Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Flight Before Christmas

Merry Christmas!!  In honor of flying back to the US on Christmas Eve, we have written the following poem:

Twas the flight before Christmas, and all through the plane
All the people were crazy, not a creature was sane
If you’re wondering the reason we’re here, this is why
We need to examine the head of Eli

The children were crying and making much noise,
And nothing could soothe them, not even their toys,
Wendy with her ear plugs, Eli’s in my lap,
We wished we could just have a long winter’s nap.

The stewardess came by with something to eat
Spicy vegetarian and some kind of meat
I was hungry, it’s true, but for me there’s no dinner,
The kids were too fussy – I guess I’ll get thinner.

The man in front of us was giving a glare
‘Cause Esther, our darling, kept kicking his chair
And Eli again spit up on my shirt,
But who could get angry at this cute little squirt?

When outside the window there arose such a clatter,
I leaned over Wendy to see what was the matter,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

I told this to Wendy, I told her to look,
But she just kept reading in her Kindle book
I then moved to Esther, “It’s Santa, you see!”
She shot me a look, and then screamed for “monkey!”

It’s Curious George that she wanted tonight,
And if we denied her, she’d put up a fight.
So I turned on the movie and gave her her bear
And people wonder why I’ve lost all my hair!

Well, Santa flew on, no one noticed but I,
I looked down at my boy and let out a sigh,
But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good flight!

Please note that this is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places, and incidents either are a product of the author's imagination or are used fictiously.  Any resemblance to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Finally - pictures!!

In case you hadn't heard, Elijah Stephen Hofman made his premier appearance into this world on July 20, 2012 at 12:56 am.  He is 7 lb 15 oz and 20 inches long.  Mommy and Eli are both doing great! 

Here are some pictures of our new little guy (along with some new pictures of Esther, since we haven't loaded any in a while.)

Mommy and Daddy with Elijah on his first day in this new world

Esther singing to a friend while she waits to see her new brother

The whole family, finally together

Grandpa and Esther have foiund a special bond - being silly!

Eli and Daddy can be pretty silly, too!

Going for a walk in the park - on this walk, we were joined by Howard (the duck)

So peaceful!

Esther likes to give Eli kisses

Look at how big Esther is getting!  This is on a trip to the zoo with Esther's cousins

Eli finally gets a bath!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Where have we been??? (aka - The Hofman Hiatus)

If you had been following our blog, you may have noticed that we have not posted a blog for a LONG time.  Sorry about that - the slowness of internet has been the main reason (with taking care of an infant and Wendy being pregnant with baby #2 also adding to our lack of blog time.)

But, we are still alive and well here at Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, Africa.  In spite of the internet, we still have been able to send out weekly prayer emails, each with a photo.  We have found this to be a great way to give late breaking news (and photos) without having to wait for internet pages to load.  If you would like to receive this weekly email (we'd love to have more prayers!!), please send us an email at, and we'll get you added to the list.  Also feel free to email us and let us know what you've been up to - it would be great to hear from you!

Much love from the jungles of Gabon, Africa,
Eric, Wendy, Esther, and baby #2 (it's a boy!)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hidden Surprises

Sometimes living in Gabon is a little like looking through a Where's Waldo book.  You have to look really carefully, or you might miss some things.
So, here's a little bit of Where's Waldo, Gabon-style.  And these are all living creatures.  See if you can find the hidden surprise in each photo.  The answers appear below each photo.

We're starting with a very difficult one.  Yes, there is a living creature in the above photo.  It looks like a twig, but it's actually a living insect that we call a "walking stick".  We did infact put our figure close to it to verify it wasn't just a stick, and it moved!

Can you find this next one?  It looks a lot like a leaf, but actually, it is another type of insect.  Pretty weird, huh?

This one isn't too hard to spot, but it was hiding from us as we came out our door.  Praying mantis's are notorious here for waiting outside a door and trying to jump on you when you come out.  But don't worry, they're harmless (at least, that's what I tell myself).

This one isn't hidden in the picture, but it was hiding just a few minutes before the picture was taken.  It was hiding in the shower curtain that we had moved to our hallway while our bathroom was being painted.  A scorpion - yikes!  And it was just inches from Wendy's finger as she picked up the shower curtain - talk about a shock!  Thankfully no one was injured (except the scorpion, which was smashed with the nearest available shoe!)

Can you find this final creature? Of all the creatures shown so far, this one probably is the most havoc-producing. One minute, she is trying to pull down a laptop by its cord, and the next, she is making a disaster area of the kitchen! But she's also quite loveable, as you can see in the following picture.

May your Thanksgiving be filled of plenty of good surprises as well!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some eye clinic updates

Recently our internet has been very slow, so unfortunately I've not succeeded at uploading any pictures this time - perhaps in a followup posting!

Anyway, here are a few highlights....

The ophthalmology resident who is training with me, Elisee, has done his first couple of trabeculectomy surgeries!  This surgery is to help treat glaucoma, related to an elevated pressure inside the eye that causes irreversible blindness if not caught in time.  This is a huge problem in Gabon, so it is good to see Elisee begin this surgery.  He is doing great and is now performing some cataract surgeries unsupervised too (though I am always available if he has questions).

The wife of the president of Gabon came to visit Bongolo hospital last week!  Her tour was unfortunately rushed and she was only in the eye clinic for about 2 minutes, but I got to shake her hand and she saw the hospital.

I had a middle-aged lady come to the eye clinic about 6-8 weeks ago with a very large mass over her central/left forehead that displaced the eye downward and to the side.  It had been there for 18 months.  She's originally from far away, and we sent her to the capital city to get a CT scan (a 350 mile trip), which she brought back to us for her second visit a couple of weeks later.  The CT showed that this mass had eroded through bone and was pressing on the brain....and indeed, she had her first seizure during this trip to the capital because of this.  Knowing she needed neurosurgery (brain surgery) soon or she would die, we began praying for God to make a way for her to have surgery.  God directed us to a surgeon at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, who said if we could get her there, he would operate on her right away.  So the patient began fundraising, and our eye clinic paid for some expenses, and God provided through our administrator in the capital, who visited with a government official that paid for her plane ticket!  She and her caretaker flew to Kenya last Thursday and she had her surgery yesterday.  It went well and the mass was simply an old abcess, so there is no cancer and she should have a long life.  She knows that God has provided for her throughout this time and is very thankful to him.  Please pray for her continued recovery.

Finally, a 2 year-old girl came to us about 4 weeks ago for a trauma to her left eye.  An older boy was standing at a sink with his back turned away from her, and threw a glass bottle over his shoulder.  The bottle hit her left eye and lacerated the cornea.  Elisee, with my supervision, sutured up the cornea and 2 days ago I did the followup surgery to remove the cataract and some of the sutures.  She is doing well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The latest on Esther

Here is a little bit about Esther and how she is doing as a missionary kid in Africa, from about 3-1/2 months to 5 months old!
She has discovered her toes - though they often flee from her before she can get them satisfactorily into her mouth

She went with her mom and dad to Field Forum, an annual missionary conference in Gabon

Here she is wearing pants for one of the first times - such a big girl!

She exercises her smile every day, and her daddy makes her smile a lot!

Believe it or not, one of her favorite things is to be read to, and she sometimes seems to try to turn the pages

She also loves to be sung to...and sometimes seems to sing along!

Although her expression doesn't reflect it here, she really enjoys our visits with one of her Gabonese "uncles," our friend Eric - and she gets to practice her French

She is definitely our little princess!

But sometimes she just likes to hang out, too

One of her favorite things is to go on walks, and she often gets carried off for one (in someone's arms or in the stroller) 2-3 times a day.  One of our African friends here said that she goes on walks more than any kid he knows.... But it is a pretty place to walk!

She is becoming increasingly interested in watching us eat our food, and apparently has pretty good instincts, too - going after her mommy's brownie :) .  We've just recently started giving her some rice cereal once a day, but other than that she'll have to stick with mommy's milk and formula for the moment.

Here she is doing baby push-ups, which she does many times a day - I know my arms would be tired if I did as many as she does
This is a video of one of Esther's special "tricks" - press the play button and we hope it works for you (our internet is too slow for it to work right for us)

We often get down on the floor and play with her, too
Some people have asked us if Esther crawls yet.  The answer: well, no.... But play this video to see her own special mode of locomotion!
Both of us have fun dressing her up for church on Sundays.

Here she is, already stylish!

First eyeglasses ever!

We have started making our first eyeglasses at Bongolo hospital!  Way back in June 2010, we started a conversation with Wooddale church as they were looking for ideas for their "Generosity!" campaign.  We presented the great need for eyeglasses in Gabon, Africa, where we work.  Here patients often have to travel to the capital city of the country and spend $300+ that they don't have in order to get eyeglasses.  Many times a day my nurses and I would write out prescriptions for eyeglasses to my patients who needed them, knowing that these prescriptions would never get filled.

The result of this conversation was a donation for eyeglasses-making equipment - thank you so much, Wooddale!  And thanks to our aviation missionary team partners, we were finally able to transport the equipment from where the oceangoing container had left it, in the capital city of Libreville, to our hospital out in the bush.  Finally, thanks to work by our maintenance missionary team partners here at Bongolo hospital, we have outfitted the eyeglasses-making room ("optical shop") and set up the equipment. 

And I have spent the last couple of weeks learning how to make eyeglasses along with my resident and nurses, with great success! 

The first pair of glasses we made

The first patient to receive eyeglasses - he has retinitis pigmentosa and these are special glasses for people who have low vision, providing the magnification they need to read

This lady said, "I can see all the way to the river!"

This older girl will be able to see the board better now at school (she's pictured here with her sister)

This lady's glasses were made by one of my nurses, Jean Paul, pictured on the right
It is such a joy to have patients come into our little air-conditioned optical shop to pick out their frames, and be able to give them what they need to see well - without even the risk of having to operate on them!  Praise the Lord for his provision and instruction to provide these glasses for our patients. 

We are currently looking to hire someone in the community to help us with the backlog of glasses orders we've already accumulated.  We'll have to fully train this person, of course, but hopefully we can find someone who is good at arithmetic and has a faithful walk with the Lord.  One of the applicants goes to our church. 

We'd also like to hire someone to work at the reception desk so the nurses don't have to do that, since it takes up a lot of their time (when they could be examining our crowds of patients).  This receptionist can also serve as chaplain to the patients and give them a little extra T.L.C., since we get so busy we sometimes can't give patients the individual attention and time that we'd like to.  Pray for this hiring process, for wisdom.  We will interview one of the applicants this Monday, in 2 days.