Monday, October 20, 2008

Baby Rahab went to be with Jesus

Oct.20: 2 p.m.
Dear Praying Friends,
Besides what I posted on our blog, we haven't said much about Hope. Mostly because it still feels like a dream but also because we weren't sure if she would survive. The past few days have been a whirlwind and emotional roller coaster for us as we've poured love and attention into baby Hope. But last night, Oct 19 at 10:30 p.m. her little heart stopped beating and she went to be with Jesus.
If you want to hear the whole story, read on...
The baby's name was actually Rahab but we all nicknamed her "Hope". On Friday she came to live with us and we set up a "contract" with the baby's grandmother and uncle saying we would care for baby Hope until she could eat solid food (porridge). When she's ready to go home with them, we'd also ask them to take a class at the clinic in town about how to feed and care for malnourished children. (The reasons we were keeping her are 1.) we can keep her in a clean environment 2) we knew we couldn’t just give a can of formula to them because they would add dirty river water and not wash the bottles/utensils properly and 3.) we have medicines if she gets sick.
Since she arrived on Thursday, she'd been drinking the baby formula well, having wet and poopy diapers, and crying more which I took as a good sign because she was so weak the day she came she couldn't even cry.
Our whole team fell in love with her and the five of us women took turns caring for her. The nights were most difficult since we didn’t get much sleep but we also took turns having her at night.
On Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m. she took a turn for the worse quite suddenly. She started having a hard time breathing. With good advice from Dr. Fader (our Papa) and Dr. Rob in Doro, we started her on an antibiotic to fight whatever infection might be attacking her little body. A few hours later she seemed to be improving and started feeding again - this time through a syringe since she was again too weak to suck.
I went to check on her before heading to bed around 9:30(she was going to stay with Lori and Phalice)and she was eating well. But an hour later Phalice came knocking at my door to say we were losing her. By the time I unwrapped her blankets to feel for a heatbeat/pulse, she was gone. Phalice tried some baby CPR for a few minutes but we realized there was nothing else we could do. We called everyone over and spent the next few hours praying and crying together.
This has been a really rough time. I never thought we'd experience something like this. When we took her in, we knew it would take a miracle for her to survive so we were trying to be prepared for the worse, but we are still so sad. We all grew to love her so much in just a few days.
The relatives came to get her body and will bury her today. We will go for a visitation tomorrow. We've also planned to have a small memorial service of our own as a team to make closure.
This has definitely bonded us as a team and family here, but please do pray for us. We long for the day when God's kingdom will come and put an end to grieving and pain.
So thankful for you,
Bethany and the rest of our family here

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baby Rahab

Oct. 17 2008
When baby Rahab arrived on our compound yesterday morning I thought she would die in my arms. At only two months old and probably weighing less than 4 pounds, she was just a little skeleton. It was a cool day and she was naked, with just a ragged, dirty cloth covering her slight body. So after feeding her two ounces of baby formula from a bottle, we dressed her in some of Joshua’s small clothes, socks, a little hat, and swaddled her in a blanket. She instantly fell asleep since she was warm and had a full tummy for the first time in a long time.
Throughout the rest of the day, we fed her an ounce of formula every hour or so. It turns out that Rahab’s mother was somehow related to Bookie, our househelp, so Bookie offered for them to stay with her, just down the path from our compound. Sadly, the person left to care for the baby is a 12 year old girl named Dama. So around 6 p.m. we sent Dama and baby Rahab with a bottle to Bookie’s house. Later around 10 p.m. Eli took another bottle to help get her through the night. He still wasn’t home an hour later and when he did finally get home he smelled like coffee and campfire. The village people were so happy he came, they insisted he stay for a few cups of strong Arabic coffee.
This morning Dama brought Rahab back and I made up another bottle. Dama said Rahab slept better last night than she ever has. Dama was thankful for that.
I’m learning a whole lot through this situation. There are definitely some frustrating times because of communication problems. The plan we came up with yesterday was that Dama and Rahab would stay with Bookie for a few months until Rahab got her weight back and started eating some solids (porridge/cereal.) But I found out this morning that Dama is too afraid to stay without someone from her own village. (There were two men, and an old woman who came with her to bring the baby.) I bluntly told them that little Rahab would die if they took her back to their village because they already told me that there is no other woman there who can nurse the baby. So the baby will starve.
I’m happy and willing to keep Rahab here with us for a few months until she’s stronger and eating solids and can go back with her relatives. But we’ll have that meeting this afternoon to see if that’s an option they would agree to. I know this is way over my head but I think it will save her life and that is well worth a few stressful months for me. I keep reminding myself that this is not over God’s head and He has a good plan for baby Rahab.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Amana

A week ago I met a precious little 5 month old baby boy on my way home from visiting some friends. The Ganza woman carrying him explained to me that his mother died and she was caring for him but had no milk. I invited her to come back to our compound and I fixed a bottle of baby formula for him. He gulped it right down. Thankfully I had two large cans of formula so I told her if she came every day I'd make milk for Amana. I couldn't send the powder home with her because she'd end up using dirty river water to make the formula and that would almost defeat the purpose!

So for a week Haua (the caregiver) has been bringing baby Amana for milk and he's looking so much better. Even though he's five months old he feels like he weighs less than 10 pounds and is half Joshua's size (Josh is 3 months old.) It is exciting to see the change in him as he gets more nourishment.

When Haua and Amana came today for milk, Haua told me another woman relative of hers just died leaving a 2 month old baby girl. No one else in the village is willing to care for her, so a 12 yr. old girl is taking care of her, but obviously can not feed her the milk that she needs. I told Haua if she could bring the baby girl here I could feed her like I am Amana. Thankfully a plane coming tomorrow is bringing more baby formula!
I'm overwhelmed at the suffering, sickness, and death engulfing the people here. I want to help but I'm not sure how and where to draw the line. How do I help in a culturally appropriate way?

Part of me wants to just take these precious babies and nurse them myself. But that would be like having triplets! I know Amana is going to be fine. But this 2 month old baby girl won't survive without milk of some kind.

Will you please pray for wisdom to know how to help and ask God to preserve the lives of these little babies?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Joshua's 3 months old

We can't believe how fast Joshua is growing. He's got big bright blue eyes, a tuft of dark blonde hair on his head and plenty of chub. It was just a year ago that Eli and I found out God had a big surprise for us - another baby. He's here now and we're enjoying him so much.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More new teammates!

Yesterday three more new teammates joined us in Yabus: Stuart, Canberra, and Asule. Stuart is a young man from Scotland and Canberra and Asule are teachers from Northeast India. It's a joy to have such a diverse team. Today at lunch it was fun to look around the table at the different colors and faces and feel such love for one another. God has given us a precious family here in Yabus and we PRAISE Him for it.

This morning we all headed down to the Yabus river for some fun in the water since it's Saturday - no school, no work.