It is somewhat surreal to write “Volume 20” at the top of the mail version of this letter. Nineteen years ago today, I had walked away from my private practice, was unemployed and wondering what God would do and where He would lead. Today, I am again without a job and wondering what God will do and where He will lead. All in all, not a bad place to be if you can trust in Him and His goodness!
It is a weird feeling, though. PAACS and all the concerns of the program directors, residents and hospitals have been constantly on my mind day and night for the past 11 years. I find that it is not easily switched off. “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.” I must keep that Polish proverb in mind. “Not my circus, not my monkey.” It has been hard to wake up each morning this week and to NOT worry about PAACS or try to solve this problem or that. I am trying to stay out of Keir Thelander’s (the new Chief Medical Officer for PAACS) way and to let God handle it. Pray for us all during this transition.
Per our usual, we trekked to Michigan on Christmas Day to visit Micky’s family and returned New Year’s Eve. It was an enjoyable time and that is about all the snow I have a need to see for this year. It was odd to visit my parent’s home and find it cold and empty with a “for sale” sign outside. While in Michigan, I drove to Kalamazoo to visit our dear friends, Ed and Carol Bos at Worldwide Lab Improvement, and to meet with the programmer there in Kalamazoo who is working on the new phone app for the PAACS case log. I am happy to report that good progress is being made and our roll-out of the beta version should be on time to show the PAACS family at the Basic Science Conference to be held once again at Brackenhurst International Conference Centre in Kenya in early February.
We had anticipated sending this newsletter from Weaverville, north of Asheville. We were hoping once again to participate once again in their Global Mission Outreach conference at the Northpoint Baptist Church. It is nice to be with friends from what we have come to consider our second church home. They have been so faithful in praying for us and supporting us financially through the years and Pastor Johnny Byrd is such a good friend. However, it was snowed out and we will go later in the spring.
Saturday, January 14, I leave for Kenya to join Keir Thelander and the two other surgeons who will make up the accreditation team from Loma Linda University. We will meet up in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam before flying together first to Tanzania to inspect the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre program. We will then visit the general surgery program and pediatric surgery program at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya. While in Kijabe, Keir and I will find time to talk to the Kijabe orthopedic team to determine whether they can start our second orthopedic training program next year. I hope to visit our dear friends, John & Rebecca Fulks, who are now at Rift Valley Academy – we met them almost at the beginning of our medical missions experience when they served in Jinja, Uganda and they have remained good friends despite the distance and his proclivity to cheer for Ohio State University. Next, we will cross the Great Rift Valley to Tenwek to visit the general surgery and orthopedic surgery program there. Next, after a couple of game drives on the Masai Mara, the LLU team will return to the US.
My son, Ryan, and his wife, Chrissy, will join us for the game drives. This is their first trip to Africa and they are going to video record all the lectures at Brackenhurst for the future use and review by the PAACS residents. Every other year, PAACS holds a two-week basic science course for the first and second year residents. It is also a great time of relaxation, spiritual rejuvenation, bonding and problem-solving for the Program Directors and Assistant Program Directors. Keir has been in charge of the thousand and one details for this one and I am going to lecture seven times and to help coordinate the program onsite while Keir is involved with other things. Although I will miss Micky and Sean who have attended every previous conference, I am looking forward to seeing Kenya and the conference through Ryan’s and Chrissy’s eyes.
At the end of the two weeks, Ryan and Chrissy head home to the States and I head to Chiang Mai, Thailand via Abu Dhabi and Bangkok for the next Continuing Medical & Dental Education Conference. I will be teaching basic life support and helping with a faculty development course for almost two weeks before coming home. It will be a long time away from Micky and Sean but it always a great time.
Micky continues to improve from her surgery – after seeing a physical therapist who specializes in such problems, she has a set of exercises she must do daily. Sean started his second semester of school and has some new subjects this semester.
We are once again on a full faith-basis for our mission expenses. Only Micky will have a part-time salary from this point onward. We will not take any sort of salary or other support for our personal expenses, but will trust that God will provide through people like you to help us with the expenses of our ministry and travel. It is an investment in God’s work and He will pay the dividends.