amazes me considering they don't typically have shoes on. Then we got to see their grandson and assess his cough. He was so cute at first I thought he told me his name was King Darius but it's just Darius. However I thought King sounded pretty fitting for him and will always remember him as King Darius :)

Overall it was a good day in the homes. Even what seems so small can plant seeds and leave a huge impact on people.  When you are in Susu I really can feel God's presence and know that he is leading me. Brittany reported that the funeral went well and they know this was God's timing and sweet Naomi is now healthy and rejoicing in heaven.

We came back to a lodge with no electricity and no water. I did go a little in to panic mode. We still had several medications to pack for clinic tomorrow and the sun set is about 5:30 so it would soon be dark. Our team pulled together and worked hard packing pills and preparing.  We pulled out our book lights,  head lamps, and a lantern and worked hard that evening.  The lights did eventually come back on and fortunately stayed on. We spent until 1:30 in the morning packing meds. Time for bed and rest!!

Clinic Day 1

As a leader clinic day one was very difficult.  The team was awake packing meds until 01:30 am, and we left at 07:30am for the ride to Susu. My plan for the day had to be changed due to the burial and so that put us down a nurse and Robyn who was going to do eye glasses for us. I didn't feel as prepared as I would have liked and the morning started out a little hectic. It takes a little while for nurses to get into the groove of what a mobile clinic is like and knowing which medications to prescribe for which symptoms. 

I should have counted but I did a lot of running back and fourth, back and fourth,  from the clinic to the pharmacy, to the Zambian nurse "office", to the church where we were teaching prenatal classes and feminine hygiene for young girls. It's not very far between the locations but it sure felt like it walking it so many times, my legs were exhausted,  I was exhausted,  emotionally drained. But it all changed once I saw everything fall into place, I started to relax and we did what we could with what we had.

I had the privilege of helping Megan set up and prepare for teaching the prenatal class she assessed each mom and we had a new fetal heart monitor and the mom's got to hear their babies heart beat for the first time. Some of these women were having their 6th, 7th, even 8th baby and have never heard the heart beating of their baby inside of them. What an amazing experience to see the smiles on their faces, the excitement of hearing for the first time! I remember that same feeling but I heard Teagan's at 8 weeks then again every 4 weeks after and then towards the end every week. And the same with Harper and Blakely, sometimes we take these moments for granted,  sometimes we except the top best medical treatment provided yet these women have not even these basic medical equipment.  The mom's were provided with education on taking care of themselves, labor and delivery,  and post partum care. We passed out baby bags at the end that included a few onesies, teething ring, a book, and cloth diapers.  Nicki's Diaper company online was so generous by providing us with several cloth diaper covers, some prefolds, and some safety pins. The ladies at my church also worked hard on making cloth diapers out of t-shirts, and then my good friends Amanda A. and Diana S. also gave me some gently used and loved diapers. And Envirosaks donated the bags. The new mom's were so appreciative of the education, bags and new stuff for their babies. Megan did a great job teaching and you can really see God has given her a gift of teaching and loving OB patients.

After the class I went back to checking in on each "station" and seeing if they needed anything else.  As I was leaving the "pharmacy" my sweet daughter was peeking around the corner smiling at me. I was so excited to see her! She was with her cousin who watches after her often because her grandparents are sick. Her cousin is 13. It was exciting knowing Inez is now strong enough and old enough to make it into the main part of the village. Last year she was always at her home when we saw her.  Her cousin then attended the feminine hygiene class where she learned all about the changes of our bodies and then given a days for girls kit. If you've never heard of them you should Google them they are an awesome group in the United states sewing cloth pads and making kits so young girls can still attend school during their menstrual cycle. I think Megan had 25 girls in the class. Inez is much too young for the class so she hung out with me and we played and she brought a huge smile to my face.

Brittany and Robyn returned from the burial and got started right away on helping see all the patients.  Brittany was in the women and children area and started assessing right away.  Brittany is a brand new nurse and was a little nervous this week but I have had the privilege of watching her grow this week and she is going to make an awesome pediatric nurse when she returns to Tennessee.  Robyn ran our eye glass clinic and loved being able to watch people find the glasses that finally allowed them to see.

The team saw around 230 patients that day. For a variety of symptoms cough, headaches,  back pain,  hypertension,  nausea, abdominal pain, parasites,  anxiety,  and more. Blair and Jackie ran an awesome pharmacy which can be stressful but they were able to distribute all the medications and we were able to head home around 1630 or 4:30 pm. It is important we head out of Susu before sunset due to the roads.

The rest of the evening will be spent preparing for kids day!