Sitting at our table overlooking the Tenwek river this morning pondering the worldwide events we are all experiencing together yet separately. Hard to imagine beforehand. I imagine much of what we are discussing around our tables and on our devices is quite similar. And stressful.
I happen to be reading 1 Thessalonians 3 today and I find it remarkably appropriate. For those reading this who are trusting their lives to Jesus (and for those who are not - keep reading, I think you will find something you can relate to), it is an incredible mix of the challenges of this life with the hope of what is to come.
When we decided to trust in Jesus, most, if not all of us, had someone who influenced us in that journey. And now perhaps we have been that person for someone else. It’s an incredible process. Reading this passage of the Bible, you can feel the compassion and value and joy on both sides of this.
The final paragraph points to the essential and amazing impact of God in our walk along the path. He is the one who creates within us the men and women we so long to be. Who generates the love in our hearts for one another. Not just between those who share the same hope and trust in Jesus. But a love that extends to all of those around us on this planet we call Earth.
In days like these that most of us find difficult to deal with and to process, I believe that we can hold on to our hope in Jesus and focus on loving one another.
The details of how that love shows up may be different. For some, it may mean going in to a hospital to work - risking oneself for the sake of others. For others, it may mean staying home - reducing the speed of spread of this virus. For others, it may mean dropping off groceries to those most at risk so they can avoid going out. Still others will be active online, creating content like music and prayer and encouraging words as we are separated in so many ways. I could make a long list.
This morning watching our muddy river that gives us water and electricity, I am reminded of the good that God can bring from something. I pray that each one of us can see our part to play in this new world.
For Julie and I, we were in the US for two weeks visiting a family member whose cancer had recurred. It was a challenging decision to return to Kenya on our scheduled flight last weekend as borders were closing, the US State Department issued its strongest warning against such travel, the flight itself was a significant exposure to our family, perhaps bringing the virus with us to a rural resource limited location, looking at our two children and knowing the healthcare limitations we still have at Tenwek… In the end, we felt God asking us to return home to Tenwek and to serve here - loving on our friends and neighbors along with the patients at Tenwek Hospital. All of our leaders and parents agreed. That in itself was surprising. So we discussed it with Eden who prayed and also agreed - though she didn’t want to leave family. Caleb continued to shoot things with his Legos…
So now we are here at home in Tenwek. All healthy so far. Homeschool back in full swing. One week of quarantine done, one week to go. Then I will begin working in the hospital. We don’t have any known or suspected cases at Tenwek so far but I expect them to come soon.
My prayer for all of us is that we will know the love of God shown to us in Jesus. To experience that for ourselves. To rest in his love for us. And to share that love with those around us.
“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.”
1 Th 3:12–13 NLT
This January another class of general surgery and orthopedic surgery residents graduated from the PAACS Tenwek Surgery Residency Program. To God be the Glory! It is so encouraging to see the knowledge and passion for taking care of patients with excellence in the name of Jesus expanding.
The Tabitha Bible Studies are continuing to bring light and life and give joy....and that's just me to me! We are focusing on personal quiet times of studying and sharing testimonies while we are together. We also started studying the book of Luke in February. I am always in awe how the Lord can knit people together with very little in common, except Jesus. I am so honored to be part of these women.
I think THE MOST EXCITING THING to say about the last three months, is that this wild child has chosen to give his life to Jesus. He prayed with us to ask Jesus to forgive his sins and be in charge of his life. Eden asked how could he understand those concepts at such a young age. I don't know. But I do know that he talks about Jesus and the bible and God with new understanding and zeal that he didn't have before. If you would have asked me three months ago if he was getting anything that we have been talking about in our morning bible time....I would've said, I doubt it because every answer he gave had something to do with legos or pirates or some kind of other unrelated thing. We praise the Lord for this awesome good gift!!!!!
Lastly, Eden and her dad had been training for a bike race on Mount Kenya Valentines weekend. It was 26 miles!!! They camped out on Mt Kenya at 4,000ft. Then took a vehicle up to 10,000ft and rode down to the finish line. This year it was so muddy that a lot of people dropped out. The mud kept getting stuck in their ties and the wheels wouldn't move. But they persevered!!! And FINISHED!!!! They passed gazelle, zebra, a herd of elephant and a RHINO!!!!!! I think that's a story that Eden will be telling for the rest of her life....I know I'm going to be bragging about it for the rest of my life!
Thank you for your continued support and prayers. God is using your faithfulness to move mountains!
Mike (pediatric surgeon) and Julie (nurse/mother to two) living in Kenya, East Africa