Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pick Up Yo Mat!

On rounds with a fourth year medical student a couple days ago, we went to check in with her patient that had been diagnosed with tetanus earlier that morning. He couldn't move and could barely even talk to us because of the muscle spasms through out his arms, legs, and jaw. Feeling strongly that he needed prayer, we sat next to his bed and lay hands on him.

The next morning, my friend went on rounds again and saw this once bedridden man walking around outside his room interacting with people. After talking to him, he said that he was feeling better, out of his bed, able to walk and talk. Confused, she went to ask the doctor if she could give him oral pills and discharge him from the hospital. The doctor said that there is no way that a man that was confirmed to have tetanus by the medical student and several doctors the morning before could be ready to leave in one day, especially here where it can take weeks.

So the doctor went to check on the patient and ask him questions. In shock, the doctor asked my friend, “did you do anything yesterday afternoon?”…And she said, “yeah, we prayed in Jesus' Name!”

Even better, the patient was one of the few who had enough schooling to know French, so my friend was able to translate the prayer and understand him without a middle person.

The man ‘was cured; he picked up his mat and oral medications and walked home‘…“the man went away and told the Nigeriens it was JESUS who made him well”…John  5:9,15.

Not only that, but the day before, a baby who had been constipated for over a month was brought in by his young mother. I was able to pray for him while we were waiting for the doctor and a few minutes later, before any medicine had even been prescribed, the baby had pooped what looked like a month’s worth all over his mom.

I guess Jesus also said, ‘pick up yo poopy baby and walk home‘!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

To Santy Claus

Dear Santa,

Someone told me that it takes 7-10 weeks for something to get here. I took it upon myself to do the math for you and this would mean that you should start sending me my Christmas envelopes now!! Lucky for you my address is already on my profile!

Things I would love:
1. Zip Lock Bags…for me and to distribute to others.
2. Sermons on CD/DVD…not enough internet to download those and church is in Haussa.
3. Stationary for writing people notes. Post it notes for school.
4. Gum.
5. Candy or chocolate…I don’t care how you get it to me, if it melts, I‘ll lick it off the envelope.
6. Support donations to SIM.
***7. Words of Encouragement…if you send letters separately, they get here much more easily.
8. Prayer….aaaaah, puhlease!!

I‘m sorry if this isn‘t subtle or selfless…what can I say, my family usually needs very large hints.


***I’ve realized here how much small kindnesses are underestimated. No matter where you are, who doesn’t love to receive little gifts, emails, or notes of “thanks” for their everyday actions. Even better, who doesn’t want to be told “what you did is noticed” or “who you are is noticed“. Not just ‘you can do it’ but “you ARE doing it”. Good friends need it even if they are good friends. Strangers love it even if they don‘t know the other person well. It can be comforting, or encouraging, or a bright spot in a day, or whatever the Holy Spirit wants it to be. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often?!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

welcome, babies!

The CREN has some of my favorite people to spend time with and is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to visit...(I probably will start going there more and more often and not pick up on the social cues that it's too much).  But Jesus took children in His arms and said that if you welcome them in His name, you're welcoming Him. And I would love nothing more than to welcome Jesus right into the CREN, especially if the babies get used to me...a one year old came right up to my lap today!

The bad news is I am horrible at remembering to take pictures (anywhere). The good news is my friend came with me one time and took some!!

I'm really going to miss these women when they head back home!!
They watch the Jesus Film often...(sorry that I sometimes talk during the movie).

 Some beautiful women...(can you spot me??).

TAKING THE CHILD IN HIS ARMS, He said to them, anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf welcomes Me,  and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes not only Me but also my Father who sent Me.
Mark 9:36-37.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Orientation Flunk Out

I had to go to Niamey (land of cheese, two grocery stores, and CHOCOLATE) for a few days to (eat) attend an orientation about Niger.

One of our talks was a cultural lesson…things to do and not to do. A lot of the information I knew…head covering in public, long skirts, greet people (and not just with a smile or a ’hi’ but with every question you can remember in their language “how are you? how's your work? how's your mom? how's your cow? how's your mom's cow?) AND DON’T SHAKE, TOUCH, OR HAND ANYTHING TO ANYONE WITH YOUR LEFT HAND.

It’s becoming awkward how many times I’ve flunked that last one. And I’m right handed, shouldn’t be that difficult.

Taxi cab…realized I was reaching to give him the money with my left and my driver was staring at my hand not the coins, I froze mid hand off debating whether to switch hands while he continued to stare. Market…my new friend and I couldn’t figure out why the man was so displeased with the amount I gave him...“didn’t it seem like he liked us until the end there?” Buying clothing material…had to give him a new bill because my left hand had dirtied the first one. Bought fruit…received it with my left hand (my right hand was holding a bag, no one will cut you slack!!)

Part of the disgust is because the left hand means bad, it’s just cursed. The main reason, though, is because most people use their left hand to clean the essentials after they go to the bathroom.

After my daily fails, my companions would attempt to encourage me with a ’you’ll get it eventually’.

Didn’t think that would ever happen until my 7 hour African bus ride home from Niamey. We stopped about 4 hours in for a bathroom break. Since we pulled into a fenced in, shrubless area, I was thinking there would be an actual bathroom. And man, I had to go! (And yes, I brought toilet paper in case you're wondering where this story is going).

Eventually, I see a line to a tinnnnnny thin door. Waiting in line, I was, like always, cooing at the baby with a mother standing behind me. When it gets to be my turn, I walk in and there is one itty bitty hole in the corner of the soggy dirt stall with a pile of other nutrients around it. Pretty obvious how the bathroom works and what it doesn‘t have. Also obvious that the height of the door is only to your waist, so if you wanted, you could wave at all the line waiters when you turned around (I chose not to).

To my delight, I was handed the baby when I stepped out so that the mother could go in (didn‘t run away with the baby either…yet another victory for me). After AWHILE she came back out and grabbed her little girl from me. Holding her child with her right arm, she then proceeded to thank and interact with me by shaking my hand and touching my arms with her left. And suddenly, as I felt the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty and a fake smile plaster across my face, I realized how my taxi driver, my fabric and fruit seller, and my market man had felt.

…that’s just the kind of ’what if’ nobody wants hanging over there head (or arms or food or money)…I officially had my 'you'll get it eventually' memory.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

achin' from the all

To love the Lord your God. To walk in all His ways. To obey His commands. To hold fast to Him. To serve Him with all your heart and all your soul.  Joshua 22:5.

It’s funny because although most things are tougher in Niger than in the states, some come easier. It is easier for me to hold fast to God here, because I need strength amidst the unfamiliar tragedies and foreign atmosphere. What has been more challenging is to do what He asks me. Especially since I want to pull the ‘isn’t coming here and serving enough?’ card.

As soon as I arrived, I felt that God wanted me to pray for the patients in the hospital. Yes, that is a command. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons (Matt 10:1, 8).  The prayer offered in faith makes the sick person well (James 4:15). God chooses to work through natural and supernatural healing and I’m all for both. The doctors are wonderful here, with a strong belief in God‘s power, but they are strained, so they don’t always have time to walk around and lay hands of prayer on these desperately sick people.

Anywhere you are, God can heal, and we ignore the opportunities and make excuses. But when you are placed in the middle of a hospital in the world’s poorest country, there’s really no ignoring the opportunity…

...but heck yes, there ARE still excuses… 
There are no words to describe this hospital. Just walking through with very little interaction, seeing two or more patients sharing one mat, takes a lot of my heart. Just watching doctors work, with very little resources against conditions I'd never thought I'd see or easily treatable U.S. illnesses, takes a lot of my heart. Just thinking about that one family member, who does nothing but sit and care for the patient day after day for sometimes months hoping for better results, takes a lot of my heart.  It takes a lot of my soul to dive past the immense pain and suffering and smile at people. To display God given joy, to look past disease and weakness crawling up their bodies in order to show compassion.

Here in writing, it can seem like a story or easy to label as an amazing ministry opportunity, but the reality of suffering is harsh and preparing to connect more deeply with it is not fun.

Walk in all His ways, obey His commands. Not a lot of my heart, not a lot of my soul, all my heart, all my soul.

So I did what God was asking. While batting away thoughts from my human mind and personality that ‘I can‘t handle this’, I walked through and prayed for the many patients that agreed. Yes, a powerful God provided miraculous strength, joy, and relationship seeds despite pain and language barriers. Still, when I laid hands on them, some fevers felt like they were gonna burn off my skin, and faith and trust were not at all a feeling but a knowing.

And afterwards, the ache felt unreal, and I went home and sobbed from the things I saw and the people who I wanted to see alive during doctor’s rounds.

And I’ll go pray again and I will probably keep crying.

But it demanded obedience, and it took all my heart and all my soul. And I am so grateful for that…because God gets glory…so it will continue to be more than worth it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sensing Some Galmi School Differences....

I’ve only taught for two weeks…and never in the U.S...but besides having five different grades in one room, I've noticed other parts of my teaching experience that seem like they're a lil different...

1. Students see my underwear hanging on a line outside and know its mine when they watch me take it down.
2. New books (aka haven’t been opened since they were donated) means killing the earwigs before you write your name in them.
3. In the classroom, we all walk around in bare feet.
4. Lizards are the class pet…and we have more than one of them.
5. The power goes out several times a day, good thing we have some windows.
6. No one flinches when the power goes out, but if it starts to rain, kids start pleading for a storm day (kinda like a snow day).
7. They call me Auntie Jenny, not Miss Stringer.
8. They knock at my apartment door to show me dead birds, big bugs, and chameleons.
9. Half the time they’ve come to my door, they’ve seen my indecent…aka with a tank top on. Heaven forbid I be in shorts.
10. Instead of using Kleenex for their runny noses, its kept around  for wiping sweat off  faces and desks.
11. My kindergartener is still confused by weather conditions such as cloudy, snowy, or windy. But if I describe sunny, he gets it right every time.
12. I don’t send the kids to the nurse, I personally walk them all the way home to a parent who is probably a doctor.
13. I race the kids to school (and lose every time…and then blame it on my skirt).
14. Gym class means me spending an hour afterwards pulling thorns out of skirt from getting the ball in the bushes…next time have the boys do it…noted.
15. Instead of pouring knowledge down my kids’ throats, I go down the line and pour water.

***Things that are the same: Amelia Bedelia is still a crazy lunatic, why do kids like those books.!

Quote of the week: “Look, this is my toenail! I just clipped it off with my mouth…I do that sometimes.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Most Important Post Ever


Just like there are no stupid questions, there are no stupid things to get in your mailbox.

Galmi Hospital
c/o Jenny Stringer
B.P. 44 Madaoua
Republique du Niger

And we all know what else they say...
"It ain't over til the fat lady receives mail."
"A watched mailbox never fills."
"When in America, do as the Americans do and send mail."
"If worst comes to worst, at least you have mail."
"One small letter in the mailbox, one giant package in the mailroom."
"Simba, you have forgotten me. You have forgotten to send me mail and so you have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. And write a card or something."

I even included the address in my profile so there will be no excuses.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What the heck did the boys do??!

Today, for whatever reason, I felt way more tired than usual and realized it had been awhile since I‘d been alone for a whole night. So I decided to say no to going to a house dinner with the two slightly-older-than-me girls and the three my age-ish boys that are here.

Usually, I leave my door open and the screen door closed so I don‘t suffocate. But tonight I debated shutting both, remembering how unless your outer door is shut here, it is more than normal for people to just drop in. In the end, I concluded that if I was going to shut anything tonight, it shouldn’t be to keep people out.

And just a few minutes after my decision, I heard a “knock knock” (people say it here not do it because the doors are always open)…a Swiss medical student and a wonderful friend. She had tears rolling down her face and said she had left the dinner because she needed to cry. Laying in my lap and sobbing, she talked about how hard it was to work at this place and all the pressure she felt to save lives that were not being saved.

After we were almost done crying and praying, there was another “knock, knock“…the other young girl, a pharmacist from Romanian. She hadn’t shown up to the boys’ house for dinner because she too was crying, so upset about situations going on at her far away home. And desperately feeling like she needed prayer, God had led her here…where we were, already praying and ya, we had another solid round.

After hours, my friends left, filled with God’s peace instead of dinner. And finally left alone, I couldn’t stop thinking about what would have happened if I had instead decided to close my door.

I’m sure I would have had a normal maybe even great night, and those two women of God might have found a different door with a missionary that proclaimed them self available. But I’m so glad they didn’t have to. I’m so glad God gave me the privilege of being the one to pray for them, an experience of fellowship, and an excuse to eat too many sour patch kids.

I’m not even saying that there won’t be times when I need it to be closed and someone else will receive the opportunity to be used. I just learned, that as a servant, the decision to close it can’t be made too quickly or too selfishly....(for those of you having trouble keeping up...we have moved on from literal doors).

And if after all that, you’re just thinking how the heck did she have sour patch kids?? The answer is yes, I brought them all the way from the states to Niger and have been practicing miraculous self-control rationing them for a moment such as this…worth it….but that doesn’t mean I would be able to do it again.

A better question might be what the heck did the boys do while we ditched dinner to sob our hearts out and eat sweets?? Man talk, I guess?