Looking unto Jesus the Great Physician

My Kenyan friend, Dr. Zach

My Kenyan friend, Dr. Zach

Common Problem in Africa
Common Problem in Africa
New lead aprons for XRay

New lead aprons for XRay

Surgical mesh for the theatre

Surgical mesh for the theatre

We had a very busy first week here at Tenwek.  Jenn and the kids are settling into a routine of school.  I was very busy taking care of patients.  We had a very typical week of surgery–grafting burn wounds, depressed skull fracture, stomach cancer, thyroid goiter and bowel resections for worm infestation (see pics) to name a few.  It is so good to be able to work with my many friends here in the theatre, on the wards, in the clinic and x-ray department.  I am constantly amazed at the excellent, compassionate care that they extend to people who are so sick.  They may have somewhat limited resources, but they have limitless love and care for their patients.  They truly are the hands and feet of Jesus caring for the sick (Matthew 25).   

One of my physician friends, Dr. Ralph graciously provided 5 lead aprons for the x-ray department.  The aprons they were using were worn and torn and taped up and most of the lead had migrated to the bottom of the aprons making them ineffective in protecting from the x-ray irradiation.  They were so appreciative for the new aprons (see pics).  Another friend, Robert donated surgical mesh to the operating theatre (see pic).  Other friends donated several surgical drainage catheters which were desperately needed.  It was such a pleasure for us to bring these supplies with us and equally a pleasure to see the smiles of gratitude on the faces of the people here.   So, on behalf of Tenwek hospital, asante sana (thank you very much).

On of my favorite people here is Dr. Zach.  He too is a surgeon (an excellent one I might add) and a pastor.  He and I have a special friendship that has developed over my last 4 trips here to Tenwek.  Last time I was here I noticed that he was wearing a rather worn doctors coat that was much too big for him .  Above the pockets, in magic marker he had written his name (on the left) and “Looking unto Jesus…the Great Physician” (on the right).   This trip I felt impressed to bring him two new coats that fit him perfectly, each with his name above the pocket on the left and those same words beautifully embroidered above the right pocket.   It was such a joy to be able to give these small gifts to my friend–Doctor, Pastor Zach–someone who doesn’t want the attention to be on him, he simply wants to point people to Jesus, the Great Physician.  (see pic)

On every other trip we have made to Tenwek we have stayed in the missionary cottages here on the compound adjacent to the hospital.  The cottages are clean and nice and have about 900 square feet.  We function fine in the limited quarters, but this year a dear friend of ours’–Dr. Mary–offered us her home while she is back in the states on furlough.  Her home has two stories, is so spacious and is so much closer walk to the hospital.  Needless to say, we are so thankful to God and appreciative for our friend Mary who graciously opened her home to us. 

Jenn continues doing an amazing job setting up and managing our home away from home.  She will soon begin visiting several orphanages near the hospital.  The children are all doing well with school and are very much enjoying meeting their old friends and meeting new friends here. 

I am on call this weekend and was busy at the hospital this morning with rounds and a couple of surgeries.  I am grateful for a few minutes this afternoon for a nap (!) and the time to keep you up to date on our time here in Africa.  I’m sure I’ll be back at the hospital later today. 

Please keep us in your prayers.  

Blessings from Africa,

Paul

Motorcycles

We arrived a little over a week ago and the jetlag had finally begun to go away! Thank you for all of your prayers! We had a wonderful two days in Amsterdam before finally arriving at the airport in Nairobi. I don’t know what it is, but every time I get off the airplane into Kenya, I feel like something is right. Like its where we’re supposed to be. Anyways, we spent a few days in the busy city of Nairobi while my mom (whom I’ve grown to call Super Woman) shopped for three months of food for six very hungry people. The car ride to Tenwek Hospital is a long one, but never a bore. You pass so many interesting things. We saw a herd of zebras on our way, but weren’t so lucky as to see the usual baboons. I really like those guys.
Readjusting has been so much easier! The last time we went we were living in less than 900 square feet (not complaining). This time, a missionary who is currently on furlough, has allowed us to stay in her house. It has been wonderful! Dad is busy like always, but tries his best to make it home for meals. He is usually in the OR longer because he is teaching some of the Kenyan interns how to perform specific surgeries. I really hope to scrub in more often to watch the surgeries.
Seeing all of our missionary and Kenyan friends has been so amazing; they’ve been so kind and so hospitable. All of the kids here in Kenya are about to go on break from school next month. At night and early in the morning you can hear the little Kenyan children walking by our house, laughing their high pitched little laughs, I promise you it is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. You’d be surprised; coming from Texas heat of 104 degrees some days, Kenya’s weather is unbelievable. The wind is blowing and the temperature is usually in the 60’s and70’s. I have no idea why but for some reason people think we’re going to a place where it resembles a desert. Well, that’s not true. It is extremely lush where we’re staying. Green, pink, blue, purple, there are just a few of the colors you see when you look around. I’m not saying it doesn’t get hot here some times of the year but right now its Kenya’s winter, so we’re doing pretty well.
I think you should know something that made my family and I laugh so hard the other day! The house that we’re staying in is on a slope, which has a rode directly beside it. All kinds of machines come down this hill; tractors, bikes, but for the most part motorcycles. Now they aren’t like Harley Davison’s, they’re African bikes. They look more like dirt bikes. Anyways, whenever these motorcycles go up the hill the leave their engine on obviously so that they can get up the steep hill. But when they come down the hill, they turn them off and roll down to save gas. I literally couldn’t stop laughing, but it is a good idea!
I just want to thank you again for your prayers and support. God truly showed up during our travels; short lines, all of our bags (12 in total) made it, people were gracious and patient with us, and no absolutely no illnesses! Thank you Jesus!
Will keep you posted,
Georgia Grace

We made it!

Friends,
After two days in Amsterdam and one in Nairobi, we arrived safely at Tenwek hospital early afternoon yesterday (Saturday)! We had great flights and all twelve (yes, I said twelve!) of our bags arrived safely! As they say in Kenya, God gave us “journey mercies” and we are thankful for your prayers. I really admire Jenn as she organized and packed everything needed for the children’s school, all our clothes, probably 200 pounds of medical supplies, spent hours at various markets in Nairobi gathering the food and supplies we will need for 3 months and then unloaded it all and got us settled into our home away from home. Needless to say, I couldn’t do what God placed in my heart to do without her willingness to make those sacrifices.
I so enjoyed the daytime flight from Amsterdam across the entire northern part of Africa. We made it across Europe, then down the western coast of Italy, across the Mediterranean sea, across hours of the Sahara desert, crisscrossing the Nile river numerous times, across Sudan and finally to the green hills of central Kenya. In northern Kenya there was a spectacular thunderstorm to our west and then probably one of the most magnificent sunsets I have ever seen. All those incredible colors–pink, orange, gray and bright blue were intensified by the setting sun shining though the high arching clouds of the thunderhead.
It was such a blessing to be greeted and welcomed by some of our many friends here at Tenwek. Lisa was at the gate waiting for us, Carol had cinnamon rolls ready for us, and Sarah was already cleaning and setting up our house as we arrived. Across the fence I heard “Dr. Osteen” in that deep voice that could only belong to Geoffrey, one of my good friends from the theatre (OR). We had dinner with our friends the Whites (long term missionary surgeon and his family), breakfast with our friend Barbara (missionary nurse for almost 30 years), and lunch today (Sunday) with Anna (a missionary nurse from Japan). But the welcome I remember most was when little Angela and Alene (4 and 6 year old Kenyan friends) first caught glimpse of their friend (and my 6 year old son) Jackson. Those were the brightest eyes, the biggest smiles, the loudest giggles and warmest embraces of all!!
I start my day at 7am tomorrow at the hospital. The kids will settle into their school work in the next few days. And Jenn will make plans for ministry at several of the orphanages in the area around the hospital.
Keep us in your prayers. We will do our best to keep you up to date on our journey.
Blessings from Africa,
Paul

Able and mighty hands

 

The last few weeks have literally flown by.  I have been very busy at the hospital.  Several surgeons have either been on well deserved vacation or have been back in the States on furlough.  That said, just a couple of us have been taking care of the busy surgical service here at Tenwek.  My usual week starts at 7 a.m. with morning rounds with one of the resident physicians or interns.  I have responsibility for the male and female surgical wards where we usually have between 50 and 75 patients.  Several mornings each week we have conferences with the rest of the medical and surgical staff.  On Wednesday mornings we have devotions. Surgery usually starts around 9 a.m. except on Fridays when we try to start at 8 a.m.  I help run a clinic on Tuesdays that has between 50 -100 patients.  Call is usually a couple of nights a week and I take call every third weekend.  That said, there are a tremendous number of emergencies that need to be taken care of each day.  Needless to say, the last few weeks have been incredibly busy but it has been such a joy being able to do what I feel like God has called me to do.  I love that line in the movie Chariots of Fire… “I feel God’s pleasure when I run”.  That is much the way I feel when I am ministering to the sick here in this remote part of Africa.

 

Jenn and the children are doing well.  Jenn is up early for an hour long walk with a friend.  She starts the children with their school work by 8 a.m. and we try to have our big meal of the day around 1 p.m.  I make it to this meal about half of the time.  The kids are having a great time with their old friends and their new friends here at the mission compound [but trust me they miss their family and friends back home!].  From our apartment balcony, most of the time we can hear them running around, swinging on the tree swing or playing soccer or kick ball with a whole group of children.  We try to take walks together as a family.  Last weekend we took a family trip to Kericho (hour and a half away) where we were able to tour a tea factory and a flower factory.  It was such a beautiful sight to see the rolling hills of western Kenya covered with hundreds of acres of tea fields. 

 

I’ll close with just a simple thought.  Before every operation we pray for our patient—for God’s safety and protection, for full recovery, for wisdom and guidance for those of us providing care.  Most of the time I pray, but occasionally I will ask one of the nurses to pray.  One nurse has a prayer he always prays:  “Father, we commit this patient into your able and mighty hands.”  Isn’t it a reassuring thought to rest in the fact that we are in the able and mighty hands of an awesome God? 

 

Thanks for all the prayers and e-mails.  We love you all. 

 

Paul

 

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