Sunday, May 25, 2014

A HUGE Praise and Prayer Request

They did it!!  They are finished!!!  Praise the Lord.  It is hard to believe that the 3 year program is coming to an end.  God has been so faithful in working in these 20 students' lives both academically and spiritually.  All praise belongs to Him for what He has accomplished!
 And while I remember when the students were being chosen and when the program began, I have been so thankful to have even a very small part of the program for the last year and a half.
A few weeks back the Nursing Class Chorale went to one of our churches to sing.  We went to the Baptist church in Kpodzi.  Since their are 20 students, 3 instructors and one administrative assistant we had to take 2 vans.  We left the hospital compound early and picked up students along the main road.
Once we picked everyone up, we needed to practice.  We had planned to stop at the Adeta Church, but due to the road work we couldn't get there.  So, we just stopped on the side of the road and had a quick practice time!
 Pastor Happy teaching Sunday school.  He has been a faithful pastor for many years!

The church choir marched in and sang us a welcome song.
Some of the men in our nursing class.  For the past year or so, I have been praying that the Lord would raise up some leaders from among these young men.  They are going to be the heart of the work in the new hospital in Mango.  More than the doctors, more than the missionaries.  These nurses will be at the bedside of Fulani patients, of Muslims patients, of so many unsaved patients.  They have the ability to reach into the patients lives like no one else will. My prayer is that they will be godly leaders whom the Lord will use to change that city for Him!
Dr. Sharon Rahilly, the program director, thanking the church for inviting the choral to come sing.
The nursing student choir.  It was such a blessing listening to them sing!

Outside the church building

Ok, this little girl kept following me around as I took pictures so I just had to take a picture of her.
Beni (on the right) is one of our students who is originally from Northern Togo and was raised a Muslim.  He has an incredible testimony of how he came to know Christ and he is excited to share it!  I can hardly wait to see how God uses him to reach other Muslims.
Some of the ladies in the class

Although this was a few weeks ago, I waited to post it so that I could also ask you to pray for this upcoming week.  We have several big events for the week that will end on Saturday with the graduation ceremony.  Please pray for the little things that need to be done in preparation for graduation, but more than that please pray that the ceremony will be God honoring and that it will be evident to all who attend that truly the Lord has done great things

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Tearful Day

This afternoon I received a call from John's mom.  John was out in a village today with a mobile clinic.  She never calls our cell phone, so when I saw her number my heart started racing....I knew it was bad news. 

She was tearful when she said hello, and then came the words we knew were coming but were still so hard to hear, "Opa passed away".  It was one of those times when it is so hard to be so far away.


Four Generations of Groeneveld Men
And Aiden is named after Opa too, John Aiden.

He was Leslie John Henrickis Groeneveld (John was named after him) on his birth certificate.  Those who knew him called him Bud.  Those who were family.....we called him Opa.

My first introduction to Opa was when John and I just met in college.  He adored his grandpa and always shared fond memories of times growing up with him.  Before I ever met Opa, John told me that Opa had been praying for me for years.  His Opa sent him letters in college telling him that he was praying for John's future wife.  I never imagined that someone who had never met me was faithfully praying for me.  That was just Opa...a prayer warrior for ALL his family.

I never had a grandpa growing up.  So I guess I was a little partial to the 2 sweet grandpas the Lord gave me through marriage.  And I was blessed to have been adopted into Opa's family!

John told stories of his Opa driving them around on the back of a lawn mower and riding around town in the front seat of his Opa's work truck.  John and his siblings spent weeks at a time in the summer with Opa and Oma and everyday, Opa would take them swimming at the pool and sit by to watch them all afternoon.  Opa adored his grandkids--- 8 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.  And they all adored him.

He made wonderful dill pickles (with his own home grown dill) and he made some awesome spaghetti!

He was a WWII vet, but didn't talk about it much.  If you got him alone and it was quiet he might share a story or two from the war, but those moments were rare.  He had fought for his country, but was never one to go on about it.

And at other quiet times, you just might get him to sing you a song in German.

He loved Cream of Wheat (and could make it without any lumps!!) and Maid-Rites.  John and I were car shopping with him and Oma and after we were done looking at cars Opa insisted that we stop and get a sandwich....but it had to be a Maid-Rite!  He wouldn't settle for anything else.

He loved his family.  Often times at family get togethers you would see Opa sitting off to the side and watching.  Watching the little ones, some his grandchildren....some his great grandchildren.  And as he watched he smiled.   His love for his family was great!

He loved his wife.....oh, how he loved her!  They married right before the war and have been married over 70 years.  They would cook together in the kitchen and always had a feast for us when we went to visit them.  They lived in the same little  house for their entire marriage.  They really had a special kind of love.

And He loved God.  He was a faithful Christian who loved the Lord and served Him as long as he was able.  And that is what makes today a little easier for those who loved Opa.  We know that today he is walking those streets of gold that he was so longing for in his last days.  No more pain, no more struggles, no more tears.  He has met His Savior face to face!!  And like Aiden said tonight, "I bet God is takin' really good care of Opa!"

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May Day

One thing that abounds in Togo is holidays!  It can be quite humorous the frequency of holidays.  And then, at any time the government can just up and deicide, "Tomorrow is going to be a national holiday!".  So then businesses and schools all close at the drop of a hat.   This last Thursday though was a regular annual holiday, May 1st, or May Day.  It is very much like our Labor Day and celebrates different occupations and businesses. 

Part of the festivities included a village parade and a meal that each business provides for their employees.  Now when I say parade, don't think "American" parade.  The parade here consisted of groups of people walking together with their co-workers, a few cars and a small band.  There were no floats, no clowns, no horses and no candy throwing!  Although, there was a lady carrying a large plant on her head!

The kids were very excited to go, so we took a short break from school and drove to Adeta, the next largest village.
 One of the other missionaries let us borrow her car so we were able to drive to Adeta.
 Main Street in Adeta. 
 The kids waiting for the "big" parade to start.  They were so excited!
 Here it comes!!! 
 This is the group of teachers from the girls' school in Tsiko.  All the teachers were so funny when they saw the girls on the side of the road.  They were all waving at us and calling the girls' names.  I think they were as excited to see us as we were to see them in the parade!
 Some of the other groups of workers were the local seamstresses and tailors, the rice farm workers, and the bank workers.
 And of course, the taxi drivers where there in full force.  Some were in their taxi cars ....
 ...and some were on their taxi motos.

 Then came the hospital employees on some of their motos....

 and our missionary hospital administrator in her car...
 and the good ole red hospital van that is used for everything from picking visitors up in Lome, to transporting sick patients, to mobile medical clinics...
..and some of the hospital maintenance guys in the shop truck!  Everyone was excited to have something to celebrate!

And these guys were just as happy as could be to be there and wave at everyone we knew who was celebrating May 1st!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coming Home: An Update on Ansley

Since the official word is out, I wanted to explain a little bit of what is happening.  Many people have messaged me after hearing that Ansley and I are returning to the U.S. for some testing, so I thought it would be best to explain things here.  We don't want to alarm people or for people to worry, but we would appreciate prayers.

Let me start by saying we don't really do "well baby check ups" here.  If one of the kids is sick, we just talk with one of the docs and they are treated.  We do have the immunization clinic and that is where we last weighed Ansley when she was 5 months old.  She was 7.2kg, which is just over 15 pounds.

About a month ago, Ansley needed to be put on an antibiotic for a little infection she had in her arm.  For the antibiotic dose, we needed to have a current weight on her. John took her over to the hospital and weighed her.  When he came home I casually asked how much she weighs now.  He responded 7.2 kg.  That alarmed me.  She had not gained any weight for 7 months.  For a while I had been thinking that she was small, but I just figured she was petite.  I mentioned the fact that she had not gained any weight to one of the pediatrician heres and she said it was definitely something that we needed to look into. 

For reference, Ansley was 9 pounds when she was born.  According to standard growth and development guidelines, babies should double their birth weight by 6 months and triple it by one year.  So at 6 months, Ansley should have weighed around 18 pounds; however, she weighed 15 pounds at 6 months which isn't terrible.  But now at one year, she should be close to 27 pounds...she is still 15 pounds.   So right now, little Ansley is not even on the growth chart. 

For a few weeks now we have been pushing high calorie foods to see if she will gain.  We also have done every possible test that we can do here at our hospital which included blood draws (that required her to have IVs started in her head), urine catheters, chest x ray, heart ultrasound and kidney ultrasound.  The x ray and ultra sounds came back fine.  But some of the blood work and urine tests came back a little abnormal.  They need to be followed up on, but we don't have the ability to do further testing here.  We are also weighing her weekly to make sure she is gaining something with the high calorie diet.  She had gained about 300 gms over the last couple weeks, but when I weighed her today, she had lost 150gms.

So the 2 pediatricians here talked and both felt the Ansley needs to be seen by a pediatric endocrinologist in the States.  One of the pediatricians also talked with a pediatric endocrinologist friend of hers in Kentucky and he also recommended that she be seen in the US.  They say it is not emergent that Ansley be seen (meaning we don't need to do a medical evacuation) but that it is urgent and we don't need to wait any longer.  We have done everything we can here.

Usually it takes months to get into that kind of specialist, but our family doctor's office (Mt Olive Family Medical Center) worked a small miracle and got an appointment for early June at UNC with a pediatric endocrinologist.  Right now, the docs are thinking she may have a growth hormone deficiency or a kidney disorder.  But I am praying that it will be nothing....God can do that!!

So, June 2nd Ansley and I will fly back to the U.S. for some more testing to be done.  We don't want people to worry.  She is the sweetest, happiest baby ever.  She doesn't look sick.  You would never look at her and think something is wrong, which is why I guess I didn't catch it before 7 months!  But her numbers are pretty bad and we want to do the responsible thing and have her evaluated. 

Would you please pray that she would remain healthy and gain weight over the next few weeks?  Also, please do pray for Eliza and Olivia.  We haven't told them yet that the 2 of us are going back to the will be tough for them.  Aiden....well, he is so laid back he will be fine!!  And of course, please pray for John as he will be stepping out of the hospital and clinic to stay home with the 3 big kids.

We have a big God who knew all of this was going to happen.  We are trusting in Him to take care of our sweet baby girl!

My family

My family