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stephanie's mustardseed

“for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” matthew 17:20 nasb


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mr. Motorcycle and I have (finally) decided to consolidate our lives into one easily accessible blog! Click here to see our homepage.

Water School for Mr. Motorcycle

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. Motorcycle has posted (and I believe will be posting some more) about the Well Drilling, Water Filtration, and Water Pump school he attended with Equip Ministries. Click here to hear about his experience and see some pictures!

Lactation Consulting

The bottom line is that I'm still working on it...

There isn't a program anytime soon in Colorado, so I'm looking into other States and venues. As a midwife it's something I do a lot of anyhow, but for periods of time like we are in now, it would be a lot easier to work here as a Lactation Consultant than it would be to work as a midwife. Midwifery here is pretty entrepreneurial, so in less than a year it would be a bit difficult to begin a practice. However, LCs work often from clinics or hospitals (not saying that anyone is currently hiring), so (in theory) it would be easier to work in the future. Also, I'm hoping that it will improve my skills in this area and provide me with more resources.

So, in the meantime, please pray that I will figure out what is going to work best for us! Thanks!

Walk for Africa

Last weekend Susan was able to secure Mr. Motorcycle and I enough air miles to fly out to LA for a Care Now fundraiser she had helped organize.

It was great to be able to support Susan and the Care Now Foundation who raised most of the money for our mobile clinics in Zambia.

They have several other projects throughout Africa they were raising money for and it was so fun to see 50-some people show up for a 3 mile walk along the beach in Santa Monica! Yeah money for medical clinics and supplies in Africa! :)

August/September Newsletter

Monday, September 14, 2009

August/September 2009

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19 NASB

Word of the day- Invest: v, 2: to make use of for future benefits or advantages. In Swahili, ‘wekeza’ means, “to make investments."

Dear friends and family,

We cannot express to you how fruitful and exciting our research has been these past two months. As Mr. Motorcycle and I began looking at other options in Africa… and outside of Africa, we have been able to meet with a whole host of wonderful believers in different agencies. We have kept in contact with Missionary Ventures, but believe that we are being led into a new area.
We have spoken with mission representatives in OC International, New Tribes Mission, Africa Inland Mission, Avant Ministries, Serving in Mission, IDEAS, World Venture, and World Team. A few of these are in our neck of the woods and we have been able to visit in person, which has been helpful. One of the realities Mr. Motorcycle and I have been realizing the more we talk with these organizations is that we will be in the States until mid to late 2010 at the earliest. While this seems interminably long to us, we know the value of good preparation for heading overseas and are excited that the leadership we have spoken with are committed to this principle.
Just after we came to this conclusion two weeks ago, Mr. Motorcycle and I were sitting down for a meal and discussing what this would mean in our lives. Mr. Motorcycle has talked about going to school ‘someday’ and getting more missions and Bible training, so we applied to two schools. We wanted to make the best investment of this unexpected period of time and petitioned the Lord to make His plans clear. And we feel they are clear… somewhat. Mr. Motorcycle was accepted and offered financial aid by both schools. However, they were small amounts and with our commitment to stay out of debt we saw God confirming an alternative path. Mr. Motorcycle and I had discovered a mission training center through Equip International. They offer four courses on Water Technologies: Well Drilling, Pumping Water, and Filtration Techniques, plus a course on how to teach these skills to a community. So, Mr. Motorcycle will be spending the month of October learning these skills and I plan to visit my family in Washington.
Our time in counseling has also been very profitable and we are getting excited about gearing up to go back into ministry. We are getting involved with a local church here in Lakewood and are looking forward to a Young Marrieds’ Bible Study beginning in September. I am also hoping to enroll in a Lactation Consultant course which would improve my skills for dealing with breastfeeding problems. We also feel that it is time to look for work. As the bulk of our research and counseling has come to a close and we are reaching our six month mark here in the States, we think it is time for us to ask you to suspend your financial support of us.
Mr. Motorcycle and I are so thankful to each of you for your relationship with us, your prayers, and your investment in God’s ministry. We look forward to continuing in partnership with you—to reach out to those who have not heard and build up the church around the world. God is forming in us a new passion and vision for the future and we look forward to the day we know fully what that is and can share it with you. Please do continue in prayer on our behalf, even as we do for you.


• Clear direction for next team
• Continued growth in our lives
• For our month apart
• Finding the right jobs

• Getting to see the next step
• Good interviews with agencies
• God’s continued provision
• Great investment opportunities

Happily Married

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This is a wonderful song and I really wanted to share it with you. It's called Matrimony or Happily Married by Raymond Gregory (who I hadn't heard of until today). Check it out:

Life is a Rush

Monday, August 10, 2009

The phrase "hurry up and wait" seems backwards to me right now. It seems that Mr. Motorcycle and I have been waiting and now are hurrying forward.

We have spent the past two months here in Denver doing many things- mostly preparing ourselves to return to the mission field with a really great counsellor and beginning our search and interviews of different field opportunities. We had considered Uganda with MVI and when that didn't seem to be the right fit for us, we began on the great quest of finding what was. That has led us to several different organizations- and we aren't done yet!

However, we have been very encouraged by our results. Seeing what else is out there has gotten us dreaming about what might be next. This much does seem to be true, through conversations with more than one organization it looks as though we are going to be pushing out our leaving marker once more. We are thinking (taking into mind the realistic dates set by some of the people we have talked to) that we won't be leaving until between the summer and fall of 2010. Yes, it seems like forever. No, in some ways we aren't thrilled- we want to set up a home and have our things on one continent and know what we are doing with our lives! But, we are seeing the benefit of waiting on the Lord's direction and, frankly, we don't feel like He's given it yet.

So, our plan has been to relay this news to our supporters and friends (all of you) later this month in a 'formal' newsletter, but allow me to jump to the gun. The whole waiting until the summer or fall of 2010 part didn't really sink in and hit us until early last week. We were sitting at the table at lunch and the conversation came up that 'if' we were in the States that long, what will be the best investment of our time. Mr. Motorcycle has been talking for some time about going back to school to get some formal Bible and missions training and it clicked with us that maybe this was our chance to try that route.

Believing that if this is God's will He will allow Mr. Motorcycle to get accepted and help us get non-debt financial aid, we have sent out two applications- one to Northwest University and one to Warner Pacific. Neither one can we afford out of pocket (though we do have some savings), and with our commitment to stay debt-free to allow us to return to the mission field in the near future, we know that God will show us whether this is His will or a pipe dream.

We will keep you informed as we figure out this crazy life of ours- and please pray!



Monday, July 6, 2009

How do you go about researching the mission field?

That's a question Mr. Motorcycle and I have been working on all month. We believe God has called us back to the mission field, but this time is different. Before we both chose a country and organization based on our short term trip experience. Now we are looking for what opportunity best fits our skills and our desires to serve. We feel at this point that God could move us anywhere and with any team of people.

As for anywhere- we are praying through Operation World, a wonderful resource on the prayer needs of countries.

As for with any team- we have been reading through some articles, one I have attached for your perusal.

We have met with a few pastors and counsellors and have been soaking up what they have said as we walk along this road.

We definately appreciate your prayers at this time! You are our support team and we could not serve overseas (or anywhere else) without you!

Stephanie (and for Mr. Motorcycle)

June Newsletter

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June 2009

Word of the day:
Finish: v, 2a: to bring to completion. In Tonga, ‘twamana’ means, “it is finished."

Dear friends and family,

Contrary to the title, we are in Denver, Colorado. ;) After our wedding in Washington the 3rd of January and reception in Kansas, we headed back to Africa. We enjoyed a wonderful, relaxing honeymoon in Malindi, Kenya before going on to Zambia. Missionary Ventures International recommended that we withdraw from the mission field for 6-12 months to establish our marriage outside of foreign ministry, so we moved off the base in Sinazongwe, Zambia. Susan, the nurse Stephanie has been working with, has also finished her term and is back in Los Angeles as an Emergency Room Nurse. With all of this transition, it has helped us to realize that our last missions’ assignment does not have the room for growth that we are looking for. Mr. Motorcycle would like to build a ministry teaching vocational skills and Stephanie would like to work more as a midwife and less as a nurse!

After arriving back in the States in March Stephanie contracted Malaria then fully recovered, we went through a Debriefing program through Missionary Training Institute in Colorado Springs, Steph spent a few days at a Midwifery Conference in Oregon to help renew her license, and we hiked to Mr. Motorcycle’s parent’s cabin in the Western Colorado mountains for a few days of down time. We’ve just been blessed to spend a month with Stephanie’s family in Renton, Washington and Michael’s family in Kansas. We were grateful to spend time with Stephanie’s Grandpa before he passed away and with Mr. Motorcycle’s Grandma who is in poor health. And now we are in Denver—did you follow all of that? Neither did we!

You may be wondering what we are doing in Denver… We have plans to attend some missions training and counseling here. We are also looking forward to building a routine while we are here and have rented the basement in Mr. Motorcycle’s friend’s house. While visiting with Missionary Ventures before leaving for Africa they suggested that we look into their team in Uganda to see if that would be a good fit for us. So, we spent a little over a week from Kampala to Kitgum, 40 km south of Sudan. However, while we really enjoyed the team and the opportunities there, we are not convinced that is where God is leading us. We plan to spend time researching our options, especially within Africa, but being open to other continents as well.

We may be finished in Zambia, but we don’t feel the Lord is finished with us on the mission field yet! Our desire is to be on the mission field long-term and we are praying for a clear direction over these next weeks and months. We are hoping to head back overseas this Fall, but we will keep you informed as we know more. We treasure your prayers during this time of transition!

May you believe along with us God’s promise to go ahead of each of us and prepare the way in which He would have us walk. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB What exciting journeys God has planned for our lives! Praise the Lord!

Mr. Motorcycle and Stephanie

Prayer Requests:
 Clarity of mind, Wisdom, Discernment and Direction with our next point of service in the field.
 Strength and Endurance for the many things that we have yet to do while in the States.
 God’s Provision as we continue to develop our teaching curriculum.
 Protection from the attacks of our adversary
 Good health

 We have been able to complete many things in the last two months
 Our time with family was wonderful and a huge blessing.
 God provided a place for us while in Denver for several months.
 We have both gotten over the various ailments that were affecting us- Malaria, stomach bugs and headaches.

Seattle, Colorado

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Right now we are located in 'Seattle,' Colorado. Actually we are just outside of Denver, but every day for the past week and a half that we have lived here it has rained and been overcast. Currently we are enjoying a brief moment of sunshine.

Mr. Motorcycle and I are keeping fairly regular working hours as we plug away at renewing my midwifery license, paperwork that has backed up from the past year or two, combining our lives, counselling, and praying about and researching missions opportunities. We were originally hoping to be back on the mission field after a six month furlough ending in September. However, we just didn't feel God confirming us to move to Uganda and join the Missionary Ventures International (MVI) team there, so we are trying to figure out our options. We are mostly sure that God will direct us back to Africa, but we know that our time in Sinazongwe, Zambia has ended.

This leaves us pretty open. When we both applied to join mission teams in Zambia it was after having gone on short term missions with those agencies and to that country. Now that we are leaving, we feel a bit at a loss as to strategy. So, we have asked some wise people for their counsel and have also begun praying through sections of Operation World (a wonderful book listing prayer needs around the world by country as well as facts about the countries). Good luck to us! :)

Timeline and Excuses ;)

I know I have been negligent with this blog space- please forgive me, I'll try to remedy that situation. First, let me give you a quick timeline of what we have been up to for clarity:

*Sept '08-Nov '08 Susan and I came off the field to attend MVI Orientation and for our furlough time. At that point Susan made plans for graduate school and I planned Mr. Motorcycle and my wedding and spoke at several churches, etc. Mr. Motorcycle and I were advised at that point to take 6-12 months away from foreign ministry to establish our marriage. With counsel we also decided that it was time to move on from the ministry in Zambia and specifically look for a ministry that would allow us to grow in our potentials (and give an outlet for Mr. Motorcycle to move more into vocational teaching).

*Dec '08 Mr. Motorcycle returned from Zambia

*Jan 3, '09 Mr. Motorcycle and I were wed. We left on the 5th to Kansas in order to attend our second reception with much of Mr. Motorcycle's extended family in attendance on the 10th.

*Jan 13, '09 We headed to our honeymoon in Malindi, Kenya (which we had planned previous to the very wise counsel to take a furlough once we were married). Then we spent five days resigning in person and moving off the mission base and boxing our stuff in storage at a friend's house in Lusaka. We had been seriously thinking about Uganda after MVI's recommendation to go there, so we took a week and a half to visit the team there and traveled from the capital north to the refugee camps, 40 km south of Sudan.

*Feb (end- I can't remember, it was the 27th-ish) '09 We were back in Denver, CO for a Debriefing for missionaries at Missionary Training Institute- which was really good. At that time I contracted and was treated for Malaria (it came with me from Africa, but only affected me once back in the US). I attended a Midwifery Conference to help me renew my license for a few days without Mr. Motorcycle, then we headed to his grandparent's cabin in Western Colorado for a couple of days.

*Mar (near the end) '09 We travelled to Washington for a month with my family. We had decided to use this furlough time to spend a good chunk of time with each side of the family since our whole relationship was overseas before the wedding. We had a wonderful time with my family and visiting some friends as well.

*Apr (near the end) '09 We flew down to Denver and drove to Western Kansas where Mr. Motorcycle's family lives. We spent another lovely month living at his grandparent's house and spending time with his family.

*May 30, '09 We drove over to Lakewood, CO in a car Mr. Motorcycle's parents are lending us and set up home in the basement of one of Mr. Motorcycle's former housemates. We plan to be here for several months and hope to be back overseas early Fall.

Wedding Pictures

Monday, February 9, 2009


I know this blog is ridiculously behind between furlough and the wedding, but here are our pictures. They are only posted until April. Hope you enjoy!

Stephanie and Mr. Motorcycle

Praise the Lord!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

So, Friday morning came and we called the US Embassy, only to hear that there was no news about getting Susan a new passport. Which, was bad for us, because our tickets were rescheduled for Monday and we would have to pay to change them. So, we called again at 11 and heard that her passport was ready and waiting for her! We were so thankful!

We spent the weekend with friends and are on our way tomorrow, missing a day and a half of Orientation. But, glad to be making it!

Stolen for a good cause?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So, right now I should be writing from Florida, where Susan and I were to be researching the Meringa Tree in Ft. Myers before Missionary Ventures International's Orientation next Monday... except that I'm in Zambia still.


Well, on Sunday afternoon, the day before we were to fly out, as we were having lunch, Susan's purse was stolen. In it was her passport, every form of identification she owned, all her money, a few thousand dollars of money for the Malnutrition Program that we would be passing on in an hour's time, ipod, glasses, credit cards... basically everything. :)

The interesting thing was that she was sandwiched in between two of our friends with purses easily accessible and they were not targeted. There was no way the thief could have known she had so much money in her purse and Susan's foot was on her purse almost the whole meal. Even my purse would have been easier to steal off the back of my chair.

This whole time I have felt like it was not a coincidence that it was Susan's purse. She's the one more ready to go than I (I have Mr. Motorcycle to leave behind). But, I felt like there was something behind this delay.

Monday morning Susan went to the Embassy and I went to do last minute errands with Mr. Motorcycle. The plan was to meet at the airport as they thought they could get a passport for her first thing and she might still make the flight. Well, the Embassy was out of passport covers and couldn't make her a passport! So, she went to reschedule her flight and was able to reschedule mine, too, without a problem. Which is good because I didn't want her flying with extra money in case she needed it!

So, we have a flight scheduled for next Monday and the Embassy is supposed to get passports tomorrow.

And, you know what? We had already tied up all ministry, we were all ready to go. So, now we are relaxing! Incredible. (Susan keeps saying she's bored!) It takes a stolen purse to get us to take a breather. This is the rest we needed so much but we unable to take for ourselves.

At first I thought maybe it was Satan's attack, but I actually think it may be God's plan to restore us.

...And it gave me two more days with Mr. Motorcycle before our 3+ month separation.

We've always wanted to go...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

White water rafting!

Livingstone at Victoria Falls has some of the best white water rafting in the world. And Susan is an old pro, so we always wanted to, but never took the time to go. So, as we are preparing to go on furlough, we decided it was time to play tourist and jump on the boat. Well, the raft, really. And, of course, we twisted Mr. Motorcycle's arm to make him come along, too. I wasn't going to die alone!

Here are some of the highlights:

White Water Rafting on the Zambezi River in Victoria Falls has been classified by the British Canoe Union as Grade 5 - "extremely difficult, long and violent rapids, steep gradients, big drops and pressure areas".

Watch Susan's legs!

We rafted all but #9 because it was considered a serious risk to life, a class 6 rapid at this time of year!

"...against the wall" # 1: Class 4/5: The Boiling Pot, accessible only from the Zambian bank, is the start of the low water trip. From here the river hits a wall forming a wild cushion wave and eddy.
"...the bridge" # 2: Class 3: A wild mixture of waves best in the early part of the low water season. Clearly visible to bungee jumpers and spectators on the Victoria Falls bridge.
Rapid # 3: Class 4: A steep and radically fast wave with an easily avoidable hole. The second part of this rapid is best in the early part of the season - a small wave train with an excellent pocket on the Zambian side.
"Morning Glory" # 4: Class 4/5: The first major rapid offering varying lines with an almost river wide hole at the top, followed by a few diagonals off the right hand wall and finally a big hole at the bottom.
"Stairway to Heaven" # 5: Class 5: Best in the early part of the season, with an 8m drop over 10m, very steep and powerful with a heap of massive waves and holes. Although it isn't too technical, it's size and volume make for an amazing spectacle and an even more amazing ride. Avoid the waterfalls and a hole on the left called the "catcher's mitt" plus a large pourover on the right.
"Devil's Toilet Bowl" # 6: Class 4: A Short rapid with a deceptively steep and powerful hole on entry followed by some nasty boils and whirlpools.
"Gullivers Travels" # 7: Class 5: A very respectful 700m of class 5 high volume white water at certain levels. This is the longest and most technical rapid on the one day whitewater trip. The run consists of a main channel with smaller channels feeding into it - includes the "Temple of Doom", "The Crease", "Patella Gap" and "Land of the Giants".
"Midnight Diner" # 8: Class 3/5: This rapid has 3 runs. On the left is "Star Trek" with a hole of up to 5m reserved for the brave. The "Muncher Run" in the centre takes you through a window of "Star Trek". On the right is the "Chicken Run".
"Commercial Suicide" # 9: Class 5/6: The Zambezi's most infamous. This is a river-wide pour-over with a very narrow slot of less than a metre on the right - commercial portage! Read Ben Webster's kayaking account of Rapid #9.
"Gnashing Jaws of Death" #10: Class 4: An easy run before lunch…..
"Overland Truck Eater" # 11: Class 5: A big barrel for about two weeks in the year during the transition between high and low water in mid January and early July. Watch out for the hole, eddy line and whirlpool. This is the first rapid on the "high water" run.
"Three Sisters" #12A,B,C: Class 3/4: 12B is the famous Zambezi surfing wave for kayakers - surfs best between August and December with two windows and a massive green shoulder and a big eddy. Rafters prefer the term "three little pigs".
"The Mother" # 13: Class 4/5: A massive wave train at its best, first 3 waves super fast.
Rapid # 14: Class 3: Big S-bend in the river. Center chute to be avoided at lower water levels.
"Washing Machine" # 15: Class 5: Simple wave train but un-runnable in the middle because of a huge crashing hole - go left or right into the eddy.
"The Terminators I and II" # 16: Class 4: A massive wave train and trough at higher levels, not much when low.
"Double Trouble" # 17: Class 5: A simple wave train but un-runnable because of 2 large holes.
"Oblivion" # 18: Class 5: Three waves make up THE rapid on the Zambezi.. The 3rd crashing wave is responsible for more raft flips than any other in the world - only about 1 in 4 attempts succeed! This rapid marks the end of the "low water" one-day run.
Rapids #19 to #25: Class 2/3: Easy runs at the end of the day. Rapid #23 is the last rapid on the "high water" one-day run.

What a wonderful man!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ok, so maybe I haven't written much about Mr. Motorcycle. :) Some of you are thinking that is an understatement... So, here's the latest scoop for those who care:

He's great. As we learned from the Meyers Briggs in premarital counseling this week, my complete opposite... In fact, I an often surprised (good surprise) about the things he says and the new facets of his character I get to discover and experience.

Being the extravert that he is, Mr. Motorcycle loves to host things- parties, get togethers, games, bbqs (here we call them braiis). Being the introvert that I am, I enjoy people in small groups, and serving at get togethers, I am generally not the one to put together large events, but often enjoy them...

For an early birthday present (because of the tourist schedule) Mr. Motorcycle rented a houseboat (a friend of ours owns a houseboat company here on the lake).

He planned a big braii with games and a classic Lake Kariba sunset (well, God planned it, but Mr. Motorcycle took advantage of it). We had such a good time with the rest of the missionaries down here and a few visitors that happened to be at the base at the time.

We had plenty of meat ;), a whole spread, brownies (to die for- thanks to Cathy who sent the mix and Susan who made them), and two rousing games of Settlers of Catan (one of which I won- hah- Susan won the other)!

It happened to fall close to the base leader's 25th wedding anniversary as well as some visitors' anniversary and we got to celebrate their marriages and hear stories about how the couples on the boat met.

And I was just beginning to think the bush can get rather boring at times... :) Not with Mr. Motorcycle around!


Never been so happy to be negative! Susan and I got our bi-yearly HIV test yesterday (ok, fine, it's been 3 years and 2 years since we've had one...) and were happy to find ourselves negative.

We are careful when we practice medicine, but every medical professional realizes the risks of their job... even moreso here in Zambia. So, praise the Lord for negative results and may they continue in that way!

Do you know what this is????

I realize that you may be thinking... what is going on in Stephanie's life right now? But, I have to tell you, that today this takes precedence over all else. Today I walked into the grocery store and saw Kikkoman products. Not some wannabe soy sauce- the REAL DEAL! I could not believe my eyes. So, while you may think this is a rather unremarkable find, you try telling that to all the orientals shouting "halleluyah" here in Zambia!...


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What a surprise! Susan and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with this one...

On the 25th of June Sus and I delivered breech twins! They were totally unexpected, but both girls and mom are fine. Praise the Lord!

I've launched a new page on which you can check out more details than most want to know. It can also be found on the sidebar under Life as a Midwife. Please be warned that I'm not holding much back... and that I'm a midwife. :)

Care Now and CVCC reps visit Sinazongwe

Friday, June 20, 2008

Susan and I were happy to host our friends and supporters from California, Chris and Anne. Both are on the board for the Care Now Foundation, which raises money for our medical program and attend Cornejo Valley Community Church, which we spoke at in May 2008.

Chris is a Registered Nurse and helped to treat patients and teach our health workers, while Anne helped to administer medications and helped everywhere else! Anne was such a trooper and even rode all the way to Zambia in a donated wheelchair (valid because of an upcoming surgery) and then helped us to pass it along to a seven-year-old girl with cerebral palsy whose mother carries her everywhere! What a huge blessing to that family! The pastor has even reported that since then her family has been coming to church and are so thankful for what God has done for them and increasing their quality of life.

We are looking forward to visiting CVCC again and catching up with the efforts of the Care Now Foundation while we are home on furlough.

First birth!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

To make a long story short, we enjoyed our first birth here at the Missionary Ventures International clinic in Sinazongwe, Zambia on the 1st of June. (Scroll down for pictures) Here are the details if you are interested…

We were having a going away lunch for Michelle on the 1st of June, at the base with some of the South Africans we know who have been friends of the family for years. It was about 2:30 when Susan heard my phone going off in the house and went to answer it. She came back with a funny look on her face. She told me one of my midwives-in-training, Sandra, had called and there was a client in labor at her house, did I want her to bring her over to the clinic? I paused in shock for a second and asked, “Do we want her to come? Should she come? Yes? Yes. I mean, yes, she should come!” Susan agreed so we asked Sandra to bring her over.

It took about 35 minutes for them to walk what is normally a 20 minute walk. We were nervous. Everything was all set up and we had found the chart. Dales had some for two prenatals, both of which were normal, except for slight anemia. I was glad to find that there were no warning signs at the start as this would be my first labor in two years and seven months, not to mention my first birth absolutely on my own without anyone more experienced to back me up.

Susan and I talked through a few preparation items—it was Dales’ 8th pregnancy which could mean some special complications on its own and we wanted to be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.

Dales and Sandra finally arrived. Sandra was completely pale and said she had been so nervous and prayed a lot as they walked, hoping that Dales would not deliver. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it was Sandra’s first birth ever and I had just assumed she would have said they couldn’t walk if she was really that nervous! In the end, Dales was only 3cm.

It didn’t take us long to notice that Dales had not brought a thing with her. In most countries outside the Western world there is a list of obligatory things that must be brought to a hospital or clinic. You need: a person to take care of you (because there are not enough nurses), food, gloves, cord clamps, stuff for the baby, stuff for you, medications the medical staff might need to use on you, etc. In fact, many of the clinics require even the baby blanket and clothes to be all new and can refuse to deliver your baby if they are not. We had never set up any requirements, but had assumed that some of these things would be brought along.

As we talked with her, Dales revealed that her husband has abandoned her and their children, as well as his other two wives and their children. Dales would be taking home a new baby into a home situation where she was the only provider and where this child might be seen as the latest trial. As I prayed with Dales and for Dales this made me think of so many patients we have that bear a name or have named a child something equivalent to a curse. Karin and I had talked a few times about how people use English words as names without always knowing the meaning, but we had a teen mother who had named her child ‘Malice’ because the father hadn’t owned up to his role. And another whose child was called ‘Killer.’ I really felt that God was calling me to help Dales to remember who He was and not how difficult her situation was.

The hours drug on and Sandra, Susan, Michelle, and I sat in the med room reading textbooks while Dales rested. She had been in labor since 5 am, but everything was going normally and it seemed she just needed a breather. Susan took a break and had a quick nap. We hired our neighbor’s wife to make food for Sandra and Dales to eat and we had some dinner as well. At 8pm Dales was still 3cm, but there was some progress noted and the baby was fine. At 10pm Sus switched with me and I crawled into bed, anticipating a long night. I tried to persuade Sandra to rest in the corner, but she was too excited. Michelle also went to rest.

Just past 11pm I got a call. Susan was practically yelling into the phone, “Baby coming!” It was a good thing I had much experience with sleeping on a top bunk while on call for births, because I was able to carefully get myself down and run into the clinic just after the baby’s head came out. Sandra was in a support hold from behind, Dales was in a beautiful squat, and Susan was moving from in front of the patient as I entered.

I wasn’t sure the exact seconds on ‘head out,’ so I checked if there was a cord around the neck, but everything was fine. In a few seconds the new life slithered out and I held the baby up so Dales could identify him. 11:07pm. She wasn’t in a position to hold him just yet, so she acknowledged that he was a boy and Susan toweled him off before giving him to her.

It was one of the cleanest births I have ever attended. We had prepared in case Dales’ hemorrhaged, but she didn’t. Dales pushed once for the placenta and it came, but trailed membranes for a long time. Then it was over. My first Zambian birth.

Once Dales and her son were settled back in bed, we looked over a very unhealthy, malnourished placenta. It looked intact, but with the long membranes it was hard to tell if there might be a small piece missing. It was so wonderful to be able to teach and explain everything I knew as we went along. Sandra just soaked it up.

Dales’ body normalized quickly after the birth and, after 45 minutes, I took her to wash up while Susan and Michelle washed and examined the perfectly normal baby boy.
Susan drove Sandra home because the water from the lake has risen so high that the hippos (known for being one of the most deadly animals in Africa) would walk onto the road. Dales stayed the night with her baby. In the morning we put together some clothes for her and her son. I sat with her a while and conversed through a translator. I told her how we had prepared, in case there were any problems, but how God had intervened and not allowed any to come. I encouraged her to think about how the Lord has been gracious to her in this time and to name her child something that will be a reminder. That speaking his name will be like speaking a blessing over his life each day instead of speaking a curse. Dales agreed that she wanted to bless her child.

Karin noted later that it was interesting. After having seven unattended (or attended by untrained birth attendants) home births, Dales had walked all the way to our clinic to find help for her eighth delivery. Perhaps it was because she was feeling alone or because she enjoyed our care in prenatals. But, whatever the reason, I believe that God sent her. Not so much for me, but for herself and for that little boy. God has a plan for his life and I pray that the name Dales gives him will reflect the blessings that God has already been faithful with and will continue in that child’s life.

Monday morning Susan and I ran clinic as normal, but it seemed everyone already knew we had our first birth the night before. The community was so excited for us and thankful to us for a healthy baby. It was an interesting response. Glory to God, but also thankful that we were here and glad that we were helping. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone say, “Thank you.”

May Newsletter

Saturday, May 31, 2008

May 2008

Word of the day:
Surprise: n,
In Tonga, ‘ncigabwyo’ means ‘a surprise.’

Dear friends and family,

I have always loved surprises. So, it is with great joy that I get to share a few of my surprises with you today…

First, do you see how our team has grown?? It is incredible to us, as well! Susan is now training 6 health care workers, and 2 nutrition workers. I have 3 midwives and 1 administrator for paperwork and files. Our nutrition program has gone from 11 to 17 children since November, and we are continually working on new ways to provide quality of care to our growing number of patients! God is truly blessing our ministry here. We are astounded by the responsibility and ministry God has given us in the Gwembe Valley.

I… have an announcement to make. This will be one of the last “Stephanie’s Mustardseed”s that you will be receiving. “Why?” you ask. Well, because Mr. Motorcycle has asked me to become a permanent part of his life—and I said, “Yes!” Therefore, I think it’s only right that I make some changes in my life to include him- like put his name in the title, or something, don’t you? :) I will be returning to North America for a three month furlough and for orientation with Missionary Ventures International in October. So, we are busily planning a January 2009 wedding from Zambia, which means my sister (thanks Jen!) is busily planning! “Then what?” you may wonder. We plan to return to the base here in Sinazongwe to continue in ministry together. Mr. Motorcycle is a mechanic and handyman here on our mission base and helps to host short term teams. I will continue in the medical ministries.

Wait! I’m not done yet! Believe it or not, there have been more surprises these past few months! Co-founders of the Care Now Foundation (the main support of our Medical Ministry), Ed and Wendy, flew Susan and me to California for 12 days to present at their annual fundraising dinner! We spent about 4 weeks before leaving Zambia and another 1 ½ once in Arcadia with Susan’s family and support team preparing! We built three sets to look like some of the situations we run our medical ministry and nutrition program out of here in the bush. Michelle drew a 12x10 ft backdrop for us to paint and use, as well as several beautiful portraits of Tongan people for the silent auction! We wrote stories typical of our patients’ lives, supported by facts of life situation here in Zambia and pictures from our work. Our mothers and sisters helped us prepare for the event (yes, my sister, mother, and niece were able to visit for a few days).

Then, three days before our big presentation I was able to fly up to Ontario, Canada, to attend one of my best friends’ weddings, unbeknownst to her! What a fun surprise and a wonderful reunion.

The Fundraiser was quite an experience for the guests—and for us! We just arrived back this week and are in full swing again. I am going to start taking the midwifery patients out of our clinic here on base and into the homes of my students. I would eventually like to hand over patients into their home-based care and felt like now would be a good time to start. Please pray for me and Sandra, Favorite, and Uvenia as we transition! Susan and I also have plans to work with more pastors away from Sinazongwe and host clinics at their churches. It will be a lot of work to pack up the clinic for bush clinics, but we are hoping to be even more effective this way.

I believe that God delights when we take delight in something. He loves plotting and planning just to see how we take joy in Him—whether it is the opening of a flower bud or the beginning of a life relationship. I pray that God will be bringing some surprises into your lives this summer that will remind you, again, how much God loves you, and how astounding he can be!


Please note that I have no internet access where I live; please allow 2 mnths or so for replies and blog/picture updates, thanks!

Missionary Ventures International: www.mvi.org
*Notwithstanding any other statements in this communication, please remember that any contributions to MVI are under MVI's full discretion and control as required by IRS regulations.

Surprise for Liza Jane

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I was just talking to Liza yesterday and she said, "I can't believe God loves me enough that He sent you to my wedding!" I feel the same way. When Ed and Wendy of Care Now said that they were flying Susan and myself to California for the big fundraiser on May 4th, I didn't even realize it was the day after Liza's wedding.

Liza and Julie and I were in midwifery school together (and thus in the Philippines for a year together) and became very close friends. Li and I both got to be at Julie's wedding before I left for Zambia in 2006, but we all knew I wouldn't make it to Liza and Steve's wedding.

However, with this new development, Julie and I began scheming about how to get me from California to Ontario, Canada and back before needing to speak Sunday morning. We knew everything else would fall into place (especially since I needed to flee the wedding to make it to the airport for my flight), so we didn't tell anyone else. Hehe.

Chad (Julie's husband) picked me up from the airport and we tried to decide the best way to surprise Li and Steve. I was going to hide in the tent they bought as a wedding present, but as we were leaving it began to rain and we didn't want to give them a wet tent. So, we considered the cooler...

That apparently wouldn't do, so I climbed into the very back of the trunk of the car and Julie made a big deal about the cooler in front of the nearly wed couple and both sets of parents. They opened the trunk where they found the tent in it's packaging and then Liza says nonchalantly, "Oh look. There's a person in there." I was so disappointed! I hadn't told anyone that I was even going to the States because it was such a quick trip and we were only going for the fundraiser, how did she know? Actually, she thought maybe it was her cousin coming in early. When she realized that it was me she burst into tears and cried for about half an hour while trying to explain that I was supposed to be in Africa. Desired effect? Oh yeah. :)

Here are a few wedding pictures so you can enjoy the special event almost as much as I did!


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