Thursday, October 29, 2015

Med Evac Flights

Kevin talking to Rita Chapman about the situation
(Photo courtesy of Mark & Kelly Hewes, used with permission)
Last week, Kevin was able to do a Med Evac flight. It was for a 12-year-old girl (Masha) who had developed an infection on her left shin (tibia). Back in February, she noticed her leg had started to swell. Her family did what they could by treating her with indigenous medicine. Unfortunately, the medicines could not help the infection, which made it appear worse than before.  So her family took her to the local hospital in Kikongo. The hospital was now afraid to do anything because they feared the infection had spread into the bone. She was in a lot of pain and was no longer able to walk. The hospital in Kikongo was not able to do much for the young girl, so a local missionary family (the Chapmans) arranged for MAF to do a flight to bring the girl out.

Masha (in red) waiting to board the airplane
(Photo courtesy of Mark & Kelly Hewes, used with permission)
Kevin flew the young girl and her mother out to the missionary hospital in Vanga where they were able to take X-rays of her leg (x-rays in the bush of Africa, how cool is that!). The x-rays confirmed that the infection had indeed spread throughout the entire bone, which was now also broken in multiple places as a result of the weakness from the infection. She was now at a high risk for losing her leg. The local missionary, Dr. Tim Rice, said they would try to do surgery this week on her leg to see if it can be saved.

Dr. Rice praying with Masha
(Photo courtesy of Mark & Kelly Hewes, used with permission)
Then two days later, MAF received another call for a 15 year old boy named Plamedie with another open ulcer on his leg. He had been living with an open sore on his leg for 3 years, but had been reasonably well looked after and wasn’t as serious as the little girl. He still required medical attention, so Kevin flew him and his father out to Vanga as well. Dr. Rice informed Plamedie that his x-rays looked good and that he expected him to make a full recovery without surgery.

Plamedie looking at his x-rays
(Photo courtesy of Mark & Kelly Hewes, used with permission)
Please pray for these young children who risked losing their legs to infections that could have possibly been treated with over the counter products found in a local pharmacy, but are not available to those living in remote villages. I will post updates when we find out more information about Masha's situation and Plamedie's recovery. 

***Update 8 November 2015***
Plamedie is in his home village recovering quite well.
Masha's surgery went well but she is still at a risk of losing her leg. Prospects are looking better for her but she is not out of the woods yet. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Motherhood Moments #16

Sometimes motherhood looks like this...
A morning filled with birthday party fun! I am grateful for the days of normalcy and I cherish the memories made with our friends here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Gift of Bibles

One evening, I (Kevin) went to wait at the N’djili airport for someone coming into Kinshasa. During that time, he had an opportunity to tour the Air Traffic Control tower. He was able to see how the tower operated and was able to meet the people he spoke to when flying. The people were eager to answer questions and in turn were quite eager to ask all about MAF. They were quite pleased to learn that not only was I a follower of Christ, but so were all the other MAF staff. And they were thrilled to find out that was the purpose of MAF’s existence. One controller asked me if I happened to have a Bible handy, as he had never owned one. Then another asked… and another… and so on.

When the average worker makes about $5 daily, and the cost of living in Kinshasa is so high (an avocado is about $1), a $10 book is essentially unattainable. Upon hearing so many in need of Bibles, I asked how many worked in the control tower all together - 70 was the response. So after setting a goal of providing 70 Bibles for the control tower, I eagerly contacted the church in which I grew up, Highland View Church of Christ, who immediately pulled through with $1,200 just for this purpose! This is almost double the need, but in talking with the resident MAF IT guy here, we learned of some really cool Bible literature programs that can be put on SD cards. So we used the remainder to purchas 150 of those!

When my parents came to visit, they brought the funds with them. MAF then organized the purchase of the Bibles and then arranged for a trip to the airport for my dad and me. In each Bible, Mark added a stamp with the MAF logo and a sticker with John 3:16 explaining the Bibles were purchased with funds from Highland View Church.

My father and I were able to deliver 25 Bibles during the first trip (the tower has three teams of roughly 25 people each, so not all 70 are there at one time). The controllers were very excited and repeatedly thanked everyone involved in bringing the Bibles to them.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Motherhood Moments #15

Sometimes motherhood is yucky business and it comes in the form of this...
This my friends is a mango fly. It somehow managed to attach to our little girl's leg as an egg, hatch, and burrow down under her skin. (Feel free to research the process on your own since I am going to remain vague on details, leaving you to explore or not explore details yourself).
Luckily the internet is full of all things disgusting including videos and tutorials on proper removal to avoid infection. I quickly smothered it in jelly (Aquafor) for 30 minutes to let it die. Then I popped it right out with minimal complaints. I sprayed it with Bactine and used a decorative plaster to encourage sweet pea to not touch it. She was a good camper and it has healed all up with no lingering traces.
Now that this rite-of-passage is in my book, I wonder what will happen next in my adventures in motherhood?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Animals, Animals Everywhere…

*If you clicked on the link out of curiosity, I must provide a secondary warning of the graphic content. While there are no photos attached, I will be talking about a topic that could be uncomfortable to many regarding how animals fit into life here in Congo.

With dry season coming to a close, most animals will have foraged all the food that is available to them; and until the rains come again to bring new life to the plants, it is time to butcher the animals.

My first experience with how animals are regarded in this culture came when we moved here. We were taking care of some rabbits for our friends. Unbeknownst to us, the workers bred two of the rabbits. I awoke one morning to find a few small kits. I hit the internet to research how to take care of the babies, but I did not learn fast enough. Sure enough, the following morning, one had died. I told the worker on duty one had died, but the look on my face must have been one of sorrow or pity. He immediately explained to me that animals are food and that I should not cry if they die (I am paraphrasing since my French and his English were not good). He said my family will not go hungry because one had died, so I should not mourn the loss.

A short time later, another of our friend’s friendly cat went missing. When asked about the whereabouts, the answer was the same, they had seen it before. I did not put two and two together about the cat until I was driving to the grocery store and I saw an animal freshly killed that was hung up and was being butchered. It was a very large dog. It was then I realized that there are almost no stray animals here at all. You see goats tethered. You see ducks with cut wings so they stay close by. You see chickens with strings around their leg. You might see rabbits in a cage. Occasionally you will notice a dog, but the owner is usually selling its pups. And very rarely will you see a cat outside of an expat’s home.

You see, animals are costly to maintain, prohibitively expensive to the level we expect in the US, even if they are only to be eaten. Therefore, there must be a return on the investment. If you feed an animal, one expects to be able to breed it to sell its offspring or one expects to have meat for their family - so forming any emotional attachment would be pointless. It was very hard for me to accept this idea having not grown up on a farm. My grandfather was a hunter but I had little exposure to the meat.

Another tough lesson happened to Kevin, who did grow up on a farm and is not a stranger to hunting. Recently at the airport, he heard a commotion. He walked until he found a group of grown men in battle stances, each with large sticks circled up around a car. They were in hunting mode. Being curious, Kevin looked around the corner to try and see what worthy opponent deserved this level of intensity, but one which could also fit under the car. He imagined seeing something like a large snake, a large predatory lion, crocodile, or even a really short hippopotamus (hey, those things are actually quite dangerous). The men continued arguing over who had the largest family and who needed the meat the most.  The owner of the car arrived, and as he reversed away out of the parking spot, there was a mangy street cat. These men were fighting over an animal that was less than 3 pounds, hoping to feed their family a meal for the day. You would have thought the men had taken down an entire herd of antelope with the cheering that ensued after the deed was done.

On an overnight trip in the bush, Kevin was offered smoked meat from a boa constrictor and not long after, he was offered meat (the arm) from a monkey that he heard them killing. Kevin has also been given a gift of fresh goat meat and was given the honor of watching them slaughter the animal before him so that they may present him with the best cuts, and has eaten snails and other creepy crawlies that are highly valued for their protein content.

Meat is always an honor due to its high cost (both monetary and husbandry). You do not refuse such a gift. So as we continue to adapt our lives here to the culture around us, this is one area of life that needed re-thinking that surprised us. We have to keep reminding ourselves, it’s different, not wrong.