Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favorite Things

One of my favorite things about break from school is hanging out with my kids. I love not having a schedule and just flying by the seat of my pants! So, it was my delight today to be able to hang out with my kids and do another favorite thing, visit  the hospital and do rounds with Josh & Hassane!
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CURE’s employees are always asking about the kids. Part of this is the standard greeting when people ask others  about their family, health, work, fatigue and even how they are liking the weather. I know that is sort of a standard formality here, but it is nice that my kids are able to come to the hospital. The are warmly received by employees and patients alike. Becca usually brings her unicycle which is a crowd pleaser....and she actually has flat concrete to ride on! Today she blew balloons and tied animals. Ben brought a ball to kick around. Drew joined us for rounds....visiting & praying. It is so good for him to be stretched. It was hard visiting with a young lady who was scheduled for an amputation (This was not a one of our regular cases, it was handled by a visiting doc). She was is so much pain that she was moaning and yelling out most of the time we prayed. Her foot was large so large. Probably a cancerous tumor? No time for a biopsy, really no time to wait for the results. Her father said just to go ahead and amputate. So sad to see. But this is the life of some here. I pray that our visit brought some peace and hope to her!
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 Bubbles are always a favorite. Soufain and Razak are always wanting to blow them. At one point there were a bunch of kids in Leron’s office. Check out his view….Soufian usually visits regularly, but today there were some new faces.
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 We will spend more time there in the coming weeks, and plan to make a Christmas Day visit. The guards will be on duty, so Becca and I plan to make some sort of cake to take along. Yacouba, a very happy and spirited guard, asked if there would be dancing? Could be interesting! This is EXACTLY why we moved here. I am so psyched that break is here and I get to enjoy some favs during this Christmas season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wordless “Duck Duck Goose”

So, I started this blog on Wednesday and now it is Saturday. This week was so busy but very productive. I am  posting Josh’s (one of our Spiritual Directors here at CURE Niger) post about the camp. Here it is, if you are interested  http://joshjulieblog.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/surgical-camp  As usual, it has so much in it that I wanted to say but tons more. When I finally made it to the hospital on Wednesday, I had been chomping at the bit! Drew had a nasty flu that started on Sunday and he was out of it for a few days. So, on Wednesday, I was seeing some kids that had arrived a whole week earlier. The children were in different stages of healing and some had not even had their surgeries yet.  Leron had told me that the team was hoping to be able to perform more surgeries than they had originally planned. 8 surgeries a day for a solid week…..8x5=40 surgeries.  In the end, they treated 39 people. I say “people” because not all were children!!! The Hospital was absolutely full to the brim. People traveled in from all over. The furthest was from Zinder, a 13 hour trip!! I’d say we had between 70-80 people. The ward was full, the hostel was full we even turned the Spiritual Center into a dorm. Oh what a great sight it was.

We are so thankful for those who volunteer their time and resources to make these surgical camps (as well as other more ongoing services, thinking of my friend Anita who helps with PT every week) possible. We were delighted to have people here in Niger volunteer as well! My friend Joy, put 2 days in nursing patients in the ward! VOLUNTEERS ARE WONDERFUL!!! The US Embassy brought 4 different groups to play with the children. The support was very appreciated!  Dr.Clawson’s team was comprised of 2 surgeons, 2 anesthesiologists and 3 nurses. Dr. Clawson has traveled to other hospitals as well as other CURE hospitals. He has done almost 2600 surgeries through his foundation. If  you are interested in Dr. Clawson’s work so to http://www.jpclawsonmedicalmissionsfoundation.org/index.html.

I enjoyed doing various things with the kids. They were happy to “do" anything. So, I colored, blew bubbles, played soccer, hit  the volley ball and listened to Veggie Tales. My favorite thing though was playing “Duck Duck Goose”. In the pictures you will see a very beautiful teenaged girl. She had traveled in to help her family and she made “duck Duck Goose” possible. You see, most of our patients spoke Hausa. She spoke French and Hausa and probably other languages. Her name was Miriam and she had such a wonderful gentle helpful way about her. We would explain in French what we wanted to do and she would gather the children and tell them what to do in Hausa. It worked like a charm and they caught on fast. I think  their favorite people to pick were  Josh, Julie and I just to see us get up and run. We did  not use words though. Each person just waited to be tapped on the head. A few of the more rambunctious boys took the game to a whole other level when they chased each other out of the area what we were playing in…there are always a few in every crowd. I just loved sitting there and watching the sheer joy and expectation on their faces when they were awaiting to see who would be picked or once they had been picked and  excitedly jumped to their feet to be the runner. One little girl, Aisha, just cheered and clapped and cheered and clapped. Pure joy! Simply WONDERFUL!

Enjoy the pictures, some are not great due to the light, but were worth posting because they made me happy just viewing them!

Monday, December 5, 2011


mondays, some people like them some people don’t. i usually like them but it is not even 9:00 and i am having a horrible one. drew stayed home from school with some terrible bug. i was anxious to do  the carpool and get right home. well, today that did not happen smoothly. to say the least. the trouble started when i heard that they were going to block the roads. this is common when the president wants to go somewhere or there are dignitaries. i am not kidding when i say it shuts the city down....like it is tied in a big knot. so, i decided to take the new chinese bridge home as traffic had already started backing up the way I usually travel across the kennedy bridge from school. so, took the long way and enjoyed the nice smooth ride across the chinese bridge.

at the end of the bridge is where the bigger problems evolved. as far as my eye could see, the traffic was stopped. 3 lanes going one way. i needed to take leron to the hospital and was concerned about time in the first place. i found myself in three lanes of traffic that were not moving. DRAT….i reached for my cell phone and well, it was not there. i was frustrated but it was not until a gentleman decided that 3 lanes were insufficient and he misjudged where his new 4th lane should be. i felt this weird kind of bump and heard this odd noise. my imagination jumped to the thought that someone hopped on to the back of my car. well, when i looked through my driver's side mirror, i discovered the problem. he basically scrapped his mirror along my car. he was actually stuck! mind you, WE WERE STOPPED and I was just sitting there minding my own business. now, i have had to live with the new reality that lots of accidents just happen here. i like to take good care of the things were are privileged to use, so it bothered me. I rolled the window down and gestured (as politely as i could) “what are you thinking?” i however did not want to get out of the car because, well, i was in a part of town completely shut down, without my cell and all alone. to make matters worse, when the guy’s passenger finally got the mirror unstuck, he pulled along side me like he wanted to tell me things were fine. the common phrase is pas de problem….no problem everything is fine. i LOST IT.  i just put my hand over my face and started to cry. he just went on his merry way using the berm in the other lane to inch his way further toward the intersection.

i continued to wait and i just longed to be out of the car. i  just wanted to be on a nice pennsylvanian freeway. well, the waiting continued and i finally got to inch a little and then all the other motorists wanting to cut through traffic started causing more problems. i found myself just not feeling like myself. it was like i just wanted to go all crazy and smash cars up……WOW. ooops, you are all going to think i am on the edge. maybe i just need a break from everything unfamiliar around me? think it has been brewing for a bit……well, I made it to the intersection and was waved through by the police, THANKS for the mess, right? well, then i found myself in a “round about” that is questionably round, it is more like a parking lot that people speed through. i was so flustered and COMPLETELY at the end of my rope by this time and i started praying for mercy, forgiveness and asking jesus for a hint of which road was best.

i managed to pick one that it usually on the busy end, but navigated it fine. OK, so then, all was fine? nope….still seemed to be a bit on edge to say the least….still many people making very interesting driving choices…..WATCH OUT for the crazed white woman! made it home and really lost it. i called leron, who was also stuck in traffic with josh and so he walked home to console me….i am so thankful for jesus, a wonderful husband & family  who loves me. so, i know I am gonna make it! hope the rest of my monday improves….it can only get better, right? think maybe I should “stay in” today….

Friday, December 2, 2011

Celebrations Abroad

I was having a hard time putting into words my thoughts from the past week. Holidays are the hard part of being so far away from family. I am so thankful for Vonage and Skype as well as new friends and celebrations here. I end up feeling a bit strange…missing home but loving celebrating in a new way. So Thanksgiving week consisted in a bunch of random things for me: Ben’s soccer game, a tortoise crossing, a phone line “snap”, a day with K/1 @ Sahel, a baby skink with a very blue tail and 2 very different Thanksgiving dinners.

Ben lost his soccer game, but looked smashing in his uniform. Rover, the turtle, zipped across the road unharmed. We dined at our favorite French Restaurant, where we were the only patrons. It was an intimate Thanksgiving dinner with just our family on Thanksgiving eve. So weird, the kids had school and Leron worked. No time off.

I was delighted to sub on Friday in the K/1 class. Becca’s book buddy was absent, so she treated Victory to a book.

The phone line was repaired Saturday morning by means of tying a bigger knot than Leron did. Leron tried to take matters into his own hands and tied the first knot. Apparently he needed to use a plastic bag too, see the pics. :) Crazy but it works, somehow it works. This line was snapped when a truck that was too big decided to take a shortcut and well, he got snagged and kept right on going.

Missed the cool fall air (But have to admit the weather is so pleasant right now, Nigeriens are pulling out their winter coats and children have knit caps on) and the aroma of turkey when I woke up.

We enjoyed a more traditional meal with our CURE family on Saturday….Turkey, stuffing (with fresh sage all the way from Israel), potatoes, gravy, my Grandma’s homemade noodles, homemade ice cream and PIE! The eating was fabulous but the talking and laughing and hanging out were exactly what I needed. So, I find myself very thankful for a wonderful family to miss &new friends to celebrate with……the randomness here keeps me fresh and excited. Good stories and memories anyway! Here are a few highlights:
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