Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas 2015

We have had a busy few days before and after Christmas.  We hope all of you had a great celebration of the birth of Jesus and that 2015 will be a great year for you and us!

We went on 3 days of safari with our visitors from the University of Washington Physical Therapy team on the 19-21of December.  We enjoyed some very close encounters with elephants and saw a lot of other animals.  We had a great time and saw them off for home on the 22nd of December.  Major and I drove straight home after sending them off at the airport and got home at 1:15 a.m. in time to be up by 5 a.m. and planning of our staff Christmas party and a busy day at work since the 22nd was a holiday here.

On the 24th we worked half a day and then started our staff party with about 80 of our staff attending.  It rained on and off during the party, but everyone had fun.  We served a lunch of beef and rice and coleslaw and cake.  Everyone ate until they were overfull.  We then played some games, danced and then they were given a bag of flour, sugar, rice, oil, soap, and drink mix.  The staff were so appreciative since no one got paid until after Christmas and so this was their Christmas food for their families.

That night we were to have a candlelight service at the hospital where we read scripture and sing carols in Shona.  We had not had any electricity for 9 days and it came back at 6 p.m. that night so we decided to have no candlelight (we had been doing that for real for the past 9 days) and had full lights on!  It was a nice service and about 60 people came and we did it in the courtyard of the hospital so that the in-patients and their caregivers could hear it.  It also was nice to look up at the stars and think of Jesus born so many years ago under the same sky.

After the candlelight service the Mereki family came over for opening gifts and Christmas cookies and ice cream!  We finished after 11 p.m. and we were up early to get ready for church at the hospital at 9 a.m.  After the church service we provided tea and bread for all who came.  Our hospital patients and waiting mothers really enjoyed this as they can't go home to celebrate with their families.

We then came home and packed up to go to Batanai village to celebrate Christmas with the Mereki family.  I was able to stay in my new house in the village for the first time.  We ended up with over 30 adults and 15 kids for the next 4 days of Christmas celebrations.  We ate a lot, danced and sang and had many visitors that dropped by.  Everyone helped in getting water, firewood, cooking and doing dishes and serving.  Teresa, Major's cousin who works in catering was in charge of all the food and it was fantastic, every meal.

I enjoyed the new house and kitchen and just sat around and read, played games with the kids and took a lot of naps.  It was wonderful.

Then on Saturday evening we had invited the Batanai church for an all night church service to dedicate my house.  It started with dinner and we had over 250 people for dinner!  The band and people kept going all night.  I went to bed about midnight, but the singing and preaching continued all night. It turned out that several churches from the area came and most of the community around.   This morning we ended with communion and a sermon and ended with a prayer circle around the house and kitchen to dedicate it to the Lord.  During the service many people spoke to welcome me to the community and thank me for my work at Chidamoyo Hospital.  It was so nice.  We then had tea and breakfast for the group.

We then packed up and came home to Chidamoyo to nap and do laundry and back to work tomorrow.  What a wonderful Christmas we had and we all enjoyed it so much.

 Elephant up close!

Lion resting

Group on boat safari

Christmas Lunch for staff

Major in Afro wig and myself in Green wig for staff Christmas party

Serving Major at Christmas party

 Christmas Day with Mereki family

Teresa and Crew serving dinner on Christmas Day

Mereki family that came to Batanai for Christmas

Eating Christmas dinner

 Cooking for church dinner

Eating dinner with church people at the village

 Church service on Saturday night

Carolyn Mereki and her cousins singing special music for the church meeting

Eating breakfast this morning

Dancing at church this morning

Standing in front of my new house with Mai Munemo and Mai Ruvando and her granddaughter

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Visitors and getting ready for Christmas!

We had a great trip to South Africa.  We shopped and ate a lot and saw a movie.  We got caught in a power outage in a major mall one day which shut down everything.  At least here in Zimbabwe all our stores have back-up generators in case their our power shut down, but in South Africa they are not prepared.

We got home at 2 p.m. and at 5 p.m. we were back at the airport to pick up Ann Wunderlin from Seattle and the Lake Union Crew Team.  They are a non-profit group that has chosen us as their project in 2015.  They will be building a new Waiting Mothers Shelter that will house 60 women under 1 roof.  She came to pick the building site and to peg it out.  We discussed a lot of the logistics for the team that will in December 2015 to build the unit along side volunteers from here.  It will take 5-6 weeks.  We are so thankful for their big help for this project and wish them well as they start their fundraising.

Ann left on Wednesday evening and on Thursday we picked up a team of 5 from University of Washington in Seattle.  They are 2 teachers and 3 doctoral students from their Physical Therapy program.  They are on an elective and have come to support our Rehab person here and do some outreach clinics with him.  They are with us until the 23rd.

We have had some rain this week and so people are busy plowing and planting.  Work at the hospital has decreased as people are busy in their fields and don't come unless they really have to.  So the patients that do come are very sick.  It has been a nice break for us!

All the best as everyone prepares for Christmas!

 Marking out the Waiting Mothers Shelter

Ann and Kathy

 Marking out the Waiting Mothers Shelter

UW Physical Therapy team working with patients and our Tech Mr. Kamuka

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

On Wednesday we said good-bye to Dr. Bill and Kaylynn Holloman who left via Victoria Falls and Joberg to return to Tucson.  We had a great time while they were here and they helped us out a lot.  Bill, an internal medicine guy was even turned in a Pediatrician while he was here!

All week our Doctor, Nura was gone to a workshop and so for 7 days and nights the hospital was mine.  I was awaken several times at night, but no major problems, so glad for that.  We got everyone delivered without needed a C/Section--which is 2 hours away by a bad dirt road!

On Friday Dr. Kajese, our doctor, who was with us for almost 3 years, returned to help us  do a bunch of surgeries.  The surgeon from Harare, Mr. Kundiona and Kajese's wife No, an OR nurse, arrived at 7 p.m. and we went straight to start our first case.  We did 2 cases last night and got home at 11:30 p.m. for dinner and then to bed at midnight and up by 5:20 a.m. to start again at 6 a.m. They ended up doing 12 cases and by 3 p.m. they were done and ready to return to Harare.  I had been up since 5 a.m. Friday and working straight from 7 a.m. so I was exhausted!

We decided to celebrate our Thanksgiving with them before they left and so I ran home at noon and Amy and I started cooking.  We prepared a Thanksgiving feast.  We had turkey, chicken, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, cornbread stuffing, gravy, pumpkin casserole and 2 pumpkin pies with fresh whipped cream.  Major's family joined us and 11 of us celebrated our Thanksgiving.  Then Major drove the doctors and No to Karoi for them to drive home to Harare tonight.  I went in to watch TV and promptly fell asleep!

Tomorrow morning Thanksgiving decorations come down and we start Christmas decorations--yahoo!

 Dr, Holloman and Perserverence (patient's name)

Surgeons at work

 Thanksgiving Dinner

Getting ready for Christmas!

We said good-bye to Amy Heather, our nurse from New Zealand on the 25th of November.  After 2 months with us she was part of our Chidamoyo family and hard to see her go.  We wish her well as she makes decisions to serve the Lord in third world missions.

We met for lunch with Dave and Becky Altman from Indiana, in Harare, that have been teaching at Zimbabwe Christian College for the last 4 months.  We had a great lunch and then they did me the favor of taking Amy to the airport so I could get on the road to Chidamoyo earlier!  I prayed all the way home not to get a flat tyre since I was by myself and when I got to the township I prayed a thank you for that request!  Boom 1 minute later--a flat tyre!  God does have a sense of humor!  I called Major and he came with the guys to fix the tyre and he drove me home!  They were a bit delayed as Major saw another snake on his way to get the car at my house!  That is the 6th cobra we have killed at my house in November!  Too many for me!
I got home in time for the doctor to leave for a 3 day meeting and so I did his work and mine for the next 4 days!  That was very exhausting running back and forth between his exam room and my office!  God was good and we made it through with no big problems!
On Saturday the 29th I started my Christmas decorating--it takes about 2 days!  I had to get it done that day as we have no time after that with our busy schedule!  Carolyn Mereki came over to bake some Christmas cookies for me while I decorated.
Then on early Sunday morning one of our Nurse Aides, Antonio Mashunje's, son died of diabetic complications.  He just turned 32 and I had been following him for 15+ years as a diabetic.  It was so sad for all of us.  We spent the day getting them ready to go home to their village for burial.
We ran to Batanai to make some building decisions.  That running means 1 hour each way on a bad road!  Got to see my rural home which is almost finished.  We plan to spend the 4 days of Christmas (25th-28th) there.  We will leave after church on the morning of the 25th and have all the Mereki family there--we counted 30+--that we will cook for!  We will have an overnight church meeting on the 27th that will start with dinner and go all night until morning church, to do a house dedication!  I am very pleased with the house and it is up on a hill and the wind blows through and keeps it quite cool.
Monday we worked and then left at 12 to go to the funeral of the young man who died of diabetes, Tafadzwa.  It had poured all night long on Sunday--our first real rain of the season--65 mls!  So the ride which should have taken 40 minutes--took 1 hour including getting stuck in a river bed.  I left Major and another of our nurses to get it out and the ladies and I walked on to the village (about 2 kms).  It was very dark and cloudy like it might rain, but we finished the burial without rain, ate and quickly drove home to finish up our work at the hospital.  I finally got home after 7 p.m.
Tuesday Major and I flew to South Africa to have a few days Christmas shopping and pick up his son Michael from University.  He just finished his first semester and did very well.  We started feeding him as he has been living on Top Ramen noodles for several months since he doesn't like to cook much!  He is eating up!
We enjoyed our first day in the land of plenty hitting 3 malls, Nelson Mandela Square and not even having time to eat lunch!  We walked a lot which was great exercise for us!   Came back to the hotel exhausted at 7 p.m. with take out to eat and fall into bed!
We have a few more malls to hit and then fly home on Sunday afternoon and we have a visitor from the US arriving 3 hours after us!  Life is busy, as usual!

 Kathy and Amy

Dave and Becky Altman with Amy

Carolyn baking Christmas cookies

The tree is up and decorated!


The stockings are hung

Batanai Rural house is almost done

Kitchen from the house

2 bedroomed house with a patio in between all under one roof

Getting stuck in the mud on way to funeral

Michael and Major at Nelson Mandela Square

Major and Kathy with Nelson Mandela

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November is a month for Thanksgiving

November is a month that our minds travel to the things we are thankful for and there are many things here that we are truly thankful for.

We are thankful for Dr. Bill Holloman and his wife Kayleen who have been with us for the last 3 weeks.  He has stepped in and helped us so much at the hospital.  Even though everything is very different here (our charting, our limited drugs and no CAT scans or MRI's to order) he has helped with a smile and and has been encouragement to Dr. Isala who has been working on his own for 6 weeks before he came.  We are thankful for his sharing devotions and preaching on Sunday.  We are thankful his wife helped out in finding lost charts, going to vaccination clinic and teaching some health lessons.They are preparing to go home to Tucson, AZ in a few days and we will miss them being a part of our family around the dining table.

We are thankful for Amy, our nurse from New Zealand who has been here for the past 2 months working in the hospital and our many outreach ART and Vaccination clinics.  She is so helpful and has fit in so well.  We are thankful for her love for the Lord and pray for her as she looks for opportunities to serve in developing countries.  She prepares to leave on the 25th of November.

We are thankful that we found 3 snakes this week and killed them before they caused harm to anyone.  Amy found one sharing her shower when she went to put her clothes on a hook in her outdoor shower. My guard found one in my outdoor dining room under the freezer and when killing it they found another one--all banded cobras which are all poisonous!  The heat brings them out!

We are thankful for my flat which sold this week in Harare and we are making plans to move into a new townhouse which is bigger and better and has water!!  The flat we were in was a constant struggle for water!  Now we have our own well--yeah!  No more bucket baths!  Thank you to all who were praying for us in this matter.

We are thankful for beautiful trees blooming this time of the year.  After a dry 6 months we look forward to the start of our rains anytime now.

We are thankful for you, all of our supporters and friends, that allow us to serve the poor people of rural Zimbabwe and provide them quality health care. All the government hospitals have been on strike for the last 3 weeks and they have said they will return to work this next week.

As we look forward to Thanksgiving soon in the US--let's all remember to be Thankful the whole year!  

 Finding the snakes

 Beautiful Flamboyant Trees in Harare

Dr. Holloman giving devotions in the morning

 Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome Hot November

Today is another warm day--up to 100+ (we don't like to look at the thermometer it makes us feel hotter) and gets to high 70's or 80's at night.  We pray this is a great build up to a good rainy season which could start by mid-November.
This has been C/Section week.  We have done 5 C/S in a week--all repeat and started this morning with another one!  A busy time for us as we have our regular work to do too!
On Thursday (30th of October) we picked up new visitors--Dr. Bill and Kaylynn Holloman from Tuscon, AZ.  Bill is an internist and they are here to help with our work for 3 weeks.  It has been a big encouragement for  Dr. Isala who has been on his own for 6 weeks.  We put him to work making rounds and seeing outpatients.  Kayleen started doing some work to clean up our ART records--a big job that I have been working on slowly in my spare time.  We ended the day with a crash C/Section for a prolapsed arm and Bill scrubbed in.  First time for him to be back in an OR since medical school.  He jumped right in and helped out which was a big blessing to
We have been busy plowing fields with our tractor to bring in some income for our hospital and to help our staff out,  Our chicken project is going so well and the eggs selling out that we have ordered another 150 chickens!  We are happy that we are selling out the eggs each day.  We keep encouraging our patients to eat eggs to get better :)!
I am trying to sell my flat in Harare in order to buy a bigger and better flat.  Please pray it will sell.  We really need to get out by the end of this month.
Another prayer request is that Dr. Kabanzi has just resigned and so we are looking for another doctor to come and work with Dr. Isala.  Please pray for the right doctor to be found and quickly to help with our heavy workload. 

Kayleen working through the ART files

Dr. Holloman and Dr. Isala making rounds