Sunday, November 30, 2008

The first Sunday of Advent

This first Sunday of advent began with an hour walk. Heather, Beth and myself began at 6am just as the sun rose over the tea fields. It was stunning. A long, warm shower awaited me and then practice with the church worship team. The service in Swahilli and English lasted close to 3 hours. Praise songs, hymns, advent lighting, prayer, offering (one for the church and another for 2 women getting married and for a funeral), a sermon, and even dancing filled the service. Meredith stayed outside with me during the sermon and thankfully Amelia sent to Sunday school.

After church Amelia made a new friend. We now care for a chameleon. She is looking for a name. Any suggestions? Meredith took a walk to the dam. This dam provides the power for the homes and the hospital.

As we start this advent season. I am reminded that the first candle signifies HOPE. Serving in Kenya reminds us that this HOPE is for all people. I learned this as a child through a song. The lyrics went something like this, " Light one candle for HOPE. One bright candle for HOPE. He brings HOPE to every heart. He comes. He comes." Pray we may share in this HOPE with the people here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Touching Down in Nairobi

We left Whidbey Island at 7AM on Friday Nov 21st with two vehicles, lots of luggage, and two excited girls. The check-in process of our luggage and ticketing was uneventful. We had been prepared by other traveling physicians with only a one-way ticket to bring extra documentation from Samaritans Purse to clarify our reasons for traveling and eventual repatriation.
The 10 hour flight from Seattle to Amerstam went quicker than expected. Malin watched lots of movies. Amelia saw Peter Pan for the first time. Sara unfortunatly was struck with a severe bout of dizzyness (a side affect of malaria medication) compounded with motion sickness from the flight. Meredith walked between our seats and Nanna and Papa 5 rows to the back to burn energy until we found out she was waking other passengers.
In Amsterdam we had a two hour layover. Many tears were shed as we said a tearful goodbye to Sara's parents. Their itinerary took them on a later flight to Kenya and then on to Mombassa for mission service at a Christian Eye Clinic. We will miss them as they we a huge help getting us ready to go.
The flight to Nairobi was one hour late due to snow in Amsterdam and de-icing the plane. Overall we were very proud of our Amelia & Meredith behaved. Sara had an extra seat and was able to lie down with Meredith and try to sleep off the dizzyness. Eight hours later our plane touched down in Kenya at a warm 70 degrees at about 10 PM.
We were discouraged to see a terribly long line to get through customs. We were all wiped out and knew even after this line to get Visa's we still had to get our luggage through Customs. It seemed God knew this as a man motioned us and another medical missionary family to new counter and we had our four visas within 5 minutes.
The Kenyans were very helpful gathering our luggage. We only had one action-packer searched and our family went through customs without problems. We packed into a van and were off to a Kenyan guest house to recuperate.
Just two miles from the airport our van broke down. We were prepared as Amelia had her handheld flashlight she was given from Papa! A replacement vehicle was found and at nearly midnight--some 30 hours of traveling we could sleep! But not for long. 4 AM struck and we were wide awake!
The last two days at the guest house have been a mixed bag. We are at this point with gratitude from the support and love we have received from friends and family. At the same time it becomes evident how really far away we are from the people we love.
We anxiously await tomorow as we will drive 200 miles to Tenwek Hospital!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Packing our bags and off to Kenya


After nine 50-lb action packers, 4 suitcases, 4 carry-ons, and a harness for Meredith shaped like a Monkey for the airport we are physically ready to begin our adventure at Tenwek, Hospital in Kenya.     We leave tomorrow and arrive in Kenya on Saturday.  We will stay in a guest-house in Nairobi for several days to rest and get adjusted to the time change.  
     We travel with excitement but also with some anxiety about what the unknown holds for our family.  We pray God gives us wisdom, patience, strength and that He walks with us everyday. We believe God has great things in store for our family and that He will reveal himself in ways we could never imagine.  

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2 sets of passports

Well, we've learned a few things in the past several days. First, the government does issue 2nd passports. Second, those passports last for 2 years. Third, you have to have birth certificates, letters from employers, current passports, photo identification, plane tickets, official letters of request for a 2nd passport, passport applications, photos for the applications, $130/person, and finally you have to appear in person at one of 8 regional centers if you have children. And thankfully we had all we needed and now proudly own 2 sets of passports. Just our Kenyan medical licenses are left to obtain. Thanks to all who prayed this would go smoothly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A New Direction

New tickets, new visas, new location... new plans, but perhaps not new to God. After feeling certain our visas would not arrive in time to fly Nov 18th and almost certain it could be 3 more months of waiting, we discussed our options with World Medical Mission. Several ideas were discussed and after praying about options this weekend and emails with other hospitals we felt confident beginning to serve at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. This commitment is intially for 3 months. As my parents were already headed to Kenya for medical missions Nov 21st, Lord willing we will be flying out with them.

What has already happened amazes us. Our tickets to Cameroon were refunded enough to cover the cost of flying to Kenya and we were able to get on the same flights as my parents. Visas are easier to obtain to Kenya. Tenwek also had housing available, which is remarkable. Also, the local dentist had just requested World Medical Mission to send help.

There is still one big hurdle. We will be going Friday to Seattle to obtain a 2nd passport. This way our permanent passports can remain in the States for visas to Cameroon and we can still travel to Kenya. Once this is obtained I just have to pack everything-up into 12 fifty pound luggage pieces and we will be good to go. At this time we believe God will still bring us to Cameroon; we just don't know when. Thank you to all who are praying.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Empty Hands

Our hands are empty. Empty of the equipment we sent to Cameroon, empty of visas, empty of the sale of our house, empty of most of the stuff that used to be in our home, and empty from the goodbyes to most of our family and friends. In this emptiness it's easy to despair; we feel daily the Lord reminding us, "That a person plans their course, but the Lord directs their path." And in that we have hope. We believe God is sovereign and that God has a plan. We are confident God desires us to continue pursuing medical missions and are looking at opportunities while awaiting our visas. So for now we are asking: what does the Lord want to fill our hands with?
When God makes our path clear, we look forward to sharing that with you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Get Involved

We're now in Bend, OR visiting Malin's parents. The girls did well on the drive from Denver. Malin's parents church is having a missions festival tomorrow and we're sharing about Cameroon. We'd like to show this video, but it's too long. Instead, I decided it should be part of our blog and an encouragement to others considering medical missions.