Friday, August 28, 2015

Back in the saddle but still searching for the horse to leave the barn


It took us 2 years, but as of August 13th, we have been back in Kalukembe (Caluquembe with Portuguese spelling). We are sending a little update today from the provincial capital of Lubango. We are still without internet and are working on setting it up in Kalukembe through a vendor here today.

Some things gladly have not changed at Kalukembe: certain clinical colleagues are still here, persevering under increasingly difficult circumstances. For instance, government budget cuts fell hard on the health sector and procuring medicines and materials have gone from "very challenging" to "insanely challenging." We are quite inspired by the dedication of our nursing colleagues enduring with what little they have to work with. They work with the purpose of serving God and caring for the community. One of our colleagues is Gideon, a nurse clinician working in outpatient department. He laughed when i asked him how many years he's worked in the hospital. He answered with one word: "Muito"--"many."

Some things sadly have not changed: water for the hospital and home remains scarce. The most recent bore-hole is from 1976 and hits more mud than water. We still operate with barely any on the wards and in the operating room. Anyone like to guess nosocomial (hospital acquired) infection rates?

There are a number of things that have changed in the last two years and other things we just didn't know about when we were here in 2013, both nationally and locally as well as in church involvement in the hospital. But for the time being, we are glad to be settling into a spacious house and a big area to explore. We have a lot to be thankful for. People have been welcoming us generously with smiles and friendliness towards Zeke, Eli and Naomi. We hope they will have good friendships here and grow into wanting to serve God through serving others.

Like most parents, i hope our children will be better people than we are. i hope they love more, care more, laugh more, worry less, care less about financial security, and know more about fixing cars and incubators! The other day, Zeke asked if he could go into the maternity ward with Priscila because he wanted to help the ladies "push out their babies!" With so much obstetrical sadness (e.g., we cared for women with uterine rupture, eclampsia, hand presentation with internal extraction, placental acreta and a septic head entrapment that ended in maternal death on top of 3 infant deaths in the same day this week), we hope those babies come out--alive!
It's negative! And it's probably not what you're thinking! This is a rapid Malaria test for Eliel when he was febrile and with diarrhea and vomiting. 

Like some watermelon?

Church girls at our presentation ceremony

Getting interviewed by provincial TV at the presentation ceremony.  Do i really know enough Portuguese? Well, from what i gathered, i was asked if i thought it was wise to wear helmets when participating in the running of the bulls. i said yes.

Audrey Henderson reading and being a wonderful grandma to our boys. We are so thankful for Norm and Audrey in opening their home to us while we were in Lubango for a month!


Our home in Kalukembe
More beautiful than ever. 

The nursing school 3rd year students had exams this week. These chickens were breakfast for the examiners. Talk about "farm" to table service!
exploring the termite mounds in the forest

i suppose i won't be telling Eliel to stop making mountains out of ant hills


Thursday, July 23, 2015

The fighting family visits Kalukembe

We visited today Kalukembe, met the new head of nursing, the new administrator and briefly looked at some of the changes at the hospital. We also were given a tour of our likely new home! After arriving, Zeke immediately wanted to know where his friends were and who would help him fight the "bad guys!" It was a good reminder to us 1) how outgoing Zeke is--he found local children to swing sticks together without any problem, and 2) the imagination of a 4-year-old is incredible: Priscila especially had been talking with Zeke about our return to Kalukembe these last 2 years and the "bad guys" we'd be fighting together. What we meant were the "bad guy" sicknesses, the "bad guy" injustices we saw against our patients, the "bad guy" poverty in our area, and other problems that don't nicely manifest as physical beings a child could shake a stick at. Zeke took them to be walking and talking and was ready to do battle after 2 years of mental preparation and take these guys down. Love his heart. 

Priscila sharing our new contact information with old friends 
Eli caught wanting to "share" someone else's lunch

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fazenda Tchincombe

One week tent living, washing diapers in a bucket, being encouraged by Dr. Joshua Bogunjoko and running around the fazenda with the kids. Here headed back to Lubango, awaiting meeting with IESA and housing preparations in Kalukembe. 


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Ready...Set...

We are packing and arranging and packing some more. The day is set and we'll be leaving on June 29 for Angola. Barring circumstances we cannot predict, we will be there 2-3 years. It's been a lot of fun to see friends and family between storing books and packing our lives into luggage for the next several years. Keep praying for us. We don't have housing in Kalukembe and staff we knew  and respected from before have departed. If it didn't feel like a forest of unknowns before, our work in Angola certainly does now!


The health agents i followed around in Santa Rosa put on a surprise party for us at the end of our time. They made amazing munchies and doted on our kids. i learned quite a lot about the local culture and language with them. The New England Journal highlighted the community health agents program earlier in a June 4 article. You can read more by clicking here

Naomi and friend at the party

Eating so many munchies, Eliel's stomach suffered hyper-acute balloon expansion, so Opa took surgical matters into his own hands :) Zeke was surprised that Opa could pop a balloon with just a pencil


Saying good-bye to grandparents


Zeke with his friend, Marianna. 

Zeke with friends at preschool. His language grew over one month there

Difficult to see, but a double rainbow over the sitiu, where Pri's parents are growing their plants and dreams

Priscila with (L to R) Tia Filinha, Eliany, and Sandra Carvalho. The Carvalhos hosted us very generously while we were in Itajubá. Eliany amazingly tutored me multiple times until her dengue got the best of her
Back in Philly with Daniel's youngest brother, Luke, and his sweet girls.

Naomi with buddy Otis! 

Zeke and blood brother/mortal enemy Han sharing a rare tranquil moment with Tia Lisa

Eliel looking at the Atlantic from this side. Soon we'll be on the other side of the Atlantic!

The two jewels of the Cummings family

Eliel, already multi-tasking at 21 months: Computer, potty, Playstation, and (not seen in picture) cell phone

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A few things we are up to in Itajubá, Brazil

Below are a few pictures or our time thus far in the south of Brazil, where cooler temperatures (50's to 70's F) have set in. i am getting tutoring and language immersion, with a great experience making home visits with community health workers (agentes de saude) several mornings a week. This was arranged through my mother-in-law, Adriana Ribeiro, who works as a doctor in Santa Rosa's public health post. This experience has been a wonderful opportunity not only practicing Portuguese but to be shown (mostly) working-class Brazilian culture. Zeke is going to school during week days, while Eliel and Naomi remain at home with Priscila. Priscila is doing the paperwork necessary for our move to Angola done--so so thankful she's doing this! We've caught up on several immunizations that the kids would not receive normally in the States, such as Yellow Fever and BCG.

Naomi and Eliel are getting much attention wherever we go, the former for her eyes and frequent smiles and the latter for his eyes and energy (bagunça). If we had more time here, i would try to get Zeke in a capoeira class with his hilarious, extemporaneous exercise dance routines to find some outlet.


Hair-cutting day in Itajubá. Eliel being left guessing what was happening, managed to get his first haircut without a tear shed. Oma Ribeiro was there to hold him.

Opa Ribeiro and Naomi Jacira enjoy conversations with each other, here at the salon. They have a  language i think only they share

Zeke getting a haircut: note his ubiquitous cowboy boots made it to the show

On Sunday after church, we came across a local parade of farmers, ranchers, horse-lovers riding bareback, saddleback, in buggies, on wagons, you name it. Big parade that i think had most of the city in it. Looked fantastic and relaxed: as it meandered through the city, some rested, some took shortcuts to join friends in other parts of the parade, others joined at later points, some played their favorite Brazilian country hits through speakers on wagons, some double fisted their beers and reins; there were entire families on horseback or in buggies, and others were in groups. Since we love horses, this was an awesome surprise

Twice a week, the community health workers arrange for a morning caminhada, or exercise walk, through the area for people with diabetes and/or hypertension. Towards the end of the one yesterday, a billy goat joined the ladies. But in a very un-Brazilian fashion, he failed to have bathed before hand and did not apply any pleasant perfume, either. Other things community health workers do include arranging doctor and nurse home visits, keep tabs on bed-ridden patients, visit peoples' homes, inform the community when influenza vaccines are available, etc. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Check out our new info and organization at
 Christian Health Service Corps 

On the road back to Kalukembe

We are still about 6mo away from a reunion with our colleagues at Kalukembe - but we will soon be on the road again! Now with our new mission agency of Christian Health Service Corps! 





Sunday, November 09, 2014

Welcome, Our Joy

Naomi, which means "my joy", "my bliss", or "pleasantness of Jehovah," was born after just a couple quick pushes from the amazing but "i'm so done with this labor!" Priscila at 11:43pm on November 6.

"Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives."
--C.S. Lewis
What a joy she already is to us!

Tia Lisa, who cut the cord, also the first of the family to hold her. A very precious moment we're so glad she shared with us 

Naomi Jacira with Tia Ruth :)

Mamãe and the "bichinhos (little beasts)," unaware what the hospital visit was all about

Zeke the tiger, Naomi the neonate, Pri the postpartum princess, Eliel clueless, and the dorky dad

"It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion."
--C.S. Lewis

Tia Abby and the peanut

With Tia Vivian

Zeke and Avery, finding the traffic outside more eventful than what was happening inside the hospital room

With our neighbors and friends, Josephine and her mommy Bethany

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small
all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell
how great is God Almighty, who has made all things well.
--Cecil F. Alexander