I had every intention of sending out this update “as soon” as we got back to Kenya. Well….. between jet lag and life, it is a bit late!
I am amazed at how much we packed into eight weeks, and yet how much we did not get done we wanted to. There was so many of you we wanted to visit with, and so many other places we wanted to go.
In those cases, the adoption agencies are now requiring a signed statement written by the person who found the infant. If that statement is gotten immediately after the baby is found, it seems its not a problem. But trying to track, and then get them to do a statement months later has proven to be quite a challenge.
We also continue to ask you to pray for International Adoptions to open back up. The new Children’s Bill is being presented to Parliament in Oct, and as it is written now it allows that to happen. But it is also prone to be edited by political powers before it’s final passage. So, prayers for the right people to do the right thing would be appreciated.
I know many followed along with us as we traveled to the US with Shaddy, and we so appreciate the prayer covering we had. For those who were not “connected” allow me to give a quick update. Especially since we did not post anything much on FB due to the sensitive nature of us having him there.
Shadrach Jason, “Shaddy” has been with us since he was 11 days old. Abandoned in the slums of Nairobi at a small clinic after his mother gave birth to him.
Shaddy had skin and tummy issues right away, and as we sought answers to what was causing it, it only got worse over time. Fast forward five years and we had run lots of tests here in Kenya, providing little help other than confirming he was allergic to many things.
An Allergist in the US, after looking at some of his bloodwork and tests, suggested he had what is known as Hyper IgE
Syndrome. That is a severe condition that shortens the life span drastically, and greatly lowers the quality of life.
We quickly found that there is little, or no information about it here in Kenya. No one seemed to be studying or recognizing this condition. So, the only choice was to take him to the US where we could find experts in dealing with his condition.
The hurdles to get permission to travel to the US with him were many, and in most cases seemingly impossible to get past. God revealed Himself in many ways and opened doors that most thought locked.
Bottom line, we were able to travel with Shaddy to the US in mid-July after connecting with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and them agreeing to see him.
At first, we had an appointment for him just a few days after we arrived in the US. But when we found out he had to be off all his medication that controlled his eczema, tummy issues, itching, and more for seven days prior, we decided it was best to delay the appointment so he could be on his meds while we traveled and he took his first airplane ride.
He did great on the 26+ hours of travel to reach the US, and as it turned out, the plane was just one of many firsts for this little guy!
When he met his big brothers and sisters (our sons and daughter in laws), and his new nephews (our grandsons) he could not stop talking about all his new family. His world had been so small by comparison to what he was experiencing now.
Within the first seven days he got his first boat ride, his first horse ride, and he had his mind blown away by so many new friends in Kentucky as we visited Mayfield and the surrounding area.
We were blessed to be given the use of a lake house on KY Lake which included a very nice pontoon boat. While we were there, one of our Board members had a contact of a fantastic equestrian farm that was owned by a gal who had a huge heart for kids with special needs. Not only Shaddy, but Ethan and Selah as well were blessed to get to ride horses till their takos (rear ends) were tired of it! It was a great way to start our time in the US!
We had already planned a family vacation with all our kids and grandkids the second week back in the Outer Banks in North Carolina. So, from KY we headed east for the beach.
I wish I could share a video of Shaddy’s first exposure to the ocean, this picture does not do it justice, but just imagine your brain suddenly being infused with a thousand times more knowledge than you ever had.
All I could think of after experiencing his reaction was the title of the best book ever written (in my opinion!) by Mike Yanconelli. Dangerous Wonder. The combination of fear, excitement, joy, anxiety,….. electricity hitting on every cell in his brain.
Everything this little boy had ever known was about to be amplified.
Because of his severe allergies to fish, dust mites, and more, we were concerned how his skin would react to the salt water. And because of his open sores from eczema we feared it would be painful for him. As it turned out none of things were an issue for him. In fact, the salt water seemed to help his skin, and the extra energy he burned up while playing on the beach helped us all sleep a bit better!
It was a wonderful and fun week of loving and laughing with our family. It was one of those vacations that we all wished would last “just one more day”.
Once our vacation was over it was time to get started on Shaddy’s medical visits.
Our first visit was a chance for the Allergist to evaluate Shaddy and do some bloodwork to see just what was going on.
It was also a day that brought a huge answer to prayer. After about 10 minutes with Shaddy the Dr stated without doubt that Shaddy did not have Hyper IgE syndrome. She came to that conclusion from his lacking certain “markers” that are consistent with the syndrome. This was a big relief as it meant that he did not have the life shortening condition we had anticipated confirming.
But, because of all his allergic reactions to so many things, we knew there was “something” going on.
After the initial testing it was determined he has Acute Eczema, which is triggering all the allergic reactions. Still a pretty serious issue as many things can cause him to suffer severe asthma attacks.
Because his IgE reading was so high, over 35,000 when “normal” is 0-60, it was difficult to determine just what allergies were dangerous for him. The high IgE reading causes all allergy tests to be positive, even if he is not allergic to some things.
So, the only way to confirm what is a truly bad allergen is to do a series of Food Challenges, which amount to giving him very small portions of certain suspected serious allergens while under medical supervision.
The hard part is that these challenges have to be a minimum of two weeks apart, and also, he has to be off almost all his medication that helps him breath and controls his itching, etc.
Due to him picking up an illness the week before his first challenge was scheduled, we had to cancel that one. So, during our time back we were able to only do one Food Challenge with him. That particular challenge was for eggs, and they started him by eating a piece of boiled egg not much bigger than a pin head.
Every 20 minutes they would increase the amount slightly and we would watch for reactions. There were supposed to be a total of nine exposures, but as they started to give him the fourth one, which was still very small, we noticed large welts appearing on his body.
The Dr decided to stop before we caused his asthma to be an issue. So, it was clear that eggs are a major issue for him.
There are many other things we avoid with him as we just don’t know how dangerous they are, such as dairy, fish, nuts, etc. Until we can return him to Cincinnati on our next trip and continue with the Food Challenges, we will just have to be careful and watch what he eats closely.
Regarding his eczema, he is doing incredible with the new creams the Dr prescribed. Sadly, it is a steroid cream so it is not a long term solution due to side effects.
The best possible solution would be an injection called Dupixent which would lower his IgE and help to manage all symptoms. However, this is not available until someone is six years, and is only for someone who is a US Resident. It also costs around $4500 per month! We are trying to reach out to the company and see what options are for Shaddy, and if there is a way we can make it work.
In the middle of all of these medical tests and treatments, Shaddy also had surgery to repair a rather large umbilical hernia which he has had since birth. We praise God that it went very well and there have been no complications. Although it did take him a very long time to wake up after the surgery. We think he was just taking advantage of a great sleep!
I do want to share that while our travel was much more limited than normal, which kept us from seeing many of you, we were very blessed by two great events that allowed us to raise funds for the ministry, but even better to be able to see so many old, and new friends of the ministry!
Our fourth “annual” MpM Golf outing was a huge success with a full slate of golfers and a beautiful day. There were lots of prizes and fun had by all. We greatly appreciate Amanda
Norris and her incredible ability to plan and pull off this event. Keep watching as she is already making plans for the 2022 outing which looks to be bigger and better than ever.
Our second event was new for us this year, and honestly we did not know what to expect. I had been wanting to do a Sporting Clay Shoot for years, but just did not have the time myself to do it. However, God provided two new Board members last year, Cory and Amanda Witmer and they did an awesome job of pulling off the first annual MpM Sporting Clay at Warsaw, IN.
We had 48 shooters and while the temp was pretty toasty, everyone had a great day. Lots of awesome prizes were won, and some great food capped off a super day. Perhaps one of the most exciting things about the event was that of the 48 shooters, around 35 of them had no prior knowledge of MpM. Like the Golf Outing, we are already making plans for next year to be bigger and better! We are always looking for new ideas for events that give us a chance to get in front of new people and share what God is doing here in Kenya. So, if you have a desire to plan and host an event, please let us know!
The Bells are pretty much finally over the jet lag that hit us hard on this trip. Things are picking back up here ministry wise, and last night we got our first new arrival in a few months. Hannah Ruth was abandoned at a small clinic after her mother gave birth, and then ran out the door a few minutes later. It is so hard to understand what is going on in the mind of a woman in a case like this. But it also reminds us to lift them in prayer.
Hannah tested positive for HIV, which means her mother is positive. We pray that for Hannah her test will turn negative which means it is only her mother’s antibodies showing up in the early test.
We again want to thank you all for the prayers, love, and support during our time in the US, and ongoing as we press on each day through the ministry here.
As always, we are clinging firmly to our Fathers Hand,
Dave, Jen, Ethan, Selah, and Shaddy