Real soccer!

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!

Much love,

Georgia Grace

Bringing You Up To Date

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.


A Final Word

It’s just a little after 6 a.m. and I’m overlooking the Indian Ocean on the east coast of Kenya. The sun is sending it’s first few rays of light over the dark water below.  I love to hear the sound of the waves crashing to the shore in the dark of night.

After our final goodbyes, we flew out of a small air field in a pasture not far from the hospital and made our way back to Nairobi.  After one night there, we boarded another plane bound for Malindi where we will spend three days “decompressing” and relaxing before traveling home. So far it has been a great family time.

We are so grateful for what has happened over the last 5 weeks. We prayed that my skills in surgery would come back quickly, we prayed for protection for our family, we prayed that we would be an encouragement to all the people we came into contact with, we prayed that our hearts would be open to what God would have to say to us while here in Kenya.  Our prayers have been answered exceeding, abundantly above anything we could ask or think.

My final word is one of thanks.  Thanks to all of you for remembering us in your prayers.  We could “feel” the strength of your prayers supporting us during this entire trip.  We know (without a doubt), we could not have made it without you. Our internet connection was very erratic, but it seemed like when we needed it the most, we could access the web site and read the comments that so many of you left.  Thank you for your timely words of encouragement.  You will never know what a difference they made.

Please continue to pray for our safe travel back as we leave Kenya Thursday.

For our friends at Lakewood, we will see you this Sunday.

From Africa with love,

The Most Difficult Thing So Far

As our time here in Kenya comes to a close, I have been reflecting on what has been the most difficult part  of our mission trip so far.

Certainly some things come quickly to mind:  the language barrier or the cultural differences, the challenging travel conditions (did I mention small planes!), the diseases that are a constant threat to all of us, especially our children (malaria, typhoid, TB, worms), the conflict and violence all around our mission hospital and the constant news of encroaching threats, sleeping under mosquito nets (at least once I was nearly killed when I entangled myself in mine in an attempt to quickly get to the hospital in the middle of the night, thanks to Jenn for releasing me from its strangulating hold!), missing many of the “comforts” that we are so used to, having to collect rain water from our roof top, boil it for 10 minutes, then filter it and pour it into our month old, reused water bottles…

All these thing have certainly been different for us and in many ways have added to the difficulty of this mission trip.  But by far the most difficult thing we have experienced so far has been having to say good bye to some of the finest people we have ever had the privilege to meet.

Good bye to the Kenyan people–some of the most kind and caring and hospitable people on the planet.  When you say “karibu” (welcome), you mean it…you have opened your arms and your hearts to us and welcomed us into your lives.

Good bye to all the mission hospital staff who have accepted us as if we had been there forever–to Vincent in the theatre, Collins on the ward, David and Andrew in anesthesia, Solomon in PT, and I could go on and on.

Goodbye to Mr. John Wright a great man and a great administrator. Your joy is infectious.  The sacrifice you make for the Kingdom admirable.  Thanks for coffee and cinnamon rolls and a genuine interest in my family, especially my children.  Thanks for the coffee cake on the morning we left when we had very little food in the cottage.

Goodbye to Dr. Russ and Beth White, Dr. Carol Spears, Dr. Mike and Pam Chupp, Dr. Mike and Julie Ganey, Dr. Chuck and Amy Bemm, Dr. Ben and Jeni Roberts and Dr. John and Linda Sprigel–long term missionary doctors.  You “risk it all” for the sake of the Kingdom.  You are true heroes of the faith.  I admire you all. Russ, Carol and Mike–thanks for watching over me as I was re-introduced to surgery.  Words can’t express my appreciation to the three of you.

Goodbye to Dr. Zach Kasapoi, Dr. Geoffrey Kiprono and Dr. Agneta Odera three of the finest doctors I have ever met.

Goodbye to Adam and Jamie, and Julie and Mel and David and Luke and every other missionary kid who so welcomed my children and made them feel at home.  Goodbye to Jack’s Kenyan “best friends” the Bii’s. The valentine card you gave him will forever be a memory.

Goodbye to Dr. Carolyn Stickney and Dr. Brent and Marg Mundy and Dr. Fritz and Elaine Westerhaut–short-term missionary doctors (just like us) who we came to know and appreciate.  Fritz, thanks for teaching me how to do a C-section, thanks for choosing to celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary on the mission field advancing the Kingdom.  What an example you all are to us. Marg and Elaine, thanks for allowing Jack into your lives and into your cottages (at all hours and without our knowledge!).

Goodbye to Dr. Mary Hermes, a 30 + year missionary nurse and educator.  We will never forget your smile and your joy.

Goodbye to Trish and Scott Hughett, our new friends.  Thanks for your overwhelming generosity to us.

The most difficult thing so far on our missions trip to Kenya has been saying goodbye.  We take great comfort though, in knowing goodbye won’t be forever.

From Africa with love,