"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."
1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)

Shipping supplies to Africa

As I sit writing this post, I'm waiting at my office for an overnight shipment of a brace from Kentucky. I can order this type of brace as late as 9pm central time and receive it by 9am next day from UPS in Texas. Amazing how efficient things can be with planes and UPS. 

That being said, I find the process of shipping supplies to Africa amazing also. I checked in with John for an update on shipping of all our supplies. He and Chris built a shipping crate, 8'x4'x4', to pack all the parts, tools, equipment and a few work benches into. Paperwork has to be in order for shipping, which they have now. They plan to take the crate to the Houston port on Monday that will be transported by ship to a port in Africa. From there, it will travel by truck to New Day Orphanage in Zambia where we will be in April. This all takes several months! John said the crate weighs about 2,000 lbs loaded and will cost about $4,000 to ship. In the crate is not only supplies for our trip in April, but also supplies and equipment that can be left there at New Day for us to use when we go back for another trip. This is exciting! 

A picture John sent me of the crate. 

God, we pray that transporting the crate to Houston, the paperwork, and the process of shipping all go smoothly so that everything we need will be at New Day when we arrive. We pray for safe travels for John and Chris on the road from Temple to Houston.

It's official...we have dates set and plane tickets!

Yay! We have set dates for our trip to Zambia. We will leave April 16th and return May 2nd. The flights are from DFW to Detroit to Amsterdam to Lusaka and then returning is from Lusaka to Amsterdam to DFW. Layovers are only an hour or two so no time for sightseeing, but that's okay. Though we've been planning and making preparations, for some reason the decision on dates and purchasing plane tickets has made it just so much more real for me. We're going to ZAMBIA to make prostheses for people! A dream come true! (Granted I never envisioned a location to do mission work, just know I've always wanted to do it.) 

Jason and I have started a list of things to research and will be compiling a list of things we need to make sure to take. Of course his big questions are what is our international cell phone/data plan details and what type of internet availability is in Zambia. I already thinking of "What is the best comfy outfit to wear on the flights that doesn't seem like I'm wearing pajamas?" :) Next in preparation on mine and Jason's part is checking out what vaccinations we will need and getting appointments with our doctors for those. 

I stopped by to see Chris and John in Temple this past Thursday to drop off some donations we got from Medi (a manufacturer of prosthetic parts/supplies). They donated some very nice liners! THANK YOU MEDI!

Chris and John have been boxing up parts and supplies in plastic tubs to ship over the Zambia. They will build a crate 8' long x 4' wide x 4' high to pack all the supplies in to ship over at the end of November. The crate will leave from Houston port and travel to Africa, then will be trucked from the port there to New Day Orphanage where we will be staying for our trip. It will take several months for the crate to get there and will be pretty expensive. We will be able to send a couple of work benches and equipment that can be left at New Day for future trips. 

Updates and Preparations

Much to update on...

I'll start with flight options. John sent me an email from the travel agency we will be purchasing tickets through with 3 different flight options (which are different dates, though all mid-April, and different locations for flight changes, different times, and different prices). The most important deciding factor is coordinating with Blu and Darbi at New Day Orphanage for when we can stay there. Jason and I, being the practical people we are, went through the email making mental pro-con lists and sent back an email to John with our 1st-3rd choice on options. He'll take our opinion into consideration and keep us in the loop on what flight we'll actually end up with. Whichever option we go with, it takes two days to get there! It will be overnight from DFW and then layovers and another night with traveling. Since my max time in an airplane has been from DFW to New York, this should be very interesting. Two nights with no sleep in a bed and the whole jet lag thing....and I need to be ready to work-work-work when we get to New Day. My annoyingly delicate sleep cycle is going to make this hard. I need to start researching airplane pillow options. :)

We got more used parts donations! The Hanger Clinic in Dallas donated two boxes with feet, a liner or two, and other parts. A big THANK YOU to Angie at Hanger Clinic Dallas for donating these parts to Prosthetic Promises. I was able to pass these along to Chris yesterday when she came up the office I work at in Denton.

Chris is so amazing!...she drove over 2 hours to Denton to teach Cindy (my boss) and I the socket design I will need to know for the trip to Zambia. We have a patient that needs a different socket design and this seemed like the perfect solution for her. The patient came in the office for casting. Then Chris taught us all the aspects of making the socket. I'm so excited to know this design now so I have several months (and hopefully several patients) here in Denton to practice before we leave. I fully intended to take pictures yesterday to post of the fabrication process of the socket but got so wrapped up in making sure I understood all the steps, I completely forgot. 

Things we'll be doing in the near future in preparation....

Chris has already started going through donated supplies and boxing it up for shipping. She anticipates shipping everything out in December. It takes several months for the things to get to New Day. We still have some supplies to get...I plan to contact some manufacturers and companies to see if they would be willing to donate the things we need. Chris will order the remaining supplies needed with monetary donations that have been made to Prosthetic Promises before she ships everything over to Zambia. 

Picking one of the flight options and purchasing tickets will be in the next few months. It will be nice to have definite dates set for the trip. 

And on my personal to-do list is to find a comfy pillow for the flights. I'll get one for Jason too. 

FUMC Clifton

This past Sunday, Chris and John met me in Clifton at my home church, First United Methodist, to share with the congregation about Prosthetic Promises. I've been so excited to introduce my church family to Chris and John, share with them about what we do in prosthetics and the mission to Zambia. My church family at FUMC have been such a wonderful influence in my life as I've grown up, always encouraging and supporting me. It was exciting to be able to show everyone a glimpse of what I do in prosthetics---what exactly did she end up doing with that college degree? :)  A big THANK YOU to Pastor Reed for letting us talk to the congregation during the Sunday service. Chris and John gave a wonderful presentation with pictures and stories from their trip last September. 

I took only a few pictures (in which everyone seemed to have an odd expression on their face). Oops :)

We were able to talk more with some people after the service. And Traci (my sister) seems to have taken more pictures then.

It was so awesome to see my church family, get tons of hugs!, and tell them about Prosthetic Promises. Several people also made generous donations to Prosthetic Promises for costs and supplies for our trip in April. THANK YOU FUMC CLIFTON!!!

**Fun side note: I was able to give Chris and John all the used parts donations when we met in Clifton. It took at least five tries to arrange them all in the back of my Fiat and get the door to close. See tetris picture below. 


The sermon on Sunday was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you Pastor Don for your words on Jeremiah 1:4-10......"But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord."

As excited as I am about this opportunity to be a part of Prosthetic Promises mission team, I have my doubts at times that I can actually do this. Do I have enough experience with prosthetics to go? Will I be able to make these prostheses under pressure to get it right the first try?....there's no multiple fitting appointments to get things "fine tuned" like I do for patients here. Do I have the ability to talk with the people (through a translator) about God sending me to meet them and build them a prosthesis? AM I GETTING IN OVER MY HEAD? 

I have always dreamed of the day I could be a part of a mission team to serve those in need: being the hands for God's work. And I've assumed that since the opportunity is now here, this is the right time, the right mission. This is exactly what I've been waiting for. And bonus: Jason will be able to go and serve at New Day Orphanage, though he doesn't make prostheses; so my husband will be right there with me. 

Hearing the words from Jeremiah and the wonderful sermon Pastor Don gave on Sunday was ABSOLUTELY reassuring that, though I have fears and doubts, God has called me to this mission work and I am supposed to go. He will be with me...I need not be afraid. 

Getting so excited! 

More parts donations!

Yesterday I went to pick up more donated parts from a prosthetic facility in Garland, TX. I've been trying to do a little networking with other prosthetists I know to see if anyone has old parts they can donate for the mission. I had spoken with a classmate of mine who is in Tucson, and she contacted another prosthetist in Garland who had a lot of parts he could give. So wonderful! 

Two big boxes with close to 20 feet, adapters, pylons and five knees. The knees are especially exciting since the majority of the amputees in Zambia have above-knee amputations...we definitely need some options for knees. We managed to fit the boxes in the back of my Fiat...a little game of tetris but it worked. A big THANK YOU to John MacGregor at Hanger Clinic of Garland for his donation of these used parts. 

I will take all of these parts to Chris September 1st when we talk with my home church, FUMC of Clifton, about the mission trip. I am so excited to introduce Chris and John to my church family in Clifton and share with them about our trip.

Applying for passport...check! (with much perseverance)

On Friday, Jason and I applied for our passports...granted it took a while to get that all coordinated. It really was only a small inconvenience and I find it hilarious now, but we did get slightly frustrated.

Initially, my thought was "Hey, we can do this on Friday afternoon when I get off work at the Valley View post office. It's a small post office, so there shouldn't be many people and will be quick." The Valley View post office doesn't do passports, and the Gainesville post office does them by appointment only and not on Friday afternoons. So...our option was then to get photos done at CVS and then go to the Clerk's office at the courthouse. Wouldn't you know, the passport photo machine at CVS wasn't working and they send us to Walmart...on a Friday afternoon. (Busy. Annoying.) 

With photos in hand after our Walmart excursion, we did get to the Clerk's office and thankfully had all the correct paperwork. So our passports should be here fairly soon. 

Next will be plane tickets...but we'll all purchase tickets at the same time so hopefully it will run more smoothly than the passport challenge. 

More photos from 2012 trip:

Chris working on an above-knee prosthetic socket.

This is at a local hospital where Chris did castings of the patients for the prostheses.

Sharing at FUMC Gainesville

Today Chris and John came to speak at our church, First United Methodist of Gainesville, about Prosthetic Promises, their trip last September and the upcoming trip in April 2014 when Jason and I will be going also. They have a wonderful Powerpoint presentation with lots of pictures of Zambia, the people and the patients they saw. Hearing their presentation gave us a better idea of what to expect. 

Chris, John and Robin (John's wife) came up yesterday and had dinner at our house before today's presentation at church. It was so great to visit and catch up! Jason and I were able to discuss more particulars about the trip and hear more stories. One of the most relieving things to find out is I get to take a shower everyday when staying at New Day (I was a little worried about that). :) 

Most of the amputees in Zambia have above-knee amputations, and Chris has learned a new socket design that is self-adjustable by the patient. This was perfect for the people needing above-knee prostheses there since they have no one to make adjustments to the prosthesis if needed. I will have to spend a day or two with Chris in Temple learning this socket technique before April. 

More pictures from their September trip:

One of the children Chris made a prosthesis for.

Chris teaching this lady how to walk with her prosthesis. 

One of the amputee's homemade crutch.

The feet on the left are John's in his flip-flops because he gave his tennis shoes to this patient since he had none. The prosthetic feet need to have a shoe so they last longer and don't damage the foot. 

One of John's prosthetic eye patients. 

The Unforeseen

When dropping off supplies with Chris a few weeks ago, we talked more about what to expect in Zambia. (I have many more discussions to come with John and Chris on "what to expect") Apparently, spitting cobras are a wildlife danger to be on the lookout for. SPITTING COBRAS!?! I'm with my dad on the opinion of snakes...a good snake is a dead snake. Ah, just makes me cringe thinking about them. 

I realize I hadn't thought of the unexpected things we'll encounter. Spitting cobras are just one example. The culture, food, how people live there, interactions with people, etc. It's all going to be so different than America. Neither Jason or I have done much traveling. We haven't been out of the country. Just thinking about all these aspects now makes me realize what a totally mind-boggling experience this will be. 

I downloaded pictures from John to my computer from their trip last September, so I've been looking through those. Really studying the pictures is starting to give a glimpse of what we'll see but being there in person will be a whole different thing. I'm going to try to post a few pictures from their trip at the end of each post here to share. 

Chris helping this man learn to walk with his new prosthesis. 

John and one of the people he made a prosthetic eye for. 

Chris working on a prosthesis.

John took pictures of people in the surrounding areas.


Friday I was able to take some donated parts to Chris in Temple. There were some feet, socks, liners and various adapters that had been donated to use for missions. Most donations of used parts come from patients who get new prosthetic legs and donate their old ones for parts, or from families of deceased patients who contact us to see if parts can be salvaged to use for other patients. Used parts can be donated for mission work. We are gathering as many parts and supplies donations as we can, and then Chris will purchase remaining supplies we will need with monetary donations to Prosthetic Promises.

A big THANK YOU to my boss, Cindy Hooper, from Excell O&P in Denton and David Caldwell from Caldwell P&O in McKinney for donating these supplies for the mission!! 


Since I'm new to this whole blog thing, I hope posts and info improve as I go along. My intent with making a blog is to keep family, friends, and supporters of this mission informed about the process and trip in April 2014. 

The background story:
   Chris Reiff and John Brinkley made their first trip (of hopefully many more in the future) to Zambia, Africa in September 2012 to make prosthetic legs and eyes for people in need. John is fortunate to know the Tidwells from New Day Orphanage in Zambia who coordinated with them for their trip to connect the people in need of prostheses there with Chris and John.
   I worked with Chris and John for two years during my residency in Temple, Texas in orthotics and prosthetics where I came to know them like family (and now John is family!) and their love for Christ and His people. They have taught me so much, not just in our profession of prosthetics, but in life, love for people, and growing closer to Christ everyday. I miss working with them everyday but am unbelievably excited to work with them again for this great mission. 
 They have set up a non-profit, Prosthetic Promises In His Name, to raise funds for supplies and costs for the trip.