Thursday, April 18, 2013

Bongani Hospital

Last night, I had my first real experience with the government hospital in Weklom. Understaffed, unclean, young children unattended . . . it's a very depressing place. My new little friend, Atlehang, had a checkup at the clinic yesterday morning.  Her day began at 7:30AM and ended around 10PM when they finally admitted her to the hospital.

Mama Selina took Atlehang to the clinic in the morning. They waited for several hours to be seen, which is typical of the government funded care here. That doctor decided they must be taken to the hospital, so Lois picked them up around 11AM. By 6PM, they were still waiting.  Lois asked me to go and keep them company until Atlehang was admitted.  I held her skinny, feverish body on my lap in a tiny, crowded room for another two hours before we were finally seen by the doctor.  Dr. Roeux, a young woman, spent at least 15 minutes rifling through Atlehang's messy file of papers before taking a personal cell phone call (right in front of us) for another 10 minutes.  I was SO frustrated! This tiny, sick little girl is lying on a table surrounded by strangers who are talking ABOUT her, but never TO her, and the doctor is giggling into the phone, paying no attention to us at all.

At 9PM, Atlehang had more blood drawn, gave a urine sample, and was taken for lung x-rays. Then, we went back to the tiny, crowded room to wait more. At 10PM, the nurse came with a wheelchair to take Atlehang to a hospital bed. I carried her over to the wheelchair and asked her if she could sit down. Her bony arms and legs clung to me tightly while she whimpered, "No, Abby, No." Tears stung my eyes as I pried her off & set her in the wheelchair. 

We walked with them to the children's ward. I can't express the sight of so many forgotten kids suffering alone. I was trying to stay strong for Atlehang, but my heart was breaking. The bed they put her in is like a jail cell with metal bars all around. I saw the hope go out of her sad eyes. I wanted to scoop her up and run out of that place! But all I could do was kiss her warm cheek, tell her I would be back soon to visit, and walk away.

I think this has been my first REAL South African experience. Let me tell you, it was not pleasant. This morning I read a familiar verse. Philippians 4:19 "And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus."  Do I believe that for Atlehang?  Do I really trust God to meet ALL her needs? Or do I think I could do a better job?  This experience has been a reality and heart check. Please pray for Atlehang to get well and come home soon. Pray that I will trust the Lord COMPLETELY. For my needs, and the needs of others.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Reading to Tumelo and Atlehang

I'm Here!

I arrived in South Africa on Tuesday, April 9 at 10AM.  I spent the several hours at a hotel connected to the airport until Brian & Lois could pick me up at 5PM. We arrived at Restoring Hope Village around 9PM.  Thankfully, I've been sleeping well since I arrived! 

Wednesday was pretty low-key. I spent the morning playing with a few of the kids who aren't in school yet. It's amazing how instantly loving and accepting  kids are. Children immediately want to be hugged and sit on your lap. They melt your heart. In the afternoon, I had orientation with Lois and Louie. They gave me a basic schedule of what my days will look like:

9-10:45AM: Preschool activities with children not yet in school
1-3PM: Schooling with Atlehang
4-5:30PM: Help kids with homework

Monday evening is Bible study with the teenage girls. Wednesday evening is Bible study with all the Village kids. Friday evening is youth group at church. At some point, I'll also be doing a small-group Bible study with the two house mothers.

All is subject to change, of course! :) 

On Monday (before I arrived), the Village got a new little girl. Atlehang is 9 years and 27 pounds. The staff here had been visiting her in the hospital for several weeks. Because she is ill and weak, she won't be going to school for now. I will be working with her every afternoon - reading, writing, math, etc.  Even after being here a few days, she's happier. Her smile is beautiful! I'm excited to get to know her better and see her progress! 

There are three girls here with me: Elise and Emily (here until May 25) and Jessica (here until December-ish).  I'm SO thankful to have fellow believers here; it's a blessing that the bond of Christ can unite otherwise strangers. 

Thanks for your prayers as I settle in.  I'm staying in the team housing for a few more days, then Jess & I will move into the Efficiency Flat until my house is completed.  I'm also hoping that Brian will give me driving lessons soon! :)

Friday, February 8, 2013

it WILL be worth it all

This morning, I read a familiar passage of Scripture from Matthew 14:28-32.  (Sidenote:  God always seems to use passages I've heard a thousand times to challenge me most). The disciples are on a boat during a storm, and they see someone (who they eventually realize is Jesus) walking on the water. Peter gets out of the boat and walks to Jesus. But, when he looks around and sees the raging storm, he gets scared and begins to sink. Jesus, hearing Peter's cry for help, pulls him out.
 The past couple of weeks, the reality of what I'm going to do -- quit my job, leave my family and friends, move across the world -- has been hitting me. I've been feeling scared. God has asked me to follow and obey; lately, however, I'm starting to understand what that will cost. He's asked me to 'walk on the water,' and I've been looking around at the uncertain circumstances. When that fear creeps in, I must remember that:
1. Following Christ WILL be worth it all.   2 Corinthians 4:17 "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

2. My future IS secure, no matter what goes on around me.   Romans 8:38-39 "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

3. He's beside me, waiting for me to ask for help.   Psalm 118:5-6 "Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; What can man do to me?"

I'm thankful for a sovereign God who has all the details of life figured out so I don't have to. I can trust Him.
Christ Tomlin -- Sovereign

Friday, January 11, 2013

Anonymous Donations (!!!!!!!)

1 Thessalonians 5:24 "He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it."

A friend quoted this verse to me a few days ago, and it has DEFINITELY been a theme in my life recently! About two weeks ago, I received a phone call from an RHI Board member informing me that I had just received an anonymous $5,000 donation to my support.  WOW!!  I was shocked! Honestly, I couldn't even comprehend the information. It was SUCH good reminder that God is in control of this journey.

Then, on Tuesday this week, I spoke with that same Board member .  ANOTHER anonymous donation.  This time? $10,000!!!!!   Really?  REALLY?!! What is going on?!  :)  God obviously wanted to make sure I knew Who was in charge of this process.  I spent an entire year raising that kind of money, and God drops it into my lap instantly! 

It has been a challenge and encouragement to receive this kind of blessing!  I am a person who likes to be in control of things.  Make a list, check off each item, and put everything in its place But the Christian life DOES NOT work that way.  :)  The Lord has a plan for my life AND for my time in South Africa.  I don't know what that is yet, but I KNOW He is trustworthy and will give me grace to handle what comes.

Ephesians 3:20-21  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

IF YOU ARE THAT GIVER:  thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you.  thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you.   I am writing a special note for you (whoever you are!), and RHI has assured me that you will get it.