Friday, January 31, 2014

A Confession

Written by Ty

I have a confession to make.  I feel a pang of guilt every time someone in America asks me what I do in Africa.  I feel guilty because I fear I am not meeting the expectations I assume they will have when they know that I am a doctor and that I work in Africa.  They expect that I see patients and prescribe treatments eight hours a day.

The truth is that I don’t do much of that.  I do some of that—especially with the more complicated cases that the Tanzanian nurses request my help with.  I do go to the clinic often, but most of my time there is spent teaching—teaching the Bible and teaching medicine.

My calling is to teach.  It is to teach a biblical understanding of health as a philosophical foundation for helping people lead healthy lives.  This is not something I was taught in medical school.  In fact, I was taught essentially nothing in my training about a philosophical foundation for the practice of medicine.  Medicine, as it is understood and taught, is no longer about health.  This is true in the west, and because medical education in Africa has a strong tendency to emulate the west, it is usually true here.  In my experience, many health profession students in America cannot give me a good definition of health, and if they can, then they give me a definition that has little do with what they are being trained to do.  “You mean being healthy doesn’t have much to do with going to the doctor?” I reply in mock surprise.  “Yeah.  More like it means you don’t have to go to the doctor,” they tell me.  Basically, they are right.

But my confession doesn’t end there.  What we have now is a simple outpatient clinic that serves about 100 patients per week.  We need to go to the next level.  The small amount of curative care that we are providing is good, but it cannot be all that we are doing.  I don’t want this hospital to be just another mission hospital—a clone of many that are all over Africa.  I want it to be a place of investing in, teaching, and building biblical health and transformation.  Health is about so much more than pills and surgeries.  And if I spend all my time doing pills and surgeries, then I won’t have time to walk out my calling of re-establishing a biblical understanding of health as a sound and cohesive philosophical foundation for health care.

My confession is that I have been afraid to move the hospital forward because I have been afraid of it not developing into that place of health and transformation.

I’ve been thinking about: what do we need to do to go to the next level?  Will you pray with me about that?  I need discernment from God.  I think we need another person on the team—a doctor or nurse who can focus on doing some of the primary care, as well as work with our team on community health—building capacity within the community to do things that will foster their own health: such as education, agriculture, and clean water.  Will you pray that God will bring us the right person?  Maybe it’s you?

And some items for prayer:

Pray that God would give us discernment and resources in trying to take the clinic "to the next level."  I'm trying to figure out how to find and finance a full time community health worker--someone who regularly visits with leaders in villages and works with them to figure out how the community can improve their own health using their own resources.  Better water and better food are prime examples, and places where better use of already existing natural resources here could make a great impact on health.

Also pray that I am a good dad: that my kids know that I am available to them all the time, and that they are a higher priority than ministry.


Monday, January 27, 2014

Aw Rats!

Here are some recent snapshots of the little everyday things.

A midnight rat raid! True was certain he would be able to get it with a flyswatter--or a boot if really necessary! Doesn't he look eager?

Diana and an impromptu art lesson. She plans to teach some art classes to the kids soon.

Wren's first day of school! She is going half days and sitting in the "nursery" class which is 3-6 year olds. Nancy takes her every day and she is really loving it!

Wren and Deborah enjoying coloring on the porch.

Lately some moments between the children have been very sweet.

Nancy is establishing our herb garden-we planted cilantro, basil, summer savory, dill and some others! I can't wait to make pesto!

True helping trim some trees.

Julie and Nancy during our saturday morning small group time-when we really like to check in with each other and ask the question: "Where are you now?"

Psalter has plenty of willing arms to hold him.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Julie's Welcome

By Julie


As I sit on my lower bunk, blue mosquito net swaying slightly beside
me, listening to the drum beats of an African dance party outside my
window, I am struck by how incredibly thankful I am to be here.

MAF Hangar - Wilson Airport

After our arrival in Nairobi we spent 2 days at a Mission Guest House
just outside of town. It was so beautiful! It was also really helpful to have some time to rest and get adjusted to the time difference. On Monday morning we left the guest house and headed to Wilson airport to take an MAF flight to a town just inside the Kenyan border (Migori). It was so much fun to get to take an MAF flight again (even though it made me a bit queasy)—it brought back a lot of fun memories from growing up with a missionary pilot dad :) particularly because the pilot’s daughter was able to join us for the flight—just for the chance to fly with her dad, which I was able to do a few times growing up.

Departing Wilson Airport for Migori, Kenya

Just before takeoff

The youngest flyer


Ground transport to the village

A ride from City of Hope was waiting for us in Migori to take us
across the border into Tanzania (about 15 min) and then another 45
minutes to City of Hope. Africa is SO beautiful! I loved seeing all
the trees, and the locals going about their days, many of the women
balancing large bags and baskets so perfectly on their heads, all the
dust being kicked up from the dirt roads. There is a side of me that
comes alive in third world cultures that is easily and often lost in
the US. It has been incredibly special to reconnect with that part of
myself. It makes me so happy to watch Wren and True fit so comfortably
into this culture which they have spent part of their very young
lives; I smile knowing they are growing up as Missionary Kids and how
special this time will always be to them.

As we pulled up to City of Hope I could see all the children
in their uniforms standing together, dancing and clapping as they sang
a special welcome song for us. After their song they all rushed toward
us with huge smiles on their faces, eager to ask us our names, hold
our hands and give us hugs. These children are so sweet and welcoming. They offer their love eagerly, without even knowing who you are. They radiate delight and joy, and it makes me eager to learn how to love and experience joy like that; that comes from deep within.

Everything about life is completely different than it was a week ago,
and I am soaking it all in. This morning I enjoyed waking up before
the sun without an alarm – watching the sun bring everything alive,
listening to the birds chirp and the children sing praise songs—it was
the perfect way to start my first full day in the place I will call
home for the next three months. It was fun (and exhausting) to
experience a bit of African life—washing dishes and cleaning out
drawers using large wash bowls outside in the hot African sun (I
forgot sunscreen on the back of my neck—whoops!). I am eager to see
what God has planned for my time here—both the joys and the struggles, the fun things and the hard things.

A friend told me they were praying Ephesians 3:20 for my trip,
and I have adopted that passage as my own prayer for this time as
well: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you
with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may
dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted
and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to
do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his
power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in
Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:16-21 (NIV).

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Getting There

Written by Julie and Diana

Ty, Joi, the three children, Diana and Julie all left Blacksburg on
January 10th with a very full minivan and a trailer behind loaded with
8 large shipping containers, 1 bicycle and 7 suitcases headed for
Dulles International Airport. After the 5 hour drive we stopped at the
National Air and Space Museum (right next to the airport) to stretch
our legs and let the kids run around.

We got to the airport where we met up with Nancy. Nancy is 19 and is
spending the next few months helping out at City of Hope, especially
with the Hopkins kids. (She will introduce herself a bit more soon!)
It was quite a process to get 8 people checked in and 17 pieces of
luggage checked! But we finally made it to our gate and to our first
flight to Paris, which thankfully was an uneventful 8-hour flight!
Then came Paris…

Paris was not as uneventful! For whatever reason, we were not able to
get our boarding passes for the flight from Paris to Nairobi when we
were in DC. One very important lesson: you can’t go anywhere in an
airport without a boarding pass! We were concerned that if we couldn’t
get the boarding passes in time we would miss our flight, which
would’ve caused a multiple-day delay. After getting sent in different
directions by at least 4 different airport attendants, going up
escalators, down hallways, on one tram and a bus, we finally made it
to the international transfer desk  and made it to our gate with just
minutes to spare. (Along with many other people which we found out
were in the same boat!) Joi was deeply disappointed to miss her chance
to eat a bona fide Parisian croissant.

Then once we were on the plane, we had to wait for a passenger coming
from a delayed flight and sat for an hour and a half before taking
off! Diana really enjoyed having a spiritual conversation during the
flight with an African Catholic nun sitting by her. So after another
long flight we landed in Nairobi much later than anticipated.
Thankfully, the immigration line was shorter than Ty and Joi had ever
seen it, and we were able to get through very quickly!

However, we were some of the last people to leave baggage claim
because of how long it took to get our 17 pieces of luggage, one of
which (the baby stroller) never showed up! The drivers who picked us
up performed a miracle getting all of our luggage into a small van and
a car! So, the flight landed at 11pm, and we didn’t leave the airport
until 1:20am! Needless to say, we were all exhausted by the time we
got to the guesthouse and everybody ended up getting almost 10 hours
of sleep!

We spent Sunday resting and re-packing while Ty ran some errands in
the city, and we leave for Tanzania on a charter flight Monday

“Now to Him who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that
is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do
superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think
[infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or
dreams]—To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout
all generations forever and ever. Amen (so be it).” Ephesians 3:20-21


Julie is spending the next three months in Tanzania with the Hopkins
as a mission intern. She is 23 and lives in Radford Virginia, working
as a server at Olive Garden. She is taking the next three months to
work at City of Hope with the Hopkins, seeking the Lord and some
clarity for what the future holds for her. She recently graduated with
a degree in Women’s Ministry and is excited to see what opportunities
she will have to use it.

Diana is Joi’s mom and a 63 year old mother of 3 and grandmother of 7.
She is at City of Hope to help out in whatever way she can. She is
praying that God will soften her heart to other cultures and their
other ways of life, and wants to develop more of a heart of compassion
for third world cultures. She is excited to see how God will transform her heart through this experience.

Friday, January 10, 2014

We are off!

We are off for 3 months!  More info to come.
En route to Tanzania via Paris and Nairobi.