December 2015-Risk and Rewards
During this time of growth and transition at Partners in Hope (PIH), I’ve tried to start my week with an early morning exercise swim at the kids’ school, and a prayer walk at the Wildlife Center trail here in town. The trail runs alongside the Lingadzi River, and the sounds of the river, the birds and the crickets make it hard to believe I’m in the center of town. It’s a great place to clear my mind and listen to God. This morning was the 6th time that I’ve come across an ~8 foot crocodile just alongside the path. (read more)
Power upgrade-Solar Power Solutions- A stable source of power is something that is often taken for granted in the US and other developed countries. In Malawi, it is something that is rarely seen. When the local electricity company changed their motto to "Power All Day Every Day", they were sued. Some times of the year the power at PIH is out for hours at a time. Although we have a large generator, it is very expensive to run and the surges that come from unstable power can damage sensitive equipment. Through gifts from PIH supporters, PIH now has its lab and IT systems on solar power. A team from the US ministry PowerQuest have installed a bank of solar panels and inverters that have taken the PIH lab, x-ray, in-patient ward and IT systems completely off the grid. Our savings in power and generator fuel is roughly equivalent to the additional doctor that we plan to hire in October. Thanks so much to AMHF and all those who supported this project.
I recently went through the various papers that I had stuffed in the cover of my Bible, because it was getting too full. It contained some cute doodling my kids had done on the back of church bulletins, some old sermons that I had preached and other memorabilia. I also found a dedication that I had written to God about 10 years ago, before the Partners in Hope Medical Center existed. It began, "Trusting in Your ability to communicate and accomplish Your will in my life, I commit..." It was a year that I was seeking assurance that my plans for ministry aligned with God's plans. It's easy for me to trust in God's ability to do whatever He wants. What is often difficult is to trust ME and MY understanding of what God wants. This too is a lack of faith. Just as God can speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:21-41), surely He can communicate to me what I need to know to stay in His will. I just need to listen. (Read More)
Starting with “WHY”
Partners in Hope was flourishing in many ways. God had accomplished much since the initial vision back in 2001 to care strategically for people living with HIV in Malawi. However, at the end of my previous term in Malawi (2011), I was honestly asking Him for an “exit strategy”. The day-to-day demands of life, work and home had crowded out the time and quiet needed to routinely reflect and replenish. Without this time, it was easy to lose focus and motivation. I realize now that I hadn’t been disciplined about personal rest, exercise and most importantly, time with God in prayer and His Word. I had burned myself out.
I returned to Malawi with the motivation not to repeat this pattern. (Read More)
Advances in Tb diagnosis
Tuberculosis (Tb) is the number one killer of patients with HIV. An ancient disease, Tb was nearly eliminated until the HIV epidemic when millions of people became more susceptible to this devastating infection because of the destruction of the immune system that marks HIV infection. Tb is one of the hardest infections to diagnose and is even harder in HIV patients.
Improving the detection of Tb has been a high priority for the World Health Organization (WHO) and all involved in the care of HIV patients. Some exciting technology has been developed which can dramatically increase the ability to detect Tb in HIV patients. Through help from African Mission Healthcare Foundation, God’s Economy, Becton Dickinson (BD) and individual donors, PIH now has one of the best Tb labs in the country. (Read More)
(clinical officer at the Partners in Hope Medical Center)
Question: Why are you in this role?
Answer: "It has nothing to do with my reasoning and strength. There are better qualified clinical officers than me out there. But, I suppose it’s all to do with God’s plan. There is a ministry here that I am glad to be part of. My role gives me a divine opportunity to meet the sick on their way to bury their last hope (like the widow of Nain in Luke 7:11), and with God’s grace, transform their lives with the power of hope in God."
Question: What touches your heart more than anything?
Answer: "When I am in the public clinic, I see all those people walking back and forth, others very desperate, hopeless. There are children whose parents died and they have to grow up with grandparents. When I sit in front of an HIV infected patient, poor, hopeless, at the end of their rope, at times it becomes so emotional that my heart sinks. I love to hear the stories of my patients, not only their clinical aspect, but also stories of their injustice, stigma, poverty and fear of death. Those stories touch my heart."
Question: Which individual story has impacted you most?
Answer: "An HIV infected widow was taking care of three school-age children. She got so sick that she gave up and confessed death upon her life. When she walked into the clinic one day, she cried, “Ogo ine ndikufa (oh no, I am dying)”. I began talking to her about why we are called Partners in Hope, that she has come to a pool of hope that never runs dry. With those words, and more help to her clinical condition, she got better. Now, she’s on ARVs and nutritional supplement. She walked back to the clinic just recently, energetic...hope indeed changed her life."
Question: What message would you send to people who are hesitant to learn their HIV status?
Answer: "Do not be afraid. It’s better to know and be free than to be enslaved with false courage and false hope. Be of good courage, it all starts with you and you alone. If you do not want to know today, someone will not know on your behalf."