October 11, 2013

Wrapping Up 2 Years

We only have a couple of weeks left before we return to the U.S.  Our time here at Karanda Mission Hospital has been a great time of growth in many ways.  We are thankful for the experiences we have had and the valuable lessons we have learned.  We know God put us here for a very specific purpose and we pray that our presence here has been a blessing in some way.

As a part of our wrapping up, we took a trip to South Africa as a family.  This has been something we have wanted to do since we arrived in Zimbabwe, but for one reason or another, we were not able to go.  Finally, we had our car back, and the timing was right.  We enjoyed lots of family time and even reconnected with missionary family from 30 years ago!

This was Dontie's first grade teacher, Laura Peppetta (and her husband), from when Dontie attended
 Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, Kenya.

We also got to visit with Andrew and Laura's daughter, Bekiwe, and her new husband.  
Dontie and Bekiwe went through elementary school together.  

Here are a few other glimpses into our trip and the fun we had as a family:

 A great train theme park we found just outside of Pretoria, the capital of South Africa.

Little Christopher loved the water slide at the theme park.

Leena got to have her first swing experience!

 Luke learning how to care for collard greens at Peppetta's farm.

Having fun getting to know mommy's first grade teacher, "Auntie Laura"!

 The Pretoria Zoological Gardens: The boys loved seeing the animals up close!
These are Madagascar ring-tailed lemurs.

A big treat was getting to spend a lot of quality time with daddy.  

We also managed to squeeze in a few things that were more historic, like the Voortrekker Monument.  We learned about the history of the early settlers of South Africa.

Even the boys enjoyed the experience.

We also went to Union Hill, the office of the president.  What beautiful gardens and architecture.

It was a little difficult coming back after such smooth, modern roads and fantastic rest stops, unlike anywhere in Africa.  However, we were happy to be out of the car and not in a different bed every few nights. Vacations are wonderful, but it is always good to go home.  Now we are at the task of sorting, packing, and saying goodbye to the people, places, and things that have become special to us in these two years.  For two of our kids, Karanda is really all they know!

We are looking forward to seeing family and friends in the U.S., but also have a lot we have to do.  We feel God leading us back to Africa, so we will be looking for another mission-sending agency and continuing or journey from there.  We have felt so blessed to be a part of the Samaritan's Purse team and are grateful for these two years serving under them.  We will continue on this blog wherever God takes us, because we are The Kidwells In Africa!

August 31, 2013

Through Another's Eyes

One wonderful thing about having visitors is seeing our life through their eyes. Often they pick up on things we have just come to see as normal. Dontie's parents and brother Nate were able to visit this month. We thought we'd share some glimpses into our life and surroundings that Nate captured on camera during his time here.

Everywhere you walk there are conversations to be had with those in the community. The culture here is very relationship oriented and it is rude to just walk by. Here are some guys working on our water system to draw water from the riverbed.

Precious water in the near-dry river. This is the area from which we will be drawing water once the pumps are up and running.

All of this is under water when the rains come. There is such a huge difference between our wet and dry seasons.

The water pump.

The sun is getting intense again as the heat returns.  We must wear sunscreen and sunhats to protect our skin.  Our hottest months are October and November, leading into the rainy season where it is still hot, but becomes more humid with the moisture.

Ladies carry everything on their heads.  Here is a load of laundry going down to the river to be washed.

The river crossing is always busy with trucks, little minibuses, and cattle carts bringing patients to the hospital.  This is one of the many who get stuck in the sand.

 Luke wears these red boots every day, despite the lack of mud or rain!

Uniforms are highly valued in Zimbabwe.  Every church denomination wears a different color uniform.  These were some ladies and kids who were on the minibus that got stuck in the sand.

Dontie's brother, Nate Edwards, enjoying our river.

A cattle cart. These are so common around this area and also are a big source of the injuries that come to our hospital doors.  Just this week, a young boy came to the hospital with his arm completely cut off by an accident in such a cart.

Dontie's parents enjoying time with the grandkids and meeting Leena for the first time!

One of our favorite parts of Africa are the awesome skies and gorgeous sunsets.  This was taken on a little vacation we took with Dontie's parents. The green grass was as much of a treat as about anything else!

Bath time fun with our little African princess!

Getting to share our life with family is such a joy and makes it hard to say goodbye knowing it will be awhile before we are together again.  This is a difficult part about being a missionary.

July 22, 2013

At the Last Minute

A supporter sent me this quote from the book, The Circle Maker, saying, "God is a God of making things happen at the last minute. God loves to play chicken to see how we will react." How true is that! We have seen that over and over as we have served here, from the moment we decided to come to Zimbabwe, until today. It started when our house in the U.S. wouldn't sell. We prayed and prayed for someone to even come look at it. Nothing happened month after month no matter what we did. Then we decided to rent it and within a month, our house was rented, we packed, and left for Zimbabwe. For some reason it was not time for us to sell our home.

From the very start I think God was saying, "I have some things to teach you and to refine in you. BUT I will be with you, I WILL PROVIDE, just walk and trust ME."

As you've traveled this journey with us, we've asked you to pray for things, and God always answers. His answers are not always what we are wanting or when we want them, but He always answers. Just a month ago we were praying for our water issue as 4 of our 5 boreholes had dried up. Many of you were praying, praying even for rain. It has rained a couple days now for a bit, and the water came back on just as we were at the bottom of our water barrel. We've had water every day since for half the day which is a praise!

Also,14 months ago, we asked for prayer for our car we purchased that got confiscated as we were getting it cleared to go into South Africa for a trip. The police said they suspected that it may have been stolen (before we bought it). That has been a long road of hearing we will never get it back, to we may possibly get it back but with a big price tag. This past weekend we went to town to get our monthly groceries, and there in the mission parking lot sat our car that had just been released! PRAISE GOD! We have 3 months left, but we got the car back!!!!! It will be a valuable addition to the hospital for short-term visiting doctors or even those who may come for longer like us. God returned it to us just at the last minute and in the meantime provided us with transportation when we needed it.

I was visited the other day by my friend who almost died after having her baby.  Her life is a miracle because of prayer.  Both she and her little boy are strong and doing well! God is at work, He hears our prayers, He has plans for us that we can't even imagine. I reminded my friend of that.

So hopefully we have grown in this adventure. Zimbabwe will be a part of who we are now for each one of us. As it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."


These two years have been a time of learning to trust God and allowing Him to use us in our weaknesses.  

June 28, 2013

Water Problems

The water had been off for a day and a half, but that is not unusual here at Karanda.  Then we got a call, "4 of the 5 boreholes have run dry!  Do what you can to manage until we can pump up water from the river!"  We quickly shot out a request for prayer and water came back on after the third day, with only a pitcher left from our resevoirs.  It was a  beautiful sound to hear our tank filling up at 5 AM!

But we still have a problem on our hands.  This is June, and the rains don't come until mid-November.  It is highly unusual to get any rain until then.  In the past, the water table has not been so low until later in the dry season, and so it is difficult not to worry.  Water is something you just don't do without.  If this was just our own home, or a small compound, it wouldn't be such a concern.  But we are a hospital with big water needs.

 Our hospital laundry is always busy keeping linens clean.

 The gardens provide almost all the food for patients enabling us to keep costs down.

A busy kitchen making "sadza", the staple (made from cornmeal).

This just touches a few areas where water is vital.  Right now the river is quite low.

We are not the only ones who use the river.  It is used to water vegetable gardens (what the people around us survive on), do laundry, water animals, as well as hauling back to their homes for daily needs.

The lack of water is a community problem, and many people from around the surrounding villages have been coming to our compound to get their water.  Our boreholes have been carrying a heavy burden.  But God promises to meet our needs.  The borehole we just drilled a couple of months ago is now meeting the needs of our compound, as well as our part in being responsible with the water we have.

Resevoirs of water for when it is turned off daily.  We use it sparingly and reuse water however we can for flushing toilets, etc.

A small tub of water can go a long way!  (especially when its a sweet baby who's been in it!)

Thank you to all who have been praying with us for God's provision or guidance in what to do with this water situation.  We are so grateful that in this place we have the Living Water Jesus talked about in John 4 when he met the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well.  Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks this water [the physical water] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  (John 4:13-14)
We have a great opportunity to share this abundant, life-giving water with those around in the community as they come to us seeking a basic need.  We look forward to see what God is doing and will do in both realms.

May 31, 2013

The Power of Prayer

One reason medicine in Africa is a drawing factor to us is the reliance we must have on God's hand.  There are many times when medicine is not available or procedures are not a possibility, and all we can do is pray.  This has also been a tough thing because it stretches us and it is difficult when the answer is not as we pray or hope.  But we believe, and continue to believe, that there is power in prayer.  We want to share a few ways we have seen that very evident in the past few months and even just in this week.

A young woman became our friend right soon after we arrived at Karanda.  She helped Dontie out in the classroom and Luke grew very attached to her.  After a number of months, she and her family moved away.  However, we get to see her from time to time as she returns for visits.  Several months ago, she announced that she was pregnant with her third child.  Her two former pregnancies had been very difficult and her boys were both born prematurely.  With each pregnancy she has struggled with dangerously high blood pressure during her 3rd trimester.

Just last week, she came out with very high blood pressure and an emergency C-section was conducted.  Baby boy #3 was born early and very little (3 kg), but strong.  However, our friend started going downhill.  She began oozing blood inside and it wouldn't stop.  It is a clotting problem called DIC.  This is the same thing that happened to the mother of the little girl we wrote about a number of months ago who died.  DIC is a dangerous thing anywhere in the world, but particularly dangerous here where there is a shortage of blood and only whole blood is able to be given.  Our friend received 5 units of blood (mostly given by nurses and staff here) and she teetered dangerously close to death.  People surrounded her praying for her healing.  She is well loved here and she had great numbers of people who were continually bringing her before the Lord, asking for complete healing.  It was just this past weekend that she was in critical condition.

Today, I went down to visit our friend, and found her cuddled close to her little boy and smiling.  She knows she should not be alive, BUT SHE IS!  That is God and only God!  We spent some time rejoicing and thanking God for her life and the life of her sweet little boy as he grows stronger each day.   James 5:16 encourages us, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

The awesome thing is that prayer is not only for adults and "spiritual giants", but God's power is evident even in the answer to a child's prayer.  Matthew 18:4 says, "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."  Many of you know we have been struggling over the past number of months with continual outbreaks of abscesses.  Every one in our house has had them, and the treatment for them is painful.  Leena had a series of 3 on her face just at 3 weeks old, and had to have them cut open and drained.  Just a couple of weeks ago, little Christopher had one pop up on his stomach area and it got nasty overnight.  Unfortunately, he knows what it takes to get them better and he has become very fearful of them.  We prayed that night over his sore and he continued on in prayer, with all his heart, that God would heal it and it wouldn't have to be cut open.  The next morning, the redness had reduced in size and even though Christopher did have to squeeze it, he didn't have to go down to the hospital and have it incized.  Little Christopher continued to pray each day for healing, and within 2 days it was almost gone.  This was the prayer of a child!  We thank those of you who have surrounded us, over the ocean, praying for our healing.  Your prayers have touched us and as of right now we are all healthy.  Thank you for praying over us and know there is still power in prayer, even from the mouths of babes.

May 30, 2013

African Mother's Day and Vacation

This has been an exciting month getting to share our life here with family.  Christopher's mother visited us for just over two weeks.

 A part of her time here was over Mother's Day and what a special Mother's Day it was for Dontie.

After church, the women's group came to our house singing and dancing.  They surrounded Leena and Dontie in a time of prayer and blessing as a welcome to Leena.  There was a spiritual challenge given to Dontie as a parent and the pastor's wife blessed our sweet girl.  This meant so very much to Dontie to have the women share this special time with her and for Christopher's mother to experience it as well.  We then were invited to a traditional Shona meal at the home of one of the church ladies.  What a treat!

After giving Christopher's mom a good rural exposure to Zimbabwe, we headed off for Victoria Falls on a 12 hour busride!  Victoria Falls is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  We stayed in a lodge that's walls opened up onto the gamepark like a tent and wild animals just wandered around in our "yard".

warthogs everywhere around the lodge

We were able to relax and also fill our time with fun explorations of the area around us.  Here are some of the animals seen on a safari that Christopher and his mom took for a day.

 A kingfisher bird

Giraffe with oxpeckers on his neck

Wonderful views of hippos

This is an area of Africa where there are many elephants.

A male kudu
We enjoyed learning about the Ndebele culture (the tribe of this part of Zimbabwe),

 and then Christopher bungee jumped off the third tallest jump in Africa.

After all that excitment, we walked the trail around the falls and were thoroughly soaked as the mist (which at points was like a rainshower) billowed up from the powerful falls.

We are so thankful to have the chance to get away and enjoy another area of Zimbabwe, making memories, and sharing them with family.