Pastor Virl and his wife, Nike have been such an encouragement to us. Nike invited Benjamin to come and play with the kids while she put on a wonderful tea spread for us. The kids had all these great fun indoor things for Ben to do. He was very tempted to jump outside on the trampoline, but we quickly diverted them inside. Nathan is one day younger than Benjamin and has loaned Ben a whole bunch of clothes. When I packed for the medi-evac flight I had no idea how long we'd be staying or how cold it was down in JHB. I was in a bit of a state and packed slippers, some shorts and t-shirts, but no shoes:( Thanks Nathan for sharing your winter clothes, DVDs, books and games with Ben. We really appreciate it.
Of a now resident Malawian meeting up with a now resident Kiwi in a Germiston Makro?
I went to RA University with Elke. She and her husband live in New Zealand and I haven't seen her in years! We have managed to stay in contact somewhat, via email and it was fun for me to actually meet Brad, her husband and her children, Katie and David in person. She had read about Benjamin's accident and so she was glad to meet him too. The white patch on my face is...I had a mole removed:)
Delighted to have seen your wonderful family, Elke. You are beautiful, inside and out!
has been out of the hospital now for four days and has been doing well.
We just wanted to send out another update on Benjamin to
let you know that he continues to do well. He was released from
the ICU last Thursday evening and he still in South Africa with Anita
and her parents. Brian is still up in Malawi with our other three
kids and our entire family is well. No brain surgery was
necessary for Benjamin and for that we are truly grateful.
Benjamin has not thrown up since he was in the hospital and all outward
signs point towards a full recover from his fall which happened last
week, Monday. He is enjoying time at his grandparent's house
in Johannesburg and they are glad to be there for him.
On Sunday, Brian preached a sermon at our church in Malawi in which he
shared the story about Benjamin to our church family and shared a
special pastoral message about what the Lord has been teaching us
through this trial. If you would like to listen to that sermon,
you can go to the following website and download it. The message
was preached on the 25th of August and is on Ephesians 3:20. Here is the
We are truly grateful for all that the Lord has brought us through
these past eight days with an abundance of blessings. We are also
grateful for all the prayers to our Father and words of encouragement
we received this past week from so many of you.
This is the wall Benjamin fell off and the gentleman in the picture is a teacher's assistant in Allison's class. He heard Benja and carried him home. He is standing in the spot where he found Benjamin.
This is the scan taken in Malawi at the ABC Clinic. It's a new CT scanner and had this happened a year ago, there wouldn't have been one at the clinic. We are so thankful to have been able to have this done. That crack is quite something, isn't it?
Sitting snuggly in front of the kaggel at Opa and Nanny's house.
I was sad not to see Allison go to big school for the first time.
We have been so encouraged by all the people praying for Benjamin and we are so
thankful for you. Words cannot express how grateful we are to God for
answering our prayers so completely. I just got off the phone with Anita
(it's Thursday afternoon 8/22) and we have really good news - BENJAMIN IS
SCHEDULED TO BE DISCHARGED TODAY! We feel so undeserving and yet so
blessed by Him. But there is still much to pray for, so please do not
Yesterday, the neurosurgeon met Anita and Benjamin first thing in the morning
in the Pediatric ICU. He said he was very pleased with Benjamin’s
progress. He asked Benjamin about pain and Benjamin said that his head
does not hurt anymore – with the size of the fracture on his head, we are all
amazed by this. The doctor told the nurses that they could remove Benjamin’s IV
tube since he was able to eat and drink himself. This was really a true
In spite of the progress, He agreed that another CT scan was necessary to make
sure that the bleeding under Benja’s skull fracture had indeed stopped.
Anita didn’t see the surgeon again on Wednesday but he did call the ICU after
he received the CT scan report and said that nurses could remove the neck brace
(another big praise).
Last night, Benja was not hungry so he didn't eat his dinner and this morning
(Thursday) he ate breakfast but vomited it up shortly afterwards (apparent
vomiting is common with head injuries). ONE OF OUR BIGGEST PRAISES TODAY
IS THAT THE BLEEDING UNDERNEATH THE SKULL FRACTURE HAS STOPPED AND THE
"ACUTE SUBDURAL HAEMATOMA" (THE BLOOD SPOT) THAT WAS THERE -- IS NO
LONGER THERE! We are so overjoyed by God's gracious answer to that prayer.
The Neurosurgeon has
approved Benjamin's release today but he would like him to stay in South Africa
(with Anita at her parent's place) and the surgeon would like to see Benja
again in two weeks.
Please pray that Benjamin can keep his food down. Please also pray for
continued progress over the next six months (which is the expected recovery
time). We are not sure what challenges lie ahead for Benjamin but would
ask that you continue to pray for a full recovery. Considering the
severity of his fracture, we could not be more pleased with these recent
Back in Malawi, the first day of school went well. Our other three
children wanted to hold a picture of Benja during their “first day” photo this
year so that he would know they were thinking of him. They really, really
miss him and can’t imagine life without him. This trial has produced
numerous conversations with our children about God’s grace and an eternal
perspective on life. We are thankful for that.
I have learned so much this week as well. Last Sunday, I cut off my
sermon before my third point (because I spent more time on my first two points
than I had planned). I still had two and a half pages of prepared notes
to go but looked at the clock and figured I would probably rush through the
notes and lose the attention of our flock. My third point was that when
believers are strengthened inwardly, God is glorified. And the text for
that last point Paul’s famous doxology – “Now to Him who is able to do far more
abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works
within us, to Himbe the glory in the church and
in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph.
3:20-21). This is the passage I plan to preach on this Sunday and it
has been my primary passage of meditation this week.
I know that many of the people who are praying for Benjamin are receiving
updates through Facebook. I don't usually post directly on facebook but I
send out these emails to our mailing list. The service I use to do that
is mailchimp and mailchimp automatically posts my updates on facebook. I
imagine that my updates on Benjamin will be less frequent as he improves. If
you would like to sign up for the email updates directly, you can do so at:http://eepurl.com/D4Z8D
This is the same mailing list that we use 3 or 4 times a year to give bulletin
updates for the work in Malawi. All praying friends are welcome to join
that list and you can unsubscribe or update your details at anytime.
Thank you again for praying. Please continue to praise God with us and
pray for Benja's recovery.
Nanny and aunty Judy at the hospital first thing on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately, they were not allowed in to see Benjamin, but I took these pictures so that I could show him who had come by to check on him:)
Pastor Virl came to visit with a bag of super books for Benjamin to read.
Benjamin doing so well.
Uncle Martin came to visit too.
Aunty Paula (my best friend from school days) came by to visit too.
Greetings Praying Friends, God has answered so many prayers and we have so much to be thankful for. I just got off the phone with one of the nurses in the pediatric ICU unit that Benjamin is in and he has just woken up from a good night’s sleep. Yesterday, we received the official diagnosis from his CT scan. Benjamin has “a depressed skull fracture with associated left subdural haematoma and underlying contusion.” This means that there was (and maybe still is) some bleeding under his fracture.
external vital signs are still good and outwardly he is showing signs that he
is improving rapidly. He has been sleeping a lot (which is normal with
this type of injury) but yesterday he was alert, talking, and even able to read
some with his mother and apparently sit up and do some coloring in a coloring
book. This is exactly what we have been praying for.
Today (Wednesday, Aug. 21), Benjamin is supposed to get another CT scan and
then we will know a lot more about what is happening on the inside. Our
prayer is that the bleeding had stopped and that any previous bleeding has
already dissipated. If the bleeding has not stopped, the surgeon may
decide to drill a hole in his skull to relieve the pressure but from his
outward stability we are hopeful that this will not be necessary.
However, we are grateful that Benja is in a hospital now where surgery
can be performed if necessary.
One disappointment yesterday was that Anita was not able to speak to the
neurosurgeon herself. She had met Benjamin’s primary doctor early Tuesday
morning when he saw Benjamin but she was in another room sleeping when the
neurosurgeon came to examine him. She had left instructions to be woken
up when he arrived but for some reason this did not happen. She is the only
one from our family that is permitted to be with him in the ICU and she just
cannot be there all of the time.
Anita’s parents and many of our friends and relatives from South Africa have
been such an encouragement and help to her. Here in Malawi we have
received so many encouraging texts and emails from so many of you that I am not
sure when we will be able to respond to them all. But THANK YOU all for
praying and please continue to pray (especially for the results from today’s CT
Today is the first day of school for our other 3 kids here in Malawi and I am
up early to help get them ready and take pictures as we normally do. It
is Allison’s first day of preschool and though she misses her mom she is glad
that God’s mercy and grace is being displayed in big ways on her brother,
Benjamin, and that her mom can be down in SA with him.
I will try to send out another update tonight.
Please pray for our son Benjamin. The short story is that he fell here in Malawi, he has a fracture on his skull, he seems to be doing well under the circumstances but he and Anita were airlifted down to South Africa to receive better medical care. Here are more details:
Yesterday afternoon (August 19, about 2:00 PM), our six year-old son, Benjamin, was climbing on top of a six-foot brick wall (something he was not supposed to be doing) with our other son Bradley and two other boys. Benjamin fell off the wall and landed on his head on a concrete slab. He was crying a lot and appeared to have a concussion because he wasn’t sure where he was or what had happened. We took him to the ABC clinic here in Malawi (just down the road from our home) and he was able to have a CT scan there. The scan showed that he has a fracture on the top of his head. Basically, there is a fracture that runs from one ear, over the top of his head, and down towards his other ear.
The clinical officer told us that if possible, Benjamin should get down to South Africa as soon as possible. We called our medical insurance company and within an hour or two they had commissioned an air-ambulance plane to leave from South Africa to pick up Benjamin. Anita and I decided that it would be best for her to fly down with Benjamin and I would stay here with our other three kids. The plane arrived here at 7:45 PM but there was a mix-up at the airport and no ambulance was there to bring them to us. After arranging to get the air-ambulance personnel here and then arranging another ambulance to get them all back to the airport Anita and Benjamin finally got to the airport and their plane took off at about 11:00 PM. They landed in Johannesburg at about 2:00 AM and were admitted into the hospital at about 3:00 AM.
We have lots of praises. The doctors who saw the CT scan said that there though there is some bleeding under the fracture it is a small amount. This is good. Also, the fracture is serious but the overlap of skull fragments appears to be minimal. Benjamin is conscious and talking and, although he can’t remember falling, he remembers quite a bit leading up to the fall. His vital signs seem to be normal though he is very sleepy and has vomited once. God has provided lots of people around us from our church and community who are praying for us and supporting us during this time. The hospital he is going to in South Africa has a pediatric trauma ward. Anita’s parents and brother are in South Africa and I am sure they will be a big encouragement and help to Anita.
Please pray for Benjamin – the concern is that the bleeding under the fracture will expand and that he will need brain surgery. I spoke to Anita this morning and though he has been seen by a doctor there in South Africa, they are waiting for a neurosurgeon to see him and then they want to do some more scans. Please pray for wisdom for the doctors. Also please pray for wisdom for our family as we make decisions over the next couple of days. Please pray that the next couple of days go well for Benjamin – that there would be not be excessive bleeding under the fracture and that they would not need to do surgery. Ultimately, please pray for God’s will and God’s glory. Also, please pray for Anita – she didn’t get much sleep last night.
In Sunday’s sermon, I was speaking at our church about spiritual strengthening (from Ephesians 3:14-21) and I made the statement that we should welcome any trial the Lord allows if it means that we could grow spiritually. Anita and I are both grateful to God for His sovereignty and for this trial. Though we would not have written today’s script as it has turned out, we trust the One who wrote it this way and desire to glorify Him in each and every circumstance. We do believe that God answers prayer and we do ask you to call upon His name today on behalf of our Benja.
Just before taking Nan to the the airport we took some pictures with her! We are so thankful to have had her spend so much time with us and for Opa who graciously pays for her to come and visit. She has helped us unpack and get things sorted in our house after having been away for seven months. We love you, Nan!
While Brian has been out helping our friend to find a car, he came across some roadwork signs made out of wood and well painted. He decided to use them and had help setting up a great BMX course. Ami invited all the campus families to come and try out the course.
Although these pictures don't show it, the course is kind of tough. There are old maize furrows that you have to ride over and a ramp at the end. We have had several falls:( Serious stuff ;)
We even had a few of the parents show up. Mr. Carlisle who is the headmaster at the Academy used to race BMX bikes when he was younger. He took first place in the adult race, quite nicely on a beach cruiser. Bied came in second:) Bradley came first in the younger kid division and Ami took second. Levi came first in the big kid division. It was fun! Thanks to you all for coming out.
Brian is trying to help a friend of ours import a car to Malawi. Last week he was told that his friend would have to pay 190% of the value of the car in taxes and duties. That means a $10,000 car would cost $29,000 in Malawi if you imported it legally. Sometimes cars are held at the customs office until you can pay the duty. Brian saw this one with more bird poop than he'd ever seen on any car before. I think our friend will look for a car that has already been imported and that has already had the bird poop cleaned off of it!