Just Another Face

I will never forget Kipkurui. I’ll never forget his emaciated little body and face but what is forever etched in my memory are his eyes. When you look into his eyes you might say you see despair or exhaustion or someone very near death, but it’s interesting, I see something different. I see hope.

Hear Kipkurui's Story

It's Different When You Hold Them

What once was somehow just a “concept” of caring for orphans has become very much a reality that will forever be a part of my heart. I am so thankful for the opportunity to care for these little ones and so thankful that no matter what home they eventually are a part of…they will always be a part of my heart.

Hear Their Story

Just the Postman

It’s hard to believe that 3 months has passed so quickly but we will be leaving Tenwek Mission Hospital in the next 24 hours. Over the last few days my family and I have been remembering and recounting the good things that God has done during this trip. We are so thankful for “journey mercies” as we have traveled not only from the States to here but for all the journeys we have taken all along the highways and byways of central and western Kenya. We are so thankful that God has protected us from sickness, and so thankful that God touched and healed little Jack of malaria. We are thankful for the prayers that so many have offered and so thankful for the many people who commented on our blog or sent us notes of encouragement. Your prayers and your support were vital to what we have been able to do here for Jesus. When we were tired or discouraged or homesick we could feel the strength of your prayers helping us make it through. I was thinking about what all God allowed us to be a part of while we were here. I was able to treat and encourage and bless hundreds of patients during our time here—in the clinic, on daily rounds, in the theatre (OR). I was able to relieve overworked long-term missionary surgeons, giving them a much needed break to recuperate from the hectic pace of this busy hospital and ministry. We were able to help a Rwandan refugee and widow with 6 children—by fencing her shamba (small farm), placing secure windows and doors...
Just Another Face

Just Another Face

I have probably treated hundreds of patients during the last 3 months here at Tenwek mission hospital. Sometimes our patients come to us through the outpatient clinics or through a referral from another hospital or often through the casualty. It seems the patients often come in large numbers, all at once. In just one busy night here at Tenwek we admitted fourteen patients to the surgery service alone. And the patients that come to us are usually very sick, or badly injured or burned or have advanced diseases. It’s not unusual to spend hours at night or on weekends operating on the endless emergencies that need surgery. Quite honestly, sometimes the patients come in at such a frenetic pace they become just a blur in the constant activity of trying to do what you can to help them. And try as you may, it is often hard to put a face with a name with a specific disease being treated or operation that has been done for them. But then there are patients that come to you…and something about their story, or something about their situation, or something about their illness causes you to never forget them. Names and faces like Benta and Jackie and Brenda and Tidcus. Names and faces that, for some reason I will never forget. One such patient presented to us not long ago. His name is Kipkurui and he is fourteen years old. He is from a small village called Konoin tucked into the mountainside two hours from here. He presented to us because he couldn’t eat…when he tried he would vomit. This has...
Kitoben Orphanage

Kitoben Orphanage

We went to visit a new orphanage this week, Kitoben, which is not far from the hospital to assess the needs and see how God might use us there. There are 60 children at Kitoben, 40 of which are in school. One woman and her family run Kitoben and she uses mostly her own resources (she works at Tenwek Hospital as a clerk) to feed, clothe and educate the children. These are just a few pictures from our visit. We were able to give them soccer balls for the older kids, pray with the family caring for the children and bless them with some financial resources. We hope to continue building a relationship with Kitoben as they care for the orphans in the area. Bosto is an orphanage about an hour from the mission hospital. We have partnered with Bosto before to help them build coops and raise chickens which provide eggs for the children and extra eggs to sell. We have built fencing and purchased a cow for them. A need was presented to us this time for tables and benches to be built for the dining hall so the children won’t have to eat on the floor any longer. We hired a fundi and have transfered the funds through a local missionary who will oversee while we are in the states. The project has been started but is not complete but we hope to get pictures soon to share with...
Soccer Balls and Scriptures

Soccer Balls and Scriptures

Dr. Ralph, a friend of ours who had visited Tenwek previously, sent some soccer balls with us along with pumps and requested that we write scriptures on them before giving them away. So, our children sat down one afternoon and pumped up the balls and wrote scriptures on the balls in Swahili, Kipsigis and English. We have had the privilege of giving them to a few orphanages and some local boys who play around Tenwek. The boys usually roll up bags and trash until they get a good ‘ball’ to kick around so they were thrilled to get a real ball! We hope long after the handwritten message wears off, the gift of love and kindness will remain and remind them that God truly does love them and have a plan for...

A Love Story

We have some very good friends here–James and Faith (names changed). They are both Kenyan, they have been married to each other for several years now and suffice it to say James and Faith are very much “in love”. When they are together, they have that “look” of deep admiration and love and devotion for each other. She waits on him hand and foot, he is always so tender and kind and gentle with her. Interestingly,they married each other despite the fact they were from different tribes—something not always looked upon favorably here. In this culture, one of the things a wife always wants to give her husband is children, despite years of trying, Faith is yet to conceive. In a culture where emotional connection is rarely demonstrated, James goes out of his way to express the love he has for his wife. In a culture where the role of a wife can sometimes be seen as “beneath” her husband or the wife can almost be seen as a “possession”, James uses every opportunity to respect and honor and elevate his wife. Not long ago over lunch Faith began to recount to us how incredibly good and kind and generous James has been to her since their marriage. She related that recently James unexpectedly announced that he had to make a trip to Nairobi for the day. When he returned later in the evening he excitedly told her that he had a gift for her and beckoned her outdoors. Surprised she walked outside to find that James had bought her a brand new car (he had been secretly saving...

The Supporting Cast

It’s been almost three months since we set foot in Africa. This trip has absolutely flown by; I don’t know where all the time went! As this trip comes to an end I can’t help but think back on our time here—all the adventures, all the lives that have been touched and the people who have been healed. We have seen God do some amazing things this trip from the people helped and healed at the hospital through my dad’s surgery to the orphans that we helped my mom care for. As I began to think about our time here, something troubled me and for the longest time I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally, I realized that I was frustrated because of all the great things God has done here, none of them directly involved me. This made me so upset! We are on a mission trip and we are supposed to be making an impact, but as far as I could see, I didn’t do any of it. My mom organized all the care for the orphans while my dad worked hard in the hospital all day. People were being touched and lives were being changed, but it didn’t seem like I was a part of it. Sure, I went to the orphanages and sometimes helped out in the hospital but I didn’t think this added up to much. I selfishly thought to myself, “Good grief! I’m on a mission trip and when we get home people are going to bombard me with questions about the projects we were a part of and I’ll have nothing...

How Does He Do It?

Not long ago we were traveling from Nairobi to Tenwek mission hospital. The trip takes almost four hours, so about half way we take a break to stretch our legs, refuel and grab something to drink. I had a Coke light in my hand and was enjoying the absolute breathtaking scenery of the Rift Valley. You could see for miles–beautiful Acacia trees, grasslands, an occasional Masaii herding his cattle and goats. I was simply soaking in the beauty of God’s creation and reflecting on how good He has been to me, when a massive bus (the size of our Greyhound buses) pulled RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME totally blocking my view. This was slightly aggravating, but when I began to study the bus, to my surprise there were several bigger-than-life-size pictures of my brother plastered all over the side of this bus. His gaze was prayerfully towards the heavens, his hands clasped together in an angelic pose. As I reflect on this event, I began to ponder this question: he is 9000 miles away, he knows exactly when I’m stopped at a petrol station and he somehow arranges to have this bus interrupt my personal meditaions and obstruct my view with four of his pictures. Here’s my question: how does he do it? It’s one thing to poke fun at me in front of a national and international audience, but the complex logistics of this particular prank are still beyond...

The Baby Center

This past week I went to Nakuru to drop off “my babies” at the African Gospel Church Baby Center. I must admit it was one of the most difficult days I have had on the mission field- ever. I have had a lump in my throat and empty place in my heart since but because so many of you encouraged me, prayed for the triplets and asked about their future, I wanted to let you know where ‘our’ babies have gone. It was very hard to let them go after weeks of investing my time, my energy and my love. I had grown very attached, and like any mother knew each of their little individual cries. I could not only tell their cries from one another but could distinguish between the hunger cry and the sleepy whimper from the dirty diaper scream. I had figured out that Ben was too big to be next to Lydia but Caleb loved the comfort of his big brother next to him. I felt like I knew them intimately as my own children. While the challenges of triplets were new to me, the instincts of mothering, loving and nurturing little babies were not. Every parent, whether natural or not, knows the depths of the love you feel for your children. I am reminded that if I loved them that much and grew to know them that well, how much more deeply He must love and care for us. If we love with an imperfect human love-what love He lavishes on us as a perfect Heavenly Father. They were ‘fostered’ into my family for...

Olfactory Memories

Scientists tell us that smells and scents can trigger powerful memories. I know this is especially true for me—smells bring back such vivid, “full color” pictures in my mind. When I smell the cologne that my dad wore, it is as if I can see his face, hear his voice and feel his embrace. I still have my grandfather’s shaving brush, when I put the bristles next to my face, I can still see myself as a little 6 year old boy, intently watching him mix the shaving cream, lather up and shave at the sink and mirror in his tiny work shed. My grandmother’s home was a combination of the most pleasant smells you could imagine—pies baking in the oven, beans boiling on the stove, coffee gently percolating. One of my favorites though is the smell of a hospital—something about that clean, distinct aroma speaks deeply to the calling I have as a physician. I love the smell of our cows in the back pasture and the smell of horses when they have been sweating, when you take off their saddles and the smell of fresh hay in our barn. Johnson’s baby powder will always bring back precious memories of tenderly holding the five little babies that God blessed me with. I love the smell of the people here in rural Kenya—the smell of the outdoors and charcoal fires and hard work and the animals they tend to. I love one particular kind of soap that we use here in Africa—Imperial Leather. I take some home with me when I return to the U.S.—when I wash my face,...
It’s Different when you Hold Them

It’s Different when you Hold Them

Most of you know that we have been taking care of 6-week old orphaned triplets for the last 3 weeks. I so look forward to coming home and holding them and feeding them and helping put them to bed. Jenn gets up many times during the night to feed them but occasionally when one (or more!) is stirring or crying early in the morning I pick him (her) up and hold him (her). The other morning, long before daylight, I heard little Caleb crying so I picked him up and brought him to bed with us and held him in the darkness as I drank my coffee. Even though he had been crying pretty hard, when I picked him up and held him close he immediately became so calm and quiet and still. I thought he was asleep so I took my alarm clock and pressed the little button that activiates the light to let you see the time and in the soft green, barely perceptible glow of the light I saw two little eyes, wide open looking up at me. Somehow in that moment something shifted inside me. For many years we have cared about orphaned children, we have prayed for them, we have supported them montlhly, we have sent them clothes, we have befriended and help build and resource orphanages…but as I held little Caleb in the darkness of night and saw those little eyes wide open looking at me–what once was somehow just a “concept” of caring for orphans became very much a reality that will forever be a part of my heart. I am so...

A Visit to Pokot

For the last couple of years my friend Dr. Zach and I have dreamed about a time when we could make a trip to northern Kenya where the Pokot tribe lives. Dr. Zach is from the Pokot tribe and God has placed a burden in his heart to return to his people, provide medical care to them and share with them the good news of the Gospel. He wanted to introduce me to his family and we wanted to explore areas where we could come with short-term missions teams. This weekend that dream became a reality as Dr. Zach and I loaded up our gear in his four wheel drive Land Rover and set off from Tenwek mission hospital to explore the territory seven hours north. Our route took us through Kericho, Ahero, past the Nandi hills to Kapsabet and then Kitale. In Kitale we had a brief lunch and then were off to Eldoret, Soy, Kipsain and then Kapenguria. Kapenguria a small town on the southern edge of the country of the Pokot tribe. We visited the government hospital in Kapenguria where many of the Pokot people come for medical care. We then traveled north where the terrain changed from the lush highlands similar to the area around Tenwek hospital to a dry, hot desert climate. This area has had very little rainfall this year, the crops are failing and severe shortages of food are expected later this year. What struck me though, was the fact that there were virtually no vehicles on this remote road heading north. We stopped at the Ortum Catholic Mission hospital—a 100 bed...

Kenyan Law

Many people have been asking if we are adopting the children we are caring for in Kenya. While we are open to God’s leading, it is not possible for us to adopt them. Kenyan law says that you must live in Kenya and be citizens to adopt. So we will continue to care for them and love on them as we all continue to pray that Caleb, Lydia and Benjamin will be adopted quickly by a Godly, Kenyan...
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