Short stories

April 25, 2011

I have realized it’s been a couple weeks since my last post, so I thought I would bring everyone up to date with a few pictures and stories to go with them.  These last two weeks have flown by, and I’m trying to remember everything that went on during that time…  The post op clinic has become my main focus, so many of my days are filled with cast saws and crying children (but thankfully happy parents!), along with the cute babies that we’re casting for club feet.  We’re about to hit the 6 week post-op time for a number of the kiddos, which means I should hopefully get to take some casts off for good, and see some straight legs.  I’m looking forward to that.  I’ve also been able to go spend some more time with the Brockelman’s, which was great, go to the beach, and celebrate Easter on the ship, which was very special.  I’ll start with a couple of my patients..

This is Abu (he's 8 months old). He was born with hyperextended knees that didn't bend. His mom was told that he must be cursed, and she shouldn't take care of him. Now with a fairly simple surgery he has legs that bend and work well! It just breaks my heart to hear stories like this, but unfortunately we hear them all the time.

This is Fanie- he came from way up north, where there is very little access to healthcare. He has one of the most precious smiles ever- I don't think I've ever said hello to him without a big smile breaking out on his face. The bends in his legs are from a disease called osteogenesis imperfecta, which means he has very soft, weak bones that break and bend easily. I wasn't sure if we would be able to help him much, but the orthopedic surgeons were able to use a few creative techniques, and have straightened out his legs immensely. I wish I was going to be here when his casts come off in a month or so!

It's not uncommon for me to walk down the halls of the hospital and hear the drums and singing going on in the ward. Here our patient Tamba is playing the drums, and Fanie and a patient's mom are singing along. Tamba is an older kid with club feet. He's been walking on them, and they were essentially backwards when he came a few weeks ago. We are doing weekly casting on his feet, just like in the little babies, hoping to stretch them out before he gets surgery next week. He can be found out in the hall wheelchair racing with 2 other boys his age who have casts on both legs too. It's a sight to see for sure!

This is Namina- she is actually a maxillofacial patient, but I've gotten to see her as she comes in to the post op clinic to get dressing changes. She had a disease called Noma when she was a small child. Noma is an infection of the skin that causes gangrene and tissue destruction of the face. It is only found in areas of severe malnutrition, such as West Africa. The last time it was noted in the developed world was during World War II in the concentration camps. It usually affects small malnourished children, and about 90% of the patients who get it die. The 10% who survive are left with a hole in their face, where the noma destroyed the tissue. Such was the case with Namina. She had tissue destruction around her eye, and our very experienced Max-fax surgeon, who has been on the ship for over 20 years, was able to do reconstructive surgery to help her have a normal face again. She's a fiery litttle thing, and has slowly been smiling more as her wounds have healed.

This is Sally, or queen Sally as we call her. Every day, when I as her "Ow de body?" (which means how are you?) she responds with "tell God tenkie", which means tell God thank you. I love her attitude, and wonder how much more full of joy my life would be if I approached it with thankfulness all the time.

This is Salu. I see him twice a week for dressing changes to his leg. He had a bad cut on his leg 2 years ago that was untreated, and developed a severe bone infection in his femur called osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is very difficult to treat even in the States, and for the most part we can't treat it on the ship, because it takes a lot of time and resources that we just don't have. But Salu had a piece of dead bone in his leg that we think was causing the continued infection, so he was taken to surgery a few weeks ago to remove the dead bone. Now I check and redress his draining wounds twice a week. They are healing slowly, and I'm praying that the infection will improve with time, because there is not much else we can do for him right now except to watch, wait, and pray.

This weekend we went to an orphanage that our friend Chuck helps out with. The lady who runs the orphanage has been taking kids for 25 years, even during the war. This little girl that I'm holding was found in the trash dump as a newborn, and the orphanage has cared for her since. Right now the orphanage has 64 kids. Even though they have limited resources, and live basically by faith to take care of these kids, you can tell that the children are well loved, and the caretakers do their very best with what they have. It was humbling to meet a lady like the one who runs this orphanage, who has devoted much of her life to caring for and loving children who are not even her own.

Last weekend I went to Burah beach. It was beautiful, and a great time of relaxing. We even got fresh seafood that the locals went out and caught- it was yummy! And my friend Liz and I decided to swim out to the island that you see in the distance, which was of course a lot of fun.

Estelle, Jana, me, and Allison

The ship had a meaningful Easter service and brunch on Sunday that everyone dressed up for.  It was great to celebrate the resurrection of Christ with the people who you are serving alongside on a daily basis.  It was a good reminder to me that we are here because  the love of Christ, and the hope we have in Him.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

1 John 4:10-12

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2 Responses to “Short stories”

  1. bethparker Says:

    Liv,
    It was so nice to chat with you this weekend. Reading your stories are a beautiful reflection of God at work. We are looking forward to seeing you soon. Please know that we are praying for you each day and for those that you are serving.
    So glad that you got to see the Brockelmans again.
    Blessings,
    Beth

  2. Mom Says:

    I was so excited to see that you had a new blog post! Wow is all I can say. I am so touched by these children, and am so reminded of the kindness and gentleness Jesus showed to children. I think He must be smiling as He reads your blog. Thank you for reminding me of the universal language of love and kindness. Whatva blessing that the Lord has equipped you in ways that serve these in desperate need.
    Love you, mom


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