Thursday, August 4, 2016

Biking through Pittsburg to the beginning of the GAP Trail 🚴🏼🚡🏼🚴🏼

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


This is a blogpost I wrote from 2012 and never published, but I think it's still just as good now :)

So yesterday we arrived here in Conakry, Guinea after a smooth sail from the island of Tenerife where the ship had been having a bit of a fix up. Sailing is an interesting experience, it is beautiful to be out on the water. It is strange not to see any land and not to be able to leave your ship home for days. You can't see where you are going and doesn't seem like you are getting anywhere, at least to those of us who aren't driving. It is hard for me to be patient when I'm sailing. I have to keep reminding myself to enjoy the experience and stop concentrating on when I'm going to get there. It's hard to trust someone else's plan for you and just enjoy it. I realize I do that with God's plan for me as well. I just want to know what the plan is and where I am going and I don't understand when he says wait. Wait for him to develop his character in me so that I can be ready to fulfill his plan. That is the hard part, especially for an impatient person like myself. But it's a lot happier existence for me if I trust him and enjoy where I am right now. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

and hope does not disappoint

"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Romans 5:5 NKJV

Theirno, who had the large tumor in his face, got his surgery.  A few hours after the 9 hour surgery, he was asking for something to eat. It has now been more than 4 weeks since the surgery and he is a changed person. Before surgery we told him he had to gain enough weight to weigh more than me. This week he weighed a whole 5 kg more than me!

I remember how hopeless he was the first time I met him. He had lived that way for more than 5 years. I can't imagine the amount of patience it took for Thierno to wait, when he was waiting with no hope. I almost didn't have hope for him, there was only a small chance he would be able to have surgery or even survive the surgery. This week he told us that before his surgery we had given him hope, because he had lost it all. 

So often I lose hope, I think things will never change. I don't have faith that God is a big enough God to work in my life. I let fear and insecurity dictate how I live my life instead of giving control to God. Instead I want to live my life with hope, hope that God will come through, places in my life will be healed and I will become the person God created me to be.

I Lift My Eyes Up (Psalm 121) by Brian Doerksen
"I lift my eyes up,
to the mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from you,
Maker of heaven,
Creator of the earth.

O how I need you Lord,
You are my only hope,
You are my only prayer
So I will wait for you
To come and rescue me,
Come and give me life."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

missing pieces

Today I went to visit a Guinean man who has a huge tumor growing up into his face and mouth. It has been growing for the past 5 years and he hasn't been able to eat anything solid for the past 2 years. Before the tumor started growing he was a professional football star for the Guinea national team, everyone knew who he was. When I look at him now, I can't tell what he used to look like because the tumor is all I can see. It bulges out of the side of his face and he keeps part of it covered up, the part that is oozing out of his mouth. The only way he can drink is to pull his cheek away and stick a syringe into a small pocket in the back of his mouth. Flies buzz around him all the time and the eye that is being pushed out by the tumor weeps constantly. At home he sits in a small room on a mattress on the floor with his head over a bucket to catch the dripping fluids.

We are waiting for the biopsy report to come back to find out if the tumor is cancerous. I am seeing him to see if he can gain at least 7kg by November when the right surgeons will be here to do the surgery. Not being able to eat solid foods for 2 years has made him emaciated. He is so weak it is difficult for him to walk and he is in constant pain from the pressure of his neck holding up the tumor. Today he had lost weight instead of gaining and the tumor has started growing faster. It's becoming harder for him to swallow and the pain from the tumor is becoming more intense. Today I prayed with him before we left; for the tumor to stop growing, for him to gain weight, for him to stay alive until he is able to have surgery. Without turning to God it felt so hopeless, and without Him it is.

I can't possibly imagine what it is like to have that happen to me. To have a lump on my face, it start to grow and not be able to do anything about it. Not only to have it grow but to have it completely take over my face and mouth. For me to hide in a room all day with my face dripping in a bucket and flies swarming around me. To know that I have something so strange and ugly on my face that I am afraid to leave my room because people will stare and be disgusted. To wake up and wonder how much bigger it will get today, how many more days until I suffocate to death or can't swallow anymore.

He lives with this ugliness on his face, slowly sucking the life out of him, visible for everyone to see. I started to wonder today, what if we all lived with our ugliness on our face, out in the open, like a huge tumor. All of the ugly flaws and missing pieces of our character we hide from everyone, right there. I know I have uglyness hidden deep down, until someone or something brings it up. The trouble is I don't know how to get rid of it by myself. I try, sometimes I succeed a little bit but mostly I fail.  I can' t remove a tumor from my face, and I can't take out my ugly flaws either.  Only a master surgeon can cut out a huge tumor and fill in the missing places in someone's face. Only God can help me cut away the hidden ugly tumors in my heart and replace the missing pieces. Only God can make something of a man's hopeless situation.

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; see for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life." Psalm 139:23-24 (The Message)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Screening day and a blast from the past

On screening day in Conakry, Guinea the crowds seemed to go on and on. 

My job was the Infant Feeding station and see any babies that the surgeons thought might be too small for surgery.

This little girl only weighs a little over 2 kilograms.
Suilaman when he came to the infant feeding program.
After a couple of months he was fat, happy and had his lip fixed. 
The best part of screening day was when I spotted this mom and baby. Suilaman was one of the first babies I had in the Infant feeding program in Sierra Leone over a year and a half ago and was significantly malnourished. His mom was one of my favorite people in Sierra Leone and always took really good care of him and did everything I told her. He fattened up quickly and got surgery for his cleft lip but he still needed his cleft palate fixed when he was a year old. I was hoping she would show up on screening day and late in the day I spotted her! It made such a difference for me to be able to see Suilaman over a year old, fat and happy. 

Some Memories of Togo

Having been here in Guinea for a few weeks now I was thinking recently that I never really put up any of my photos of Togo. Every West African country I've been to feels and looks a little different, even if there are many things that are the same. So far Guinea has a feel and look I can't quite describe yet. Here are some of my favorite photos from Togo.

Esther's kitchen

Political rally on the beach road in Lome

Sculpture made of seashells on the beach in Lome

Shoe seller in Lome

Sorting palm nuts at one of the Agriculture teaching sites

Togo Infant Feeding Program

Here is a little update from the field service in Togo, which ended in May. This is a little late but here are the before and after photos of the babies who were in the Infant Feeding Program. The last two photos on the right are of two babies who could not get surgery because of health issues they were born with.