Rev. Dean Cowles and Dr. Cheryl Cowles returned to Tenwek in October 2015 after serving there as full-time medical missionaries with three small boys in the early 90’s. God opened the door for the Cowles to come as short-term volunteers in 2014.
“When we were here in the 90s, it was just a few American missionary doctors,” recalls Cheryl, an OB/GYN physician. “When we came back in 2014, I was amazed and delighted to see so many wonderful Kenyan doctors in charge and being trained in advanced medical fields. It touched my heart to entertain the idea of coming back full-time to help Dr. Joy Draper start an OB/GYN residency.”
Dean adds, “On our first day in 2014 I saw Rev. David Kilel who was my co-worker 20 years earlier when we started the Tenwek Chaplaincy School. I was delighted to hear that it was still going strong. Later that day I met Rev. Elijah Bii, Spiritual Director for Tenwek and Pastor of Bethesda Church located inside the hospital. We had started that over 20 years ago as a way to offer English worship services for our non- Kipsigis staff. He remembered me while he was attending Tenwek Boys High School during those years where I served as the school chaplain, and now he is the pastor of the church we planted! I love how God does that.”
When Dean and his son Solomon, who was born at Tenwek in 1991, came with Cheryl in 2014 as short-term, non-medical volunteers, he saw a need for helping other non-medical spouses and family members discover significant ways to help out in the hospital and community. So when they returned last October, Dean volunteered to serve as the first Field Director for Friends of Tenwek.
“It’s been a real joy to dive into all the various ways non-medical visitors can help out around here,” says Dean. “I love meeting new people and helping them match their gifts, talents, and interests with the many programs, outreaches and volunteer needs we have at the hospital and in the surrounding communities. I hope those thinking of coming will not say, ‘Well I’m not a doctor so I don’t have anything to offer and will just let my spouse go and I’ll stay home’. We have lots of things you and your family can do to make a difference. But most of all, coming on a short-term mission trip will make a difference in you.”