Monday, April 23, 2018

Travels that bring us back

It's nearing the end of April and we have already been back in the USA for 2 weeks. We began our travels saying good-bye to our Kalukembe family in March and embarked on a journey that took us through 3 weeks; 7 airports; both sets of parents and one pair of grandparents; innumerably inspiring colleagues in medical missions; 3 bottles of lice shampoo (for our 2 youngest--not easy to find time and place for a haircut--be careful with your airplane seats!); and delivered some travel-weary but sturdy children to a new home in Wilmington, DE.

We finished our time in Angola with encouraging farewells and hopes for returns. Then we passed 2 weeks in Greece, first at a medical missions conference and then a long weekend with Daniel's parents sightseeing Athens. The conference drew missionaries in the medical profession from all around the world, mostly Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. . . quite inspiring and encouraging to hear others share their experiences and what they've learned in their service. Greece's ancient and rich history enthralled our family, and we had the privilege to see the beauty of the Adriatic Sea (though not quite warm to swim in beyond a few seconds; i write that, but we did see an elderly man taking a leisurely swim for what must have been an hour!). And in Holland, we spent few days with Priscila's parents and sister, who made a cozy cottage warm with many Dutch delicacies. Zeke loved going to a pancake restaurant with his great-grandparents and swimming in an indoor pool. . . Pri's Opa and Oma are an inspiration--they just returned from a return trip to Brazil for 5 weeks and Opa's 90 year-old eyes lit up as he told us about the many times he was able to preach and share the Word in his "native" Portuguese.

And we are now in a big house in Wilmington, where we are settling in to stay for the upcoming months. Daniel is preparing for a return to work in the emergency departments of hospitals in the Christiana system. Priscila is homeschooling Zeke and managing Eliel and Naomi's energies with mushroom hunts in the backyard and dissections at the dinner table. What a fascinating world we live in!
We would love to hear from you while we are back in the States and with fast internet connection! We hope to settle in to a routine here soon, figure out our travel plans, etc, though most of our travels won't occur till next spring around the time we hope to return to Angola. Please keep remembering and praying for Kalukembe, the workers who carry on and the patients who continue to need care and healing.

The day before we left Angola, an ambulance arrived from the government as a donation to the hospital. The hospital had been struggling with an old vehicle that was used for carrying water, construction materials, and transporting on call staff and had no longer been reliable to transfer patients to Lubango for more complex care. Though not equipped with what a standard American ambulance would carry (which would cover 1-2 pages in supply stock alone), it did at least come with a stretcher!

Our home church, Belem, is in the middle of the patient villa. Walking to and from church, Naomi would enjoy seeing how peoples' meal preparations were progressing. Most food is prepared over charcoal fires as seen in the foreground. Most church members come from this neighborhood. In their farewell song, they sang that we are all journeying to the New Jerusalem. We look forward to reunite with our brothers and sisters either there or back in Kalukembe!

Our miracle premie who's mom arrived at 27weeks gestation with ruptured membranes and delivered at 28weeks at 1.2kg. She was tenderly loved, fought for and kept vigilantly in kangaroo care (since we have no functional incubator anymore - the hospital has 5 broken ones) for 2 months. Every morning the first thing I'd ask was "How is our baby" and even with the 20 others on the floor, the nurses knew who I meant. She was always the last patient and I loved doing my "you've-gained-dance" on the good days.  We finally sent her home a "fat" smiling baby and mom grinning ear-to-ear. We all did our celebratory dance that day.   

Naomi at church, happily sitting by a little "ne-ne". 

Zeke and Eliel, swimming at the waterhole with their friends this rainy season.

The 3 matrons of "cuida de mulhere": Priscila (chief of everything OB and GYN) with Tia Julia (chief of maternity) and Marta (chief of women's ward). What a privilege to work with these beautiful, intelligent hearts and hands--Priscila, too!