Living the dream
February 12, 2008
It gets cool in the evening here and every cottage has a fireplace. We made a fire in our fireplace last night and the embers are still burning as I warm my feet, drink my coffee and write this journal entry. It’s still long before daylight on Tuesday morning. I was awakened this morning by a symphony of the songs and calls of what sounded like hundreds of different birds. All I could think of is this: “If He cares for the birds of the field…” What a great reminder that God is in control and that He cares for us and He will take care of us and He will provide whatever we need for this day. What a great way to start the day.
On a light note, as I was doing my rounds yesterday I began to think of the different expressions the people here in Kenya use that are different than what we use. Let me give you some examples: we say “flashlight”, they say “torch”; we say “surgical tape”, they say “strapping”; we say “E.R.”, they say “casualty”, we say “O.R.”, they say “theatre”, we say “the tire blew out”, they say, “the tyre exploded”. One of my favorites, though, is when they have to excuse themselves to go and take care of an urgent need. We would say “I have to go…” they say, “Please, let me first rush…”
I thought I would give you some snapshots of my busy weekend on call. Over a week ago I operated on a man who was stabbed in the abdomen and had significant and life-threatening injuries. He was intoxicated when He came in, so it was difficult to talk to him. Fortunately (God’s mercy), he has done well and I discharged him from the hospital yesterday. As I was reading through his chart I came upon this entry from one of the chaplains here at the hospital (every patient is seen by and prayed for by a chaplain every day). The entry read, “The patient gave his life to Christ Jesus today. I led him in confession prayer hoping that God will sustain his salvation.” As I reflected on this man’s life—a life threatening injury brought him four hours by car to a hospital where a missionary team helped save his life—so He could be introduced to our Savior. I believe we will spend eternity with this man because of the ministry of this mission outpost. When it’s all said and done at the end of the day, saving a physical life is important, but introducing people to eternal life is ultimately the most important thing. What a privilege to be a part of both.
The “Casualty” was very busy this weekend. The usual variety of things we see…broken bones, lacerations, infections, trauma from road accidents and the conflict that still sporadically happens here. The emergency room is tiny and cramped. There are probably 10 gurneys packed into this minute little room. When I walked in Saturday night, there were people everywhere—every bed was occupied by a very sick patient, family members in all varieties of colored dress huddled by their bedside, doctors and nurses rushed from one bed to the next. X rays were being taken; lab was being drawn—all in a space of just a few dozen square feet. The scene was vivid, the smells were overwhelming, and the atmosphere was filled with urgency and uncertainty. And yet when I walked in to this room…I had this overwhelming sense of being “at home”, content, alive, called…to what I was doing in that moment. Somehow (for me), when I am immersed in a sea of hurting people it serves as a reminder that: helping hurting people is the closest thing to God’s heart. He cares (individually) about every one of the people in casualty, He cares about their family, He cares about their physical bodies, and He cares about their eternal destiny. What an enormous privilege to be a small part of ministering to these hurting people.
On a different note, it’s been a long time since I haven’t had a car or haven’t been able to travel. Because of the conflict in this region, we are not allowed to get out on the road at all. So, to avoid going “stir crazy”, we have been taking walks on little foot paths over the hills to the different villages. It is so interesting to see the women come to the mill to have their maize ground into meal and then load the meal on to their heads, and with a child strapped on their backs, make their way up and down these hills! Most of the children run up and down the rocky paths without shoes! Donkeys pass us loaded with cargo. Children shepherd sheep and herd small herds of dairy cattle and goats. Just about every where we go, especially in the evenings, the people carry small jugs or bottles and go to a local vendor who supplies them with a few cups of milk. Since most don’t have refrigeration, it’s just enough for their evening meal or perhaps breakfast or tea…and then they do the same the next day. The majority of the villages don’t have electricity, so they cook on tiny wood burning stoves. When they are cooking at night, you can smell the onions and meat grilling on the stoves. It smells just like the fajitas at Pappasito’s (a local restaurant in Houston)! Occasionally, we will walk to a market and have a soft drink—served warm and with a straw! The other day, one of the doctors gave me a cold Doctor Pepper—I thought I had died and gone to heaven!!
I’ll close with a simple thought. When I first came to Africa for a summer missions trip after my sophomore year of college—I had this overwhelming impression that one day I would be back as a medical missionary somewhere in Africa. I’m now 52 years old…and I’m living the dream that God placed in my heart over 30 years ago. I’m a living example that…you can trust God with your dreams. So, if you happen to be reading this blog entry…and you question in your mind that maybe the dreams that God put in your heart will never come to past—I want to encourage you, you can trust God with your dreams. Seek Him first, delight in Him, trust Him…He won’t disappoint you. “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all you can ask or think, according to His power at work within you.”
Thank you Lakewood and thank you to our other friends…we can “feel” your prayers and your support. Have a great week!
From Africa with love,