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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hospital Visit #2 (a.k.a. Alisha's final hospital visit)

On Saturday, August 25, Christina and I had made plans for her to pick me up at our apartment and go over to their house for a bit to do some inventory stuff that needed to get taken care of. She picked me up as scheduled, but informed me that there had been a slight change of plans because she had just received a phone call saying that Prisila, the little girl we had initially gone to visit with the intense headaches who had been hospitalized for 3 months and no one could figure out what was wrong with her, needed a ride to the hospital. Between my first visit to the hospital and the second visit, Prisila had improved drastically. So much so, that she had been discharged from the hospital to live with family in town, been to a check-up a week or so after being discharged from the hospital, and received the ok from the doctors to return to her village in the bush. She began deteriorating before they even got to her home, and things quickly got worse. She ended up back in the hospital, but again, no one could figure out what the issue was, therefore were lost as to how to begin treatment. She ended up going home for a couple more days, and then it was Saturday morning, last week. I was good with it! Excited to go back to the hospital and give it another shot. My first visit was the day after we’d arrived and I was still struggling with jet lag/climate change/etc. This was gonna be a good day! We went to the house where Prisila was staying to pick her up. She was, what I’m pretty sure my nurse/doctor friends would call non-responsive, with her arms and legs flinging around, not like a convulsive seizure, but more like a constant involuntary movement. Christina had warned me that she had gone to see her a couple days earlier and her left side was completely paralyzed, but she was awake and talking at that time. Saturday morning it was good to see her moving all of her limbs, but she seemed, to me, to be unconscious. Lou (not sure on the spelling) was the one who had gone to check on Prisila Saturday morning and the one who had called Christina to tell her that she needed to go back to the hospital. She’s a physiotherapist who has been here since January and is going back to Australia (I believe) in December. We drove past a house to find Prisila, with Lou, in a small shed behind the house. Lou carried her to the van, and we drove a short way to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, Lou carried her into the Emergency Room, which is when I started feeling a little queasy. The nurse who was trying to get an IV into Prisila’s arm left the rubber bandy thingy on for so long her hand was turning purple/blue. And then, because she was so dehydrated he just had to poke and “search” (read as sticking the needle in and fishing around).
And that’s when I started feeling sweaty and light-headed and walked my self right outside for some air and a sit down. I stayed out for a few minutes, deep breathes, deep breathes, and then tried it again. When I went back in to her curtain, he had gotten the IV started, so I was good! Until her poor little flailing arm pulled the tube out of the IV and blood started dripping…outside I went. Deep breath, deep breath, and back inside. Only to find out the blood never got cleaned up and people were just walking through it, smearing it all over the floor, and that’s when my germaphobia kicked in full throttle. My thoughts went something like, “No one knows what is wrong with this little girl. No one can figure out why she’s so sick! She could have some weird blood-born illness and now people are just walking through her blood and spreading it all around.” Yeah…it’s craziness in there. So, I went outside again. And then back in again after I had collected myself and prayed away the weirdness in my head ; ) This time, though, I stayed on the outside of the curtain, peeking through every once in a while to see what was going on, but I focused on watching others around me…watching the daily workings of the only Emergency Room on Santo Island. I saw what we Americans would consider to be appalling, and it was difficult to NOT allow myself to go there. I saw a patient drink a glass of water, a nurse take it over to the sink, rinse it out, and set it aside to dry. No washing with antibacterial anything. No sanitizing. Nothing. I saw 4 separate patients use the same nebulizer/breathing machine without changing masks. No cleaning. One person comes in coughing, wheezing into the mask, finishes the treatment, and they move the nebulizer to the next person. I see that and think about the germs that are being spread from person to person. Thinking about the person who might possibly have pneumonia or some other type of upper respiratory communicable disease spreading it to a person who really does only have asthma, but making it even MORE difficult for the asthmatic person to be able to breathe due to contracting a sickness on top of the asthma that already exists. And I notice that it costs 100 vatu (approx $.90) for a nebulizer treatment. I was able to stay inside the remainder of the time that we were there, just outside the curtain. The doctor who was on call said that she thinks the possible reason of Prisila’s condition is an infection that began in her ears 3-4 months ago, and now the infection has progressed into her brain. Last I heard, she was able to get out of bed to go to the restroom, with assistance, but that’s amazing progress considering the condition she was in when I last saw her. Please continue to remember Prisila as they are worried that if she comes out of this illness, she may have some permanent damage that has been done to her brain. I’ve also heard more about the little girl I mentioned in my first blog. I believe her name was Musa (sp? MOOSE-a). She was four years old, and I think she’s already back in her village! She had been playing in the yard with her 2 year old brother, tripped, and fell onto her mom’s bush knife (machete) and cut open her stomach. They had walked 8 hours to get her to the hospital, had to wait on a doctor, then a surgeon to arrive, but luckily when she fell she didn’t puncture any organs! Her insides (I’m led to believe, her intestines) were on the outside of her body, but they were able to put everything back, sew her up, and she was doing well! Definitely not the outcome I was expecting for the end of that story, but loved hearing about the miracle that God so clearly performed on her! So…I think that was most likely my final hospital visit. I would love to be able to go up there every week, but I just don’t really think that’s a gift that God has blessed me with! While I love hearing about the amazing miracles that can occur in front of your eyes, and I love praying for healing, my insides just don’t handle hospitals very well…or maybe it’s just 3rd world country hospitals that I don’t handle well, seeing as I’ve never had an issue like this in the States. Who knows? What I do know?! I’ll still be praying for all of the people who are up there, who I hear about second-hand, because I know first-hand the miracles God is doing up there : )

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Friday Night

Sorry for the delay in posts! This is the first time since we arrived in Vanuatu that I (Alisha) have felt relatively normal. I’ve been fighting debilitating headaches, ear pain, and severe nausea, with the last episode being on Wednesday, August 29. It’s now Saturday here, and I’ve been feeling good since Thursday…the longest consecutive days of “feel goodedness” since we got here! And I’m excited about that!!! I heard about some ears drops on Wednesday that Jason and I went out and picked up on Thursday, and they seem to be doing the trick, thank goodness! I am not a fan of being laid up in bed while my family goes on fun adventures without me :/ Anyway…moving on to the purpose of this post. Last Friday night we all headed over to the Widups for a game night that they had organized. They had invited a missionary family, the Pikes, who were in town to pick up supplies to take back to their home in the bush last weekend, another family (Graeme and Caroline and their three teenagers), and us. The Widup’s and the Armes’ hailing from the States and the other two families originating from Australia. Let me tell you, it was a trip! There are words, common English words that we in the States use on a daily basis, that will make an Aussie blush…of course we found this out due to Jason saying said “Aussie dirty words”. I won’t be going into detail, as I don’t care to offend any of our new Australian friends! We played a game called “Telestrations”, which is funny enough when played with people all from the same country, but when you mix Australia and the United States terminology, it’s hilarious! Aussie’s aren’t familiar with a “cake walk”. A “pick-up truck” could also be a tow truck, or just a truck. And around here a car is also known as a truck. A “trolley” in the U.S. is a form of transportation, but our Australian friends call what we know as a shopping cart a trolley. Suffice it to say that we had a good time around that table making new friends and having a culture lesson all at the same time! : ) ps. I realize that there aren't any paragraphs in these posts. It's driving me batty, but I can't figure out how to fix it, so we're just rollin' with it : )

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Week 3 complete.......

I, Jason, haven't blogged in a while and Alisha is not feeling well. So.... I will take the "blogging rope" from her and talk about the last week. And what an eventful week it has been. We have had our daily Bislama lessons and walked town a lot to practice what we are learning. We went to the market (that's the best place i've found for using Bislama) and tried it out. We also, saw our 2nd "bush" man. Yes, he was only wearing a "maw maw" or pee-pee cover as we call it :) I was afraid that Eli would say something, but, he refrained.....WHEW!! I also spent a couple days at the Widups trying to get the office finished that they are building for the area missionaries. We sanded and mudded, painted, hung the ceiling and windows and polyurethaned the wood trim. This is going to be a space with a couple desks, internet access, a printer, a copier and most importantly a Keurig coffee maker and A/C :) :) They want this to be a place of rest for the missionaries. A place where they can come and "get away" for a little while. They can access the web, have a cup of joe and relax in the A/C. This is a much needed space as Alisha and I are learning just how strenuous it is to be a missionary in this country. It is very demanding and trying on a person/family. On Friday I went to my first youth event. It was put on by the local Christian Futbol team called the Malampa Revivors http://malamparevivorsfm.blogspot.com/ and a young Ni-van pastor that we have become good friends with named, John Thomas. Alisha and the kids stayed back home as the event didn't start until after 7 pm. It was called "Coffee night". It started off with some worship and singing (all the songs were by Hillsong and in english, so that was good lol). Then John Thomas gave a great message in Bislama (which I think I understood about 75% of). After the message there was a time of prayer by one of the futbol players. We then enjoyed some local treats and coffee and watched the movie "Forever Strong". All the pastors, futbol players and students (those that were brave enough to come to talk to the "white man" lol) made me feel very welcome. I am glad that I got to go and look forward to attending the next one. Today after church we went to one of the infamous "Blue Holes" here on Santo Island. This is the only island in the whole country that has them. They are fresh water springs and they are BEAUTIFUL!!
Marcus, Tony and myself rode the dirt bikes and the quad down. It was about a 30 minute ride and very fun! The water at these things are amazing!! So blue and clear that you can see the bottom, which this one is about 40' deep, with no problems. There is a rope swing that is hanging from a Nabanga tree that some of us swam too and jumped off of. There were some local kids there swimming when we got there. So it was nice to be able to interact with them too. And I know enough Bislama now, that I'm pretty sure they were talking about how big I am lol!! But that's ok, there aren't many people here that are as tall or wide as me :)
Overall, week 3 was a success! We are really trying hard to learn the culture and the language. We don't want to just be seen as tourists (they don't really care for them here). We want Ni-Vanuatu people to see that we are here to care for them and show them the love of Jesus!! Thank you for all the prayers, notes, and text messages. They are for sure appreciated!! We miss all of you very much and can't wait to see you all soon and share with you what God is doing. In the mean time.....stay tuned on here and keep up with us on our journey. Much love, Jason p.s. The coffee here is OUT OF THIS WORLD GOOD!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Exploring and Adjusting

On Saturday, August 11, 2012 we walked through all of the shops on the main street of Luganville, except for maybe four. We were simply trying to get a feel for what each place had, and their prices, pretty much just taking our time exploring the place. Up until then, the kids had all said that walking everywhere was one of their favorite things about being here…now they don’t think that so much ;) But they all were very well-behaved, didn’t complain, and I think enjoyed the day looking around and trying to get an idea of some things that they might want to purchase with their chore money. The girls both want to get island dresses or skirts, and a handmade purse, and Eli found a green island shirt that he wants. Their chores consist of daily helping me with laundry (not that I need help, but they like to try), taking turns getting the rainwater, helping with sweeping (multiple time per day…it’s REALLY sandy/dirty/dusty here), and just generally helping us out with things from time to time. Yesterday (August 12, 2012) we enjoyed church at the Widup’s again, marking the beginning of our third week here. It was initially difficult for me to imagine having church in someone’s living room with only 7-8 families attending, but it’s quickly become a time that I look forward to. Everyone has welcomed us right in, and I have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit every week. We watch pre-recorded sermons and worship is typically songs that I’m not familiar with, but it’s proving to me that (Matthew 18:20) “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I will be also.” I love seeing Scripture lived out! I took my first walk today (Monday, August 13, 2012) without Jason, but I still had to have the kids with me. Trust me, that’s a big thing! I haven’t been anywhere without him, or Christina, since we arrived. It’s not easy to get used to constantly having to have an adult chaperone at all times. It was nice to walk with the kids up to drop off the girls at a friend’s house, and then walk back with Eli (I still have to have at least one kid with me when I go anywhere). He thought it was funny that I called him my bodyguard ;) That’s not really the case, but he enjoyed thinking it was. Speaking of it being funny that Eli’s my bodyguard…
the kid has suddenly decided to have a growth spurt! He’s constantly hungry! That has never, in the history of Eli, happened before…go figure. Thinking and praying for all of you getting ready to head back to school (tomorrow for you, but it’s already Monday afternoon for us). Please know that you’re never far from our hearts and minds.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Aore Aelan (otherwise known as Aore Island)

On Sunday, August 5, 2012, we took a boat ride across Luganville Bay to Aore Island.
Our kids had never been on a boat, and I had forgone the Drammamine because I only bought the kind that makes you sleepy for the looooong plane ride…turns out no one really needed it, anyway, but I digress. Luckily, they ended up not needing it for the boat ride, either! They were all 3 enthralled the entire time, with Eli especially, taking everything in.
It ended up being about a 10-15 minute trip to the island, and as we got closer to the island, the water was sooooo clear!
The kids were having a blast spotting coral and anemone (terms I’m pretty sure they only know due to watching Finding Nemo), and were off to change into their swimsuits as soon as we were on land. The beach was beautiful!
Paighton, Mikayla, and Emily took off in a kayak to have some fun girl time,
while Lainey, Eli, and Maxwell started looking for sea life close to the water’s edge.
Eli was the first to find a big starfish.
And Lainey found a couple of little crabs…I didn’t believe her at first…I thought they were just snails in their shells…but then out popped the little pinchers! Paighton took our camera out on the kayak and took some really neat pictures of some of the things they found…
and some really great pics of each other ; )
After some water fun, we had lunch at a restaurant on the island, then headed back to Luganville. Paighton stayed at the Widups with Mikayla and Emily, and the rest of us headed back to our apartment to try to finish unpacking, again, and get organized a bit. The trip to the island was something my kids had been begging for since the day we got here! They wanted to get in the ocean and see cool things, so for those of you who know what begging kids sound like day after day after day, I was happy to get that out of the way! And it was a nice way to relax a little after the crazy, cockroachy day we’d had the day before!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New New Apartment

The stores throughout Luganville are known by various names…seems to be mostly abbreviations of the names of the people who own them. There is a store called, “New Look”, and then another newer one called “New New Look”, hence the title of this blog : ) Our new new apartment is still a 2 bedroom, but the kids’ bedroom is now large enough for all 3 of them, their clothes, and beds.
The living room area is bigger than in the first apartment, also.
Still have our bedroom
and a bathroom with toilet/sink/shower.
And the infamous cockroachy kitchen...
The main difference that I first noticed was that there’s no running hot water in the kitchen…which is no problem because I can get any needed hot water from the shower, or heat up water in the kettle on the stove. The next difference I noticed, and quickly, was that there seemed to be a lot more bugs…cockroaches, to be exact, of which I had never previously seen! I had started to wash up some dishes when the first one popped out of the cabinet below me…which made me jump…a lot : ) But we stomped it and I proceeded with more dishes…when a couple more started scurrying about…which made me run from the kitchen : ) That’s when Jason opened the cabinet and we saw the degree of insects…ewwwwyyyyyyy!!! But, we also knew coming into this that when you’re here, you just have to learn to deal with pests, so deal we did! Jason would spray bug killer into the cabinet for 30 seconds and close the door. After a few minutes, he would open the doors and sweep out any bugs that were in there and shoot them like a hockey pucks to the rest of us where we were waiting to keep them from getting into the rest of the apartment, and we’d stomp them. I’d guess that took us about 3 hours of doing that repeatedly to get to the point where there were no more bugs when he opened the cabinet doors. And there has only been maybe 3 dead cockroaches show up since the day we moved (Saturday, August 4, 2012), so I think we’ve taken care of the huge infestation…but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last cockroach of the trip!

Friday, August 3, 2012

First week photos :)

This is a picture of Paighton, Lainey, Eli, Maxwell, Malachi and Christina at the Vanuatu Independence Day celebration at the park. The lady sitting beside/behind Paighton is Eneth, our Bislama teacher. She is ah-mazing!
This is a photo of our view of Luganville Bay from the balcony of our apartment. Beautiful...if I do say so myself!
This is our kitchen area. The fridge is tiny. The red bucket on top of the fridge is what we use to carry our rainwater (used for drinking and cooking...can't drink the tap water). The contraption on the wall is the gas water heater. The orange cooler to the right in this picture is where we keep our rainwater.
This is the view of the rest of the "big room"/dining/living/Paighton's bedroom. Excuse the mess, we're still figuring out where we can put stuff :) And the chair tower in the middle of the room is a drying rack! The ceiling fan puts out some serious breeze. The towels draped over the backs of the chairs are also drying.
This is the last picture for tonight...it took an hour for all of these to upload! This is Paighton, Lainey, and Eli on Eli's bed in the room that Lainey and Eli are sharing. They're going over the Bislama flashcards that I made, learning how to speak a new language, and loving it! Also, the clothes hanging on the windows are, you guessed it, drying! :) Thanks for checking up on us, and I'll try to continue to post some more pictures. Please continue to remember us in your prayers! Much love <3