God Can Use Chickens Too!

God Can Use Chickens Too!

Yesterday the coolest thing happened! During staff devotions I sat next to an older woman holding a chicken. Now I know this is Nigeria, but typically people don’t bring their chickens to their appointments with them. After staff devotions, Grace, our Program Director talked with her and she told Grace that she brought the chicken to give to our staff so that we could cook it and all have a wonderful meal because she was so grateful that she was healthy and alive at her age! We sold the chicken and added those funds to our “Mercy Fund” a fund that staff and others contribute to so that we are able to help patients in hard circumstances with their medical care.
I wish I would have taken a picture of this dear woman and her very large rooster but I did not know that was why she was there and I didn’t want to be rude and single her out to take a picture in the clinic just because she brought her chicken with her! Now this woman was possibly in her sixties. It is hard for me to tell here, but she was wrinkled, with a very simple wrapper, and a smile that would touch anyone’s heart. She was thankful that she could give!
You know as I thought about this and just how very encouraging it is to know that even on a day where it seems we go in circles and NOTHING is accomplished, God is using it and making a difference through our little contributions.
This made me think of the time we KNEW God was calling us to something different than our Suburban life and we said, “God, anywhere you want, whatever YOU want, we’re there. We made this decision as individuals and as a couple as well. I believe when God calls one of a couple to something like this He also calls the other as well. He worked on us as individuals before we even got to the point of discussing it as a couple. Isn’t God cool!
I think about the small goals and plans we have for ourselves and our lives, and wonder WHAT IF………………what if we placed everything we are, everything we dreamed, everything we had, our past, our mistakes, our weaknesses. EVERYTHING in His hands. What could He use it for? How will He use it?
Look what He did with a small boys’ lunch of fish and bread. What can He do with YOU?
My thought for this week is this: Have you placed everything you ARE, everything you HAVE, everything you hope to BE in HIS hands? If you have then look out, He has big plans for you!



This is me, I am Tina, I love Diet Pepsi and good coffee and conversation!  Tomorrow is October 9.  I will be 53, but not until tomorrow lol!  This has got me in a reflective mood today and I thought I would share it with you.

When I was a child I was in my own world most of the time.  I knew I was going to marry a prince and live in a castle, didn’t everyone?  I lived in a world of fairies and imagination.  I had an imaginary monkey who lived under the table that I fed at mealtimes (my mom was a patient mom and encouraged my creativity).  When I got a little older I loved reading.  I would get lost in a book and visit places I had never been.  I was told as a child that if I did well in school I could go anywhere and do anything.  I believed it.

There were many special birthdays over the years.  I would get to invite a friend for a sleep-over and choose what we ate.  I always chose spaghetti and cheesecake.  My grandparents took each of us shopping for our birthday for a while and it was the most wonderful thing to go to JC Penneys and pick out a beautiful sweater that was brand new (I love sweaters and did not get many new clothes).  I loved all of the time I got to spend with family members.  I have rich memories of encouragement, advice, and love.  I wasn’t popular at school, but I had friends that I loved and we had fun being goofy all through school.  I was blessed!

Well, at 16 I decided that I would plan out my life.  Here was my life plan:  I would get married at 30, have children at 35 and be a lawyer.  I wanted to go to Hamline University as they had a new accellerated legal program I had read about.  Well, that was MY plan!  At 17 I started dating Dan and at 18 decided to get married because I didn’t feel I could be a good mother AND a good lawyer AND he was super cute!  I got my legal secretary degree and was ready to find a job.  Being married at 18 and 21 was wonderful!  Of course, we were immature and selfish but we were in love and going to conquer the world!  At 20 I had Andrew and was now a mom.  My!  Being a mom is the best!  I loved him so much I didn’t think I could love anyone ever as much as I loved that little guy!  At 20 I did the best I could being a mom, but being young I can see now where I was selfish and spoiled in many ways, we can always look back and think, “If I knew then what I know now”.  But that is not very productive!  I have tried to remember this as I go through my days to embrace the moments we have with family and take interruptions as “God appointments”.

Well at 23 we had Robert.  This little chubby adorable boy stole my heart and I knew how you could love the second child just as much as your first.  We were apartment managers and caretakers and I kept busy with that and the kids and Dan worked about 70 hours a week and then would come home to cleaning, painting, or fixing – whatever the night required that I couldn’t do during the day.  It was good, I had two wonderful babies and a man that loved me and my heart still speeds up every time I see him!

Over the years I worked at a Daycare/Pre-school, then had my own daycare/pre-school, was involved in all childrens’ ministry at the church we attended and were very active at.  I was blessed with children and families to love and care for and get to make a living at it as well!  I was also blessed to be able to homeschool our children for 7 years.  I treasure many of our homeschool memories and wouldn’t trade it for anything!  For birthdays, Dan and I would have a date night without the kids and go to a movie and out to eat.  One of our favorite ways to have a date night!

I worked at the church we attended in Brooklyn Park when the kids were teenagers.  I loved working with volunteers and kids and studying curriculum, and the best ways to reach our pre-school aged children at church and training and mentoring youth and adults who served our children.  Dan and I also helped plan mission trips for the youth and went on our first mission trip with our teenaged son and not quite teenage son as well as about 30 other teens.

On our second mission trip Dan and I both felt that God might be calling our family to serve at the children’s home we were at.  The first thing we had to do was learn Spanish, and consider what moving might mean to our children.  As years went on we didn’t pursue that, we carried on with work, church, kids, life.

It took took until I was 48 for me to know what God was calling us to do next.  This, of course was selling the house, getting rid of our years of “memories” and STUFF, working hard at learning something totally new (we are not missionaries, never thought we were “qualified” to be missionaries, and were surprised to find out that what we were being asked to do was totally in both of our giftings.

God has led this journey every step of the way.  From the shooting on our first visit to today.  Each day we pray for wisdom and that we hear what He wants this ministry to look like and that guides our days.  Each day is different here.  There is no store to go to to buy special things here, no restaurant, or coffee shop to celebrate at, we haven’t had a date night for a couple of years now.  We do our celebrating at home with what we can make or do here at the house.  Dan really managed to surprise me this year.  He ordered a new light fixture for above the table from Konga and I didn’t even know it and when I woke up this morning it was there hanging above the table.  I hardly ever get surprised!  I am wayyyy too nosy!  I am always able to sniff out things so Dan has pretty much given up trying to surprise me.  He sure did this morning though!

I do have a point today, thank you for letting me reminisce:  Make each day count!  Pray, listen to the answer, be available for “God appointments” wherever you are.  We are all on this journey together, friends!  Live it well!

What is Gastroschisis?

What is Gastroschisis?

Gastroschisis (pronounced gas-troh-skee-sis) is a birth defect of the abdominal wall. The baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button.

This week I wanted to inform you of something I have learned about recently because of this little patient that was brought to us at a day old.  We sent the baby and her parents to Jalingo to the best hospital to care for the baby in our area ( 4-6 hours away) and chances are she did not survive.

Gastroschisis is a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button. The hole can be small or large and sometimes other organs, such as the stomach and liver, can also stick outside of the baby’s body.

Gastroschisis occurs early during pregnancy when the muscles that make up the baby’s abdominal wall do not form correctly. A hole occurs which allows the intestines and other organs to extend outside of the body, usually to the right side of belly button. Because the intestines are not covered in a protective sac and are exposed to the amniotic fluid, the bowel can become irritated, causing it to shorten, twist, or swell.

Soon after the baby is born, surgery will be needed to place the abdominal organs inside the baby’s body and repair the abdominal wall. Even after the repair, infants with gastroschisis can have problems with feeding, digestion of food, and absorption of nutrients.

Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of gastroschisis among most infants are unknown. Some babies have gastroschisis because of a change in their genes or chromosomes. Gastroschisis might also be caused by a combination of genes and other factors, such as the things the mother comes in contact with in the environment or what the mother eats or drinks, or certain medicines she uses during pregnancy.

Recently through some studies done by CDC (Centers for Disease Control) some common factors have been found such as; Younger age: teenage mothers were more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis than older mothers and Alcohol and tobacco: women who consumed alcohol or were a smoker were more likely to have a baby with gastroschisis.

Gastroschisis can be diagnosed during pregnancy or after the baby is born.

During pregnancy, there are screening tests (prenatal tests) to check for birth defects and other conditions. Gastroschisis might result in an abnormal result on a blood or serum screening test or it might be seen during an ultrasound.  Typically in our area of Nigeria where 85% of mothers still birth their babies at home with limited to no pre-natal care this is not typically known until the baby is born.

Gastroschisis is immediately seen at birth.  Then treatment can start, if the hospital has adequate equipment and surgical department.

Soon after the baby is born, surgery will be needed to place the abdominal organs inside the baby’s body and repair the defect.

If the gastroschisis defect is small (only some of the intestine is outside of the belly), it is usually treated with surgery soon after birth to put the organs back into the belly and close the opening. If the gastroschisis defect is large (many organs outside of the belly), the repair might done slowly, in stages. The exposed organs might be covered with a special material and slowly moved back into the belly. After all of the organs have been put back in the belly, the opening is closed.

Babies with gastroschisis often need other treatments as well, including receiving nutrients through an IV line, antibiotics to prevent infection, and careful attention to control their body temperature.

Unfortunately, in Nigeria because of medical resources the death rate is over 80%.  In developed countries, the death rate is around 10%.

This is just one of the reasons we are here in Nigeria.

My point for today is this:  Please pray as we move forward with our surgical and hospital here in Gembu.