A Weekend to Remember

The last weekend I was on call was incredibly busy. It seemed that every patient we admitted through casualty (emergency room) was very sick. Several patients were involved in serious “road traffic accidents”, others had severe infections (typhoid, malaria, meningitis). It didn’t take long before all of our ICU beds were full, all our ventilators (breathing machine for the sick patients) were in use and we were scrambling to make take care of all the sick patients. Needless to say, many times it seemed that the needs were overwhelming and the resources were inadequate. But it was amazing to see all of the staff doing what they could to make sure each and every one of these sick patients was well cared for. I was reminded of when the disciples were faced with the overwhelming need to feed more than 5,000 people with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. When they put the limited resources they had in THEIR hands, into the hands of Jesus…a miracle occurred. All of the people were fed and there were 12 baskets full left over. This last weekend, the needs were overwhelming, but we simply put our limited resources into the hands of Jesus…and miraculously…the patients were well cared for. And on Monday morning, after being up for almost 48 hours straight, amazingly, we still had the strength to work all day. I guess that was our 12 baskets full left over.

On Rounds in Africa

Currently we have between 60 and 70 patients on the surgical service here at the hospital. As I was making my rounds the other day, I realized how very different the surgical diseases are here in Africa. Presently we have one patient who was attacked by an elephant with a tusk injury through his back. Another was stepped on by a water buffalo. One who was bitten by a donkey. Another gored by a bull. We have patients with rabies and tetanus, malaria and typhoid and tapeworms . During all my years in surgical practice in the U.S., I don’t recall treating any patients with these conditions. But the one thing that IS the same is that each and every one of these very sick patients respond to the compassionate care given by the men and women here who are doing their best to be the hands and heart of Jesus.

Friends you Meet Along the Way

One of the real joys of working at this mission hospital is meeting the other physicians who come and volunteer and give their time and their expertise to help take care of patients. Most come for a few weeks, some come for a few months. All have a heart that is willing to sacrificially serve others. It was such a pleasure to meet Dr. Chuck. He is a pediatrician, is 79 years old and he spends about 6 months every year taking care of sick children all over the world. Ten years ago Dr. Chuck’s wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and he spent 2 years caring for her every need. When she went to be with Jesus he told me how he fell into a deep depression, to the point he lost any desire to go on with life. But then with joy he recounted how Jesus visited him and tenderly told him that he wasn’t finished with Dr. Chuck yet, that he had more work for him to do. As Dr. Chuck begin to visit hospitals all over the world caring for sick children, all depression left and he is one of the most joy filled people I have ever met. When I remarked to him, “It is incredible what you do for these children”, he simply responds, “It is incredible what Jesus has done for me”.
Over the last month I have had the privilege of working with Drs. David and Naomi. They are married, both are physicians—David is an internist, Naomi a family practice doctor, and they hail from the great state of Texas, the great city of Houston! They are wonderful people, incredible doctors and we look forward to continuing our relationship when we get back home. We shared Mexican food together last week (thanks to an incredible chef who also happens to be my wife!); we thought we were back at home at Pappasito’s!
Jeff and Melissa are fourth year medical students from California. They have been such a joy and pleasure to work alongside. Dr. Andre is from South Africa, now in Newfoundland. He too is a general surgeon giving a month of his time here in Africa. It has been a pleasure working with him. Dr. Daryl is an internist finishing his residency in Tennessee and does such a great job taking care of his patients. It is such a blessing to be able to meet these new friends, such an inspiration to watch them as they give their lives away for Jesus.

Not a Coincidence

The 50th anniversary celebration of Tenwek hospital is this weekend. I find it so interesting that, just like Lakewood, Tenwek was founded in 1959. I also thought it quite amazing that the celebration was scheduled to begin on August 21—which is my Dad’s birthday. What an incredibly special day it was for me. Somehow I felt the approval of both my fathers—earthly and heavenly.