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

Friday, October 21, 2011

Camping in the Aberdares

The drive to the Aberdares.


The campsite. Note the small "adult" tent that was pitched under this shelter.
The view from our campsite when we awoke in the morning. The mist in the center of the picture is from the nearby waterfall.

"Native" Jeremiah, barefoot as usual, trying his hand at trout fishing.

To appreciate the size of this waterfall, note the person standing to the right.

Another view...

Trout cooked over an open fire...as the Kenyans' say, "very sweet."

After the rains...

Trying to dry out and get warm. Of note, it is about 50 degrees F.

Jeremiah's legs...remnants of a great weekend.


A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and his entire dorm of sixteen young adolescent males went camping in one of Kenya’s national parks, the Aberdares, a central mountain range about 100 km north of Nairobi, rife with huge waterfalls, forest elephants, rainbow trout, and…rain (the entire water supply of central Kenya comes from this region). The chaperones? Jeremiah’s “dorm dad” (Rodney) and his “genetic dad” (me). After driving 3 hours on slippery dirt roads, stuffed into our “new” used Toyota Regius Ace with 10 somewhat stinky boys, Jeremiah riding shotgun, we arrived at our site and set up camp in the dark. Soon, the sloppy joe meat pot was steaming over the fire, and we settled in for the evening. Rodney and I had no shame in setting up our tent under the makeshift tarp shelter we erected. I found out later why this was such a solid move.

The following morning, while I was cooking breakfast, Jeremiah and about 6 of his buddies emerged from their tents wearing only homemade loin cloths, saying they wanted to “go native” and “blend in” with the environment (which I can assure you did not happen). Aside from this unwanted sight, (which reminded me of a scene from the movie “Lord of the Flies”), the morning was incredibly scenic; and, viewing the surroundings for the first time, I understood why some people call this area the most beautiful part of Kenya. Later, Rodney, an avid outdoorsman, set us all up for fly fishing in the mountain brooks that flowed nearby.

About 1pm, it began to precipitate. At first, this was a novelty for the boys, who were running about, getting pelted with the falling rain and hail, not thinking about how cold they could potentially be in the very near future without dry clothes or a roaring campfire. After a solid two hours and 3 inches of rain, however, the fun was over, and our campsite, including “the adult tent,” was beginning to flood. The majority of the boys took shelter in our van, which was only somewhat dry. We literally built a dike around our tent and dug drainage ditches to protect our only remaining precious resource: dry clothes. The rains let up around 4pm…for about a half hour. It then continued into the evening, and thus we decided to “turn in” early (which for the boys was about 1am). Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up, noticed that the rain had ended, and looked out the widow of the tent to see the “southern cross” surrounded by the starriest night I have ever witnessed.

The next morning was cloudless, and when the sun edged over the mountains, our campsite began to dry out. After breakfast, Rodney led the boys in a discussion on a Christian view of relationships with the opposite sex, specifically how this relates to the new dating policies at Rift Valley Academy. As I sat listening to these boys share their collective thoughts on the subject (actually with more wisdom than I anticipated), I thought to myself, “Here is an incredible group of young men, missionary kids, each with a unique story of how God got them to this place at this time in life.” And I wondered what each of them would become in the future, products of the rich lives they have been privileged to live.

After one more round of fly fishing, we broke camp and headed home. When I arrived back at Tenwek later that evening, I took a long and very hot shower, amazed at how thankful I could be for something we so easily take for granted. It was a great weekend. Next camping trip in the works: the Suswa caves.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The (Not-So) Typical Work Week at Tenwek

Jeremiah, recovering with cup of chai in hand, after removal of the plates and screws in his knees and ankles.


Total knee replacement done with implants sourced from Nairobi. The goal is to help patients with bad arthritis, and use the funds generated by this program to subsidize care for the poor.


People often ask “What is your typical orthopedic surgery work week like at Tenwek.” Following is a sampling of last week’s schedule, highlighting the most interesting case for each day, and the teamwork worldwide required to make modern orthopedic surgery possible at our rural mission hospital:

Monday: Intramedullary nailing (with a long rod) of a midshaft femur fracture with nails remanufactured by a team of students and professors from Cedarville College. Often times, and not surprisingly, nails that are donated to Tenwek are of extreme sizes, more appropriate for NBA players than the average Kenyan. This team took 80+ of these excessively long nails, and first engineered, then re-manufactured them to the most common lengths (38, 40 and 42 cm). Thank you Cedarville team!

Tuesday: (1) Knee arthroscopy (knee “scope”) in a 34 year old Maasi man who works as a chef at one of the premier safari lodges in Kenya (arthroscopy equipment donated by an orthopedic surgeon from the U.S.). (2) Revision SIGN femoral nailing in a 29 year old Muslim man who reminds me daily to get him the English Bible he requested (I promised him he WILL get it tomorrow!). SIGN Fracture Care International is a company which designs, manufactures and distributes orthopedic implants to medically underserved countries around the world.

Wednesday: Three month old distal clavicle fracture in a 47 year old man. Tough case…that’s all I have to say about that.

Thursday: Total knee replacement in an Indian-Kenyan man from Lake Victoria. The goal is to use the funds earned from this burgeoning “adult reconstruction” program (hip and knee replacement) to subsidize the cost of orthopedic trauma implants for the poor. In the next four weeks, we have 6 additional cases scheduled!

Friday: Ankle fusion in a 73 year old man who was initially (mis)treated at one of the largest hospitals in Nairobi where his broken and dislocated ankle was placed in a cast.

Saturday: Plate and screw removal in a burly, 14-year-old young man by the name of Jeremiah Galat. He insisted that the anesthesiologist NOT give him any sedation so that after he was given the spinal, he could slap his own legs without feeling it, and try to make me laugh during surgery.

Sunday: Sabbath day off! Thank you Dr. Moore (4th year orthopedic resident from University of Alabama) and Dr. Bacon (not-so-retired orthopod from the U.S. who is with us for 4 months) for taking call this weekend. The orthopedic service at Tenwek could not survive without a regular influx of visitors who sacrifice vacation and holiday time to serve along-side us.

In all we do at Tenwek, our goal is to bring glory to the One who saved us because of His own mercy! Thanks for all your prayers and support!!

Titus 3:4-6 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.