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!

Church in Susu

We had a wonderful day at church in Susu. We headed to the village at 8 and arrived at 9:30 into Susu. The road was still very rough and bumpy and I forgot how we built muscle from holding on, tighting our abs, and trying to stay "comfortable". We were excited to discover the villagers had built a new "bridge" so we didn't have to cross the water as much like we did last year. No worries of getting out and pushing the Van through the creek. Although we did hit a few spots I was afraid we would be pushing through the sand. We made it through and I was so excited to be back in Susu! We were greeted by pastor Sanday (pronunced Sunday) and his son Kenneth.  Bible study started right away and we began singing and dancing oh how I love church in Susu!! I might just have to start dancing in church on Sunday's :)
My sermon went well and I felt God telling me what to say and it was amazing to see one of the other nurses Megan spoke and so did Robyn our Hands at Work host. All of ours came together and really matched well  together about teaching about the true Jesus. We all had versus from 1 John and I spoke about being in the darkness and finding the light. God really lead the service and my anxiety was gone.

My favorite part of the service is when people came forward to ask for us to pray with them for all different reasons. I was able to pray for healing over a couple of small children with medical needs and pray for mother's as they care for their children.  Being a mom is hard work especially when you have very little. I will continue to pray for these mom's because there job is so important and I felt a special bond as a mother myself I know it takes patience and hard work even more so when you have a sick child.

Church ended 4 hours later and it was time to hear back to Kabwe where we were staying to prepare for the week.

1 John 1:7    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,  and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Arrived in Zambia

We have arrived in Zambia after a long 2 day trip in an airplane.  We had great flights everything was on time and we even arrived early to Zambia which is amazing.  We were able to watch the African sunrise as we landed and it was absolutely beautiful. The smile on my face and the joy I had to know I had landed on African soil after 9 months away I return to where a part of my heart is. I love it here!!!

As we traveled in the van to the lodge 2 hours away from the airport I stared out the window and I dreamt about having my family here with me.  I someday want to share this with them. Zambia is a place that brings me so much joy and peace I feel God around me, I feel his love, I have a passion that comes alive when I am here and I want to share that with the 4 people I Love the most my husband and daughters. 

We got settled in our lodge,  our shower is cold this year so I settled for a bath in a bag (aka baby wipes), and we rested and prepared for our week in the village of Susu.

Tomorrow I will give a sermon in church.  I have asked for many prayers to give me the wisdom and knowledge to know what to say.  I do have it prepared and my anxieties have gone away. So I want to share with you why.....
I was sitting in the airport yesterday (Friday) in London and I started thinking about what I wanted to talk about (yes, I am a procrastinator) so I open my kindle and opened the bible and this was the first verse that I read,

Jeremiah 1:6-8    Then I said "Ah Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak , for I am only youth" But the Lord said to me,

"Do not say 'I am only youth'; for to all whom I send you, you shall go and whatever I command you , you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord"

Wow!! I felt God speaking to me this verse says exactly what I feel. I am so young,  I am a nurse not a pastor, I don't speak well in public but God said "No Nicole you are not youth (hello you are going to be 30 next year),  I will be with you, I will deliver you. So again he has this, God has control and I am prepared and not anxious about sharing his words!