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

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Endings and New Beginnings

Happy 4th of July from Kenya!
It seems fitting on this cloudy and cold 4thof July in Kenya to reflect on what God has done in the past three years since we made the challenging transition from Tenwek to Kijabe Hospital. So, I’ve built a blazing fire, and I’m sipping a cup of hot chai as I write, all the while wishing we could be in the U.S. for a blazing hot Independence day cookout with burgers, beans and sweet corn followed by fireworks as the sun sets.  

Change is inevitable, and endings and new beginnings are a common part of this walk with Christ as strangers in this world.  We often don’t take the time to grieve the multiple “deaths” that we experience regularly, and as a result, can get stuck in confusion, disillusionment, and stunted growth.  But if we take the time to be honest with ourselves, and God, we can begin to see the new life that springs forth from the ashes (“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24)

If we would have been told 4 years ago that we would leave Tenwek (endings) and start again at Kijabe (new beginnings), we would have thought that would be impossible.  We had worked too hard, invested too much, and planned to spend years, if not decades there.  And I admit, we did not grieve well the loses we experienced and spent many months in a fog after first moving to Kijabe. 

But God, in His mercy, began to reveal the bigger picture of his sovereign plan, and one by one, new beginnings unfolded. In December 2016, Emma graduated from Mercy Multiplied in Nashville and returned to Kenya to complete her junior and senior year at RVA. In February 2017, we discovered we were expecting another child, and Ethan Benjamin was born at Kijabe Hospital on October 11, 2017.  Now he is a little toddler, running around the house and trying to compete with his two, very doting older sisters.  

In March 2017, our oldest, Jeremiah, eloped, and although this was a complete surprise to us, we see God’s hand in this new beginning for him and Tory!

Jeremiah and Tory visited us in December 2017 when we found out the news!

In July 2018, I became the first orthopaedic surgeon to complete the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery certification process overseas in a mission/humanitarian setting.  In January 2019, PAACS Orthopaedics added two new programs (Kijabe and Soddo/CURE) to join Tenwek (which graduated their first two residents) bringing to total number of ortho residents to more than 20 (of which I have the privilege of overseeing as the PAACS Orthopaedics Regional Director). 

Fasto and Victor as the first two graduates from the PAACS Tenwek program.  Victor is working part-time at Tenwek and Fasto is a fellow in paediatric orthopaedics at CURE Kijabe. 

Francis Mbugua and James Kinyua, the program directors at Kijabe. 

PAACS site visit to Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia.
John Weston, recent graduate from the Mayo ortho residency program, visited us twice at Kijabe and had decided to join the team here. However, when Tenwek lost Dr. Kiprono and Dr. Nugent, he and his family changed gears and decided to make Tenwek their place of service.  They plan to arrive in September 2019!

And as of this month, we will have graduated two of our daughters from high school to send off to college (yes more endings/new beginnings).  

Emma is now a Voice Performance Major at Biola in La Mirada, CA
Claire plans to start at Princeton in the fall. 

The orthopaedic work at Kijabe Hospital thrived over the past three years, and I grew tremendously as I was pushed to more challenging cases such as revision total hip arthroplasty and bone transport for huge bony defects. 

22 year old young lady with gaucher's disease.  She required bilateral total hip replacements. 
Pelvic X-ray of above patient. 

14 year old boy with large femoral bone defect requiring "bone transport."
Pins and rail used to "transport" bone over a distance at 1mm per day to fill the defect. 

And as the Head of Orthopaedics, I was challenged to lead in deeper ways, including a book study for the consultants entitled “Emotionally Healthy Leadership” By Pete Scazzero (in which the last chapter is entitled “Endings and new beginnings.”  Yes, you could say this book has had a profound impact on me!) 

Heather and I also experienced a rebirth of regular prayer and a new conviction for sabbath rest.  We, for the first time in our missions career, began to experience the joy of intentionally leading together, in ministry, from our marriage (yep, another chapter in EHL).  Heather was involved with multiple prayer ministry groups around the Kijabe campus, and we met weekly with a group of peers (couples with young kids, most of whom were 10+ years younger than Heather and I!).  

And we were able to really connect with our older kids during this critical time of development in their high school years.  Many painful endings led us to beautiful new beginnings.  

Over the past three years, we have made more pizzas than we can count. 

Each Friday night, we have between 5-12 students with  large appetites!
Levi was baptized in the Indian Ocean in April 2019. 

And now, in two weeks, we will experience yet another ending as we leave this season at Kijabe, and head back to the States to begin a year of Home Ministry Assignment (HMA).  During this time, I will be doing a year-long fellowship at Mayo Arizona in shoulder, hip and knee arthroplasty.  At this point, we are planning to return to Kenya after the fellowship ends in July 2020, but we have learned to hold plans very loosely and are continuing to ask God for discernment of his will (Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom. 12:2).

We will miss sunsets (daily endings) like this at Kijabe!

We continue to be thankful for each one of you, who have supported us prayerfully and financially over the past 10+ years we have spent in Kenya.  Without your faithful work in our lives, we would not be here!