Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joshua's Great News & Our Transitions in February

February 28, 2010

GREAT NEWS FOR JOSHUA!

We are delighted to report that prayers have been answered for 1 ½ year old Joshua. The tumor was removed from his wrist on January 28th and we have just learned this week that the tissue report is completely benign! [For you medical folks, it is described as "infantile fibromatosis."] We have heard that he is doing well. We found him to be a very delightful child and we know that the Lord has GREAT things in mind for Joshua. We give thanks and praise to the Lord for His healing touch. Please join us in prayer for healing for many others here at Tenwek Hospital.

TRANSITIONS:

...Language Study...Medical Conference...Vehicle ownership...Clinical/Ministry Work

....Language Study - We did complete our 3 months of intense Swahili language study on February 5th. We are so thankful for the opportunity we had to focus on this before "jumping into" clinical and ministry responsibilities. We are thankful for a great teacher and for the Tenwek Hospital physicians, who covered the clinical care duties before Steve started to work there. Our language learning does continue as we speak Swahili daily with coworkers and neighbors and Steve strives to use the language in patient care. Daniel, our language tutor, has graciously encouraged each of us to email him a few paragraphs in Swahili once a week summarizing our activities and we have done so to "keep in shape." This is a continuation of the daily journaling that we did for our Swahili class. Daniel will send us corrections and answers to our language questions.

...Medical Conference - It really was much more than a medical conference that we enjoyed at Brackenhurst, a Christian conference center about 1 hour northwest of Nairobi, near Limuru for any of you who have a map. We enjoyed 2 weeks of “deep breathing” in our transition from our Swahili studies into our ministry work. The grounds were beautiful, with lawns, gardens, walking trails, nice rooms, delicious food, little places tucked here and there for sitting and talking, or reading, or emailing or whatever. We had a lovely, newly-renovated private room with our own bathroom & shower – some had to share dorm-type rooms and use restrooms down the hall. So we truly had a little personal holiday. Each day began with hearty breakfasts at 7am, followed by worship and good spiritual teaching sessions – then the program launched into the medical sessions or spouse program sessions. There were some sessions which of interest to all, and everyone was welcome to attend any session. For example, Alene attended some sessions on Spirituality and Medicine, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Conflict Management, and Steve had a very timely opportunity to refresh himself on tropical medicine issues and general medical care between classes in his area of specialization. There were about 300 attendees, some with their spouses – mostly doctors and surgeons, but also other health professionals, mostly from African mission fields. We were inspired and humbled by so many who have served for many years in areas which are difficult (environmentally) and some which are under fire (literally). It was awesome to talk and share with so many over meals and between sessions. It also was a fabulous time for networking and receiving encouragement from some real veterans, some of whom are African, and some from the US, South America, Europe, or Asia.

Another large part of our interactions here has been sharing with many of the teaching staff, most of whom have some from the U.S. to be with us and bring us up to date. Many of the presenters are also currently from mission hospitals, or have been on the field in the past. They also have great experiences, wisdom, and histories to share.

Mid-mornings we enjoyed tea/coffee breaks out on the lawn between the meeting rooms, usually accompanied by one of the delicious homemade breads or doughnuts which the kitchen here bakes each day. Another round of sessions was followed by lunch – anything from sloppy joes to chicken curry, with soups and salads accompanying every meal. Classes ended around 4pm, and we did walk on some of the trails at that hour. Dinner at 6, was followed by worship and “field reports” which were eye-witness reports about God’s miracles happening in some part of the world – a great way to end each day!

Between the 2 weeks of sessions we were hosted on an outing to Lake Naivasha, (about another hour northwest from here) where we boated through an area of hippos, pelicans, and fish eagles to a peninsula where we enjoyed a walking safari among giraffes, zebras, and cape buffaloes, as well as birds and monkeys. There are no predators in this park, which provided a unique experience to walk so closely to the animals, as opposed to the land rover/vehicle safaris necessary in other parts of Kenya.

The Brackenhurst Conference was most timely in helping us be better prepared for our transition into medical and ministry work. (Please see the photo link for photos from Brackenhurst, the walking safari, and a nearby tea plantation)

...Vehicle Ownership - We did spend the day before the Brackenhurst Conference going in to Nairobi to look about a vehicle purchase. We were thankful to have been connected with Kamal, who is a local car expert and specializes in helping missionaries get good vehicles for their areas of service. Long story short, we were providentially led to a 2001 Toyota Prado (a type of Land Cruiser), which should serve us very well. We have been dealing with the necessary Kenyan paperwork, money transfers, mission field approvals, and repairs, etc. (Technically, this is a mission-owned, but individually-maintained vehicle.) We are returning to Nairobi on Friday, March 5th, to pick up the vehicle after completion of some repairs and installation of new tires (here they are "tyres") and a new car top roof rack. The car will seat seven and should be a huge help to our ability to serve the mission team here – thanks to all of you who have been praying for us about this! Please continue to pray that we will learn how to drive on the left side of the road and according to the somewhat loose Kenyan rules of the road.

...Clinical/Ministry Work - Steve was pleased this week to assume a new role at Tenwek Hospital as the Director of Endoscopy services. They have not previously had a fulltime Gastroenterologist here and have made him feel most welcome and appreciated. He got right back into doing upper and lower GI tract endoscopy procedures even though he'd only done three scope exams since June 30th! The five nurses and techs on the Endoscopy Unit team were pleased to have a chance to learn more about Steve's role and to share their own vision for the Endoscopy Unit at a team meeting and devotion on Friday morning. They have already started organizing and doing a needed inventory of the endoscopy equipment and accessories....They think that they have found an electrical cord, which was lost for three years and will now again permit them to do procedures requiring electrocautery. Steve will have several administrative duties, teaching duties and also will be on the general medicine on-call schedule. Thanks for your prayers in this major transition. (Please see the photo link for a picture of the endoscopy team, Steve's first esophageal cancer stent patient in 2010 - unfortunately the first of many, and a round worm in the colon - welcome to colonoscopies in Kenya!)

Alene has begun her investigation of the specific role for her ministry service. She has met with several individuals last week and has other appointments in this coming week. We cherish your prayers for guidance in her transition as well.

Just One Random Observation:

When we asked Kenyans around here most of them did not know the Swahili word for "stress." (We learned from our language tutor that the word is "msongo.") We're not saying that they do not have stress, but it says something that they don't dwell on it enough to have a word that easily comes to mind.....Perhaps we can learn something from that! May your stresses be minimal and may your transitions be smooth in all of the ways that you can be of ministry and service to others.

3 comments:

Paul Lund said...

Thanks for sharing your pictures and experiences. You may remember us from meeting at the Evergreen Missions Conference in Portland, Oregon. We have a son who is a Radiologist in the Seattle area. He recently told us he is soon to be the new Medical Director at the Valley Medical Center in Renton, Washington. This is where he has been practicing for the last decade or more.

Our prayers are with you both.
Paul and Trudy Lund

Josh and Kelly said...

Steve and Alene, praying with you for these transitions and rejoicing that you are just where God wants you! Can't wait to be on that side of the ocean with you!

hornickk said...

Hi, Steve and Alene! I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I have always had this hidden desire to experience African, particularly mission outreach and what I call "inreach" as well. Where there is this sort of religious world-making experience between people of different cultures. Now that I taking UM Mission and Evangelism God is really showing me authentic mission.

I sent you an e-mail last week, or maybe beginning of this week (losing track of time with everything happening!), and if you get a chance, please read it. I am hoping you could help me out on a special project, or learning experience.

Thanks and Blessings as you continue to journey in challenges, joys, and learning with a heart of God. Kristi Hornick