Monday, October 5, 2015

Container Unloaded and Well Drilling Started!!!

The shipping container arrived in Sierra Leone beginning of September.  After weeks of processing papers and hassle, the container was released from the port on Friday, Sep 25!

Thank you to ALL who donated to get this container from Marshalltown, Iowa to BoTown, Sierra Leone!  We greatly appreciate your generosity.

Everything is now offloaded and delivered to where it needs to be.  All the supplies and equipment are now in the clinic building!  As soon as the well drilling is done, we will start the job to put up shelving and unpack all the supplies for the clinic.

The team from Freetown started drilling the well today!  They manually drill it so it's a lot of work!  It will take approximately a week to finish it.  Please pray that they will not run into hard rock, safety for the workers and good relationships to be built.  I praise God for all who donated to make this well drilling possible!!  I will make sure to post an update when it's finished!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Settled in Salone!

We have been in Sierra Leone for a bit over a month now and feeling very settled!  It has been a busy month!  I have been able to catch up with many friends and colleagues here after not seeing each other for nearly a year!  It is so nice doing errands in town and seeing so many people whom I have missed.  We are definitely "HOME".

Unfortunately, the clinic building was not in great shape at our return.  Many things had been damaged inside and the painting was not finished as it was supposed to be while I was in the States.  But we have been working hard on it and it's looking better everyday!  The inside of the building is nearly done now.  We had to get rid of an ant infestation, repair a few of the locks, repair some broken tiles, paint the whole inside, and CLEAN.  It will be finished inside this week!  I will post pictures after it's done!

The shipping container has landed in the port in Freetown and we expect to get it to BoTown this week!  We are greatly anticipating unloading this container and setting up the clinic!  Even though the inside of the clinic will be done and supplied, we still have some work ahead before it can open.

The next steps are to drill a well, dig a septic tank and build a water tower with tank.  We are waiting until the end of the rainy season to start these projects (October).  Currently, it is raining daily.  In fact, it literally hasn't stopped raining now for over 24 hours! This makes is too difficult to move forward on these projects for now.  We also need to start the process to get licensed as a clinic in Sierra Leone.  So, we still have a road ahead but definitely starting to see the light at the end!

Please continue to pray for energy, endurance, clear path to follow and open doors.

On a different note, Annalise is doing very well now!  The first week or two were quite hard as everything was new and oh so foreign from what she is used to.  But she is now very happy, loves our friends here, very independent in our compound, enjoys walks around the neighborhood, and LOVES feeding our dogs and cats daily (and bossing them around).

We are really enjoying being back home in Sierra Leone and look forward to the months ahead!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us, supported us in numerous ways, sent notes of encouragement and loved us from so far away!  We are beyond blessed.

Northern Ireland!!!

We had such a great time in Northern Ireland - we took a week layover there on our way to Sierra Leone! We stayed with our dear friend, Sarah Nilles.  She is an American but has lived in Northern Ireland for over 3 years now working as a youth worker.  We first met when we were 16 on our first trip to Sierra Leone!  It was awesome seeing her work and life there.  Below is her blog!

I will let pictures do most the talking for this post! :)

Saying Goodbye to Family.....

These pictures were from about 1 1/2 months ago just days before leaving Iowa bound for Sierra Leone!  Saying goodbye to family is the hardest thing about living abroad and it just never gets easy! In fact, it is 10x harder with a child.  Who wants to take their little child from her grandparents!?  But it's part of life for so many people around the world.  And most good things in life require sacrifice in some form.  This is one of our sacrifices.  We miss them daily.  But we are blessed more than any other generation to be able to use media such as Facetime, Whatsapp, and the ability to send pictures and videos that arrive instantly to family!  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Off on a Jet Plane, One Week from Today!!!

The container is now on its way!!!  A semi-truck picked up the container this morning from Marshalltown and its now headed to the East Coast to be put on a ship bound for West Africa! It's expected to arrive beginning of September.  We will be excited to unload everything and put it to good use.  What a difference all the supplies will make at Jonathan's House and Luba Maternity Center!

Thank you for all who gave to fill this container with needed items and those of you who helped load!!  We appreciate you greatly.

Container being loaded unto truck. 

Annalise and I start our journey back to Sierra Leone a week from today!  We will have a week layover in Northern Ireland with a good friend who is a missionary there, then arrive in Sierra Leone on July 29!

I am very excited to get back home to Sierra Leone!  While it has been absolutely wonderful to be with family and friends, it has been a longer stay than our original plans and we are welcoming the move back to Sierra Leone!  I look forward to working as a midwife again, moving forward on Luba Maternity Center, working with and spending time with kids from Jonathan's House, being reunited with friends and living in my house again :)

Please be in prayers for our transition.  It is never easy going from one lifestyle and culture to another.  I am hoping and praying Anna transitions with ease.  She is extremely bonded to family now.  She loves her cousin Harvey ALOT!  They will surely miss each other.  Praying for her transition to daily stuff also like food, heat, rainy season making it difficult to play outdoors (we will arrive in the middle of rainy season!), language differences and in general being in a place that is now foreign to her.

Annalise and Harvey 

Aunt Theresa and Annalise 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Container Loading Time!

This past Tuesday (06/23/15),  my dad and I worked on packing a 40 foot shipping container that will soon be on it's way to Sierra Leone!  The items in this container are for both Jonathan's House Orphanage as well as for Luba Maternity Center.

I have been packing, repacking, taping, labeling and sorting boxes of donated items for a few months now in preparation to get this shipping container ready to go.  Now, as we load everything up this week, I am astounded at everything that we have been blessed with!  Some items were donated and other items bought with monetary donations for the clinic.

I can't even begin to name all the items or all the people that have generously given.....but here's a start!  I can't say THANK YOU enough to local churches, friends, family, strangers whom I have never actually met, local hospitals and clinics, my workplaces, the Rotary club and those whom have been long time faithful supporters.

Luba Maternity Center will soon be stocked with shelving systems, supply cabinets, birth carts, filing cabinets, big metal desk, office supplies, newborn clothes/supplies and all necessary birthing equipment and instruments (which believe me is a lot of stuff)!!!  I stand amazed at what has been provided and am excited to get things set up and moving forward!

This container will leave Iowa bound for Sierra Leone on July 14....just a week before my daughter and I head back home to SL!  It is expected to arrive in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone around September 1.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for your generous and kind support!!  We are one step closer to making Luba Maternity Center more than just a dream :)

Container the day of loading!  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Past Two Years In A Nutshell :)

Wow, how time flies!  I just realized that I haven't updated this blog for over 2 years!  To say that a lot happened in that time is an understatement.  First of all, I apologize for not updating for the past two years.  I will give you a brief update and elaborate in more blog posts to come :)

Gbondapi, our first home in Sierra Leone! 
Jenna and I lived in the village of Gbondapi for 1 year.  We were "adopted" into a beautiful family and they gave us a mud house on their family compound to live in.  It taught us so much about Sierra Leone, the culture, language, pace of life, hardships and joy. We spent a lot of time just doing what our "adopted family" and neighbors over the fire, planting a garden, planting/harvesting rice, sitting around the campfire talking at night, washing clothes by hand, hauling water, swimming in the river, going on boat rides to the nearby river villages, having a pet monkey and dog.  We thoroughly enjoyed our year in the village, although I can't say it didn't come without hardships, illness and loneliness.  We had to work through a lot of bumps.  But we did it and succeeded.  I think a year being immersed helped us more than I will ever really know.

We spent the last few months working in the local clinic.  We worked in child health as well as maternal/infant health.  This experience gave us insight into the healthcare system and also the educational system for healthcare workers.  It's really important to understand and see the "inner workings" of a system before getting too involved or giving too much input.

Me and Amie, nurse in Gbondapi with a fresh newborn! 

Eating from 1 pot as we do often in Sierra Leone! 

Move to BoTown
We moved to BoTown on August 15, 2013 (Day my daughter was born....more on that next :)
I decided that because Jenna's year commitment in Sierra Leone was almost over and because BoTown has a lot more healthcare opportunities that it was wise to move.  I signed a lease on a rental property where I have been living since.

BoTown is the 2nd largest city in Sierra Leone.  It is centrally located and about 4 hours from the capital city Freetown.  It's the political capital of the nation.  From BoTown, it is relatively easy to travel any direction within Sierra Leone.  It has several nursing schools.  A lot of complicated healthcare cases get referred to BoTown.  For all of these reasons, I decided that BoTown is an ideal place to settle down and eventually start a maternity center.  There are not many options for quality maternal healthcare in BoTown although many people deliver their babies here, so this also makes it an ideal place to open a maternity center.

I really love BoTown and look forward to many more good years here!!!

Sierra Leone Market :) 

Annalise Jenna Boi Hatch 
We signed a lease for our rental property in BoTown on August 15, 2013.  Little did I know that I was about to become a mom!  I had planned to adopt a child from Sierra Leone since I was a teenager.  And in the past year, I was actively thinking about whether I was ready to adopt.  3 out of 5 of the kids in my family are adopted (2 from Sierra Leone), so adoption is something that is normal for me. God answered my prayers for younger siblings through adoption and for years I had been looking forward to God answering my prayers for children through adoption.

The day after we moved to BoTown, we spent the morning at the government hospital taking a friend to get some dental work.  The dentist was late and there were no patients in line waiting as usual.  So, we decided to walk around the hospital and "kill" some time.  Naturally as midwives, we ended up in the postpartum ward with all the new moms and babies.  We were about ready to leave when the Holy Spirit prompted us to walk back through the ward one more time.  At the 2nd to last bed, we saw a mom and baby that we didn't see the 1st time through.  The baby looked extremely tiny and the mother was obviously young.  After talking with her, we found out the baby was born 15 hours previously and had not sucked at all yet.  She was born 2 months early weighing 3.5 pounds. She couldn't suck and couldn't keep herself warm.  There are no incubators or NICUs in Sierra Leone unless you go to Freetown.  We left and brought back dry blankets, a breast pump and syringe a couple hours later.  When we arrived back at the hospital, we found out the hospital discharged them to go home!!!  The nurses and doctors had no hope that this tiny baby would survive.  We asked for the chart and found an address.  

Thank God, we were able to find them!!  Jenna and I did home visits twice daily for 5 days.  After 5 days, Annalise was in very poor condition and at risk for dying in a matter of days without around the clock care.  Annalise and her biological mom stayed at our home for 2 weeks.  Our home became a mini clinic (as it has become many times since :).  We fed Annalise pumped breast milk through a nasogastric tube, around the clock skin-to-skin care and close monitoring.  After 2 weeks, she could suck, maintain her own temperature, was gaining weight and the jaundice was almost gone.  She was finally "out of the woods"!!

But at the end of those 2 weeks, Annalise's mom decided she was unable to take care of a baby.  She was 16 years old and significantly affected from a past stroke.  So, at that time, Annalise was admitted to Jonathan's House Orphanage.  I asked the orphanage if I could keep Annalise until she was healthy.  They agreed.  And she never ended up going to the orphanage.  I fell in love and knew this little girl was my daughter!

I was able to keep Annalise throughout the whole adoption process.  She was officially adopted on June 11, 2014!!   I thank God daily for the blessing Annalise is.  I feel so crazy lucky to be her mom!!

3 days old.  

10 days old. 

7 months. 

Adoption Day - 10 months old

20 months. 

20 months.

Jonathan's House Orphanage Clinic
I started a clinic at a local orphanage (  This is the orphanage my dad started in 2003 and I have been a part of since 2004.  This is where I first fell in love with Sierra Leone.  I hold 2 clinic days per week and then am on call in case a child is sick.  We treat a lot of malaria, chest infections, skin infections, general health monitoring and routine medications.  I love that I get a special time with each kid individually when they are in the clinic!!

Jonathan's House Orphanage Clinic. 

Kindoya Hospital, BoTown
Since moving to BoTown, I have volunteered as a midwife about once/week at a local hospital in BoTown.  Partly to keep my skills up and partially to get into the "circle" of healthcare professionals in BoTown.  It has been awesome to grow as a midwife and learn more about the culture of local healthcare. I have also loved training local nursing students as I work as a midwife!!

Kindoya Hospital. 

Annalise and I have been in America since Sep 2014.  This is partially due to the Ebola outbreak and partially due to needing time to get Annalise's American citizen papers.  We are very excited to be heading back to Sierra Leone the end of this July!!!  Praise God, our friends and all the kids remained safe throughout the Ebola outbreak.

Luba Maternity Center
I am excited to get back to Sierra Leone to open the maternity center in BoTown.  I have a 10 year lease on a building right across the street from my house in BoTown and have it fully renovated to use as a maternity center!!!  All I need now is to drill a well, install a septic tank and get a government license to open a clinic.  I hope to have this open early 2016.

My vision is to provide quality healthcare to women and babies.  As well as have a unit for premature and malnourished infants.  My ultimate goal is to have enough patients that I can use this clinic as a training site for student nurses and midwives.  My heart and vision is to provide quality clinical training to local women.

Luba Maternity Clinic
"Luba means Blessings in the local language" 

More To Come
Between becoming a mom, volunteering as a midwife at Kindoya hospital in BoTown, starting a clinic at Jonathan's House Orphanage and balancing all that life throws at us, I had forgotten about this blog.  But my sincere desire is to start writing again as I know this helps people stay in touch.  If you have any questions or just want to introduce yourself, feel free to email me (

Sierra Leone Sunset.