Take Heart

It wasn’t the first time since I have lived here that I wished I had a medical background, and for a split second, I considered becoming a cardiac surgeon. A split-second later, I recalled that I am only one person, and can only do so much, that besides not actually being good around blood, bile, exposed body tissues, and various other bodily fluids, it would also cost me at least six years. Six years in which I couldn’t continue in what I am already doing, and 6 years of patients dying for lack of care. heart pic

We had already waited with Delisia, a 2 month old baby girl, in the hospital for 6 weeks before meeting the first cardiologist. Though we had known for a month she had a serious heart condition, this was the first available appointment with a specialist. I knew our resources were limited. I anticipated open-heart surgery. I was prepared to beg for a transfer to the country’s best hospital so that Delisia could obtain the best care available to her. But I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“We have no cardiac surgeon in this country.”

None? Not one? “Well, aren’t we working to obtain one? Can’t we hire someone from a more developed country?”

“It’s not a priority.”

Not a priority? I see. Only a matter of life and death.

The doctor went on to explain that as we continue to have citizens dying daily due to malaria, higher priorities in other health care matters, take precedent over the need of a team of cardiac surgeons to perform life-saving surgeries.

I was dumbfounded. I know I live in a developing country. I know that there are various procedures considered fairly routine in other places, that are not available here. The fortunate ones, fly out to other countries for treatment. The less fortunate remain hospitalized for months, even years, just waiting. But waiting for what? A miracle, or death?

While my first concern was for Delisia, I walked back to the pediatric cardiology unit, where there were no more beds available. Scanning the children filling up the ward, I wondered how many were waiting for their miracle, for a life-saving surgery that may not come in time.

There is a waiting list, the doctors told me. Anyone needing a heart surgery is put on this waiting list. When foreign doctors visit for a week each year, those who are still alive will be put on the list for treatment. …

I’ve pondered this plight ever since I walked out of that doctor’s office. I wonder why we don’t have the physicians we need here. In my home country, I know that I could have my choice of heart surgeons, that there would have been no month-long wait to see a cardiologist, that when I did see him, he could refer me immediately to a surgeon, that If I didn’t feel comfortable with that surgeon, I could seek out another professional with higher qualifications or greater experience.

I believe that God knows and provides for everything we need. I believe he often has answered our prayers long before we ask. I also believe that often the provisions he has put in place do not come about, because we fail to follow His plan. For example we pray that others would know Christ, yet we fail to tell them. We pray for the poor and needy, but we fail to give. We pray for God to meet the needs in under-developed and developing countries, but we are not willing to allow Him to send us.

I wonder if He has asked someone to take their education and the skills He has given them and come to a less-fortunate part of the world to save lives, and they have not followed His call.

What about you? Has He asked you to come?

 

Spring Update

Spring Update

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                                     5/4/2017

Happy Spring! I trust you are all doing well. I’d like to share a brief update on Love Alive ministries in Rwanda.

Quick Trip: The last week in March, I was able to fly to the USA to take part in a mission-emphasis week at my home church in Tennessee. During the time I was home, I was able to visit area churches and mission partners as well as family and friends. This was certainly a refreshing time for me and beneficial for the ministry. Now back in Rwanda, our ministries continue to grow and expand.

New Ministry: Our most recent ministry project is one that I am excited to share with you. This year, our women’s vocational training center has been strategically positioned in an area known for sexual exploitation, namely prostitution. I met with many women in the sex trade months ago, and began a conversation with them about the potential to see their lives changed through Jesus Christ, and their willingness to give up their current form of living to pursue an honorable vocation. Since then, these women have pursued us, asking why we have delayed to begin the program. My number one reason for the delay was that I was not about to embark on this endeavor alone. I know full well that the Holy Spirit will have to be very present and active for real change to come about. Last week, we held our registration with nearly 100 women applying. We plan to officially open “The Scarlet Cord,” on May 15. This will be a vocational training center as well as a counseling center, and center for Bible teaching and mentoring. I have moved my office into the center to be there on a constant basis. Please bathe this ministry in prayer. I have been researching what other similar ministries world-wide have found effective, various counseling strategies and success stories from around the globe, and I’m relying heavily on my own therapeutic counseling background; however, I do not underestimate the need for the power of Christ in this center and in the life of each participant. There are so many ways that I can already share with you that we are seeing the powers of darkness work against this ministry, but we hold fast to the knowledge that these women can find true hope and change in Jesus.

Church Partnerships: As we support local churches, it is exciting to watch them grow. One particular pastor Damour, whom God saved from a 19-year alcohol addiction, changed him and led him to start his first church in his own hometown several years ago, is being greatly used of God. When I met Pastor Damour 3 years ago, his church was in need of building a larger facility to house their congregation, and their current facility was literally leaning over, soon to fall down. Since that time, We have seen that congregation grow largely, build the facility they were praying for and start 2 new church plants. He is a true soul-winner and is efficient not only in seeing people brought to Christ, but seeing them disciple, baptized, and become active members of their congregations.

Baby Delisia: I would like to ask for prayer for this precious little girl. Delisia is the 2-month-old daughter of one of our sewing center graduates. She has been hospitalized for 6 weeks due to a congenital heart issue. We are doing what we can to provide for her care; however, we learned this week, that there is no heart surgeon in this country. Her soonest opportunity for a surgery is if she can survive until October when she can be one of many on a waiting list for surgery by visiting foreign doctors. Her case is a reminder of how much quality physicians and nurses of all types are greatly needed here, and how greatly we must rely on our Great Healer.

I thank you so much for caring enough to read this letter, for praying for this ministry, and for your encouragement and support.

With Gratitude,

Laura Y.

July 2016 Update

July 2016 Update

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                July 6, 2016

Greetings from Rwanda. In this season, our weather is comparable to yours, sunny, dry, and hot! We do not expect any rain for at least another month, and have seen no rain in 2 months. Needless to say, it is a bit dry, but, laundry sure dries fast! There is also the advantage of never having to cancel or postpone programs due to heavy rains. In a land where few have cars, and most roads are dirt, rain tends to shut down many events.

I am always amazed how much time has elapsed since I last wrote, and then I am reminded of all we have been doing, and the many ways God is working & blessing. When I returned last September, I moved into a small house of 380 square feet. Within the last few months, my household of one turned into a household of 6! Three young boys, who stay with me during all holidays, having nowhere else to go, were here for the 3 months of Christmas holiday. In March, we learned that 2 of our vocational training students were walking 6 hours, round-trip for school each day. They moved in with me. In April a young boy needing physical therapy stayed in my home for a few weeks to have access to the hospital. The very day he left, I was walking home late in the night and found a 7-year-old boy, sleeping in the street. He saw me, and called me by name, having recognized me from coming to our Saturday Bible club. In short, JP is orphaned, and had been sleeping in the streets since his mother died. JP now lives with me, attends school, and considers himself a permanent family member. Only 2 days after JP came, a mother of some of our sponsored children who has consistently tried to give me her children once again asked me to take her kids to live with me. This time, I found out they were again living in the streets. We met with local authorities, and those 2 children ages 5 and 8 also came to live with me as a temporary solution. After a one-month stay, Jennifer and Randall graciously opened the annex of their home for these children to come and live together with their mother. It is our prayer that the mother will be able to obtain work and soon be able to support herself and her children. Please pray for this family, as there are many steps that must be made before that can happen. As two other situations have come up in the last week of others needing a place to stay, I am moving into a new house!

Hospital Care: We are delighted to continue our partnership with the local hospital, where we are able to provide treatment of many patients each month. We continue to visit regularly to pray with patients and bring gifts. Love Alive was able to provide care for yet a third baby this month, as the baby was in this hospital, the mother in another hospital about 2 hours away, and no one else was able to care for the child. Mother and child have now been reunited. In addition, we have helped in several personal ways as two children of our Sewing Center students needed emergency care, one after swallowing and pen cap that lodged itself in his intestines, and another after falling 35 feet into a hole, fracturing his skull and breaking his femur. Both are in recovery at this time.

Goats and Chickens: In May, we gave several goats to a group of women wanting to raise goats for income, but also to give goats to others. I am told these goats are already expecting offspring. Just last week, Randall helped us implement a program of providing 200 chickens for 20 families in an impoverished village. A spokesman for the group of recipients asked me to share the group’s gratitude, and to tell you that the same way that they have been helped, they hope to use the gift they are given to help others in their community. The purpose of the giving of chickens is to provide nutritional and income-generating opportunities, while teaching small-savings and sharing the love of Christ.

Bible Clubs: Our two weekly Bible clubs are near the conclusion of their 20-week curriculum. We have weekly seen 120 children at our Gako location, and 170 each week at our Kinamba location. We have already selected another location to begin our next Bible club in the same town as our sewing and salon centers, and plan to begin that this month. Please pray that we will see children trust Jesus as their Savior through this program.

Salon & Sewing: Our Salon students absolutely love the days their guest teacher Jennifer comes to teach. These students are nearing the completion of their certification, and will soon be finishing their program and seeking jobs. Our sewing students continue to amaze me with their zeal and joy in learning. They have begun staying after school to take on small jobs already, though graduation is still 5 months away. Most of these students had written out prayer requests for me back in May. It has been wonderful to see several answers to these prayers and be able to rejoice with these ladies and remind them that God is watching over them and He cares.

Sponsorship: In June we purchased annual health insurance ($5 per person) for all sponsored students in our program. Without insurance many of our students stay sick for long periods of time, and miss much school. With insurance they can easily see doctors and get the medications they need to restore health. We were blessed to be able to help them in this way.

Upcoming Events: We are hosting a 3-day youth conference later this month, and we are also planning a pastors’ conference in August as we greatly desire to enhance the local church with biblical training. My dad, Bob Yockey, Randall Smith, and a Rwandan evangelist Mbanzamugabo Aminadab are preparing now for this conference. We greatly appreciate your prayers for this event.

In May, I was introduced to a group of young unwed mothers, who have literally been cast-out of society. “Their scarlet letters” have caused them complete rejection by family, the church, school, and any potential of friendship and advancement in life. I am greatly burdened to reach out to these young girls, and shine the light of Christ to them. I am praying now about the ways we can potentially help these young ladies in the near future. Please pray with me.

God bless you and keep you!  Laura Yockey

And then Came JP

It was almost midnight as I made my way home. A young boy who had been staying with me for several weeks for medical reasons, had just left. The girls who stay with me had gone home for the weekend, and Baby Grace, whom we had been caring for for several months was on her way home too. I was looking forward to a weekend to myself. As the moto was dropping me off on the corner, for me to walk the rest of the way home, I saw a small young boy standing on the corner. Wow. What is that child doing out here, alone this late in the night? I thought. I planned to greet him and see if he was ok, but as I was still paying the moto, the little boy called out to me, “Laura!” I greeted him, but had no idea who he was.

I paid the moto and walked over to the little barefoot guy. It was cold out tonight. I was wearing a sweater and had taken a sweatshirt for extra. He was barefoot in a t-shirt.

I asked where his mom was and he replied that he didn’t have one. Dad had left and gone back to their home village and had refused to take him.

When did mom die? “Some time ago.” Where do you live? “Nowhere.”

Who do you have to stay with? “Noone.”

Where are you sleeping tonight? “I don’t know yet.”

Well, I could at least help him with the last question. He took my hand, and we walked home for the night, with plans to visit a center for orphans nearby and see if they can help , contact authorities, and the National Ministry of Children as well.

I came to learn JP is 7 years old, he may have family in a village several hours away, but he only knows the first names of his mother and father, and does not know more than a general area (county size) where his family may reside. He knew me because he had attended our Bible club several times. I figured this out when he started quoting all of our memory verses and singing all of the Bible club songs when he went to sleep at night.

Saturday, I took him (at his request) to a local center for orphans. He hoped he could stay there. They were full. They did not wish to take in anyone new. No, they could not house him, not even just for the weekend. They suggested I take him to the police. I have some experience with trying to get the police to help in these situations, and usually it results in the child spending a few days in a jail cell, until they release him back to the same situation.

I then called the National Department of Children, who told me it was the weekend, maybe I could try the village leaders. The village leader’s phone was off. We waited until Monday.

On Monday, we went to a council of local leaders who, having no other place for the child, asked me, “Can he stay with you for a few days until we locate his family?” Needless to say, I have never heard from them again, and never expected to. During the upcoming school break JP and I intend to do some searching for family ourselves.

JP began school the very next week. He is very bright and witty, extremely responsible and caring. He is fairly certain that anywhere I go, he needs to go, and my home is his. In fact, one morning at breakfast I heard him discussing with the other children whom he will live with when I die! Apparently, we are together until then!

 

In the nursery –The Days I Don’t Talk About

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“Leave it! Just let her die!”

I jumped up off of the bench, Bella still cradled tightly in my arms. “No, no, you can’t say that!” I told the new mother who had spoken these words.

Her little girl was born the day before weighing 800 grams (1 lb. 13 oz.), and she was still fighting for life. I had never once seen the mother come near her child. Upon the hospital’s suggestion that her daughter be transferred to another hospital for better care and a greater potential for survival, the mother had responded in utter despair, willing her child to just die. This explained why the mother would not come near her child. She was already resigned that the child would die, and was preventing herself from further anguish by refusing to even hope for her child’s survival.

I held out Bella to the mother. “Look at her,” I said, “She’s beautiful, strong and healthy, but she was born as small as your own baby, in fact, within a few days after birth, she weighed only 700 grams (1 lb. 9 oz.), but she grew. Your baby can grow. God can take care of her, please believe in that.” Along with a nurse, I tried to convince the mother that she had to hope and do the best she could for her child. I walked over to her baby’s isolette, and opened the door. Your baby needs your touch, needs your love, the sound of your voice, the smell of your skin. You can help your baby.”

“Leave me alone and leave it to God to decide,” the mother replied, and walked out the door, leaving me with her child’s hand wrapped around my finger.

It’s hard to comprehend, but in a world of endless poverty and survival. This mother was refusing better care, because she knew she could not afford it, and rather than take a chance that the hospital would work to help her, she gave up. She simply assumed no care would be provided when she couldn’t pay for treatment; and she would rather God just take her child than have to deal with the stress.

I found her later in the hallway, sitting alone, and I tried again to console her and encourage her. When she told me money was the problem, I again tried to tell her to believe there could be a way. Though I would not and did not tell her, my thought was, that I or Love Alive would ensure the baby’s treatment was taken care of; however, once again, the mother told me bitterly, “If God can do all things, then let Him, and leave it be.”

I wish I could be shocked at this attitude. I wish I could say, I was calling the local Children’s Services Hotline to inform them that this baby was in danger of neglect, but I’ve seen too much in the neonatal unit of my local hospital in the past months.

You see, in the months of daily visits, holding sweet Bella, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve heard a lot. Sometimes I don’t know if God brought Bella into my world for me to love Bella, or to bless my life for this time with Bella, or to bring me to a new window, to gaze through, and see a whole new demographic desperate for love, nurture, counseling, medical advancements, knowledge, and care.

5.

Five.

F-i-v-e babies died that day.

There were 8 infants fighting for life when we started the day, and by nightfall, there were only 2 very worried mothers (alongside me) wondering how their own babies had made it through the day, and if they could survive the next.

Our hospital is not large. Our community is semi-rural, full of dirt-roads, open-air markets, villagers who ride taxi-bicycles, and farm other people’s fields to make a living. The maximum capacity of our hospital is 90 people, so you can understand that the number of babies represented here is large for a small hospital, and speaks nothing of what is happening in more populated hospitals in this country.

I walked into Bella’s room, and there was a dead baby lying on the counter. A nurse looked at me and said flatly. “I think its dead.” The oxygen tank was still feeding oxygen into the little body, but I placed my hand on the baby’s chest, held his tiny hand, and stroked his cheek. Cold. Still. Lifeless. Gone.

“Does the mother know?” I asked. No, she didn’t. They would tell her soon. “But she’s expecting it,” the nurse shrugged.

I looked around the room, “Where is Baby Costance?”

“She died this morning.”

I had felt that death. Day after day, I would walk by that little one’s crib and stroke her cheek, hold her little hand and sing to her as I sang to Bella. I never once saw the mother in the two weeks the baby was alive.

“That’s because, she was preparing for her baby to die. We told her not to get attached, because the baby might not make it; that’s why she never came in and held her,” the nurse responded to my contemplations.

Talk about a cultural shift, from my own culture where every potential medical advancement is available, and when no cure is known parents and doctors and nurses fight for the best trials and any possible treatment to extend life and find health, where parents cling to every second with their baby, inform friends and even strangers through blogs and internet pages, and get national prayer chains going with every hope for the miraculous. Yet here, where medical treatments are limited, and death is as expected as life, the very opposite occurs. Rather than hope and risk the wound, stay away from the child, and wait and see what the potential for survival is.

I couldn’t help but think about neonatal development and the power of the mother child bond, the need for nurture, for physical closeness, for human interaction, and yet, my ideologies were continents away from my actual surroundings.

I knew, rather thought I knew, who the third deceased infant was.

“The twin, he’s gone too? ” I asked.

I knew each baby well, often answering for doctors who came in before the nurses could look in their charts to answer dates the baby was born or who the mother was. It was not hard to look around the room and notice which crib yesterday held a baby and now lay empty.

“Wow! He’s still alive?” The doctor had laughed as he exclaimed the day before upon entering the nursery and seeing the tiny twin still breathing.

“Why would you say that?” I asked? Shouldn’t we keep every hope of life?

“Eh, the other twin died at birth yesterday, this one will surely die now too; it’s just a matter of time,” he responded.

I watched the monitors flashing warning signs, “Warning, temperature dangerously low!” “Attention: heart beat abnormal.” “Low oxygen.”

Aside from the oxygen mask, the other warnings were unheeded. Whether we have no capabilities to address the problems being shown on the screen, I do not know. I only know that as the warning lights and beeps kept flashing, the doctor and nurses continued about their work and charting. The heart line going flatter.

“The twin? Yes, him too, but we didn’t count that one. We knew he would die, so that didn’t count”

Make that 4 babies today then.

By the end of that night, one more of Bella’s nursery fellows died, leaving the nursery quiet with three babies clinging to life, and leaving me with no false-expectations that in this country a baby should be expected to survive.

I’ve inquired as to why in such a small community, we should have so many babies born with birth defects, malformations, severe prematurity, and poor heart and lung development. The local physicians attribute the problems to four specific causes. 1. Poor nutrition. 2. Lack of prenatal care and awareness. 3. Attempted self-induced abortions via poison, and 4. “traditional medicines,” a term that encompasses traditional roots, herbs and concoctions passed down through ancestry and including witchcraft. Often the treatments given to expecting mothers are actually harmful to the developing baby rather than helpful, yet people are more prone to believe what families and locals advise them rather than what is medically or scientifically proven.

I don’t really have answers. I don’t have solutions. I don’t have even a solution. This is why the days like these well up in my heart and seep out in my frustrations and become my accepted realities of all I am powerless to change.

But tomorrow, I’ll wake up, and when the daily activities the “musts” that need to be done are finished, I’ll walk to the hospital, open the little isolette, and cradle that beautiful little miracle in my arms, and breathe life, and songs and love and prayers for blessings, angels and God’s favor on her, all the while watching, and when I can, I’ll provide diapers, soap and lotion for another baby whose mother has no ability to obtain such simple necessities, I’ll show a mother how to use a disposable diaper, share some of Bella’s clothes with another preemie mom whose baby has been naked, and tell another mother how important It is to hold her baby and talk to him.

Maybe, just maybe a little sun shines through.

Mission Team 2015

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Earlier this month a joint mission team led by Poplar Grove, and joined by members of Steven’s Street Baptist Church and Vine Branch all of Cookeville, TN blessed me with their time, their love and compassion, their hard work, and times of Bibles study with hundreds of Rwandans in many locations.

This team was a blessing last year, and they were just as much of an encouragement and support to the people and ministry this year.

The first day, the team ministered to one of our sewing centers, visiting with current students and graduates. As these students shared their testimonies there was a repeated theme: “I had no ability and no opportunity for improving my life, but God opened up this opportunity through this sewing center of Love Alive, and now I have a chance to make a better life.”  The students blessed the team with hand-made gifts and fruits from their gardens, while the team shared Bible teachings and practical gifts. Former graduates invited us to their cooperative to demonstrate for us how they are working together and producing good work to sell in the markets.

The team spent the next 3 days in a village church, ministering both to the church and the community. The goal was to develop a friendship between the local Rwandan church and community and the guest churches. The team held daily services of Bible teaching, Bible study groups of men and women, and children’s classes as well. They visited many families in the community to read Bible passages and pray together, and saw 2 people accept Christ as personal Savior. One of the most unique things the team participated in during this 3 day-partnership of churches was “mudding” the church’s newly constructed building. This mudding process consists first of gathering large quantities of dirt, manure and rocks, mixing them thoroughly together, and coating the outside of the building in order to seal it and protect the building from erosion.  Due to gifts given through donations to Love Alive, we also presented this church with funding to add doors and windows to their facility. They were so grateful for this gift that they had the doors and windows ordered to arrive the very next day.

Before leaving this village, the mission team was able to meet a nearby church in the same community, and provide 60 Bibles to adult believers there. In this church of over 100 adults and children, only one member in addition to the pastor owned a Bible. It is a great privilege to be able to give God’s Word and encourage His people to read and get to know Him better. As I sat in this little church only half constructed of unfinished mud brick, but happy believers actively worshipping, I could not help but contemplate the dissimilarity of the average American church in priority and desire to serve and worship against all odds.

The following day, the team visited our second sewing center of 30 current students and several graduates who came to thank the team and tell of how they are now succeeding with the tools they have gained. It is often difficult to know who is gaining the greater blessing, the team in hearing the testimonies of persons assisted, or the beneficiaries we meet. That same day the team traveled to the hospital with which Love Alive works closely in providing funding to patients in need. After a brief meeting with the staff who welcomed us to openly share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the team went to each room, visiting each patient to pray with them, and bring small gifts to aid in their recovery, remind them they are loved, and that God, our Great Healer, is watching over them. The final stop of the day was visiting 100 sponsored students in this area to share a Bible lesson and play games together. The children were in awe and full of enthusiasm to see and play with the colorful parachutes, something they had never seen before.  Several of our team members were able to meet some of their sponsored students. I cannot imagine that any other experience could make more real to these children and their families the love and compassion they are receiving than meeting the sponsor who loves them enough to enter their world and give them assistance. I imagine that nothing makes the necessity of the gift given more real to the sponsor than seeing the dire needs of these children and their families, and meeting the beautiful lives they are touching and impacting daily than a face-to-face meeting.

The day before leaving, the team visited recipients of one of our most recent chicken projects, delivering more food and nutrition supplements for the chickens, and sharing Bible teachings with the group. After this, the team visited two different churches in this same village. The first church had received Bibles from Love Alive in July, and the visit was to encourage the local believers and strengthen our friendship. It was a blessing to see so many Bibles in use amongst this group. At the next church, the team was able to give Bibles to about 75 believers. Most of these recipients had never in their lives owned a Bible. With each church that is given Bibles, it is our desire to go back and share in Bible teachings and reading to encourage the daily use of God’s word.

Before leaving on their final day in Rwanda, the team was able to visit some of my favorite children, a group of children living in the worst conditions I have ever seen in this country. Love Alive began sponsoring these children after they repeatedly would find me in the streets as they begged for food. They quickly claimed themselves as my best friends, invited me to their home and became some of our first sponsored students. As there was nowhere else to meet or play, the team played soccer and taught a Bible lesson in the midst of heaps of trash and ditches filled with sewer. These children were so excited to have visitors come and see them and play with them. While their living standards are lacking, I could see the effort they had put into making themselves and their homes ready for special guests.

As soon as I see any of the men, women, children and churches visited by this team, their first question to me is and will continue to be, “How are our friends? When will they return to see us? Please tell them we love them and miss them. We are waiting for them to return.”

Mission teams have a way of impacting lives, building friendships and encouraging local communities and believers in a way that no other thing can accomplish.

I thank each member of this team for their love, compassion, their time, efforts, vacation days given and exhaustion from long flights and travel that is not always smooth in this continent. I also thank each church that was involved and supported its members in this journey.

God bless you.

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure you that you have a standing invitation to come to Rwanda and join us in the ministries and see God working. Whether you would like to come as a church mission team, as a family, group of friends, or an individual, you are welcome. Please feel free to contact me via our contact page and let me know what you might be interested in. We can work together to craft a trip according to your desires for ministry and international experience.

Needs here that can be addressed through short-term trips include:

Bible teaching to pastors, church leaders, teachers and lay-persons.

Children’s ministries through sports, play, Bible Clubs, Vacation Bible Schools, Sunday School Trainings to church leaders, and teaching children in schools.

Encouraging and supporting local trade, and increasing creativity and ingenuity. If you have a passion, a talent, an art form that you can teach, it may be very valuable to come and teach that.

Ministering to individuals in hospitals, prisons, and homes, sharing encouragement, prayers and friendship.

Baby Love

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She is

Abandoned. Helpless. Orphaned. Unknown. Unnamed.

And yet, she is

A Miracle. A Fighter. Survivor. Gift of God. Precious. Dearly Loved. Divinely created for a special purpose.

She is Baby Love.

Our relationship with our local hospital through which we have established our program to provide medical care to those who would otherwise be without treatment has become a lovely working relationship with fellow-Christian hospital administrators who readily communicate with us. I have learned of their sacrifices and their great care, often trying to find funding amongst themselves to care for patients otherwise left untreated. They are grateful for our funding, and I am ever so grateful for their care and compassion, and the integrity with which we can work together.

A few weeks ago, as I was just about to end my day and go to sleep, I received a phone call from Christine, who is in charge of social needs within the hospital. “Laura, we have an abandoned baby. She was born at 26 weeks gestation, weighing only 900 grams (1 lb. 15.7 oz.). Her mother has fled, leaving the baby behind. Can you accept responsibility for this baby’s care and medical needs?”

I got up and dressed, stopped by a store to buy baby formula and diapers on my way, and immediately went to see this lovely baby. So tiny and frail in her incubator, the diapers I bought her, though the smallest size available sag down to her knees and cover her chest.

Now at one month old, she weighs a full Kilo (2.2 pounds). She needs no oxygen, she has been taken off all IVs and is only tube fed 24 ML every 3 hours (6 oz. per day).

I go daily to hold her, rock her, and sing to her, wanting her to have nurturing and care. I’m impressed with the nursing staff and their ability to care for her and other preemies with such little advanced medical technology available. I marvel that she is still alive. She has no mother pouring love into her, no reason to be clinging to life, and yet she does.

The hospital tells me, she will be released when she has reached 2 Kilos (4.4 pounds) or doubles her current weight.  For now, Love Alive is her provider. As she has no name, I’ve taken to calling her Baby Love.

I don’t know her mother’s circumstances or what led to her decision to leave her baby behind. I do know that I want this dear baby girl to grow up knowing she is loved beyond measure, that she has a purpose, that God kept her alive for a reason.

I don’t know what the next step of her journey will be; I only know I am grateful to be a tiny piece of her nurturing and care.

#PrayersforBabyLove

SEAM Program Sponsor a Woman Through Vocational Training, Impact her Life Forever

Imagine life without the hope of ever being able to send all of your children to school (or even to send more than 1 per year to school), to live in a place with electricity or running water (even clean water), to sleep in a bed with a mattress rather than on a mat on dirt floor, to ever learn a skill or trade or even have a steady job (rather than making $1 per day working in fields.) Women are living this way every day in the rural villages of Rwanda.  Many have been abandoned by their husbands and left to feed and care for their children alone.  In many cases, they are also caring for other children in the village that have no one else.
Meet a few of these women: Marie: Widowed with 2 children, third grade education Fabiola:  Single, 20 years old, 5 siblings, sixth grade education Jeannette: Mother of 4 children, abandoned by her husband, sixth grade education Joyce: Married, two children, husband seeks day-to-day work, she has a first grade education.  Gloriosa: Mother of 5 children, husband has difficulty finding work due to handicap. She has a third grade education Sephora: One child, no husband, no parents, no siblings, no support systems.  She has fifth grade education Florence: Married, mother of three, disabled from a severe accident, third grade education Clementine:  Walked 2 hours to school each morning and 2 hours back home each evening for the opportunity to learn to sew!

I have become involved in a Christian ministry named Love Alive International that is changing the lives of many of these women.  My friend, Laura Yockey, has moved to Rwanda and has many projects and ministry opportunities to show the love of Jesus to the people she encounters in Rwanda.  One of my favorite ministries is the SEAM (Sewing Education and Mentoring) program which teaches women to sew.
The SEAM mission is to establish sewing centers and schools to teach women how to sew, to supply the tools to improve their skills, to provide support and a “safe place” to talk with other women going through the same hardships, to help them develop a sense of pride at their accomplishments and to show them the love of Jesus!
How it works: Selection:  Each woman applies for the class and is personally interviewed.  The requirements and expectations are explained and she must agree to attend class and do her best for 1 full year.  If, after
1 year, she has completed all the work and has shown the proficient skill set, she will graduate and be given a Sewing Business Starter Kit so she can start generating income for her family immediately.
Kit includes: Sewing Machine (Cost $125- includes machine, transport and assembly by technician) Fabric   (Cost $25 – to allow her to sew sample/display items showing her capabilities) Tool kit  (Cost $50 – includes scissors, sewing box, iron, buttons, thread, pins, elastic,       oil for machine, measuring tape, needles and chalk) TOTAL COST  $200
Funding for Kit: Sponsorships are provided for each woman in the sewing class by people like you and me.
To date, the SEAM project has hosted 2 graduations (Dec. 2014 and July 2015) with 25 graduates, and we are expecting approximately 35 graduates in December 2015!
Here are some pictures of women in the class as well as a group of graduates and their Sewing Kit.  One woman is modeling clothes she made as well as a bag for her sponsor.

I have sponsored several of these women from previous graduations, and each of them has expressed such gratitude for the love, support and confidence that a sponsor provides.  They know that you believe they can be successful.
Their notes of thanks to the sponsors showed such joy — here are samples from a few notes:
“I am so thankful from my heart for the good things you have done for us, for caring about us and taking care of us.  We truly thank you for what we have achieved through you.  We wanted to achieve
but we were unable to do it without you.  Truly God knows all! I have so many things in my heart I wish to share with you. “
“We have finished the class and are thrilled beyond words to express.  We invite you to come visit us and see our work and skills.”
“I will continue striving to better my knowledge and skills.”
“Your assistance will greatly help me and my family.  I will use my new skill to advance and improve my life.  You have helped me achieve much.”
We are in need of sponsors for the December 2015 graduation and I am inviting you to be part of this wonderful ministry with me.  I can promise you that every dollar you send (all 100 cents of that dollar) will go toward the ministry.
We have so very much and these women have so little – not because they are not willing to learn and work hard, but simply because they have not had the opportunity in the place where they were born.  If you are able to help give another woman a chance at a life that she has only been able to dream about before now, please consider sponsoring a woman.  You can sponsor on-line at http://www.lovealiveinternational.com (note: SEAM sponsor in comments) or mail a check for $200 to Love Alive International, 2410 Burgess School Rd., Cookeville, TN  38506 and reference SEAM sponsor on the MEMO line.
You can read more about Love Alive and other projects that Laura is managing on the Love Alive International website.  If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Love Alive via the “Contact Us” link on the website.
God is working through Love Alive in many ways in Rwanda, and I am so excited that He led me to this ministry!
With excitement!
Teresa

Guest Blog by Teresa Cooper20151012_110942