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
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
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.
This past week all the missionary kids got together at one of the missionary homes to decorate cookies. I think she made hundreds for us to decorate! We had all colors of icing and a lot of different things to decorate with like chocolate chips, pretzels, MnMs, and nuts. Since we can’t run out and buy sprinkles and things, we had to be really creative. We had two categories. The first was decorate your favorite thing to do. I TRIED to draw a drum set but it didn’t turn out so well. The second category was decorate something to do with safari. I made an alligator. We got to keep and eat those two but then we iced about a hundred more cookies. We delivered those to the pediatric ward, we had enough for the kids, their moms and the nurses. I think the moms and nurses were just as excited as the kids to get a cookie! It was a really fun day. ~Soph
Today we attended a traditional church service with all the missionaries. It has been something very new to me. I’ve learned many different old hymns, new things about the Bible that I never knew, and so much more. (Thanks to Chris Tomlin and Chris Rice I knew two or three hymns!)
We’ve been to several different orphanages. It still amazes me after seeing many orphanages over the past year how many children are orphaned in this country. Many children are orphaned because their parents died from AIDS, others because their parents abandoned them because they cannot feed them. But every single orphanage I have visited the children are filled with joy.
Last Saturday we took an hour and half car ride to an orphanage that took in forty of the neediest kids around the area. While my mom was shown around by the administrator of the orphanage I got the chance to play and talk with children. It was another awesome experience.
I also recently was reintroduced to Mr. John Stuery and his family. Mr. Stuery’s father was one of the founding doctors of Tenwek hospital. I really enjoyed being around Mr. John, Mrs. Vera and their two sons, Brendan and Ben.
If you ever come to Kenya you will find out that these Kenyans rock at football (as we call soccer)!!! Two days ago we play a soccer game out in the field (an open flat place) Kenyans vs. Americans. We got trampled! They beat us so badly. But the good side is that I learned a few cool tricks. 1. I learned how to bounce the ball off my head. (The first few times I suffered terrible headaches). 2. How to bounce the ball off my knee and to another player (I got really good at that). 3. How to really play soccer- Kenyan style!
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.