Tag Archives: life

A local hospital experience

img_7056**Warning over-sharing contained below. May refer to bodily functions.

We’ve often said that we personally wouldn’t go to the local hospital here for much beyond a malaria test. Of course that’s because we self-medicate and have a choice to get in the car and drive to Malawi (or even fly from there to South Africa if serious). Our local friends don’t have that choice so they go to the hospital and hope that the staff can diagnose and treat whatever is going on for them.

A couple of weeks ago we broke our own rule and I went to the local hospital…

It began in Malawi, where I came down sick, really sick. I was out at a birthday party when it started, just some diarrhea and vomiting, a bit of fatigue, a small headache. All going to pass I thought. Oh boy was I wrong. That night I slept in the bathroom, caring less about the mosquitoes and more about my proximity to the toilet bowl. Morning came and we packed (well Scott & our teammates did while I lay on the floor groaning and crawling to the bathroom) and then headed home to Mozambique.

Why, I hear you say, did we do that and not go to the more decent hospital found there in Blantyre? Honestly right now I’m not sure what the decision making process was on that one (perhaps none, I was sick remember) – just sticking to our plans, desperation to get home I think (we’d been away a few days) and hoping/believing that it would pass.

It didn’t pass. The normally six-hour drive home became a whole lot longer as Scott stopped the car beside the road with regular frequently

There’s such a tension between stopping quickly when required but also trying to avoid heavily populated areas so there isn’t an audience….or you can take the other approach of finding suitable houses to ‘borrow’ their long drop but have to balance that with possibly being required to then sit and greet whoever is present in the yard which slows you down. 

I thought we were going to be travelling forever. We finally arrived home and I went to bed. Apparently Kath (neighbour, colleague, friend) came in and saw me – I don’t remember. Apparently I talked incoherently – I don’t remember that either.

The next morning I knew I needed urgent help so Kath took me to the local hospital. By this time I wasn’t stringing words together or even able to stay upright. Poor Kath, she had to talk to the hospital staff (find someone to see us, answer questions, sometimes tell them what to do), get me to and from the toilet (a fair distance through the rain from the ward), supervise treatment and just sit waiting all day. We both knew I was improving when I was finally able have a conversation in the early evening with her. That was after two different IV canula insertions (the first one was terrible and eventually fell out), non-stop drips and a couple of random injections (still not exactly sure what they were). Even that sick I can tell you that a little more bedside manner – like warning someone before you stick a needle in their arm (not to mention telling them what was in that needle) – would have been appreciated.

I went home to sleep that night, against medical advice. Didn’t fancy sleeping in a small shared hospital room overnight without a mosquito net and two beds over from an elderly man who hadn’t stopped coughing all day.

As an aside we almost didn’t get home, the road was so bad from the rain that Kath had to negotiate in the dark past a truck stuck on one side of the road and a car that had slid off the other side as it tried to pass the truck. Seriously slippery.

Oh and to make an awful few days worse, while in the hospital my iPhone, which had been a gift, got smashed, leaving me communication-less and unable to do anything about it. 

Next morning Scott took me back there hoping for the promised tests. No luck. More drugs, same other patients to commiserate with, same nurse doing a 36hr shift, same guessing game of what was wrong with me. When that afternoon the IV blew the vein and my hand swelled up, we opted out of them reinserting it again and self-discharged.

While I greatly appreciate the medicines I was able to receive and the rehydration that happened which was so desperately needed, there are good reasons we don’t use the hospital here and would be very reluctant to take any of the kids there. Limited testing (they didn’t do any), limited drug availability, lack of information, lack of well-trained (or interested) medical personnel, lack of bedside manner, high risk of catching other diseases, risk of infection (I got one from the IV line). No running water, no power for most of the time.

To be fair, I was offered lunch the second day, but then the offer was withdrawn when they realised I didn’t have my own dish to put it in.  Apparently it’s BYO bowl. Probably worked out best for others anyway, as I noticed the amounts they were given were very small and the talk was that the food had run out before all received some. 

A number of local friends who visited me in hospital and since, have expressed great surprise that we would even have gone there. Would we do it again? Yes, if it was absolutely necessary, but it certainly wouldn’t be our first (second or third) choice.

I’m still recovering – finishing a course of antibiotics for an IV line infection and dealing with extensive bruising up one of my arms. But I’m alive, almost well, and thankful to have received the help I needed.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in this all is next time we’re sick in Malawi we should just stay there.

School days

IMG_0730Last week a milestone happened in our family – school drop off started. Yes our big 5yr old started school. Granted it’s only for a few months here in Australia before we return to homeschooling back in Mozambique, but it was still a big moment for the family and especially Levi.

No one was quite sure how he would go. Used to spending all his time with siblings and parents in the Mozambique bush, would he cope with saying goodbye and embracing a group of strangers?

I can honestly say that with not a backwards look he waved goodbye to us before planting himself in the middle of the other kids on the mat. His one concern – that his brother wouldn’t miss him too much while he was away. And that afternoon as he bounded out, big smile on his face, he proceeded to tell us what a great day he’d had and how he couldn’t wait until the next.

While this is only a temporary situation for him, for us, we are so glad that this looks like being  a positive experience for him and the whole family.

Celebrating moments in time

IMG_5250Life is full of moments. Moments of joy, moments of sadness and all the moments in between. Sometimes we have celebrated moments by ourselves in Mozambique, sometimes with colleagues & friends, sometimes with our local friends.

Being back in Australia at the moment we are loving celebrating and sharing these moments with our family, long time friends and those journeying with us.

Last year we celebrated New Years with friends on the shore of the lake in Mozambique. Fireworks, games, conversations and thunderstorms that flooded and blew tents away were memorable events.

This year we celebrated New Years with family & friends in Perth. No fireworks or thunderstorms, but games, glow sticks, conversation, great food, swimming, cricket and picnics at the river foreshore took their place. Being with extended family, celebrating grandparent & great-grandparent birthdays, sharing stories and journeys, capturing the moments in our memories – these are priceless moments that we are loving and we look forward to enjoying more in the next couple of months before returning to Mozambique. P1110557 P1110607

Life Giving Water

Katelyn in bath lower qualityWell at our house












The kids bath water is brown before they get in. A shower doesn’t feel quite as clean when the water is dirty before it hits you. Washing dishes and clothes in brown water messes with my head.  But I am thankful. Thankful because we still have water. Thankful that we still have enough water to wash with. Perhaps for not much longer.  Our water source is drying up, our well is running dry.

In a land that depends on the rains, reaching December without rain is worrying for many people. We worry about water to bath our kids in, they worry about water for their crops. Seeds already planted in dry ground, which may die. Seeds not yet planted, delaying their harvests.

We hear rumours of rain to the north and the south, tantalizing and teasing us. But yet the skies remain largely clear and the few clouds refuse to open. Sky watching has become a daily and hourly pastime.

We had a downpour in October but the rains didn’t arrive. There may have been a sprinkle in November, but not enough to measure. Real rain hasn’t happened since April here and it is hurting people.

As we have prayed to God for rain, for ourselves and for our neighbours, God has turned us towards his words in Isaiah.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst,

I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.

I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.

Isaiah 41:17-18 


God send your rain. Fill the rivers, creeks and pools. Overflow the wells. Drench the land. Soften the soil. Grow the seeds. Nourish the people. This is our prayer.

As God draws our eyes to the baked land and empty well, he has reminded us too of our own condition. In need of life-giving water that goes beyond our physical body and nourishes our spirits.

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

 Isaiah 58:11

We need this reminder. Oh how desperately we have needed it. We feel dry and fatigued. We feel sun-scorched and in need of strength. We feel lacking in anything to give, barely surviving some days. We need the drenching of life giving water to nourish our souls.

Our hearts desire our friends here to be drenched in the Spirit also. To have their thirst quenched, their hearts renewed. For new, fresh growth to come forth. Life to emerge. But we are so aware of our own dryness, how little we have to pour onto them.

We need an outpouring here.

God send your rain.

Refining Fire



Fire #2


Sometimes for new things to spring forth the old needs to be destroyed. Beauty from ashes. The refinement of fire.

God spoke to us about this the day we had a scrub fire come through.

It was hot, it was fierce, it was close. We were out of our depth, beyond our comfort zone. Two city slickers fighting a bush fire.

Such gratitude we felt when our neighbor roared up on his motorcycle, having seen the smoke from the village and realized that it was nearing his house and ours. We followed his instructions and relied on his wisdom in having done this before. He knew how to read the fire’s burn and what to do to control it. In the middle of the smoke and fire, running with buckets of our dwindling water supply and beating the embers with tree branches we trusted him to guide and lead us. To protect our family. Others came to help. Our neighbour’s brother and wife, a young guy from down the road. Together we toiled in the heat until the fire was controlled and moving away.

And we learned something. People here don’t put fires out. They control and use them. They allow them to burn the debris away from their homes and land. Fire is a means to not only burn off the dry grass and protect from a bigger fire, but also to prepare for future regrowth and new life. Our neighbour didn’t put the fire out, but once semi-controlled he used it to burn a firebreak around the fence line of his property and ours.

That was two months ago. Now as we look at the land that was burned we see shoots of new life, new growth. Yes there is black ground, but there is also spots of green. Colours of hope.

There is refinement happening in our lives. God has moved us into a new season in a new place. He is challenging us to look at things in new ways and stretch in new ways. And it is painful at times. We see Him saying there is something new I have for you here, but first I need to refine and shape you. Burning is not something we choose voluntarily, but we pray that as we allow God to heat and reshape us, His beauty emerges.

As Scott read in his devotional just the morning of the fire

“The loss of what is old is an opportunity to discover something new….Instead of striving to preserve the old which is no longer effective, we should view every hardship as an opportunity for God to cultivate something new…”

New area, new house, new community… part 2

New Area, Important Task #1 : Find food

Attempt 1

Full of energy and enthusiasm I headed into the village centre with our neighbour the other week looking for the local food sources. People had said there was limited fruit and veg around but I didn’t believe them, I thought I knew better. Let me publicly say, they were right and I was wrong. I came home with tomatoes, onions, cabbage, sweet potato, dried beans and a bunch of bananas. Not a bad haul, although that was the full extent of fresh food available. I also picked up some pasta in a small shopfront.

Having learned from other friends I enquired which day was the best market day, thinking that perhaps there was a better day to get more varied goods. Friday was the response. It was a Friday. Oh well.

Attempt 2

After our first outing I spoke with our neighbour who told me that other goods were available at the other market which is closer to our house. This was welcome news – more food, more accessible – which I set out to confirm this week.

On Monday the kids and I, loaded with empty shopping bags, headed down the road for the market. Now I don’t know if you have ever walked with a 2 & 3yr old but they don’t walk quickly, or empty handed or in straight lines. And they attract a lot of attention. Especially Australian kids in this part of the world. As we meandered along the boys picked up sticks and rocks, stopped to watch random goats and sheep on the side of the road and climbed up and down drains. We talked with people passing and stopped to say greet those sitting on verandahs along the road. Almost an hour  (and 2kms) later we finally reached the market  and shops. We bought tomatoes, onions, peanuts and dried fish. They tell me the banana lady was unwell that day.  An hour later we were home again with our meagre spoils. I’m told that I also missed where you can buy eggs (yay) and fresh fish.

It felt a little like a long walk on a semi-failed mission. Yet the relational aspect was pure gold. We met people and got to know a tiny bit more the new community we find ourselves in. Unbeknownst to me, apparently the workers building our fence were impressed that I had walked that far with the kids instead of taking the car.

I’m not promising to walk every time I need some veggies, but I was reminded again of something I used to feel very strongly about many years ago as a single working in the village – the journey you take with people is as important as the destination. The time you allow for people is as (or even more) beneficial as the program you provide. Being mama and having so many demands on my time and energy sometimes I forget to appreciate the journey in the process of getting from A to B and achieving something to tick off at the end of the day. With my family, kids, neighbours, team, new relationships and community I need to allow space. And the first place I need to get back to allowing more space is for God – no program, no agenda, just moments of time and journeying with Him and discerning His voice.

Oh and in terms of food, we will keep buying in bulk when we make semi-regular trips to Lichinga, work on better storage methods for our fruit and veg and pray for a rapid growing garden!!


*** Postscript: Talking to someone else today I heard that there are bigger weekly markets in three different nearby areas (5-40km away). Whilst I am keeping low expectations of the definition of ‘bigger’, my mission next week will be to check them out.