Happy, Happy, Happy!

That’s what this little man kept saying today as we walked the trails to one of our area’s more secluded beaches.

“Happy! Happy! Happy!”

I smiled and all I could think was, “Me too, kid; me too.”

We’ve had lots of happy news lately. It was the first weekend that I was able to do a full clean on the house (a top to bottom clean and on my own) since getting so sick. I turned a significant corner at the 16 week mark and though I was still puffing a bit on our short hike to a secluded beach today, my fitness is coming back faster than I thought it would after laying flat for so long.

More importantly, we got happy news from Max’s surgeon. We left the hospital with tears on our cheeks after being told we would almost certainly be returning for surgery three weeks ago, but as we prayed we began to think that God is up to something else… something miraculous, maybe?

And so it was last Tuesday that while our favourite nurses teased that maybe we were optimistic parents thinking that perhaps those lumps were getting smaller, the surgeon himself wondered if it was a possibility they were starting to break down. The past week and a half Max has been symptom-free on the meds, so he suggested we keep going for a couple of months and see what happens. He also asked us to meet with the infectious disease doctor who is overseeing Max’s case to confirm, but we are feeling confident that something has changed… that a miracle is happening.

And while we don’t love going to the hospital every week for checkups, we are excited that on Tuesday we will not only be visiting the infectious disease unit; we’ll also get to see our new little baby too! A few more days and I’ll be half way through this pregnancy, and we can barely wait to see if this is the little girl we’ve been suspecting or another precious little boy.

Oh, and in case you wondered, in the midst of our craziness, we’re still doing our work with YWAM. And we’re still loving it. And we’re still seeing lives changed. Stories to come! Good ones.

Happy, Happy, Happy Ones!


And Just Like That… Our Hospital Adventure is Over… for now.

Wednesday morning, the nurses told us to be ready to stay another day or two at the hospital. Lab results would take at least the rest of the day and we would be in isolation… still.

We packed toys and crayons and colouring books, ready to make the most of our time in the isolation room.

And that’s why we were so surprised with the nurse came in around 10am and told us we would be discharged soon!

The initial lab results came back negative for some of the scary infectious diseases they were concerned about from our visit to PNG and the rest of the results would take 2-3 days… so… we could wait at home!

We were stoked. We got Max’s drain taken out, his cannula taken out, and all kinds of exciting stuff and happily came home.

He has been an absolute little bundle of joy and energy.

We are wondering whether all of the puss that was surrounding the cyst was causing him a lot more pain than he had communicated because while he has always been an energetic kid, he just seems that bit more happy.

Or maybe, like his mom and dad, he’s just feeling a bit lighter on his feet with gratefulness…

Next week we will meet with the consulting paediatric surgeon again, discuss the remainder of the pathology findings, and decide whether to take out the remainder of the growth.

We’re quite hopeful and secure that this will probably be the end, but at the same time – as we mentioned in our last prayer requests, feel very stirred by God to pray that they do not miss anything important during the pathology or upcoming exams. We definitely want this to be over for good.

We have felt so absolutely loved and carried and supported through this entire process. Thank you to so many who have gone above and beyond in prayer or practically to care for our family. We certainly are grateful!!

Our Hospital Adventure Day 1

Well, day one at the hospital down and we already have one nurse joining us in PNG!! (grin)

Our pre-op consultation must’ve went well because we found ourselves with an operation yesterday!

We were really impressed with the promptness and professional approach of the paediatric surgeon. He wasn’t doing procedures that day but he rang the surgeon on call straight away, brought him down into the clinic and asked him to do whatever he could to make Max’s procedure happen that day.

It feels so affirming to have them acting so quick on our boy’s behalf!!

If we hadn’t been feeling well looked after enough, we became hospital super stars when he started asking Dr House-esque questions to find any possible source of the mystery on Max’s neck – do we have any birds? fish? cats?

Have we travelled overseas…?

Despite the fact that Max’s symptoms started before he ever set foot in a PNG village, the fact that we have been there set all the alarms off and we now have acquaintances in the infectious disease unit. Yep, we’re in an isolation room “just in case.

The good news is, we have had priority everything… AND our own room.

The bad news is, do you know how hard it is to keep a 16 month old contained in a small room where the only feature of the room (aside from the obligatory Children’s Hospital underwater mural) is a window which looks out onto kids (his favourite) playing on the awesomest outdoor play structure (his second favourite). And the fact that the only other thing you can see out the window is the picnic area… with people eating at it… which is absolutely torture for a kid who had to go 8 hours without eating or drinking thanks to an upcoming anesthetic.

With minimal language, he was able to tell us at least three different ways that he wanted to go outside (door, please? out, please? outside, please? out there, please?) At least the kid’s got manners.

He hasn’t had a major break down yet, but I feel one coming as we approach Day 2 in the isolation room.

Pray for grace, please?

Other than that (and reminding us about every 5 minutes that he wanted to eat), Max breezed through his day in the Children’s ward. His highlights are of course watching the flashing lights as he has his heart rate and temperature monitored every hour and playing with the stellar rocking horse Jared brought into his room.

We were relieved just before 3:30 when they breezed into our room and let us know that we needed to get Max ready for surgery. We headed straight in and our happy boy who was entertained by bubbles as they put him under, was equally entertaining to the nurses who were cracking up as he signed “more, please!” over and over to them.

Our prayer was that we would bring life and encouragement to those around and if Jared & I never did, Max certainly has. He’s become a bit of a rock star already.

The procedure went well (Jared & I coped okay too!) and our boy melted our hearts as we saw him laying limply as he was starting to stir coming out from under the general anesthetic. The moment he realised I was there, he started pulling off the oxygen mask to be in my arms. He slept there peacefully and then every few minutes would wake up, look around, and ask for whichever parent was not holding him. He must think we’re the best team ever because he was content as long as he could be held by each of us every 5 minutes or so.

When he finally came around, he downed three bottles of water, braised steak, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, and half a packet of ritz crackers… and then went back to playing on his rocking horse so hard that he worked his bandages off.

We’re all pretty tired. Sleeping at a hospital is never really relaxing, especially not when you have to be monitored every hour and have antibiotics intravenously every 3-6 hours.

Day 2 holds the waiting game for us. We were told to give at least 24 hours to wait for pathology results. We’re kind of hoping our rock star infectious disease risk status might bump this up earlier. From there, our consulting surgeon mentioned they would look at treatment options or perhaps removing more of the growth on Max’s neck. (They got out 4cmx5cm of puss plus some more tissue, but there is definitely more in there)

Our prayer today, is for grace for Max to stay in this room alone with us for another day, rest for all of us, and mostly that they doctors would not miss anything as they review the samples in pathology and consider our next step of action.

Thanks for praying with us, celebrating the little victories along the way, and believing for perfect shalom for our boy – nothing missing and nothing broken.


The Hoovs

The Day I Never Imagined

Of all the things I have imagined doing with my child, laying on an emergency room hospital bed comforting him was not on the list.

Nurses are WAY cooler than mom and dad. They let me play with all the cords I want!

And yet today, the day that was supposed to be spent in the sun doing yard work and welcoming a new group of girls who will be living in the unit below us and tackling those ten (yes, ten) loads of laundry that have piled up this week (can you tell that going to Brisbane and preparing for our presentations in America next week has kicked me in the butt?)… that is what we did.

Little man had a temperature… 103.5. It had been fluctuating between 101.5 and 102.5 all day the day before, and this morning I just couldn’t kick it. It kept going up. So the doctor said to bring him straight to the ER.

Once we got past the wall of smoke (why is the smoking section of a HOSPITAL right outside the entrance?) and the blood splatters on the concrete (so gross), they put us straight into the first available bed.

…The one across from the man covered from head to toe in a sheet. I kept sneaking glances to see if he’d move (surely they don’t just leave dead bodies lying around… right?). He must’ve sensed my unease because he finally peeked at me, smiled, and put the sheet back over his face.

Ummm… thanks?

Evidently they take a fever that high in such a little one pretty seriously. I’m a first time mom and not much of a worrying one at that. How was I supposed to know?

In the end, they said it was a viral infection… and to keep doing what we’re doing. Keeping him cool and comfortable, and managing the fever with meds.

It got me thinking about perspective though. The way that I/we see life.

Here I was, just one day in the Emergency Room with my son. We were just trying to do our best to look after him but pretty certain everything was and would be fine.

But what about those who aren’t fine? What about people like our friend Landon.

We’ve been praying for Landon for 25 days now. He was in a horrible car accident and he just isn’t waking up.

And of all the things to be challenged by, Landon’s family’s perspective in the midst of this awful situations is… incredible. How do you talk about a coma? Unhopeful doctors? The threat of death… with humour? With vulnerability? With honesty? With inclusiveness? With humility? With hope?

I’ve learned a lot from those Hochstetlers in the past 25 days.

An easy life is not always a guarantee.

But we do have choices to make. Perspective to determine. Hope to fight for.

And I hope that whether I’m thrown a big curve ball like Landon’s or just an annoying lob like Max’s, that I remain full of faith and hope and love.

Thanks Hochstetlers. Your faith and hope and love have challenged the way that we see life.

And that is just ONE of the reasons that the past 25 days have not been in vain!

Hoping. Believing. And Loving with ya…

Elephants and angels watching over us...

Twin Girls Delivered Safely in PNG

A Simple Tool to Save a Life

Most people who know about the YWAM Medical Ship are well aware that one of our main aims is to help address the Millennium Development Goals to reduce infant and maternal mortality. With up to 1 in 7 women in parts of rural Papua New Guinea dying during childbirth, even one life saved can make a huge difference.

That’s exactly what happened last week on the YWAM Medical Ship. Join with us as volunteer RN/Midwife, Jenny Sutherland recounts the story:

Yesterday we were halfway through our morning clinic when word came that a woman in a neighbouring village had given birth to one twin, but the second was not coming.  A small team of us arrived there with some difficulty, as we climbed up slippery logs and made our way into an incredibly poverty-stricken shack, where this labouring woman was on a bamboo floor, upon which we had to choose our steps wisely or fall through.

She had not a thing under her and her newborn baby girl was semi-wrapped in a dirty looking cloth nappy. The umbilical cord tied was tied with bamboo, but the baby was looking well. The woman had been pushing since the morning before, with Twin 1 born at 1am. When we arrived the unclamped cord was hanging out.  Due to finding it difficult to find a fetal heartbeat on the unborn twin and given the mother’s deteriorated condition, we decided to transport her to a local clinic, not certain whether either of them would live through this.

We carried the woman on a stretcher through calf-deep mud and onto the Zodiac (which is used to carry patients to and from the YWAM Medical Ship).  The voyage took 4 hours and despite the difficulties, this woman never whimpered once.  Frightened and exhausted, she had seemingly no interest in the baby she had birthed and had not fed her yet.  We encouraged her to feed the baby girl on the journey though, and to our delight she had a great feed and slept the rest of the trip, sheltered by some donated birthing kit bunny rugs, a cloth nappy and the strong arms of one of our manly engineers whose heart was taken for this baby girl!

We arrived at the clinic and were amazed to hear the healthy heart beat of the unborn baby. After bringing on labour again, with one push, out came a healthy baby girl! The labouring mum finally smiled – her life saved and two sweet baby girls safe in her arms.

Thank you so much to the many people who have helped to make this a reality – and especially you, our incredible support team! We couldn’t do this without you!