I’m sitting on the upstairs veranda of our mission housing overlooking the beautiful rolling hills of western Kenya.  It’s about 70 degrees with very little humidity.  We’re at 7000 feet above sea level and on the equator—so it’s absolutely perfect weather and the most lush, green place I have ever seen.  From my view I can see all these little village homes with gardens around them.  In the distance I can see several tea plantations creating a beautiful deep green patchwork on the distant hills.  There are so many birds with such different calls and sounds—one, we hear at dawn sounds just like a flute—it’s beautiful.  At night you can see more stars than you can imagine.  All through the night we hear donkeys “honking” and owls hooting and dogs barking at each other and people in the surrounding village singing and laughing.

The food here is really incredible as well.  There are all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables here—from bananas to pineapples to cabbage.  We have a man who collects food and helps cook for us during the week and he makes some of the best cole slaw I’ve ever had.  It’s interesting too, that the custom here in Kenya is to start work early and then about 10 a.m., everyone breaks for “chai”.  This is a Kenyan recipe for boiled milk with sugar that is then mixed with tea.  Trust me, it is awesome.  It is a great time to sit and fellowship with our Kenyan brothers and sisters over a cup of Chai each day.  Then, at 1 p.m., everyone breaks for lunch—which is the big meal of the day and then return to work at 2 p.m.

You’ve all been reading about the violence and conflict here in Kenya—much of it just a few miles from where we are.  Unfortunately, much of what you are reading about is very true—we are taking care of a lot of the wounded from the areas of conflict around us (more about that to follow).  But I don’t want you to get the wrong picture of most of the Kenyan people.  The people I work with day in and day out at the hospital and the ones we minister to are some of the kindest, most gentle, respectful godly people I have ever had the privilege of being around.  Their inner joy is reflected by their beautiful, radiant smiles.  There is a custom here at this hospital to pray before every operation.  Many times I will pray, but often I will ask them to pray—mainly because I love to hear their words.  Prayer for most of them seems effortless and reflects a real relationship with Jesus and a dependence on Him for everything they do.  So, whatever you see in the news about Kenya, remember that isn’t a reflection of most of the Kenyans.

The reason I haven’t had much time to write a journal entry is because I have been VERY busy over the last few days.  I have had to make several adjustments—getting back into the “saddle” of doing surgery, navigating a new culture, a new hospital and a new way of doing things.  All that on top of this being a very busy time in surgery here.  I left for the hospital just before 7 a.m. yesterday, did “rounds” on probably 40 patients, did my first operation at 9 a.m. and finally walked back to our cottage at 6 a.m. after doing eleven operations!  I started with an arrow injury to the chest (9 a.m.), and ended with an arrow injury to the back side (5 a.m.)!  In between, I operated on a 5 month old with a bowel obstruction (intussusception for you medical types), a 6 year old with burns, and a whole host of other general surgical problems.  From 1 a.m. this morning until almost 5 a.m. I operated on a man who was stabbed in the abdomen and had a huge injury to his stomach, and smaller ones to his small bowel.  Never a dull moment.

One of my main prayers has been for my surgical skills to come back to me quickly.  I have seen God show Himself faithful in that regard.  I have relied on His strength instead of my own.  It sounds so simple but it when we try to do things in our own strength, we struggle.  When we depend on His strength, there is an “ease” in doing what He calls us to do.

The kids are having a great time.  They do their school work in the morning and play with the other missionary kids in the afternoon.  Jack seems to have made friends with the whole mission compound.  It’s not unusual for him to go missing for 30 minutes only to be found visiting some of the older ladies who have become his newest friends.  Jenn continues to be the anchor that holds our family together.  Her peaceful demeanor keeps a steady calm to our family life.

Despite all the violence and unrest here in Kenya, there has not been a moment that we haven’t experienced a “peace that passes understanding”.  With all the violence so close to us, it made no sense for us to not have fear and worry and apprehension.  We are so thankful we have a refuge, a fortress and a hiding place knowing He is our shield and our protector.

Well, it’s 2 p.m. on Saturday, and after being up all night I’m “running on fumes”.  I feel a siesta coming on!

Many thanks for all the comments and encouraging words.  Thanks to some of our long lost friends making contact with us (Steve and Lori!).  We appreciate you prayers.  We know that the reason we are doing so well is because there are a whole lot of people praying for us.  We do not take you for granted.

Blessings to all this weekend,