Mbingo Baptist Hospital: view from Mbingo Hill

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Is Here



Christmas is here, and although we are far from family, the weather is 70 degrees, and the celebration of Christmas is somewhat different here, it is finally beginning to feel like Christmas. We greatly miss our family’s Christmas traditions and the beautiful Christmas Eve candlelight service, but we are realizing that there are many advantages to being apart from the hustle and bustle of the western Christmas season. We have been able to really focus on the meaning of Christmas and to begin to teach Cathen this greatest gift – Jesus Christ – and celebrate this gift with our Cameroonian and missionary family. This year our celebration began with a Christmas party on Children’s Ward. Together with the Cameroonian staff, we prepared songs, gifts, and food for the children and families admitted on the ward. Then on Christmas Eve, we joined the other missionary doctors in caroling through the hospital wards. Though the ideas of “peace on earth” and “joy to the world” are all too easily lost amidst suffering and sickness, there remains the glimmer of hope in people’s eyes, and we greatly enjoyed singing and sharing these timeless messages of hope and joy. 

As part of this season, we wanted to share with you the love that one of our dear friends has shown the children of Cameroon. You will see in many of the pictures below, beautiful fleece blankets. A wonderful woman, Peggy Payne ("Gigi"), who lives in Charlotte, NC, has lovingly made these blankets for the children here at Mbingo Baptist Hospital. Gigi is not only a wonderful grandmother to her granddaughters, Christina and Kelly - now all grown-up and married - she is a grandmother to the children who have come to our hospital. For the last year she has spent countless hours making blankets for these little ones. With each blanket she is sharing love with a newborn, a sick or malnourished child, or even a mother and father grieving the loss of their child. This Christmas, we want to say thank you to Gigi, for her precious contribution to caring for and loving the children at Mbingo Hospital.



“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Matthew 25:40


Merry Christmas to you all! May God bless you richly this Christmas season and may you be ambassadors for Christ as you share His love with those around you.

Much love,

Lindsay, JR, and Cathen



Gigi's "grandkids" and their blankets






 The Children's Ward Christmas Party





Monday, December 16, 2013

What's For Dinner?


Towards the end of the rainy season and the coming to the commencement of the dry season, just as the two seasons collide, there is a wonderful phenomenon that occurs here at Mbingo. I was walking home one day from work and I realized that literally everybody was outside! This was not a typical site. I see farmers tending their crops, and laborers working on the landscape daily, but this was something different. Men and women, young and old, boys and girls alike were outside, running, jumping, dashing, and darting; talking, laughing, pointing, and signaling. Everyone was outside. Granted, it was a nice day, but why the swarm of people? Then I saw what had everyone’s attention… They were not outside for the fun of it. Indeed, they were outside for the swarm – of grasshoppers!

There is a delicious little grasshopper that makes his way into our lives this time of year. He is slender and green, quite docile, albeit a little bit pesky. He will be found on your laundry hanging in the sun (or in the washing machine because he didn’t quite jump off of your dirty clothes before you shut the door), in your shoes, climbing on your back, in your patient’s hands in the clinic room, and anywhere else, private or otherwise that you might think of. These little critters might seem a nuisance, but they are truly a delicacy. Pull off the legs (they have sharp little barbs), put them on the frying pan with some salt and pepper, and you have dinner!

Anyway, there we all were, outside, shaking trees and leaves to cause the critters to take to the air, then to corral them into a group so the children and adults alike could pounce on them, and quickly put them in a plastic bag, a bottle, or just in the grasp of a hand. They’re only here for a short season, so when the time is right, you’ve got to act quickly! Let’s all get outside, and no need to ask what’s for dinner!

JR (Lindsay & Cathen)



Thursday, September 19, 2013

THANK YOU SIPA

Vitamins changing lives!

We are so thankful to the University of Nebraska's SIPA for collecting calcium and vitamin D supplements to share with the children of Cameroon. Cameroon, like many other developing countries, is plagued with Rickets, a softening or weakening of bones leading to severe skeletal deformities.  Children who do not get enough calcium and/or vitamin D develop bowing of the legs which can progress to such severe deformity that many lose the ability to walk. This happens all too frequently as children receive breast milk until 6-12 months of age and then no further calcium sources since milk, yogurt, and cheese are too expensive. Here are a couple of pictures of children who have come to our clinic in Mbingo, Cameroon.




If identified early enough, calcium and vitamin D supplementation can correct these devestating abnormalities and change the future for a child. Unfortunately, in Cameroon appropriate calcium and vitamin D supplements are almost impossible to find, and often cost prohibitive if found. Rory Ruma, a pharmacy student from UNMC, spread the word of our need and partnered with SIPA (Southwest Iowa Pharmacists Association) to donate these much needed vitamins. She was able to bring > 25 lbs of donated calcium and vitamin D. Greater than ten patients have already benefitted from this generous donation, and we look forward to treating many more. We will keep you updated on the improvements that are made with the appropriate treatment.

Thank you, SIPA, for giving these children a new future!

Lindsay and JR Young





Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Resolution

August 26: we left Mbingo in the mid morning after rounding on the wards to travel with Valentine and two of Christabelle's uncles to her home village, Abuh, located about 2 hours away by car over rough dirt roads, through tiny faming communities, up and down valleys and mountains, and back and forth through winding switchbacks. It was a beautiful sunny day when we left, but as the ceremony started, the heavens opened, and the earth wept for the loss one of God's beloved children.


Hiking with the coffin up to the family's compound
Walking along the ridge line and down into the compound

Christabelle's funeral was a community affair. People throughout her farming village - situated on a lush, green mountainside with a strong river running below in the valley floor, and groves of coffee plants and banana trees on the hillside - as well as nearby villages attended. Lindsay and I and the three dialysis nurses from MBH (Ivor, Genevieve, and Mercy) were able to attend as well. She was a well-loved young lady as demonstrated by the throngs of people who came to give their last respects.

View of the village landscape
A local group of women sang, one of the village elders spoke, and I was asked to give the eulogy for the girl who touched our lives in such a dramatic fashion in such a short amount of time. We wept for Christabelle, but we rejoice in her final rest with her Father in heaven. Although a time of grieving, her funeral was a celebration of a life well lived, a reflection on her vibrant faith, and a challenge to us all to live in the present and to be appreciative for God's daily blessings.

JR giving the eulogy in the rain
September 5: I spoke with Valentine again this morning. He called to let me know he has found work in the Southwest of Cameroon, and will make the journey to his new work site in the next couple days (many families here in Cameroon live separated. Work is very difficult to find, and so husbands and wives and families are often separated by 6 or more hours of travel). He said that he and Christabelle's mother are still struggling with the loss and heartache, but that they are coping. They remain steadfast in trusting God's provision, but the loss is still fresh on their hearts and minds.

Christabelle is home. She is safe, and her journey is complete. We have been privileged to know her, to work with her, and to see her trust and steadfast faith. There is resolution.

We love you all. Thank you for partnering with us to fight for this young girl's life. God always has the better plan, so we trust in His providential will. Please pray for Christabelle's family, for healing and for strength.

Blessings,

JR & Lindsay

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 
2 Timothy 4:7

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." 
Psalm 116:15

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Speechless


August 23: God does many things that I don’t understand. Yesterday, we wrote, very excited, eagerly anticipating God’s miraculous hand at work in young Chrystabelle’s life - her surgery for a new heart valve had finally been scheduled. Today, after her story had pulled at many or our hearts, and after raising greater than $10,000 to support her in this journey, Chrystabelle quietly slipped away post-operatively, leaving her uncle Valentine speechless, Lindsay and I in shock, and her medical team in despair.

God chose to take her from this world and to bring her home. I suppose I ought to be joyfully celebrating her final reunion with her Lord and Savior, and yet here I am, speechless, confounded, and wondering “why God, did you place her burden on my heart, only to take her away just as everything was coming together?” I am speechless.

I don’t know why God chose to prick my heart with Chrystabelle’s story, or why for that matter, we shared her story and raised funding to support her if this was the end result. Praise God, that when our knowledge fails, when our hearts can handle no more, and when our endurance gives way, God remains steadfast, sovereign, and true.

God tells us in Isaiah 57:1-2 “the righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.”

August 24: I spoke with Valentine again today. I tried to express our sincere condolences, but fumbled for the right words. He told me, “Doctor, God is in control. It will be all right.” We will be attending Christabelle’s funeral on Monday. We praise God for letting us know Christabelle, being encouraged by her bravery and her steady faith, and we thank God that she is finally home.

Please pray for Valentine and Christabelle’s family. They are trusting in God’s provision and plan, but there is pain in the loss.

God uses situations like these to teach us something. I am sure I still have much to learn. However, one thing that is very clear is that you are all amazingly generous, Godly people who without hesitation raised money for a girl you didn’t know to give her a new chance at life. Thank you for offering of yourselves and freely giving to offer Christabelle hope. Praise God for each and every one of you, and praise God that our true hope is in the Lord.

Much love and many blessings,

JR & Lindsay

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chrystabelle Update: God is Bigger

"On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."

Tomorrow, Friday, the 23rd of August, Chrystabelle is going to surgery at 8am for her mitral valve replacement surgery. I just got off the phone withe Valentine, her uncle, who called me to let me know of the newly formed schedule.

Chrystabelle left Mbingo on the 13th of August and made the difficult trip to Shisong Cardiac Center by multiple taxis with her uncle. When they arrived, Valentine called me to let me know that all had gone smoothly. The staff at Shisong also called to inform us that she had arrived and was being set up for her cardiac and anesthetic reviews and to continue her peritoneal dialysis. The following morning, shy and soft spoken Chrystabelle called me at 6:45 am to wish me a good morning and to tell me that she was "doing fine."


 August 13 - ready to travel to Shisong


We have been waiting anxiously for word on her upcoming surgery, and just this evening learned that she is scheduled for tomorrow morning. We had hoped to give you earlier notice, but we are just pleased that she is finally on the schedule.

Tomorrow is a big day for Chrystabelle. We are praying for a miracle - a healthy heart.

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." 
- Philippians 4:19

When we wrote in June about Chrystabelle, we had hoped to raise perhaps half of the money needed to support her for her surgery. Within one month, God had touched the hearts of many people, and abundantly provided the financial means for her to receive coverage for her entire surgery. God is still working miracles in the lives of His children, and it is awesome to be in the middle of Chrystabelle's miracle. Thank you for taking part in her story.

"Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." 
- Mark 10:14

Before Chrystabelle left for Shisong, I had the chance to sit down and talk with her in more depth about Christ's love for her. She is a believer like her Uncle Valentine, and although scared about her upcoming surgery, she is at peace. She trusts in God's perfect provision. We were able to provide her with a new Bible before she left, and Valentine told me this evening, that reading the Scriptures has been a great source of joy and encouragement for them both.

Chrystabelle & Valentine


"As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice."
- Psalm 55:16-17

We trust in God's unfailing love, His perfect provision, and His sovereign plan. Please join us in praying for Chrystabelle, for her surgery, for her recovery, and for her continued walk with the Lord. Thank you for partnering with us and with Chrystabelle in this journey of faith.

We love you all and cherish your prayers and support.
Blessings,

JR, Lindsay, and Cathen

Lindsay, Chrystabelle, & JR