Nathan recently called my attention to the fact that we have an abysmal track record for providing updates and posts. I’d like to say that we are turning over a new leaf, but I’d prefer not to make any rash promises I am unlikely to keep. So for now, I would just like to say that your patience is so very greatly appreciated. We feel beyond blessed that you all have continued to partner with us in spite of our lack of communication, and we want you all to know that your prayers have been very much felt and continue to be answered.
Having not even updated you since finishing language school and starting in the hospital, you must be wondering, WHAT ON EARTH ARE THEY EVEN DOING OVER THERE?! A legitimate question, and we will attempt to provide some legitimate answers.
Our accelerated Kiswahili lessons concluded in April, and since May we have been working full-time in the hospital and nursing school. The time has passed quickly, and we feel very grateful for being welcomed into our departments so warmly. I (Amy) spent the first few months trying to learn from my mentor surgeon the basics of orthopedics, urology, ENT, and all the rest that fall under the purview of general surgery here. With new skills added to my toolbox, I am now enjoying working with the interns and surgical residents to care for our full-spectrum of surgical patients. (But I am very thankful that my very patient mentor is still only a phone call/consult away!)
I have especially enjoyed teaching again, be it through lectures, skills labs, or on the wards and in the operating room (theatre). Of course, having excited and invested learners is what makes it so much fun, and I am thankful for all of the trainees that are here with us and the time I have with them. They teach me so much, about Kenya, patients, and the love of Christ.
Meanwhile, Nathan has been teaching in all sorts of capacities. He spends his time mostly at the nursing school, with lectures, skills labs, and exams, but he has also been working as a nurse practitioner and preceptor in the emergency department two days a week. In addition, he has helped provide some additional training for our clinical officers and medical officer interns in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
We were also very excited to get the opportunity to see some of our family from our home church when we joined a short term mission team from East Tennessee in June. The outreach–called Wheels for Kenya, part of Luke 14 Ministries–focuses on distributing wheelchairs to disabled Kenyans. We thoroughly enjoyed the work with the team and were excited to make new friends (both American and Kenyan). It was also a fun change of pace, even allowing us to see some other parts of Kenya we had yet to see. I (Amy) worked in the clinic triaging and evaluating patients for medical needs that might require chair modifications.
Nathan was a wheelchair mechanic, modifying and tailoring wheelchairs to fit patients. Several of the cases were for disabled children, and it was incredibly fulfilling to get to see their smiling faces when they were placed in their chair for the first time. There were over twenty people that came to salvation through the ministry outreach (!!!), and many others were encouraged and shown the love of Christ.
In September we were able to travel back to the U.S. for a few weeks, primarily so that Nathan could present at a conference in Florida. It was fun to attend Prescription for Renewal (PFR) in Orlando, and even more fun to get to hear Nathan present about the importance and impact of nursing in healthcare missions. (He did a great job, even after correcting for any of my bias.)
From there we traveled to Maryland where we were blessed to have some training on diagnostics and basic repair of endoscopes by the amazing team at EndoMaster Medical Inc. They welcomed us warmly and were oh so patient with us (especially Mr. Wang, 2nd from the left).
Though I (Amy) use scopes regularly (for EGDs and colonoscopies), we had no idea how they work, how to take care of them, and definitely no idea how to fix them. After a few days of study under a scope-repair master, we are hopeful that we will be able to take these skills back and tackle the scopes in Chogoria. One of the problems that we have encountered in Kenya is broken or unusable scopes with no good way to source repair services. We are hoping to be able to get the parts to fix a couple of the scopes so that we will have at least one upper and one lower scope in good working condition to help our many patients. (Please pray with us about this.)
Our only regret is that we couldn’t stay longer in the U.S. and weren’t able to visit with and catch up with more of you. (This trip was mostly a working trip. For our next return to the U.S. we will plan to allow time for visiting and will definitely let you all know so we can make plans to see as many of you as possible!) After a much-too-short but wonderful visit with family, we flew back to Nairobi, with Amy returning to Chogoria and surgery, and Nathan heading on to Egypt to help out due to a significant shortage of teachers at a nursing school there.
Nathan was able to help out with the teaching and even managed a weekend visit to Cairo. (Visiting the pyramids and riding a camel were my requirements for vicarious living in agreement for him being able to go.) Those five weeks were the longest that we have ever been apart during our five years of marriage and I am so glad to have Nathan back home safely.
There have been several changes at the hospital recently, including the loss of three physicians in the last month due to the ends of terms/contracts, including one of the other surgeons. This has definitely been felt at the clinical level, including in the surgical department. Patients are many but the workload is manageable and we still have a great team, but please pray for encouragement and strength, especially as my mentor continues to have to help me out with certain patients and cases. He is beyond patient with me and for that I am so grateful. We continue to feel incredibly blessed by the community that we have here, both in and out of the hospital. We are both feeling more at home in Kenya and are still so very glad that God brought us to Chogoria for this season. We have loved getting to know more of our neighbors and community, improving our Swahili with actual human interactions, seeing the beauty and wildlife of Kenya, and working alongside strong believers, both Kenyan and expat. Please continue to pray for us, for our community here in Chogoria, and for our patients, that through us all God will be glorified and His name will be made known.