Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Michael!

Michael with his pizza!

Surprising Michael at school with his dad!

Yesterday(Saturday) we had a wonderful day. It started at 4 a.m. when I got up to speak to my family on Skype. It was Friday evening their time and it was family game night at my nephew’s so got to speak to several at once and saw them too! By 5:30 a.m. Major and I were on our way to Harare to surprise his son Michael on his 18th birthday. On the way to Harare we stopped at Magunje and hour from here where we were having an area woman’s church meeting. Patience, Major’s wife was there and it was also her birthday—so we stopped by to surprise her with cake at 6:30 in the morning! It was so encouraging to see over 300 women who had come for the meeting and they all came out to greet us!
We arrived in Harare about 10:30 a.m. and Michael is in boarding school and so we stopped to ask them if we could take him out for the day. We had told him in advance one of the doctors from Harare was stopping by with something so he should be ready! He saw us walk by his tea room and came running! We brought our Chidamoyo birthday hat—a tradition that everyone has to wear all day on their birthday and the birthday sunglasses!
We had to sign him out with the boarding master and when he noticed Michael in his birthday hat he asked if it was his birthday and he said yes and it was 18th. Then I said “that is why we have come to get him so that we can take him out to get drunk!” He looked like he believed me and started saying that usually on visiting day parents come to the school and they rarely let students out! We assured him it was a joke but I think he wasn’t too convinced, but he finally agreed. So we kidnapped him. He had to stay in his uniform all day because when they are at school it can not be taken off—even on weekends!
We then went by to get his sister Carolyn and cousin sisters Nancy and Christine. We spent the morning shopping at the flea market. We gave him some money to buy what he wanted for his present. Since we made him wear his hat all day many people came up to say Happy Birthday and shake his hand. He felt like he was quite a celebrity.
Then we went to a nice restaurant in Borrowdale where he ate a whole pizza by himself, had a milkshake, coke and we put candles on a bowl of ice cream and the waiters sang him Happy Birthday. We opened presents and he got what he wanted by was so shocked—a pair of Converse High –top tennis shoes! He put them on right at the table and wore him with his uniform the rest of the day until he had to go back to school!
We did some grocery shopping and he got to pick out some snacks for him to take home and we got him back at 5:33 p.m. on our way home. The boarding master reminded us we were 33 minutes late! I felt like I was in boarding!
Major and I drove home and stopped at Magunje to leave his wife a chicken and chips dinner with a rose and then got home about 10 p.m. When I arrived the 2 doctors and our Lab Tech were in my house watching the final European Cup game (soccer) because there was no electricity yet and so they used my generator! I had told them before I left they could do this as this game was so exciting for them. They were sure ZESA would be on for the game! Ha! The electricity came on 15 minutes later so we could switch over to it. Dr. Zimudzi was so happy that Barcelona won! Finally by 11 I was able to drop into bed and sleep undisturbed until 7 a.m. These one day trips to Harare are killers and the older I get the more it takes out of me!
Tonight we will have a proper birthday dinner for Patience as the women get home this morning from their meeting. The roast beef is in oven and the cupcakes are made. I have had to switch the beef 2 times as there was electricity when I started then it went out so switched it to my gas oven and then after an hour the electricity came back on so back to the electric oven! Always a challenge here!
Winter is here and it was 61 when I got up this morning. It gets up to 70’s and 80’s during the day and warm but as soon as the sun goes down, brrr… last week we had temps into mid-50’s in early morning! Bright sunny and crisp days—winter in Africa!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Major! Happy End of the World!

Happy 47- Major!

This has been a busy week with both doctors gone from last weekend until Friday morning. Trying to do their job and mine and Major’s all week was a bit overwhelming and thank goodness the week is over.
Major has been in Chinhoyi for 2 weeks attending a course. He got to come home last weekend and then headed back 4 a.m. on Monday morning. His birthday was Friday so I sent money to the Administrator at Makonde Christian Hospital, Tauzen Kandungure, who is also in he course, for him to arrange a cake and drinks for tea on Friday. I also sent a gift for the lodge where he was staying to give it to him at breakfast on Friday.
People in Zimbabwe love a party and so when Tauzen talked to someone else in the class they decided to have a big surprise party for Major. One of the other Administrators stood up on Monday and said her birthday was on Friday and she wanted to have a party and invite everyone. They set up committees for food, entertainment and decorations and asked people to contribute and even Major gave money for this lady’s party—not knowing it was all for him!
The teachers of the course decided that they would give them all Thursday afternoon for the party and so while Major went off for lunch the rest decorated and when he walked in after lunch he was shocked to find the party was all for him! He said he almost had a heart attack he was so surprised! They spent the whole afternoon eating and partying—he was so happy! He was the most popular guy in class since they got out of a whole afternoon of class because of him!
Friday morning when he went to breakfast the woman who owns the lodge he stayed in had everyone sing happy birthday and he shared pumpkin bread I sent and opened his gift—and then they prayed for him!
When he got home Friday night I had a fried chicken dinner ready for him, his wife, Lori and the 2 doctors. He had another party to celebrate! He kept saying this was his best birthday ever. He was so surprised by all!
During the whole dinner last night we sarcastically called it a celebration of our last day on earth! Since May 21st is to be the last day here on earth according to the newest end of time group. Yes we even heard about here and someone paid to put up a billboard about it in Harare! We sat around and talked about all the things we shouldn’t do—like the C/S we did that afternoon—why did we waste our time? I gave Major a card and promised him $500 tomorrow (the day the earth ends)-ha! Won’t have to pay him that, right? I told people don’t even help clear the table—why should I do housework in the last 24 hours on earth? Should we make rounds in the morning or just sleep in? Why should I start anyone on ART this morning at work when we are all going to die? Aren’t we happy we really don’t know the end of the world date or we would stop living our lies wouldn’t we.
It is Saturday night and no big earthquake to end the world yet and ZESA went off as usual before dinner time. Why don’t they just keep it on since the world is ending soon and we won’t have to pay the creditors we have to buy the electricity from. Oh well life goes on—tomorrow we will celebrate the day after the earth was suppose to end party and I guess I have to go do my housework!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nhasi China!

Nhasi China (chee-na) means today is Thursday! That is a day that has become a day to dread around the hospital because it is 12 hours of non-stop work! No time for tea or lunch—just work flat out!
We have made every Thursday CD4 count day. Now that we have a CD4 machine and Thursdays we usually have electricity (this week we had turn on he generator), we draw blood from HIV positive patients to see who needs to start ART medication and to monitor those on ART meds to make sure they are improving. The CD4 count shows how well their immune system is working. If the number is below 350 they need to start on ART.
This past Thursday we drew 87 people! There were 2 people writing the forms and filling out the test tubes while I drew all the blood from babies up to 80 year olds! Then we start getting the results back in about 2 hours and out of those 87 we needed to start 38 patients! So immediately I started prioritizing who we could start that day (those that live far away) and who could be rescheduled over the next few days! Of course everyone wants to be started immediately!
We worked straight through until 7 p.m. when it was too dark for me to see to write their cards anymore (we had no electricity all week and still going!) and then sent them away until Friday. I went home and ate and went to bed at 8 p.m. I was so tired!
We continued yesterday and saw more people to start—it is always a groan when you have a man and his 3 wives who all need to be started at the same time! Yesterday we had ART clinic at Deve (about an hour away) so my helper in the office had to go to that while I ran between starting new people and filling meds for our patients already on TB and/or ART meds! It was another non-stop, no tea, no lunch day! I pushed about 3 more patients to start until this morning! Whew!
Lori was gone for a workshop all week and is coming home today so next week might be better—we can only hope!
We are so happy to have the machine and be able to start more people and save lives! It will just take us awhile to catch up since we haven’t been able to do this before and just started people on their clinical appearance. That meant we were treating only the very sick and so many of those died because they started medication so late. Now we can start people when they need it—even if they look well on the outside they may be very sick inside!
We also have a small CD4 machine that has battery backup that was provided for maternity patients. So all positive maternity patients can be seen and tested the same day and started on ART to help prevent their baby from being infected with AIDS. We can draw any day for those patients. We are so thankful to the Kaplan foundation for providing this machine!
Some good news to share is that we are definitely decreasing in the number of new patients with HIV infection. We are running about 18% of our general population are infected and 7% of our maternity population. So new cases are definitely slowing down! We feel the more people we can get on medication the more people will be saved from getting AIDS as the disease is not transmitted as easily from someone on medication. There are many people who have the disease already that need to be on treatment so we will be busy for awhile catching up on all those (over 2 million in Zimbabwe) who need to be on medication! God is good and we can’t complain about work when we are saving so many lives! Pray for our strength to continue on!

Winter seems to officially started! We had 2 nights this week where it got into the 50's, brrr...The extra blanket and comforter have been added to my bed and as soon as the sun goes down it is cold. We acually had sweatshirts and blankets wrapped around us for the movie last night!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Happy May Day 2011!

Major and Carolyn and Michael
The kids and I at Victoria Falls

Major and kids at The Kingdom--Vic Falls

Mereki family having our picnic at Maopos

Michael at Rhodes Grave-Maopos

Bushman paintings in Caves-Matopos

Emma Takaedza's wedding

Youth getting leaving for youth conference--3 a.m.!

Our youth left on the Thursday before Easter for their annual youth conference. This year it was at our mission station Dewure (about 8 hours from here). We sent 30 youth in our lorry (big truck) for the 4 day meeting. They had a wonderful time and came in 3rd in the singing competition.
Major and family and I took off last Saturday for a wedding of one of our nurses in Bulawayo (9 hours SE of here). We attended the wedding on Sunday and then went for 4 nights to a National Park called Matopos about 50 kms away. We spent days exploring caves where there are bushman paintings from the San people who lived here over 500 years ago. We wanted to show Major’s kids some of their history that they only read about and now they have seen in person.
We walked a lot and really enjoyed our time together. We were joined by friend, Zebedee Togarepi for 2 days. He works and lives in Chiredzi. We spent a lot of time talking and laughing!
After our 4 days at Matopos we travelled on for 2 nights in Victoria Falls while Major’s wife, Patience, went to Gweru for our church annual woman’s conference. We had a great time in Bulawayo but some rain fell that proved our rainy season is not over yet. Our lorry took 21 women from Chidamoyo for the conference and they had a wonderful time.
We did a sunset cruise and ate at the Boma in Victoria Falls. We had a bushbuck and baboons visiting our cabin!
We drove home from Vic Falls in one day on Saturday—getting home at 1 a.m. We stopped by to pick up Patience and got to see a lot of friends from all over the country that had come to the Woman’s conference.
When we arrived home—no electricity! We had a fault due to the storm that hit here and no electricity since early Sat. morning. They have “promised” to “maybe” come to fix it tomorrow. We thought the rainy season and our faults were over—but not yet!
Today was a holiday here—Workers Day—so only had to work half a day at the hospital. Tomorrow should be a busy day after our Out-patient department has been closed for 3 days!
We got some great news this week that a mission organization in the US is buying us a new X-ray machine and processor! Wow—what an answer to prayers!