Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Local, Organic, Fair Trade?

Lovely Leslie roasting the beans
Ty and I were given the greatest gift of all: truly local (like right down the road), hand picked, totally organic, Tanzania coffee beans! (Not exactly a fair trade, since we didn't give anything to them except friendship.) The only catch is, they are GREEN! We decided we couldn't wait until we got home to enjoy the coffee-so we set up our own *very small batch* roasting company. First we roasted the beans in a single layer over a propane stove. It took several batches to get the roast right, but we settled on about 5 minutes of roasting (after the first "pop"), which makes a super dark and oily roast. It also takes out some of the "fruity" notes, which I don't prefer. Then we sifted the little flakey bits away, using a rice sorting basket and some wind. Next comes the hard part…how do you grind coffee without electricity? We tried several methods (mortar and pestle, rolling a coke bottle on top of the beans while pushing down, meat grinder) and finally settled on hitting the beans with a hammer!  T. LOVED that part. I imagine this is not really good grinding technique but it worked for us. The smell of the coffee while being ground was divine. We brewed up a pot via "pour over" method and it was declared some of the finest coffee ever consumed. Very smooth, not a hint of bitterness. I'm sure the freshness factor played a huge part. 

If you are lucky, I will brew you a cup when we get home…I saved some beans from the hammer and will be happy to make a cup for the first people to come over to the house to welcome us back, next week!

We look forward to seeing you all soon.

My “automatic” coffee grinder

Light, medium and dark roasts!

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Welcome, Welcome Our Visitors!"

Times have been very good (nzuri sana) here at City of Hope.  Since our last update we’ve had some sad goodbyes and some wonderful visitors.  

One group of visitors were comprised of government officials from the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, to salute the work being done at City of Hope.  Each year the government of Tanzania identifies certain places where significant contribution has been made towards the improvement of life in Tanzania.  As a symbol of honor, the Mwenge Torch travels to each of these chosen locations over a period of 2-3 months.  This year, City of Hope was chosen to be the first to host the Mwenge Torch!  On August 13th and14th, we scurried around the compound cleaning up in preparations for the celebration.  The party started around noon on the 14th.  Government trucks filled the drive into City of Hope, dancers moved to the beat of drums, an acrobatic group made tall human pyramids, and we (teachers, interns, missionaries, and students) stood in awe of all the activity surrounding us.  Once all the trucks moved through the gate, the Mwenge torch made it down the main drive in front of the children’s home.  The torch was then placed momentarily inside the children’s home.  Much of what was spoken throughout the torch visit was in Swahili but it was definitely entertaining.  The kids listened to each speaker attentively while Dr. Cha Cha, Regina, Ty, Christopher, and others were honored for the work being done at City of Hope.  Afterwards, we hosted a lunch for the government officials inside the newly decorated mission house.  It was an exciting afternoon to say the least.  Not to mention that our second group of visitors from Duke University arrived the same day!

Mwenge Torch cermony-Kouria traditional dancers
 The Duke nursing students have been a much welcomed addition to our FHD group.  All of them, including “Dr. Mike Scott” as the locals call him, have come with openness and willingness to learn from the Kourian culture of Ntagacha.   Dr. Ty has continued to lead our medical training class in the mornings and discussion times in the afternoons.  It’s been a privilege for those of us who have been here for a longer period of time to help Ty lead the discussions or ask certain thought provoking questions.  Having lost the VCOM students and a few others, we have been thankful to work together as a larger team again.  We have been spending our days working in the medical clinic, going on home visits, participating in various projects at COH, and having many discussions under the acacia tree.  The Duke students have experienced the occasional heavy rainstorms, the crazy awesome African dance parties in the children’s home, chapatis at the chai house, a cinematic showing of “The gods must be crazy”, and so much more.  None of us can believe that our departure time is right around the corner!

Duke U. Nursing students, and Mukwenda
As we wrap up with our time here, please pray that we make the most of every opportunity in this place, and that we are able to bless one another, the children, staff and community here at COH and in Ntagacha.  We will likely have one more dance party with the kids, perhaps another “girl talk” night with the older girls in the children’s home, and a few more house visits, including the home of Joshua tomorrow.  As of today he weights 13 lbs and 8 oz!  His foot wounds are looking much improved, and the little rascal giggled multiple times today.  He is doing very well, praise God!

Thank you for your continued prayers and support!  Our team is deeply grateful.

Kwaheri rafiki!

(We hope to add additional photos to this blog soon...so please stay tuned :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beyond Physical Healing

Mark 5:21- 
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and
touched his garment. 28For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32And he looked around to see who had done it. 33But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Written by Abi

Throughout the past few weeks we have been wrestling with the question, “What is Health?” Thinking through this question, we have spent a lot of time looking at Jesus and His ministry. Last week we looked at the above passage in depth, attempting to understand the woman, as well as the way Jesus interacted with her, and healed her to wholeness. You see, Jesus was definitely a healer of the body, but this was only part of how he healed. The full extent of how Jesus healed came to life to me as we looked at her condition.

Her illness was alienating: As if the probable pain and associated complications of her illness such as anemia were not enough, due to the strict observance of the law, the nature of her condition caused her to be unclean. One could not touch her without becoming unclean as well, and anything she touched was instantly unclean. As a result, she was most likely separated from her family, stripped of the most basic staple of human companionship. Not only that, but due to her uncleanness she was unable to worship in the temple, or to offer sacrifice to her God. Culturally and religiously, this was absolutely devastating.

Her ailment was chronic. She had been living with this issue for 12 years. And for twelve long years she had sought an answer for her problem, going from physician to specialist, spending all she had, and enduring exam after exam, proposed solution followed by failed attempt. And yet still seeking, for her only hope was that one of these times the solution would prove true.

Last week I sat in a small examining room in Ntagatcha Tanzania. I saw woman after woman who reminded me of this woman in a striking way.
After advertising and promoting this clinic featuring 5 American doctors, crowds came from miles and miles away with expectation. Unlike the normal visits we receive at either clinic I have recently worked at, these people were different. The large majority of these patients had been struggling with their ailment for long periods of time. One woman came for answers with her abdominal pain she had suffered with for 3 years, another had been suffering for ten years, and still others had been dealing with the same issue for decades.

Many had tried many solutions. They went to other clinics, to the hospital, and many to a  Shaaman, but to no avail. Then they heard of the doctors who had traveled from America. These patients were willing to wait hours, and some even days to be seen. Why? Because many still had not received the answers they sought, and hope of finding someone who had the answer drove them to travel, and to wait. In the story, the woman had such faith that she recklessly sought out Jesus. The crowds were pressing in from every side, yet this woman aggressively found herself next to Jesus, breaking the law of uncleanness which had bound her. After 12 years she found the hope she had been looking for, and with faith reached out and touched His robe.

Instantly she was healed! [By the law-that touch would have made Jesus unclean. Yet in that instance, the touch made her clean. Wow.] Yet Jesus did not stop there. He asked a question. Who touched me? Didn’t Jesus know who she was? Did He not know her chronic condition? Yes, I think He did. But his question had purpose. He asked a question, because he knew the woman needed more than physical healing.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus often asked questions. This is part of the model he was laying out for His followers throughout His ministry. Jesus’ questions led her to tell Him all about her story. It says she told Him her “whole story”. I imagine this involved the lack of health in other areas of her life. The emotional hurt that went along with her isolation, her struggle with trusting God, etc. She had been physically healed with a touch, yet Jesus imparted peace and healing that reached to all areas of her life.

Considering our emphasis on on whole person health over the past weeks, our days of the clinic last week proved to be a valuable learning experience. Ours is a westernized education influenced by a “western” worldview which causes us to struggle a bit with the practice of whole person healthcare. This is especially difficult in a different culture. In the moment it is so easy to look at only the physical, and feel helpless when we can offer no relief. Yet as a team, this realization and understanding of whole person care was very much in our thoughts as we went about our day.

After the fourth and final day of the clinic, as we sat around as a group to debrief, stories began to surface of how deeper issues came to light as questions were asked. In several circumstances, patients came to Christ through the questions and care of our team. Bwana Asifiwe [Praise the Lord!]

Pray for our team! The VCOM med students [and wives] and Jordan are now back in the US. Their challenge is now to enter back into American culture and school, while continuing to explore how to incorporate the Biblical Worldview into medical practice and public health.

Brittney, Steph, Faith, Laura, Amber (yet to arrive) and I will continue here for a time. We also are thinking through how our practice Stateside will be affected, yet are blessed with more time here in Ntagatcha to continue to learn. The truth that keeps resurfacing is how our love and care for people should be an overflow from the love and work of the Lord in the inner life. Pray for us as we continue to learn Swahili, culture, and most importantly seek to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Some Pictures from the Clinic

Ty teaching the students

We're doing our blog viewers a favor by not posting the "before" of this machete wound!

On the first day of the advertised clinic days--- all of these people were waiting in line.

"Strong in the Lord"

Written by Faith.

Mambo vipi everybody! It’s been a while! I have no idea what everyone else has written, but this update is gonna be pretty specific. 

You may remember that in the first post I wrote, I mentioned a baby that came to the clinic and was really malnourished with a ruptured sore on his foot. Actually, I may remember that too. Or do I? I’m not sure at this point. What is time? Anyways. Once upon a time a really long time ago I went to the Amani clinic/hospital for the first time and an older woman had brought a ten-month-old baby that looked like a 3-month-old baby in because of an open wound covering his entire foot. The wound was (allegedly) a ruptured sore, and his other foot and his hands were looking like they might rupture too, and there were some spots on his body that were looking like the skin might break soon as well. You could see every bone in his body and his neck looked like it was a small twig trying to hold up a big rock. Basically, when someone is malnourished, they have a protein deficiency that throws off the concentration of solutes in the blood, which starts to cause it to collect in the peripheries. Also, protein deficiency means weak skin. Also, interestingly, when a baby is malnourished their fontanel sinks in and their skull bones don’t start to form properly. So. I watched my friends (M & C) clean the wound and listened as they talked about how the baby’s mother had run off in April or May, leaving the baby with his grandmother, and that he hadn’t been eating the porridge she had been trying to feed him. He was so weak that as they poured hydrogen peroxide over the exposed tendons of his foot all the sound he could muster up was like a soft wheeze. It seemed to us to be a pretty distinct possibility that they had visited a shaman who had cut open the foot to drain it or something, because normally skin won’t just burst like that on its own. We had a hard time understanding the reasons behind why he wasn’t eating. Was his grandmother just not feeding him? Was he dealing with depression because of his mother abandoning him? 

Over the next few weeks the baby was brought to the clinic by his grandmother almost every day to get his dressing changed. We researched a malnutrition recovery diet and educated his grandmother on how to feed him a mixture of milk, oil and sugar. Teams even visited his house to deliver the oil and sugar and mix it with milk, but as the weeks went by, we got frustrated as we realized that he wasn’t gaining weight. It seemed that despite the education and apparent dedication of his grandmother, something was happening to the oil and sugar and/or the grandmother was consistently failing to get the milk. His wound was healing slowly if at all. 

On Monday afternoon, we were at the clinic and the baby and his grandmother were there, and seeing him barely any different than the first day I saw him a month ago, I had a thought that was not a thought I had first or for the first time, because several people on the team had mentioned it before: why couldn’t we just take over his care for a while until he got stronger? With a team full of nurses and doctors, particularly females--now that kid would never miss a feeding! I’d been afraid to voice the thought before, but that day I just opened my mouth and spit it out to some of the folks in charge. And much to my surprise, they both stopped to think. Then, they both said it wasn’t a bad idea. After some discussion, we decided to propose to the grandmother that we take care of him at the hospital as an in-patient for a week, and she come and stay the nights and bring milk. She went for it. 

So. For the last four days, all us wazungu girls have been carrying around a very small little boy in kangas (cloths), feeding him "super milk", making cloth diapers, and getting a lot of stares and questions. We’ve also been discussing a lot of our own questions. First of all, who really makes a baby eat? We thought for sure that he would slurp everything up he could get from us, but the very first day we hit a wall. He drank a few sips and then quit. As the afternoon wore on, I think that one by one we realized the very real truth that God alone can heal. God alone could give that kid an appetite. So we prayed. And prayed and prayed. And as we humbled ourselves, we really saw his hunger come back. Now, I’m pretty sure every time he swallows we let out sighs of praise and relief. He seems to be getting stronger, more alert, his foot is healing, and he’s started a new thing today of yelling his head off every time he sees some kind of food being consumed that is out of his reach. However, we can’t seem to get him to smile. He’s ridiculously stoic. Haha. We’ll crack him eventually. It’s been super fun to learn to carry a baby like an African and to take mama shifts. That kid may end up with a leg up on English or in need of some serious counseling due to the trauma of white-woman overload at such a young age. We’ve given him the name Joshua in addition to his Kouria name because Joshua was a man that was "so strong in the Lord", in the words of our doctor friend at the clinic. 

Why did this situation come up? Why are there animals and fields and piles of food everywhere, and yet babies are starving? Why would his mother run away? Why did his grandmother bring him to the clinic for a wound but not seem to understand that the root of his problems is chronic malnutrition? What will happen when we all leave in a few weeks and what would have happened if we hadn’t been here? It’s so frustrating to know that people here could think we have some kind of magic to heal, or that we have inexhaustible resources, when the truth is that we just have compassion for a baby who can’t fight for himself. What’s the underlying difference in our value system and this culture’s value system? Why? Could the presence of the church make a difference? What would happen to a malnourished baby in the US? What happens to other people who can’t really fight for themselves, here and in the US? If we’re upset that the church isn’t stepping in to face issues like this here, is the church at home doing any better? Are we willing to show up at people’s houses and help them in the day-to-day things, in the ways that really make a difference long term?

We’ve been talking about those questions a lot, with each other, and even with people that live in Ntgatcha. Last week some of our students visited one of the local churches to challenge and encourage them to find the places of need in their own community and step in.  We returned there just tonight--bringing Joshua--and he was an awesome tangible example of a place of need. I’d like to encourage anyone who’s reading this at home to think about it too. I’m starting to see the Church in a really different light…I’m starting to wonder why at home we expect the government to do so many things that seem so impossible without the gospel. 

P.S.A shout out to my friends who have already gone back to the US – I miss you terribly and wish you were here not just for taking care of Joshua and seeing him heal but to constantly warn me about dreadful illnesses I could get from going barefoot and to play music on the porch and worship and pray together. I’m praying for y’all's return to school to be smooth and for you to remember all God’s faithfulness. Seriously. I miss you. 

A shout out to my pals at home– I barely shower anymore, I was given a chicken that I’m planning to slaughter and cook in the next few days, Swahili is frying my brain, I did some laundry by the spring today, I’m planning to make you chapati as soon as I get home, and I’m extremely grateful for how God is answering prayers and blessing me with an absolutely incredible and ever-increasing Family here. He’s trying to teach me to SEEK HIM FIRST and to relax; that only one thing is necessary. 

Nakupenda, kaka na dada. Peace be with you, I’ll catch you later!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Habari friends! My name is Rachel Lantz, one of the med students here for the seminar (also the aforementioned "E. coli Mary" who brought the team down with a literal earthquake of vomit and diarrhea). In short, this month has been incredible, and a big part of me does not want to leave. But second year beckons, and there are 97 more exams that demand my attention.
Throughout this month, I have gone through waves of joy and peace strung together by periods of frustration and feelings of defeat. At first, my own sin weighed heavy on my heart. The condition of my life this past year of school has not been what I would have desired or expected of myself. I failed to make an impact for Christ on the people I live with and the people with which I spend most of my time. I failed to show love and was instead impatient, insensitive, and hateful. I failed to live a godly example of a life transformed by Love and instead became a slave to my studies and to pleasing people. I came into this month feeling guilty and unworthy and defeated. But God met me with His grace. "Oh what joys for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!" (Psalm 32:1) 
Next, I sought to change my view of health. We have been learning that God does not just desire our spiritual health, but also our physical and emotional and relational health. True health is when the body, soul, and spirit are united and in right relationship with God. If we, as physicians, are to make any real impact on the lives of our patients, we cannot look only to the physical, because the human being is more than cells and electrical impulses. But when I view the challenge of attending to a person's body, soul, and spirit, I am overwhelmed. I understand that any change in behavior must flow from a change in mindset. But how could I possibly hope to change someone's worldview? And if I don't, it is all useless. I feel defeated because I cannot even begin to fathom how one would put this into practice. I need steps and a process, and this is all faith and grace, always my problems. "Oh how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!" (Romans 11:33) But God has met me with a sense of victory. That feeling of defeat is from Satan, meant to inactivate me from doing anything at all. But overwhelming victory is ours in Christ Jesus. 
Now, I am overwhelmed and frustrated by the immense suffering I have encountered. Again I feel inadequate and angry, but I do not feel defeated. I do not feel that the situation is hopeless. Though we are flawed, broken vessels, God works through us when He chooses. Even I could be used by God. Even I can be forgiven. Even I am loved by the God of Universe. Though many questions have been left unanswered, I have access to the Truth. Freed from a burden of guilt and anxiety, I can enter into God's presence in a fuller way. I have begun to experience more of the rich, abundant life that comes from abiding in Him.