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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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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.

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.

Blessings En-Route

IMG_4246After several years of planning and fund-raising, we are pleased to announce that we have a large container of medical equipment and supplies making its way to us. The forty-foot container is on a ship that left port in Los Angeles on November 2nd. It should be arriving in Kenya towards the end of December. IMG_4232

Please pray with us for a safe journey for the cargo ship. Also be praying as we work now to get paperwork in order that will hopefully make getting the container through customs a little easier. We have heard that, that can be quite the headache. I was so blessed to see these pictures as the supplies we have been praying and waiting for were loaded and prayed over as they began their journey to us!

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