Friday, October 6, 2017

Answers for Avin!

We have a diagnosis, Chronic Osteomyelitis, which is a staph infection in Avin's spine. We're so thankful for quick answers after the biopsy and that she was able to start treatment right away!! This week her many Doctors have been working on a treatment plan, we have heard a few different options over the last few days but they have come to some decisions finally today. 

Avin will be on an IV treatment for the next 6 weeks and she will be admitted into the hospital for that entire time. Right now we're at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver, the hospital we're at might change still to Surrey or Langley, but for now we're here and visitors are very welcome!! 

Jeff and the boys are planning to come to BC in mid-November and everyone is very excited for our first Christmas in Canada in quite a few years!! Avin should be out of the hospital by the time the boys arrive, she will then be on oral antibiotics and monitored for the next 6 weeks or so. We hope after that she'll get a clean bill of health and we can all return to Uganda together!

 We are just taking this all one day at a time right now and although there is still some uncertainty in the timeline of everything we are just so thankful that there is a treatment and also for the excellent care Avin has received at BC Children's Hospital! 

Thank you very much for your continued prayers for Avin and for all of us over these next few months! 

Also, if you know of a house for our family to stay in from mid-November until mid-January, send us a message, thank you!!! 

Monday, October 2, 2017


Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Avin!

I know many of you only know bits and pieces of what is going on with her health so we wanted to explain a bit more about it. We had no idea when this all began in March that she would still be sick all these months later or we'd have shared a lot sooner! 

In March Avin was diagnosed with malaria, which she has had several times and always recovered well from. This time after her normal dose of pills the parasite count was still high so she went on an IV treatment and then a second dose of pills. During this second dose of pills she started having very bad back pain which had never happened before. 

Through the month of April she had good days and bad; she was still having some back pain, fevers, general weakness and was just tired a lot, but we were told by the Doctors that due to her bad case of malaria she just needed time to fully recover. 

At the beginning of May her back became very painful again, she had more blood work and tests run, but other than a high white blood cell count they could not come up with a reason for her feeling sick again, she was put on antibiotics for a bacterial infection which seemed to help and she was feeling better by the end of May. 

By the second week of June she was again feeling unwell so we made an appointment with a Doctor in Kampala who specializes in Tropical Disease, he spent a lot of time reviewing her history and running more tests. There were a few things in her blood work we had not heard before this visit that showed she does having something going on, he had a few ideas but did not have an exact diagnosis. Most of the sicknesses he suspected could be treated with Doxycycline, so she began a month long treatment on this antibiotic. We also confirmed a flight for her to Canada in the summer and instead of having her return to Uganda right away we allowed time for her to see a Doctor while there if needed.

She started to feel a lot better after taking the Doxycycline and we thought this was the end, but again after a few weeks the back pain started up, she became tired easily and was just feeling off again. 

While she was in Canada we were hosting a few different groups in Uganda before joining her, including a team from Peace Portal Alliance Church with friends of ours, after hearing about Avin's situation they arranged for her to see a Doctor who works in the Emergency Department at Surrey Memorial. The Doctor was able to speak to Jeff over the phone so when they got to the hospital she went right in and had all the tests needed. One of those tests included an X-ray and the Doctor saw immediately that there was a problem in her spine. 

She is now under the care of a few different Doctors at Children's Hospital, in Infectious Disease and Orthopaedic Surgery. She has had a CT Scan and an MRI, these have led them to a diagnosis of an infection in her spine, possibly Tuberculosis but they can't confirm that or begin treating her until they know for sure. 

So a bone biopsy from the infected area of her spine (in the middle of her back) is needed next to confirm a diagnosis, this is scheduled for today at 11am. 

Our timeline for Avin being here and how long this will all take has changed a lot in the last couple months, and we are realizing that it's just going to be day to day, as hard as that is!! Right now I (Shannon) am in Canada with Avin and Mazzy, while Jeff and the boys are in Uganda. There are a couple groups coming to Uganda in October and it's a busy month at the school, so for now we will continue like this and pray that Avin is home in the next month or two. If after the biopsy results that seems unrealistic we'll change our plans as needed.

We'd appreciate your continued prayers for healing for Avin, and especially for the procedure Avin has today, Monday October 2nd to go well. If they get a large sample during the biopsy there is a lot better chance of a confirmed diagnosis and then a proper treatment! 

This is taken the day before Avin first got sick with Malaria! 

Being treated for malaria in March. 

Avin is just really missing being home in Uganda!! 

She is still having good days and bad days but has learned her limits a lot better lately, so although she does not always want to be just taking it easy, she knows the pain she has later if she exerts herself too much isn't worth it. That's hard though for a usually very active 14 year old!! Mazzy has helped a lot with entertaining her while she's stuck at home laying down. 

Our family has all felt very loved and supported during this time, we are thankful for a car to drive while we're here, and a couple different houses that we've been able to stay in, but we especially appreciate your prayers for healing for Avin and for us all to be home in Uganda soon! Thank You!! 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kibaale Medical Clinic

Our clinic in Kibaale sees an average of 1,200 patients every month but this past June was our busiest month ever, there were 1,985 patients treated!

The Kibaale Medical Clinic first began as an infirmary for the students in our school, it then grew to include health care for the families of our students and is now a community clinic that is one of the busiest in the whole district of Rakai! 

Various lab testing is done every day at the clinic including malaria tests, 70% of the patients we saw in June were diagnosed and treated for malaria! 

The clinic also provides prenatal care for women, has many medications including antibiotics on hand, we test for HIV/AIDS and offer counselling as well do weekly immunizations clinics in our community. 

The girls helping out at a mobile clinic last year, this is a really cute picture but in reality one of these twins was failing to thrive and not given a very good prognosis, which unfortunately is something we see far too often in the village. We're so thankful they came to our clinic and we were able to provide these babies and their mom with help though! 

Our own family and many of the visitors to Kibaale also use the clinic, having it right on the school property has always given us extra peace of mind. 

Dr Simon was very thankful to receive some new things for the clinic from some of our friends who came over to work with him last year. 

There are many opportunities if you are in the health care field to volunteer at our clinic, send us a message if you're interested in more information! 

We will often come across kids and adults while we're out in the community that need to be seen at our clinic, they just haven't been able to make it there themselves, so with the motorcycles or vans the centre has we're able to bring people in as needed! 

If you would like to help us with the ongoing costs to run the Kibaale Medical Clinic you can give online; a one time donation or monthly. $40 per month will cover the costs of 5 patients being seen and treated at our clinic! 

Thank you for considering a donation to the clinic, we could not continue this important ministry without the generous help of our supporters at home!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Life Lately

Greetings from Uganda! 

It's been a while since we've posted and wanted to share a few highlights from the last few months, including Mom and Dad Dyck visiting us in April! We spent our time between the projects in Masaka and Kibaale and ended their trip in Jinja. It was a very relaxed visit, since they have been to Uganda so many times before they really were here to just spend time with us, which we loved! 

Palm Sunday is always a favourite day in Kibaale, we love seeing our whole staff and school march through town together singing songs and then having our own church service afterwards. 

Awana! Our kids love to join in and be part of helping out or just playing games with the students whenever they can. 

Lake Nabugao is only about 30 minutes from our home in Masaka and a great day trip on a sunny weekend. 

Our last few days were spent at the beautiful Saranac on the Nile, just outside of Jinja. We were able  do some kayaking, swimming and then also went into Jinja for some craft shopping and lunch at one of our favourite places, The Deli

Avin and Finn asked for money to go bungee jumping into the Nile River for their birthday this year, it was great that Grandpa and Grandma were able to watch them experience their birthday gift! Avin was especially freaked out just before but it was a good thing they decided to go tandem, Finn encouraged her on and she's so glad that she did it! 

It also happened to be our 20th anniversary while we were away, we loved having our kids there with us to celebrate! 

20 years!! 

Thanks Mom and Dad for coming to see all of us, we're glad we were able to give you a glimpse into how we spend our days, we loved having you!! 


The staff daycare that is steps away from our house in Kibaale is a favourite place for everyone in our family to hang out! Mazzy especially spends a lot of time there; she helps with feeding, changing, cuddling and entertaining! 

Sometimes we steal a couple of the babies and bring them to our house where it's just a bit quieter and we can enjoy them a little more. 

Maya is obviously one of our favourites! 

Abidjan Grace too, her smile is definitely our favourite.

When hanging out with the students in Kibaale we tend to mostly spend time in the Nursery school, which would be like preschool and kindergarten, since they have a bit more time to be distracted, and our kids can easily help out during PE class, centres or of course recess! 

Olive is one of the upcoming graduates at Timothy Girls School, we were able to attend their grad party recently. We have loved having her study here these last 2 years, she's an amazing young lady who we expect will do big things in Uganda! 

Our good friend Jon Imbeau who is the Executive Director of Awana Canada came in July with 2 of his children and 2 other staff from the Canada office. They spent their time helping out with the Awana program we are running in Kibaale as well got a few other churches and organizations started. Our staff in Kibaale started an Awana program with just our grade 2 students a couple years ago and they loved it! We added another grade this year and next year plan to run the program for the whole primary school.

Some of our long time friends from home were in Uganda in July and we had the chance to meet up with them in Jinja while they were visiting Ekisa. One evening was spent with a sunset cruise on the Nile River which we'd highly recommend! 

Enjoying the beautiful view on the top deck with Leighton and Sarah Friesen while the kids are down below having a dance party! 

Meeting your sponsor child is definitely a highlight for our visitors in Kibaale, we're so glad that the Friesen family were able to meet their sponsor children, Sharon and Dennis. 

Jeff and Jolene Van Huizen with their girls and sponsor child Kayima Enock. 

At the beginning of August there was a team here from Peace Portal Alliance Church working at their project in Mpigi. Joel was able to spend a few days working alongside the team; they helped build a brick house and put on a VBS program at a primary school. The team then spent a couple days with us in Kibaale, they paid for and helped us build a new mud house for one of the students in our school! 

Thank you Peace Portal team for coming to visit us in Kibaale and for all your work on this new home!