Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finding Forgiveness…

David's multiple injuries included an open knee fracture, femur fracture, and hip fracture on the right side, and a hip fracture-dislocation on the left side....the perfect example of the multiple injuries that occur with high-speeds.

In all honesty, the continual barrage of road trauma that presents at Tenwek, often patients with multiple open fractures whose care is extremely challenging and labor intensive, stressing our already taxed resources, causes me, as a flesh and blood human, at times to feel some degree of animosity towards certain patients, especially those who cause the accidents, careless drivers, who by their lack of experience, judgment or scruples, put of the lives of many people in danger. Not uncommonly, I see drivers of boda bodas (motorcycle taxis), often 18 year old boys, carrying three passengers while talking on their cell phones, simultaneously looking over their shoulders at interesting roadside phenomenon. Just last week, two patients were admitted to the orthopedic ward with multiple complex fractures, the result of a boda boda accident in which the driver was trying to pass a matatu (van taxi) around a bend in the road. On my own, without renewal of strength from the LORD, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, events such as these can threaten to make the fleshly heart hardened.

Last month, I mentioned a patient “David,” the driver who stuffed 14 passengers into his mini-matatu (seats 5), which, not surprisingly, lost its brakes while going down a hill, causing a massive pre-Christmas Eve crash, resulting in multiple injuries, including the death of two people. David himself was badly injured, including an open knee fracture, femur fracture and hip fracture all on the right side, and a hip fracture-dislocation on the left side. At any other hospital, he would likely have been left in traction for several months…and likely have remained a cripple, unable to walk for the rest of his life. But, at Tenwek, because God has blessed us with the resources to help patients such as David, after several surgeries, he is now able to stand without pain, and soon will be able to walk again. His physical recovery has been nothing short of a miracle. But God’s purposes in David’s life were well beyond the physical.

While rounding on David, I could sense a certain amount of guilt associated with his accident, although mixed with a denial that, at times, caused me to want to shake him and shout, “Do you realize what you have done!?!” Currently, we have a “super-chaplain” on our service, Helen Tangus, who faithfully and daily “rounds” on our orthopedic patients. I pulled her aside one day and asked her to “work” especially on David, and she said “Of course, Daktari, I have been reading scripture and praying with him daily.” Over the next several days, David’s countenance was notably different, a change which could only be the result of a person who had found forgiveness with his Savior, and perhaps with himself as well, a fact Helen later confirmed.

What amazes me is that God is always at work at Tenwek, and in all our lives, even in circumstances which, to us, seem purposeless or random. And His ultimate purpose is to work forgiveness into our lives, made possible only through the death of His Son on the cross…forgiveness which reconciles us to God, and us to one another…forgiveness which frees our conscience from guilt…and forgiveness that allows this simple orthopedic surgeon to see his own need for a Savior, and continue with our family’s calling to alleviate a little suffering in this small part of the world. Thank you for your ongoing support and prayers for our family, and for our patients that we care for in Kenya. We appreciate you!!

Eph. 1:7-8 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
Col. 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Graduation Day 2010

Dan with Mr. Fred Ochieng and Dr. Gerald Angira, both of whom caught a passion for orthopedics while rotating on the service, and will be pursuing further training in orthopedic surgery.

Graduating intern class 2010 with consultants!!

The future of medicine in Kenya, 5 guys very happy to be finished with internship.

Today, we celebrated the graduation of another class of interns, sixteen Kenyan men and women who have been intensively training at Tenwek for the past year. The minor explosion at the lunch catering table, caused by an attempt to add butane fuel directly to an already lit burner used to keep the food warm, resulting in singed arm hair, flaming chapattis on the floor, and a dress that caught on fire, made the event even more memorable. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt, and after this minor disaster was cleaned up, the festivities continued. During the ceremony, each graduating intern received a diploma, a copy of the book “The Purpose Driven Life” and new white lab coat.

Undoubtedly, the most satisfying aspect of the work at Tenwek, and the unifying purpose of all us “western missionaries” who are serving here in rural Africa, is the opportunity to impact the lives of young African physicians. As a consultant in orthopedics, I am privileged to play a role in teaching these physicians who are the brightest and best in Kenya, and of course, to influence them that orthopedic surgery is the ultimate pursuit! And God is doing an incredible work in orthopedic surgery at Tenwek. In addition to Dr. Kiprono, who is currently in his orthopedic residency at Moi University and will be coming on staff at Tenwek as a full-time orthopedic consultant in 2011, two other young men have joined the Tenwek orthopedic bandwagon. Fred Ochieng is a very bright, and godly, young clinical officer, who aced orthopedics during his rotation. He plans to begin an 18 month diploma program in orthopedic surgery, then return to Tenwek to join the team. Additionally, Dr. Gerald Angira, a general surgery resident at Tenwek, rotated with me for 4 months last summer, and recently decided to pursue residency training in orthopedics, also with the plan to return to Tenwek. This greatly excites me to be involved in the “grassroots” development of orthopedic surgeons and clinical officers in a country of 38 million that has, at best, only fifty, less than the city of Rochester, Minnesota!

I have always viewed the work we are doing here as a team effort, all of us joining together in God’s kingdom to accomplish His plans. While I am here on the “front lines,” you could have as much impact in the future of medicine in Kenya, in the training of the next generation of godly physicians. We currently have two major needs, one being the funding for the training of Drs. Kiprono and Angira, and Mr. Fred Ochieng. Unlike in the U.S. where residents get a salary (albeit meager) for their training, residents in Kenya must pay for their own training and living expenses, which costs, on average, $20,000 per year. Thus, most residents have to find “sponsors” before they can even begin, and lack of funds often delays matriculation into programs. By sponsoring one of these fellows, not only would you be helping the future of Kenya, but also Tenwek, as sponsorship also guarantees a commitment to serves at the sponsoring institution upon completion of their training. The second need is for housing of the new interns. As the numbers of interns and trainees increases here at Tenwek, the housing situation tightens. Currently, there are plans for two new intern housing projects, and construction is set to begin on the first shortly. However, the second building is only partly funded, and each missionary consultant has been asked to raise $25,000 towards the completion of this project. If you feel led to join the awesome work that God is doing here at Tenwek in the training of Kenyan health care professionals, let me know and I can provide you with more information! Together we can work to better medical care in this needy area of the world. Thanks for all the encouragement and support you have provided to our family!