For those of you keeping up with this story of flying across a continent, you can probably tell that it has been a rollercoaster.  We have stepped off of the rollercoaster, for now at least, and God has given us a restful and healthy week.

I will start from the beginning, on Saturday, August 27th, after our Bible studies Paul said, “I kind of feel like I am getting sick.”  I wrote it off and he went to bed early with his first fever that would last almost 2 weeks.  He stayed in bed through Tuesday, with the exception of doing a case on Sunday.  He would feel better between fevers and started taking malaria meds on Monday (just in case) despite a negative blood test.  Early Wednesday morning, his fevers and rigors got worse and he got the worst headache of his life (that lasted over 24 hours).  Dr. Ruth saw him again and then Dr. Asle came by and they both decided he probably needed to be taken to Addis to receive more testing.

One of the biggest thank you’s goes to Dr. Asle Aarsland, he was key to our survival from this point until we got on the plane to South Africa.  We never thought we would move to Ethiopia and fall in love with Norwegians, but it happened.  There is a large Norwegian presence and the more and more we learn about their country and culture, the more we are impressed with their compassion and self-giving attitudes and Asle and Kari, must be at the top of that selfless pyramid.  Asle graciously drove us to Addis, thinking he would get us settled in at the hospital up there and come back to Soddo. Well, let’s just say I never settled and was slightly freaked out the entire time, so he stayed. We were admitted to the best private hospital in Addis on Wednesday night.  The rest of the story in Addis goes…fever, medicine, IV, IV blown, new IV, test negative, fever, medicine, IV blown, new IV, fever, medicine, tests still negative, and repeat.  Until Sunday morning after the doctors heard that Paul nearly fainted in the middle of the night and he was still having high fevers, despite antibiotics, malaria meds and Tylenol, they decided we should probably transfer out.

At which point I called our insurance company from skype and immediately was referred to the company who has the experts in medical evacuation, International SOS.  They were so helpful, it also helped being at a hospital and with a doctor who was used to shipping people off by air ambulance for a higher level of care.  This day was very hard for us, but in the midst of it I was most thankful for…A travel agent here in Addis who on his Sunday afternoon, booked me tickets, went to the ticket office and emailed me with the e tickets before 4pm.  Angie and Sophie, who packed up the kids bags, organized a ride to Addis and dealt with 2 car sick kids in the 5 hour car ride where as Nathan put it, “the driver kept going fast then slow, fast then slow…” Sophie, who also packed for herself to go on a mystery journey with 2 kids and an anxious mother.  A Norwegian surgeon, who helped Paul get transferred and then went with him in the ambulance to the airport and then proceeded to bring all kinds of yummy desserts to our guest house after all of that. For Tabby, a good friend who also lives here in Ethiopia and for her sweet and divine phone call to me. For Paul, who I got to kiss as he left on the ambulance.  And again, Asle for keeping me sane, by reassuring me and praying for Paul before he left.

After getting back to the guest house, I received several calls from International SOS, stating every step in Paul’s journey.  It was in the middle of the night for me, but I was still very thankful every time Fernando from Philly called me and told me that Paul had made it to Nairobi and then to South Africa and then to the hospital.

The next day, Sophie, the kids and me all made it through an uneventful flight and a train ride in South Africa.  But I am telling you, if you ever need someone to travel with you and small children around the world, I wouldn’t want anyone else, but Sophie to do it with me.  She is the best.  It helps that she knows the kids really well and is really great at interacting with them and keeping them entertained.  This big thank you goes to her!  Thank you, Sophie.

After getting off of the train (which Nathan was thoroughly disappointed that the train didn’t have smoke and coals like Thomas the Train, oh well)…we were met by Miriam, the daughter of Dr. Mark and Allison Karnes, who live here in Soddo with us.  She and her husband, Chris, offered their home for us to stay in.  Of course, we had no idea how long we would actually be there, so it was very generous of them to let us stay with them in their home.  The first thing Miriam said to Nathan was, “Nathan, my house has a lot of toys, do you think you could help me by playing with them?”  Well, Nathan was sold, he took her hand and didn’t look back.  They had 2 sweet little children and a fun trampoline and sand box, what a blessing to be able to stay in their home.  As Sophie said at one point, “I didn’t know what I was going to do with 2 kids in a hotel room for a week?!?”  Yeah, that would not have been ideal.  How God’s provision is amazing, he not only provided a comfortable home, but a loving family to be with us during this time as well.

After meeting up with Miriam, she drove me to the hospital, so I could see Paul. I got out and nervously went to the front desk to ask what room he was in.  They said he was in the Orchid ward (which to me sounded very Sci Fi, too much Lost, and didn’t sound like a flower at all at the moment)…so I headed in that direction and immediately saw the sign that said, “General ICU” (commence freak out)…and then I saw the sign that said Orchid ward (sigh of relief).  When I went in Paul was resting comfortably and it was so good to see him. He was off all the medications except IV paracetamol (Tylenol) and already felt better just being off of the anti-malaria meds.  He said, the doctor said, she didn’t know what she was treating so she was going to back off on the meds, until the test results came back.

I left the hospital that night and came back to the house to clean/sleeping children (again thanks to Sophie) and a hot meal brought by a family in their church.  I couldn’t believe it when they told me that some families in their small group offered to bring meals while we were there.  Amazing.  I was so humbled by that, and here is why… There have been many times, since moving to Ethiopia, that we have had sick or suffering friends.  I always wish that I could be there to help them tangibly, whether it is bring meals, or watch kids, or give hugs at the hospital.  I know from here I can pray and send words of encouragement and I always make myself rest in the fact that others are doing the tangible things.  And then the roles reversed…Paul was in the hospital and I was in a foreign country, and people I didn’t even know were feeding us and housing us.  The body of Christ is amazing.  All around the world the church is living and acting out in compassion and obeying the command to love one another.  Not only this, but we had several friends who contacted friends of theirs, who happened to be in Johannesburg, who wanted to help.  Several people visited us in the hospital; one person brought us a phone with minutes on it! And another person brought an entire box of snacks and fruit and goodies.  It was humbling to feel so loved by people near and far.

That brings me to another big thank you.  Thanks to all of you.  Thank you, for your prayers, for your emails and words of encouragement.  Thanks, for passing along our story to others who could pray too.  Thanks for praying together.  It was so encouraging and uplifting to read each and every word sent by all of you.  And we believe God answers prayers and he has answered our prayers for Paul’s healing and recovery.  We still have no idea exactly what the illness was, but we are thankful for a Big and Sovereign God who knows all about us and about every detail of our past, present and future.  We are in His hands and we can rest in that.

So, how is Paul now?  He is doing better, he is taking it slow, but slowly getting his strength back. We rested all of Saturday and Sunday.  On Monday he rounded on patients in the morning, came home and rested and only went back for an emergency.  On Tuesday, he rounded and did a minor procedure.  Today, he assisted on one major case and then sat through conference.  So he is slowly getting back his strength and I am proud of him for taking it slow and taking time to rest this week.  That brings me to the other huge thanks…our newest surgeon, Jon Pollock, what an initiation it has been for him.  Thankfully, he has been here 2 other times, where he worked with Paul and the residents and knew the routine, because within less than a month of them touching ground in Ethiopia, Paul was laid out on his back for several weeks.

So, that is the story, at least my side of the story.  I have enjoyed being home and I am looking forward to my parents coming here in less than 2 weeks!  Which means, I am also working on finishing several house projects before they get here…painting the bathrooms, recovering a few cushions, making some food to have in the freezer, etc.

Again, thanks to all of you for sticking with us through this trial and continually praying for health and renewal for Paul.  We love you and miss you!