Happy New Year!

Dear Friends of Pamela and Angel,

The Christmas and the New Year celebrations in America were full of surprises for Pamela and Angel. But being the bold and inquisitive souls that they are, they jumped into the festivities with zest. They loved every minute of all that came. Much gratitude to those around them who made these joy filled moments possible.

Pamela and Angel attended church services in a variety of churches. They also stayed in several different homes because of very cold weather and their apartment is in an older home that couldn’t keep them warm. Still they put up lights on that home, had a tree with lights and ornaments, and received many gifts that surprised and delighted them. They found the world full of joy and thoughtfulness because of the kindness of God’s disciples and they praised God for all His goodness.

As the new year approached, the hospitality continued and Pamela even went sailing! Like all new adventures, she loved it! But on new Year’s Eve, she was laying in bed at midnight when the skies looked like they were on fire and the noises sounded like gunshots. Pamela was frightened and called her friend, Leah, who explained fireworks to her. Reassured that all was safe, Pamela went outside and joined her neighbors in lighting fireworks. She thought it was very fun and “now has more new friends”.

Angel continues to be seen by the Shriner’s doctors. She has had a patch on her skull that has continued to reject new skin. Doctors have been treating it during these past few weeks and the good news is that skin is now growing on it. Currently there is only a bald spot the size of a bean.

Angel has also had trouble with her newly attached left eyelid and so on the 10th she will have more surgery to hopefully correct its malfunction. Thankfully the procedure will only require an outpatient visit.

How grateful we all are that Shriners steadfastly oversees Angel’s health and progress every few weeks while the live in the Galveston community. In June, however, she will be re-admitted for more extensive surgeries.

The other significant news is that we have discovered that Angel has a passion for oogali. Oogali is a staple in Kenya life and is made from white corn maize flour and water. Many non-Kenyans do not find it very appealing but it is served at almost every Kenyan meal. Angel loves it and can’t get enough of it. It must be in the genes.

I have some photos to share with you who are following Pamela and Angel. Please continue to keep Pamela and Angel in prayer and thought. They have 19 1/2 years to go before Angel is discharged from Shriners care. Funds will always be needed to keep healing flowing to this child.

Sue

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Latest surgery

Angel’s respite from medical procedures came to an end this week. She had another surgery on that stubborn left eyelid. This time they used some skin from the ear that was somewhat still intact hoping it would graft onto the eye better than the skin from her thigh. They also are trying to center her mouth by cutting her cheek and releasing the contracting scar tissue that is pulling the mouth to the left. I stand in awe of the knowledge and the procedures and the skills that these medical professionals have. I stand in utmost gratitude for the Shriners’ generosity that provides this care, this hope.

In the meantime, Pamela is adjusting to her new apartment in the hospital. She likes it a lot and Angel has been there with her nonstop. They have had time to play and take walks and nap and receive guests. They certainly have a big circle of friends that are varied but faithful. They are visited by their United Methodist friends. Some of those friends they met in Maua when the teams were there on mission trips. Some of their Methodist friends are from area churches. They also have a faithful group of friends who are medical students from the University of Texas. These students go to school across the street from the Burn Center and drop in to see Pamela and Angel routinely and bring their youthful enthusiasm and tenderness with them. Pamela and Angel have also been introduced to a circle of Kenyans who live and work in Galveston. They have come to the US for an education and have stayed to make a life for themselves. They found Angel and Pamela and have embraced them. They show up with Kenyan tea and Kenyan meals and Pamela is filled with memories of her home.

For all of you who remain loyal in your love of God and neighbor, be most blessed.

“We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 1:1

sue and jim

A new apartment!

It continues to be a quiet time for Angel as the medical staff continues the respite time for Angel to “just be” a baby. They are giving her another 2 weeks to play and grow and smile and bounce and snuggle and sleep without tubes or pain. Pamela is delighted to have this time with Angel and you can hear it in her voice when she is asked, “How are you and how is Angel?” She answers with joy, “We are fine! We are having fun!”

They have also moved. It seems there was an apartment open on the first floor that would be private. Pamela found it hard to share space with another adult mother who doesn’t speak the same language, who is also grieving the injuries of her child and worried about the realities of not being home, and who needs sleep. As women they understood the pain of their shared situation but words couldn’t be exchanged that would soften the days or the practicalities of living in the same small space. And Angel who is in that same small space did not always cooperate by being quiet when others needed her to be quiet. So Pamela and Angel have moved and are by themselves. Both are more relaxed and content. A big thank you goes to Shriners’ staff for their diplomacy and thoughtful care of all their patients.

Another big thank you to all of you who keep visiting and calling Pamela. It means so much to her. She is such an extravert and thrives on conversation and laughter and hugs. You who have provided those gifts have given hope and comfort to a young woman far away from family and friends and familiar culture, a woman who faces an unknown future, a woman who lives each day in a medical facilty. This a challenging life for any one, but for a 23 year old it is especially hard. You make it possible. You are the strength of God’s love being manifested. You are the spiritual wings that lift her up. You are empowering her to be the sustaining mother that Angel needs. You are saving two lives.

Faith without works is dead. Here in our relationships with Pamela and Angel is life.

~ Sue

Angel & momma time

Angel is enjoying her freedom from surgery. She has hung out with her mom all week and they have cuddled a lot. There were however fewer walks this week because Pamela developed an infection in her leg and found walking very difficult. Her leg has been swollen and hot and draining gunk and she has had a temperature. Shriner’s staff took her to a doctor and she is on antibiotics now and feeling better. Thank God for medicines and for the spirit of healing that comes from the Creative God of love.

The staff has also this week given Pamela a lesson in bathing a baby who has grafted skin and a small uncovered hole on her head. They are encouraging Pamela to take over more and more of the full care for Angel. Pamela is delighted and loves the learnings. She is always eager and grateful for learning anything new.

As these days have passed, Pamela and I have had many talks about the importance of the mother-daughter relationships. Now as I face my own mother’s illness, Pamela has been very concerned about what is happening to her. She wrote to me a few days ago this unedited message.

Hi sue iam so sorry for your mom sickeness and aiso for your schendule inconviences .iam still praying for you and your mom hoping everything will be okey.here its a special words to encourage you easpecialy like now when your undergoing through all this difficulties.”Keep your eyes on me ,not only for direction but also for emporwement .i never lead you to do something without equippping you for the task”says the lord.” Be blessed dear sue and dear sue’s mom.The lord is with you.

May we honor and be gentle with and love unconditionally all those who are put in our paths. Be assured that we are equipped for the task.

~ Sue

Time to be a baby

The hospital is giving Angel a time to be a baby. They seem to understand that there needs to be a break from treatment and its accompanying discomforts for the children to just be children.

So Angel is in Pamela’s personal room. She has a crib, a jump up seat (thanks to her church friends), a little table that holds her while she tries to eat solids, and a stroller that takes her around the hospital and around the block for walks. Pamela is delighted and having fun being a “normal” mom.

However this stay in Pamela’s room is conditional on Angel eating and gaining weight. Because Angel’s mouth was so deformed by the fire, she can’t seem to suck from a bottle. Miraculously she can nurse which means Pamela is her sole source of food. The stay in the room will continue only if Angel is gaining weight. Otherwise she has to go back to ICU for a feeding tube to be inserted. Hopefully her ability to take solids will increase and eventually give her enough nutrients to grow bigger and bigger.

Pamela is also taking classes offered by the hospital. She has had a class on breast feeding (and commented that she didn’t know that it was so complicated!), a class on CPR, and now is taking a class on playing with your child. That’s her favorite and she is having as much fun as Angel.

Medically there is another surgery scheduled sometime next week. Again the skin is not completely covering her head and the left eyelid is not functioning correctly (it’s drooping). So the surgeon has more work to do on those two areas. They have begun work on her mouth but they want to go slow with that so as not to disrupt her eating. Ears and nose are yet to be addressed.

In that this is a slow process, the hospital has asked that we get the visa extended. It is currently a 6 month visa and ends February 15th. I will attempt, with the hospital’s help, to request another 6 months from the US Embassy.

I recently heard someone say that “a mother is only as happy as her children are”. Certainly I can see that lived out in Pamela. Nothing delights Pamela more than Angel’s laughter and talking noises and her excitement at the normal things of life. Thank you for giving this child those moments.

~ Sue

Moving out of the ICU!!

Pamela called to tell me that Angel had been “discharged” from the ICU (temporarily …until the next surgery) to Pamela’s room. Pamela kept saying “I am so happy! I am so happy!” What this means is that Angel can sleep in a small crib next to Pamela’s bed and go for walks in the stroller around the hospital and be held without any tubes or wires protruding from her body. It means she can be a smiling gurgling baby without morphine or bandage changes.

For awhile…..

While awaiting the next surgery, there will be routine meetings with the child development specialist, with the nutrtionist, with occupational therapist, with the psychologist, with the doctors. Now Pamela must go every morning to the main office of the hospital to get her schedule for the day. There is always an ongoing plan for each patient that includes visits and input from the whole medical team. The thoroughness of care from the Shriners’ staff is astounding and Pamela is wise enough to just move with “the plan”, even if she doesn’t understand it or like it. Trust is required here and Pamela trusts. She trusts the people around her and she trusts God who has brought her child to this place and to this process.

Trust is required especially in the face of death. Pamela’s roommate’s 12-year-old child died two days ago. It was devastating to all of those who live and work in this community. The child had only been at Shriner’s 2 weeks and was severely burned. In spite of the excellent care that surrounded her, the child died. And Pamela wept with the mother whose language she could not understand but whose heart is forever joined with Pamela’s.

The reminder that death gives us is that we need to hold our loved ones close to us. There is only this moment in which to love.

~ Sue