Friday, December 04, 2020

Thankful to be home.

Rainy season is full of life, but we are full of reminders of its brevity. When our sons Ezekiel and Eliel went to say good-bye to Lourenço last week, we weren't sure how long it would be for him. He died yesterday. He was a joyful young man, a nurse we loved working with, 29 years old and newly married. He had presented with blood in his abdomen (hemoperitoneum) a few weeks ago from a ruptured retroperitoneal sarcoma. After a transfer to our sister hospital and a major laparotomy, he came home to receive palliative care at Kalukembe hospital; our boys brought music, Priscila read to him and he died without pain and hopeful for complete healing. Having witnessed many sad and painful deaths, I am so glad Lourenço's dying process was peaceful. 

This month we are also left grieving the loss of the chief financial administrator. Mr. Canivete's death due to the coronavirus was sudden and has left a void in our hearts and in the leadership of the ministry. We depended on him for most administrative issues and directing funds for purchases for the hospital. It has been a struggle planning the future in his absence. 

 On the 1st of November, we returned to Kalukembe after 2 months in Lubango. When we left Kalukembe in September, we thought it would be just for participating in an online emergency medicine conference for a few days. But then electrical power was cut to our home, and without clear plans for when it would be restored, we decided to remain in Lubango while the hospital sorted out what they would do. Living week-to-week in uncertainty during an already foggy year was not on our calendars--but who HASN'T had their plans change many times this year?

Our 2 months in Lubango were still filled, though with a different rhythm. We continued with home-schooling the kids; we helped at our sister hospital CEML part-time; the kids literally improved their swimming skills in big strokes; we completed a treatment guide for Kalukembe Hospital; and we met with health leadership to discuss the status of our partnership at the hospital. 

But not all these past months have been filled with grief and uncertainty about return to Kalukembe. Even in the weeks since we've returned, we have seen improvements in the life of the hospital! A few things we have lobbied to have for several years actually took shape: such as improved work schedules for the nurses and the assignment of Dr. Damião Cacuti to Clinical Director at the hospital. Another colleague,  Dr. Vasco, also joined us after 2 years training at CEML and has brought a new energy to clinical care. Priscila is benefiting from a dedicated full day for scheduled operations, including more fistula repairs and other gynecologic procedures (hysterectomies, slings, etc. . . ask her! If you are a resident suffering from fewer cases during COVID times, contact us!). At home, Naomi celebrated her 6th birthday in November and this week was busy decorating our home with colorings and cuttings for Christmas. The boys are glad to be back with friends in Kalukembe, riding bikes, swimming in the creek, hunting frogs, gardening and, uh, playing coronavirus tag. 

Preparations with church looks different from last year with no children yet allowed in church and smaller numbers at services, but the content remains the same as we celebrate Advent. I am thankful to celebrate with the worldwide church family what we have for thousands of years--the joy and hope that the birth and arrival of Jesus Christ has brought for all the earth. It's because of this hope we gladly join with you in continuing to care for our patients and our community in Kalukembe. Merry Christmas!

Good-bye to sweet friends in Lubango. 

Back to schooling at home with good teachers, including Dr. Lena Gamble! 

Nature walks are easier at Kalukembe: in our neighbors' yard. 

Naomi turns 6 with her friend Princessa! Special girls pretty in pink! 

Lunch with our neighbors, Dr. Damião and his family

Mission Aviation Fellowship colleagues generously flew in for a day to install solar panels on our roof. One more step towards improving stable electricity (still sorting out the battery system!)

Enjoying movie night outside our house for nursing students and our young friends! 

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