June 2014

A Day in the Life of Nadia

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It’s always difficult to imagine what it’s like in a work place that’s different from your own, let alone one in a different country, so, bearing this in mind, I thought I would describe one of my days in the medical centre.

My day began at 0830 so I left home a measly 5 minutes before to walk the hundred metres or so to work. Like most wards, we begin with a ward round. The night staff hand over each patient, Dr Mike assesses each and we decide on the plan of care for the day. This morning was no different. We only had 4 on the ward, one was for discharge after recovering from malnutrition, one was a baby who had become dehydrated for unknown reasons but was recovering well, and one we were concerned about who has a resistant cerebral malaria. The nursery has just three babies, all feeders and growers and doing well, two will be discharged tomorrow. There is the usual joking among the staff as the kids on the paediatric ward start crying the moment Mike approaches the a stethoscope, making it all the harder for him to hear a thing.

Through the morning I did the usual drug round at 10am, make the daily plans for the nursery babies, increasing their feeds, checking weight gain etc. and review a few of the Potter’s Village babies who aren’t well, Amos has a sore on his leg that’s infected and Emmanuel has a flu that has been very persistent! According to the immunisation calendar, David and Daniel, the twins, are up for immunisations today and Jacinta needs to be weighed as she has lost weight recently. Throughout this time outpatients came in to be seen by Dr Mike and Olivah takes care of the government provided immunisations which we administer Monday-Friday.

Things are fairly quiet so I sat down at midday with a cuppa and my lap top to enter in some of the medical centre stats on flow charts, i.e. the income, expenditure and patient numbers, and finish typing up the next roster. My reprieve is short lived though as Mike pops his head out and announces a baby has been brought in, found abandoned in a field by the road. The baby, only a few days old by the looks, is very yellow, wet and cold. The recordable temperature is 28.7C. The incubators take at least 1/2 an hour to warm up and without that time available, I go for the next best option, kangaroo care, and just like that I am a temporary incubator. There is a lot of laughter as Mike and Jovia hold up a sheet so I can pull my top off, get the baby into position and wrap a blanket around us both. Winafred, our social worker, names him Timothy.  About 20 minutes after I have commenced my incubator duties, Joviah sticks her head into the office where I’m sitting to inform me a premature baby has arrived, weight 870grams, estimated gestation 30 weeks. Keeping hold of my precious cargo I head through to the nursery, sure enough, there she is, her name is Maureen and, she seems to be doing well though is quite cold so her mother becomes her temporary incubator. She’s breathing well on her own at this stage but we keep a close eye on her and give her a breathing stimulant.

I’ve just settled in the lab with little Timothy who has now reached 32C, when Vera, one of the nursing assistants rushes through beckoning for me to come quickly. Following her back to the office I find Mike with Niwarinda, the little 17 month old with cerebral malaria… he dies moments after I walk into the room. There was nothing we could do. I sit for a while with his mother Elizabeth. She speaks no English but sometimes words aren’t needed, she just rests her head on my shoulder and cries.

Timothy mean-while needs to be fed and is warming up well, but first I need to test his jaundice because he is a rich yellow! With the help of the centrifuge and SBR meter I soon have my results and, sure enough, he needs photo therapy. His temperature is at 34C so into the incubator he goes, goggles made of self-adhesive bandage with gauze inside, and phototherapy on. I decided to head out for lunch then, being 3pm I was pretty hungry and everyone seemed to be okay for the moment.

When I get back Maureen looks like she needs some assistance, we had already put her on 1L of low flow oxygen but she is working hard, so with Mike’s help we get the CPAP out and set up. Her little nose is so small the nasal prongs only just fit. I’ve just got her sorted when the power goes off! The incubators shut off, phototherapy off, CPAP off… blast! Usually it doesn’t go off for long but not wanting to take the risk we put the generator on. By the time I get back to the nursery to make sure everything is back on, Timothy catches my eye, his hand is twitching. Sure enough, when I get a closer look, he’s having a seizure and two more quickly follow after confirming that it isn’t because of his temperature of blood sugar we give him anti-convulsants and continue to monitor  him. By now it’s already 7pm. Maureen’s mother comes into the nursery now and, through an interpreter, tells us she wants to leave, to transfer her baby to another hospital, we have already explained to her that no other hospitals in the district have neonatal facilities and to remove her baby will be to kill her, but she is insistent. I can only conclude that she does not want her baby to live. Taking a deep breath I once again tell her, through the translator, that we cannot allow her to remove the baby. It seems she will let the matter rest for now.

I’m on call tonight so I’ll stay at the medical centre. Usually I just sleep in my house and they will call if I’m needed but with Maureen on CPAP and Timothy’s seizures I’ll sleep in the clinic tonight to be near if something happens. I’m rostered to work tomorrow so I hope I get some sleep.

Not every days is like this, sometimes it’s very quiet and drama free, other days it is non-stop, but it is always unpredictable. There is no such thing as advance referrals, people just show up and there is no telling when or in what condition, we just handle what-ever walks through the door in the best way we can.

The Interns have Landed

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After a rather extended journey (requiring some good old missionary-like flexibility) we have our feet planted firmly on Fijian soil. In fact they are quite literally on the soil with my winter white tootsies rather enjoying their release from the confinement of sneakers. My taste buds are also having a great time – currently savouring their first Fijian banana. Yum!

Yesterday we made an exploratory journey by local bus to Suva, our home for the next 3+ months. As far as cities go it’s surprisingly pleasant with a beautiful waterfront, trees and even some hills.

First impressions: – A fascinating mush of Fijian, Indian and western influences. – Some shockingly expensive supermarket food – $18 for a box of muesli! – Markets full of fresh fruit and veges- heaven! – Lovely, smiley locals

It’s strange how familiar things like supermarket shopping take so much more energy in an unfamiliar environment! After finishing our shopping mission most of the team required naps. We’re already learning local tricks like doing dishes without filling a sink and tonight we’re attempting a curry using real coconut milk. Just have to get it out of the coconut…

Right must get to the cooking, photos will hopefully follow shortly.

Bye for now, Nat.

Heather and Corum Deo

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Not long ago the Disciple Nations Alliance released a new online course called Corum Deo. It’s all about helping people get a broader vision of God’s mission. I started the course a few weeks ago, partly because I’m new at NZCMS and I’ve never done any ‘religious’ study – other than church and home group. On top of that, the course is free! What a bonus!

Already I’m learning many new things. Firstly is the importance of ‘our story’. We’ve adopted it as the title for our October Hui, and yet it is mentioned many times in the first week of the course. What is our story as Christians? Are we still hearing our story correctly? Why/where/how have we lost our story? It’s forcing me to ask: How do I relate to our story, and why has God blessed me with this job within NZCMS. He no doubts has greater plans for me, as he does for all of us. Right now, circumstances mean that I am not going to be a Mission Partner heading offshore, but this course is showing me that right here in New Zealand there is much that we can learn about the Great Commission of Jesus to disciple nations.

The goal of the course is to get people to start a “seed project” – a small project that can help influence my local community in the right direction. At the moment I have no idea of what this project will be. The purpose of this project is not to use money, but to use existing resources within the community to further God’s plan, make disciples of his people, and change people’s lives through practical projects. The start of this project will be in this weeks lessons. I will be praying that God reveals his will to me as I embark on this first small step of mission right here in New Zealand.

Coram Deo uses online video, readings and chat to work through twelve weeks of topics. At two hours a week it is not a huge time commitment and a wonderful way to wind down in the evening after work. It’s also a chance to contemplate God and how I can bless others through the blessings that God has provided me. Another woman from my church is also doing the course. It’s great for us to get to know each other better through discussing the topics each week. However, I’m most looking forward to the seed project. The course has challenged me to see that many churches do not impact society nearly as much as society impacts our churches! This seed project will be a first small step where I can be a part of changing this trend.


For more information about Coram Deo or to sign up for a free twelve week course visit www.coramdeo.com

Seven Years in Tanzania

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The nights are cold now, but the days are still beautifully warm and sunny with clear blue skies. How different it will be when I arrive in Melbourne early next Thursday morning! The weather will be just one of many adjustments I will have to make as I prepare for life back in the ‘West’. Seven years seems to have gone by very quickly and I wonder what God has got ahead for me. It’s been a life-changing experience and I think I will return as a more mature and confident person than when I left New Zealand. I thank God for all my experiences here.

The last month has been one of final visits to rural parishes, farewell celebrations, revision, exams and marking – including an excursion to Bagamoyo with the Diploma three students who wanted a weekend away together before they went their separate ways. Bagamoyo is an historic town on the east coast just north of Dar es Salaam and it was a wonderful experience for all of us. Someone’s generosity meant I could pay for a bus to take 14 students and four staff. The students were able to find accommodation and food for the weekend and we were given the name of an excellent guide. On Saturday morning we toured and saw evidence of Arabic, German and British occupation, and in the afternoon we swam which was a whole new experience for most of the students who had never seen the sea and were surprised to find it tasted salty! To see the students’ enjoyment was like watching a child experience an ice cream for the first time.

Saying goodbye to these students was a painful experience. We started at MTC together in February 2011 and now we have finished together. Please join me in prayer for them as they wait for ordination and placement in their first parish. Five of them are young women and the diocese can be a challenging place for women pastors, but they are going out certain of God’s call on their lives. I admire them so much.

I leave Msalato on June 24 and fly out of Dar es Salaam on the 25th. On my way home I will spend a month in Australia visiting two of my daughters and other members of my family and friends and will arrive in New Zealand at the end of July. I will then be preparing for debrief and deputation (visiting churches) and, most importantly, waiting for the birth of my first granddaughter at the end of August.

Mungu awabariki sana wote.

Home Again

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It’s hard to believe but after a year away I arrived back in New Zealand just over a week ago! To be honest it was with mixed feelings! There was the excitement of seeing family and friends again but also the sadness of knowing I am away from other friends and those I consider family.

On my recent holiday in Croatia I unpacked and put everything in the cupboards at each place I stayed even though the longest stay was three nights. My friend Angi asked me why I felt it necessary to do this when she just lived out of her suitcase. On reflection I decided that maybe it was my way of making the place where I was staying home for those few nights.

As someone who has traveled a lot and lived in different places home really is where I find myself. Of course I do also have specific places I call home – I am currently up to the count of four countries that I consider ‘home’: Home 1 is New Zealand, Home 2 is England, Home 3 is Romania and my most recent home (Home 4) is Kenya. I feel blessed to consider each of these countries home: they each hold a special place of significance in my heart. And this year I have had the amazing privilege to spend time in each of these homes.

Ironically my birth home New Zealand is the place I feel least at home. Despite my deep love for New Zealand it is not a place I like to live in and I am always itching to head away again! Most of my friends have realised this: commenting on a recent post on Facebook where I had said I would be home soon a friend asked “but for how long?!!!” A good question indeed! At this stage God alone knows! I am in a period of waiting – waiting to see how the future will unfold and what God’s plans are for me. I am in the process of applying to be a long term mission partner with my mission organisation NZCMS. While I wait I reflect again on home and think about what it says in Hebrews: “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” (NLT)

I thank God for my many homes and most importantly I thank God I have found my home in Him!

The Great Commissioning

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On Sunday night we had the privilege of joining our Haerenga Interns at their commissioning service at St Christopher’s here in Christchurch. It was an amazing time. Each of them shared the highs and lows from their journey so far. We then had the privilege of gathering around them and praying for them alongside their new friends, mentors and leaders. It has been very special to  journey with them over these four months – four months which have flown past!

These three youngin’s have truly become a part of the NZCMS family. Although we’re excited that they will soon be serving God in Fiji, we will thoroughly miss their presence in the office. Their passion for God, their desire to learn and their heart for mission have been an inspiration to us all.

With all this in mind, can I ask you a big favour?

If you had the chance, perhaps you’d want to take one of our interns out for coffee so they could share some of their story with you. Imagine how great it would be to take them for coffee every week of their internship to learn how their story unfolds. Well, they leave for Fiji in just over week so the prospect of a coffee isn’t all that feasible. But perhaps you could use the money you would spend on that weekly coffee to sponsor one of their missional journeys. Even just $5 a week for the next 6 months will make a huge difference, enabling them to serve God during this season. What’s even more exciting is that this season will set them up for a life passionate about mission!

Now, it wouldn’t be fair to put forward a request like this without taking it seriously myself. So how about we make a deal. If five people join up to support one of our interns at least $5 a week, I’ll do the same! Does that sound like a fair deal? If you’re interested either contact us (03 377 2222) or follow the giving instructions here.

To give to Natalie use the code 04Ym19. To give to Kristy use the code 04YM21. To give to Warena use the code 04YM20.

Lastly, please do be praying for these three over the next six months while the Interns are in Fiji. Your prayers are ever so valuable.

Click here to download an image of the interns. You can  print it out and stick it on your fridge? It can remind you to pray for them throughout the day.

New Prison Ministry in Alexandria

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The Anglican Church recently started a new prison ministry in Alexandria, on the north coast of Egypt. This new ministry is co-ordinated by Nabila, a member of the St Mark’s Anglican Pro-Cathedral in Alexandria.

There are 8 regular volunteers from different denominations. There are also 4 students from the Alexandria School of Theology joining the prison ministry for the practical component of their training. The team visit Borg el Arab Prison and Hadra Prison. Borg el Arab is located 45 kilometres south-west of Alexandria. It is a men only prison, and there are 8 foreigners and 250 Egyptians. The conditions in which the men live are very poor. The cells are underground and have only small windows. Many men share the same rooms and there are no beds, only mattresses on the floor. Skin diseases are common. As most of the Egyptian men are from other areas of Egypt, they receive few visitors and no one else provides for them except this ministry.

One of the challenges facing the men and women at El Kanater Prison is the lack of health care and medicine. The prisoners asked if we could bring non-prescription medicine for them such as cold/flu medicine, bandages and painkillers. We bought some one time through a pharmacy, but it was expensive and it is difficult for us to afford extra expenses, as we only just cover our running costs. It was therefore a great blessing when Harpur Memorial Hospital in Menouf offered to provide the medicine for free. Harpur Memorial Hospital is another ministry of the Anglican Church, founded more than a century ago with a mission to serve the poor. It is wonderful that our ministries can support and serve each other!

Impressions from Visitors

“I recently joined the prison visit knowing it would be an experience, just not sure what kind. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I spoke with three men from the prison – one from Europe, one from the Africa, and one from Central America. For me, there was a huge disconnect between the joy that I saw in them, and the length of their sentences. At times it was hard holding back tears. I came away thinking that I had seen something on Christ in meeting them.” Andre

“After my first visit to the prison my heart was so warmed by how God can meet people at their lowest point, I was super excited that I couldn’t sleep nor get the prisoners out of my head and prayers. I was also a very humbling experience to see myself not better than any of them, I could have been in their place easily if wasn’t for God’s grace.” Silvia

Air Tickets Saving Lives

There are many Eritrean refugees at El Kanater Prison. Many are victims of human trafficking. They are either kidnapped, or promised a better life and pay a high fee to leave Eritrea. They arrive in the Sinai region of Egypt, one of the most notorious routes for human trafficking in the world and well documented abuse. Many are tortured, raped, and cases of organ harvesting have been reported. There is also extortion, where desperate families will pay large ransoms for the freedom of their loved ones.

Often, the traffickers will call the Egyptian authorities, and the prisoners are rounded up and brought to Egyptian prisoners. Our Prison Ministry has in the past supplied basic needs to these prisoners. There are currently 5 Eritrean men who can return to their families. We have funds for three air tickets, and need to raise funds for the remaining two.

If you’re interested in helping getting these men home, please email jon@nzcms.org.nz

June’s Missional Movements

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Nadia Cooper arrived in Uganda late May and is quickly settling into her role at Potters Village in Kisoro.

Jo Rogers’ time in Tanzania came to an end late June. She has faithfully journeyed with many students in her role in the English Language department at Msalato Theological College and has spent weekends visiting and supporting some of the students who have graduated. She will be thoroughly missed. She returns to NZ in late July after a time of holiday, and will be visiting churches and supporters during September and October.

Marion McChesney, who has been in Tanzania since 2010 working at both Canon Andrea Mwaka School and Msalato Theological College, has now finished her time in Africa. She will be visiting churches and supporters during August, September and October.

Celia Haggitt’s time serving as the Deputy Principal for the Canon Andrea Mwaka School in Tanzania has come to an end. She returns to New Zealand at the end of July and is planning to get back into teaching in Auckland.

Anna Tovey returned to New Zealand in early June after visiting connections across Europe. Now that her scouting season in Kenya has come to an end she is in the process of applying to be a long-term Mission Partner.

Katie arrived back in New Zealand at the end of June after five months of training with St Andrew’s Hall in Melbourne. She’ll be spending these next couple of months connecting with supporters before she leaves for Spain in September.

Carol Roger will be returning to New Zealand early in July after six months teaching at the primary school connected to Kapuna Hospital in Papua New Guinea.

Iri will be in NZ for a personal visit spending time with Kate and family and friends for a few weeks in July.

During July and August Anne and Anthony will continue with their Leave and Home Service, connecting with supporters, both old and new. They also hope to get a decent time of holiday during August.