Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thankful Father

“One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, ‘Praise God!’” Luke 17

A man from a remote area of Kenya where our Savior is not typically worshiped brought his young son to our clinic the other day.  His son had a tumor that was growing in his back.  The father, having already paid for a CT scan (the cost of which is about 2 months’ wages for the average Kenyan), was hoping that we could help his son.  We admitted the boy to the hospital and my partner, Ruth Mayforth and Ken our pediatric surgery fellow, removed the mass a few days later.  By God’s grace the tumor was benign; the boy recovered well and was to be discharged.  At this point, his father asked to speak to me privately.  He explained that he is a farmer in a rural part of Kenya where the drought has been particularly severe.  He and his family have few resources, and he didn’t have the money to pay the bill.  This is a very common problem among patients at Kijabe Hospital.  BethanyKids’ goal is that no child is turned away for the inability to pay.  Because of generous supporters in the USA, Canada, the UK and elsewhere, those of us working with BethanyKids of Kijabe Hospital (BKKH) who take care of children with surgical problems are able to meet the needs of indigent children and families who would otherwise have few other places to turn.  I explained to the father that we would work with him.  I encouraged him to talk with family and friends to raise some of the funds and to see about selling one of his goats to raise some money so that we could continue to do this work for other children like his son.  His son was discharged with BethanyKids’ covering the overwhelming majority of the bill.  (This is almost unheard of in this part of the world.  Patients expect to be kept in the hospital until the bills are paid in full.)  A few days later, one of our chaplains called me to tell me that Baba Mohamed (Father of Mohamed – my pseudonym) was at the hospital and wanted to talk to me.  This father and his “uncle” had come to thank us and to give us 50,000KSh (about $600) to help cover the bill.  The dad was effusive with gratitude for the care his son received but also for the mercy and grace shown to him – that we let them go home without their having paid the entire bill.  He shook my hand and hugged my neck.  I was so touched by his gratitude.  I thanked him deeply and told him how his returning reminded me of the story in the Bible where one out of ten lepers came back to Jesus to thank Him for the healing he received.

We are His hands and feet and our actions often speak so much louder than words.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Back to School

Ten years ago I left classroom teaching to become a stay at home mom.  Next week I head back into the classroom, but this time my students will be African and they will be a little bit taller.  I am going to be teaching English at Moffat Bible College which is located here in Kijabe.  This week I've been dusting off the old lesson planning skills so I can jump right in next Wednesday.  After ten years I hope I can still remember how to do this classroom teaching thing!  I'm sure it's like riding a bicycle, right??

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Great Physician

Jesus is truly the great physician!

This is true wherever you are in the world, but often it’s easier to remember this when you lack the technological or financial means that tempt us to rely on our own credit and resources.  I have nothing at all against the vast array of medical “helps” that are available to the average citizen of the developed world as I see that lives are extended and enhanced because of them.  They’re just not options for the overwhelming majority of the world’s people.

Kijabe Hospital is a rural hospital an hour from Nairobi and because of donations and the efforts of many people who work here, we are fortunate to have access to a relatively greater array of resources when compared to the average provincial hospital.  That being said, we still are a far cry from any typical small community hospital in a developed country.  We try to do more with less and prayer is essential to every aspect of the care we give. 

To that end, we are now rejoicing and praising our Great Physician for a very special healing.  Baby Hannah came to Kijabe Hospital with a hole in her abdominal wall that leaves her intestines hanging outside the body.  This is a relatively rare condition called “gastroschisis” that can be difficult to treat, especially in a resource-limited setting like ours.  If you read the pediatric surgery textbooks (written by surgeons practicing in developed countries), you’ll learn that the survival for children with gastroschisis is around 95%.  Ours has been 0%.  There is a case report in the African literature of one survivor at a teaching hospital here in Kenya.  I’ve also informally polled surgeons who have practiced for years in Kenya and they can remember maybe 1, at most 2, survivors each.  Some people have even questioned whether it is ethical to keep trying to save these children given the high costs and uniformally dismal outcomes.  We haven’t given up yet, thank goodness. Hannah was actually born at Kijabe Hospital and was able to get care immediately. (Other babies have come to us a few days old with their bowel still on the outside).  We were able to repair her abdomen, feed her through her IV and ultimately feed her by mouth.  She also survived a serious bloodstream infection and went home 6 weeks later - just earlier this week!

We have another baby (Naomi) with the same problem whose abdomen is fixed and is now feeding in the nursery! We are so grateful for these children’s lives and for the work of the nurses, doctors, and mothers as we try to provide healthcare to God’s glory.  He is good!

Mama with Baby Hannah

Friday, February 17, 2012


It has been recommended to us, that we prophylacticly deworm our children twice a year.  That really only means that they take a deworming pill every six months just in case they might have some type of worm. 

Well, we did our deworming ritual on Wednesday night and we told the kids it was to get rid of any worms they might have inside their bodies and our 6 year old son said, "I haven't eaten any worms!  That's gross."  Our 3 year old responded, "No.  I like eating worms!  Snakes are gross."  Maybe we'll start deworming him more often!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Prayer requests

Just a note to let you know that I've updated the prayer requests on the sidebar of our blog, so if you are using a blog reader you might want to periodically click over to the blog to see those.  I will try to do a better job of keeping those updated as we truly appreciate your prayers.

We're still here!

Let's see if I still remember how to do this blogging thing...

It has been a long time since I've posted here.  I assure you it is not because we aren't doing anything, it is just because things feel routine and "normal," so it doesn't seem like we have much to say.  I guess it is slightly humorous to think that driving on the left side of the road alongside donkey carts on crazy, bumpy roads feels normal to us, but it does now. 

The kids are halfway through their second term (out of 3 terms) and are all doing well.  We are so thankful for RVA and the ministry of the many families that serve there. 

Erik's work is busy, but very rewarding.  BethanyKids' work with the refugees of Dadaab has been limited recently due to security concerns as humanitarian aid workers have been attacked in and around the camps.  We pray that the United Nations and other organizations involved will be able to improve the security in the area and will begin allowing humanitarian aid workers to return as the refugees desperately need the medical attention. 

We are so grateful for your support, prayers and encouragement.