Turkish Naira Only

Life is full of experiences and mishaps. Events, which at the time, can seem pretty insignificant and no more then a frivolous waste of time. Some dealings you may desire to just forget altogether! But then again, maybe not! These misadventures can in fact prove to be a divine appointment- big or small God can use it all! This morning in our men’s devotion, I had such a realization. A prior mishap made for a great life lesson. We have reached the book of James, and are looking closely at chapter five. Here James is giving a warning to the rich, “Your wealth is rotting away.” Instantly a prior misadventure surfaced.

Katie and I visited London, England last month for a short time of rest.  On our last day in London, we decided to go and get some lunch down by the London Bridge. Being our last day I didn’t want to hassle with exchanging any more currency figuring our visa card should allow us to ride the trip out. We found a place and had a nice lunch. We laughed, we joked, enjoying the time together. At least until the waitress came out with the bill! I reach for my card to pay and she declares, almost in slow motion, “WE ONLY EXCEPT CASH!” First idea in my head was to scoop Katie up and take off! However, coming to grips with our situation I said, ” Well, I don’t have any cash and will have to go get some.”

needed a hot dog along the way 😉

Walking away from the restaurant, leaving Katie as evidence that I will come back. I know that my credit card restricts withdraw from an ATM, so the wheels start churning in my head. I go to the closest grocery store to get “cash back” but the clerk replies, “Sorry sir, we don’t do that!” Immediately I turn back and offer to pay for the a mans groceries behind me in exchange for his cash, “No, thank you sir he says!” Walk outside; start sizing people up.  Go to a man in line for boat rides on the Thames, try to explain my situation and he says, “Get away, are you trying to rob me?” I was feeling pretty desperate at this point, as an hour had already passed and I thought of Katie still sitting at the restaurant- with no phone service mind you.

Meandering around trying to scheme up a plan I saw a sign in bright, blue letters INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE! I remembered the Nigerian Naira I had in my bag in the room. I went to the front desk and asked the man “Do you exchange Naira here?” He smiled and said, “Yes, we do!”   Finally, I thought and told him I would be right back!   Jogging back to the room about a mile and a half away at this point having been gone for an hour and a half. Katie is still alone at this restaurant.

 (I later found out they would not even let her go to the restroom in fear she would run. Can you picture Katie sprinting down the River Thames with waitress’ and Bobbies chasing her and the Tower of London in the background?)
Nigerian NairaAnyway I got back to the room grabbed all the Naira and back to the exchange. I come up to the window smiling and handed him my stack of Naira saying, “Exchange it all!” He grabs it with a smile and then stops smiling, looks up at me and says, “Oh we only exchange Turkish Naira.” TURKISH NAIRA! (I now know it is Turkish Lira not Naira- but all sounds the same!) Never have I ever been so close as to turning into the Hulk. I could feel my clothes getting tighter. I took my stack of no good, Nigerian Naira and walked defeated back to the restaurant. Not knowing what we were going to do, and thinking Katie is going to kill me. After digging through the crowds I come around the corner to see Katie, still sitting at the table, smiling and she says, “The waitress came by an hour and half ago, said the card machine works now!” Needless to say I didn’t leave a tip!! Turkish Naira

Hearing James 5:3 “ your gold and silver have become worthless” made me stop and realize that running up and down the streets of London was in fact something God glorified. A perfect parallel, the money we have in one place is worth nothing in a foreign land. The money, possessions, and materials we have here in this world, the ones we cling so tightly to, will be worthless once reaching heaven. I can picture myself and others reaching the “pearly gates” running franticly from here to there trying to exchange everything we have. Desperately trying to pay the bill! When all we have in our pockets is useless, no good, dingy, “Turkish Naira!”

“ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that now one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The Heart of a Child

IMG_5387Toroti, a frequent patient to Egbe Hospital, has captivated the hearts of many.  A love/hate relationship for sure!  Love to see her warm, bright smile in the ward.  However, hate to know what her presence at the hospital means.  Toroti, now ten years old, developed heart disease at age five as the result of an untreated infection entering her heart valves. She has since dealt with chronic chest pain, the inability to breath well, swelling of her lower limbs, and a frail, weak body. All to which causes her to frequent the hospital.  Following her most recent visit doctors tell us she will probably not be coming back much longer.  Toroti’s heart is getting worse and worse, and she is getting weaker and weaker.  Without a transplant there is really no other option.

I have felt compelled to write a blog about Toroti for some time now. Wanting to tell her story along with the many other sick kids we see at the hospital regularly.  Children whose lives seem unjustly plagued with illness and discomforts. Keeping them from school, from friends, from just being a kid! All for reasons that most likely would be easily treated or prevented in other parts of the world.  It is an aspect of life here that is emotionally stressful and frustrating for me.

Cindy Borody and I talking with a cute patientDr. Dana Iglesia, fellow SIM missionary and friend, wrote a beautiful blog this week which I am sharing because it really captures the essence of my struggle.  Unlike myself who only comes to the hospital on occasion, Dr. Dana, along with the other doctors and nurses live this day to day.   I never doubt Gods sovereignty, but seeing a sick kid more times then none leaves me thinking- Why God, Why?

Here are Dr. Dana’s words….

Over the last few days I’ve been quiet and reflective about life here in Egbe and happenings around the hospital. It is one thing to know basic statistics about a place and another thing to live them day to day. I know many medical facts especially related to mothers and babies. I’m pretty biased in this way because, well I’m a woman and I enjoy providing maternity care. I also agree with many others, when they say that the health of nation is determined by the health of its women and children.

IMG_4776So I know, academically, that 2/3 of the women having babies in Nigeria are cared for by other women who are NOT skilled or trained to treat and identify basic important health problems related to pregnancy. I also know that the rate of death for children under five years old is about 124 per 1000 per year. In the U.S. this number is only 6.

The best way I can explain child mortality rate is like this…in any Nigerian town with 1000 children being born annually, 124 of these children do not make it their 5th birth date. That’s a lot of children, right! I know that on average, people in Nigeria live to the age of 54 years old. It is more common for people to die at younger ages in Egbe.

So, what is the reality of these numbers? How does it affect my day to day life here?IMG_0029

Children are brought to our doorstep weekly who are on the verge of death and do not make it. We get frustrated to the point that when a parent says their child has been sick just for 1 or 2 days we don’t believe them because of the obviously critical state of the child. We start to wonder if we are doing everything we can for our patients. Treating a seizing child with malaria becomes routine to the point that we forget that it’s non-existent in the United States.

In the last one week we have had:
*One year old with anemia, sickle cell disease diagnosed and malaria
*11 month old with anemia, likely leukemia, and malaria
*4 year old with meningitis or severe malaria, slowly awaking from a coma, but still with high fevers after one week
*4 month old with AIDS and malaria
*One year old with severe asthma needing help to breath
*18yo with sickle cell, anemia and malaria.

IMG_5862The rate I gave of 124 per 1000 per year starts to feel heavy and very real, when you see child after child come in with sickness. It begins to weigh on you emotionally and spiritually. The loss of a child deeply affects a family. Parents become unhinged watching this fragile life in their hands. This is not a time when we are able to do or say anything.

So what do we do? Sometimes I’m not even sure what to do. Rationalizing facts and statistics, don’t help. Knowledge doesn’t help. Prayer does help. But in the end, you have to “Be.”

You have to be present. You have to be present to this family’s pain and suffering. You have to be present to the loss you feel within yourself. You have to be present to the fragility of life.

Toroit and Dana
Toroti and Dr. Dana

I am grateful for the Psalms.
Psalm 121:2 My help (and hope) comes from the Lord the Maker of heaven and earth.

In the deepest part of my being, my faith tells me that I am not in control. I do not have the final say. I am a part of a larger story that is written by God.

God has called me here, so here is where I will be.



Survivors of Airplane Crash in Fort Lauderdale

A great story!!!

Miles In Missions

MMEveryday I walk to a beautiful new guesthouse with the name over the door McKenzie Manor. In the kitchen of that guesthouse I have devotions with my girls in the mornings. The discussions we have about what God is doing in our lives and the beautiful songs we sing bring such joy to my life. I have heard of the McKenzies but I have never met them. I know that God put Egbe on their hearts when they visited a few years ago with their girls and they donated in a big way. The sacrifice they made now brings joy to my life, my girls in the kitchen and also the volunteers. Lives are changed in this guesthouse. I don’t know if when they said “Yes” to God, they even new what that “Yes” would do.

mm2Today I got to know the McKenzie family a little better. Their story…

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