Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back to Baby Steps

Mom, I am going to start with baby steps. This is what Renee said to me this morning! For her, baby steps probably seem like many,many years past. I mean she is 14 already! But for me, her mommy, it seems like yesterday that we were cheering her on and working those little legs and feet!

Renee had a major interruption in her life on Saturday, October 2. From Sunday to Friday of that week, tropical storm Nicole was causing havoc throughout Jamaica. We had no electricity for a couple of days, school was cancelled for 3 days. Life was chaotic to say the least!

Renee was inundated with tests so during the storm we tried to study, at least in the daylight hours. Study. Study. Study. By Saturday we were going stir crazy. She normally has dance lessons on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday was cancelled due to the storm, so I called on Saturday morning to see if, by chance, classes had resumed. Yes! Maybe everybody was looking for some normalcy on Saturday and wanted to get out of their houses like we did!

At 1:30 I dropped her off and came home to try to finish the Storm Nicole blog and my phone rang. It was Renee's number showing through on my phone, so I thought, well maybe nobody else showed up and class is cancelled after all. Only something was different, it wasn't Renee on the phone! A voice said, Are you Renee's mommy?

There is always a fear when a scenario like this happens and my first thought was UH-OH!
The person continued to say that Renee had dislocated her knee. I responded, Is she okay? Meaning, is it back in? is she frightened? is she emotionally okay? I'm thankful that without me asking all those questions the person was intuitive to what I was really asking and she responded, "No, she is crying out in pain. The teacher is trying to get it back in." All I could say was, "We are on the way!" I realized later I didn't even say thank you for the call!

We quickly hurried to the studio and rescued our little girl who indeed was very frightened. Now Den, on the other hand, was frightened for another reason!

Medical care in Jamaica is weak. Since we moved here we have an agreement. If one of us needs attention, get us on the first plane to Miami and we will get our medical care stateside. We have seen and heard too much to give us confidence to stay. On the way to Renee I was interceding for her and Den was interceding for guidance!

He called our landlord and asked her what she would recommend. She told us what hospital to go to. There are two hospitals in our town, one government run and the other privately owned. In the meantime the landlord actually called her friend, Dr. Audin. Wow, were we grateful for her assistance.

We arrived at the emergency and the wheelchair came quickly. The staff was so wonderful. As a matter of fact, one of the nurses said to Renee, "I heard you singing in the grocery store yesterday!" That was a surprise! During the storm we had gone to get more drinking water and my happy little girl shines wherever she is.

The xrays were taken and then had I wished for my camera! Dr. Audin was wonderful. As a matter of fact, he apologized for his appearance. He was still without electricity in his home, so he was not clean shaven and, I suppose, embarrassed but you know what, in that situation, who cares what anybody looks like! We were only concerned with Renee's knee.

The xrays revealed that there was no damage that would require surgery of any kind. We praised the Lord for that. The doctor said the dislocation was just a freak thing. When she was dancing she must have been twisted funny and the knee cap popped away. He told her about the basketball players that injure themselves in the same way and have to have drastic surgery. He said that with the knee cap popping away it actually spared her from damage so it was a blessing and not a curse.

A funny thing happened while he was reading the xrays. Out of the blue, Dr. Audin said, "oh my, her growth plates are not fused. Look at this line, look at this line and look over here!" We laughed out loud. How did our children get this height? We told him that Ryan is 5'11 and Renee is 5"9 and look at us! He said that for both of our children our recessive genes kicked in. It was not one-sided but both sides!

Renee has not been real happy with being so tall. As of late, she has complained about it. I have given the short person's perspective and its disadvantages but when the doctor told her she has a couple more inches to grow, I think she may have accepted the fact. Now she doesn't have to suspect that she will grow, she can expect it!

It was hard to get Renee to the car and into the house, especially in the rain, so Den went on a search for a knee brace and crutches. It was not an easy search but ended up being a successful search! They were found and without those 2 helps she never would have made it!

The pain was very intense at times. She did however go to school on Monday. Thank God for Nurse Randall and ice packs she got through the days. With a lot of help from her friends, she found out that she doesn't have to be independent and self-reliant all the time! Her dance teacher called and mentioned to get her on fish oil and caster oil right away. Today on day 12 she is doing much better. We also anoint her with oil every night and God, the sovereign one, is healing her.

We are celebrating Heroes week here in Jamaica and yesterday Renee's school had a program. She was able to sing in a little ensemble and was getting around quite well.....with a little help from her friends!

Well, what do you do with an interruption? How are you supposed to respond to an intrusion? What can we learn about ourselves when suddenly our days aren't normal? In our pondering and life-lesson talks,(and there have been many now that she is sofa-bound whenever she isn't in school) maybe there is a reason for this mishap. I shared with Renee what I heard Joel Osteen preach. Every step is ordered of the Lord and so are the stops. Ultimately, could this interruption turn into a blessing? Did Jesus allow this so as not to experience something else in the meantime?

When Jesus was interrupted on his way to something else, what usually happened? A miracle.

It is easy to get frustrated and angry when life hands us a lemon. Renee told me that at school she told someone to chuck her "walkers" against the wall. She was just plain tired of them. Tired of the hurt they cause, tired from them holding her back from her activities, tired of her palms hurting...just plain sick and tired.

Could it be that inconveniences, delays, interruptions are, ultimately, blessings from Jesus?
Could it be that Jesus is going to work IN ALL THINGS something for our good?

Renee has been dancing since she was 2 years old. She is frustrated not being able to dance right now. There are many things she can't do at the moment, but it will change.

In our discouragement we must remember that it won't rain always. The sun will shine again. Renee will dance again.....after the baby steps!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nicole's Visit

When some come to visit all is peaceful and when others come.......a different story! Our visitor this week....a different story. Less than peaceful, disruptive, not welcomed, major the island of Jamaica...devastating.

For a couple of months now, my favorite slot on tv has been the weather part of the news. Jamaicans around me were saying....Jamaica has been spared a hurricane since Ivan...we are due one. Not the kind of news one wants to hear but, nevertheless, probably the truth. The Caribbean Islands live in that realization. Just comes with the territory.

In 2008 we moved to Jamaica the night before Tropical Storm Gustav. We didn't have a place to go to, so we bunkered down in the Mandeville Hotel, skeletal staff, skeletal food, but with a generator we had water.We had a roof over our head, we were comfortable. It was a strange welcome. In that storm 18 were killed across the island.

When we got stir crazy we would try to venture out. Renee reminded me this week that during that storm I said to her, "this is the only time you will see the marketplace empty" usually you can't get through that area for the amount of people and chaos.

In 1985 we were itinerating on the Cape and Hurricane Gloria was upon us. I remember we were in a hotel waiting for our next missions service, which was probably in the next day or two. The manager of the hotel came on a speaker and said that we were going to be in the path of Gloria. I remember it so well because Denny and I were in the jacuzzi by the pool and under ominous skies the indoor pool and jacuzzi were packed. He looked at me and said, "WE ARE OUTA HERE!" We quickly rushed to the room, packed our belongings, checked out and booked it to Medfield!

That is the closest I ever want to be to a hurricane, that is for sure.

In May of this year I started collecting water in bottles. We lose our electricity enough without a storm and the lack of water is terrible. So in that way I was prepared for a storm should it come. Also soon after experiencing Gustav one of our first purchases here in the island was a generator. Thank God. We have used it so much with the electrical outages that we knew it would be worth all the money it took to get it. It is a necesity in the case of a hurricane.

Actually Nicole was revving up on Sunday past. It rained hard on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. On Wednesday when Nicole was directly overhead the Minister of Education closed the schools, so Renee and I were hanging out here in the house. Den left for the college at 7:30. This essentially was a "snow day" for Renee, so we had big plans without the snow! Have fun, do things that we normally can't do because of school and studies, which she does continually! Not to be, no time for games...about 9:00 in the morning floods came in the office and the tv room. We were moving furniture, mopping frantically and trying to figure out what was going on. At that time what would appear to be a wind sheer came through and that is when the tree landed on the roof. We called Den in a panic...get home quick. When he came home we went out in the rain and muck to see the damage at that point. It was unbelievable. I say unbelievable because the tropical storm actually left hurricane damage. I couldn't imagine what the low lying houses were experiencing.

We lost electricity at 9 in the morning and so we spent day 1 mopping. Every towel we owned was sopping wet. We were praying that it wouldn't get worse. We started using rolled newspapers in every window. It had gone from 2 rooms flooding to 5 rooms, and then the darkness came. It is hard to mop and towel when it is dark. Needless to say, Wednesday was a toughie. The homes in Jamaica do not have sealed windows. Every window is basically open to the outside elements and lizards! The water in the dining room though, was due to the ceiling leaking from the upstairs windows. You just couldn't keep ahead of the water coming in at that point. So no electricity, thunder and lightning, the noise of the generator, simple chaos I would call it!

The electricity did come on at 11:00 that night. Just in time to get the lights on to see if we had missed any pooling water to clean up! We went to bed until I heard major gusts and jumped out of bed to check the rooms again. That was at 1 a.m. It was a good thing I did. more water. It seemed like the storm was not going to end.

On Thursday we still had no electricity for most of the day and night and it continues to rain. Day 2 of the storm was much like day 1. Renee was worried about the books in her locker getting wet so we went for a drive to the school and on the drive we couldn't believe what we saw. The pictures of the church are very near to our house. We had to turn around and go a different route, even with an SUV it was unpassable.

Day 3 of the storm. The security guard at the school told us that there would not be any school till Monday so that took some pressure off. It is frustrating to learn if there is no school or not. There isn't a ticker tape going across the bottom of the screen with the names of school closures! There are no yellow school buses to indicate that there is school so to have that pressure off was a relief. Renee was really getting "snow days!" Of course the only thing related to snow is that we have worn sweat shirts since has been a little chilly, like 70 degrees! But for here that is chilly!

But on day 3 the men came to look at the tree laying on the roof and we were hoping to see a chain saw! Nope...just a man and his machete! Cool. It was raining so hard I felt for him. He kept coming under cover it was so torrential. I did go out and take his picture a few times! Here are a couple.

There is so much debris in the yard, here is the tree from the roof. Such a pretty tree. Our landlord tried to get here yesterday but had to turn around and go back for the flooding but today she made it. She was very sad to see all the trees down. This house was made to withstand hurricanes at the turn of the century, it is such shame that you cannot protect a yard.

Today is day 4. We lost electricity twice while I have been typing this blog. The clouds are very dark, the rain is continuing to fall. There is no dreadful lightning and thunder though. Thank you Jesus. The newspaper headlines are so sad. Thursday's paper-Killer Rains. Friday's headline-Death and Despair. Saturday's headline-More Bodies. It is so sad.

Thank you for praying for these precious people. Jamaica is not all about tourists. There are real people, people that live in shantys, with no running water even on normal days. There was a report of a man who was washed away when he went out to go to the bathroom. Sadness, Desperation, Trying Times for so many. When the storms come what do you do when you don't have material comforts?

Interesting side note! I started this blog this morning. It is now 5:00 in the afternoon and we just returned from our first experience at the hospital. Renee dislocated her knee at dance and while at the hospital the doctor told us that there were tornadoes during this storm. That now describes what it was. We thought wind sheer but when you see the path of destruction it took, it makes sense now to hear tornadoe. I thought when we left Springfield we would never have to go through those again....guess again Deborah!