Greetings from Kalomo, Zambia! I pray that you all are well and enjoying some relief from the heat. Seasons are opposite here, so winter is winding down and the temperatures are slowly climbing. I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I’ve been back at Namwianga. In ways, it feels like I have been here forever, like I never left at all. In other ways, I feel like the time has just flown by me! I traveled here with a dear friend, Jana Miller, and we spent the first week or so just trying to get my house back in order! There was plenty of unpacking, rearranging, cleaning, and decorating to do, and she helped so much. It was also a time of visiting and renewing friendships with people around the mission. I also had to get reacquainted with Kalomo, the town nearest to Namwianga. So much has changed in the two years I’ve been in America, so I had to find the newest places to shop and do business. After the first week, Jana and I traveled to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city to pick up my new truck. While there we also purchased some items to get my house set up and ate at the new KFC on our way out of town! It’s not exactly the same, but it’s pretty close!
Once I got established at home, life could really begin. There is an endless amount of work to be done and love to be shown, so jumping right back in was the only option! We currently have 79 babies, and they are all perfect to us. So far, all my days have looked so different. Most are filled with some combination of clinic visits, language class, holding, rocking, buying supplies, feeding, and playing. It’s rarely a dull day—in fact, I long for days when no one is sick and my entire day can be spent just playing with the kids and caring for their needs, both physical and emotional. But so far, that hasn’t been the case. Our sick ones have been keeping me on my toes, demanding the majority of my time and energy.
Helen is one of our little ones who struggles to thrive. She’s now started TB treatment after about a week long scare. Today, she is happy and smiling and SPOILED after all that one-on-one attention!
Owen has also made a big turnaround following the start of his TB medication, and we’re so grateful that he’s growing. His twin sister Olivia died a month ago, and we’re prayerful that he’s started treatment in enough time to become well again.
Jenson is about to turn one month old, and is in the middle of treatment for meningitis. She has been seizing and running high fevers, and she is now admitted in a nearby hospital for IV antibiotics and monitoring. It’s nice that she’s getting one and one from an auntie and being separated from the others, as meningitis can be highly contagious. She’s still having fevers, and she’s still losing weight. She’s down to less than 4 pounds. She needs prayers for a quick turnaround. She is also HIV exposed, and we’re hoping she’ll become stable enough to begin some treatment soon.
Aumbi is one year old, and I returned yesterday from a few days in Lusaka meeting with a pediatric cardiologist about her situation. Aumbi has Down syndrome, and we also found that she has at least 3 holes in her heart. She doesn’t breathe well because of her heart condition, so she has blue hands and blue lips the majority of the time. The cardiologist was shocked at how she has stayed alive this long given her terribly oxygen saturation levels, which have been as low as the twenties, but currently are in the seventies. The doctor was a good man, and he spent so much time with us, explaining our options and how he thinks we should proceed in the future. The prognosis is poor without surgical intervention, and surgical intervention is not available here. She is not stable enough to fly, so right now there is no way to get her the help she needs. If she stabilizes in the next few days, Dr. Musuku would like to discuss evacuating her to India or South Africa for surgery. This would all have to be privately funded, which is another hurdle all in itself.
Situations like these are incredibly tough for us. We are not God, yet we have to make decisions about the lives of children in our care. We firmly believe in the value of life, and yet sometimes you must decide that the most compassionate thing to do for a child is keep her comfortable. We long for wisdom from God to help us, along with her doctors, figure out the best way to love and serve Aumbi. In the process, our hearts get so attached and we mourn the very thought of losing her life one day.
Last week we did lose a life precious to us. Adam was almost two, and overnight he took a major turn. He started having seizures and vomiting. We rushed him to a nearby hospital to try to get him treated, but by the time the doctor could even get to him he was almost gone. We tried doing chest compressions to get him breathing again, but it was too late. It was a shock to all of us. The aunties and his house mother, Fortune, have poured all of their lives and hearts into Adam over the last years, fighting to keep him alive on many occasions. He was special to everyone, and there is a hole in this house now. The other toddler boys even walk up to his picture, and ask, “Ada??” which is the name they call him. We have questions and pain, but we know God is good. We know He created Adam and loves him beyond what we could ever comprehend. We trust in His perfect plan, even when it leaves us speechless and raw. My prayer is that God can use this time for the aunties and me to think about God’s sovereignty and incredible love for His people.
We’ve had two babies go back to the village since I arrived, twins Marcus and Ruth. I look forward to checking on them soon to see where they are living and where they worship.
So life moves on here. This is a place where joy and sorrow meet so frequently, and that sums up the last few weeks. God continues to move here and reminds us of His goodness all the time. The other night while singing with the aunties and babies, the aunties just kept patting their chests and saying over and over again, “The Holy Spirit is in this place.” We are grateful for that, and continue to strive to know Him more.
I’ve started keeping up with my blog semi-regularly, so if you are interested in getting more frequent updates, please stop by and see me there. www.Zambianhavenonearth.blogspot.com
I’m so grateful for you all, your prayers, and your support. I realize how blessed I am!
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