My Grown-up Christmas List

Are you looking for a way to bless others in need this Christmas season? Heath and Angela Many, missionaries at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya, have a Christmas list for you that will bring hope, joy, and much-needed items to patients and doctors in Kenya. Check out their latest blog post to learn more.

Well friends, here it is…My 3rd annual Grown Up Christmas List!  When I began this wish list three years ago, our second Christmas in Kenya, I was struggling to come to terms with the reality of deep needs all around me in my new life…needs that overnight had gone from being statistics and maps, to patients and neighbors and friends.  I desperately desired to give meaningful ways for my circle in the US to engage with our needs here in Kenya.  You have stepped up in amazing ways to help meet our ministry needs, and we have been so blessed to be the conduit of your blessings to our community!

Last year, through your generous year-end gifts we were able to help purchase a much-needed ultrasound machine for the Surgery Department!  It has been put to great use for improved pre-operative evaluation, post-operative patient care, ultrasound-guided procedures, and resident education.  There were also gifts given toward our local orphan ministry, help in spreading the word about our need for a teacher, and ultimately gifts toward supporting Grace (our teacher) as well.

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Heath using the new ultrasound machine to evaluate a post-operative cardiac patient.
Photo credit: Heath and Angela Many

This year, our wish is to raise enough funds to buy IV pumps for our Intensive Care Units and Maternity (L&D).  This may not sound like a very “exciting” need, but caring for patients who require certain critical medications without an IV pump is incredibly difficult!  It means that we must count and time the drips carefully and readjust the tubing manually to get the drip-count just right for the accurate dose.  Not only is this tedious and difficult, but it is risky for patients as they can easily be given too much or too little medication.

To further express the impact that this has on patient care, Heath will share about one of his recent patients…

My first few calls after we returned to Tenwek were busy ones.  Between civil unrest due to elections and a nation-wide nursing strike we were slammed with surgical emergencies.  Late one afternoon, a woman came to casualty complaining of abdominal pain after spending several days at another hospital.  It was clear that she had some sort of catastrophic problem in her abdomen which would require surgery.  Her blood pressure was low which required the administration of many liters of IV fluid to correct, and after we had done so, we took her to surgery.  While there we found that she had a gangrenous segment of intestine which had perforated- clearly this was a problem that had gone on for days.  During the procedure her blood pressure continued to drop forcing us to start her on medication to raise her blood pressure, and we performed an abbreviated operation so that we could get her out of the OR and to the ICU.  After transporting her to the ICU, she continued to need a couple of medications similar to adrenaline (we refer to these drugs as vasopressors) to maintain her blood pressure.  These medications must be carefully titrated in relatively small amounts to prevent complications.  In the U.S., we use electronic IV pumps to control the rate of delivery of these medicines.  At Tenwek, we have a very limited number of IV pumps and there were none available this night.  So, we mixed up the medicines in large bottles of saline and began the tedious task of counting the number of drips of fluid over a minute so that we could determine the dose of medicine she received and then make adjustments to the rate accordingly.  We spent a couple of hours at her bedside watching her blood pressure and counting and adjusting drips.  Despite our efforts, our patient died a few hours later- her infection was simply too advanced, and she received treatment too late.  However, our experience that night brought to light one of the biggest issues we (and especially our nurses) wrestle with in our intensive care units- lack of IV pumps.  It is clear that we will have a hard time improving the quality of care of our most critically ill and injured patients without suitable IV pumps.

One IV pump costs $1500.  We would like to purchase 25 pumps for use in our ICU and Maternity areas at Tenwek Hospital.  Can your family, business, or church group come together and purchase an IV pump?  It would make a life-changing Christmas gift for a patient in need!

To give toward this project, click HERE.  This goes directly into our ministry account.  All gifts that we receive in December will go toward the IV pump project.  Feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.  We will update you after Christmas with the outcome!

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Our current IV set-up. Count… the… drip… drip… drip…
Photo credit: Heath and Angela Many

As the song lyrics say, “But Heaven only knows, That packages and bows, Can never heal a heartached human soul.”  We know that our material gifts will always fall short of meeting the deepest need of the soul.  We pray that as we attend the physical needs of the patients under our care to the best of our ability, with kindness and compassion, that we can show the love of Christ, pointing to the giver of all gifts and the healer of our souls.

We hope that your Christmas season is filled with reminders of God’s love and His gift of a Savior in Jesus. Thank you for helping us share that gift in Kenya.

When Holidays Hurt

For many, the holidays are a time of grief and remembrance. This can be even more difficult when those around are celebrating. In this article, Val Sleeth shares about loss and how she was able to deal with the hurt this Thanksgiving.

Why is it the joy of others makes my hurt ache more acutely?

My mom died 7 months ago.

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Mom with sisters April, Val, and Carla

I remember a deep sadness settling over me around 6 months. At that point, her death was becoming reality. She wasn’t gone on a prolonged vacation. My initial daily impulses to text her pictures of Hannah had waned to weekly occurrences.

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Mom with Hannah, Fall 2016

And though for me time has made her death painfully real, for those who knew her only as “Val’s mom,” these months have eroded the memory of that abrupt event.

If you’ve lost, you’ve experienced this. Your dear friend’s life stopped—it feels like yours with it—while everyone else’s goes on.

Thanksgiving exists in Kenya only insofar as we expats create it.

On Thursday I was visiting with a Kenyan friend—Carol runs one of the small shops by the hospital—when she wished me, “Happy Thanksgiving.” It was 2:00 in the afternoon and the holiday hadn’t occurred to me!

If you’ve lost, you know the power of death to transform holidays into horrible days. My forgetfulness seemed a boon, enabling me to carry on with studying Swahili and making chapatti free from that burden of grief.

Thursday evening the Roberts, another missionary family, hosted a gathering to sing and share thanks. We were encouraged to hear how God has provided this year amid election strife and doctors’ and nurses’ strikes and sickness and confusion.

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Thanksgiving dinner at Tenwek*

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The greatest blessing I received that night was this: pumpkin bars.

(*photo credit: Dean Cowles)

To read the rest of the post, go to Clark and Val Sleeth’s ministry blog.

The Waiting Game

God asks me to wait so often that sometimes I wonder if He understands the concept of time. Then I remember He created it. Do you every feel this way? Jeff and Christine Stanfield, who have served as missionaries in Kenya and now Uganda since 1990, have experienced similar feelings. Read on for an update and life lesson from Christine as she explores the idea of God as our gardener.

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Photo credit: Christine Stanfield

We moved to Uganda late in 2012. In February of 2013 we planted two starts of lemon trees. We asked, “How long does it take for lemon trees to bear fruit?” The answer we received was, “Usually 4-5 years here.”

That sounded about like forever then. However, we were delighted to discover in the spring months of 2017 that our lemon trees were blooming. “Don’t get too excited,” we told ourselves. “The trees may just bloom this first year and not yield any real fruit. But just imagine NEXT year!” Yumm, we could almost taste the lemon!

We have been thinking a lot about first fruit. We are about to complete our first term (two years) in the position of Country Director of WGM in Uganda. We feel like first fruit times. We had our scraggly spots through the term. We were cautious about the beginning.

To read the rest of this story, visit the Stanfields’ ministry blog.

ACT: Meditate on the idea that God’s plan for you at this moment could be to wait. God asks so many things of us; and oftentimes, when He asks us to wait, we can get impatient. Today, ask yourself, “What can I be learning about God? How can I grow closer to Him while I wait and look forward to what’s next?”

Personal Time with God Is Life Saving!

“Last night I wanted to end my life. When I fell asleep, I had a dream, and you were in it, so I have come to you this morning.”

John and Linda Spriegel are missionaries serving in Kenya. Linda helps coordinate a women’s Bible study and ministry project called Tabitha Ministry. The needs being met by this group are significant!  

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“Tabitha leaders fit snuggly into our new living room”. Photo credit: Spriegels

“Julianna, one of our top Bible study leaders, welcomed the distraught woman into her home and listened to her hopeless story. When the knock on the door had come, Julianna had been in the middle of her quiet time with the Lord, meditating on Matthew 11:28–30. She knew the Lord wanted this woman to hear His words of comfort and hope. ‘Come to me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.’ After a heartfelt time of sharing and prayer together, her friend left with renewed faith.

“Peris and I (Linda) have given our top twenty Bible study leaders a Sabbath rest from any responsibilities for three months, to give time for all of us to focus on deepening our personal devotion to Christ. With their busy lives, it is difficult for our leaders to take the crucial time to sit before the Lord, to be rooted and established in Him. And without this vital ‘abiding,’ our work will be shallow. God is blessing these weeks, as the scenario above testifies.”

ACT: Will you pray for Tabitha Ministry in Kenya? May the leaders continue to have the encouragement and protection they need from God. May the participants feel the love of Christ and understand His vision through these groups.