Snow in the mountains cancelled our trip to the Global Outreach mission conference in Weaverville, NC scheduled for January 6 – 8. We were disappointed. We have rescheduled a time to go there later in the spring and look forward to the time with our second church home.
I was very pleased to hear from someone I hadn’t seen in years. Tom Garber is an expert in high power electricity that I met in Africa. He wrote out of the blue, ““It has been many years (1998) since we met in Togo along with Bill Wright. We (www.itec.org) have been very busy providing power to mission hospitals, orphanages and mission stations worldwide. You are partly responsible for this as you gave me the book Half Time at a time in my life when I was trying to make a decision to leave my great job with the power utility and step into full time missions at age 49. Thank you for doing that as it has been an awesome 18 years with hopefully many more to go.” Praise God that we have been able to be used by God when we were not really planning on it being so! You might want to go to the ITEC website and see the great work they are doing. View the video there.
In a humorous sidebar, he reminded me of a trip we once took together. “You might remember the mass blessing we received one time on the commuter flight out of Nairobi when the power was off. The crew finally asked, "Does anyone have any guns or knives? No? Okay, board the plane!" They were obviously relying on the well-known truth that a terrorist would never lie about such a thing.
Despite my “retirement”, I continue to put in full days. A lot of it was related to ongoing PAACS projects and I also approved the final printer’s copy of the 60+ page chapter on tropical infectious disease for a new textbook in global surgery. That chapter has been more than a year in completion (I hit my deadlines, but the overall process is slow).
On Saturday, January 14, I left Sean and Micky and flew to join three others for the Loma Linda inspection tour of the programs in Tanzania and Kenya. I was the only one to make it on the right day when delayed flights and the loss of an engine delayed the others. With a little finagling of the schedule, we were still able to give due time in Tanzania. We visited the general surgery programs at Arusha Lutheran Medical Center (and its sister hospital Selian Hospital) in Tanzania, and Kijabe and Tenwek Hospitals in Kenya. We also inspected the orthopedic program at Tenwek and the pediatric surgery program at Kijabe Hospital. Keir Thelander, my replacement as Chief Medical Officer, and I also had a side conversation with the orthopedic surgeons at CURE-Kijabe and AIC-Kijabe Hospitals about a possible new PAACS-approved orthopedic training program there. Later in the month during the Basic Science Conference, Keir and Susan Koshy, the PAACS CEO, went back to talk with the administration at both hospitals. Such agreements can take an amazingly long time to finish.
The team from LLU included Dr. Mark Reeves, the Program Director of the general surgery program at Loma Linda, and for the first time joining a team, Dr. David Turay, a native-born Sierra Leonean and now a trauma surgeon at Loma Linda. These gentlemen gave up their leave time to accomplish this visit and over a year, Dr. Reeves will very generously donate more than six weeks’ time to this process. They were very pleasant travel companions and a great resource to both PAACS and the various programs. The programs hate the process but appreciate the results.
S3 Ministries gave a grant to record the science lectures for PAACS. This permitted my older son, Ryan, and his wife, Chrissy, to come to the 5th PAACS Biannual Basic Science Conference in Kenya to video record all of the lectures. Ryan is now a wedding photographer and videographer by trade, so he bundled up all his camera and lens and lugged them Africa to help us out. He also serves as a wonderful still photographer. Once back home, he will edit and put all these lectures together (which will take weeks to months to finish) and they will be distributed to all programs so the residents can review them at their will.
Under the premise that all work and no play make Jack a dull boy, I went with the LLU team for two safari drives in the Masai Mara preserve area. It is a tented safari camp that I have visited before. Ryan and Chrissy arrived early enough to join us for a total of four drives (despite the jet-lag). It was so much fun to show them the Africa that Micky and I love.
The residents have had very long days with worship starting at 7:30 and evening meetings going to 9:30. They have truly been drinking from a firehose! This afternoon, however, they are going on a walking safari at nearby Crescent Island and will have tomorrow off for worship and relaxation. Ryan and Chrissy are eager to go along.
I will help Keir with the final details when everyone leaves Thursday and will fly out Friday morning toward Southeast Asia for the medical and dental education conference.