Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire, Levi, Josie and baby Jane

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Essence of Christmas: Visit to Mosop Orphanage












(Photography by Jeremiah Galat, 24 December 2008)
On Christmas Eve, Heather and the kids went to visit the children at one of three orphanages supported by the ministry of Tenwek Hospital. Jeremiah, at first, was not excited to go, thinking that staying at home and playing with friends would be much more enjoyable. However, the experience had quite an impact on all our kids, mostly because of the way they were treated as visitors to the orphanage: being greeted with a program, songs, bananas, oranges, mangos, hard-boiled eggs, chai, and unlimited soda. Heather mentioned how humbling it was to be given so much by those who had so little. Later that evening, our family watched “The Nativity Story” on our surround sound home theater system (our laptop, with Sam’s Club Bose speakers), celebrating the birth of Christ. Amazing how the King of the Universe humbled himself to be born as a helpless baby in a stable. And the baby’s visitors, the wisest of the wise (Magi) and the lowliest of the low (the shepherds) demonstrate the fact that Christ is for all people who realize that on their own, if left to ourselves, and by our own means, all is hopeless. More paradox…

1 Cor 1:27-31 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Images from Tenwek


As an astute orthopod, and by the look of his eyewear, I could tell my patient needed a stat ophthalmology consult. He saw Dr. Ben Roberts and had a cataract removed the next day. I thank God for these little bright spots in a long clinic day!

Beautiful Emma decorating Christmas cookies! Our yearly family tradition.



Jeremiah found this baby chameleon at the hospital and feeds it a daily ration of flies.



Becoming Less…

The young woman with “jumped facets” was placed in a “halo” with hopes that her cervical spine would be stable enough to allow healing over the next few months. However, as I read from my orthopedic textbooks, the recurrence of dislocation is approximately 50% even with a halo in place; and should that happen, the proper treatment is a spinal fusion. As a young, inexperienced surgeon with NO plans for spine surgery anywhere in the near future, my worst fears were confirmed on follow-up x-rays of her cervical spine. “Well, I’ve done all I can by putting her in a halo,” I thought to myself. “I’ll just have to refer her to a spine surgeon in Nairobi.” Thinking that I had devised a good, safe “out” (for myself), I ran my plan by Dr. Russ White, chief of surgery. “That’s fine,” he said, “but without money, no surgeon from Nairobi would ever agree to see her…you’ll just have to do the surgery yourself.” Easy words coming from a seasoned missionary general surgeon known to do everything (even some orthopedic spine surgery). “What are you doing tomorrow?” I asked calmly (on the outside) but with a certain amount of desperation (on the inside). Thankfully Russ was available in the afternoon.

In the US, prior to a surgical fusion for jumped facets, an MRI would be obtained (to evaluate for a herniated disc, which if present, could paralyze the patient). Additionally, spinal cord monitoring would be used during surgery to alert the surgeon of an impending spinal cord injury. Of course, neither are available in a rural Kenyan hospital. Surgery on patients with a spinal cord injury is usually less stressful (strangely comforting to a surgeon with the knowledge that neurologically, you cannot make the patient worse). However, our patient never had any neurological injury, and without a prior MRI or spinal cord monitoring, I kept praying during surgery, “God, let her remain that way.” Thankfully, the surgery went well, and despite our lack of technology, and my lack of experience, the patient awoke from anesthesia moving all four limbs and feeling every touch.

It is amazing how God desires to push us all beyond the edge of our abilities. When we get to the end of what we have to offer, to the end of our experience, our education, our means, our talents and gifts, to the very end of ourselves, the only thing that remains is God. Oddly, according to scripture, this is God’s design, so that Jesus Christ is glorified and His Kingdom is advanced. As John the Baptist replied to those taunting him that Jesus was drawing greater crowds and baptizing more people: "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven….He must become greater; I must become less.” And as Jesus replied to his disciples who were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest: "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." Dependence on God, serving rather than being served, becoming nothing so that He can become everything, this is the paradoxical design for all our lives. May our eyes be opened this Christmas season to the inexpressible treasure of Jesus Christ and the true joy that can only be found when He is more, and we are less.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day in the Life…



Wednesdays are “clinic day” for the orthopedic department, the one day of the week where surgeries are not routinely scheduled and patients arrive from all over this small part of the world to have their orthopedic issues evaluated. I liken clinic day to Forrest Gump’s proverbial “box of chocolates”…you never know what you’re gonna get. Could it be a draining fistula?...A two month old fracture-dislocation?...An open fracture that’s been festering for the past five days?”

Last Wednesday was extra-special. The “box of chocolates” motif also applies to orthopedic admissions from Casualty (the Emergency Department) from the night before. As of yet, there is no set protocol for the residents to follow regarding orthopedic trauma patients (which I remedied today), specifically regarding when Dr. Galat should be paged. I had hoped, in vain, to do a surgery or two before clinic in order to catch up on the back-log of cases, but when I arrived in the orthopedic ward at 6:30am, I was greeted by three new patients with the most incredible montage of trauma: (1) a female with a cervical spine fracture, a “unilateral jumped facet,” and lumbar spine fractures, (2) a 17 year old boy with a midshaft femur fracture, and (3) a poor young lady with bilateral tibia fractures, one side open (where the bone breaks through the skin), and an open elbow fracture (that thankfully at least had been washed in the operating room the night before). For those without ortho training, let’s just say these are all bad things.

I took a deep breath, cancelled our pre-clinic surgeries, and excused myself to run home for a quick refresher course on the proper treatment of “jumped facets.” This involved screwing tongs into the patient’s skull and using 20 pounds of traction to realign the spine the way God intended. Speaking of which, I (again) was praying the entire time, as I have never seen or done this myself. Thankfully, God intervened yet again, and x-rays after the patient was in traction for 30 minutes revealed perfect alignment of the spine.

Plans were made to operate on the young lady with the open fractures after clinic (I estimated at least 5 hours for the case). But it became apparent that this would not happen after I saw the massive crowds of people already lining up to be seen in the ortho clinic. Solomon (a Kenyan superstar physical therapist/functioning non-operative orthopedist) and I saw close to 90 patients and wrapped up our day at 8pm. By this time, the operating theater day staff was long-gone, having to walk home (sometimes miles) before it gets dark. The “on-call” staff is only available for “true emergencies,” such as perforated colons, not open fractures that have already been washed out. Truthfully, I was somewhat relieved because I was exhausted. I went home and collapsed into bed. The following day, I fixed all her fractures (and another one I found while she was in surgery), fixed the boys femur fracture, and did a few other cases.

Please continue to pray for our family and for our patients here. Because of the sheer volume of trauma cases, the back-log continues to grow. So far, I have 8 cases scheduled for Monday, and the weekend is still young. And, if you are an orthopedic surgeon with an interest in trauma and desire for some excitement, you are welcome to visit! Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More images from Tenwek

Levi playing "Lion" scaring the Kenyan children.

Jeremiah finds another prize catch!

Heather getting to know some Kenyan children.

Jeremiah is becoming quite the photographer!



Unless the Lord Builds the House: Homeschooling, Flaps and Cut Tendons


As part of Tenwek Christmas tradition, the kids all gather together to make gingerbread houses in one huge event. Fueled by excess sugar and unbridled creativity, Emma, Claire and their new friend Mercy created a masterpiece that unfortunately crumbled into a pile of rubble by the time I arrived home from the hospital. “That gingerbread house symbolizes how we feel right now!” said Heather.

Heather and I were both struck square in the face by the words of Psalm 127 last week: “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” We realize that unless our sovereign LORD intervenes in the work we are called to here at Tenwek, that our labor will be in useless. Moreover, unless all we do is infused with love for other people, all our efforts and good intentions are meaningless. “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1Cor. 13:3)”

Heather’s work here is primarily homeschooling, and she is doing an outstanding job, trusting the LORD to build, provide, and enlighten….all a direct result of your prayers, so please continue! There are a myriad of other opportunities for ministry, especially to orphans, that she is also beginning to explore.

For me, I am reminded daily of my dependence on the LORD in every way for every case. In two weeks time, I have done 32 cases, many complex, that I would never have attempted without God’s direction and wisdom. But since I am the only orthopedic surgeon here, who else will do it?! During my training at Mayo, whenever a patient had a soft tissue defect in the leg after an open tibia fracture that needed to be covered, we would call the plastic surgeons to isolate and swing a piece of muscle tissue (called a “flap”) over the defect. Just last week, I thought to myself, “It would be so valuable to have a plastic surgeon visit Tenwek and show me how to do a flap…I will likely need to know how to do that some day.” Well, that day came last Friday, perhaps a little earlier than I had hoped, aided not by a visiting plastic surgeon, but by prayer and a few good textbooks…so far so good.

Another patient had a small laceration over the undersurface of her thumb and was unable to flex the distal joint, signifying a tendon laceration. I knew that the hardest part of repairing the tendon is first finding the cut ends. This sometimes requires a large dissection, and I am not a fellowship-trained hand surgeon! I took her to the operating room and enlarged the laceration a bit to get a better view. I found the distal end easily, but the proximal end was nowhere to be found, retracted far proximal into the palm of the hand. At this point, a tendon grasper would have been helpful, but Tenwek unfortunately does not have one. So for several frustrating minutes, I blindly (but gently) tried to “fish” it out with forceps and hemostats (not ideal instruments)…no luck. I was dreading the next step. Just then, a visiting minister from Alabama who enjoys watching surgery entered the room. “What are you doing?” he asked. “Trying in vain to find this cut tendon,” I said. “Well then, let’s pray!” said Earl. He offered a simple prayer that God would allow me to find this tendon. Right after he finished, I (again) blindly stuck the forceps about 2 inches down the sheath. But this time, I felt something, and no kidding, I pulled out the tendon! After this, the repair was easy.

Again, unless the LORD builds the house, unless he provides wisdom, and unity in the orthopedic department, and love for our patients, and all the necessary equipment and supplies, our work at Tenwek will be in vain. After all, this is His work. But dependence on God, no matter who we are, where we live, or what we do, is such a good place to be. God is the master builder, and although the process can be painful, and will require faith that seems impossible, the end result will be perfect. Let the LORD build your house. Thank you for all your prayers and support!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Images from Tenwek

20 year old with leg mass...a malignancy know as adamantinoma.




Pediatric wards at Tenwek.

Our temporary house, where we will stay until next summer (when the family that normally lives here comes back from furlough).

Playing with friends and the turtles in the back yard.



Sunday, November 30, 2008

Life at Tenwek

Having finished our first full week at Tenwek Hospital, we are thankful, and a little tired. We have been so busy setting up, starting homeschooling, and working at the hospital that we totally forgot Thanksgiving Day on Thursday (not a Kenyan holiday). But the tradition here is to celebrate on the Saturday after, so yesterday, all the American families gathered for a full Thanksgiving dinner! The kids seem to be adjusting to our new Kenyan/Tenwek culture. There are many other American children here, and thankfully, the kids all have at least one friend.

Being a few degrees south of the equator, but at an elevation of 6800 feet, the temperatures are perfect, and the sun rises and sets every day at the same time, 6:30 am and 6:30 pm. This is the “hot time of year,” according to the Kenyans (summer time, or the “short rain” season, where it rains a little almost every day in the afternoon). It is difficult to explain that a high of 80 degrees is perfect, compared with the scorching summer heat of Phoenix.

The work at the hospital has been challenging, in terms of volume and pathology. Debilitating bone infections are very common here, some of which have been going on for years…I find myself constantly praying for wisdom for proper management decisions. On Friday, a young 20 year old man came to see me with a large mass on his right leg. He had it biopsied last year and it was found to be a very rare malignancy, one I had never seen before, even at the Mayo Clinic. In my first week, I did 18 cases, and I discovered that the orthopedic supplies are running at a critical low, especially plates and screws.

Please continue to pray for us in our adjustment here:
• Pray that God continues to provide wisdom for Heather with homeschooling, and for me at the hospital.
• Please pray that God provides all the necessary supplies for a fully functioning orthopedic department.
• Pray that God would move people, hospitals and companies to donate finances and supplies for the work here.
• Also, your continued prayer for our physical, emotional, mental, and especially spiritual health is so cornerstone.


Thank you for your support…we appreciate you so much!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting Settled…

On Saturday, after spending two days in Nairobi and buying enough groceries to last for the next two months, we made the 3-1/2 hour trek to Tenwek. The road was much improved since we were last here in 2006, allowing our driver to make good time, Kenyan style. We arrived in the late afternoon, and were greeted by several families living here…Claire and Emma made instant friendships with a little girl named Ingrid.

Being away from surgery for the last few months, I have been very anxious to get started. Of course, “be careful what you wish for.” After church on Sunday AM, I had a tour of the hospital and began to get acquainted with the Kenyan staff and patients, 25 on the service list when I arrived, some two to a bed. I quickly learned the damage that can be done by a “panga,” a large double edged machete.

Since I am supposed to be easing into my schedule here, I have only done 5 cases in the last two days. There are the typical cases you would see in the states (fractures, etc), but also some “atypical.” For instance, today I operated on a man that had a femur fracture three years ago that was never fixed, and thus never healed. So I cut out the non-healed portion of bone, brought the ends together, fixed them with a special plate and screws, and grafted the area with bone from his pelvis. There are also sad cases that should never happen, no matter where you practice. Today, I saw a 4 year old boy who had a simple wrist fracture that his grandpa thought would be best treated by tightly wrapping with a piece of cow leather. His hand was completely dead…tomorrow he will get an amputation.

Please continue to pray for our children. Claire and Emma have been especially sensitive to all the new sights, sounds and smells. In Nairobi, we went a butcher shop, and this must have really affected Claire…two nights ago, I was awoken by soft crying from the girl’s room. When I went to find out what was wrong, she told me she had a dream that she found two baby bunnies, but mom took them from her, and butchered and cooked them. Poor thing!

Although it has only been a few days, we feel so privileged and thankful to God to be here. Thank you for all your prayers and support…we appreciate you so much.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We have arrived!

After 25 hours of travel time, little sleep, and only one small mishap (a glass of water falling on Levi’s face while he was asleep) we arrived safely in Nairobi last evening! Thank God, there were absolutely no issues or problems with the logistics of the travel, aside from the fact that when we initially checked in at NWA in Phoenix, they were not going to issue our boarding passes because we did not have return flights (Kenyan visas are issued at the Nairobi airport and are only good for three months). But one quick call to Samaritan’s Purse, a subsequent fax, and all was well. We checked 23 items (20 “Action Packers”, 2 duffle bags, and 1 box) filled with homeschooling supplies, orthopedic equipment, household items, etc. totaling 1390 lbs! They ALL arrived in Nairobi and in good condition (at least on the outside). I was a little concerned, because as we were boarding our initial flight in Phoenix, I looked out the window to see the baggage handlers tossing the action packers upside-down on the loading belt. Oh well…

Dr. Russ White, the chief surgeon at Tenwek, kindly met us at the airport, along with his two boys, two Samaritan’s Purse staff and three trucks to haul our stuff (so embarrassing as Americans – why do we have so much “stuff”). We stayed the night at the Mennonite Guest House in Nairobi, and today has involved shopping for groceries with Russ’s wife Beth, buying a SIM card for my Palm Treo, and grabbing a quick latte at The Java House (Kenyan equivalent of Starbucks). The Whites have been such a blessing to us since the beginning...I could not imagine trying to handle all of this without their help. The kids have been playing all day outside in the warm sunshine, meeting new friends. Jeremiah just came in the room after trying to catch skinks all morning and said, “Dad, I love Kenya.” He is in his element. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we head for Tenwek.
Thank you for your prayers during this journey…we remain so dependent upon God’s mercy and grace. Please continue to pray for us now while we get settled in, set up the house, get into a routine, and as I start surgery. We appreciate you all so much!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Letting go...(part 2)
















Letting go…



Claire has had an extremely loose front tooth which she has been pampering for the last two months. She would not let anyone even come near it, including the master tooth puller, Grandma Galat. “I’m the boss of my own tooth,” she told me in her trademark raspy voice. With all our transition, and with emotions running high, as a sensitive dad, I figured it was best to just “let it be. Eventually, it would just fall out on its own,” I reasoned. However, this last week, I had had enough. It was pointing almost 90 degrees straight forward, and was starting to turn grey. So I turned up the heat a bit, bribing her, like a good conscientious dad, with candy, and money. No dice.

So then I gave her the ultimatum: she had five minutes to pull it herself or the “tooth fairy” was going to do it himself (in our family, it is actually believed that the tooth fairy is a male??). She insisted she did not need anyone’s help, so she went into the bathroom alone, determined to get the job done. A few minutes later, she dejectedly emerged of the bathroom, ashen and sweaty, and mumbled something about feeling faint. I told her to let daddy take a look, and it was literally hanging by a thread. I rallied behind her, and encouraged her to simply grab it with a Kleenex. She did so, and, without her even knowing, the tooth was finally extracted. Once she realized the job was done, she burst out with joy and laughter, relieved, and perhaps surprised at how easy it was. “That wasn’t so bad!” she exclaimed.

How true that our nature is to say, “I am the boss of my own life.” Our sin and pride deceives us into thinking that we are the master of our own destiny, and that we must provide for ourselves. “If we don’t, who will?” The lure of security drives us to hold on to temporal things that seem so precious, and that would feel so tragic to lose. But reality is that we have a sovereign creator who lovingly drives the ship of our lives, who promises to give us what we need (not necessarily what we want). And our attempts to provide for ourselves are broken, counterfeit, poor substitutes. We just need to let go, and trust that what God has for us is so much better than anything we could incompletely provide for ourselves. And perhaps, like Claire, we too will realize our fears may have been unreasonable, and be surprised and relieved by joy.

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” Matt. 13:44

We are now on the home stretch, leaving in two short days. The packing is complete: 20 Rubbermaid “Action Packers” and 2 duffle bags, each packed precisely to airline standards (or so I hope). Please keep us in your prayers for "traveling mercy." Soon, according to MTI, we will enter the CHAOS stage of transition (so looking forward to this!)

N.B. Claire’s neighboring tooth is now ripe for pulling. However, she told me today she is in charge of that tooth as well. Learning to let go is a process for us all! Thank you for your prayers and support!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Paradox











Our whirlwind mini-tour of the U.S. complete, we have finally arrived back in Phoenix, and now have only six days and seven nights left before our journey truly begins. We spent three weeks at Mission Training International in Colorado learning many valuable lessons in conflict management and resolution (Heather is a “shark” and I am an “owl”), perseverance through various trials (i.e. rotovirus), and the greatest tool for evangelism and discipleship (i.e. the love and respect we demonstrate in our immediate family is the strongest Christian witness to those around us…our family is a work in progress on this one).

Jeremiah was particularly ornery the first week, but then discovered that digging in a dirt pile near the train tracks and looking for stray hunks of coal was much more satisfying than tormenting his sisters. The girls provided their usual, yet so enjoyable, drama, and Levi was…Levi. The kids learned much from “Uncle Dave” and “Aunt Sandy” (their teachers). Perhaps most significantly, they learned that it is normal and expected to have paradoxical feelings about our call to Kenya…on the one hand excited to experience this new and raw adventure… on the other hand, sad to leave the things that have provided the most comfort, familiarity, and stability. The adults explored these concepts as well, and even had a day devoted to grief and loss. Rich subjects for an orthopedic surgeon accustomed to stuffing emotions for the past 5 years of training.

While we were in Ohio in September, our nephew Alex was engaged to be married to a beautiful young lady, Sarah. They planned the wedding the weekend after MTI (and prior to our departure for Kenya), just so our family could come. To seal the deal, they invited Emma and Claire to be the flower girls. Thus, last Friday, we drove from Colorado Springs to Denver, caught a flight to Ohio, and just barely made the rehearsal that evening. The busyness and stress of getting there quickly dissipated, however, as I saw Alex and Sarah’s joy, and the sight of my two beautiful little girls, who looked (and I’m sure felt) as if they were princesses in a fairy tale. As for us, it was a bittersweet time...a paradox…the deep joy of witnessing a young couple’s union and seeing family, mixed with the sorrow of having to say “goodbye” yet again.

Life is a paradox. However, learning to live in, and embrace, the tension of conflicting emotions is a step toward a greater maturity. The paradox can produce bitterness and disillusionment…or…it can create in us a longing for the one true place our souls find rest. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

Thank you again for your prayers! Please continue to pray for our children as they say their goodbyes over the next few days, and that they would find their hope in Jesus. Please pray for Heather as she finishes packing, and that her goodbyes would be deep and satisfying. Pray that our family is united in love for the glory of God’s kingdom. And pray that God would fill us with wisdom for every facet of this journey, and for safety along the way.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Practicum on Romans 8:28

Two weeks down and one week to go here at MTI. Levi’s “flu” slowly worked its evil way through our family, striking Heather on Monday night. That same night, my Dell laptop computer screen died, cut short in its prime after only two years of faithful service. I could barely see the Windows logo through the black screen. The following night, determined to solve this very unfortunate problem, I called the dreaded Dell “support line.” After two hours on the phone with “Michael,” a very nice young man from somewhere in India, straining to understand his instructions for trouble-shooting my system, we finally decided what I astutely knew all along: my LCD screen was broken.

The following day, Emma and I fell prey to the flu. I don’t recall being that sick since getting food poisoning after eating a bad shrimp dish on our 5th wedding anniversary. While laying in bed, struggling to understand God’s purposes in all this, I was reminded of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” If we truly believe that God is sovereign, then do we believe that whatever happens, whether good or bad, has a purpose? At times, the purpose may be clear; more often than not, it is veiled from our understanding, left to the hidden things of God. What if our family getting sick now is a blessing? Wouldn’t it be better here at MTI than the week before we leave for Kenya (or worse yet, while on the journey over)? And would I rather of had my computer troubles start shortly after arriving in Kenya?

Thankfully, two years ago when I bought the laptop, I also purchased the in-home warranty, and Michael made arrangements for a local Dell technician to come here to MTI to replace my screen. Two days later, I was greeted by a man who introduced himself as “my private geek,” and in a few short hours, my computer was running perfectly again, tuned and ready to go for Kenya. And the flu? The plague ran its course, cut short after Heather declared war and unleashed an entire industrial size can of Lysol on our rooms.

Tougher times are most likely on the horizon for all of us. But God never promised to shield us from trials, even trivial ones like ours. In fact, they are his instruments for our discipline, character and maturity, creating in us a hope, a longing for things eternal rather than things temporal. Although painful, can we rest in his sovereignty and his promises?

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Pet. 5:10.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Five Loaves and Two Fish: Giving what we have to God

A sweet new friend for Emma and Claire!
Note Pike's Peak in the Background.

From Wolf Creek Pass facing West. The San Juan river snakes in the valley.



Lone waterfall...



The Aspens of Colorado.


Driving through Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado on the way to Mission Training International (MTI) offered another perspective on fall in North America. While the colors in North Carolina were varied and crisp, the Aspens of Colorado were constant and blurred within the evergreens, and equally incredible…gold speckled within dark green.

Unfortunately, I also saw two other colors in my rear-view mirror (blue and red) while trying to pass a slower vehicle on the mountain pass. However, the “slower” vehicle was already going 63 (in a 60 mph zone), and I learned something new…if you pass a vehicle it must be at or below the speed limit. Yet another opportunity to discuss with my children crime, punishment and the Grace of God (Claire was wondering if I was going to jail).

We are currently at MTI near Colorado Springs, undergoing a three week intensive training in missions. Subjects vary from handling interpersonal conflict (the number one cause of premature departure from the field), to proper stress management in a cross-cultural setting. The kids have class as well, learning the same subject material but in a kid-friendly format. Levi, unfortunately, vomited on the floor of the adult classroom during corporate praise and worship (while I was holding him), thus he was banished to our room, quarantined until no sign of sickness remained. Heather and I took turns missing class to care for Levi, which consisted primarily of maintaining a good supply of DVDs and Gatorade. As such, this allowed more quantity of time to digest the course material which, by nature, requires a certain amount of introspection.

Today, I was meditating on the fact that in 3-1/2 weeks, I will be the only orthopedic surgeon for 1.2 million people, on-call 24/7, having limited supplies and heavy patient volume with challenging pathology, fresh out of residency with minimal experience in orthopedic surgery in a third world setting. The question arises, “What on earth are we doing!?” As these facts threatened to overwhelm me, I wrestled with God, asking for skill and wisdom and perseverance and grace. The anxiety began to dissipate as I was reminded of the miracle of the five loaves and two fish. Here, Jesus took something basic and minimal (yet) from someone willing and available, and multiplied it to positively impact a multitude of people.

What are your five loaves and two fish? What talents and gifts has God given you for the sake of others? We give what we have been given back to God and trust Him to multiply it for his Kingdom, for his sake, for his glory.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor. 4:7

Would you please continue to pray for our family? Your partnership with us in prayer is essential and we are so dependent upon you in this way! Equally, we would like to pray for you, so please let us know your needs.

Please pray:
(1) Wisdom and grace for Heather and me as we finish packing when we return to Phoenix in mid November.
(2) Our kids that they would transition smoothly to a new culture, that they would not fear, and that they would, with excitement, anticipate their calling to Kenya.
(3) That God would give me divine wisdom in the practice of orthopedic surgery in Kenya.
(4) That our family would be knit together in unity, that we would all truly love and forgive each another, and thus demonstrate the love of Christ to those around us.

Thank you!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fall in North Carolina at the Peak of Color






Ball Python for Sale: Counting the Cost of Discipleship


Email dated Friday, October 17, 2008:
Hey dad, i know this sounds crazy but i feel like i should sell butch. i do not want to put the burden on grandma and grandpa, so i am thinking of selling him to a school. please pray for me to help me make a decision about this this is very hard for me, but i feel like God is telling me to do this.

Thanks, jeremiah


For the past week, Heather and I have been in the high country of North Carolina for the Prescription for Renewal Conference in Ashville (at the Billy Graham Training Center) and for orientation with Samaritan’s Purse in Boone (home of Appalachian State University). Warm days and cool, crisp evenings, along with the most amazing display of fall color made this time unforgettable. Our drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway was spectacular…the splendor of God’s creation. Several missionary families from Tenwek were at the Conference, allowing us to begin building friendships and ask a myriad of questions.

Samaritan’s Purse, well known for Operation Christmas Child (shoeboxes) and Franklin Graham, is a solid relief and mercy organization, with a clear vision for responding to worldwide needs in the name of Christ. Their medical arm, World Medical Mission (WMM), facilitates short-term placement of physicians in understaffed missions hospitals around the world. The Post-Residency Program (a division of WMM) places recently graduated residents for two years in mission hospitals in order to propel them into a hopeful lifelong career in medical missions. We are grateful to be a part of this program and under the leadership of Samaritan’s Purse; such an amazing, godly organization.

While we were in North Carolina, Jeremiah, Emma, Claire and Levi remained with Heather’s parents in Phoenix (thank you!). Grandma and Grandpa Kinkel became Mom and Dad for the week…homeschooling, feeding, bathing, mediating, etc. We are so thankful for their partnership with us on this journey to Kenya… they have made many sacrifices for our sake. For instance, Butch, our family pet, a five-foot ball python we have had for close to seven years, has been living in Grandma’s laundry room. Let me assure you, Grandma does not like snakes.

One of the big questions we have all had, including Grandma and especially Jeremiah, has been, “What are we going to do with Butch while we are gone for these two years?” Jeremiah’s thoughts have ranged from smuggling him into Kenya (“after all, Butch is native to Africa”) to having Grandpa watch him while we are gone. Butch was a gift to Jeremiah for his 5th birthday, and has provided a considerable amount of excitement for our entire family (especially, on those “rare” occasions, when Jeremiah has forgotten to secure the lid to his cage. For other good Butch stories ask the Zeldenrust’s, Moeckly’s or the Holte’s). Needless to say, our kids really do love Butch, and the thought of life without him is difficult.

The decision to follow Christ and become His disciple requires that we all “count the cost.” Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As adults (although individually called and chosen by God to follow Christ), we are able to consciously weigh these costs and either say “yes” or “no” to God. Our kids, on the other hand, did not have a “choice” in going to Kenya (although Claire has informed us she is staying with Grandma). So my prayer has been that they sense their own call to missions; that they would understand that because God has sovereignly brought them into our family, they are chosen to be missionaries as well; and that along with this calling, comes a degree of sacrifice.

For Jeremiah, one sacrifice is having to say goodbye to Butch, his long-time pal (he already said goodbye to Frank and Rosie, his red-eared sliders, but that was fairly easy for him). From his email, with maturity that I would not have expected from an 11 year old, I sense that Jeremiah is beginning to “count the cost,” although small to us, large for him. As a father, I have to resist the feelings of guilt, that I am somehow depriving my children of life experiences by taking them to Africa. But I believe that what awaits them is beyond what I can hope or imagine.

Email reply:
I will be praying for you Jeremiah…sometimes when we do what God wants us to do it can be the hard thing. But there are always blessings in being obedient to God. I am proud that you are wanting to listen to God's voice. I love you buddy, Dad

Please pray for Jeremiah, as when we arrived home today from NC, Butch was gone, sold in one day. And pray for our family as we travel to Colorado Springs this Sunday for three weeks of training at MTI (www.MTI.org). November 19 is rapidly approaching! Thank you for ALL your prayers and support.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Project Medsend, Detroit Lakes MN, a Faithful Missionary, and Four Gold Coins

When we received the email from missionary surgeon Dr. RussWhite about the urgent need for an orthopedic surgeon for Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, we responded that we would be willing to go, but that there were some major hurdles that needed to be overcome. Russ, likely out of years of personal experience and faith, very wisely answered, “Dan, if God wants you there, things will fall into place.” Following, as Paul Harvey says, is the rest of the story.

Russ, however, soon became very curious about the specifics of these major hurdles. “Well,” I said hesitating, “I have educational debt. “OK,” Russ said, “is there anything else?” Going deeper, I said, “Yes…I also owe the hospital system in Ohio repayment of a stipend I received over the past year. Since I am now no longer going to be joining them, they understandably want their money back, and it is due by August 1, 2008.” (Early on, Heather and I had decided that we were going to be honest about our situation so that their decisions would be based on the truth.) “Is there anything else?,” Russ said. “That’s about it,” I said, “aside from the fact that we just endured a long 5-year residency, we have four young kids, and we don’t feel worthy to go!”

Project MedSend

Regarding the educational debt, Russ reminded me of the non-profit group Project MedSend, commissioned by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations (CMDA) in the early 1990’s to develop funding to repay educational loans for healthcare workers headed for a career in medical mission under the authority of a recognized mission agency. Since their founding, they have provided over 360 grants to medical missionaries all over the world, several of which are at Tenwek. “Let me make a few phone calls,” Russ said. Amazingly, a day after he sent the original email, Russ and Beth traveled back to the states for a two week stint, thus enabling him to make several phone calls on our behalf, without having to worry about his hospital responsibilities.

Russ called me back later that day. “I spoke with Samaritan’s Purse, and they said ‘no, problem.’ They already know you since they organized your trip in 2006 and they said you could be a part of their post-residency program, which is a two year commitment. So we have the missions agency worked out,” he said. “About Project MedSend, you missed the deadline for the board meeting scheduled for next week. The next meeting after this is not until October,” Russ said. I was discouraged. “However,” he went on, “since our need is so urgent, they agreed to add you on to next week’s agenda if you get your application to them ASAP. That night, I wrote like crazy and gathered all of our financial data, and submitted our application the next day.


Detroit Lakes MN

The next hurdle to overcome was the repayment of the stipend to the hospital system in Ohio, due August 1, 2008. Although smaller in amount than the med school loans, because of the pressing nature of the deadline, it seemed insurmountable. “I have some thoughts on this,” said Russ. “World Gospel Mission, the agency that runs Tenwek, may be able cover the entire amount of the stipend by the deadline of August 1st, with the agreement that you would pay them back at least half before leaving for Kenya. We can deal with the second half at a later time.” That sounded fine, but nearly impossible. I had no clue how I could possibly make that amount before leaving for Kenya. Certainly no orthopedic group practice would hire me if I had plans on leaving in a few months, nor did it seam reasonable to get a job pumping gas at the local Pump n’ Munch (for you Rochester folks).

One day, a Mayo Clinic Consultant, out of the blue suggested, “Dan, why don’t you do orthopedic locum tenens work before leaving for Kenya?” “That sounds great,” I said, “but I wouldn’t have the slightest clue were to begin.” I had heard very little of these jobs in which a physician temporarily fulfills the duties of another. As residents, we received hundreds of recruitment emails monthly, and routinely I would just trash them. However, the last week of my residency career at Mayo, I received a random email from a locum tenens company in Florida advertising an urgent need for an orthopedic surgeon with a Minnesota license for the first two weeks of July. I had a sense that God was up to something, so I gave the recruiter a call. I told him our hopeful plans of going to Kenya soon as medical missionaries. The recruiter said, “Wow, that’s interesting. There is another surgeon who is an orthopedic medical missionary from Kenya who we place on jobs when he is home on furlough.” “Really, what’s his name?” I asked. Amazingly, it was a man Heather and I had met while in Kenya in 2006. We had dinner with him and his wife, and in one evening had a deep connection with them. It was as if God was saying, “Just trust me.” At first I argued with God, “But I had planned to use the first two weeks of July to study for the Boards.” My program director’s words from my exit interview were still ringing in my ears…“You’d better pass your exam!” Again, I heard, “Just trust me.” So I committed to those first two weeks in July. Two days later, the last day of residency, I received word from Project MedSend…they approved the grant for our educational debt!

A Faithful Missionary

So as a newly graduated resident from the Mayo Clinic, I jumped off the cliff, and took my first locums job in Detroit Lakes, MN. A good friend and fellow resident told me, “Dude, you are going to get killed up there, especially over the July 4th weekend.” This added to my anxiety about being in a new environment, as a new graduate, with no consultants to fall back on, in a town the triples in population over the Independence Day holiday, as the only on-call orthopedist, with the most important test of my career coming in about two weeks. But I was filled with peace, and by God’s grace, my patients and I survived. Moreover, I discovered locums work is perfect preparation for missions…and it pays extremely well! Amazingly, by the August 1st deadline, I was able to pay my half of the stipend with this one locum tenens job.

But were did the money from the second half of the stipend come from? Later, Heather and I found out that Russ had volunteered it out of his own White Family Ministry Account. We were both humbled when we saw their faith and amazing generosity, because we experienced, in a very tangible way, what grace is all about. After we found this out, however, we became resolved that we were going to pay this back (with God’s help) before leaving for Kenya. Two locum jobs later, we literally had just enough to pay the second half back to into the White’s account.

Four Gold Coins

Before I wrote that check, I received a phone call from my locums representative. “We have a job for you in Arizona!” he said. “This is perfect,” I thought. “Now I will be able to pay back the second half and have a little financial cushion to fall back on!” God must have heard that because two days later, I got another phone call telling me that the job fell through. I still had to make the payment, as I committed, but now no safety net. “Just trust me,” I kept hearing. A few days later, I remembered that several years ago, my dad, an avid coin collector, had given each of his children some gold coins as an early inheritance. “Keep these for an emergency, and if you ever need to sell them, I will buy them back,” he said. Well, I thought, now is as good a time as any, so I called my dad and he agreed to redeem them back, thus providing again, just enough, until we leave for Kenya.

All these events have strengthened our faith in God, confirmed His calling, and taught us His sovereign ability to provide for all of us, if we would just trust him. My prayer is that our story will encourage you to see Jesus Christ as the greatest treasure you could ever have, that he is able to provide, in all ways, in every need, so far beyond our feeble attempts. I invite you to trust Christ today, and find all the satisfaction your souls could ever desire in Him.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Miracle or Coincidence?: A Gift of Faith for Jeremiah

Since moving to Phoenix, Jeremiah has been a working fiend. In fact, he loves to work, partly because he enjoys physical labor, but likely more so for the end result of his labor…cash. He has quickly discovered that having money means freedom to do and have more “things.” So along with homeschooling, he has been mowing lawns, chopping down trees, organizing sheds, making towel racks, demolishing small structures, cleaning, etc. After saving for some time, he came to Heather and me and said he wanted to use some of his money to fly to Rochester to see some of his friends prior to leaving for Kenya. As a father, I wanted to reward him for all his hard work, so I used some of my miles on Northwest to secure a free ticket. However, he had to pay the fee that Northwest charges for traveling as an unaccompanied minor, and he was agreeable to this.

The day of his departure came, and he very excitedly packed his bag. I took him to the airport, checked him in with the ticket agent, and ushered him through security. Because he was traveling as a minor, he was made to wear a pinkish-colored wrist band identifying him as such, which he was NOT particularly fond of. He was convinced he could travel alone, and now he had to wear a wrist band with pretty patterns and bold lettering for all to see. I was able to go with him directly to the gate, and we sat down together, waiting for him to board the plane. When his name was called over the loudspeaker to come to the gate counter, I figured they were going to allow him to board the airplane early, before everyone else. But as we approached the counter, in perfect airline fashion, without a shred of compassion, the gate agent announced loudly that Jeremiah would not be flying today. Confused, I asked “Why?” “The weather service is predicting thunderstorms in Minneapolis this afternoon and when this occurs, unaccompanied minor ticket reservations are canceled. You’ll need to go back to the ticket counter and rebook his ticket for tomorrow,” she said. I wonder what my face looked like at that time, because in my mind I had this overwhelming sense of absurdity. Firstly, there are thunderstorms predicted every afternoon in the Midwest on warm days. Second, NWA never mentioned random cancellation as a possibility on their website, although it was clear that if a plane was re-routed due to weather, the minor would be provided a hotel, meals etc., and the thought of this was exciting to Jeremiah.

At first, I felt like putting up a fight, but thankfully, my spiritual higher cortex took over, convincing my fleshly emotional limbic system, that a) a fight with an airline employee would be a futile attempt, and b) it would not be a good example to Jeremiah of patience and trust in God. So instead, I turned to Jeremiah, and said, “why don’t you just pray and see what God does.” I must admit, I had my doubts. His eyes were already welled with tears, and he said, rather matter-of-factly, “Dad, I already have.” We made our way back through security to the ticket counter. I wanted to speak directly with the ticket agent who originally checked us in, primarily because the gate agent told me a hold was placed on Jeremiah’s ticket, supposedly preventing check-in, long before we even arrived at the airport. I thought I would try to make her feel a little bad. She saw us approach the counter, and had a rather ashamed look on her face, so I decided (thankfully) to let it go. Jeremiah was mostly concerned that this mishap was cutting into his precious time of freedom and friendship in Rochester. So I asked the lady if she would extend his ticket a day. Happy to have something to offer as penitence, she heartily agreed, and found a return flight a day later and at a much better time than was originally booked.

Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar face. I turned to see a former Mayo Clinic resident I had done a rotation with as an intern, five years ago. We had kept casual contact throughout our residencies, he in anesthesia, and me in orthopedics, and we periodically worked together in the OR. “What are you doing in Phoenix?,” I asked. My wife and I just finished our oral anesthesia boards in Scottsdale and we are flying back to Rochester. At first, I did not make the connection, but the penitent ticket agent said rather excitedly, “you know, if they would agree to travel with Jeremiah, he could fly out today, and you could get a refund on his unaccompanied minor fee!” My friend and his wife had a puzzled look on their faces, but after the agent explained the situation, they both said “sure, no problem. In fact, we can just drive him to wherever he needs to go once we get into Rochester!”

At that moment, we all had a sense that we had just played a part in something that was miraculous. Afterwards, the couple just said, “That was weird.” I was compelled to explain to them that God had just divinely arranged our meeting, and how amazing it was to witness that firsthand. The ticket agent was joyously redeemed from her corporate iniquity as she issued Jeremiah’s refund for the minor fee. Jeremiah just immediately ripped off the wrist band! I then grabbed his face and told him, “Jeremiah, God answered your prayer and gave you a very special gift.” And, I think, possibly for the first time, he believed it for himself. As I drove away from the airport, I was overwhelmed with a sense of awe and gratitude that God would do this for my 11-year old son. For I have been praying that God would build faith in him and all our children, that He would become real to them, and that they would somehow sense their calling to missions. Then God reminded me that he loves Jeremiah far more than I do, and that he is building faith in his life for Christ’s glory. Amazing…as a father, there was no other place I would have rather been that day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Homeschooling, Packing, Ortho Boards...

I always thought it would be challenging to prepare to go overseas as a missionary, but I can honestly say, we really had no clue. And I am actually thankful for that, as ignorance is bliss, and had God laid out too much of the big picture at one time, we would likely have run the other way!

Homeschooling: CHAOS 101

At Tenwek, most of the physician families homeschool their kids, of which there are quite a few. Heather spent numerous hours ordering the material, preparing the lessons, gathering supplies, and gearing up. Since we are not arriving in Kenya until the end of November, and we do not want our kids to fall behind, we started homeschooling here in Phx last Monday…Jeremiah in 6th grade, Emma in 4th, Claire in 2nd and Levi in Kindergarten. Let’s just say that four kids, in four different grade levels is not a one person job! Let me paint a picture for you: Jeremiah in one room doing a Math CD, Emma playing her violin, Claire listening to phonics, and Levi singing at the top of his lungs in the background…all at the same time! Seriously, it is going well, but we would greatly appreciate your prayers for wisdom and strength, especially for Heather, as she assumes this primary responsibility and hones our strategy, and for our children, that they thrive and learn in this environment, both here and when we are in Kenya. Also, we are praying for a teacher to come and help with the schooling of all the children at Tenwek.

Packing: "You want to bring that?!

Between tutoring Emma in math, grocery shopping, playing with Levi, etc., I have been researching our options for getting our essentials to Kenya. Since we are going for two years initially, and will likely be staying in a furnished home or apartment, we will not be packing a container. So, only what we can bring as checked baggage on our flight to Kenya is all that is coming with us! 6 people, and 12 boxes with a maximum weight of 50 lbs and 62 linear inches per box. That seems like a lot, but when you consider home schooling materials, books, orthopedic supplies and text books, clothes for two years, etc. etc., the weight begins to add up. Yesterday, we spent the entire day going through the remaining stuff that we did not sell or give away in Rochester, repacking the items that we will not be bringing to Kenya, and beginning to stockpile the things we will definitely “need.” Of course, one person's need is another person's want (or what Dad may define as a want). For instance, is Jeremiah’s underwater spear gun an essential? Please pray that God gives us physical strength to pack boxes with wisdom and efficiency. We want to have everything packed before we leave for training in three weeks!


Orthopedic Board Exam Results: Pass or Fail

On July 18, 2008, I traveled to Chicago along with 715 other people to take Step One of the National Orthopedic Boards (the written exam). I honestly thought it was one of the hardest exams I had ever taken, and I was seriously wondering if I would even pass. The irony is that this issue of board certification was a major stumbling block for me, and for others who feel a calling to full-time orthopedic mission work directly after residency (see “Our Story” below). Last Thursday, a confidential letter addressed to me from the ABOS arrived. I took it outside, and with my entire family around me, opened the letter. The first line read, “Dear Dr. Galat: I am pleased…” That was all I needed to read! I was relieved and Heather looked at me and rolled her eyes, inwardly saying “of course you weren’t going to fail.”
What does this mean? Now I am officially considered board eligible, having passed the first step toward full board certification. The next step, the oral exam (Step 2), is normally taken, according to the Board guidelines, after two years of consecutive practice in the US, and this is the step that I will not be able to complete by going to Kenya for these two years. However, I have 5 years to take this second step…otherwise I will have to retake the written test to remain board eligible. Please pray that over the next two years, God would speak clearly to us about the longer term plan. Samaritan’s Purse will be our sending agency for these two years. But if we feel called to return to Kenya, then a whole new set of questions arise: “do we stay in the states for the two years of practice required for board certification, or do we just go?” God will direct.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support. We appreciate you so much. Our desire is to be a team with you and work together for the poor and underserved for Christ's glory!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Photos from our trip in 2006


Entrance to Tenwek Hospital with new surgical wing in background.


Heather with Kenyan family whose son is about to have surgery.


Enjoying dinner!


Sunset on the African plains.


The Great Rift Valley!

Photos from our trip in 2006


One of the many exotic flowers in Kenya.


Elbow surgery with Dr. Mike Chupp.


Kipsigi family at Tenwek hospital.


Falls located on Tenwek Hospital property.
A hydroelectric dam supplies all the power to the hospital.

Our Story

Many people have asked how we got to this point. Here is a brief synopsis.

The Foundation 1991-1995
Heather and I actually met on a mission trip to Brazil in 1991. That kindled our relationship, and four years later, we were married. Since the beginning, we have together felt a calling to overseas missions.

Trinity: A Call to Medical Missions 1996-1998
After Heather finished nursing school, we moved to Chicago where I began graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I had been wrestling with my career choice, whether to pursue medicine or ministry, and I hoped seminary would help me decide. However, God used our time at Trinity to integrate these two visions into one unifying purpose: international medical missions. At that time, we committed our lives to this calling, if God should open the doors. So we applied to medical school and I was accepted to the Ohio State University (go Buckeyes!).

OSU: Medical School 1998-2003
After graduating from Trinity, we began medical school at OSU in Columbus, Ohio. Our time there was very good. Our young family grew; we lived in a great house that we built ourselves with the help of my dad; and we attended an excellent church with a strong emphasis on missions. During my final year of med school, our vision was still medical missions, but in what context? I considered general surgery, emergency medicine, internal medicine, and family practice. But after scrubbing my first total knee replacement, the decision was easy…orthopedic surgery.

Mayo Clinic: Orthopedic Residency 2003-2008
Despite the fact that Heather said she would be willing to go anywhere for residency except Minnesota, we ended up at the Mayo Clinic in…Rochester, Minnesota! This was a challenging move for us in many ways, to a new place, new friends, etc. But we were both convinced that this was where God wanted us; and it was a great experience. Honestly, our vision for missions had wavered at times during the tough years of residency. But through it all, God was faithful, and sovereignly intervened at just the right times. This was especially evident in 2006, as we made plans for a short term mission trip to Kenya. While planning for this trip, we met Russ and Beth White, missionaries at Tenwek Hospital, who were visiting Rochester while on furlough. They invited us to come to Tenwek during our planned trip to Kenya, and see the orthopedic needs there. Samaritan’s Purse assisted with the arrangements for this trip, and in September 2006, we spent two weeks in Kenya working with Tim Mead at the CURE Children’s hospital in Kijabe, and with Mike Chupp, director of the orthopedic department at Tenwek.

A Different Path 2007-2008
After this trip in 2006, we were ready to go. However, to get board certified in orthopedic surgery, the Board requires a minimum of two years of practice in the States after finishing residency. Many people advised me to finish board certification before leaving for Kenya. Others warned about individuals they knew with a call to full-time international missions who lost that vision after starting practice.

Although I sensed God calling me to trust him with this issue of board certification and just go, I instead took a different road, and made plans to join an orthopedic practice in Shelby, Ohio after finishing residency. It looked like the perfect job because it was near my family in Ohio, and provided a month of mission sabbatical yearly. The thought of earning a good income while doing part-time mission work greatly appealed to me.

But, as the year progressed, we became aware that this was not God’s plan. Why? Because while at Trinity years ago, we made a commitment to full-time international missions if God opened the doors, and I was straying from that commitment. And God had to discipline us to keep us on track. Proverbs 3:11 became personal: “my son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

A Step in the Right Direction May 2008 - Current
In May 2008, we started over, and began to ask God “What do YOU have for us?” We were holding to Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.” Then, the last week of May, we received a general email from Russ White at Tenwek Hospital asking for prayer that God would urgently provide an orthopedic surgeon for Tenwek. Heather and I looked at this email and said, “Could this be for us?” I emailed Dr. White and explained that we would be willing to go if God opened up the doors. There were some major hurdles, financial and otherwise, that had to be overcome. But to make a long story short, in three short weeks after receiving that email, we were miraculously on our way to Kenya.