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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Telling it Like it Is...

These past few months have been like none other in my life.  I never imagined being on "sick leave" for six months, and if I had known, I certainly would have packed up my house a little differently, or asked someone to move in to the apartment... to keep in alive and rat free.  Instead it is empty, rats are nesting in my cupboards, and no one is there to decorate the festive three with my precious neighbour boys.  There are so many things I am missing in and about Soroti right now:

  • good friends
  • teaching in churches and schools
  • keeping up with Educational Care
  • company, especially when you are lonely
  • hot weather
  • youth conferences
  • kids camps
  • a friend's wedding
  • biking
  • sunshine
  • my adoptive families
  • making Christmas cookies with Vanessa
  • laughing with Teddy
  • HOME
And there are so many other things I have lost over the past few months:
  • opportunities to serve
  • my Aunt Jean
  • my car
  • my out-going life-style
  • Mr. Chaps, the kitty cat
  • my energy
I am thankful that I am beginning to share in the churches again, about God's Work in Soroti, and how He continues to call me there and I'm glad that I can begin to move about, but it's not easy.

The past few months have truly been a struggle for me.  I have gone from an extreme extravert, always being surrounded by friends and people, to becoming a shut-in with no one home most days.  I have read books, created art projects, written letters, caught up on tv series, and cooked many meals for my parents, but it's not the lifestyle I would ever desire.  

I miss people so much, but the hard part is, I haven't been feeling that well to go anywhere.  Sitting in a car has been extremely painful for me, so longer road trips are out of the question.  Originally when I came back to Canada my lungs were sore, recovering from the pulminary embolisms and I was preparing for surgery.  But now I'm recovering from surgery - which is taking a lot longer than I imagined... and starting to struggle with other issues as well.  The pain in my legs has become awful, but thankfully I found out 5 days ago that my Vitamin D levels are LOW and after starting some supplements, I'm starting to see that my legs are in less pain.

I still have concerns like:
  • when will I get to go back to Uganda?
  • how do I go car shopping when I first arrive back?
  • will I find a dentist in Canada who is willing to do some pro bono work?
  • why is there still pain in my calves (especially if there are no blood clots or squished veins)?
  • will I survive this cold winter weather?
But I am also thankful for so much:
  • a chance to get to know the congregation in St. Thomas 
  • for quality family time
  • lots of conversations and card gameswith Mom and Dad
  • for supportive mission agencies
  • for fireplaces and duvets
  • for healing
  • for rest
  • for the snail mail I've been receiving
  • a part in the Christmas eve drama at church
So, here I am, continuing on in this journey of the unknown and out of my element, but grateful that God has a plan through all of this and I'm trusting in His faithfulness.
 At craft night with a great group of people from church
 The Santa Claus parade in Wingham
 Truly Canadian
 At the arena
Watching my nephew's hockey game

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Community Dinner

Since I have been back in Ontario, I've been able to fellowship at lot at First CRC in St. Thomas... I feel blessed to be part of such a caring congregation.  Last week I was able to do the children's message and I'm happy to be sharing God's Will with the kids. 
Last night, I participated in the community dinner.  I am not able to lift much yet, so I was the ticket lady.  At 5pm, the doors to the Legion were opened and I was able to greet 176 low-income, homeless, struggling people.  That number hardly begins to represent the needs here in St. Thomas, but for one night, I was able to serve along with the church as we offered Christmas dinner and prizes.  
I went to bed thinking about the Poor Man's Christmas last year in Soroti and the Community Dinner here... what a difference and what a privilege to serve.  (For community privacy, I am not posting pictures of people)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Operation Karen

Well, it's the day after surgery and I think I have a few things to say:
The day before surgery, the internal medicine doctor called to say that some of my blood work is showing that I may be prone to blood clots... and that I might need to be on blood thinners for life.  But he also thought that maybe the Xeralto blood thinners I am currently taking could also make the blood work show up positive.  He said that after three more months, when I finally come off the thinners for 4 or 5 days, we could retest the blood work.  But I told him that I came off the blood thinners last Saturday - 5 days prior, in order to prepare for surgery... so he quickly rewrote a requisition and faxed it over to Lifelabs.  So the morning of surgery I went to have 7 more vials of blood drawn.  (By the way Canadians, we take things for granted... 7 vials = $528). Hopefully the blood work comes out negative, as I don't really want to take meds for the rest of my life.

I have always loved giving blood, but ever since I had malaria last year, the needles make me very nauseaus, and while preparing for surgery it took the anesthesiologist 3 tries to find a vein that would work... I don't even know how I fell asleep going into surgery at 11 am.  It was a 1.5 hour surgery to remove a large ovarian dermoid.  There are three small incisions in my gut... and they feel pretty good.  I actually can't feel the 1 cm cuts at all, but my whole gut feels torn apart and rearranged.  When I walk around I carry my gut like a baby because it hurts and if I cough I have to use a pillow to hold the incisions in place.

I woke up at 1:30 pm and by 2 pm Dad was back with me in post-op.  I was given my prescriptions... I now have to take an injection blood thinner for one week before going back to the Xeralto tablets for three months and by 3:30 pm I was home and resting in my own bed.  I slept for an hour and a half then had supper with my parents.  And I'm wearing compression socks for a whole week during the day.  Thankful for Mom to help me put them on.

At around 8 pm by right arm started feeling tingly and tight.  At 8:45pm a large lump appeared and after a little googling by Mom we were fearing another blood blot.  I really don't want to experience another pulminary embolism.  So from 9 - 2:30 am Dad and I were in the ER getting things checked out.  Thankfully it is not a blood clot, but a blood bruise from the IV trial spot.

I don't know how long it will take for things to rearrange and recover.  Apparently they put a bag in the right side incision to load the 10x7x7 cm dermoid into, along with half of the ovary... and pulled it back out through that tiny hole, so that side is more painful.  Ok... that might be a bit too much information... but that's what my body has been through.  My follow-up / post-surgery appointment is Dec. 16... so it most likely won't be until the new year that I will travel back to Uganda... but I want to make sure that I am completely better first.

I might do my church presentations first and then go home!
I am so grateful for the many people who have been sending prayers, cards, kind words, phone calls, and love through this whole process. I feel supported!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Songs for This Season

Here are just a few songs that people have sent me during this season:

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

In all things - Give Thanks

Uganda to Ireland to Canada...
It's been a journey and I am so thankful for all that the Lord has provided.
Here is a short list of how blessed I feel:
  • Ambulance - a free ride to Beaumont hospital, where I received thorough care. I even had a great social worker who blessed me with conversation and an Irish souvenier book
  • Rob and Debi Millar - GOM colleagues who took me into their home for 5 weeks!!
  • Made it to Dublin, not our first vacation choice... Mom and Dad have reminded me that we had never even planned to go to the Republic of Ireland for a vacation... we had talked of Spain or China, but obviously God wanted us to be in Ireland for this adventure.
  • I was blessed with an extra suitcase to take things home to Canada
  • Chapstick... yes, I even thank God for a chapstick.  I lost mine the day before, and without even saying anything, the Lord gifted me with a new one the next morning. :)
  • I had left my computer in Uganda and was really struggling to communicate with my Ipad, and the Lord provided an Ipad keyboard for me!!
  • Phone calls from Uganda blessed my heart - friends cared deeply
  • Flowers from Canada - made me smile immensely
  • Blood results - I am thankful that the cyst is not cancerous!
  • Mr. Chaps - my cat is being well taken care of by friends, and my neighbours are doing a great job of looking after the house.
  • Trim Castle, Kilkenny Castle, Wicklow Gap, Tipperary - a few road trips I was blessed with by friends from Jamestown Rd Baptist church
  • Dinners out from church members also touched my heart.
  • I am thankful for the insurance company - for great communication, quick action, and lots of help... hey, they got me to Canada for further medical care.
I am so glad the Lord has looked after me in incredible ways while I was in Ireland.
Here I am... all dressed up for a wedding - the day before I left for Ireland.
The morning that I flew, I went to visit my neighbour and sweet friend, Vanessa, who is in boarding school in Kampala.  I sat with her during her visitation day, just hours before flying off to Dublin.
Here I am... on my way to the hospital from the airport.  I think I look stronger than I felt at that moment.
When I arrived in the ER or A&E, I was put into a quarantined private room because I flew in from "Africa" with an unknown illness.  But after 11 hours in the ER, I was moved to the respitory ward where I spent the next 5 days.  After that I enjoyed 3 days of sight-seeing with my parents before settling in with some great people.
I went through various forms of culture shock - 1st world culture, Irish culture for sure
I even had to walk out of the supermarket empty handed because I was so overwhelmed.
Here I am in beautiful Glandalough
Malahide Castle (one of MANY that I was able to see)
I became a part of this wonderful church family for 6 weeks.  I am so truly grateful for their care, prayers, hugs, meals, days of fellowship, and so much more.
In front of the "Peace Wall" between the Catholics and the Protestants in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
At Christ Church with Mom and Dad in Dublin
Climbing up the stairs of Blarney Castle to kiss the stone...
Going back to the hospital for another CT scan - this is the scan that found the cyst... which I didn't get results for until 3 weeks later.
I don't know if you can see Jesus' feet in this photo, but how often to we walk past the homeless... "Whatever you do to the least of these..."  This one really hit me.
On the Cliffs of Moher, on the west coast of Ireland.

(Look forward to a video of some of my more adventurous moments in Ireland... I wasn't sick in bed the whole time, just recovering from blood clots that didn't allow me to fly.... so I was a tourist occasionally and I loved it!)