Monthly Archives: August 2011

Caring and Being Cared For–July 2011 Update

When I broke my right wrist on April 19th, I didn’t know what would happen to my ability to live my life here. For those of you who are unaware of this event, I was out making home visits on a rainy afternoon and slipped and fell on wet, smooth concrete. My feet flew out from under me and I broke my fall with my right hand. I knew before I got up that my wrist was broken.

Thanks to my co-workers, I went to Cure Hospital (www.cure.org) where there is an American orthopedic surgeon. The mission of Cure Hospital is to provide orthopedic and plastic surgery for needy children with club feet and cleft palates. A private practice for adult patients helps to fund the charity work. So it was a win-win situation both ways. I was in a cast for 6 weeks, and have now been out for five weeks, going to physical therapy three times a weeks and trying to get my hand and arm back to normal.

So I have been dependent on many people for many things, something that my independent nature rebels against! I initially needed help with tying my shoes, doing laundry, opening jars and cans, chopping vegetables, taking me places and many other things. Gradually, I’ve become more independent, but I’m still not back to “normal.”

The daily household chores were things that I expected to need help with. But what I didn’t expect was a different type of caring, which I have received in great measure from the beneficiaries for whom I have been caring. While I was in the cast, there was the daily question “what happened?” as I would see different beneficiaries each day. And once I told them, their response was inevitably “Eneng, eneng”, which in Amharic means, “let it be as if it happened to me.” And while saying this, they would beat their chest with their fist. These ladies have been so gracious, caring and concerned. Even my beggar friends between home and work have expressed concern and caring. One is a man who has very chronic and extreme psychiatric problems, but he was almost “normal” a couple weeks ago when he stopped me to ask how my arm was doing. I try to stay on his good side so he won’t throw rocks at me!

This whole experience has caused me to do some thinking about my work. It has been very refreshing to see some mutuality in caring coming across, rather than the one-sided way (me to them). I’ve been reminded of how the apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, reminds the Corinthians that because God has been a source of comfort to them in their afflictions, that they can be a source of comfort to others in their afflictions and troubles. It’s a way of “paying it forward”. It will be fun to find some other ways to encourage our beneficiaries to do this for one another.

I’m into my 5th week of Physical Therapy. This treatment has been more painful than breaking my wrist was. There are times that the stretching and bending my wrist and fingers by my therapist brings me to tears. Even though I’m a “PT veteran”, I realized that this is the first time I’ve had PT on a joint that had been completely immobilized prior to starting rehab. I should be done sometime in July, though there will be continued work on my part to get my hand fully functional and “as good as new.”

There was one really dark weekend after the first week of PT, when I felt discouraged and vulnerable. So I hibernated in my apartment, relaxed, read, prayed, slept, listened to my favorite NPR programs and ate some good chocolate! I was reminded of the last few verses in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines;

The produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food;

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

God the Lord is my strength.”

Prayer and Praise Items:

  • Thanks for a good doctor and physical therapist.
  • Thanks for the many people who helped me & continue to do so.
  • Thanks for caring beneficiaries and staff of the HIV/AIDS Project.
  • Pray for beneficiaries who have graduated (able to work and receiving less support) from the project or may be soon. This is an anxiety producing time for some of them.
  • Pray for a restful, refreshing week at the beach in Kenya, July 9- 16, with others from MTW East and Southern Africa.
  • Thanks for so many faithful financial supporters–without you, I couldn’t be here.

Ethiopia After Two Years: April 2009-2011

It’s hard to believe, but I am at the end of my first two years in Ethiopia. None of this would have been possible without your friendship, encouragement, care packages, email, snail mail, prayers and generous financial support.

I have a deep desire to stay here longer, perhaps until it is time to retire, but the exact amount of time is uncertain at this juncture. I feel as though I have only scratched the surface in many ways–my ability to communicate in Amharic, getting to know our beneficiaries better, learning how to provide excellent care in an under-resourced setting, and coordinating medical teams, just to name a few. We are moving ahead on planting a church here, which will be an exciting future venture that I’d like to be a part of. Our TB Active Case Finding Project is in its infancy and we are finding that it is giving us good relationships within the community and helping to bring health to many people.

When I was preparing to come to Ethiopia, the following quote by Frederick Buechner spoke volumes to me–and still does: “The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I still have that deep gladness and the desire to meet the deep hunger that our beneficiaries experience in so many spheres of their lives.

Some of you planned to support me for two years only; I am very grateful for your faithfulness in doing that. There is no pressure for you to continue. For those of you who would like to continue your monthly support, it would be helpful to know that.

Thank you for your love and support over the past two years and I look forward to our continuing partnership as I serve here in Ethiopia.

Better Late Than Never!

March 2011 Update from Addis Ababa

Stories of Sadness and Hope In the summer of 2010, we started a new project, Tuberculosis Active Case Finding. In case you are wondering why an AIDS project is doing this, over the past few years, we have found that our beneficiaries are dying of undiagnosed or late diagnosed TB, a consequence of their impaired immune system, poverty and living in a crowded urban slum. We felt that there must be more TB out there than was being diagnosed.

In the process of visiting homes and doing surveys to determine whether or not we think someone is a TB suspect, we met a woman who was clearly dying. There was nothing to do but good nursing care–make her comfortable, pray for her and support the community around her. She was of the Ethiopian Orthodox faith and even in her poor condition was resistant to us praying for her since we were not Orthodox, but finally did allow us to. As we found out about her life from her neighbors, a verse of a song that became special to me on my first trip to Ethiopia in 2005 went through my head (see following this article). Her life was lonely–because she had chosen that. Her neighbors told us that she never associated with anyone in the neighborhood, and was estranged from her sister who lived fairly close by. They told us she “got a better funeral than she deserved”, but in the end, the community from whom she kept her distance cared for her in her last hours and buried her.

While there is always sadness here, there is also the joy of seeing good things happen. On our last medical team, we were able to get an 8 year old child in the project a hearing aid. This little girl, Tesfanesh, was told not to come to school because of a significant hearing deficit. We pleaded with the school on her behalf and she has been going to school. Because Audrey, the pediatric audiologist from one of our supporting churches in Brooklyn, NY was able to bring an audiometer and hearing aids, Tesfanesh has had her hearing tested, has been fitted with a hearing aid, and can now hear much better. She is now doing better in school. Her mother is dead and her father, while he takes good care of her, is not well himself and I’m sure is overwhelmed by an active 8 year old. She is very loving and craves attention. She will be coming to the office regularly so that we can make sure she is using the hearing aid appropriately and to have some female adult attention. She is a good example of the coordinated care that we try to give our beneficiaries and their families. She reminds me of another verse of the same song:

Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice

Sometimes the way is lonely

And steep and filled with pain

So if your sky is dark and pours the rain

Cry to Jesus (x3) and live.

Oh and when the love spills over

And music fills the night

When you can’t contain your joy inside

So dance for Jesus (x3) and live.

Work Permit Update Thanks to all of you who have been praying about my work permit since my Christmas letter. Things have been progressing; all of my documents have been submitted to the appropriate government agency. There is significant urgency to this, as my two-year business visa expires on April 3rd. There is no guarantee that it will happen in that time, so I may have to make a trip back to the US to renew my visa. So I am waiting to hear when my appointment is. In the meantime, there is plenty to keep me busy!

North Africa Unrest Thanks to many of you who have emailed and asked about my safety here in Addis, in light of all of the unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. At this time, things are quiet here in Addis and we do not feel any threats, other than the usual need to be careful about petty theft when out and about. While it is a constant story on the daily news, and always in the back of my mind, the day-to-day issues of living and working here are more in the forefront. However, there has been some recent violence and persecution of Ethiopian Christians in the south of Ethiopia, so we do remain vigilant and prayerful.

Prayer Requests

Pray:

  • For favor and timely action from the government office that has to approve my work permit.
  • For wisdom to know whether or not to buy an airline ticket to the US.
  • For continued progress in language learning. I’m thankful for a very patient tutor, Dawit.
  • For work permits for Michael and Emily Treadwell.
  • For setting of my priorities in the medical care of our beneficiaries, coordinating medical teams, TB project leadership

Praise:

  • For new team members who are now raising support in the US, Jason and Liz Polk and Jessica Ringsmuth.
  • For the upcoming marriage of two of our Ethiopian staff, Danny Abebe and Betty Tsedeke in May.
  • For a good 2 weeks with the medical team from Baltimore/Brooklyn, NY, 2 churches who are significant supporters of the project and of me.
  • For faithful supporters who allow me to be here doing what I love.

EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA!!!!!!!!!!

MY WORK PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED, AS OF THURSDAY, MARCH 24th!!!!!

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement through this process.