Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Way Forward

So much has happened in the last month (including writer’s block)!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me and sent me advice. I really appreciated it!

God made it clear which path I should take. I am returning to the United States at the end of this month. I will be living in North Carolina with my family for the time being.

So let me back up a bit. I met via skype with the founder of LIMBS International on February 15th. When I told him of my decision, he gave me just ONE MONTH to wrap up the last four years of LIMBS work in Kenya and leave. This was my biggest shock! 4 weeks does not seem like enough time to wrap up 4 years of work! But God is good; He will not give or ask of me more than I can bear.

Although I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks, I am almost finished. Between February 16th and March 15th, I collected all the unused LIMBoxes and closed the programs at 5 clinic locations. This week I delivered 18 LIMBoxes to an organization wishing to purchase them for their work in East Africa. All that’s left is to follow-up on a few stories.

The last 4 years have been quite a learning experience for me and no matter how hard it got, I wouldn’t trade them.

Here are some things I have learned:
1. Africa does not run on American time. Africa runs on relationships and relationships take time.

2. Standing and refusing to pay bribes can be very hard. It may mean delays or even the failure of a program in a needy area. But when you stand your ground, God can also do amazing things.

3. TEAMS ARE IMPORTANT. Over the last three years especially, I have realized just how important it is to have a supportive support network in place. I have gotten a lot of demands but not a lot of support from LIMBS while I have been on the field. This has led to frustration, depression, loneliness, and burn out.

4. It is important to have a clearly defined position and role when entering a partnership with a Kenyan Organization or hospital. Because my role was not well defined when I came to Kenya, I have had numerous problems and conflicts within my work at CURE hospital. This is not CURE’s fault. The problem lay in finding out exactly where I fit into the workings of CURE. Where did I fit in the hierarchy? Who was my supervisor? Etc..

5. You can’t win every battle. Sometimes you have to lose a few battles to win the war.

6. Corruption is everywhere. It may wear a different mask but it exists at home and abroad.

7. Being the guinea pig is not easy, but if God puts you their He will help you through. I have been the “guinea pig” many times in my life (Family, Coop, job, etc). It has never been easy but when I look back I can see all the ways God has helped, taught, and grown me.

8. Packing and saying good bye is hard. I insisted that I have at least a week after shutdown to pack up my house, but saying good bye started at the beginning of March. I have said good bye to the people I have ministered with, worked with, and socialized with during my time here in Kenya. This is still ongoing.

I have focused exclusively on packing for almost a week now and my house is starting to look empty. The TV is gone, the dressers are gone, the shelves are sold, the mixer is sold, the microwave is sold, my linens and matress is sold. Also, I continue to struggle with a specific person taking things without asking and only finding out about it after she is unavailable. The things she takes are things I would not readily miss but will notice after a week or two. Oh and she is a master manipulator, prayers appreciated! Please pray that I would remember God owns everything and if something is stolen it is not a huge deal since it was God’s originally anyway. Thanks!

On the bright side, the last few weeks have not been all work and no play. I decided that if I had to leave Kenya, I was at least going to do some of the things I had been putting off. 

First, a visiting physical therapist and I went to Hell’s Gate National Park. I don’t know for sure, but I think the name comes from the geothermal activity in the area. We took matatus to the park and walked from there. There are no man eating predators in the park so it is safe to walk. Let me tell you this, walking gives you a whole new perspective in terms of wildlife. Did you know that an Eland is the size of a large horse? Or that a giraffe foot is twice the size of mine? 
However, the real adventure started when we got lost. During the last year, a new road has been added for better access to the nearby geothermal plants. It cuts right through the old trails in the park! We had a map but this road, obviously, was not on it. Also, right about this time, we reached the end of our water supply and had been walking for around 5 – 6 hours in the bright hot sun. Several prayers and phone calls later, an Icelandic man stopped and helped us out. He even gave us a ride out of the park and back to the main road where we could get a Matatu home. 

All I can say is GOD’S PROVISION!!!!! 

Last weekend, we went to the Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Centre, and Animal orphanage. The baby animals at the orphanages are SO CUTE! At the elephant orphanage, we saw 29 orphans ranging from 7 months to three and a half years. The 7 month olds’ backs reached my knees and the 3.5 year old’s back reached my shoulder. Also, the elephant orphanage works to rehabilitate and release their orphans back into the wild once they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Nothing like good milk

See the little one in the middle?

The keeper with his "babies". Notice the difference in size between the 7 month old (middle) and the 18 month old (right).
This is NOT photo-shopped. The baby really was that close! 

The animal orphanage houses other animal orphans that are harder or impossible to reintroduce back into the wild. Some of these orphans were confiscated from smugglers in Mombasa, some were abandoned, some were badly injured, and still others lost their parents due to poaching. Patas is a white-spot nose monkey from West Africa. He was rescued from smugglers in Mombasa when he was just a few weeks old. He can never been reintroduced to his native environment because he has passed through so many African countries and risks spreading/introducing disease to the native population back in West Africa. All the animals I saw had a story to tell, but not all had them posted for public display. I also found out the orphanage feeds the animals at 2:30 pm six days a week (not Monday), so I stayed around to watch. It was quite a scene. The keepers train the animals from an early age what to do during meal times. The lions and other aggressive animals have to go into their sleeping quarters before the keepers bring in the food/meat. However, on Sunday, one of the lionesses decided she wasn’t hungry so why did SHE have to go to the sleeping quarters? After some cajoling, she finally went where she was supposed to go, but on release she just went back to lie down in the shade and her mate ate a double portion.
This 8 month old giraffe was so friendly!

Great African Crane

Who says there is a difference between house cats and lions?
Both love sleeping with their paws against the wall!

This little guy was trying SO HARD to get to the leaves on the upper branches.
So I gave him a hand!
Lunch anyone? =)
The giraffe center was started as a breeding program for Rothchild giraffes to save them from extinction. It has been widely successful! If you ever go to Nakuru National park, most of the giraffes you see there probably came from the giraffe center at some point. (This is also probably the reason they are so friendly!) At the giraffe center, we got to feed the giraffe from a raised platform and even get them to eat from your mouth! There are three types of giraffe in Kenya; the masaii giraffe, the reticulated or common giraffe, and the Rothschild giraffe. The masaii giraffe has flower-like patches, the Reticulated giraffe has brick red block like patches, and the Rothschild giraffe has patches with darker spots in them. So the giraffe center only has Rothschild giraffes but if you go into the gift shop, all the giraffes on display are reticulated giraffes. How ironic!

Stacy was SO hungry! 
The warthogs hung around eating the scraps and dropped food at the Giraffes feet.

While I will miss Kenya greatly, I am looking forward to what the future holds.

Here is what I know so far.

Here is what I need to do once I get to the USA:
1. Renew my driving license

2. Attend a debriefing and reentry seminar

3. Prepare to take more college classes.

4. Take said college classes

5. Readjust to American life

6. Change my health insurance coverage

7. Find a source of income

Prayer Items:

1. Peace and packing. As I pack up my life here in Kenya and prepare to move to North Carolina, please pray that I would have peace. Change has NEVER been easy for me.

2. Please pray for the debriefing and reentry seminar I need to attend. Because I have been so immersed in Kenyan culture for the last 3.5 years, I know I will face challenges reintegrating into American life. I am not the woman I was in 2011! Also, please pray that God would provide the $500 plus travel that I need in order to attend the seminar.

3. God has “blessed” me with unique difficulties when it comes to learning in an academic environment. Please pray for me as I do the proper testing and fill the proper forms in order to get the help I need while taking more college courses.

4. God is leading me towards pursuing training in Prosthetics and Orthotics. In order to do this I have several prerequisite classes that I need to take. Please pray for God’s provision in all aspects of this pursuit.

5. Due to Healthcare reform, I have had to buy US health insurance that I never use. Now that I am moving back to NC, I have to change my address for health care as well. (Previously, my address was listed in TX). Please pray that this all goes smoothly!

6. College tuition is not cheap. Pray for God’s Provision and that I would trust it.

Thank you so much for your support these last 4 years. 

LIMBS International will send me any donations that come in before April 15th. So if you feel led to contribute and help with my relocation expenses you can do so through them as long as they are received before April 15th. 

LIMBS Address:
500 W. Overland, Suite 230
El Paso, Texas 79901
(Put my name in the memo line)

To donate online:
(Click "donate online", then enter my name in the memo line)


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Attention Prayer Warriors

Hello Team,
It's hard to believe it is already February. I spent most of January reopening communication channels with my contacts in Kenya. Almost all business closes down in December so January is like a month long Monday. The best way to describe how I felt this month is, "the days dragged by but the weeks flew by."

There have been a few new developments in my life. I am in contact with an orthopedic technologist in Zambia and they may be interested in using the LIMBS system, but we will see. Also, there are a handful of people inquiring about LIMBS and their work in Kenya. It is a slow start but it is something. 

Now, here is my main reason for writing. I need you to pray diligently for the next week. LIMBS International has asked if I am willing to relocate to Mexico or Bolivia where I might be better utilized and could oversee their community based rehabilitation program. However, I have to learn Spanish. I asked for a week to pray about it. 

As many of you know, things have not been going very well in Kenya. Even though I have been here for the last 3+ years, patients and technologists are still slow to catch on to the project and despite my efforts, only a handful patients are fit with the leg each year. However, else where in the world the system is thriving. So, because we have limited funds, LIMBS is trying to best utilize it's people by putting them where the most action is. 

The following  are the options going through my mind these days. So while I know the final decision is mine to make, Proverbs 15:22 says,"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." Therefore, I am asking you to pray with me and provide counsel as I discern what God would have me do. 

1. Stay in Kenya and trudge on.
2. Leave Kenya, return to the USA, and pursue a masters degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics. Then later return to Africa to help those with physical limitations lead a more normal life. 

3. Leave Kenya, and move to Mexico or Bolivia. 

4. None of the above. 

As an engineer I like to make charts and tables to analyze things. See the chart below explains my current thoughts and concerns about each of the above options:

Please pray for discernment and let me know if you have any advice.

God Bless!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Burnout and Recovery

The last 3 months were a haze. I basically worked on autopilot from mid-November until mid December. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can be EXTREMELY stubborn. However, even I had to admit I was burning out. I didn't realize how burned out I was until later.

Isn't it funny that God always has a plan even when we don't see it? Due to finances, I was unable to go to the USA for the holidays this year. Instead, I went to Rwanda to visit one of my best friends from when I was growing up. She works as the librarian in an international school in Kigali. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself.

2014 was a hard year for me. I was told that if the LIMBS work did not pick up here, then LIMBS would pull out of Kenya. I did not want to see that happen. There are too many people in need of legs, but not adequate networking to reach them yet. But no matter how much networking I did, there was little improvement. Yes, we trained more technologists about how to use the LIMBS system, but the going was slow. In fact, the strain in relations between LIMBS (me) and the orthopedic department at CURE reached an all time high. It felt like the LIMBS program was in ICU all year. BUT GOD had a plan! Just as I was preparing to close down the program in Kenya, God provided a new lead. Another nonprofit heard about LIMBS and wanted to partner with us to get above knee prosthetic legs to those who need them most in remote areas of East Africa. I met several times with the gentleman who contacted us (LIMBS) and there is hope. Then the week before CURE slowed down for the holidays, the head of the orthopedic workshop, the one giving me so much trouble, was forced to leave CURE; maybe there is hope for CURE after all. (I felt guilty that I was so relieved at his departure) After all the uncertainty over the last 11 months, I was drained. My goal became make it to December 12th.
I did, of course. My home church in North Carolina, Providence Baptist Church (PBC), sent a team (which included my sister, Martha) to Kenya for a week starting on the 12th December. Very little happens work wise from the middle of December until the beginning of January, so I was able to join the team during the time they were in Kenya. They came up Friday afternoon/evening, December 12th, and I joined them the next morning.

We spent Saturday distributing Christmas bags to those in Kijabe hospital (the hospital next to the one we're I am stationed),starting with the children's ward, then working our way through the maternity, women's, and men's wards. I was so excited spending time with these children (and later adult patients) and talking to them, that I forgot to take many pictures. The smiles on their faces were priceless. I think my favorite part of the day was ministering to those that the world considers the hardest; the young Muslim lady who had just had a miscarriage, the woman that was almost non responsive in the high dependency
Giving out gifts
unit, the boy with a chest tube and suction, the old woman with mental limitations that just wanted a "dolly" to hold, and the young paraplegic lady who was in the hospital because she had pressure sores from sitting in an inappropriate wheelchair for so long. These are the patients that impacted me the most. However, I think the hardest ward for the entire team was the men's ward. This was the last ward we went into and also the smelliest. I have to go in there from time to time for my LIMBS work or when helping the orthopedic department fit a spinal brace, but the stench still gets to me. Picture a rundown nursing home, the stench of urine and other bodily fluids permeates everything. I get used to it over time, but I still remember the first time I visited. The team invited me to join them for dinner and gave me the suitcase containing gifts and things from my parents and the Berean Sunday School class.

The next morning we all went down to one of the small African Inland churches in the valley below Kijabe. Little did I know, this was the church one of CURE's guards had invited me to and where he was pastor. Needless to say, he was very excited to see me. In Kenya, guests are invited to introduce themselves during the service. Well..... He singled me out and introduced me himself from the pulpit. Can you say embarrassed? I was only trying to be part of the team, no one special but I was singled out! Anyway, Pastor George, the mission pastor at PBC and team leader of the team, preached and afterwards the church fed us the best nyama choma (roasted meat, Turkana style) I ever had. After picking up our bags in Kijabe, off we went to Nairobi. The afternoon was spent resting and preparing for the next day.

Pastor George is such a considerate man and he decided to room my sister and I together while we were in Nairobi. I wasn't sure how it would work out, but it was definitely a blessing. Martha taught me how to use FaceTime on my new IPad mini (a gift from my parents so I could read more books), set up a call with my other sister Rachel, and the time alone allowed us to debrief on each other without offending anyone else on the team. I love my sisters so much and am very impressed with what wonderful wise women they have become. (Now I just have to figure out how to stop mothering them and just be a sister and friend)

After and quick breakfast Monday morning, we headed to Nairobi Language Institute in Kalangware for a one-day VBS program. I was originally supposed to help with the crafts, but instead I helped with the youngest group where an extra set of hands were needed. After the program, we helped serve food and wash dishes for those in the feeding program. The ladies in the kitchen were very sweet and one of the cooks, Theresia, even sent me with greeting to take back to the spiritual department at CURE. You see, the week before the PBC team was there, Theresia was working in another part of Kalengware with an evangelism team from CURE. Small world!

The next two days we spent on the outskirts of Kibera, the second largest slum in the world. The hardest part on this site were the numbers. We had planned on around 150-200 kids and instead all the kids in the neighborhood tried to join and we had closer to 350 kids. What made it so hard was we only had craft materials for 200 kids but we didn't want to keep kids from hearing the Word of God. By the beginning of the second day, we had revised our plans and the program went much more smoothly. 

This is Caleb. He was 3 years old when I
first met him. Now he is 14!
The last day, Thursday, we went a couple of hours outside Nairobi to conduct a one day VBS at a Bible Club. That day I remembered to take more pictures because there was not enough room in our, my sister and I's, craft room. I feel like I am losing my touch with kids. Martha is SO much better than I am!

Some of these kids were very creative with their stickers!
After VBS,we returned to the guest house. I had packed earlier the night before because due to some miscommunication my flight to Rwanda was almost 24 hours after the rest of the team flew out and I needed to catch up with a friend I was going to stay with before dark.

The place where I was meeting my friend's mother was surprisingly close and inexpensive to get to. The taxi cost about $8. This was really a blessing because I was taking a rather large suitcase to Rwanda and I was not looking forward to carrying it on the matatus.

I had a wonderful time with my friend and her family. I even got to meet her fiancée. Friday evening I went to the airport and took my flight to Rwanda. The adventure begins......

Rwanda is an hour behind Kenya and the landscape is very different. There is a reason it is called the "Land of a Thousand Hills." Right now, many foreign investors are pouring lots of money into this country and you can tell. The road are flat, well paved, and well maintained. There is no trash on the streets. Because the French and Belgium first colonized Rwanda, everyone drives on the right side of the road. When I got there Rwanda had just gotten some rain so everything was green and lush looking. 

Katharina, one of my best friends, met me at the airport and as soon as we arrived at her townhouse, I went to bed. Saturday morning we relaxed and stopped by the Library at the school to check on some things and check out a couple books. Having a friend who is a librarian has some advantages, she can find books that catch your attention and keep it to the last page, even if you are not big on reading. Over the next two weeks, I read six books. Saturday evening we went to the "mall" and ate dinner before going to see Night at the Museum 3 in the theatre. By eating at a certain place before the movie, we received vouchers to see the movie free. Win-win situation!

Early the next morning, we met the driver we hired and headed to Nyungwe National Forest, the largest rainforest left in Africa. It took almost all day to get there because we stopped at a couple museums and the Kings palace replica on the way. That night we had a little church service among ourselves huddled in blankets. Boy was it cold at night! 
Monday morning we headed off to see the waterfalls. Although it was rainy, we throughly enjoyed the hike and seeing all the flora along the path. We got to see touracos which love the rain and hear many other types of birds. On the way back to the entrance we had the opportunity to talk to our guide about Christ. He is a catholic and believes as long as he goes to the confessional every week and confesses his sins to the priest, he will be saved. We were able to explain that it is not what we do or have done that gets us to heaven but what Christ did for us. I don't remember what I said or how I was able to hike up hill while talking the whole time, but God gave me the words and the strength to do it!
The next morning, we went on the canopy walk. As the name suggests, part of this hike is located on suspension bridges stretched over the valley. The scenery is beautiful and the sky was clearer that day. We heard many birds, one of which was called a tinker bird. After the canopy walk, we headed back towards Kigali.
This is the only picture I have at the memorial.
The sign in the foreground shows where the french
played volley ball. The sign in the background marks
the mass grave where the murdered Tutsi were buried.
On the way we stopped by a genocide memorial. It should have been a technical college not a slaughterhouse. During that visit I learned a lot about the Rwandan genocide. For one, it could have been prevented. The genocide was not a random act, it was carefully planned and administered. Also, the genocide did not happen in a day or even a week. It lasted months. Trouble stirred up by the Belgiums and leading political party at the time can be traced back to more than a year before what we know as the genocide. Many Hutus were pressured into murdering their Tutsi neighbors or face torture and death themselves along with their families. And the West did nothing to stop it. In fact, the memorial site we visited was supposed to be a safe haven for the Tutsis, at least that's what they were told, instead it was used to round up all the Tutsis into one place to torture, slaughter, and mass bury them. Now the Tutsi and the Hutu are two tribes right? WRONG! The difference between a Hutu and a Tutsi was the length and with of their nose and the diameter of their head. That's all. In fact, two Hutus could have a Tutsi. Almost a year after the genocide, the mass graves at this site were dug up and the dead were buried with dignity. I can see now just how close Kenya came to the same fate after the 2007 elections. But Rwanda is rebuilding. Twenty years after the end of the genocide, Rwanda is a united nation. Tourism is booming. The wild animals that were poached to extinction in Rwanda are slowly being replaced as much as possible. Within the next few years, they plan to buy a lion for the game park (more on the park later).

After we got back to Kigali, we spent the evening with some of Katharina's 
co-workers and friends watching Elf then Die Hard (it takes place at Christmas so it must be a Christmas movie, right?). We went to the Christmas Eve and Christmas morning service at Katharina's church and I even got to hear a special arrangement where Katharina played the flute.
After church on Christmas, we went to a potluck brunch and later Katharina and I exchanged gifts, relaxed, and built a puzzle.
Completed puzzle

The following weekend we took a bus to Gisini on the coast of Lake Kivu. Inzu Lodge were we stayed was gorgeous! We stayed in a safari tent with two cot beds and electricity. The view from our porch outside the tent was amazing. We just relaxed, read, and rested. It was about this time I started feeling alive and refreshed again. We returned to Kigali two nights later.
Our Tent

My Bed

View of Lake Kivu from our tent
View of the lake during a walk

New Year's Eve we went up to Akagara National Game Park Reserve. During the genocide, poachers from Tanzania came into the park and killed all the rhinos and elephants. After the genocide the locals in the area killed off all the lions because they feared for their livestock. Now, the country is repopulating the game reserve while working with the locals on conservation measures. Akagara National park is small but contains more diversity than you can find in many other places. The park has woodlands, bush lands, marsh lands, and savannah. The biodiversity allows a large number of different animals to live and thrive within this small area. Since reintroducing elephants to the park several years ago, the elephant herd has grown to over a hundred. We saw topi (they look like antelope in blue jeans), antelope, zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo, wildebeest, water buck, and a small terrapin (a turtle that lives on land and in the water). 


See the three little babies?
Guinea Fowl
                                                                    Topi (see the blue jeans?)

Velvet monkey

On dry land at last!

Our little turtle

When we got back to Kigali, we were tired and by 9pm we were asleep. I know, I know, we were spoilsports for not staying up until midnight but we left the house at 4:50am that morning. New Year's Day we slept in. Later we started a puzzle. I never got to finish it before I left to return to Kenya but Katharina finished it after I left. 

Katharina took me to the airport late Saturday morning. Everything in that airport took forever. The check in desk only had one working computer for three flights. Immigration has two agents working with really slow computers. Then security had two short baggage scanners for three flights. But I made my flight. Two others weren't so blessed. The flight attendants held the flight as long as they could, but in the end, we had to leave without them. Did I mention that a third to half the flight consisted of minors? In fact, out of the six exit row seats available, four were originally assigned to minors. I don't envy that flight attendant's job of reseating and rearranging everyone! Ten to twelve of the passengers on the flight were students from RVA. This was actually a double blessing because it made getting my checked bag easier and the RVA guy meeting them offered to take my large suitcase back to Kijabe for me. (Remember how I don't Ike trying to drag it around on matatus?) The same friend who dropped me off at the airport, picked me up. After stopping by her house and getting cleaned up, we had a nice night out with another friend.

After much debating, she convinced me to return to Kijabe early Monday morning instead of Sunday afternoon. We spent the evening with her future in-laws making chapatis and throughly enjoying ourselves. 

Although I did stop by my house to drop off my other luggage and change clothes, I was at work by 8:30am Monday morning. I spent last week and this starting everything with LIMBS back up and running again. The country is just now starting to get back up and running after the holidays.

So now you are mostly up to date and have heard all the good news. 

Here are my challenges for the future:
  • I am currently under supported financially. Due to different situations, my support went down $70 a month. I was already low on financial support before, now I am REALLY low. Please pray for God's provision!
  • I still don't exactly know what is in store for me this year. There are opportunities but also many obstacles. Pray for wisdom and discernment. One of my bosses is planning to come sometime in February. Pray everything goes well during his visit.
  • I get lonely sometimes. Please pray for God's comfort during those times. 

If you feel led to give financially you can either donate online here and writing, "Elizabeth Flow Support" in the memo line or to send a check (with "Elizabeth Flow Support" in the memo line) to:
LIMBS International 
500 W. Overland, Suite 230
El Paso, Texas 79901

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Prayers and Potential

The last several months have not been easy for me. Maybe this is part of the reason that I have struggled to write updates because I don’t like to write negative things on my blog.

However, when I am weak, GOD is strong!

When I was growing up, my Mom had a plaque that said, “When we work, we work. When we pray, GOD WORKS!

Well, because of your prayers I can see God working. This month, August, has the potential to significantly boost the work of LIMBS here in Kenya.

This week, I met with the head of Port Reitz Special School near Mombasa. This school serves at least 10 children with amputations. He was impressed the LIMBS System and hopes to use this system on at least 5 of his students. Even more exciting is that the majority of the funds to provide subsidized LIMBoxes (kits that contain all the components needed for the LIMBS Prosthesis except the socket and cosmetic covers that are individual to each patient) to these children came from children in schools in the USA; so this is children helping children!!!!

Here is what is expected for August:
  •      On August 10th, an Ethiopian bilateral amputee is scheduled to come to CURE in Kijabe for new prosthetic legs. One will be a LIMBS prosthetic leg and the other a below knee prosthesis.
  •  After a lengthy discussion process, an orthopedic technologist/prothestist from Mombasa who was originally scheduled to attend the training LIMBS had last April but was unavoidably detained, is scheduled to come to CURE August 12th-15th and brush up his LIMBS prosthetic skills. There is already a waiting list, including the children from Port Reitz Special School, at least 5 people long waiting for the LIMBS System to come to Mombasa.
Your prayers are working and are VERY important. Keep It Up!!! But the battle is not over yet!! Where there is great potential, there is also great chance for problems. PLEASE KEEP PRAYING!!!

  •  Everything would go smoothly for the Ethiopian patient coming on the 10th. Already, we are running into complications in follow through in our preparations.
  •  For the Orthopedic Technologist/Prosthestist from Mombasa coming to refresh his LIMBS skills. Pray that his transport would go smoothly, that his time in Kijabe would be beneficial, and that he will be able to use these skills to make high quality prosthetics in Mombasa, especially for these children.
  • That everything will work out between Port Reitz Special School and LIMBS International. 
  •  For my relationship with the head of the Orthopedic Workshop at CURE. Our relationship continues to be strained. Please pray for resolution and peace!!
  •  For me and my attitude. Recently, instead of seeing all the potential for LIMBS and ministry God has provided, I see only the possible problems and what could go wrong. Please pray that I will trust in God and HIS will and maintain a positive attitude.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Waiting on the Lord

Has it really been 3 months since I last updated? Time has flown by like a whirlwind!
Since April, I have been to 2 conferences, nurtured an abandoned puppy, lost my Ipod, struggled with internet, conducted several “fish or cut bait” meetings, and my computer charger cord died and resurrected.
I have seen God provide, but also challenge me to grow through trials.

At the end of May, one of my good friends, Nancy, had a baby boy. The problem was that she had chicken pox when she delivered. Baby and Mother had to be kept apart until Nancy had recovered. The first night I saw them, the baby was in the ICU and Nancy was in the Private ward. The baby, Russell, was in the ICU not because he was horribly sick but because there was no other place for him. He could not go to the nursery because he had been exposed to chicken pox. He could not be with his mother because she had chicken pox. Then, the hospital made a mistake in their paperwork or discharge procedure and Nancy and Russell had to spend an extra night in the hospital (on the hospital’s tab). The hospital transferred Russell to a private room so they could use the ICU bed for someone else and one of Nancy’s friends stayed the night to care for Russell. Since Mother and son had to be separated, Russell could not breast feed and instead, we had to feed him formula every four hours. Every ounce was carefully measured and feed via a needleless syringe.

I did the 7pm and 11pm feedings and Nancy’s friend did the feedings during the middle of the night and early morning. Also, because I had chicken pox as a child, I served as the go-between between Russell’s room and Nancy’s. As any new mother, Nancy wanted to know everything about her son. How much did he eat? Was he warm enough? What does he look like now? Is he sleeping? Etc... Though tiring, I enjoyed every minute of it. I used her phone to take a picture of him so she could look at him whenever she wanted and even held him up to the window of the room so Nancy could safely see him.

After a week, Nancy was fine and allowed to nurse her son. I visited her and the baby a couple of weeks later.
Holding Russell in the ICU

Russel is ready to travel (yes, he is in there!)
The months of June was so full of meetings and travel that, by the end of the month, I was exhausted.  I had meetings and conferences every week and to add to everything else, my Ipod disappeared, with my entire schedule, when I was on my way to the first conference so I had to remember my entire schedule from scratch in my head.

My display at one of the conferences

I am raising a puppy. Two missionaries found him in abandoned in a trash pit near RVA when they were out walking. He was probably about 3 weeks old. He was very hungry, looked malnourished, and had an injured back leg. I volunteered to care for him until we could find his mother and/or owner. This involved feeding him a special milk replacement (There is no actual puppy milk replacement in Kenya, so I made my own based on several recipes I found on websites) every 4 hours for the entire first week. So engineer meets maternal instinct and the puppy ends up nursing from the fingers of my disposable rubber gloves.  My neighbors have 4 kids 10 and under and they, along with their friends, decided to name the puppy “Arthur Maxwell”. I had avoided naming it myself for fear of becoming too attached to something I was not sure would survive or stay with me long. But the name stuck and Arthur grew!

After about a month, I took Arthur Maxwell to the vet for a checkup and advice on his leg. I knew he had worms because I had seen them, but the vet said that his bloated belly and lethargy was probably a result of the innumerable worms in his little belly.  I got dewormer from the vet and started the vaccination sequence. God provided people to care for the puppy when I had to be out of town overnight and at conferences.
The cool thing about Arthur Maxwell is his relationship with me. Until this week, he stuck right next to me everywhere we travelled together and his favorite position is sitting with his head on my shoulder like a baby. Right now, we are going through the “terrible two’s” of puppyhood. I am teaching him manners and proper behavior. He is “pushing the boundaries”.  He loves rearranging my house (read this as clothes, shoes, blankets, laundry hampers, etc..). I feel like I have a toddler, but I would not trade it!

Arthur is now about 4 months old and growing fast. He leg is completely healed. When he came into my house, he was a mere four pounds. Now, he is close to a whopping 20 pounds.

So enough about my puppy, what you really want to know is what I am actually doing in my work. Well, as the title of this post implies, I am in a period of waiting. No, it is not easy. I am not naturally a patient person and I hate not knowing the future. 

Back at the end of March, I was given an ultimatum; either get the LIMBS System use up to at least 100 per year in the next 6 months (starting in March) or LIMBS International will pull out of Kenya.  Now there is only a certain amount I can do to achieve this goal, most of the necessary action lies with the Kenyans themselves. I believe the LIMBS Prosthetic System is a world class, high functioning, low cost system, but it is the Kenyans that I have to convince to use it. I have received differing amounts of resistance from everyone from the prosthetist to the patient. From an American perspective the complaints are petty. “The knee doesn’t look like a normal knee.” (But the knee is always covered by pants or a skirt) “It costs too much” or “it doesn’t cost enough to be high quality.” “We would love to use the LIMBS System, how much will you pay us to do so” (This is from someone we were offering a sponsored leg) I am basically trying to “teach old dogs, new tricks.” 

Four months later, I am trying to finalize a working relationship with the only prosthetics training college in Kenya (KMTC), follow-up with each of our national prosthetists, and promote the system to anyone who will listen. LIMBS International even developed a LIMBox, a box containing everything needed for an above knee prosthesis except the socket and cosmetic covers. This was to combat the most common complaint that it is hard to find the other necessary components for above knee prosthetics. 

  • That God’s Will be done and that I will be content with His plan.
  • If things don’t work out in Kenya, I have been asked if I would move to Asia to work in Bangladesh and India. They are currently making orders in the thousands and LIMBS would like to have someone there as a contact and for quality control. Pray that if God wants me in Asia, I would trust His provision and follow His lead.
  • That things would work out here in Kenya so I can stay and continue the work God has put in my path.
  • That I might have patience, but also push those that need to be pushed.
  • That God would bring stability to the Country of Kenya and LIMBS to those in need.
  • My hands are covered in scabs from accidental wounds caused by sharp puppy teeth.
  • God gave me a puppy to nurture and raise so I am not so lonely.
  • God provided someone to bring me a old Ipod to replace the one that was lost and that person lived close to my parents.
  • God provided the needed rest and restraint after a busy and stressful month.
  • God gave me wonderful parents to guide me when trouble comes or I "freak out"
  • God has given me a team of prayer warriors in my home church. I can feel their prayers! (Don't ask me to explain, its hard to describe.)
  • Even when my ATM account was hacked, God was there and allowed ease of communication during the fraud report process (Also, please pray that all this will be resolved quickly)