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.

many 1

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!

many 2.jpg

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.

blog01

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.

blog02-e1511758594395

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.

tenwektg

Thanksgiving dinner at Tenwek*

twtg02

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.

Trauma and Critical Care Training: What Was I Thinking?

Have you ever seen a need, tried to meet that need, and then found that it is way more tiring to fulfill than you had originally thought it would be? Heath and Angela Many are missionaries serving in medical ministries in Kenya. Heath recently wrote a blog post about the need for more specialized training for the residents in the medical education program at Tenwek. The challenging aspect about this need was the long, exhausting hours he had to put in to figure out how best to teach them.

img_09231

Photo credit: Heath and Angela Many

“At some point in 2004, I walked out of the University of New Mexico Hospital with a smile on my face.  I had just completed my last day on the trauma service.  No longer would I be up in the middle of the night taking care of labor-intensive injured patients.  No longer would I sit for hours in the ICU taking care of the sickest of sick patients while others operated on the “interesting cases.” My career path was taking me towards the aspect of surgery that I loved the most—operating, operating, operating. I was happy to be in the OR all day while critical care specialists helped take care of the sicker patients whose care I was involved in.”

I spent the first decade of my career as a busy, private practice surgeon, which meant I spent a lot of time in the operating room.  I loved it.  But as our family transitioned to Kenya it became very apparent that good outcomes in complex surgical patients at Tenwek were hard earned.  Yes, a technically perfect operation is imperative; however, a good outcome depends on much more than just a good operation.  Technically difficult operations could be completed; however, patients who became sick after these procedures or who were admitted to the ICU after life-threatening trauma often times died when they shouldn’t have.

To read the rest of the blog post, visit the Many ministry blog.

Community

In America, we have the luxury of personal space. Can you imagine living close to, worshiping with, and sharing life with those you work with inside and outside of work? Bob and Andrea Parker are missionary doctors serving at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya. In their latest blog post, they talk about this reality.

Turi 2016 edit

Our Kenya Field Missionary Colleagues
By Andrea Parker
Photo Credit: Dylan Nugent

People often ask us how reality differed from our expectations in moving to Kenya. In many ways, we didn’t know what to expect from life and work at Tenwek, and we tried to approach our new life without too many assumptions. But, there were some things that surprised us. For me, it was living in community.

I had not anticipated how living in such close proximity to those we serve with would affect me. Or how it would feel to live with the same people we work with and worship with and socialize with and do school with. This was a cost I had not counted.

It’s easy in that situation to begin to resent the community and those in it. I began to miss the compartmentalized and often virtual life that seemed so easy in the United States, where I could choose who I wanted to know and who I wanted to be known by. And I could so easily separate the various parts of my life – work, church, home, family. And in doing so, I could control appearances. But, at Tenwek, there is literally no facet of our lives that is not shared with others in our community.

About a year into our time in Kenya, a seasoned missionary shared with me a profound reflection on living in community – that if we let it be, community is one of the most refining processes we can ever experience. And why is it so refining? Because it forces us to acknowledge and respond to our own impurities.

human know

“Our residents (and Bob) work together to untangle themselves from a human knot.”
Photo Credit: Dylan Nugent

Community walks into my house uninvited and stays longer than I planned, and it knows my lack of kindness when my schedule or efficiency is disrupted. Community hears me yell at my child in anger through the very thin walls. Community sees me lose patience and snap at a trainee or staff member. Community sees the way I turn a needy person away without gentleness or compassion. Community knows way too many of the times I’m not living a life of love or reflecting Jesus. Community is invasive and frustrating and hard. And community is indeed refining. Much like a marriage, it is that reflective mirror held in front of my face that reveals all the blemishes I want to pretend are not there. But unlike a marriage, I didn’t really choose this community. And sometimes our personalities and beliefs and approaches to life are very different. In all likelihood, most of them wouldn’t choose to marry me, and I might not choose to marry them.

At first this all sounds rather unappealing. Who of us really wants to be refined? But when we let it, the difficulty of community gives way to a messy beauty. Sharing life, which means sharing the really bad and sharing the really good. Because for all the irritations and struggles, when people show up ready to know and love one another, it destroys the idea and appeal of self-reliance. I must rely on others because I cannot and will not make it on my own. Community lets me borrow food when I’m out of a necessary ingredient. Community watches my child when I’m up late at the hospital and makes sure she has dinner and companionship. Community remembers my birthday (even when I don’t necessarily want it remembered). Community knows when I’m ill and checks in. Community brings me a plate of the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had on a day when I don’t think I can make it through.

To read the rest of the Parkers’ ministry blog, follow this link: Parker blog.

ACT: Christ encourages us to live in community. This week, think of someone who is either a neighbor or someone who you see often but don’t talk to and do something for them—bring them a plate of cookies or offer some type of help or service. Be a light in your community!