Sunday, November 28, 2010

Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving...

Back by popular demand are the pictures of this year's feast preparations. Denny took position in front of our Easy Bake oven, flashlight in hand with the ever-important job of keeping the temperature constant. Someone in Romania needs to invent an oven thermostat!

Denny also doubled as the Director of Quality Control. It's a job, but somebody has to do it!

As you can tell, I love this holiday! Baking is something I truly enjoy and watching the missionaries devour these rolls made my day!

Denny kept the dishes under control. He is such a wonderful guy and I'm lucky to have him as my husband and missionary companion.


Humanitarian Missionary Conference

Last week we flew to Frankfurt, Germany to meet with the other European humanitarian couples for a conference. All of us spoke the same language (English) and used the same vocabulary (Humanitarianeze) as we compared battle wounds and war stories from our countries. Represented were: Albania, Cape Verde, Croatia, Macedonia/Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, Slovakia, and Romania. Frankfurt is the Church headquarters of the "Europe Area" and we were so fortunate to be able to stay in Friedrichsdorf, just steps away from the beautiful Frankfurt temple, where we were able to attend a session. (At the top of the long list of "Things we miss most" is living close to a temple.) The conference was wonderful and we returned to Romania with great enthusiasm and new friends who share what it's like to eat chicken gizzard soup and get stuck in elevators and on and on. It was so fun to laugh at our follies!

Here we are posing in front of the Frankfurt Temple.

This is Friedrichsdorf. It is about 20 miles from Frankfurt.

We look great, don't we?

After the conference, we spent Saturday walking around Frankfurt.

I took this picture to show the old with the new. Frankfurt is a very wealthy city--the banking center of Europe.

I took this picture to show typical German architecture. This is the real thing!

This is a first (since leaving the good 'ol USA)...a real public drinking fountain!

And finally, I couldn't resist taking this picture of a true entrepreneur who has a very self-contained frankfurter business in Frankfurt! To watch him walk around, making hot-dogs, carrying propane on his back was entertainment at it's best. Watch out Costco!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NRT - Saving Babies

This past month we have been totally absorbed in mobilizing a major project known as NRT.
It is one of the five "Major Initiatives" that the Church's humanitarian department promotes, the others being: Clean Water, Wheelchairs, Vision, Food Production. Neonatal Resuscitation Training projects are only done in developing countries where the mortality rate for newborn infants is above 16 in 1,000 births. In Romania, approximately 23 out of 1,000 babies die at birth simply because they fail to breathe on their own. It is the #1 reason babies die at birth and as a mother, that thought makes me emotional. The memories I hold most dear are the ones when I heard those first welcome cries of my three children.

Click on the video below to watch one of our doctors explain the NRT in Africa.

Our project took us to Targu Mures and the largest hospital in Romania where 45 doctors and nurses assembled from neighboring cities to learn and practice skills taught by two doctors from Salt Lake City, Dr. George Bennett and Dr. Donna Dizon-Townson.

This is the hospital. After all we have heard (and seen) regarding the dire conditions of hospitals in Romania, we were pleasantly encouraged by this one. The most critical cases are life-flighted here. Here they do heart transplants and kidney transplants.

In the weeks that led up to this event, resuscitation kits were shipped to Romania from America. Each kit is packaged in a duffel bag and contains a newborn-size manikin and other medical supplies that will be used to train doctors and nurses. Each hospital represented will take a kit back to their staff where training and practicing will be ongoing. Also given to each hospital are additional supplies to actually be used in delivery rooms for resuscitation.

These "babies" are newborn size and are filled with water to make them life-like. The tubes and bulbs are managed by the instructor to simulate breathing and pulse. As the baby is given air appropriately, the chest begins to rise and the pulse can be felt through the umbilicus. It is very life-like and our Mission President's wife cheered when she witnessed a "baby" start to breathe!

I took this picture because I was impressed at the rapt attention of this class. They were mostly women--doctors and nurses all who have all had experience having or delivering babies. By their attention you can see there are few things in life more important than saving babies at birth.

Dr. Bennett is a retired Anesthesiologist from Salt Lake City. He and his wife volunteer their time to travel the world giving these classes. This week, 90 doctors and nurses from 40 hospitals were trained in sessions in Targu Mures and Bucharest. At the end of the week, we were exhausted and the Bennetts flew to Sarajevo for one more week of this! How do they keep going?

A huge part of this training is hands-on. Practice makes perfect.

Every practice table was managed by a doctor who had been trained previously. Having Romanians train Romanians is very important.

Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Dr. Donna Dizon-Townson is a practicing Neonatologist from Salt Lake City and assisted Dr. Bennett in teaching the skills.

As you can see, everyone took mastering these skills very seriously.

For me, I suffered a lapse in taking things seriously when I was enraptured by this hair-do, right out of the 70's BYU yearbook!

The Team:

Dr. George Bennett and Dr. Donna Dizon-Townson.

Meet Dr. Bennett's wife, Marcia. She was the driving force behind this project. From her home in America and through Skype, we collaborated on this project. She is now a good friend and one of the nicest and most delightful people we know.

This is Dr. Roxana Iliescu from Bucharest. She is a practicing Neonatologist and works in a NICU in Bucharest. With her, we facilitated all the details for the two hospitals. She is fabulous and we are better people for knowing her.

Here we are posing in front of Ramos as we left our first city, Targu Mures

This is a picture we took after dinner of the staff of doctors who helped with the teaching in Targu Mures.

The team of teachers.

All participants were given certificates of completion. Our course is recognized by the Romanian Neonatal Society and each graduate is given continuing education credit.

This is why we loved this week. Roxana took us on a tour of her NICU.

This couple had their first baby while we were involved in the training. They gladly posed with their doctor and new baby boy.

Final note: Sometimes we are overcome with amazement and indebtedness that we are humanitarian representatives of such a generous and giving religion. What other organization in the world would send retired couples into developing countries, teach them a language, put up with their lack of computer skills, train them in pulling off important trainings that will change lives and then shower them with encouragement and blessings they can hardly imagine?
We feel so honored to be here and to act as "His hands".

Monday, November 1, 2010

Strengthening The Feeble Knees (D&C 81:5)

Our mission has taken on a frantic "rush to the finish" flavor as we have been scrambling to complete projects before the Winter and Christmas craziness sets in. A few weeks ago we wrapped up a project we enjoyed developing in which we made life a little more comfortable for senior citizens. Through our resources, we learned of an organization in Galati that cares for the homeless elderly. We went to visit them and on a tour, we were appalled by their moldy bathrooms and showers and the condition of their beds. Our project called for the demolition of the bathrooms with new tile and fixtures AND replacement of the old mattresses. Little did we know the fun was just beginning.
These are old futon-like pads, complete with lumps and bedbug colonies.

They were replaced with the best innerspring Romanian money could buy.

This is the old bathroom. The moldy floor was too disgusting to photograph.

The new and improved bathroom.

As a little surprise for the management of the shelter and the residents, we also wrote into the project the purchase of mattress pads, sheets, pillows and cases which we would deliver when we made the trip to Galati for the celebration.

This picture is proof that you can take the man out of furniture but you can't take the furniture man out of the missionary!

We were lucky to have a wonderful taxi driver who patiently stuffed all our purchases into his taxi and then helped us deliver it all to the home.

We assembled all the missionaries in the area. On the left is Elder and Sora Van Wagoner who live in Galati and helped us with the shopping. Elders Allphin and Lyon and Soras Mudge and Hupp also serve in Galati. Finally, Elder and Sora Dummar serve with us in Bucharest and wanted to spend the weekend with us and share in our humanitarian experiences. We descended on the "home", each of us hauling in all the bedding we could carry.

We were welcomed by the foundation president and we were asked to speak to the residents.
This is called a "Hand over ceremony" and it is customary at the conclusion of every project.

We were treated royally with a lunch of chicken legs, bread and vegetables.

We sang "As I Have Loved You" and "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today" for the residents.

As you can tell, they were excited about the singing.

We explained that we had a surprise for them and if they would help, we would outfit their beds with new sheets and pillows.
Hospital corners were planned but didn't actually happen!

The mattresses still had the noisy plastic bag covering so we replaced them with protective mattress pads. Elder and Sora Dummar not only made the beds but gave everyone a "high-five" at the completion! We were tickled by the "treasures" we found under the mattresses which included toast from breakfast wrapped in napkins, underwear, magazines, letters. Those old people can move with lightening speed when the stash is uncovered!
The Van Wagoners were a great help. . .

. . . as were all the young missionaries.

Denny was in heaven.

These men wanted to pose on their newly made beds.

This lady cried as she expressed her gratitude.

The beds looked very inviting and after our 45 minute workout, we were ready to try them out!

We're not sure when this man slipped into his jammies but he was ready for bed when we left. His smile will be forever in our memories.

As we left, we felt so warmly thanked. Humanitarian funds, sent to Romania to relieve suffering, were well spent.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:
"We are to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all, whenever we find do good unto all men". (Times and Seasons, 15 March 1842)

This is our mission and we love being here. Now you know why.