Dear Friends and Family,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your missionaries in hot Africa.
We are very sorry that we have let so much time go by since our last letter to you all. We have been extremely busy around here and I am excited to share some of the adventures with you.
The holiday season for us this year was so different. Christmas day was spent trying to make the other volunteers feel at home as much as possible. We invited them to spend the night at our house Christmas eve. We ate together, sang together, prayed together and gave together. We had many visitors throughout the day that we gave what we could to each one.
One of my visitors was a scheduled visitor. It is a little boy that comes by every Friday to get a food package from us. I have written about this little boy before. He has no parents and I found out that he lives very poorly with his grandmother who is having a hard time supporting them. The first time I gave him a package I walked to his house so he didn't have to carry it all by himself. I really wanted to see where he lived and under what condition. Well I was glad I did. It just confirmed for me that I was doing the right thing. He lives in a hut about 8 foot in diameter and that is it. I even had the opportunity to go inside so that all the onlookers wouldn't see what I was giving the boy. Inside was a few cooking pots and a couple of really worn out mats for them to sleep on. But to get back to my original story, he came by on Christmas Friday. Another volunteer, Michelle, helped me put together a package for him. In the gift bag we had plenty of food for the week and a plate full of candy and cookie goodies. Then, we had put a new shirt in recycled wrapping paper and had it on top. He was completely overwhelmed. First of all he thought that the wrapped present was the present. He had no idea to open it. Another item I have had to provide him with was a lock for his door. He told me some boys came in and stole all the food I gave him. I'm telling you it is one sad story after another around here. It was after his visit that I thought to myself, now that is what Christmas should always be like. It was so fulfilling.
We also went as a family over to the hospital and handed out candy to everyone we saw. We made an extra trip over to the pediatric ward and handed out shoes, clothing, cars and balloons, whatever we had. It was so much fun.
The week between Christmas and New Years we had 5 visitors from the states. One couple that was here came here as a gift to each other for their 25th anniversary. They paid for everything for a new TB ward and the wife helped paint it while she was here. The husband on the other hand stayed very busy pulling teeth. He is a dentist and took a lot of time teaching a few of the nurses how to pull teeth and one of his students was Jamie. On the last day Jamie was giving injections and doing blocks then pulling teeth at one chair while I was assisting him and another nurse at another chair while the dentist just sat back and watched them from afar. Jamie has missed his calling. He loved pulling teeth. Gary and Wendy Roberts got here New Years Eve. Gary is the missionary pilot that just lost his 4 year old son to malaria 6 months ago. Well, he is ready to get things going on taking portable dental kits that the army uses and go out into the bush. Jamie and I are very excited about that mission. I am also going to go on regular medical clinics with Wendy soon out in the villages. Can't wait! Women bible studies are also in my future to lead out in. Please pray!
Another thing that happened that was not of the norm happened one Sunday morning. Jamie and I were still sleeping in our bed as we heard a loud knock on our front door. We jumped out of bed and as we were trying to get something appropriate on to go to the door we heard another loud knock. I got to the door and found James standing there with scrubs on dressed as though he had just been in surgery. He looked at me and said, "do you want to help me keep a baby warm?" . I looked at him very confused and said what baby? Just then he pulled his shirt up and there she was a tiny 7 month preemie. I quickly invited him in and he took a seat in the living room and asked for some warm water in a basin. I then got a pan on the stove and began heating up water. James asked Jamie if there was some sort of light that could be used for warming and Jamie was out the door in a flash as he already had something in mind that could work. I ran down the hall to wake up Cory and Brichelle in their separate rooms. I said to them each separately "you need to come see the baby James has here". Their reply was, "baby what?". I just laughed and said "a baby human". They ran to the living room where the baby had already been placed into the basin with warm water. Brichelle had a turn holding the baby as she looked at the tiny fingers in amazement. Next we fed it through a extra new syringe, that I coincidentally had in the house from all our sickness, with sugar water. James told us that the two reasons that preemies don't make it is because of hypothermia and hypoglycemia. Unfortunately the babies heart beat was slowing down and then she stopped breathing. James worked on her for a long time to keep her alive but she just didn't have what she needed to make it. We were very sad. James said that we will see her again. And the other thing he reminded us of was that who knows what kind of life she may have had to endure here. I'm telling you the things we have experienced here are priceless. We have learned so much.
One of the things we have added to our responsibilities are the volunteers. We have opened up our home for those who want to pray come to our house by 8:00 p.m. every night. We have found this to be a great tool for binding us together as foot soldiers for the Lord. We have seen miracles happen that has been a great tool for strengthening our faith. Please continue praying for us. The responsibility is really big. We are up against Satan and it is so clear he is working very hard. That must mean we are doing something very right.
At the moment we are all well. Praise the Lord! Jamie has had malaria 3 times, Brichelle 4 times and Cory 5 times. Cory has also had ameba's. We have been too busy with our own sickness. But the rainy season is over and we see things lightening up. But as far as the hospital that is busier than ever. I think that as I write this every bed is full over there. The nurses are really tired and need prayers for strength. They stay so busy.
I also don't know if everyone there knows the big news for James and Sarah Appel. They are having a baby!!! We are so excited for them. Sarah is about 4 months along. They will be leaving in March to go to Denmark to have the baby just in case it comes early. I believe she is due in May.
The Moundou surgery clinic project is coming along. Jamie and I, along with the kids, went for a week to help paint the outside of the new surgery clinic. James will be going to spend some time there in the next couple of months to keep things moving. Right now he has a friend here, that is a doctor, that is able to help out in Bere so James can get some time away for the new project in Moundou. I think that will probably be a place both James and Sarah will spend more time at once the clinic is finished.
Well God is blessing us left and right. He is molding us. He is coming soon. He is needing us to reach the last percentage here that needs to be reached so that we can go home and be with Him. Thank you so much for all you are doing to help keep this mission going. There is so much to be done here. I see God bringing us people to influence all the time. It is such a big responsibility and we need those prayers.
We miss you all and hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you and may God pour out His blessings upon you.
Love, The Parkers Jamie, Tammy, Cory and Brichelle