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

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Life: Another “Miracle at Tenwek”

 Jeremiah, age 15.
 Emma, age 13.
 Claire, age 11.
 Levi, age 8.
Chuma, age 1-1/2.

The abbreviated version of the story is this: We are expecting Galat child #5!  For those interested, the extended version (or “the rest of the story”) follows, which includes themes of forgiveness, grace, and second chances. (Note: You may want to read first and “screen” before allowing younger readers to view.)

 Levi, our fourth child, was born in 2004, in the midst of a very busy orthopedic residency at the Mayo Clinic.  A few months after his birth, the chronic exhaustion, stress, financial strain and an element of selfishness caused me to think that perhaps four was enough, and I began to look into more permanent options for “family planning.”  Although Heather was not in full agreement, and my motives were based more on fear (rather than faith in God’s ability to sustain with His unlimited grace), I proceeded with a vasectomy.  However, as time went on, and our stations in life changed, I began to feel a sense of regret at making such a permanent decision.  Additionally, because Heather was not “fully on board” with the initial decision, she carried with her a wound, as this had not been a mutual choice based on prayer and/or a sense of God’s leading, but rather one made out of questionable motives.  As years passed, we both desired to have more children, but were resigned to the fact that this option was no longer a possibility.         

In 2008, prior to leaving for our first stint in Kenya, God began to take me through a refining process (actually, probably better described as a breaking process) as I realized I had a sinful habit-pattern of independent (i.e. God-less and Heather-less) decision-making and that repentance was necessary.  As these various “one-way” decisions were brought to light, I became committed to “making right” these wrongs done towards my God and my wife, and we saw God’s grace pour into our lives as I took these steps of faith.  However, as there was nothing I could do to “make right” the decision to permanently restrict the size of our family, I could only ask Heather for forgiveness, which she freely and graciously gave.     

As a physician, I knew about vasectomy reversals, a microscopic procedure in which the small tubes which were cut during the initial vasectomy are delicately reconnected with suture about the diameter of a hair.  But I thought this was an impossibility, as this surgery is completely elective and entirely expensive (between $5,000 and $20,000).  Additionally, the success rate is not 100%.  Even so, God continued to bring this to my mind, not via guilt, as if I had to pay for my sins by getting a reversal, but rather in a gentle and encouraging way, as if He was saying, “Are you going to trust me?”  So I researched options on-line and even contacted a few places in the U.S.   In August 2009, I was scheduled to travel back to the U.S. for a conference and I thought, “OK, here is my window of opportunity.”  Since Heather had fully forgiven me, she was supportive (yet not requiring).  Thus, we decided to pray (this time together) that if God would work out the fine details, I would have it done while in the U.S. for this conference.   However, the reversal surgeon I had chosen was not available during my “window of opportunity” so I thought to myself, “Good, now I am off the hook” and I put this possibility, with good conscience, to rest.

Shortly after returning from the U.S., I met Dr. Samuel Thompson, a visiting urologist at Tenwek who had come to help with the large numbers of backlogged urology cases.  One Wednesday night, he came to our men’s resident and intern bible study.  Afterwards, I was making conversation with him, and innocently asked, “What is your area of interest in urology?”  His answer almost startled me.  He said, “General urology is what I do, but my real interest is in vasectomy reversals.”  “Really,” I said with a sense of God’s providence at work, and proceeded to tell him a large chunk of our story.  After I finished, he said, “You know, if you could find me an operating microscope, an available operating room, 9-0 suture and microsurgical instruments, I would be more than happy to do this for you right here at Tenwek.”  Suddenly, I was placed back on the hook.  But God, in His mercy, was again overwhelming us, and Heather and I, together, felt like the circumstances were way too specific to not be from God.  So on September 28, 2009, I underwent the first and only vasectomy reversal ever at Tenwek (and perhaps all of Kenya and maybe even East Africa) in an empty operating room in the Eye Ward (which had all the necessary equipment and was providentially closed as the eye team was away for an outreach). 

After three years of waiting without any results (and truthfully, with some disappointment), we thought that perhaps this act was just for the purpose of obedience and faith.  Then, when we least expected it, God shocked us with this news that we are expecting.  We kept it quiet until Christmas Eve, so that we could give the news to our kids as a Christmas present and their total surprise was captured on video (click here to view).  We are thankful to God for this new life, born out of forgiveness, grace and second chances.  And we are so thankful for the ways you have followed our story, supported us with prayer and finances, and simply loved us.  We are imperfect humans just privileged to do our small part in God’s great plan to reconcile us to Himself and to each other.  Please pray with us for the health of this new life, for a safe and healthy pregnancy (Heather is constantly tired and nauseated), and that our family would bring glory to the One who is worthy of our lives.   May God give you strength and blessing in this New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

One Life

Yesterday, after a long and tiring day of surgery, I came home to find an email informing me that my brother Mike’s son, Josiah Galat, was found dead with stab wounds outside his campus residence at the University of Toledo.  Shocked by this unexpected news, I grabbed my phone (which displayed several notices of missed calls from my parents) and made calls to my family to try to get more details.  I first spoke with my father, who told me that Josiah called his mom in the final minutes of his life, and then my brother, who was completely exhausted after being up all night, yet reaffirming his faith in Christ and God’s sovereignty.  Last night, sleep was cut short as thoughts and prayers for my brother, his wife and boys flooded my mind.

Today, the work continued at the hospital.  Thankfully, we were able to get four operating rooms, helping to clear some of the patients from the long pre-Christmas queue.  Four new admissions today, however, with more certainly to come.   Tonight, hungry for more information, I found several news articles on the internet which reported that Josiah was involved in an apparent altercation with his roommate that escalated into this tragic event.  The other boy, Erik Littleton, is in the hospital, himself with multiple stab wounds.  Many parts of this story do not make sense to me.   

I spoke with Heather and the kids and we all agreed that, if possible, I should fly back to the states for the funeral, even though it would mean leaving on Christmas day.  As I called Delta, I prayed, asking God to provide a reasonable fare and good itinerary.  For once, Delta was especially kind on the phone and within a few minutes, the ticket was purchased at $1000 less than I was able to find on-line.  So, I will be leaving Christmas evening, and returning to Kenya before the New Year.  God is so good to provide this opportunity to be with my brother and family during this time of grieving. 

As Heather, the kids and I have sat together to process this news, God has opened the doors to some really meaningful conversations.  What we have concluded together as we consider Josiah’s untimely death at age 20, is that we have one life to live which is unpredictable and short, and that Jesus is so worth living this one life for in a radical, “all-in” way.  One day, whether tomorrow, or 70 years from now, we will all stand before our Creator, and give an account for what we did with that one life.    

Please especially keep my brother Mike and his wife Sheila and their other sons (Alex, Mason and Jared) in your prayers.   Please also pray for my travels to the U.S. and that my time with my Galat family, although short, will be very meaningful.   Thank you for your ongoing prayers and support of our family as we continue, in faith, to serve at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya.