christmas parties

look at me, blogging again after only a week, miracles do happen :) had to though cause we've had not one but two christmas parties in the last couple of weeks and i haven't said anything about either of them! the grown up party was just that, a party - lots of food, dancing (learned some traditional dancing, or at least tried), and a chance to spend time with everyone from work outside of the stress of clinic. we also had some friends from south africa who came through on a motorbike trip and tagged along to the party....we were quite the spectacle with our car + 3 motorcycles! good times had by all....i think the clinic is getting used to leigh and i making spectacles of ourselves :)

the other was the christmas party at the clinic for the kids.....a carnival really. and though i was dressed in a santa hat with tank top, shorts, and a lot of sweat, it somehow still felt like christmas. probably had something to do with the joy overflowing from hundreds of children as they played games, got their faces painted by a clown, jumped on blow up castles, went kareening down the water slide (don't worry, only one head busted open and a dozen stitches), danced, laughed, and the grande finale....a fun new back pack filled with books and markers from santa (aka me and leigh in santa hats). there's just something about the joy of children that reflects their Maker and points beautifully to the reason for christmas....Christ. and so, despite being 100 degrees and playing in water rather than snow, the kids' christmas party was the closest i've felt to christmas this season.

"'truly, i say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. whoever receives one such child in my name receives me....'" --matthew 18:3-4



a friend recently gave me a devotional book that is written specifically for christian physicians. it is published by the international christian medical and dental society and has entries from physicians all over the world. it could not have come at a better time as the first page i read talked about the overwhelming amount of death in third world countries and the challenge of seeing and reflecting light amidst so much darkness.....as i read the page and the scriptures mentioned in it i wept for all of the precious lives lost since i got here. i wept first in great sadness but then in hope and joy as i imagined them praising their Father in heaven. why is it that my heart first goes to sadness/darkness instead of the light that overcomes it? i know that grief is natural and healthy and necessary even, but i pray that the hope of eternal life might be greater than the burden death brings....that such hope may overcome any despair and fuel my heart and life here.

"and i heard a loud voice from the throne saying 'behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'" --revelation 21: 3-4



another month gone by in africa.....wow. hard to believe it’s already been 4 months! as it goes, in some ways it feels like so much longer, in others it feels like yesterday that we got here with our 2 tons of luggage. the last month has definitely flown – i spent the first 2 weeks on wards and then went to serowe (smaller town 3 ½ hrs north of gabs) for 2 weeks. between the two i got to go to south africa for one of the most beautiful weddings ever. needless to say, it’s been a full month :)

so wards....yet again a difficult experience, yet better this time not being quite so fresh out of residency or quite so fresh to botswana. i think somewhere along the way i learned to let go of some things – i.e. getting labs in a timely fashion, or at all, same with xrays, even medicines sometimes. you have to pick your battles around here or you’ll go crazy! i find myself much saner picking a handful of things that i feel strongly about and focusing on those. little bit different than our do absolutely everything we can (sometimes to a fault) mentality in the states. the limitations are often frustrating, but now only really get to me when they affect my patients. the number of deaths is still overwhelming....this past month i had 2 that were particularly difficult. one, an 8 month old with HIV and pneumonia that i took care of for a week and a half before he died....he was very sick, but still it was the first child i’d had die that i’d been taking care of for a while and had had sole responsibility for. and again, with better respiratory support he probably would have lived. the second was my very favorite patient ever....just the most precious 3yr old boy with soulful eyes and a contagious sweetness that touched the whole pediatric ward. i admitted him my first month here with a disease called langerhan cell histiocytosis - which is a bad disease even for the states - but he’s been getting chemotherapy in the hospital since that time and has looked so well, then got worse quickly and died because we were out of blood transfusions. heartbreaking.

serowe....definitely a different experience than working in gabs. our role there is more of a mentoring role, which means we work with doctors in local clinics to help them learn pediatric HIV care. as you can imagine this gets a little tedious....there are so many patients that come to these clinics (sometimes over 100/day for 2 doctors) that they don’t have time to spend on details and understandably just try to crank through as fast as they can. another opportunity for picking battles. the town is much smaller with very little to do so life is quieter there, which is a nice break. one of our doctors is there full time so we’re not alone, and she has some cuban friends that make excellent food and provided free salsa lessons – definite bonus!

south african wedding....AMAZING. we were in a town called pietermaritzburg which is about an hr from durban (on the coast). our ex-neighbor and pyschologist at the clinic, lindsay, got married to one of the old PAC doctors and it was such a lovely wedding. very similar to a wedding in the states except that many of the rehearsal dinner speeches are given at the wedding (best man, father of bride & groom, and groom himself). it was neat cause everyone got to share in their story. oh and i forgot the best part - there was a trampoline. leigh and i spent a good amount of time with said trampoline, once again acting our age :)

k, that’s definitely enough for one blog! hope all is well at home, will try to be more faithful with the blogs so they’re not always so long! lot’s of love :)