Sunday, April 17, 2011

Peanut Butter, Bread & Water

Gathering peanut butter jars from anyone who would donate and making trips to several different grocery stores in town to find the best peanut butter deal became an obsession in the weeks before we left.  Tiffany is the "Coupon Queen", but there are not coupons for peanut butter.  Find the deal, collectinhe g donations and mking the purcase was time consuming and sometimes even frustrating.  We were SO blessed, though!  God proved Himself faithful...AGAIN...and provided more than enough!  He even gave us a surprise at the end of the packing by allowing us to check more suitcases for FREE than we expected.  Yea, God!

All the prep work was for the kids and mothers who were waiting for a miracle at Ola During Children's Hospital.

Doug caught a power nap while we waited for the water and bread we needed
Tiffany and I with the nurses in the Nutrition Ward

Ola During Children's Hospital has a special place in my heart.  I suppose because I have had to be in the hospital with my own children, it is just easy for me to have a heart and want to reach out to these moms and their babies.

A severely malnourished baby at Ola During.
The only way I can describe it in words, is to say that many of the children look just like the kids you see on the info-mercials on World Vision.  You know the commercials I'm talking about....the ones that you glance at and then pick up the remote to change the channel because it is too hard to see.  It is hard to see, but it is real.  They are real children with real mothers, just like me.

Tiffany with one of the mom's in the Nutrition Ward
We were so touched by the families in the hospital last May that we wanted to go back to give what we could.  If you've read about it in previous posts, you know that the hospital does not provide food for the patients or for the mothers in the ICU.  Sounds crazy, doesn't it?  Even when I think about it still, I just can't believe it.  In the nutrition ward, they do give the babies Plumpy Nut, a nutrient dense peanut butter-like food.  The mothers, though, have to take care of themselves.

We brought enough gift bags for each family both in the nutrition ward and the ICU to have one.  In fact, we had plenty and even gave a bag to each of the nurses in both wards, too.  Everyone that received one was very thankful to have them.  In conditions like that, a jar of peanut butter and small loaf of bread is a huge blessing.  Each bag had a packet of water, peanut butter, bread and a beanie baby.

There were four families that really stood out to me that day.

The first was a mom with a set of twins in the nutrition ward.  One of them was healthy.  The other was severely malnourished.  The one that was sick was in terrible condition.  She was so tiny and fragile, with no muscle to her little body at all.  Tiffany and I sat with the mom and prayed that God would peace, comfort and healing, and that His will would be done.  The mother seemed very thankful that we had taken time to just sit with her and care about her baby.

The twins. 
Not far from the twins was a beautiful young mother with a sweet baby girl on her lap.  The mom was absolutely beaming as she looked at me with sparkling eyes and a bright smile, holding the gift bag in her hand.  She repeatedly told me, "Thank you" and asked for me to take a picture of her with her little girl.  I wish so much that the language barrier was not quite as great and that I could've gotten to know more about her and her sweet little one.

As we were finishing up in the nutrition ward, I caught the eye of another mama.  She motioned for me to come to her, so I did.  She was trying to talk to me, and I understood the words "other country".  I smiled and said, "Yes, we're from America".   She kept making hand motions and pointing to her little boy, who was obviously not doing well at all.  Finally, I got it.  I said, "You mean you want me to take your baby to another country with me?"  She gave me a big smile, nodded and said "Yes!  Take him.  Please take him."
This mother tried to get me to take her baby with me
I took a deep breath and told her that God had given her this child and that he wasn't mine.  He belonged here with her, and I couldn't take him.  She begged me.  I looked her in the eye and told her that I would get into very big trouble if I took him, and that I was very sorry.  It was heart wrenching.

Now, maybe she could've been thinking I'd pay her a good amount of money for him.  But still.  To be in a situation in life that there would be so much desperation that you would offer your child to a complete stranger, I can't imagine.  What I do know, though, is that only but for the grace of God is it not me in that situation.

I met a young mom in the ICU that had a beautiful boy named Samuel.  Samuel had been in the hospital for two months and was still not well.  When we asked what was wrong with him, she didn't really have an answer...only described a symptom or two.  The interesting thing about Samuel is that he was obviously from a Christian home.  His mother had her Bible laying open in his crib.  Samuel's head was laying on it.  She was very happy to let us pray with her, and was excited to see her with her son on the back of my camera when I took her picture.

Samuel in his crib, laying on his mother's Bible
It was another time of realizing, again, that God has blessed us beyond measure.  I don't know why, but He has and I'm so very thankful.  The people of Sierra Leone endure things on a daily basis that you cannot imagine if you have not seen it for yourself.   It's an amazing experience to be there and be able to give just a little and watch God use it for His glory.   I highly recommend it.  However, be warned:  it's addictive!


  1. What a blessing this must have been.

  2. Oh, what a wrenching experience this must be for you, especially when that mother, in desperation, begged you to take her child with you. Yes, sometimes people love their children enough to give them up when that's the only way they can envision them surviving. Bless your heart. Your story is riveting.