Category Archives: Stories of Hope

God With Us

82563335_185438952851788_8590227727812919296_nOur chaplain led us down the dirt road to the humble homestead of our neighbor. During our first visit, we came with pastors from across the world to pray for the old man. Lying on a thin mattress on the floor of his home, he was covered in layers of wool blankets hiding his catheter and frail body. Unable to move, a visiting pastor knelt beside him and shared the words of the 23rd Psalm.

We returned to see the man a few weeks later. His wife explained that he was getting worse and that they had thought they lost him the night before. He was still lying on the thin mattress, covered in blankets, unable to move. There wasn’t much more medically we could do for him. He didn’t want to be admitted anywhere, he just wanted to be home. Our chaplain then turned to me and asked if I could share a few words. Immediately the words, “God with us” came to my mind. I began to share with the old man and the others in the room of the day Jesus was born and was named, Immanuel, God with us. In that moment, lying on the floor, with nothing else to offer the man, all I could encourage him was that God was with him in this second, in this place, in his suffering and pain, in his final moments, in his heart and mind, in the mud walls on the thin mattress. God was with him – ready to bring him home. My prayer was that, in the final moments of his life, he would experience the intimacy of God with him.

He passed away a few days later. I have no idea what he felt in the days, hours, minutes, and seconds before he died. What I know was that God was so near to him then, and that they are now together in heaven.

When we ponder the ways that Hope Matters has grown over the last year, we can truly say that God has been with us. We’ve seen God’s hand on the many patients we have treated including Alex, Jescah, and Baby Caleb. From the hospital walls being built and the tiles laid, to the rose bushes being planted at the entrance to the prayer garden. From treating hundreds of people in unreached communities, to helping a mother understand her child’s down syndrome diagnosis. From the communication towers being put up at our clinics as our receptionist learns our online patient management system, to breaking the news to patients that they have cancer. From the water pump being repaired after hauling water for days, to doubling our staff in a matter of months. This last year held a full spectrum of life experiences and healthcare encounters. We watched small babies show up for their newborn check-ups, and we received massive traumas on our front steps. From watching the sun beam through the leaves outside our clinic, to entering the homes of our neighbors who are on their death beds, God has truly been with us.

As we enter 2020, we know that God is still with us. And while we prepare to open our hospital, double our staff, increase in capacity and care, and so much more, we know, without a doubt, that God is indeed with us.

– By Nikole Opiyo, Hope Matters Missionary

Jescah’s Brain Tumor

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A few months ago, I shared about Jescah. She has a brain tumor which has caused her to lose her sight, as well as most of her hearing. She’s the same age as me, which really makes it feel personal. Jescah is also a wife and a mother of five children who need her. Since we met Jescah, it’s been a bit of a challenging journey.

a65580f1-4f81-4cd2-bb7e-5fb4ab4f77ecWe were able to connect her with one of the few neurosurgeons in Kenya. Her test results showed that not only is this tumor most likely not cancerous, but that it is operable. Good news all around. We were able to enroll her in a health insurance program that could help pay expenses for treatment. A surgical date was booked and we were all hopeful. And then she dropped off the grid. Phones were not answered and texts were not acknowledged. We finally learned that her family have had quite a few fears about what seeking treatment might mean. Many thought that if she had surgery it meant for sure she would die. They relocated her to a very interior area and stopped taking our calls.f414f0d1-70c6-476a-babf-cc0eed0b971c

With persistence we were able to find her. We explained that the surgery would be life-saving, not life-taking. They heard us and agreed to move forward. When we reached out to try to re-schedule her surgery, we learned that the neurosurgeon had left the country and there was not a return date on the calendar at this time.. So discouraging!

But then I remembered something. Part of what allows me to be here in Kenya is a grant from Medsend, an organization committed to getting medical missionaries on the field. I had recently seen an updated from Medsend saying that they were introducing a new neurosurgeon who would be posted in Kenya. I reached out to them and found out that he had just arrived with his family. Medsend was able to put us in contact with each other. The surgeon has reviewed Jescah’s report and says he has a 95% confidence level he can remove her entire tumor!

5e960050-e7ba-4fa4-bf0a-bb282c6c1030When I shared about Jescah before, some of you helped contribute to her medical expenses. We were able to cover her expenses for her workup, specialized CT scans, and travel back and forth between the hospital near Nairobi. Our understanding is that her co-pay for this neurosurgery is going to be approximately $1,000. Part of our Hope Matters team visited Jescah in her home this morning. The situation there was not good with very little resources available. As a ministry, we would like to help cover her surgical and travel travel expenses. We are setting a goal of $1,200 to raise for Jescah and her family. If you would like to help contribute, you can click here to make an online donation. Just make a note that your gift is for “Jescah’s Surgery”. Checks can also be sent to our office: Hope Matters International, P.O. Box 9293, Alta Loma CA 91701.

Our goal is for Jescah to travel to Tenwek Mission hospital within the next few weeks for this surgery. Please pray with us for all the pieces to come together for her. Pray for every need to be provided and for total healing. Thank you!

Believing that Hope Really Does Matter,

Stories of Hope: Eunice Kosgei

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Eunice Kosgei
Age: 32-years-old
Location: Nyenyilel 10 kilometers from the Village of Hope Medical Clinic

Eunice is a young widow and mother. When her husband died, her in-laws told her that she was no longer their concern. Her family didn’t want to take her back, as they said they had married her off and she was no longer their problem. Eunice has high blood pressure requiring close monitoring and treatment. When she came to the Village of Hope Medical Center, her pressure was 290/140. Our clinicians were amazed that she had not already had a stroke. The team prayed over her and provided emergency care. They had her transported and admitted to the government hospital over an hour away. She was treated for several days and then discharged without any prescriptions or follow-up plan. At Village of Hope, we started a treatment plan and have continued to follow her. Additionally, our team has been able to help get her started with a chicken business so that she can help provide for herself and for her family.

On this Thanksgiving we are thankful for you. Through your support and generosity, stories of hope like Eunice’s are made possible.

Thank you!

Stories of Hope: Sarah

This is Sarah. She’s fifteen years old and one of my neighbors. When I met her, she was certain she was dying. Her resting heart-rate was 140 beats a minute. She was having constant fine tremors in her hands. ShIMG_E3840e couldn’t sleep, felt like she was losing her mind, and was sweating all the time. Plus she had this growth in her neck that terrified her. Sarah has a thyroid disorder that has been wreaking havoc on her body. Thankfully we’ve been able to connect her with some great surgeons who will be able to help her. It’s been a battle to get her medically stable for surgery. But we have finally reached that point. Unfortunately we just found out that she is going to need $700 to get the surgery done. Sarah comes from an unstable situation and has no way of getting these funds on her own. We are hoping to be able to help her out. We’ve been walking this journey with her for a few months now. Her bubbly, energetic, can-do spirit always makes me smile. I look forward to the days she is scheduled in my office. Please pray with us for Sarah. Pray for her future. For her total healing, and for provision for her to get this necessary surgery. If you would like to help, you can make a secure donation on our website by clicking here.

Relentless

IMG_3984Do you ever have days where you feel like life is just relentless in the beating it hands out? I’ve had a number of those days lately. The word relentless has been resonating in my heart and mind lately.

We have had a ridiculous amount of rain and flooding across Kenya this last month. One morning I woke up to once again hear rain pounding on the roof. I wanted to scream “It’s relentless, this rain!” A few hours later I encountered a woman in my office asking for money. She was so drunk that she didn’t notice that her naked toddler was pooping on the floor next to her. Relentless. I lost a patient. I spoke with and prayed with this young man just a few hours before he died. William drove him to the hospital for a blood transfusion. They didn’t get there in time. He died. Relentless.

A few days later, I was getting ready for the day when my precious son Ryan came running through the door in his pajamas and rain boots. He hollered that I needed to come outside right away. There was a rainbow stretched out over our house. It was beautiful. I stopped in the drizzling, hazy, sunrise and drank it in. Relentless. Our heavenly father is relentless in his love for us.

PZOT7392The rains have been so heavy that our available machinery couldn’t make it through the mud at the hospital construction site. So we called a bunch of men from the area and asked them if they wanted work. Muscles, sweat, shovels, hoes, and wheelbarrows, went into action. A Bible study outreach was planned for the team of workers. Eight people have requested prayer to help them give their lives over to the Lord. Relentless, God’s love, his compassion, his pursuit, his grace, they are all relentless.

 YEWB7168I’m reminded of how frequently we don’t see the big picture. What we saw as a delay was actually a ministry opportunity. The hospital construction timeline was pushed back. And lives were eternally impacted because of the delays. I’m pleased to share that God brought us a bulldozer to use this week. Construction progress is being made. We have a team of local workers who are gathering for weekly Bible study. Hope is being found at the medical center.

Our. God. Is. Relentless.

 “…my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘the Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” – Lamentations 3:20-26

 

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.

Failing Hearts

IMG_5079This morning we pulled up to the medical centre a few minutes before scheduled opening time. A little girl and her mom were already there waiting for us. She is just five-years-old and her name is Nicole (not pictured). As soon as I put my stethoscope on her chest I heard it. A loud, harsh, murmur. My first thought was that I’m so very sick of seeing children with physically, broken, hearts. Most often they are hearts that were severely damaged by untreated strep-throat. I suspect that is the case for Nicole. We won’t know how bad her situation is until we get some more advanced tests performed at the hospital that is over an hour’s drive away.

As tired as I am of seeing children needlessly suffering, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be here. Thankful that I have the ability to do something to help these precious little ones. I’m thankful that Village of Hope exists to bring hope and healing to families like Nicole’s. So thankful for the faithful prayer partners who lift our staff and patients up in prayer. And I’m thankful for you, our partners around the world who support us financially making it possible for us to be here doing what we do. When you make a secure donation to Hope Matters by clicking here, you are helping make a difference in the lives of children like Nicole.

When Physical Hope is Gone

IMG_8904Shortly before we left for our recent visit to the USA, I was asked to see a friend’s wife as a patient. I knew she had been sick for some time, but I really didn’t know the details. As I sat down with her in the treatment room, I could see that the situation was serious. I knew she had seen other medical providers and I asked to see the records. The more I read of her file, the more hopeless the situation felt. I realized that she wasn’t just sick, she was dying. Our eyes met. I asked if any of the doctors had explained the reports to the husband and wife. They nodded yes. “We know she is really, really, sick.”

I paused. I was a bit overwhelmed. This wasn’t a patient I was just meeting as a medical provider. This was my friend’s wife. I’d worked with him for a number of years on health projects in the local public schools. This was so much more personal. I was confused. They had been to some of the best medical institutions in Kenya. Every test had been done. Every possible treatment was already in play. What more could I do?

I humbly asked how they felt I could help. In that quiet moment the pain in the eyes of this husband and wife was oh so evident. The husband’s eyes met mine “You can pray” he said. They had come to see not a miraculous medical provider, but a friend who could take their hands and pray. And in that moment I was reminded, this is why hope matters. This is why we exist as an organization. There are times when I do not have anything that I can physically offer a patient; times when the only hope I can offer is actually the greatest hope that ever was. The hope of eternal life. The hope of healing of heart, mind, and spirit. The hope of knowing that one day, when this life is over, we will meet again. And when we meet on that day, there will be no gasping breaths, no pain, no fear, no shadows. And so we prayed. We held hands in that little treatment room and went into the throne-room together.

While in the USA I received word that she had died. We missed her funeral by just a week. Monday morning as I sat down in my office to organize my plans for the week, I glanced up and saw my friend standing in the doorway. He sat down with William and I to share a cup of chai. We began to talk about what it means to say goodbye. To mourn. To grieve. He shared with us some of the platitudes he has recently heard “We loved her, but God loved her more.” Things like: “Now is the time to pull up your socks and be strong.” or “God has a greater plan in this.” Right now to him those are empty words that do nothing to acknowledge his huge loss or the part of him that feels like it died when he put his wife in the ground. And so we did not offer platitudes. We listened. We reminded him that David in the Bible got angry sometimes and that, that is actually, perfectly, okay. That his loss is massive and is worth mourning over. And once again we prayed together. It wasn’t what I had imagined for my Monday morning. But I wouldn’t have started my week any other way. It was a reminder that I’m here because hope matters, it really does.