Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Month of Firsts

December 2010 was full of firsts for the new maternity unit at ABC Community Clinic! We had our first delivery.The baby needed lot of resucitation but both mom and baby did very well. Besides using all of our equipment for the first time to do a delivery and newborn resucitation the pt was in labor during a huge rainstorm which caused a leak in the ceiling in our one fully functional private delivery room! Thankfully we were able to get the leak fixed before she was in full on labor so she was able to use the room for the delivery.

We also used our Operating Theatre, (OR) in american terms, to do 3 D & C's all of which went well without any complications. It may sound like a simple thing but for us this was a big step towards getting the theatre fully operational. After working on the set up for the better part of a year we were able to have anesthesia fully coordinated, all the equipment working properly and the staff trained for these procedures.

Another huge first for us was the c-section that we did on the 30th! A C-section is a major case compared to a D & C because the abdomen is fully open and a baby's life is at stake. There are also many more complications that we have to be prepared for compared to a minor procedure. The C-Section went very well and even though the baby needed alot of coaxing to have any respiratory effort we were able to stabilize the baby. We used our new ambulance that was donated by a family of a patient here to take the baby to another hospital that has pediatricians. After a short time at KCH (the big govt hospital down the road) where the docs from Baylor saw the baby and started her on a sepsis protocol both mom and baby finished their recovery here at ABC with no further complications. It is so exciting to have the Operating Theatre finally up and running with good docs and anesthesia available to provide much needed services here at ABC!

Another first was finally being able to bring home a child to foster. Most of you already know that Chisomo has been with us since right before Thanksgiving but we finally had our homestudy done and filled out our paperwork to foster him. I never thought that it would take a year to get paperwork and a homestudy done and then to find a child since there are so many children here that need a good home but looking back it seems that God saved our family for Chisomo! It was perfect timing for us to be able to go out and be involved in his re rescue from his home village. Then when there was no "guardian" available to take him to the hospital when he was so sick (malaria, sepsis, diarrhea, severe malnutrition, loss of developmental milestones etc...) God allowed he crisis nursery to let me be his "guardian" and provide the intense care that he needed here at our home and at the ABC Clinic. Miraculously his family has signed the paperwork allowing him to be fostered. Even though we haven't heard " officially" from social services after turning in our paperwork it seems that he is now ours until about a year from now when we will start the actual adoption process. Systems here are so much different than at home in the US but we are trusting God that he has a perfect plan for Chisomo and for our family. He is doing so well now. He is not sick at all, he is walking and starting to run. He eats great (not picky either), and is talking more and more every day. Ryan and Kimmy are both so good with him and are very happy to have a little brother to play with and take care of.

It has been so great amidst all the challenges of working here in a 3rd world country, especially in the healthcare sector, to see God at work through us! It makes it all worth while!

Please continue to pray for us as we forge ahead with the maternity services here at ABC as well as the fostering and adoption process with Chisomo and a big THANK YOU to all who support us and the work that we are doing here in Malawi!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Birth and Death May 2010

My friend posted this video and I thought it was to great not to share! This is why we will be doing maternity services at the ABC hospital. It is true that many women die here in Malawi needlessly because of poor prenatal services and lack of trained professionals attending their births. Almost every child at the crisis nursery that we volunteer at is orphaned due to preventable complications from the birthing process! It really is heartbreaking and needs the worlds attention!

Monday, November 15, 2010


This is Chisomo. He is 26 months old and weighs 8.7 kgs. He has been at the Ministry of Hope Crisis Nursery here in Lilongwe since he was 1 month old. His mother is mentally unstable and has not been able to care for him since he was born. After a brief 3 week stay back in his village with his grandmother this summer he was rescued back to the Crisis Nursery at the request of the family. At this time our family began the process of identifying Chisomo for fostering to adopt however when the family was asked to sign the fostering papework a great uncle popped up and said he would take care of him. That was in August of this year. Even though SS here was reluctant to leave Chisomo in his village they really had no choice but to let them try again to care for him. When he left the Crisis Nursery in August he was able to walk and talk. He was very healthy and active.

On Saturday God worked it out so that I could go with Mwawi (the clinical officer who runs the Crisis Nursery) and Carson (the other nurse here at ABC) to Chisomo's village to do an assessment. What we found was shocking. Chisomo was no longer able to walk or talk. He had been having fevers for about 3 weeks and had lost a tremendous amount of weight. Thankfully the family and the village headman were responsive to Mwawi's requests and allowed us to bring him back to the Crisis Nursery. There is not really anyone well enough equipped to care for Chisomo in his village. His father's location is unknown and his mom has been admitted to the local mental hospital again.

After running lab work and fully assessing his condition we found that he had Malaria, pnuemonia, severe malnutrition, diarrhea and sepsis. We were able to treat him here at ABC and care for him during the nights at our home since he is requiring feeding every 2 to 3 hours.

After 48 hours Chisomo is finally perking up and looking a bit better. Getting him to eat enough formula has been challenging and time consuming but we are so happy to be able to help take care of him. Carson and I tagged teamed alot of his care over the weekend, but the nighttime feedings are reminiscent of having a newborn in the house. And the bouts of diarrhea have been a bit challenging to manage especially since no diaper cloth or disposable has yet to contain it!

We are so glad that God has given us the opportunity to help out this little guy! He must have something very special planned for his future!

Please pray that he will get stronger everyday and that if it is God's will that we will now be able to proceed with fostering to adopt Chisomo. I will try to post new pictures every few days to show you his progress.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Empty Nest

Our house seems so quiet and empty since our guests have left. Its seems like a lot longer than two weeks since they left. We were very blessed to have Peter and Tina Tang here in Malawi for 3 weeks. Tina was able to take some great pictures while she was here as well as helping us get the O.R. cleaned up and organized so that the maternity unit at ABC Communtiy Clinic can open later this month. Her and Peter also went out on mobile clinics with us both for Ministry of Hope and Gusu. Marissa, Angie and Kit were here with us for 2 weeks (not nearly long enough). They also were very hard workers who helped set up a labor room for the clinic here as well as helping with the O.R. They were able to go on mobile clinics as well. It is amazing how fast things can run when you have such great volunteers who are willing to anything that needs to get done. Mark and Deb Holland were here with us for 4 weeks...again not long enough! Mark was great pitching in to see patients at the clinic and take up some of the slack for Dr. Young especially in the afternoons. He did his first stitches about 5 min after we arrived home from the airport! Deb was the one who got the O.R. cleaned out and set up as well as the new delivery room. She also took lots and lots of vital signs at our mobile clinics. She also pitched in with the cooking for everyone and made sure we kept cool with the neck ties!

We had lots of fun being able to hit the beach a couple of times, get away on safari, spend time playing in the pool after the clinic closed, play games in the evening and watch "Bones" together at night. I can't wait for them all to come back again. The kids just got their first report cards and teacher conferences. They are both doing extremely well and both had high enough grades to be on the honor roll.

The ABC clinic is gearing up to have its first delivery in about 4 weeks. We still have lots of work to do to get ready but we are miles ahead after all the help we got! I hope to post pictures soon of the finished rooms and O.R. We are starting to train the nurses and line up anesthesia so we would really appreciate prayer as we move forward with this.

We also just finished hosting the Zambian swim team in the Guest Lodge. There were lots of kids to accomodate and meals to coordinate but it ended up being a success. Kimmy had fun watching the big swim gala (reminds me of a gym meet) and now she wants to work hard on her swimming so she can be on the team next year.

JDS and E3 projects are keeping us busy. The dresses that were donated have been sold and we have made enough money to finish the foundation on the second school block. The goat project is also up and running strong as well as some pig farming. Our mobile clinics were able to see about 400 people from Gusu and the surrounding villages.

It is really really hot here and hard to believe that it will be Thanksgiving and Christmas soon. It is wierd to spend Christmas going to the pool or lake or BBQ OUTSIDE with friends.

We are enjoying our work and time here in Malawi even though we miss everyone at home alot. We are very thankful for all the prayers and support that we get from everyone back at home. Keep checking back for updates about how progress on the maternity unit is unfolding!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tuesday after getting up at 5am to workout and a very very long day at the ABC clinic getting back into the swing of things (including cleaning out a containter full of old donated medical equipment) we had bible study with our Malawian friends. We started a new study called "Crazy Love." The book it is based on is by Francis Chan and is also called "Crazy Love." If you have never read this book it is really really awesome. We only started the intro last night but I think it is going to be amazing! Bible study is always followed up by buffet dinner provided by the hosting family. That night we served spaghetti and salad. It is always great to meet together and catch up on everyones busy lives.

Wednesday I worked at Partners in Hope. It was great because one of my friends who is also a nurse from America was back from being home in the States. We had fun getting caught up with each other. Then after touring everyone around Partners in Hope I was able to go with Mark and Deb and Peter and Tina to lunch at Gazeebos. Gazeebo's is an outdoor restraurant that serves great steaks, chicken and Tandoori. In the afternoon I did a blood transfusion for an elderly patient with an implanted port. Normally we would have gone to campus bible study but everyone needed to get to bed early since they were planning to go out on a mobile clinic in the morning at 5:30. They have to get an early start because the clinic is usually 2 hours from Lilongwe.

Stay tuned for how the mobile clinic went!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So we made it back to Malawi safely and without much incident! Thanks to all who were praying for us....we even had a nice hotel in Ethiopia! All of our bags made minus 2 of the Holland's cell phones. They were taken out of their carry on bag when they made them check it at the gate.

Currently the Tangs are staying in one of the guest lodges at ABC and Mark and Deb are staying in our house with us until Sunday and then they will move to the guest lodges too. It has been alot of fun having them here with us

Of course we hadn't been in the house on Monday afternoon (the day we arrived) more than 5 minutes before I got a phone call from the clinic. One of the other missionaries daughters had been playing outside. Some kids from the other side of the security wall were launching rocks over to our side just for fun hit this little girl in the head. So after 48 hour of very little sleep Mark and I headed to the clinic to do stitches for the girl. Thankfully it wasnt very deep and was easy to sew shut. She didn't end up with a concussion or anything scary like that either....welcome to Malawi Mark!

Starting next week Mark and Deb will be helping out at the ABC clinic with me. Mark will be seeing patients in the private end and covering the inpatient unit. Deb will be helping me get stuff organized to open the OB unit in early October! We are so glad to have both the Hollands and Tangs here with us!

I want to thank everyone for the great time Kimmy and I had while we were home. It was great catching up with everyone!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hello everyone,

I trust the summer months have been kind to you and the weather in Washington has allowed for some serious fun in the sun. Here in Malawi this has been the coldest winter on record. As you know, the rains were sporadic and late so it appears the weather pattern is changing. There has been a bit of talk about it in the news and the government has sponsored many platforms for scientists and whatnots to speak about how Malawi can react to the climate change. For me, all I know is, it was cold as in triple blanket time. At least there was no snow; ha!

IMG_0574.JPGSo it has been a while since I have written to tell you the goings on here. From the emails I have received it would appear that a lot of you there have had an interesting time of it; some good and some bad. Our prayers continue to be with you all in the good and the bad. We have been quite busy for the last couple of months. We are now fully moved onto the African Bible College campus. Becky is the acting administrator of the clinic as well as clinical director. She still works a couple of days at Partners in Hope but her duties here are commanding most of her time. She has been able to go out on several village clinic trips and has really enjoyed that. If given the chance I bet she would do that most everyday and to top it off she is really good at it. Becky had a pretty severe bout with being sick but has almost fully recovered. She gets some twangs in her stomach but can’t determine the root cause yet. The picture above is showing Becky at what she does best; taking care of sick babies. This one is a brand new baby whose mom died during childbirth. Becky didn’t know if the child was going to make it but to date is still kicking and wetting his diapers so go Matao!!

Becky is also the person in charge of bookings at the ABC lodge and drafted me to run the finance and personnel aspect and Iris to make sure the place is kept clean for guests. We enjoy it but now know what it is like to be on the receiving end of teams coming to Malawi for a few weeks; yikers. I now have a whole new appreciation for what permanent missionaries lament about. Seeing that we are the product of a short term team we love to host them and talk Malawi but as Paul Harvey used to say, we now know “the rest of the story”.

The new school year has started and Iris is teaching full time at the Academy. She was tapped to revamp and redo the school’s curriculum and did a great job at it. A new head master has arrived and was able to pick up her work and walk in easy peasy to his job so kudos to Iris for her hard work over the break.

Ryan and Kimmy have settled nicely into campus life. They are making lots of new friends of different nationalities and have relaxed a lot since Chilinde. They are both getting well on in schools and are making both their parents proud of them. They are also enjoying church a bit better now since we seem to have found a place where we accept going (can anything really replace AC3….I think not).

Since arriving on campus my duties have mushroomed considerably. Besides security, teaching, and the lodge I now am partnered with the new business manager to investigate, revamp, and turn the clinic around both procedurally and financially. I was also handed the clinics rather large accounts receivables to start collecting. So the days are now filled with charts and graphs and meetings and blah blah blah.

JDS and E3 are moving along really well. Sam and Jay are as busy as ever and are doing really great running and expanding both JDS and E3. When a large medical team came to the lodge to stay we were able to team them up with E3 and take them to Gusu for two days of medical clinics. I was able to witness a hand being saved and was able to take a brand new bay that had measles and malaria to the closest private hospital for treatment. We got the opportunity to pay for the baby’s stay and treatment but that is what we are here for and the reason E3 exists so that was a win for the good guys. It is the little successes that keep us going.

And speaking of Gusu the teacher housing is done!!! Now, if the government will fulfill their end of the bargain, school should be in session in another month. The kids in Gusu can finally, after years of waiting and hoping, go to school locally and safely. Hot diggity dog!!!! AC3 rocks!!!!

The treadle pump program is still humming along and producing food. The goat pen has been started and should be complete right about now so the new goat herd is right around the corner. We will have a mixture of milk and meat goats. In a nutshell, Gusu is starting to really see some benefits from the partnership with AC3 and E3. And by the way, Chief Gusu sends his regards and thanks to everyone. Hey!!! If any of you get a chance can you get together as a church and take a huge picture and send it addressed to him? He would just totally love it.

And how would you get it here? Well, Becky and Kimmy will be arriving for a two week visit the first of September. I know, you all wish it was me but they will just have to do. Becky has missed all of you so much and wants to see you so bad that she is actually flying for the very first time by herself (well, Kimmy is along but you get my drift). She is conquering some serious fear just to see you all so try to shake some time loose to give her a shout or drop by to say hi. And to top it off, she and Kim both will be celebrating their birthdays there without Ry or I and Becky turns 40!!!!!!!!! What idiot booked that ticket I wonder?

IMG_0523.JPGBut back to E3 and another success story for you. Recently someone donated a bit of cash for E3 to use in microfinance. As some of you are aware, several months ago we put on a small business seminar for thirty pastors and their wives. Well, one of the wives put together a small business plan to sell popcorn and the business plan called for almost the exact amount of the donation. So I would like for you to meet and put her on your prayer wall Mary Maguaza. Mary is a registered pastor with the Free Methodist Church in Malawi and is finishing her certificate at the Free Methodist Pastors School. With the cash loan and some utensils donated by a departed doctor, Mary should be able to buy and transport enough popcorn for sale to provide school fees for her children and better nutrition for the family. This will not be easy for her and there are many pitfalls but with prayer and follow up support from E3 we all hope and pray that she will be one of the long term successes.

So hopefully you can see that even what we would consider a small amount of help can be a life changer for someone here. Sometimes what we do here consists of a long and tedious process but the people here are starting to see the benefits of that work. I know I don’t do a good job of keeping all of you at home up to speed regularly enough but I just beg your mercy on that. With your prayer and continued support we can continue to be here making a difference in the lives of the people who live here. We count ourselves among the privileged few who ever have the opportunity to see and be involved in this kind of work and extend our humblest and most appreciative thanks to those of you who make this all possible.

I would also like to take a second and send out a special thanks on my behalf to those who wrote and prayed for me after my last message. At that time I was having spiritual, mental, and physical issues. The mental is not a surprise to most of my friends but that is for another time. Seriously though, that was a most difficult time. I can tell you that I immediately started to feel the effects of your prayers. Since then the Bible has become clear again, devotions normal again, and spiritually I have just been in a better place and I want to say again thank you. Mentally I am still as crazy as ever though. Physically my body has taken a bit of a beating though. I just came off a bout of Malaria and just before that I got what Becky had and was out for a week on that one. But hey, any day one is above ground is a good day. So thanks again for your prayers as I will never tire of saying thank you. There are times when one knows the prayers are there and then there are those special times when one can physically feel them and I felt it.

So there you have it. I wish you could all experience daily life here. An email can’t possible sum up or describe the comings and goings but I hope you get a small sense of life half a world away. We miss you all very much. Oh hey, a couple of prayer requests. Mark and Deb Holland, Peter and Tina Tang and a couple of friends from Becky’s work are visiting us in Sept and Oct. Pray that they have a safe trip and have a good experience here. Becky and Kimmy will be flying back here with them so that should be fun for everyone. You can pray for the new school year that Iris gets on well and the kids make it through yet another year. Pray for Sam and Malla as Malla left her work and is looking for another Job. Pray that we can turn the ABC clinic around and put it back on path. Pray for my dad as he heals from surgery and my mom as she keeps the home fires burning. And pray for me that I have learned my lessons of the past and work with a measured amount of grace and humility as tough decisions are made that I will be a part of at the clinic. And please pray that God will shine through our lives here and that our words and actions are a reflection of the grace found in us through Him and that those in need will find salvation in the one who saved us.

Love you all ever so much,

David Becky Ryan Kimmy and Iris

Your missionaries to Malawi