For the past 2 weeks the 4 girls, mom, and I were in Bamenda staying at a hostel attending a home school conference for missionary kids in Cameroon. There were about 6 or 7 families and the kids had a terrific time. The theme was fairy tales. I taught language arts and math for the 4th grade class, which included 5 kids. I ended up really enjoying it. One of the highlights for me was getting to know the families and the end program and banquet. Our class had written our own fairy tale and acted it out. We ended up having some good laughs and sensing God's presence. Martin Luther once wrote that laughter is one of the things that drives Satan away. Could be- it's a good reason to keep laughing.
In the midst of some real goodness we certainly needed some "protection" to guard our hearts and minds b/c during those 2 weeks we also had some serious struggles. When the conference started, I was sick with a head cold and achiness. Hannah and Hadiah then got it, and theirs was worse with a cough. Hadiah got sinusitis and is still getting over it. Hannah got a migraine as well and had some vomiting. Mom got thrombophlebitis- a superficial blood clot (now improved) in addition to her irritable bowel symptoms. Mom also took a fall when a table she was scooting collapsed, and she rolled over it. She's a trooper though and got up all right. Praise God there's no broken bones or even bruises. In the midst of these struggles I was functioning as a single mom of course and feeling a bit spent.
Then the very worse thing happened.....We got bug bites that worsened instead of improving. After 5 or 6 days of that we discovered that larva had been deposited in our skin and were growing into maggots. Disgusting! The sites became quite painful and essentially one has to painfully squeeze the site in order for the maggot to come out. Hannah had 2, I had 2, Elle's and Miriam's we caught in time and covered with vaseline before they developed, and Dasen had 1. (Dasen had spent Sunday night there for the opening ceremony. He had then taken a Cameroonian taxi on Monday morning back to Mbingo Hospital. The taxi was a small, old, yellow corolla with 10 people in it- 4 in the front, 4 in the back, and 2 in the trunk hanging out. Dasen just read a book on the way- that's a missionary kid for you.)
I decided that maggots in our skin freak me out; so do poisonous snakes in our yard. Right before we left for the conference our laundry helper found a green momba snake on our back door side walk. It was as long as my arm, and is deadly. I'm much more hesitant about letting the girls play outside, and now they have to wear shoes they can run fast in whenever they go out to play.
Dasen is doing well in his surgical responsibilities but it is taking a toll on him. The surgeries are much more physically exhausting than at home. The anesthesia is rudimentary so the patients muscles are not fully relaxed and Dasen has to physically work hard at retracting muscles. He keeps telling me that sweaty surgeon husbands are hunky. He comes home hot and sweaty and tired. There is also a lot more death to deal with as patients present later with advanced disease, and there is no ventilator or ICU to help those who have trouble. In addition, Dasen is daily dealing with some complicated issues of residents' housing problems, and arrived into the midst of an issue in which one resident is on probation. I'm proud of the way he has humbly and firmly confronted these personal issues and encouraged true discipleship in the surgical residents. Dasen is also regularly hosting and organizing visiting surgeons. Keep praying for us all as somehow God equips us to live this rocky and purposeful path with joy in West Africa.