Posted on Oct 19, 2012 · Posted in Share Your Story

I visited Tenwek as a medical student in 2004 and have wanted to come back ever since. I recently had a two-month elective during my Surgical Oncology fellowship and convinced them to allow me to use the time to serve at Tenwek!

When I found out the dates that I would be available to go and submitted them to Drs. White and Chupp, they informed me that this was actually a time of urgent need. (I served as a Consultant Surgeon, covering while Dr. White and Dr. Spears were away.) I viewed this as God’s providence for myself and for the needs of Tenwek.

Tenwek has “modernized” far beyond my expectations. I remember visiting in 2004 when there was one phone on the campus from which you could dial home. Now, when you arrive, you get a cell phone (3 cents a minute for calls to the US!), a password for the WIFI, access to a beautiful hospital library, access to a CT scanner, online radiology….it is amazing! Having all of this technology didn’t change the number of unusual and advanced surgical problems that I saw, but it DID allow me to feel that we were able to diagnose and treat these problems in a VERY modern way.

I love that Tenwek is part hospital and part church. I loved seeing stories of great faith in adversity happening all around me in this place where many patients come sick and receive physical care, but also receive the hope of the Gospel during their visit. God is palpably alive and moving on the Tenwek campus in ways that we often don’t experience in North America.

I feel that Tenwek is such a family-friendly place to visit and serve. Samaritans Purse (World Medical Mission) facilitates a seamless entry and exit into the country. The guesthouse accommodations and meal plan made it possible to begin serving right away and focus on my area of service without having to worry about meeting my family’s basic needs in a new country. Someone serving at Tenwek can go to the hospital and start helping right away without worrying about all kinds of other logistics.

God is palpably alive and moving on the Tenwek campus in ways that we often don’t experience in North America.

A lasting impression of Tenwek is praying before each and every surgery. I have a new appreciation for resource management in the operating room. I don’t waste sutures or equipment the way I used to. Also, one of the surgeons there encouraged me to pray with every patient that I operate on, and I am starting to do that, even in New England!

One of my first days at Tenwek I saw a beautiful six-year-old girl sitting outside the operating theatre ready to have her leg amputated at the hip for what was felt to be a large sarcoma of her proximal thigh. As I asked her questions through the lens of a surgical oncologist, I started to feel that she perhaps had a benign tumor. I got involved and decided to do a limb sparing operation, dissecting the large tumor off of her femoral vessels and closing without a skin graft or any reconstruction. She walked out of the hospital three days later.

Two weeks later, her pathology came back as a benign intramuscular myxoma, and she was cured. I find great joy knowing that God’s purpose for my visit to Tenwek was to help this little girl to be able to walk for the rest of her life. I was blessed to participate in many more wonderful things during my next two months at Tenwek, but even if nothing else happened during the rest of the trip, I would have been satisfied that seeing this girl walk was worth the 24-hour plane ride!

You will serve, but also learn and benefit as much as you help. It’s a wonderful exchange. Also, if you visit, get involved with the Kenyans and the church there – the lifetime memories from a trip to Tenwek will not necessarily come from the work you do at the hospital, but from the lasting impressions that the people will leave with you if you take time to get involved with their lives.

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