Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
We had our first Tabitha Bible Study meeting this month since corona separated all of us in March. It was so nice to be together. I thought it would be explosive and exuberant...but I think we all are still figuring out what the new normal is. We'll get there. Together.
We each shared ways that the Lord has been faithful to us as we've been apart. So many stories of God's goodness and compassion during such a hard time. I shared with them that the Lord stood with us when Mike had to have his back surgery. When they realized what Mike had been through, they wanted to come back and be with us just to hear about it and thank the Lord together. As Americans, its easy to think, we're together now, let's just talk about it now. But that's one of the most beautiful parts of Kenyan culture. This purposeful being together.
So, this week on Tuesday afternoon, many of the leaders came to visit, encourage us and hear about Mike's health. It was uncomfortable to think that they were coming all this way just to see us. One of the women traveled three hours on the back of a motorbike one way. Another woman traveled two hours. Each one's coming came with a sacrifice. And we were so humbled and grateful.
Mercy shared Psalm 125:1-2 with us and it has been going over and over in my mind ever since. She kept saying how grateful she was that the Lord surrounded us. And He is still surrounding us. Things are still hard here. And everywhere. But the Lord really does surround those who trust in Him. I'm not sure who else needs to hear this today. But I do. And I wanted to share it for whoever else needs to be reminded of this truth.
Not only did they come with words of encouragement, but each woman brought a gift. Sugar. Pineapple. Pumpkins. Beans. Eggs. There really are just no words.
Some quick stories of our life here at Tenwek...
A few years ago I applied to KidsOR for brand new pediatric surgery equipment. It took several hours to write the grant request and a visiting pediatric surgeon (Dr Iocono) took care of the clinical work while I typed away at my desk - Thanks Joe!
Several challenges including COVID delayed the arrival of the shipment. But a few weeks ago a 20 foot container arrived at Tenwek full of equipment. I am so excited to start using the new gear (cause I'm a gear freak) and to continue to improve the quality of the care we offer to our community's children.
After returning to Kenya 5 years ago, I have finally been able to begin training pediatric surgeons at Tenwek. So far two fellows have completed rotations with me away from their program at Kijabe Hospital three hours away.
Dr Alain Ndibanje spent two months working with me prior to graduating and returning home to Rwanda last month. He is the second PS in his country.
Dr Yves Mpongo spent 6 weeks with me prior to my back surgery in August. Hopefully he will return next year for another rotation prior to graduating. Dr Mpongo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, married a wonderful woman from Cameroon, completed general surgery training in Niger, worked as a general surgeon in Burundi and is now halfway through his PS training in Kenya. He and his wife Shakina continue to pray about where they will serve.
We thank God that none of the Tabitha women have been diagnosed with COVID despite community spread in our area.
After months of avoiding gathering in large groups as per government direction, our home was blessed with 20 leaders yesterday. It was so good to see their faces again.
Pray with Tabitha as they, along with everyone around the globe, struggle to address the issues of COVID with wisdom and grace.
Back to school!
Caleb is so excited to be in first grade. With his big sister enjoying the blessing of a school teacher in another location, he gets to use the "classroom" in our house.
Eden has one classmate in sixth grade this year and also has been able to do an online Spanish class. It's exciting for us to watch her grow.
It's been five weeks since the operation on my spine. I tried to go back to work last week but found it was too early. I'm doing well at home again and plan to return to work next week. A bit of time and some more physical therapy seem to be sufficient. I remain incredibly grateful for how God has provided.
Mike (pediatric surgeon) and Julie (nurse/mother to two) living in Kenya, East Africa