Stories of Hope: Kiplagat

IMG_2265When I first met Kiplagat, his clinical picture was grim at best. I honestly did not expect him to survive. He had cerebral malaria, was unconscious, and his neurological exam was very concerning. I shared with the family quite honestly that the situation did not look good. And that without immediate brain surgery, he would not be likely to survive. I remember standing in the room and raising my hands to heaven as I prayed for him. I cried out to God to work a miracle in this situation that seemed beyond hope.

I went back to my office to write an emergency referral and organize for him to be taken to the hospital over an hour away. As I was typing the report, one of our staff members came in and told me that Kiplagat was awake and talking. I had to ask him to repeat himself. Yes, this woman of faith, who had just asked God to work a miracle, did not believe that the patient could be capable of talking. But he was. It didn’t make sense. So often our God works in ways that don’t make sense. Kiplagat still needed to get to the hospital, but it no longer seemed that death would be certain.

The next day the family came back to report that Kiplagat had survived surgery. A few weeks later the head of the family came to our staff meeting. He explained that the family had met together and decided that they needed to thank and honor us for our care of Kiplagat. So this past Sunday, a delegation from the Village of Hope staff traveled to his home.

Kiplagat Speaking

Kiplagat thanking the Village of Hope Staff for their care

As we bumped over miles and miles of rough, dirt, roads, I kept thinking what a miracle it was that Kiplagat even made it to our medical centre alive. The family served us lunch, then took time to share from their hearts. Person after person stood up to give thanks for what we had done. It was emphasized that it was shocking that we had been more worried about helping our patient, than making sure we would be paid for taking care of him. Several mentioned that I was the first mzungu (white person) to ever visit their neighborhood. And then Kiplagat stood up to speak. He shared with us that he has a newborn baby; that now he will get to see this little one grow. He has been given a second chance at life.

I was asked to be the final speaker of the day. I spoke from my heart and explained why it is that I am here serving in rural Kenya. That God has called me to serve those in need, to bring His hope and healing. I also reminded them of the prayer over Kiplagat’s unconscious body. It was not me, or my skills, that saved him. It was because of God’s healing touch that he has a second chance at life. And I am beyond thankful that I could be an instrument of healing in Kiplagat’s life. It is an honor and a privilege to live out this calling.

When you stand with Hope Matters by supporting the ministry financially, you are helping empower us to reach patients like Kiplagat with a healing touch. If you would like to make a one-time gift or set up monthly donations to help support the ministry, please click here.

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Joy in The Morning

IMG_1825 IMG_1818 IMG_1829I first met Sam and Naomi in January of this year. She was a bit quiet and shy.  She softly told me that she was pregnant. And that she was a type 1 diabetic. She and her husband have wanted a baby for many years. In fact, she lost her first one in childbirth back in 2011. There haven’t been any baby’s since then. She was excited. She was afraid. Could I help? Would I help? So much hope. So much fear. And thus our journey together began. I’ve been seeing her in clinic at least weekly since then. There have been some weeks when we had two, or even three visits. We’ve gone through hyper and hypoglycemia episodes. There was a big, scary, kidney infection. A few blood pressure worries along the way too. But yesterday Naomi safely brought baby Michelle into the world. I feel so honored and humbled that this precious little one would be given my name. This morning I had the honor of holding her in my arms; of praying over baby Michelle and her proud mama. This family had a long, dark, night before receiving this gift. What a blessing to be able to walk this path with them and rejoice together over this new life.

*Naomi has given permission for me to share her story and pictures with you.

Jesca’s Story of Hope

IMG_0397I don’t have a picture of her, there just was not time to take one. Jesca is 42-years old, but her eyes look older than that. She came to me 33-weeks pregnant with her 6th child. It was her 7th pregnancy, she had lost a baby along the way. She shared that ten days ago her water and broken. Let me repeat that, TEN DAYS ago her water had broken. She had been passing blood clots since then but had not gone into labor.

My heart sank.. I thought to myself “this won’t be my first fetal demise, but I sure wish it could be my last”. My gut said that they baby had probably already died a few days ago and for whatever reason her body was refusing to let it go. I told her that we would do a quick ultrasound scan, exam, and then write a referral to get her appropriate treatment at the hospital.

After putting the ultrasound probe on her abdomen we saw something unexpected, the baby’s heart was beating! Slowly, but beating! We confirmed that there was virtually no amniotic fluid inside the uterus. It was a miracle that this baby still had a heartbeat; and that Jesca didn’t have a raging infection given the history. But with the frequent episodes of the heart rate decelerating, she needed to delivery quickly.

As I reviewed her forms I realized that she had not had enough money to get adequate prenatal care. The government clinic had ordered lab tests, but she didn’t have the money to get them done. She had waited these 10 days to seek help because she had nothing she could make a payment with. Her husband was with her. There was a desperation in his eyes. Neither of them had a phone. It’s one of the most basic things here, everyone has a phone since no contracts are needed and there are many cheap, burner-style models readily available. But neither of them could afford one.

We placed our hands on Jesca’s belly and prayed for her and the baby. Then we activated an emergency referral, and provided resources for transportation to the hospital an hour away. And then we waited. This was one of those times where I wasn’t sure if we would ever know the outcome. Especially given that there was no phone number to call and follow up. But the next day Jesca’s husband was in my office. With tears in his eyes he kept repeating “I thank God for you. I thank God for you. They are both alive.” Jesca delivered a baby girl through an emergency C-section.

Thank you for praying for us. Thank you for remembering us. Thank you for making the choice to financially support the ministry of Hope Matters. Your prayers and donations are making a difference to people like Jesca and her baby girl.

Prayer Points: Spring 2017

DSC01658Excited. Overwhelmed. Joyful. Fearful. These are just a few of the emotions I’ve been feeling in recent months. Things have been incredibly busy in the ministry. We are seeing more patients than in the past; more complicated sicknesses and diseases. Yesterday we had to double up patients in the beds in our observation/admission area. There were just too many sick patients and not enough room for them. So here are some ways you can be praying:

  • We’ve recently added some new staff members to the Village of Hope family. The demand has been more than what our staff could keep up with. Pray for the new employees as they join us in serving the poor and sick in our community. Pray for continued provision for the growing needs.
  • Each month we continue to see more complicated cases. Pray for us to have divine wisdom in treating these patients. Pray that they will see the love of Christ in all that we say and do in our encounters with them.
  • The demand for services is exceeding our facility space. Because of this we are preparing to begin offering some services at our new office in the village of Musembe. It’s about 10 minutes from the Village of Hope Medical Centre. This office is located on the property where our future hospital will be built. Community members are anxious for us to start providing services here. Pray for wisdom, energy, and provision as we take on a second location for providing patient care.
  • Every day we see the need for the hospital to be built and opened. There is so much that we are grateful, and give thanks for. We have a great staff coming together. We have been blessed to already possess much of the equipment that will be needed. We already have three acres of land that can be developed. I often say that now we just need the building and the doctors! Pray that God will open the floodgates and provide the resources needed to begin construction on the hospital.
  • Give thanks with us for the successful installation and rolling out of our new computerized system at the Village of Hope.
  • This year we have a number of volunteers coming to serve alongside us. Ask the Lord to use them for his glory during their time serving with us.
  • We so desire your daily prayers for our governing board, Kenyan staff, and volunteers. Please ask God to fill them with his spirit and use them for his glory. Pray for daily wisdom and discernment, for strength and energy, and for protection from attacks from the enemy.

Thank you for standing with us in prayer. We are honored to be serving here in Kenya and are so grateful for your support, prayers, and encouragement.

Going Digital

DSC01589This month the Village of Hope Medical Centre got an upgrade as we went totally paperless. Over the course of the last year volunteer Andrew Klassen has been writing software specifically tailored to our medical centre. He came to personally set up and activate the program and network. Now everything from lab orders to medications are being processed digitally. It’s been an exciting transition. DSC01743

Joining Andrew were his parents Brian and Kelly. Brian helped with some constructions projects, while Kelli offered up her ultrasound skills in the maternity department. We want to say a big thank you to Kingsburg Community Church for loaning them to us for a few weeks. They will be missed! Check out  Facebook  for more pictures from their visit.

 

Thankful for Tears

IMG_0242In the face of utter suffering and devastation there is still hope. Today I had to remind myself of that fact.

This morning an abandoned infant died just a quarter of a mile from our medical centre. We heard there was a baby left alone, and we began to mobilize. We were ready to do emergency care, to rush in, to rescue… And in the blink of an eye, we learned that the baby was already dead. The baby had been left by the river during the night. I don’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. I just know that, that precious life slipped away, alone, by the side of a bridge.

I sat in my office with a blank stare out the window. How do you keep your heart soft, and keep on keeping on? How do you not fall apart, and run away crying? And on the flip side, how do you not take the other way out? Become hardened and insensitive to suffering? Straighten up, throw your shoulders back, and say “That’s life. It stinks, but it is what it is.” and then just go on with your day? Where is the balance?

As I was still processing these thoughts, I was informed that there was a patient whose need was beyond what we could meet. And yet her caregivers did not want to leave since they heard she could find hope here. They had traveled over 20 kilometers on the back of a motorbike to reach us. It didn’t take long to see how bad the situation was. When I realized the woman was the same age as me, it was that much more emotional. She was wasting away and could no longer eat. I reviewed her medical records and saw that the family had tried so hard. She has taken her medicines. She has attended all of her appointments. And yet she is dying. Her 18-year-old daughter grabbed my heart. It was an overwhelming situation. But I realized her daughter was right, they had come to a place where hope could be found.

I learned a long time ago that no matter what is going on physically, I can always, always, pray with a patient. And so we prayed together. I asked God to be present. I prayed that he would reveal himself to this precious lady, her daughter, and her sister. I prayed that they would know and experience his love, and his hope that is everlasting; that hope that cannot spoil, fade, or be ripped away by even death.

As I drove them to a hospice where she can receive quality palliative care, I fought back tears. And then I remembered my thoughts of earlier this morning. I realized that I was thankful that I could cry. Every morning I ask the Lord to fill me with his spirit. I want to always be able to weep with those who weep. I want my heart to stay soft. I want to see my patients through the eyes of Jesus. I want to show them his love, his kindness, his hope. So today, today I am thankful that I can still weep. And I am even more thankful that there is a hope that lives beyond death.

Livian CHD

Livian’s Story

I was catching up on some paperwork in my office when our clinical director came in requesting that I see a patient with him. Three-year-old Livian was brought in by her mother with complaints of chronic illness since birth. She had traveled quite a distance because she heard that our medical centre has had success with unusual cases. She talked of regular fainting spells, shortness of breath, and many courses of antibiotics for respiratory infections.

Her vital signs showed that her oxygen saturation was at 87% when it should be in the high 90’s. She had been to many small clinics over the last several years. Most had told her to rest or had given her a course of antibiotics for an assumed respiratory infection. It only took a moment with a stethoscope to realize that there was a lot more to the story as I heard a very significant heart murmur.

Her medical history and physical assessment indicated that she most likely had a congenital heart defect. When I asked her mom, she said no one had ever given her any indication that there might be something wrong with Livian’s heart. But she knew that Livian was getting sicker and sicker and that something serious had to be going on. We were able to refer her for an echocardiogram that same day and confirmed that she does have several heart defects. Through connections at a mission hospital in another part of the country, we have arranged for Livian to be seen by visiting specialists in early February.

After praying with her, Livian’s mom said that she feels hope for Livian for the first time. Just knowing what the problem is, means that there is hope to correct it. I’m so thankful that Livian walked into our medical center that morning. I’m hopeful that with surgery, she will be able to run, jump, and play with her friends like never before. We’ll keep you updated about plans for treatment once we hear back from the specialists next month. Little Livian has been a reminder to me of just how much hope really does matter.

Volunteer Opportunities: Kenya 2017

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Volunteer Opportunities

Do you have an adventurous spirit and a desire to serve in Africa? Here are some opportunities to come volunteer and serve alongside our team in Kenya in 2017. For more information and an application please contact Michelle michelle@hopemattersintl.org and Nikole nikole@hopemattersintl.org

Serving on a Team

All teams should ideally be made up of 4 – 8 members. The duration of the team will depend on the specifics of the project/outreach. A typical timeline is 5 – 10 days of service, with an additional two to three days of travel, and at least one full day for debriefing before returning home. Many teams choose to do an animal safari before leaving Kenya. Team members need to fund-raise or pay for their personal expenses and are also asked to help contribute to covering the cost of their ministry project. Donations can be processed either by the team’s home church or the Hope Matters Int’l (HMI) USA Office. HMI is a registered non-profit, so all donations are tax-deductible within the USA. HMI provides a training packet for all teams and asks that they go through a preparation process together before coming to serve. We generally recommend a minimum of at least three months to adequately prepare and fund-raise.

img_8343Discipleship/Medical Team

Description: This team would consist of both medical professionals and Christian leaders who are passionate about mentoring other believers in their walk with the Lord. We would like to give our national, medical, staff an opportunity to take time away for a spiritual-development retreat. Ideally the retreat would be a two-day event and would be run twice, allowing half of the national staff to participate at one time, and keeping half the staff in the clinic working alongside the visiting team. Staff would then rotate for the second session of the retreat.

Requirements: This will require medical professionals who can help cover the clinic operations, as well as a discipleship team to lead the retreat for the staff.

Time of Year: Flexible

Construction

Description: This team would assist with finishing work on the new medical centre. This may include, but not be limited to: tiling, painting, plumbing, electric installation, carpentry/finishing work (door and window frames, ceiling work, etc.)

Requirements: Primarily professional Construction Workers

Time of Year: May through July, or mid-Sept through October

img_5053Children’s/Youth Camp

Description: This team will be focused on working with children and youth, primarily ages 8 – 16. The team would organize a children’s conference/VBS that would run from 10AM – 5PM for roughly four days. Activities will include group lessons, small break-out sessions, crafts, music, and game-time.

Requirements: Open hearts, flexibility, and a heart for kids. Some experience working with children is desirable.

Time of Year: Either April or early Late July/August (when children are on break from school)

img_4320Medical Continuing Education

Description: Medical professionals who can train and equip Kenyan providers with up-to-date information related to any of the following topics: Maternal Child Care, Primary Care, Emergency Stabilization, or Chronic Disease Management. Training should be approximately 2-days in length and will most likely be run twice to allow for a maximum number of participants.

Requirements: Licensed medical professionals, some teaching/speaking experience preferred, but not required.

Time of Year: Flexible

Community/Agricultural Development

Description: Coordinating and running a conference specifically focused on economic empowerment for small-scale farmers. Topics would include farming business development, budgeting, and making your farm productive. The conference would also include a spiritual track about living out one’s faith as a farmer.

Requirements: Team members with economic, business, or development experience, as well as spiritual discipleship leaders.

Time of Year: Flexible

Serving as an Individual or Pair

Licensed Medical Professionals

We are looking for licensed medical professionals who could be scheduled and counted in our staffing to provide service at the medical centre for 1 – 4 weeks at a time. Often this would entail covering a national staff-member’s leave time. Volunteer(s) would be partnered with a national staff member who would assist with translation and local protocols.

Student Internships

We have a limited number of student internships available each year. The internship is designed so that the volunteer will typically spend part of their time working on a special project for the ministry, and part of their time shadowing/working with our staff in the medical centre. Students are often asked to help give educational presentations in local schools and support group settings.

Prayer Points: Fall 2016

pt-and-mamaIt’s been a long time since we’ve updated the blog, and even longer since we last posted prayer points. I’m sorry for the delay! The good news is that we have been busy, busy, busy, since the last post. God is on the move and we are so excited to see where He is taking Hope Matters. We will be posting more updates about what we have been up to soon.

Here are some ways you can be praying for us during this season:

  • The Village of Hope Medical Centre has been very busy. We are seeing an average of 500 patients each month which is keeping our staff on their toes. Give thanks with us for the many lives who are being touched by the ministry. As word about our work gets out, we are seeing more  complicated and highly unusual cases. Please pray as our staff needs wisdom on a daily basis on how to provide the best care, and when indicated, the most effective referral for each patient.
  • We are quickly outgrowing our current building. God has opened the doors for us to purchase a piece of property very near to where we are currently renting. We are hoping to begin construction on a permanent medical centre building soon. We have only raised a portion of the funds that will be needed to construct the full building. Please pray for more financial provision so that we can begin this expansion soon.
  • We are getting more and more requests to expand our maternal-child-health services. A few things need to come into place for us to be able to do this. Pray with us for the provision of the necessary resources to meet the huge needs we are seeing.
  • Since we first opened in May of 2015, we have been working to register our facility with the ministry of health. This has been a long and challenging process. We are being encouraged to expand our services by local health officials, even as our paperwork is being held up. It is confusing as we know that they are aware of, and approve of, our work. But we still don’t have our full registration. This limits some of the services that we can provide. Please pray with us for this registration to be processed quickly and smoothly.
  • Hope Matters owns a 3-acre piece of property in the village of Musembe. We are in the process of putting the finishing touches on our first building on that property. We currently have an agricultural cooperative of approximately 35 farmers who are meeting for training and agricultural support on a weekly basis. Pray for these farmers as they learn sustainable and practical ways to better care for their families.
  • The Kiprop Family will be in California this December. Please pray for them to have safe travels, and for many opportunities to share about the work of Hope Matters. Pray that people’s hearts will be moved to partner with the ministry.

Please know that we pray for you as well. If you ever have prayer requests to share with us, please send them to office@hopemattersintl.org Our staff would love to pray for you!

Stories of Hope: Josephine

IMG_7448Meet Josephine, she’s 25-weeks along with her third pregnancy. More than anything she wants to be a mommy. She and her husband have already lost their first two babies. One tragically died in her womb, and she had to deliver a full-term, dead, baby. The other baby was born extremely premature because Josephine was very sick with malaria. That baby didn’t survive either. When she came to me, it was a heart full of hope that I could give her good news. She had been told that things didn’t look good for the current pregnancy.

Unfortunately from a medical standpoint, things do not look good. There is almost no amniotic fluid in her uterus. This is a major complication for several reasons. It’s likely that her baby doesn’t have kidneys. If that is the case, it is highly unlikely that he/she will be able to survive. Without sufficient amniotic fluid, the baby won’t be able to correctly develop his/her lungs. The lack of fluid also means that the baby can’t stretch out adequately and will likely have bone deformities and poor muscle tone. Josephine was advised that it would probably be best to terminate the pregnancy because the chances of survival are so incredibly low. But in tears she shared with me “My baby’s heart is beating and I just cannot do that.” I’ve told her that I will walk this journey with her. She knows that the chances of a good outcome are low. But she is choosing to do everything in her power to fight for this baby’s life. She’s asked me to share her story with friends who are willing to pray for her and her baby. Please join us in praying for both mama and baby. Pray for our team to have wisdom as we care for her. Pray for protection and a miracle for her and the baby. These can be difficult roads to walk. But we believe that regardless of the outcome, there is HOPE in Christ. We know that Jesus loves Josephine and her precious unborn baby. And we want to shower her with His love as she walks this difficult path.