Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On my way back

Just a quick note... I'm in Accra now. Our flight leaves for Frankfurt this evening. Yesterday was a very long day! We woke up at 3:30 AM to drive to Tamale to catch our flight to Accra. Right after we arrived in Accra, we drove west along the coast to go to a canopy walk in the rain forrest, and then to visit the Cape Coast slave castle. What a horrible place, but it is good to see and to remember. The ocean was beautiful! I really just wanted to run and jump in it, clothes and everything.

This morning we went to the market in Accra. I'm a horrible bargainer, but it was fun anyway. Okay, signing off for now!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


What a day! And it's only half way over! I can't remember if I've written about Tommy yet. He's is a wonderful man who lives over here now, completely independently with a personal ministry to the Ghanaians. He is from Alabama, and just a wonderful person. I really loved getting to spend the morning with him. I think we're on the same wavelength about a lot of things. He and his wife used to come over here back in the 80s and 90s for longer short-term stints, but after she passed away, he just moved out here. He has his own house out in the town of Nalerigu and his own farm about 15 miles (but about 1 hour) away. He doesn't get any profit from any of his farming; he uses it all as part of his ministry to the people here. He goes to different remote villages to preach and help them however they need. He has really adapted to life and the people here and lives like a local. He also does some maintenance work at the hospital sometimes. He's a wonderful man who is truly living out the Great Commission and the commands to help the poor and needy.

He took us out to several very remote, small villages. We met lots of beautiful, wonderful people. He showed us his farmhouse and his farm land. It was really incredible to be out there just in nature. Hardly anything was man made... a bike or two every once in a while, and our truck, of course. But other than that, just seemingly endless miles of land. Sometimes dotted with houses or villages, but even all of those are made from materials grown right around them. It made me laugh as I thought what a struggle it is for people at home who want to grow or buy or do everything with locally-made or locally-grown and even "organic" products. It really is a different world out here.

As for the rest of the week... Thursday night on call was probably my hardest, but it wasn't even that bad. We just had a woman who was 5 months pregnant who had a placental abruption and the baby died and another lady with a very difficult labor who we had to do a C-section on. Her baby didn't survive either. It was very emotionally draining, and I was very wrouhgt with concern over whether or not I had done the right things for the lady who was 5 months pregnant. Friday at clinic was much less crazy and more smooth than Wednesday was. Somehow, Zsila and I still managed to see 100 patients, but we finished by 4. I got to do another C-section. Then we had several ultrasounds and procedures in the theatre. After that, we went to the Hewitt's house for dinner and a movie. I was so exhausted, but managed to stay awake for most of it.

After that, I attempted to take pictures of the stars and the sky with my camera on my tripod, but mostly it just looks like little white dots in the picture. The sky was absolutely clear and gorgeous, and I love being able to see the stars!

Okay, I think that's all for now! Love to all, and keep up the prayers!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't even know where to start

I can't even remember where I left off last time! Wednesday was by far the craziest day I've ever experienced! The hospital and clinic had been on holiday for Good Friday and Easter, so of course the patients needed to make up for it! Boy did they ever... I think around 500 patients were seen in the outpatient clinic just on Wednesday! Zsila and I saw 100 together. By the end of the day, I couldn't talk. My tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. Our nurse translators were exhausted. At one point I asked a patient when her "shortneth of bress" gets worse. Dorcas, the nurse I was working with, just stared at me blankly. So we finished seeing patients in the clinic around 6 pm, then we went to the "theatre" to do ultrasounds and procedures. We miraculously finished there around 7 pm - with 13 ultrasounds, 2 D&C's, and who knows how many other procedures. I went home for a quick dinner, then back up with Dr. Dickens for my first C-section! He walked me all the way through it. It was great. He's a great teacher, and very patient! I was just about to start closing the skin when the power went out. This time it stayed out for about 3 minutes. Just when someone went to get a flash light, the lights finally came back on. It was definitely the weirdest time in the OR. Then Dr. Faile did a repair of an incarcerated hernia - which was actually a swollen hernia sac. The hernia itself had reduced. Then one more C/S. Dr. Dickens did that one... it was past midnight. Then I went home, fell asleep, and it rained again!

I cannot believe I only have 3 more days to work here! It's totally strange how your perspective changes about things. The heat doesn't bother me as much any more (though it has cooled down a bit). The things I think are necessary and are luxuries have totally changed. God is so good and continues to reveal Himself in every moment! Love to all!

Psalm 37:3-5 - Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, also trust in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

An Easter Blessing

Well, Easter was a lot of fun! We went to the Easter Egg Hunt in the village of Nakpanduri, which is where the Escarpment is where we went hiking last week. There are some Catholic missionaries there, John & Denise, who have been doing the Easter Egg Hunt for all the missionary kids for more than 20 years! This couple is really sweet and funny! They have been in Ghana for more than 40 years, I believe, and have pretty well assimilated themselves into the culture. I think their house might be the local zoo! They have so many animals - a babboon (who was pretending to be a goat's mother when we saw her), a monkey with an adopted baby, a gazelle, a dog, and lots of other animals roaming around outside their little courtyard. It was really funny when we went... every time I turned around there was another animal. I think they try to focus a lot on agricultural education for the Ghanaians - replanting trees, raising animals, harvesting, etc. They are very very sweet and gracious. Of course it was good to see all the missionary families again. There were even a few more that added to the mix (and my confusion of trying to keep all the kids straight).

Sunday morning, we went to church at Second Baptist with Yisah and Joyce and their family. It was a great service! A lot of fun. You could tell the women were very proud of their new Easter clothes. Zsila and I were also very proud of ours! But we learned a very important lesson - long skirts without slits in them provide very little ventilation and make you have to take very small steps. It made for a long walk to church! But it was worth it.

Sunday evening we had a potluck dinner at our house for Easter with the three doctors' families, the kids' teacher, the pharmacist, and a few other people from the mission. It was a great time, and I really enjoyed the fellowship. Later that night, we had a C-section... done under only local anesthesia! It was crazy. The baby turned out fine!

And Sunday night, the best thing possible happened - it RAINED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Rachel (a medical student who arrived on Thursday) and I had prayed very hard for Easter rain. The heat had gotten almost unbearable at night to the point where we could hardly sleep. The rain definitely cooled things off for a bit. Monday was a wonderfully cool day, with temperatures probably in the 60s. It was funny, because some of the Ghanaians were wearing pretty heavy jackets.

Dr. Hewitt took us to market today. That was fun! Very busy and crowded. The Ghanaians loved our cameras and many asked for pictures. The little kids would follow us around and shake our hands. When we did, they would get so excited and just laugh uncontrollably. They were so beautiful. Dr. Hewitt is great with the kids and everyone else. He speaks Mampourli fluently, from what I can tell, and is always teasing someone or trying to scare them. He has earned the nickname "Dr. Snake" (except it's in Mampourli) at the market, because he always tries to scare someone into thinking a snake is close by. I found some mangoes! Not the big green ones I was looking for, but someone said the small ones were really good, too. I'm sure they will be!

Tonight (Tuesday), we had dinner with Dr. Dickens and his family. Hollie made pizza - all from scratch sauce and crust and everything, and a wonderful peach dessert, which we ate with ice cream. I really love getting to spend time with their family. They are such gracious hosts and have been a big part of the fellowship I've had here. Their (almost) 2 year old, Abigail has such a bright smile and glittering eyes, and she is not stingy about sharing them! Colt is a great big brother and a great kid in general. He takes care of his little sister, and he doesn't shy away from conversations with anyone. He's always ready to pray for or help anyone who needs it!

Pray for our health and our heat tolerance, as it is already hot again! None of us have anything too serious, but even small things can be bothersome. Continue to pray for the hospital as well - for more full time doctors, especially Ghanaian doctors, and for a pharmacist. The current pharmacist is retiring this summer, and they have her job posted right now, so interviews should be starting soon for that.

Now I get to walk home in the dark, since I forgot my flashlight. Genius! It'll be okay. Hopefully the clouds have gone away so at least the moon is out. Love to all!

P.S. The pictures just aren't working out. There are too many hoops to jump through to get them on this site. I will post some when I get home.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dessuba! (Good Morning!)

It is a beautiful Saturday morning here in Ghana. Still cool (probably not for long) and not as humid as it has been the last couple of days.

Well, we survived our second call! To be honest, our calls have been very good. Both nights we slept all the way until it was time to get up. The first call night, we slept in a different room to hear the doorbell better, and there was absolutely no ventilation in there! We didn't really sleep that night. But last night we had a great room, and it was cooler anyway. So, pretty good sleep!

I know I'm pretty delinquent about updating this blog, so again, I have a lot to catch up on!

Our call on Monday was mostly uneventful, then Tuesday was surgery day. I excised a lipoma and stitched up a man's face who had been in an accident. Fun stuff! Wednesday was a clinic day, and Zsila and I saw 67 patients! Thursday was another mostly uneventful surgery day - no wait... Thursday was when I excised the lipoma and did the suturing. Tuesday I did a lot of ultrasounds. Friday there was a C-section that I was in on (I'd like to say I assisted, but mostly I just watched). It's the first one I've seen since like September. I was pretty out of practice... so I went home and practiced my knot tying, but I still don't quite have it down perfectly yet. It was a national holiday yesterday for Good Friday, so we only had a few clinic patients.

We had one really awesome thing happen during our call day. In mid-afternoon, the nurse came to our door and said, "There is a child who is unconscious." We immediately ran up to the hospital to find a little girl, about 6 years old, who was almost unresponsive, soaked in sweat, and symptoms that suggested she might be having a stroke or some other problem in her brain. She also had pulmonary edema (fluid around her lungs), low blood pressure, and a very rapid heart rate. The mother didn't know what happened; in the morning she had only complained of stomach ache. The child was literally hours from death. We loaded her with fluid (and then a diuretic) and antibiotics, and breathing treatments. Her heart rate came down, and the fluid resolved from her lungs, but she was still very unresponsive. We had stabilized her as much as we could. Now we had to watch and wait. The mother was not a Christian, but wanted us to do whatever we could for her baby. We prayed for God's will to be done and for healing if that was His will. Zsila explained that God chooses to heal sometimes on earth and sometimes in Heaven. After we prayed, we left the hospital. We returned to check on her before dinner, and she was sitting up and eating! She was still very weak, but sat up and held up both arms waving at us. What a miracle!

Thursday evening we had a "station meeting" at the Dickens. We had praise & worship and a short devotional. Dr. Peter (from Burkina Faso) led us in worship with beautiful songs. I think I wrote it in my other post about what such wonderful people they are. Peter has such a vision for Burkina and their ministry their. Ineke is a beautiful, Godly, and kind woman. I have loved spending time with them and with Astrid. Sadly for me, they left early Friday morning to return to Burkina. Astrid will return to Belgium in about 2 weeks. She was such a blessing to me while she was here!

Last night (Friday), the Dickens joined us for dinner. It was so fun to have them over there. Their children are very precious people. Colt, their 8 year old son, already has such a heart for Jesus and for sharing the Gospel with people. It is really a beautiful thing to see. After dinner, we watched a movie with the Dickens, then did our night rounds at the hospital.

This afternoon, we are going to a village about an hour away to have an Easter Egg Hunt with all the missionary kids in the area.

Oh! I picked up my Easter dress on Wednesday! It is beautiful... purple and red. I'll probably be a little bit hot, but maybe we'll get some Easter rain. I have as yet been unsucessful in my search for mangoes. There are tons around here, but they are little and Yisah says they are not good. I keep waiting and looking for the big ones. Maybe this week!

Okay, I can't think of anything else. I'm going to try to get some pictures posted up here today. Keep praying!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

First Day On Call...

Today, Zsila and I are on call. We will see how things go. There were several surgeries at the hospital this morning, but no clinic. We have not had much to do this afternoon. I suppose we will probably spend most of the evening in our house, because that is where the nurses can find us most easily. There are no phones between buildings, so the nurse hops on a motorcycle ("moto") and drives down to our house, rings the doorbell, and tells us what is wrong. We then hop in our little truck (or "lorry") and drive real fast to help or admit or do whatever. I know it is such a huge blessing to the doctors here to have someone else be in the call rotation with them. There are only 3 full time doctors here, so they are on every 3rd day when there are no volunteers. Unfortunately, if someone needs immediate surgery or a C-section, we have to call one of them anyway. Hopefully they will be able to get some rest tonight and not have call!

I guess I missed a day of blogging, so I will catch you up on Sunday's events. We drove to a village called Nassuan, about an hour away. There we attended church where another missionary (actually a Wycliffe Bible translator) was preaching. It was kind-of a reunion for all the missionaries in this part of Ghana/Africa. Several missionary teachers had been staying here on spring break, so we were bringing them back to their families. I think there were 6 families there! I could not keep everyone straight, but it was a really great time. There is a Belgian family here who work in Burkina Faso, the country right north of Ghana. The husband is a doctor who has just started his own "hospital" there, in a grass hut! But he has great dreams for it! He wants it to be eventually a nursing school. It has been so wonderful to get to fellowship with them and with the doctors here. I truly feel like I am standing among giants. With the Belgian family is a Belgian nursing student who is staying in our house. She is very sweet and wonderful to get to fellowship with. All of them are so sweet and have such a heart for missions!

After church and lunch on Sunday, we went out to hike The Escarpment. No one told me we were going hiking, so I was ill-prepared, but I didn't want to miss it! It was beautiful! I kinda felt like I was in The Lion King. It was this huge rocky ledge and you could just see the flat land below out for miles and miles. Without tennis shoes (and in a skirt), I chose not to climb to the highest point, because it was a little more tricky. But it was amazing. I cannot wait to share my pictures with everyone! It was also hot, and I was running out of water, which by that time was about like drinking hot tea anyway. So then we stopped at a tiny store in the village to get some Cokes, but they almost didn't have enough for all of us. Here, they mostly have Cokes in glass bottles, so we had to stay there and drink it, then return the bottle to the store. Gulping Coke that fast takes some practice! On the way back to Nalerigu and the BMC, we saw a beautiful sunset above the plains. The pictures of that are also beautiful! I loved the ride on the way back as well. We were riding with the Belgians (their last name I can't remember how to spell), and they were playing worship music and all singing along. It was such a great time of fellowship.

Okay, on to Monday... It was a little bit crazy! And hotter than the rest of the days. We had rounds at 7:30, then clinic when we finished until 9:30. At that time, we have a break, because there is a devotion for the patients in the "waiting room" (which is kind-of like a lobby area but is really an outside patio between two offices). Then more clinic until lunch time. Lunch - we had hamburgers (which taste all right, but nothing like you'd imagine) and of course, Sweet Tea! Then more clinic. After clinic, we go down to what is called the Theatre for procedures. The Theatre includes 2 procedure rooms and 2 OR's. That was where the day got a little crazy for me. There was a man with fluid in his belly who needed it drained (a paracentesis). Normally these things are pretty simple.. stick a needle in, fluid gushes out. Tell that to my poor patient. I had to stick him 5 times! All with no more that 40 cc's (a little more than 1 oz) of fluid TOTAL!!! By the last stick, I was in tears and very upset at causing him so much pain, wasting so many precious needles, and at failing at my task. Luckily, there was not much to do after that, so we went home for dinner.

Dinner was great! A traditional Ghanaian meal - rice balls and peanut sauce with chicken. It was really good. Then I set up my camera and tripod to take some pictures of the moon. I think they will be really cool. I had to keep praying not to get bitten by snakes during the very long exposures, because I couldn't turn on my flashlight. Things kept rustling in the grass and scaring me. But, don't worry, no bites! Jesus knows I needed those pictures!

Then we did night rounds with Dr. Dickens (an Ob/Gyn on staff). There was a man doing very poorly, writing about in his bed and moaning and groaning. He has end stage liver disease and hepatic encephalopathy, which just means that his liver has shut down so much that all the toxins in his body have built up and made it to his brain. It was heartbreaking and beautiful. His brother was in the bed next to him, holding him and constantly fixing the sheet on the mattress so that his sick brother would be more comfortable. At one point, he had his brother lying across his lap; he was bent over him just rocking back and forth. You could see the desperation and the deep love he had for his brother. That scene almost made me cry.

After that we showered and crashed! Then work today. I watched one hernia repair in the OR, but did not scrub, because the Belgian doctor is here only for a few days and is here to learn procedures and get better at surgery. I hope that call goes well tonight! It's a little bit nerve wracking, but I know God will provide with knowledge and strength!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

My Name is Ralph...

I heard possibly the funniest thing ever today... "My name is Ralph, and this is my friend Wadudu." It's amazing the names that some people have around here! Never in a million years would I have thought two friends would have had names like that. I met a lot of the children from Nalerigu today. It was fun talking with them and asking them lots of questions. Of course it was hard, because it seemed that most of them expected to follow us back to our house and get a present. I didn't even think about bringing things for them. Oh well... next time!

Today was a pretty relaxing day. We rounded at the hospital for about an hour, then had the rest of the day to ourselves. We went to Isaa's wife, Joyce, to pick out fabric, patterns, and get measured for our dresses. I'm really excited! Then we just relaxed and read most of the time. I walked around taking some pictures for a while, and we just watched a movie with the teacher here. I've been trying to get some pictures to upload so I can show y'all, but I haven't figured out just how to get them to a small enough size to upload. It will be soon!

Tomorrow, we will round at the hospital, and then go to a church service in one of the nearby villages. I am very excited about this! I will take lots of pictures and let you know how it goes!

I will post more tomorrow.