Wow! It seems like just yesterday that I spoke at the weekend service for my brother (remember the banana photo?)! It’s been a whirlwind ever since. We left the following Tuesday with four of our children to spend the next ten weeks at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, East Africa. God granted us safe passage—all of our flights were on time, all connections made without problems and twelve bags (yes, I said 12!) arrived without any problems. What a blessing!
We spent 3 nights in Nairobi getting over our jet lag, gathering supplies for our prolonged stay and seeing some of our friends. We then drove 4 hours across the Great Rift Valley where we saw a herd of wild zebras! We have now comfortably settled in to our home away from home for the next two and a half months.
All the staff here has really made us feel welcome. Jenn has done an admirable job making our small apartment have the warm feel of a home. You may not know this—but Jenn is an amazing cook. She can take the local vegetables and fruits that are available here and combine them with what we bought in Nairobi and produce some pretty incredible meals. Rachael Ray has nothing on this lady! The kids have really enjoyed re-connecting with their friends here at the mission compound. Jackson has so enjoyed seeing his Kenyan friends—the Bii’s. If Jackson is missing, all we have to do is find the Bii’s and we will have located Jack!
The children started back into their home school studies this week. Georgia is in the 7th grade; Olivia the 6th, Sophia the 5th and Jackson is in pre-school. They spent part of Saturday helping sort out medications that a visiting team brought to the hospital. It’s really great to watch them volunteer to help however they are needed.
It’s been an easy transition back into the world of surgery here at Tenwek. I didn’t realize how much time and energy it took last time we were here just learning the physical layout of the hospital, the drugs that are available, the way the clinics run and the routines of the different departments.
I’ve completed my first week and the very first patient I saw had been gored in the chest by a water buffalo. The rest of the week was filled with a conference on the current treatment of malaria in Kenya, lots of endoscopy, two cases of typhoid fever with intestinal perforation, and a case where we resected the entire esophagus and replaced it with the colon. The case took a little over eight hours! Trust me, I slept well that night.
Yesterday (Saturday) morning, I operated on a newborn little girl named Rose who was born with her intestines outside of her body (gastroschisis). Her surgery went well, but it usually takes about 2 weeks for the intestines to be completely replaced into her abdomen and begin functioning well enough so that the child can eat. Supporting the child nutritionally is critical during these two weeks. In the States we have a special IV fluid (called TPN) that can give adequate nutrition until the child can take milk. If a child with gastroschisis receives TPN (a great majority of the time) they will survive. If they don’t the survival drops considerably. Even though little Rose’s surgery went well, unfortunately, that special IV fluid isn’t available here.
As I thought about this little girl, I thought about all the children around the world that don’t have the one thing they need to survive into adulthood. That ‘one thing’ may be enough food, or clean water or a mosquito net or a vaccination or dose of antibiotics or an available doctor to perform a simple life-saving operation.
If you think about it this week, remember to pray for little Rose. And remember to pray for all the other little Roses all around the world.
Keep us in your prayers.