27 October 2006

a long day

We waited all day for the phone call we expected in the morning, and it never came. We both just walked in the door from our respective busy evenings to FINALLY find an email message complete with pictures. Here's what it said... Patty (our agency director) has a new staff person who is going to be joining AOH who is a pediatric intensive care nurse. She will have her review Garty's case tomorrow, and then we will have a more updated report at the end of the day. Patty has other options that she is thinking about as well. Garty's white blood count is down. This is good, but we weren't able to get a urine sample yet since it is really hard to get the little guys to pee in a cup! His urine still has a bad odor. The doctor was able to take a look at Garty's kidneys with the ultrasound today. The doctor said for sure he noticed that the kidneys were quite large with the right kidney being even bigger with abnormalities. Hopefully we'll get the images soon so your doctor can take a look. Yesterday Garty ran a fever almost all day and slept a lot. When he was awake, his disposition was pleasant as long as he was on Tylenol. Today he had a fever, but it wasn't constant. He was also more alert, and we even played a little. I was even able to get a couple of pictures of him smiling! Here are the pictures plus one of Joshua and Patience that I took the other day. Sorry it's fuzzy.

a doctor's assessment

We woke up this morning to an email and a phone call with our friend Barbara-Jo. Basically, she said Garty will probably die if they don't figure out exactly what's wrong and fix it really soon. Obviously not really what we want to hear, but we know where we stand. Please pray, pray, pray for us today as we try to determine next steps. She's willing to leave right away for Liberia, but we don't know if that would help. Please pray that God will sustain Garty again. His little body has been through so much already, but we need him to hang in there. Please pray for focus and clarity for the two of us who have quite a few important appointments on our schedule today amid all of this chaos!

26 October 2006

back in the hospital

We just heard that Garty is back in the hospital with a distended stomach and something wrong with his liver. That's all we know at the moment, so now we have to wait until morning for an update. We also learned that a few weeks ago Acres of Hope (our adoption agency) was told NOT to ask for any more special passports for sick kids, which means a medical visa to the US is not an option. We're now trying to figure out if there's any chance of getting him to a different African country (which may still require a passport) or sending a doctor to him (which doesn't necessarily solve the problem because it doesn't improve the technology available). So basically, we have no idea what to do except beg you all to KEEP PRAYING! If you read this before lunchtime Friday, pray specifically that we would have the chance to speak with the director of Acres of Hope. They are trying to arrange for her to call us from Liberia tomorrow morning our time. Pray that this conversation would open doors of communication and make our options clear.

25 October 2006

Worldlink project news

Here is a bit of news not about the kids... Some of you know that Peter spent a lot of time last year working to gather bikes, computers, vehicles, books, food, tools, chainsaws, and lots of other stuff to go into a 40x8x8 ft. shipping container headed to Liberia.

Our native missionary partners there are now using those goods for small businesses and ministry purposes. They have just started teaching sewing and computer classes and will be starting an internet café as well. The 5 chainsaws are being used to cut wood and make charcoal. Because there are no utilities, everyone cooks with charcoal. They have already brought in $2,400 from this business!

The Liberian missionaries expect to be self-sufficient when all the businesses are functioning properly. This is exciting for two reasons. First, Worldlink can then shift the support for these workers to new partnerships. Second, it shows that ministries can become self-sufficient when given the chance. Peter is now looking at another plan to help a Tanzanian group start a technical training school which will have far-reaching effects in their community.

There is a full report and more photos online at www.worldlinkonline.org. Follow the “latest news” link.

24 October 2006

Garty's progress

We haven't been doing a very good job keeping the blog updated... mostly because we've been too exhausted to get online when we've been home. The emotional struggle of the past few weeks has finally caught up with us and left us very, very tired. The doctors never connected on Friday, but they did run tests on Garty at the hospital. Not much developed from that except to learn that his white blood count was still high, which means they don't have the infection under control yet. On the up side, they are going to have access to an ultrasound machine this coming Friday. This will allow them to determine if Garty has abnormalities in his urinary tract or a kidney absess. Either of these problems would require a specialist immediately to get things on track. Otherwise, they will probably continue to assume he just has a normal kidney infection. We didn't hear any news over the weekend, but a few minutes ago a message came in. Evidently email has been down in Liberia for several days. As of today, Garty is back to drinking 7 oz. at a time (8 is his norm), having normal diapers, playing, and his skin is looking healthier. That's great news, but Barbara-Jo warned that if he has abnormalities in his urinary tract, the symptoms will eventually return. Please pray with us that this isn't the case and that Garty really is on the mend. He's one tough baby, but we believe that your prayers and the grace of God are what really make the difference. Time to go wake Daddy and tell him the news. (Believe it or not, he worries as much or more than Mommy.)

19 October 2006

tonight's developments

As of about 7:30pm our time, Garty had not had any more signs of scary diapers. He was also eating well. He's sleeping in bed tonight with the woman in charge of his care so she can watch him really closely. The plan is that tomorrow they will take him to the hospital and call us while they're with the doctor. Then our friend Barbara-Jo will talk with the doctor directly as they consider possibilities. Barbara-Jo is obviously concerned about blot clots and what they could mean, but she said we should take heart because it sounds like a reversible process (as opposed to an incurable disease). The director of our agency saw Garty today, so she will be able to be involved in any decisions that need to be made. All this is a good thing. We're still terrified, but at least we know everything that can be done is being done. Please pray that if Garty can't be treated in Liberia we would be able to get him to the US or another more developed African country. God has clearly put people in our lives who could help make this happen, but we would need to get him a medical visa from the US embassy and an emergency passport (the really tricky part) from Liberia before his health takes a turn for the worse.

urgent update

Sorry we've been out of touch for a few days. A bunch has happened since we got home, and we just haven't been online at all. We'll update you on all that news later, but we just got very bad news about Garty. Today he filled his diaper with blood clots. At his appointment on Tuesday, there were signs of improvement... although his white blood count still indicated infection. We were just happy to be moving in the right direction, and he was back to smiling and playing a bit. This news though is especially bad because the doctor there doesn't even know what to do. He asked us to contact our pediatrician for advice. Our friend Barbara-Jo said that she doesn't have any idea what to guess without examining him. She said there are lots of possible scenarios... nearly all of them bad. She thinks he probably needs a specialist at this point, which of course is not an option in Liberia. We're hoping to put her in direct contact with the doctor there so they might be able to figure something out. We're also hoping to hear from our adoption agency tonight about the possibility of now pursuing a medical visa. PLEASE PRAY... obviously for Garty's health but also for wisdom on the part of all involved to make the best decisions for him. The director of our agency just got to Liberia this week. Please pray that her presence there will be a helpful thing in making the best decision... It's a good thing that God loves Garty more than we ever could because otherwise this would be too scary to handle.

14 October 2006

very quick update

We just got back to the computer after a wonderful evening at our 10 year college reunion. We're tired and ready to crash, but this mommy couldn't go to bed without checking on her baby. Here's the news... Garty is still sick, though doing better. He used to have a fever almost constantly, now it is off and on and not as high as previously. He will be having another checkup on Tuesday, and we'll be able to get a better assessment of his progress. More on the kids and our fun Homecoming weekend when we get settled in at home on Monday.

13 October 2006

more delays

We just found out a few minutes ago that our adoption is running a little behind schedule. Without wasting your time explaining the international adoption process in Liberia, it suffices to say that our kids most likely won't be home for Christmas. We always knew this was a possibility, but it doesn't make the situation any less disappointing. After waiting... and waiting... and waiting for an adoption that was supposed to be completed in the spring, it's so hard to imagine starting the new year without our babies. On the up side, it looks like Becky's bakery will be open for Christmas, and Peter will have time to work on those few extra projects he dreamed of getting finished.

12 October 2006

Garty's feeling a bit happier

In addition to some more details on Garty's bacterial infection, today we learned that his fever has gone down and he's showing some signs of improvement. Next week they're going to run some more blood tests to try to get more info and see if they're making progress. Unfortunately, the hospital actually has an ultrasound machine, but it's broken! But the information that cheered our hearts the most was... Garty is looking really good today. He was THINKING about playing, was much more alert, and didn't cry as much as yesterday.

11 October 2006

Joshua and friends

Here's a pictures of Joshua in the middle of some friends at the orphanage (the little guy in the white shirt). It appears that he's popular with the ladies!!

riding the roller coaster with Garty

One thing we've discovered in the past 9 days is that we should never assume we have the full story on our little boy. This evening we received two updates. The first said... Garty is looking a little better today. Finally I can see him slowly improving. No smiles yet, but his face was much more relaxed.
Just when we started to feel excited about things looking up, we read the second email written after the doctor's visit... Yesterday I said that Garty has a urinary tract infection. I saw the doctor again today and got more details. He actually has a systemic infection (which is why his liver and spleen are enlarged), and because there were so many white blood cells in his urine the doctor is assuming the infection is stemming from his kidneys. Garty is a very strong baby and is showing improvement, but this illness is very serious. I sometimes wonder how these babies get so sick. Thankfully God is in control, and we do have some medical capabilities in Liberia.
Barbara Jo, our new best friend and pediatrician, replied to this information with several significant questions, so we're going to try to get answers. She's not panicked, so we're not either. However, she did say that an enlarged liver and spleen can mean lots of things. Hopefully they are treating for the right problem, but it is possible that we're not there yet. She also mentioned that we might have the basis for a medical visa if he needs a specialist. Unfortunately, medical visas are very tough to get from Liberia.
As you pray for Garty over the next few days, please pray especially that (1) the doctors will get to the root of the problem and treat it correctly (2) if a medical visa is the best course of action, we would be able to move in that direction quickly (3) no long term damage will be done to Garty's system as they try to heal whatever is going on.

10 October 2006

picture problem fixed

Several people have mentioned that the new picture we posted of Garty on 10/7 was too small and couldn't be enlarged. We finally had time and energy to fix it today, so if you scroll down, you can now click on Garty's new picture and see him up close and personal. It's amazing that African women don't dump the kids on the ground carrying them that way!

picture of the day

We love this picture of the pet monkey at our orphanage climbing into a walker!!

will this ever end?

They keep discovering new problems with our poor baby. It sounds like this time they might finally have gotten to the root of the problem, but we're not holding our breath. Here's the update that came through a few minutes ago... It turns out Garty has a serious urinary tract infection. At the one hospital they were able to tell he had an infection (whether or not it was actually the pneumonia they thought he had) and was anemic. The blood transfusion was very good, but now he needs to be on a very strong antibiotic for this type of infection. He is eating well, though you can tell he just feels lousy. Thankfully we really know what is wrong with him now. The malaria was all cleared up right away, so we don't have to worry about that anymore. He will be given shots for a week but will still be able to stay at home. (He'll go to the hospital for his shots.) Then he'll be on 3 weeks of oral antibiotics. After that he'll have to be on preventative antibiotics for several months.
While this news doesn't make us happy, it's less frightening and life threatening (now that they're treating it) than malaria and pneumonia. We'll keep you updated on Garty's health, but we're optimistic that things should keep improving from here. Thanks for your continued prayers and all the encouragement you've been sending our way.

09 October 2006

fun with poison oak

Saturday and Sunday Becky's poison continued to spread, and her right arm and hand swelled up in big way. It was quite a sight, and Peter wanted to take pictures to post for your entertainment! Unfortunately for you, we don't have a digital camera.

At church on Sunday, we had our friend Nancy, a nurse, take a look at it. She was very concerned about the swelling and the appearance of the rash. She feared it was starting to become infected. She insisted on driving straight to the ER, so Becky has now been in the Mount Holly ER two Sunday mornings in a row! If anyone would like to borrow our frequent visitor card and get it punched, soon we'll earn a free visit.

The doctor determined it wasn't infected yet, but he was concerned about how severe things had gotten. He prescribed a VERY strong 10 day dose of Prednisone as well as a topical steroid. We finally have a doctor's appointment this week, so they'll check again for infection. Already the steroids are doing a great job of reducing the swelling and slowing the oozing. Today we can see 3 knuckles on the balloon hand... only 2 are still missing. Unfortunately, the poison is still spreading on Becky's legs and stomach, but the drugs will stop that soon.

two Garty updates

No news came through on Saturday about Garty, but Sunday afternoon we got this report... Garty is doing well and gaining strength. When I saw him in the hospital yesterday he was sleeping peacefully. His skin looked good, like he is staying hydrated. Praise the Lord, the nanny said he is now drinking five ounces at a time! (When he is well he usually drinks 8 or 9.) He is supposed to come home on Monday, if he is doing well enough.

This news, of course, made us feel much better, but tonight we're resting slightly less easy since we just received this message... Well, Garty is home from the hospital and doing OK. He's eating OK, but I'm not satisfied with how slow his overall improvement is coming. I am also concerned because his stomach area feels abnormally hard. If he has not perked up by morning, I plan to take him to see an American doctor. He's hanging in there, but keep praying!

It's been such a week of ups and downs. We really believe that God is going to bring Garty home to us, but we've got a long way to go. First we need to get over all these issues, and then we need to get through about 2 more months in Liberia. Thanks to all who are continuing to pray and care for our family. On a positive note, all reports on Joshua and Patience are still good.

07 October 2006

the internet as a blessing

We have been blown away by the number of people who are praying for our sweet baby. The amazing thing is that many of these are people we've never met. They're people that we'd have no contact with if it weren't for the internet. There's an adoptive family in CA with 19 kids. Through my post to our adoption agency's yahoo group, they learned about Garty. They sit down as a family for 3 meals a day (can you imagine that?), and every time one of the children prays for Garty. There's our friend Tom who posted an update about Garty to groshlink.net, his very active blog. Now many more people know and can pray. There are all our wonderful friends and family who we'd never have time to call with updates, but email has made communication possible. And then on top of that, some have activated their church and small group prayer chains to pray. Barbara Jo, the pediatrician we've been consulting, contacted her friends at Samaritan's Purse to ask some questions. Now their stateside prayer team is praying for Garty. Although this has been a terribly stressful week for us, we can't help but marvel at how blessed we are to know that the battle for Garty's little life is going on all over this country. Thanks to all who are standing with us in this difficult time. Please keep praying. We're not there yet.

new picture

You may know that Africans tie their babies on their backs. Here's a picture of Garty being carried around at the orphanage before he got sick. He doesn't look thrilled, but we're glad he's getting lots of physical contact. Becky will be wearing him around a lot when he comes home.

06 October 2006

exciting news

We feel like we've been posting nothing but bad news lately, so we thought we'd share with you the very exciting news of the day... Becky paid $1.96 for gas tonight!!!! It's like God knew we need a little bit of excitement in our week. We paid $1.99 Sunday and were thrilled, but $1.96! Soon they'll be giving the gas away!

Friday night update

We've been very blessed today to receive lots of updates on Garty. After talking to the pediatrician today, we emailed and asked specifically if Garty was sleeping normally, eating, acting alert and "normal", and whether his fever had broken. Here is the response that came through tonight... Garty is still sleeping a normal amount for a baby, though he is sleeping more than usual since he is sick. I am glad that he is not in so much pain that he can't relax enough to sleep. His body needs time to heal, and sleep is healing. Garty still has a fever, but it is much lower than the other day. He is very alert, though he looks like he is in pain. He cried when he was disturbed from a nap but stopped crying as soon as the nanny was holding him. Garty is not eating a lot right now since he feels so lousy and has sores all over his mouth from the antibiotic. Pray that the sores will heal so he can enjoy eating again. The nanny knows it is so important that he does eat, so she is patiently coaxing him to at least drink a couple ounces. Garty does not look better than he did two days ago, since he was at his worst yesterday and today was a very hard day of fighting for his little body. But he looked strong, like he IS fighting the illness, and not weak and lethargic.

lots of news about Garty

It's been a crazy day, but I'm finally able to post our updates. The following emails are what we received between 6:30pm Thursday and today around 11am followed by the interpretation of the information we received from an excellent pediatrician we know. Some of you already received this info by email, but we wanted to post it because we know we probably missed people.

EMAIL #1 -

Garty Kah had to be admitted to the hospital today for a blood transfusion. He was very anemic, so the doctor decided this was best. I am hoping he only stays one night. I'd rather have the kids here with me as long as they aren't on the IV anymore. He looked good today, though sick. His favorite nanny is staying with him.

EMAIL #2 -

Garty was up to 13 or 14 pounds and now he has lost about a pound and a half. When he came to us he was anemic (from not being on good formula: his mother died in childbirth and he had been drinking powdered milk for the 2 months before he came). He was on an iron supplement, but malaria ruins red blood cells, so that’s why he needed the transfusion. The doctor did not think he would have the ability to recover from the malaria and pneumonia unless he was given the transfusion. He has been the picture of health until now. But though he is sick, he still looks okay. His weight is still within a healthy range for an African baby his age.

Godgift Garjay who is 2 1/2 went through the very same illnesses. He had malaria and pneumonia and also needed a blood transfusion. He is doing great now. Before allowing Garty to go through with the transfusion I called an American missionary doctor to ask his opinion. He thought the transfusion was a good idea and did not seem worried about the procedure. If needed, I would be okay with getting a blood transfusion in this country.

I’m so sorry Garty is sick, but I am doing my best to get him the care he needs. I love these babies so much. I wish they never got sick. (Don’t we all?)

EMAIL #3 -

I saw Garty today in the hospital. He had the blood transfusion last night, and it was successful. Garty is weak, but not crying too much. He is very comforted by the nanny and is able to sleep a lot. I wanted to assure everyone that Garty's transfusion was safe, so I met with the hospital director. He is a Spanish man. I mentioned that we want to make sure our babies get the best care possible. He told me there is not a blood bank, but people are contacted to donate as the need arises (usually family members). All the blood is carefully screened for HIV, etc. He assured me that not only would it be bad for the patients if they weren't careful with the blood, but it would be bad for those running the hospital. So I felt confident that the blood was safe (I would get a transfusion from that hospital if needed). Hopefully the blood will be just the boost Garty needs to bring him back to health.


We conference called this morning with a local pediatrician who also does medical work with orphans in Mongolia. She said that malaria is actually a parasite that tries to live in your red blood cells, but when it moves in, it breaks up the cells. Because Garty was already anemic, the malaria was destroying any chance of his body fighting off the malaria and pneumonia. She said that it sounds like all the right steps are being taken with the limited resources available in Liberia. She said that we should start to see improvement in a day or two. However, there are a few types of pneumonia that break down red blood cells like malaria does. If he has one of those, the blood transfusion will simply add fuel to the fire. We'll have to see the direction things go in the next day or two. She said that when his fever goes down, he's eating normally, he's alert, and he's smiling some, we'll know he's turning the corner.

Thanks so much to all of you who are praying and who have others praying. We appreciate the encouragement we've received from you all. Please don't be offended if we haven't emailed you personally. We're just a bit distracted. On top of all of this, I have a nasty case of poison oak that has made my arms very painful, swollen, and barely able to bend. Because I'm a new patient at our doctor's office, they wouldn't give me an appointment until Tuesday, so I'm taking Benadryl and running lots of cold water over my arms when they start to feel like they're on fire.

Between our ER visit over the weekend, my arms, and our very sick baby, I feel like God has done what he did in the book of Job and said, "Go ahead and do what you want to her." However, this time He chose the wrong person. I'm not strong enough to handle it.

04 October 2006

the prayer of our hearts

No update on Garty today. We're hanging in there. Last night for the first time we prayed this beautiful and powerful prayer by Richard Foster. It is a prayer for all the children, but we have especially embraced it for our children as we are realizing just how vulnerable they really are...

Lord God, merciful Father, care for the little ones. Watch over them in all their innocence. Guard, guide, protect. They are so vulnerable in this world gone awry. Famine, violence, and abuse abound. They have no shield, no defense. Be their shield, O Lord. Be their defense. El Shaddai, send your holy angels to protect the children. Protect them as they skip down the street. Protect them as they play on the school grounds. Protect them as they sleep through the night. Protect them from all physical harm. Protect them from all emotional harm. Protect them from all spiritual harm. Keep them from the influence of the evil one: from evil friendships, from evil thoughts, from evil acts. This I ask in the strong name of Jesus who always welcomed the little ones into his presence. Amen.

03 October 2006

Garty update

Here is the updated email we received about Garty today... Garty was taken to the hospital today. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. It seems that his system was weakened from the pneumonia, which made him more susceptible to malaria. The malaria shouldn't be a problem anymore, since he's been treated, but it's the pneumonia he is fighting. He is on a lot of drugs to help him pull through. The nanny is taking very good care of him, and I check up on him several times a day, since he is living downstairs. The nanny was up a lot with him last night just holdin him and trying to comfort him. I will let you know how he is doing as his condition improves.

It is really tough to be so far away from our baby when his is so sick, but we're comforted to know that he's receiving one on one attention from a loving and dedicated nanny. We trying to believe that he'll pull through, but it's easy to doubt. Peter is having some symptoms of anxiety. I am alternating between a relative peace and crying spells. THANK YOU SO MUCH to all who are praying for Garty and us. You have no idea how much your prayers have strengthened us today.

02 October 2006


We just got home after a busy day to find out that Garty is sick. He is still eating well, but he tested positive to malaria and isn't responding to treatment. He is running a constant fever. If he didn't improve today, they were going to take him to the hospital to see if there was something more wrong with him. We're so scared, as the infant mortality rate in Liberia is very high-- especially as a result of malaria. Please pray for Garty's quick recovery. We wouldn't be opposed to a few prayers for our peace of mind as well.