Back in East Africa... again: Olivia's Blog #1

by Olivia Perry, age 12

Many people ask me what it is like in Africa, and well, it’s like a lot a lot of things… if I started to explain the differences, it would take me a long time.  Hopefully this blog will help explain some.  We arrived in Uganda May 18.  The travel went surprisingly well, with no delayed flights or unexpected stops.  The moment we stepped outside the air-conditioned airport, we noticed a difference. The air is moist and warm, and has the smell of… well, of  Africa—a mix of rain but also of sweat with a touch of smoke. Comforting.  

We loaded our 30 bags, not including our carry-ons, into a coaster (a small bus).  We then drove to the guest house where we are staying.  We’ve spent the last few days here in Kampala, getting stuff we need, oh and in case you’re wondering, Kwadja, our dog, got here safely. As you may know, Kwadja means foreigner, and a local man thought the name was hilarious!!  Meanwhile, South Sudan is still fighting.  Please pray for South Sudan and us as we are getting ready go up to Arua, from where we will go on to Moyo (in northern Uganda).  Where exactly we will live we know not, nor how long we will be there.  My dad will help at a hospital where medical care is needed. We don’t know everything, but God is leading us.  So we just have to follow and trust!!

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 May 2017 19:05

2016: Tumultuous Times in Yei, South Sudan

It's been a long time since we have posted anything, because I have struggled with what to write.  

We left South Sudan on 19 April 2016, on a scheduled home leave, knowing that things were getting more tense in our country of residence for the past 5 years.  We had been hearing escalating outbursts of gunfire and heavy artillery, closer to our compound.  Rebels from local tribes, frustrated with the government, started clashing in the surrounding bush.

In May, a local missionary doctor, a friend and partner of our ministry, was shot one night after bringing laboring mothers to our hospital.  She was stabilized at His House of Hope, and transferred to Nairobi, Kenya, where she died several days later.  Her body was brought back to Yei and buried there.  The church she was serving with demonstrated forgiveness by having a peaceful burial and not seeking retribution on her behalf.  As can be imagined, her death caused us all deep sadness-- not so much for her, as she is with our Lord Jesus now, but for the depth of the brokenness of the situation that someone would kill a missionary doctor, a nun, a woman who had so faithfully served the people of South Sudan up until her death at age 60.

In July, just before the 5th birthday of the world's youngest nation, fighting exploded in the capital city of Juba (100 miles from our home in Yei).  Over the next few months, the fighting calmed in Juba, but increased around Yei.  All roads leading to Yei became unsafe for travel.  

Our staff gradually left to make sure their families were safe, many of them relocating to northern Ugandan refugee camps.  The patient numbers also decreased, until hospital services had to be reduced to caring for the local orphans and staff with the few remaining South Sudanese staff.

Our family remains in Colorado, United States, until May.  We will reassess the situation in Yei and decide if we return and resume full services at His House of Hope, or get involved with healthcare of the South Sudanese living in refugee settlements in northern Uganda.

Hope is a difficult things in this newest of nations.  As hearts surrender to Jesus, and let Him work His peace in them,  the cycle of violence can be ended.  Pray with us that the "God who causes wars to cease" will work powerfully in the people of South Sudan.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 December 2016 01:09

The Neglected Middle

A local believer and member of our staff had been caring for her nephew of about 18 years of age.  His father had asked that the boy live with her, and she provided food and shelter for him.  The young man got increasingly involved with witchcraft, and resented the consistent faith in Jesus that he saw in his aunt.  One day, he “went into the river”—to call on evil spirits to harm her.  (Local witchdoctors will go under water and stay for long periods of time where they describe contacting local spirits.  They will promise to do something for the spirit if the spirit causes harm to someone they despise.) 

However, he was unable to cause any harm to his aunt.  He sought out other ways to harm her, such as poisoning, but she discovered his intentions.  She took him to the police station, and he confessed to going into the river and trying to harm her.  The boy’s father was then called and he took him back to the village. 

Stories such as this are not uncommon in South Sudan.  For those of us from the West, they seem like fiction.  But, we have heard these stories over and over from credible people and with key common elements.  When we consider the reality of the spiritual world of which the Bible speaks, and present day reports like these, we are forced to re-examine our Western worldview and its neglect of the everyday interaction of the physical and spiritual world.  This is the neglected middle—between the world we see and the God to which we pray there are angels and demons interacting with our lives. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2015 04:53

Non-Medical Augmentation of Labor

At Bet Eman (His House of Hope) Hospital, we strive to provide safe deliveries.  In order to do this, we induce labor in pregnant women well beyond their due dates, assist difficult deliveries with a vacuum device, and do Cesarean sections.  However, sometimes these aren’t enough…

Our South Sudanese staff have taught us that many local people believe that if they have unconfessed sins, they won’t go into labor and deliver normally.  As we struggle to get their labor started, often a social, emotional, or spiritual battle is going on in the patient and family—of which we are unaware.  At times, our chaplains encounter their stories and draw out the unspoken issues—so they can be free of them, and discover the forgiveness that Jesus wants to give.  And, sometimes the labor only begins after such a conversation…

Recently I was called in for a difficult delivery.  The baby was close, but even after 3 pulls on the vacuum device, he didn’t come.  I prepared to give a quick speech about the baby not coming and the need to quickly go to surgery, but instead felt prompted to first pray out loud in Arabic.  I simply asked God to give her strength to deliver the baby.  On the next push, she did just that!  Where the vacuum failed, God succeeded in response to prayer.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2015 04:51

Grace upon Grace: The very real struggle to have a healthy baby in South Sudan

Grace J. was followed carefully in antenatal clinic for several months.  This, her 8th pregnancy, was hoped to be different than all the others.  Her first baby had been born alive, but died after a few days of life.  For the next six pregnancies, she faithfully attended antenatal care at the main hospital in Juba, South Sudan.  Her husband emphatically stated, "We did not stay and deliver in the village-- we were at the big hospital!"  However, each time she would arrive at a checkup at about 35 weeks along, and find that the baby had died inside, without any warning signs.  He implored us to help them have a live baby this time.  We carefully monitored her after 28 weeks, giving her steroids to mature the baby's lungs in case of an early delivery, and checking the baby each time on a fetal monitor.  Around 34 weeks, the husband began asking us to deliver the baby, but we were hesitant to bring baby out too early.  He asked to sign a consent for a C-section operation, in case we needed to emergently deliver the baby.  Their village is about 50 miles from the hospital, so he worried that we wouldn't be able to reach him if surgery was needed.

We kept her in the hospital and monitored daily until 35 weeks, then made the decision to induce labour.  Grace was stable, but as soon as contractions started, the baby showed signs of distress, so we prepared urgently for C-section.  Her blood pressure was suddenly noted to be extremely high, so we modified the anesthesia we were planning to use, gave her medicine to lower her blood pressure, and quickly delivered the baby by C-section.  

Thanks to the grace of God, it was a healthy baby boy!  Grace struggled with a post-operative headache due to the urgent spinal anesthesia, requiring Jeff to learn a new procedure ("blood patch")-- which worked (thanks to a consult with Charlie, our hometown anesthetist!).  It was a happy day when Grace and her husband took their healthy son home, reminding us all that our lives themselves are only due to the grace of God.

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 May 2015 15:59

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Our Mission:

Share the gospel of Jesus Christ and strengthen His Church through medical care and education, discipleship, and loving the people of South Sudan as a family.

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