At Tenwek, David was busy each day rounding in the hospital’s pediatric and neonatal wards. There is only one pediatric doctor who works and lives at Tenwek and David was able to help by giving him some much needed time off with his family. While there, David was given more responsibility over patients with less oversight than he has ever had in his medical career, which proved to be very challenging. Some days he didn’t want to go back to work the next day, but at the same time he was excited to see what the next day would bring. He was able to learn a lot about tropical medicine and had the opportunity to learn several procedures that he hasn’t performed in the states.
One rare disease in the US that is common in the tropics is rheumatic heart disease. This is a condition that kids get from having strep throat untreated with antibiotics. Sadly, it causes heart failure at a young age. David got to see and treat two patients within two days that were both showing signs of heart failure from rheumatic heart disease. Fortunately, with his training in adult medicine he had already treated many patients with heart failure. Within a few days, the patients went from having lots of swelling all over their body and not feeling well at all to being up and back to their normal lives.
This trip was also David’s first time to practice medicine in a mission-based setting. It was refreshing for him to see spiritual issues addressed alongside physical ailments. It was also challenging for him to know how to pray with families who had very sick and dying children. These challenges showed us both how little control we have and the complete necessity of relying on Jesus for the strength to face each new day. Despite the struggles and successes we faced, we saw how God is powerful over each and every circumstance and that nothing is outside of His sovereignty. We may not know why He allows some children to die and others to live, but we know that their lives are not outside of His control and that He is mighty to save, if He wills it.
I stayed busy in various ways, including: helping with administrative computer work for a community Bible study led by one of the missionary wives, going out into the community to help give vaccines to infants, knitting mittens for babies in the Neonatal ICU, shadowing David and seeing how he works, and playing piano at the local church on Sundays. God timed our trip perfectly in that while we were at Tenwek none of the usual pianists for the church were in town to play, and I was able to fill that role.
One of our favorite experiences at Tenwek was worshipping at Bethesda African Gospel Church, the local church that meets at the hospital. It is a wonderful experience to be able to sing and praise the same God with our brothers and sisters in Christ on a different hemisphere, continent, country, and sometimes language than our own.
There are always challenges that come with moving somewhere new. Moving to and being immersed in a third-world country to live and work for a month amplified all of these struggles. Through our time in Kenya we were both stretched in many ways professionally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. While there was much sadness in seeing sickness and disease in the hospital, there was also much joy in God answering our prayers for strength and courage day to day. We also experienced joy in getting to know the other visiting staff, missionaries, native Kenyans, and the culture of rural Kenya.
We want to thank each one of you for your financial and prayer support for this trip. It couldn’t have happened without you and we are so very thankful for our experience with all of its joys and struggles.
David and Kimberly
|David with the interns he worked with all month: Evans, Felix, Maryanne, and Mercy|