We are happy to report that our family is back in Kapsowar Kenya and we are doing well! This first month back has been a very busy and exciting one. We really enjoyed having Vanessa's mom here as she came back with us to stay for a couple of weeks and get a taste of what our life is like here in Kenya. Her time with us was full of fun times as a family, sweet times introducing her to our Kenyan friends, a few adventure moments and some times of just our typical daily lives. I'm sure she could tell you more of her stories and favorite moments. The kids really enjoyed having her around and it was sad to see her go. I will say I'm sure she is glad to get back to the nice American roads...during her time here we had a scary "minor" accident that could have been much worse if God had not provided a perfectly placed tree that kept our car from rolling off the hillside when the muddy roads pushed us off the road. It was a reminder to us all at how we are so daily dependent on the Lord for His protection over our family. We certainly are thankful for all those who have been lifting us up in prayer.
Vanessa will be writing more updates soon about family life, but I thought I might share a few stories from how it has been for me back at the hospital. I have enjoyed being back to work at our hospital and am excited about the things going on here. We have a great new Nursing Officer that I have enjoyed working with. We are currently working through expanding the amount of community outreach that we are doing which has always been an interest of mine. We are still training nursing school students and last week the senior students took their exams to graduate. We are trying to recruit some of them to work in our Pokot clinic when it opens, probably early next year. I will be taking a team down to do a mobile clinic this next weekend so more updates to come soon on that with pictures.
There have been a few patient encounters that have encouraged me since being back. One was a lady that I mentioned on a facebook update. She was admitted to our hospital with a new diagnosis of HIV and TB. I asked for people to pray because she was not accepting her diagnosis and was threatening to take her life. After several long talks with her over her time here I began to see her attitude change. We gave her the best care we could for her physical body and we saw the Lord bring her into much better health. We also addressed her spiritual needs with her by counseling and prayer. She reaffirmed her faith in Christ and began to accept the hope that He provides. Emotionally she became more encouraged and joyful as I saw her each day. My hope was that each time I saw her I could bring a smile to her face. We also got her accustomed to prayer at each visit so much that the last time I saw her before I could finish she said, "doctor don't forget to pray." We truly saw God do a mighty work in her and I really appreciate everyone who prayed for her.
That patient really summarizes what my hope is to do during our time here. I have heard other missionaries say, "I am here to do for them what they cannot do for themselves." I agree with this and have thought about what I have to offer them. I have seen how medicine here is very focused on the physical only. It is my heart to practice and teach whole person care that addresses the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of patients. Many of you probably heard me tell the story during our furlough about the poisoning patient that we "treated" but did not "heal." The one who was sent home after he physically improved but returned the next month with the same thing because we had not yet addressed his spiritual and emotional needs. Well, very quick in my time here we had another patient just like that. Fortunately, this time before she was sent home we picked up on the fact that she was still depressed and was planning to attempt suicide again after discharge. We were able to work together as a team with myself and the chaplains to counsel her and encourage her mind and spirit. She admitted that she had been living with several men and when we tested her for HIV she was positive. I spent a long time talking to her about the choices that she has made in her life, the consequences of sin, but how there is hope and forgiveness found in Christ. She responded very well and decided to give her life to the Lord. l couldn't help but think of the woman at the well and I pray she continues on for the Lord.
Her case reminded me again of our need for discipleship. This is one of my biggest goals for this term. I am planning to meet with our chaplains this week to decide on how we want to proceed in discipling those patients that come to know the Lord. I hope to send them with materials, a Bible and a letter to their local pastor to encourage them to continue the discipleship process when they go home. I would also like to work in follow-ups in the community with these people when we get our community health program going. Good health is more than just physical!
We hope to keep the updates coming with more pictures in the next ones.