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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something More to Offer

17 year old girl with gun shot wound to right elbow.

Trying to close my bag after a random inspection...I warned them (by experience).

Samson, Emma, and Ema, chillin' on the front porch.

After having flown over 18,000 miles (and six flight segments) to attend the four day SIGN conference in Richland, WA, I finally arrived home at Tenwek last night. The highlights of this long journey (but quick trip) were interacting with the hundreds of international SIGN surgeons, presenting the orthopedic work at Tenwek at the conference, spending time with my Galat cousins and the Pavkov’s (who happen to live in Richland), watching two agents try (in vain) to re-zip one of my bags after inspecting it…and, of course, coming home to my family. The low points were the flight from Amsterdam to Seattle…I sat next to a young girl who I think had swine flu…the flight from Seattle to Amsterdam (déjà vu), and laying awake all last night, trying to solve the world’s problems, still on West Coast time, awaiting a new and exciting day in clinic.

Thankfully, today was a “light” day in clinic…only 60 patients, but again with the “box of chocolate” motif in full throttle. One patient, in particular, was exceptionally challenging, the last patient of the day, a 17 year old girl with a completely deformed elbow from a random gun shot during Kenya’s post-election violence last year. As I examined this young girl’s hand, muscles wasted from the ulnar nerve which had been blown away by the bullet, I thought to myself, “there is nothing I can offer her.” Then, as clearly as day, as if to usurp the lie that just traversed my thoughts (and likely influenced by the fact that I was sleep deprived at that moment), I heard another inaudible voice that said, “How untrue…you have something more to offer.” God’s simple rebuke was loud and clear, and I felt ashamed of my humanism and plain lack of faith, but paradoxically, simultaneously strengthened, at that moment, to give what was needed.

After explaining the grim prognosis, I offered to pray with the girl and her family and they eagerly accepted. I thanked God that the bullet was not one foot to the right (potentially hitting her chest), and for the fact that she miraculously had limited, but pain-free and functional range of motion. Then, I asked God simply to heal her for His sake, and Christ’s glory, and after saying “amen,” I noticed the tears in her eyes. That “something more” was, at that moment, exactly what she needed.

As I walked home, I thanked God for taking me to the “woodshed,” and the reminder of my real reason for being at Tenwek…not just to operate, but to be an agent of healing, both physical and spiritual. What is the “something more” that you can offer those God sovereignly brings into your life? Where can you step out in faith, beyond yourself, to be what God has called you to be, for the sake of others, and for His glory? Let us encourage each other in this and consider the words of the apostle Paul as he wrote about his trials to the Corinthians:

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Veterinary Surgery, Corn Rows and Other Miscellaneous News


Sarah, Claire and Emma, after having their hair braided into corn rows, a process which took literally 5 hours.

Samson, post-neutering, drugged up with valium and ketamine (a medication similar to "angel dust"). He never knew what hit him!
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Last month, we have had our new niece-in-law, Sarah, and her mom, Cindy visiting at Tenwek, and it was such a great time. Cindy is a CRNA (nurse anesthetist) in Ohio, and when we met at Sarah and Alex’s wedding last November, and she heard about the needs at Tenwek, she committed to come. And with Alex being on tour in Afghanistan for 6 weeks, the timing was perfect.

Cindy’s flight home coincided perfectly with a trip into Nairobi to continue our ordeal trying to finalize our work permits. We always hope that going to Nairobi will offer a few days of needed R&R, but it usually turns out to be almost as busy as our days at Tenwek. Thursday was spent at the Immigration Department (appropriately called by WGM staff the “house of pain and suffering”) in the morning, and then shopping for two months of groceries in the afternoon. The whole day Friday was spent at a non-profit organization in Nairobi which had medical supplies to donate to Tenwek, including 50 walkers, 20 brand new wheelchairs, and two huge boxes of men’s thong underwear??? (which I graciously turned down for some more “needy” organization). Saturday, we made the dusty trek back to Tenwek, and found 12 new patients admitted for surgery.

Last weekend was filled with diversion and excitement as our new dog Samson had “surgery,” as per Claire, “to turn him into a girl” (i.e. neutering). The surgery was a success even though it was done by a bone doctor (guided by a visiting veterinarian)! Sammy continues to grow as he devours everything we feed him.

Next week, I leave for a quick, one week trip back to the states for the SIGN conference in Richland, WA (thanks to the Coventry Award which I received from the Mayo Clinic when I graduated last year). I was asked to give a presentation on the SIGN nail experience at Tenwek hospital, which will also indirectly raise awareness of the work God is doing here. Please pray for “divine appointments” with the many people who will be at the conference, for the kind Dr. Glen Rowe who will be covering the ortho department while I am gone, and for Heather and the kids. Thanks for all the support and prayers you provide for our family here at Tenwek. We appreciate you all so much!