Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 10 ways being a doctor/missionary has ruined my social skills

I feel like the last 10 years of my life I've been eating, sleeping, breathing, living the field of medicine. I've gradually realized this has left me a little socially stunted. What do "normal" people talk about? 

1. No sense of appropriate dinner table conversation.
So he had all the signs and symptoms of a large bowel obstruction, but when we got in there, we found he was full of worms!....are you going to eat that last bit of spaghetti??

2. Asking difficult questions of a personal nature becomes second nature. Sometimes I'm so comfortable with it, it carries over into my personal (non-professional) life.
No example needed for this one, folks. You've all had those awkward conversations with your doctor.

3. Working as a missionary is an intense environment. Visitors come and friendships are forged quickly, usually as a coping mechanism. 
Hi, how are you? What's your story? How are you doing? Let's talk about what happened today...two kids died and we did an emergency c-section. Let's talk about how you're coping with what you've gone through today. 

4. No idea of what to talk about other than medicine, missions and cultural differences and similarities. Is there really anything else to discuss? ;-)
I know there is more to discuss, I just get tired of superficial conversations. There is only so much one can say about the weather, the holidays, etc. Sometimes I need help coming up with other topics of conversation.

5. I don't know what to say when I see someone eating. 
In French culture, it is polite to say "bon appetit" when you see someone eating. It's rude to say nothing. 
In American culture, you come off sounding snobbish if you say "bon appetit". It's still a little awkward to say "enjoy your meal", because we usually just don't say anything. 

6. I'm more observant than the average person. Some people may find this freaky, or think I'm stalking them...really, I'm just observant. (I'd like to think of myself as a female Sherlock Holmes...not really, I'm not THAT observant). I think I need to learn to filter better what observations I express.
"Did you notice the faint petechial rash on her lower extremities?"
"Where did I leave my sunglasses?" "On the kitchen counter." 
"Where is my wallet?" "On the table behind the computer"
"He's got six fingers on his left hand..."

7. The 5 second rule has become the 30 second rule (or one minute rule), especially for precious food items. 
I will pick up cheese and other food items dropped on the floor, rinse or brush it off, and then eat it. You don't realize how precious some things become until you've lived without it...cheese, chocolate, and butter are among them. Apparently this is not as acceptable in the US...

8. Most of my jokes are of a medical nature...not everyone gets them. 
"Rectum? Darn near killed em'!"
"There's nothing funny about a humerus fracture." 

9. I've become a little more bossy than I used to be...
I've gotten used to giving orders, as well as others gathering the necessary equipment to help me accomplish a task. I've realized since being home that I need a better balance. While it is good to let your needs be known, it's important to still serve others. 

10. I no longer know what is the most appropriate way to greet someone. Is it simply a nod? A handshake? A hug? A kiss on the cheek? A kiss on each cheek? Three kisses, alternating cheeks? 
This gets to be very awkward when you mix them up, or do all of them at once. So folks, if I stick out my hand to shake it, please don't leave me hanging! I'm just trying to be polite, though I may forget what culture it is I'm in. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Not all who wander are lost...but some are.

     "An athlete on a trapeze wanting to switch to the next trapeze has to let go of the current one to reach the next one. For a few seconds the athlete is just suspended in air with nothing to hold on to. When you leave the culture where you have been serving a term and start home, you also find yourself in the same position. You have left one place, and you are not yet in another. You are not where (and who) you were, but you are not yet where (and who) you will be. There is nothing to hold on to, and you may feel confused and disoriented." 
-from "Coming "Home": The Reentry Transition by Ron Koteskey. The free ebook an be found at www.missionarycare.com

     There are many books and resources available for helping people through 'reverse culture shock'-the psychological effects of returning "home", or one's passport culture. They talk about having feelings of depression, disorientation, and helplessness, and an intense longing to return to the host culture (read more here). One blog called it "post-travel depression", which I think is highly accurate.

    These resources are helpful in knowing you're not alone. They remind you that others have gone through it, and what you're feeling is normal. However, it doesn't make the feelings go away. It doesn't make you miss your host culture less. It doesn't make everything in your passport country suddenly feel 'normal'. It just helps you know you are "normal" for feeling lost and disoriented, and eventually things will get better.
    Thing is, I want to know WHEN? When will things get better? Everyone has a different time frame for how quickly they adjust. Some of this depends on how long they were gone, their adaptability, how much they adapted to their host culture, etc. Having been home for almost 4 months now, I would say there are different phases to transitioning back to your passport culture.
    First, there is the initial shock. Constant electricity, fast internet, hot showers, endless supply of ice cream, cheese, and milk, reuniting with friends and family. And the jet lag (let's not forget that!). This phase takes a couple of weeks to wear off as you get used to everything. Surprisingly, I found reintegrating with friends was harder than I expected. I waited nearly a month hoping that now that I was home I would get phone calls from friends. Finally, I realised since we hadn't really talked frequently in the last few years, we were out of the habit. I had to make an effort to call them, to re-integrate into their lives. This was a bit of a struggle for my introverted self, despite these people being among my closest friends. The proud/conceited part of me wanted them to drop what they were doing to call and say hello. The realistic part of me knows they have lives and families and schedules and I'm sure had intentions to call but it's just not that easy. (To my friends-I love you all, please don't feel bad about me writing this. It's a common thing that happens when people come back from being overseas.)
    Phase two is the sensory overload that is the US. That has been by far the most ongoing difficult for me to deal with since my return, and has been a challenge every time I've come home from being overseas. When living here in the US you don't realize how much you are bombarded with on a daily basis. The constant commercials on the TV and radio, ads on billboards, newspapers and flyers, even the shelves and isles at stores. All are in bright colors or flashing lights or loud noises. Someone or something is constantly telling you you don't have enough and you need MORE!!! It's sickening, because most people don't have any more space to put more stuff, but feel the constant need to buy things. I find it hard to go into stores because there is just so much STUFF. A recent trip to purchase a baby shower gift sums up my feelings perfectly: I was in a store fully of baby supplies, standing in the toy section. Remember, all of these baby toys are meant to 'stimulate your baby'. Well, here I was surrounded on 3 sides of 15 ft high walls of brightly colored baby toys. A friend had gone to another store and called to find out where I was so she could meet back up with me. I told her "I'm in the baby toy section and feeling very overwhelmed!" I wanted to go back to the crib section so I could curl up in a fetal position and hide from all that STUFF.
Sensory overload happens at work and home too. I might be having a good time, or be with people I enjoy but it still gets overwhelming. When I return home from work or time out with friends I find the need to isolate myself in my room, hide under the covers of my bed with my ear plugs and get away from everything. After 20-30 minutes, I am better and able to be social once again.
     Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy getting to go to the store and getting just about anything I want, and realizing I can wait to purchase something because it will STILL BE IN STOCK in 6 weeks when I will need more (can I say AMAZING!). I still get a little thrill when I order something online and it arrives in 2 days. TWO DAYS! It's like Christmas every time. I have to restrict myself because the little thrill can be addicting. (Do it again! Do it again! my mind says with glee and giggling). I also really enjoy instant access to Facebook and emails, Pinterest and Amazon.

Phase three has to do with adjusting to the superficiality we experience here. In western culture, we're so individualistic, we have a hard time really opening up and asking for help or showing the ugly part of ourselves. We all display our sunday best like peacocks all the time, and then make comparisons between our worst and someone else's best, and end up feeling insufficient and inadequate. (Case in point: Facebook, Pinterest). Guess what? Life is messy. Life is hard. Life is made up of both the pretty and the ugly parts. We have it so good here in the US you have no idea. It's okay not to have it all together, and it's okay to admit that. We don't have to bear the burden of always hiding behind our perfection masks.
     But by far phase four is  the biggest challenge. It involves dealing with the loss of feeing a sense of purpose, and importance. You suddenly feeling a loss of purpose, trivial, unimportant, and lost in the crowd. Perhaps some of that is because the work I am doing while home is not fulfilling, and I should have chosen a different short-term position. But some of the loss comes because in Congo I felt called to what I was doing there. I enjoyed teaching and working along side my Congolese counterparts (as frustrating as it could be at times for all involved!) Yes, I have plans to head overseas again, and it helps to remember that. But at times I just feel lost and adrift amid the noisy self-centered materialism that is America. It's times like these I want to scream "DON'T YOU GET IT!? YOU DON'T NEED ALL THIS STUFF TO MAKE YOU HAPPY. IN FACT, YOU'LL BE HAPPIER WITHOUT MOST OF IT CLUTTERING YOUR LIFE. TURN THE TV AND RADIO OFF AND INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER!" But it falls on deaf ears. The volume is turned up too loud in America.
     And so I continue in this transition, realizing I will be leaving again in a few months and so will never fully 'fit in' while here. To get through the difficult patches I cry, pray, talk with friends, and remind myself of a quote that has been the signature line on my email for the last three years:

I cannot flee His presence. Go where I will, He leads me, and watches me, and cares for me. The same Being who is now at work in the remotest domains of nature and of providence is also at my hand to make more full every moment of my being. 
-Thomas Chalmers

And then I work on really believing it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What's next?

*Spoiler Alert* You may see some of this same info in a newsletter I'll be sending out. But since not everyone reads my blog, I feel I can write it twice...

Many of you have been asking me what my plans are now that I've completed my service with the Post-Residency Program. Well, if I told you, I'd have to kill you...

Not really. The truth is, beyond about May 2014, I'm really not sure. And I'm trying to be okay with that. But what am I doing up until May 2014, you ask? And what have I been doing in the meantime?

Since arriving home in July, I've had the opportunity to spend some time with my family and friends. I haven't gotten to see everyone I'd like to see, nor spend all the time I would like with each person, but it has still been nice to be home.

Many of you know I started a Masters in Public Health through Loma Linda University seven years ago (yeah, seven-time has flown by!) I am finishing my last two courses this semester! (God willing-please be praying for me about that-many things to finish up in the next few weeks!)

I've been able to do some Locum Tenens work (it's like substitute/part time doctoring), which has allowed me to a)pay those pesky student loan bills, b)save money to pay those pesky student loan bills while I'm gone to Congo this spring (more on that in a bit), c)be able to attend the AAFP conference in San Diego and get in some much needed CME, and d)pay off some other pesky bills I have.

I'm currently planning on going to Nyankunde, Democratic Republic of Congo in February for a three months to work alongside a surgeon (Warren Cooper) and learn how to do a few types of surgeries I haven't been able to learn in the time I was in Impfondo. I've worked with Dr Cooper before in Impfondo, and he and his wife (a neonatologist) are currently based in Nyankunde. For those of you who are geographically challenged, it is in the northeastern part of the DRC, along the Ugandan border (Uganda is west of Kenya). Yes, it is safe for me to go there. No, there is no fighting there...it's a ways away, near Goma.

This trip will be through Samaritan's Purse, but will be a volunteer position. As such, I need support for this trip! Most importantly, I need prayer support. No matter what we do, we should always submit it to prayer first. I can't tell you how much your prayers have helped me while I was in Impfondo, and even now in this transition period as I've returned to the US and set out on another trip.
Secondly, your financial support would also be such a blessing to me! I can't tell you how much it has meant to me for those of you who have been able to support me financially in the past. It's like I get a big hug every time I see my monthly account statement!
To give, you can click on this link to Samaritan's Purse website, or write a check and send it to the address at the right. The account number is the same as when I was in the Post-Residency Program (3594).

What's up after I return from Nyankunde? Well, that's a good question. I'll start by coming home and having a nice steak dinner with some ice cream for dessert. ;-) For a while, it was just a blank slate, but now God is starting to fill in some holes, but I'm not yet ready to share them with the world yet. Suffice it to say I feel called to return to the mission field. Please be praying for me to clearly see where God is calling me to work for Him next, for hearts and minds of those I leave and those I will meet to be prepared.

Could you do me a favor? If you're willing to being a prayer partner with me, could you leave a message after this blog? Either here, or on Facebook? Thank you so much!

Friday, July 26, 2013


They say to count your blessings. Since arriving home, here are some of mine (no importance to order of list):
1. Hot showers.
2. Hot baths (with bubbles!)
3. High-speed internet
4. Speaking in English. All. the. time.
5. Playing with nieces and nephews.
6. Being able to leave my computer plugged in, not worrying about electrical shocks.
7. Being able to charge things without having to think about how sunny it has been, how well the battery is charged, if the city power will come on tonight, and prioritizing which thing I really want charged the most.
8. Being able to go to the store and get just about anything I want, in about any shape, color, or size I want or need. It's amazing.
9. Driving an automatic. However, I do miss the standard transmission. I keep moving my right hand to downshift...
10. Ice cream
11. Chocolate
12. Ice cream
13. Pizza I don't have to make myself, but can just pick up (we live too far out in the country for delivery).
14. Swimming in the pool (though it is a bit chilly for swimming. Only 73F yesterday...I'm usually in jeans, long sleeves, and socks at that temperature).
15. Hot baths. (Did I mention that already?)
16. Brewed, not instant, coffee.
17. Fresh fruits and veggies that are not cucumbers, cabbage, pineapple, papaya, or bananas. (They are good, but it gets old.)
18. Organic chicken I don't have to kill myself.
19. Catching up on some TV shows I enjoy.
20. Seeing friends and family
21. Hot water
22. The sun setting after 6:30pm. It's really strange, but nice as well.
23. Not working. Not doing a single thing. Just relaxing. It's amazing.
24. Cold, real, not powdered, milk.
25. CEREAL!!

Did I mention the hot water and constant electricity?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Coming home

This is something I wrote on my way home from Congo. Thought I'd post it...

You'd think after being overseas for almost three years, I'd be excited to come home. Nay, ecstatic, even. But I'm not. don't get me wrong, I want to get to see my family, reconnect with friends, enjoy hot showers and high speed internet. But I've also created a new home in Congo, with new friends and family. If I could have both in one place, I'd have the best of both worlds. Unfortunately I only get one or the other. No matter where I am, people on one continent or another are crying. 
I've often thought to myself: would I be able to do this if I were married? If I had children? Would I be able to live overseas, knowing my kids might not really know their grandparents or cousins? It's already hard enough thinking that my nieces and nephews might not ever know me very well. I think the overall answer is "yes". If that's what God called me to do, I'd do it. It might be hard, it might not be the life I originally planned or thought I'd have, but I'd be doing God's will, and that would make it worth it. 
I don't want to you to think I'm overly pious or something. I'm not. I still struggle with the same stuff you do. I want to do things myself. Selfish me wants to believe I know better than God. I sometimes feel dry-unable to really pray, unable to enjoy praise and worship, because I sometimes feel empty inside, from pouring myself out so much (usually in physical work, at the hospital). What I continually strive to balance is serving but not burning out; serving but taking the time to rest; serving but not getting over-extended and frustrated. I don't think anyone has perfected it, but I do think there are some that do it better than others. I'm still learning.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rich Man, Poor Man

I am a poor missionary. I rely on others for providing for my financial well-being. I do not own a car, I do not own a house. I do not have a television, nintendo, or any other form of video games. If I want pizza, I make it from scratch. There is no carry out or home delivery. My idea of “fast food” is when the chicken lady has grilled chicken ready in the evenings in the market, and I get it “with mayo and onion, don’t chop it, and hold the hot peppers”.  Having Coke and Pepsi is a special occasion. Butter, cheese, and real milk are specialty items. Every time I take a shower, I only have cold water. I wash my dishes in cold water because I don’t want to waste the time or energy to heat water (and they do get clean, by the way). The only time I wash my dishes in hot water is on a hot sunny day at noon, when the water in the pipe leading to the kitchen is hot. I make my own granola, yogurt, and bread. Chips and pretzels are a special treat. I have electricity when it’s sunny and I haven’t used up all the battery power in the 12V truck battery to charge other things during the day. 

I am a rich missionary. I live in a house made of bricks. All my windows have screens and glass panes. I have screen doors. I sleep in a bed with a real mattress, not just a piece of foam. I have running water in my house, that is clean enough to drink. I have a solar panel and battery in my house, and have functioning light fixtures in each room. I have a refrigerator that works and can afford to purchase kerosene to keep it running. I can purchase Coke, Fanta, and occasionally chips and cookies in town. I can afford to buy cheese and butter occasionally to have it brought up by a visitor. I own a bike, have a drivers license, and have a truck available for my use. I have a high school diploma, a college education, and a professional career. I own a computer, two telephones, and an Ipad, not to mention having two external hard drives. And I know how to use them. I can afford to have someone wash my clothes each week, and clean my house twice a week. 

Sometimes it's hard when people see your white skin and think "oh, she must have a lot of money", when I am constantly thinking of how I'll pay next month's loan payments along with insurance payments, how I'll have living money when I get back home, etc. By African standards, I'm filthy rich. But by American standards, I'm quite poor. I'm torn between two worlds. I don't have money to help everyone here who needs it. Nor is it necessarily my responsibility to financially help everyone. Sometimes it's what's needed, and sometimes not. But at times when I am worried about how to pay next month's bills, it's good to remember all my blessings. I do not worry about where my next meal will come from, or that my clothes are all dirty and my kids might not have a dry place to sleep. But it doesn't stop me being concerned for others who have those worries. My goal here is to help others be able to help themselves. Sometimes their biggest problem isn't material poverty, though that is what is easiest to see. Sometimes it is relational poverty, poverty of community, or spiritual poverty that causes more problems. For example, there is a woman here whose children have been treated several times for malnutrition. She is poor, but her children should have enough to eat. She has a tendency to use her money to buy clothes for herself than food for her children. So, giving her money is not what will help her best. Helping her to become responsible to care for her children is better. But sometimes, knowing when to help and how to help can be quite difficult. It takes a bit of prayer, wisdom, and sometimes patience. 

So, next time you're worried about money, about what you will eat, and what you will wear, count your blessings. You do not need to worry about such things, for our Father provides for the birds of the air, and he will certainly provide for you, who are much more valuable than the birds. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Who needs WebMD?

Some of you know I fell ill la few weeks ago. I felt relatively fine on Thursday, but early Friday morning I awoke with a fever of 101.4F. Not being one to usually get fevers, my mind immediately started making a differential diagnosis (a process we as doctors do to list possible diagnoses, and then make further questions or exams to narrow down the diagnosis). Cold? Flu? Malaria? I noticed I was shaking a bit-kind of like all my muscles were spasming at the same time (more clonic than tonic). Hmmm...maybe malaria. I raised my head from my pillow. Ough! And a major headache. Chalk another point up for malaria. I made it out to the couch and my housemate got me some water. I called in to the hospital to let them know I wouldn’t be coming in to work. After some blessed sleep, the fever started up again, this time up to 103.5F. While I knew I had a fever, I had chills and rigors, and so covered up with socks, my winter fleece, and two blankets-all tucked in like a burrito in the 80-85F house. Finally the fever broke. A rapid test for malaria was negative, and I had faithfully been taking my malaria prophylaxis, but I decided to take the treatment anyway. Having not grown up with recurrent bouts of malaria, the effects of the disease can be more severe, including severe anemia and other complications. It is not a disease I wanted to mess around with. After maxing out at 104F, the fevers finally started to come down, and by Sunday I was feeling better. Two different elders from the church had prayed over me during the weekend. One has a tendency to start to shout as he prays, so if the parasites hadn’t died from the CoArtem, then I am sure there were more killed by fright from the force of his voice. ;-)
However, Monday I still felt very tired, and still had a fever to 100.4F. I did some lab tests, which showed I had a moderate anemia, but no malaria was seen in my peripheral blood. I managed to do a few administrative things, and then returned home to rest. Much to my chagrin I had promised a neighbor I would make her a cake for her 15th birthday, which had to be done that afternoon. So I pulled together my “mom-force” (that strength that mothers use to take care of their young even when they have no strength whatsoever) and made her a cake, with some assistance from my housemate and neighbor. 
Tuesday I tried to do some work at the hospital, but I was still feeling to nauseated to do much. Fortunately Mano, a visiting physician, was able to cover for me, and continued to do so the rest of the week. Since I still had the fever Monday, I started injections of artemether. The rest of the week I felt so nauseated and tired, all I wanted to do to was sleep, to escape the nausea. But with all that extra time, it gives you plenty of time to start thinking of other differential diagnoses. No need to consult WebMD, it’s all in my head. Fortunately my friends and colleagues were able to a)help calm my worries, and b) support my slightly hypochondriacal thoughts. But really, I don’t think I have felt so poorly 
Finally, Saturday, I had a breakthrough-I felt well for the first time in weeks! I had energy, I was singing-it was great!! It was a little short-lived, as Sunday and Monday I was again tired, and a little nauseated, but much less than I had before. 
The entire experience was a big challenge for me. Most of you who know me know I like to be independent and do things myself. Having to ask for help, to not feel up to making your food, much less eating it, and having to ask even to get something as simple as water was a big challenge. Especially as the person helping me most was my new housemate, Kate, who had only been here for about 3 weeks. I’m glad God provided me with a housemate, and one who is trained as a CNA, to help me during that time. It was also humbling to not be able to help out at the hospital. I had to give up control, and trust that things would be okay without me there (which is a proud thought, I admit, and thus why I needed the lesson). God provided someone to care for me, someone to provide care at the hospital, and a wonderful hospital staff who I know were praying for me and wishing me well. 

(This is where I’d put a Bible verse, but my mind is blank in coming up with a fitting one. How about you post one in response?)

Monday, April 1, 2013


So I realize that it has been about 5 months since I last updated my blog. There have been many times I’ve wanted to write something, or I had an idea of something to write, but usually at times where I was doing something else, and by the time I was someplace I could write, I didn’t have energy or creativity to write something. So, now, I’m taking the time to write, so I can let you all know what’s going on. And I hope to be better about updating more frequently. 

I was home last Thanksgiving, and was able to stay through until just after Christmas.  Since we celebrated our Christmas early (thinking I was going to leave before then), I didn’t have so much of the Christmas stress leading up to the 25th. It was quite a relaxing day, actually. I enjoyed getting to visit with my family, and the extended time was much needed for me to recover from the burnout I had before coming home. 
My return to Congo was more or less uneventful. I enjoyed the few weeks I had with the Wegners before they left for their home assignment. Stephen and I did some work on sign-out on medical directorship for the hospital, as there would be no overlap between him and the new medical director par interim. 
At the time I returned, we had a short-term volunteer here who took care of the lion’s share of the mechanic/electrical work. He helped immensely in keeping things running, doing many things behind the scenes I am not even aware of-I just know we had electricity and water and he fixed most things before I knew there was much of a problem. 
However, just before he left, the motherboard on our big generator went out. This was something unexpected and unpredictable. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a small generator from a local UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) branch. It is enough to run our equipment that can normally run by solar power, but not enough to power the more energy requiring equipment, such as the air conditioner in the OR. This may seem like a minor inconvenience, but on a sunny day the ambient temperature in the OR can start at 85F, before the lights are on, you’ve covered your hair, you’ve gloved, and put on an impermeable gown. So it gets a *little* hot in there. We’ve cut down on the number of scheduled cases so that we can finish in the morning before it gets too hot. We have ordered a new mothercard for the generator, which we hope will arrive this week, and fix our generator. I don’t know if it will last until our new generators will arrive this fall. They are currently in a container in Pointe Noire, the port city for Congo. We are awaiting a letter of exoneration so that we can take it from the port to Brazzaville. Then we have to wait for the river to rise high enough to bring a large enough boat to carry the 40 ft, 17 ton container here to Impfondo. We have looked into getting a new generator in Brazzaville to have as a back-up in case this larger one breaks down again, but it’s not quite so simple. There are many types of generators, and the ones they have aren’t exactly like what we need-we would have to do some re-wiring of the circuits here at the hospital, on what is already a “spaghetti” like system. So, nothing is as easy as you would like it to be. 
Add to that the general functioning of the hospital. We have medications we ordered from IDA, a company in the Netherlands, which arrived about a month or more ago in Brazzaville. We have been waiting for a boat to come up here to bring them to us. The commercial airlines are finally flying to Impfondo again, but are not accepting cargo, so all our meds must come by boat. We are short on gloves, but fortunately so far we have been able to buy some in town. We were out of betadine, but were were donated some betadine and other needed medications from a local source. Thank the Lord for that!
Since Stephen left, we have had several short term visiting docs. All have been incredibly helpful. Currently Dr. Mano Paul is here from India. He has been very helpful in rounding and seeing outpatients, which has allowed me a little more time to take care of some administrative things. We recently had a local politician hospitalized at our hospital, which was a bit stressful for me as everyone in the local government wanted to know how he was and what the plan for him was, each day. It was rather frustrating having about 10-15 people asking me the same questions every day. However, he arrived around the time our generator went out. The Maire of Impfondo notified SNE, the local electric company, which then provided power every night from 7p-12pm, in order to help our hospital when we did not have sufficient energy to maintain running the portable oxygen concentrator. The rest of the time they used their own generator for this particular patient. We normally only receive city power 4-5 nights/week for about 3-4 hours, so this was a blessing. I am happy to say the patient is doing well and was able to travel to Brazzaville where he can consult the needed specialists for his medical problems. 
This weekend I have the weekend “off”. Dr. Paul is rounding at the hospital for me, and I manage phone calls for when he does not have an interpreter. Unfortunately, one of our refugee patients passed away Saturday night and yesterday we had to do quite a few errands to figure out what to do with the body, as he comes from a town 6 hours away by motor boat. We were able to bury the body here. A fellow missionary and our chaplain helped to make the arrangements for him, which was wonderful as it allowed me more time to rest and relax. 
Last night I tried calling my family from the hospital when the administrative building lost power. I don’t know what caused it or how to fix it. The generator I had running was working but not providing power where it was supposed to. So, that will be something to look at today or tomorrow. 
So, there you have it, in 1500 words or less, most everything that’s happened since Thanksgiving. Thank you all for your prayers-they are much needed and much felt! Pray for continued peace, courage, patience, and strength. Pray for our electricity system, that we can fix the problem and not encounter any more until the new, upgraded system can be installed. Allow us, at HELP, to be a light to those in darkness. 

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. --Math 5:16