The following is a letter recently received from friends of ours, fellow missionaries in Yei, South Sudan, who delivered their first child here at Bet Eman.
Dear Servants of Harvesters and Bet Eman/His House of Hope,
We are writing this letter to thank you for your efforts on behalf of our family, update you on our progress and request your continued prayers.
My wife, Nancy, was scheduled to return to the US this week because our first child is due in December. Nancy, however, went into labor last Saturday, October 20, 2012. The Medical Team at Bet Eman knew a premature birth of this nature might exceed the capacity of their facilities, but they courageously worked to save the child's life. The doctor initially treated Nancy with a medicine to stop/delay the contractions, but the labor continued. They also injected her with steroids hoping that (with time) the treatment would transfer from Nancy's blood stream to the baby's, in order to strengthen baby's lungs. They hoped that the contractions would stop for 48 hours... but the labor continued. Given the circumstances, once the baby was born, the head doctor advised a medical evacuation out of South Sudan to a hospital with a neo-natal care unit.
During all of these events, Nancy and I felt the presence of God in every step of the birth and evacuation. A short-term Mission Team from Wisconsin arrived days earlier to our town in South Sudan with medical equipment from the US which was used for the first time during Nancy's delivery. The head of the short-term mission team was a Pediatrician and his wife a nurse; they joined the hospital's staff and worked tirelessly to care for Nancy and the baby. Dr. Jeff Perry, the hospital's Head Doctor, remained composed, attentive, thorough and optimistic throughout the entire procedure. While his wife, Elizabeth, drew from years of experience mothering nine children and her graduate degree in Public Health to coach Nancy during the labor. In addition, we were surrounded by the prayers of dozens of South Sudanese mothers and children who left their own hospital beds to stand at the entrance of our door to pray. Many believe this level of medical assistance is unheard of in a country which was recently identified on International Women's Day as "the worst place in the world for a woman to give birth."
When the child was born, the doctor's assessed that a "CPAP Machine" (also known as a "Continuous Positive Airways Machine" was needed. They, however, did not own this expensive machine, so they used a device which was fashioned together months ago with plastic tubes, a cup of water and several small bands. This device was made "in the event" that a CPAP machine was ever needed. And it worked beautifully, absolutely beautifully. The Medical Team also used the only incubator in town to stabilize the baby.
After the child's breathing steadied, a chain of colleagues from the Presbyterian Church USA, RECONCILE International, Yei's Immigration Office(S. Sudan), Juba Immigration Office (S. Sudan), the United States Embassy in Kenya and several NGOs secured an air evacuation plane holding a nurse, a doctor, and all the medical equipment needed to care for our baby. They flew into Yei, landed on the dirt airstrip, fixed the incubator into a Land Cruiser, transferred the baby into their medical equipment and flew us to Nairobi, Kenya. Once we arrived in Nairobi, an ambulance met us on the runway and hurried us to Aga Khan Hospital where the child was admitted immediately into neo-natal ICU.
As you can imagine, the last few days have been quite challenging, but we are convinced that through this process the Lord has revealed the height and depth of God's love through the hands of our South Sudanese, American and Kenyan sisters and brothers. We are happy to report baby continues to improve day by day. To God be the glory. The US Embassy in Nairobi has also informed us that according to their records, little "Jordan Eman" is the first American born in the new country of South Sudan. (The 1st baby born from American-born parents).
To God be the glory for the life which has been given to our child and the hope which has been shared with us. I am receiving treatment for Malaria, but the doctors believe my condition will be remedied with rest and medication during the next few days. Nancy continues to make great strides in her recovery from labor and she has received outstanding care from Aga Khan Hospital since our arrival in Kenya. Lastly, the doctors believe Jordan will shortly be moved out of ICU, and we are prayerful that he will continue to improve each day. We ask for your prayers for Jordan's continued progress and our rest.
Please feel free to share this with anyone who will pray for Jordan and our family.
In God's Grace,
Shelvis, Nancy & Jordan