Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Pain and the Privilege of My Calling

I’m coming off of about five hours of restless sleep this morning. A baby kept me up last night. But it wasn’t my baby. No. It was a baby who had died in his mommy’s womb before I met either of them.

Last night someone came running to my back door saying that there was an emergency at the clinic and the nurse on call was asking me to come. I know that this particular nurse is super-capable and if she was calling for my help it was probably bad.

She actually had three patients come in, in a very short time. She was the only nurse on duty as it was after-hours. Two of the cases she had under control, but one needed me to use my ultrasound skills. It was a young, expectant couple who are not from our community. Just the two of them, no support team of in-laws, friends etc. that you usually see during the birth of a baby in our small community. The nurse explained to me that the mom was in active labor, had been having pains for two days, and had not felt the baby move since early morning. She couldn’t find a heartbeat with a Doppler so she had already set up the ultrasound for me to use.

I am most certainly not a perinatologist, neither am I even an OB/GYN doctor. I’m simply a nurse practitioner who has sought out some extra training for times like this. And it did not take a specialist to see that this full-term baby was not moving in the womb. I located the heart and did not see any movement. The baby appeared to have already died in the womb.

This couple was completely new to our clinic and had received all of their prenatal care elsewhere. I stepped outside with the clinic nurse, visiting nurse from America, and father of the baby. In times like these you have to be so culturally sensitive even as you make medical judgments. I shared with the parents that I had some very serious concerns about the baby; that we would do everything we could but that I could not guarantee a positive outcome.

I recently read about a case in another place in Africa where a woman was referred to a large medical center to deliver because the smaller center had referred her for a fetal demise (same sort of case). In that situation the baby was blue at birth and did not move so they put it to the side and focused on mom. A few minutes later they went to move the baby’s body and found it alive and moving. So I had resolved in my heart to hold on to hope and do my very best for this family.

It was not a particularly difficult delivery; her first time, so of course not easy, but not particularly difficult from a medical standpoint. The nurse and I decided that she would manage mom and I would handle the baby. As the baby came through the birth canal I began to do all the things that I normally would during a delivery. But it looked bad. I’ve done resuscitation on many babies, but this one was definitely beyond resuscitation. I walked the baby away from the mom to another exam table. I listened. No heartbeat. I attempted resuscitation for a few minutes all the while knowing that the baby was already gone. I put my hands on the exam table and leaned over this precious baby boy and asked God “What now?” I needed to know that the mom was physically stable before going to see her with bad news.

The placenta came rather quickly and I knew it was time. I knew that she already had to know something was wrong as there were no cries from my side of the room. I looked up to my colleague and told her that I was going to talk to the father and would be right back. (In the rural setting here in this culture, fathers are not present for deliveries.) I shared the news with him. That I had tried, but that the little boy was already with Jesus when he came out of his mommy. We went back into the delivery room together and he wanted to hold the baby but was afraid to at the same time. I helped him. We talked for a minute and then I went to see the mom. She still needed post-partum care but I knew this conversation could not wait any longer. I shared with her that her baby was not breathing when he was born. That his heart was not beating. That I tried but I could not get the baby to breathe or have a heartbeat. That her child was a boy and that he had died.

Oh the anguish… She whispered “My Baby..” in Swahili and then began to thrash and scream. She shouted all of the normal questions that really have no answers. “Why my baby? Why me? I was not prepared for this! I want to die too..” I wrapped my arms around her and cried with her. In a moment like that, there really is nothing more that one can do. My heart broke with this family.

In my life I have had many pains. One of those pains included losing an unborn child myself. I did not carry this child to term as this mommy did. I have no idea if mine was a boy or a girl. But I do know the horror of having a doctor look you in the eye and tell you that what you believed and all you had hoped for would not be.

The passage in Second Corinthians, chapter 2 verses 3 to 4 comes to mind at a time like this. “All praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT) I’ve always had mixed feelings about this passage. I ask myself why it is that any of us should need comfort in the first place? Why this horrible, inexplicable, pain and suffering that some are asked to endure? But in a moment like that moment last night, I find great comfort in the fact that I can truly look these parents in the eye and tell them “I know your pain. I know that it feels like you will just die from it. I have been there too. I’m so sorry.”

The job of washing a little body whose soul has left is such a terrible, painful thing. But I did it. I helped the mother hold her son as she told him goodbye while at the same time hardly believing it could be possible. Her head to his forehead and the tears falling unchecked. I prayed with the family. I asked that God would be the God of all comfort and peace. That they would know His presence and have the assurance that their baby is in the presence of God himself. I looked both parents in the eye and said very clearly THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT! I encouraged them to comfort and hold each other as they walk through this unspeakable pain.

As I left them, extremely early this morning, they were discussing where they would bury their son. In this area you bury your loved ones in your backyard. They had recently moved to the area and are renting a small house about twenty minutes away. They don’t have their own property where they can lay their son to rest.

My short night was restless as I tossed and turned in my bed. But when I came fully awake I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that I could be there to weep with this family. That I have the honor and the privilege of stepping into peoples lives during their most horrific and vulnerable times. That God can use me as His instrument of peace during times of storms and crises.

*This is a re-post from founder and executive director Michelle Kiprop’s personal blog and was originally shared in 2013.

Meet HMI Volunteer Coordinator: Nikole Opiyo

10427364_10204656677050188_3587878617840375126_nToday I’d like to introduce you to our short-term volunteer coordinator, Nikole Opiyo.

Nikole’s heart was captured by the people of Kenya during her first mission trip in 2005. At the tender age of 17, she spent a month learning and loving in a children’s home in Eldoret. During that trip, she encountered God in a way she never had and said “Yes” to pursuing a calling to serve in Kenya. She served as a short term missionary for Empowering Lives International, African Inland Mission, and Word of Life Youth Ministries before she started an organization, The Rehma Project, committed to empowering youth in a slum community in Mombasa, Kenya. She moved to Mombasa for full-time ministry there in February of 2011.

While serving as a short term missionary, she fell in love with a man who shared her heart for the people of Kenya. In December 2011, she married Kelvin Opiyo in a beach side wedding in Mombasa. Together, the two of them committed to loving and empowering underprivileged youth through The Rehma Project. In 2013, the doors opened for them to return to Canada to pursue further education and support for The Rehma Project. In the spring of 2014, they welcomed their first child into the world, Mercy Opiyo. In 2014 Nikole also started working with Michelle to make plans for short-term volunteers. Earlier this year she took over coordination for Hope Matters volunteer program. Nikole and Kelvin are expecting their second child this month!

Nikole is passionate about connecting Kenyans and North Americans in a relationship that involves love, encouragement, understanding, and a pursuit of Christ. She loves to see the impact that short-term missions has on the locals, the missionaries, and the Kingdom of Christ. She feels privileged to see that happen as she works with Hope Matters International.

If you are interested in volunteering with Hope Matters, please contact our office for more information by sending an e-mail to office@hopemattersintl.org. Nikole would love to talk you through the process of applying to volunteer either in Kenya or perhaps even from your own home.

September 2015 Prayer Points

IMG_5085The summer has flown by. Here in Kenya we were blessed with many volunteers who gave of their time, resources, and their very selves to serve alongside us. Give thanks with us for each one of them and for the lives that were touched by their work. As we look to the coming weeks, here are some ways you can be praying with us:

  • The Village of Hope Medical Centre has been continuing to grow and gain momentum. Give thanks with us as we’ve seen more than 1,500 patients since opening in May. Pray for our staff to be filled with strength, energy, wisdom, and compassion as they encounter each new patient.
  • We began the registration process for the facility back in May of this year. We are still waiting for the final approval for our license. There are subsidized resources (medications, supplies, etc.) that we won’t be able to access until the license is processed. Pray that God will move people to cut through the red tape and move our application along so that we can be fully licensed soon.
  • We have a forty-foot shipping container full of medical equipment and supplies that will soon begin making it’s way to Kenya from Los Angeles. Please pray with us for all paperwork to be processed smoothly in both Los Angeles and Mombasa. We have heard stories of other non-profits having to pay thousands of dollars in unexpected fees once their containers arrive in port. Please pray that God will have his hand on this container. That it might travel safely, arrive smoothly, and be released from the port without any incidents.
  • Our Hope Advocate, Kim Sparks, is continuing on her run between the US/Canadian border and Alaska. Pray for her to have strength, energy, and remain injury-free. Also pray that her fundraising efforts for Hope Matters will be blessed. You can learn more about her run by clicking here. If you would like to support her run, (donations as small as $5 or $10 can make a difference when added up!) please click here.
  • Join us in praying for wisdom and direction for the leadership at Hope Matters. It is our desire that Christ would be glorified in all that we say and do. Please pray that we might be used by him to bring his love, and his HOPE to those who are hurting.