Here are some of the things that we have been thankful for here in Cameroon:
1) Our family here at MBH:
Mbingo is a fairly large hospital, and we have many volunteers that come and go during the course of the year. These volunteers in many ways are vital to the success of the hospital - they offer a tremendous amount of manpower, bring new ideas and teaching, allow the permanent people a respite, and bring new enthusiasm and vigor. We are grateful for all of them. However, we are equally thankful for our more permanent family here at Mbingo. Specifically over the past 6 months we have grown very close with the Barriers, the Bardins, and the Streatfeilds. They have become our family away from home!
We came to Cameroon with Barriers, and have been friends since medical school. Their son, Isaac, is Cathen's best friend; and Lindsay and Angela job share, always allowing one of the ladies to be home caring for the children. It really is an ideal set up, and we are incredibly thankful to be sharing this experience with them.
Isaac & Cathen: getting ready to walk to the Thanksgiving feast
The Bardins, Rick & Debbie, are our mentors here at Mbingo, and have been such a wonderful source of support and wisdom. They have been long-term missionaries here and in Nigeria for many years, and are a wealth of knowledge and are our surrogate parents. Cathen has also grown very fond of both "Noni" and "Popi," and is always excited to spend time at their house.
Keith and Kaye Streatfeild, are from Newcastle, Australia, and are an amazing couple who also have been dedicated to long-term missions for many years, serving in India, Ethiopia, and now Cameroon. Kaye leads our weekly Bible Study, and she and her husband are incredible witnesses of God's grace and love. They too have become family here in Cameroon, and so eagerly share God's love and compassion with us.
From left to right: Rick & Debbie Bardin, JR & Lindsay Young,
Keith & Kaye Streatfeild, and Chuck & Angela Barrier
2) Family and friends at home:
Obviously one of the most difficult things about moving abroad is leaving behind family and friends. However, we have been blessed to have relatively easy communication through Skype and FaceTime and even letters. Written reminders of home are cherished, speaking face to face keeps un in touch with our loved ones, and we are incredibly thankful for the unceasing prayers and support.
3) Our health:
We weren't too sure what type of environment we were moving to in Cameroon when we left the US. There have been some health challenges - asthma control for JR in the dry season; vivid dreams for Lindsay while taking mefloquine for malaria prophylaxis, and adjusting to raising an infant in Africa - but God has graciously brought us through them all. Lindsay has been able to transition from mefloquine to doxycycline, and her sleep is greatly improved. JR, although struggling at times with his asthma (and therefore with the diabetes if requiring steroids), has been generally very healthy and able to avoid any serious problems with his diabetes. Cathen gave us a scare when she suddenly was refusing to bear weight on her right leg, but she has since returned to health and there is no further indication that anything was wrong.
Admittedly, both JR and Cathen are a little ill while we are writing this post, but God has been and will continue to be faithful. So we are anxious for their fevers to go, and for their health to be restored. We are thankful that we have a loving Father who has it all worked out.4) God's mercies in the hospital
The hospital continues to amaze. We have had many sorrows on the wards, but there have also been many positive stories for which we give thanks. We had a twin male admitted with respiratory failure. He is the first child whom we have successfully resuscitated and brought back to life. He is also the first child to successfully use the heated high-flow oxygen delivery system that Keith brought back from Australia for use on the pediatrics ward. The infant was apneic and bradycardic when he arrived, and he is now home with his mother. The wonderful success is tempered by the death of his twin sister during the same admission, but his life is a tribute to God's grace. A teenage male presented to the hospital with massive right leg swelling, and was found to have a DVT secondary to Burkitts Lymphoma and associated venous stasis. His cancer was rapidly progressive, but he is now status post his chemotherapy and is walking around the hospital with no residual leg swelling. We had a 37-wk female born with severe intrauterine growth restriction (birth weight of 1.2 kg), who thrived in the nursery, and is now home with her loving mother after a successful transition to the incubator, and then an open crib. Although snake bites are not incredibly common here, we did have a young lady admitted with a possible green mamba snake bite. We are incredibly thankful to say that the bite did not envenomate her and she lived with minimal morbidity from the wound. These are just a few examples.
Burkitts Lymphoma and DVT
Many of the cases we see we are unable to intervene in a way that will restore a child to full health or to prevent death. However, seeing God's hand at work and saving these children who conventionally should note have survived is a tremendous honor and privilege.
5) Mark and Chloe coming to visit:
Last of all, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of JR's parents, Mark & Chloe, who are coming to visit during the Christmas holiday. We are incredibly excited to have family out here to see and experience our day to day life, and to share with us during this celebration of Christ's birth.Thank you for taking the time to share with us. We love you and miss you. Thank you for your prayers and support.
JR, Lindsay, & Cathen
Thanksgiving Day: JR, Lindsay, and Cathen