There's also a summary of the article on the Republic of Togo's website (in French).
Some people assume I’m going to Africa as a medical missionary because I have a heart of gold. But quite the opposite is true. In fact, I’ve seen my heart, and it isn’t pretty. Just like everyone else in this world, I struggle with pride, lies, selfishness, fear, anxiety, identity and many other dark matters of the heart. As the ancient prophet Jeremiah wrote, “the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it?” We trick ourselves if we think we are “good.” Upon deep introspection, I know Jeremiah is right – I’m sinful. Even my best intentions are marred with hidden agendas.
Then perhaps my impetus for going to Africa is to balance out all the bad in my life with good in order to please God or to be at peace with myself? Maybe it is a form of self-punishment or penance? But when it comes down to it, I know I’m incapable of saving myself, and to believe otherwise is to think much too highly of myself. I’m going to Africa because of Christmas.
Christmas is the story where people with hearts like mine find hope in the strangest of places. The King of Kings, God, looked upon us, and saw our broken hearts and lives. He saw mankind’s plight and was moved by love to intervene on our behalf. What was Spirit became flesh. Almighty God became Emmanuel, God with us, in the form of the helpless baby Jesus. Why? Why would God give up His throne for a feeding trough? Why would God expose himself to disease, pain and death? Why would He exchange His royal robes for swaddling clothes? Why would He leave paradise for a place where He would be spit upon, homeless and eventually beaten and crucified on a cross?
It was out of love – out of love for our broken, helpless souls. He came to partake of our suffering and to bear on His own back the justice our sin deserves. He came to set us free so that we might have life – life most abundant! Because of God’s love, I no longer have to despair of my black heart this Christmas. God has dealt with it. I can now truly love my neighbor. I don’t have to be motivated by easing my guilt, feeling good about myself or gaining “points” with God. I am now free to live by the love, grace and mercy God has shown me. It is by His example and empowerment that I can leave the hidden agendas and pride behind and show others God’s love.
God’s concern for the poor, widows, orphans, foreigners, disenfranchised and other social outcasts permeates the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. You don’t need to go to Africa to find these folks. They are living next to us. Jesus said that loving God and your neighbor sums up all the commandments of God. It is the Christmas story that teaches us what true love looks like. God has placed a burden on me and Jessica’s hearts to make Africans our neighbors, but you can love your neighbor right where you are if you are willing to humble yourself and receive God’s love.
John, Jessica & Elise Cropsey
That surgeon retired shortly thereafter, and I know he doesn't remember me or the advice he gave me. I thought about writing to him after finishing residency earlier this year to "show him" that I had made it despite his advice. I'm glad I didn't. During our orientation last Monday of "how to take the Oral Boards" the person orienting us said, "...and in some of your rooms there will be an extra person...he is there just to make sure things are fair, etc." Well, lo and behold, against all odds, it was this same surgeon, and he was in my room during my exam!
In many ways I know that this surgeon was right - I DON'T have all that it takes to be a surgeon, but I also know that God's strength is demonstrated in our weakness.
By God's grace I passed the exam. I feel that having this surgeon there (unknowingly) presiding over me successfully completing the final step to becoming a certified surgeon was a gift from God to bring closure to the era of his voice echoing in the back of my head. It has also been a reminder that "it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." (Psalm 118:8)
This year, we officially made known our decision to head to Tenwek Hospital next fall as a first step in what will hopefully turn out to be many years of fruitful ministry together. Part of what makes the GMHC great is a chance to network with tons of people and organizations, as well as see old friends and classmates and people we have served with on short term trips. On Friday at lunch the four of us enjoyed spending an hour or so with docs and spouses who have or are serving at Tenwek. This was a great source of encouragement, and I also got some good questions answered (the answer is no, we don't have to bring our own refrigerator to Kenya...)!
For those of you who who have never been to the conference, but have an interest in health, public health, community development, short term missions, long term missions, etc etc, it comes highly recommended. Some highlights from this year's conference, at least for me, seemed to center around the cost of serving God. For starters, there was an amazing plenary lecture by Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer, head of the President's Task Force on Malaria. I didn't even know this existed, but apparently President Bush dedicated over two billion dollars towards malaria treatment and prevention in Africa. More powerful, though, was Adm Ziemer's personal story about growing up as the kid of missionary parents serving in Vietnam just before the Vietnam War. His father was martyred there by the North Vietnam Army. Another breakout session by Jeff McKinney (surgeon in Honduras) talked about "Counting the Cost," centering around the fact that sacrifice is supposed to cost us. And Rick Donlan, a doc serving in the inner city of Memphis, spoke on the David/Goliath battle in the context of risk and serving God. So many great themes that hopefully we'll be exploring in more depth over the weeks to come in our blog posts.
In the meantime, we're looking forward to a McCropder "summit" this weekend as the Cropseys will be in town--the first time we've all been together since June. Stay tuned for more adventures and musings on our future together.
As many know, little Elise Cropsey is set to have a baby brother in the early part of the next calendar year. After an enthusiastic conversation with a Swaziland ophthalmologist a few months ago, John has taken to calling his new son "The Swaz". Of course, John is kidding (we think), but this no longer matters, as the rest of us will most certainly call this kid The Swaz for the rest of his childhood. In fact, the "the" part must also stay, as in "Hey The Swaz, come here for a minute."
The McLaughlin family will be increasing by 50% with the coming of a new baby in late April. We may choose to save the more flamboyant baby names for later children, but we are nonetheless very excited.
And Anna Fader will be getting up close and personal with Amharic culture, as the Faders adopt a little girl from Ethiopia, some time between now and the time we depart for Africa. We are blessed and we thank God, who has filled us to overflowing.
It was a great opportunity, and fairly well attended by the medical students (or "studs"), with whom international medicine is a very popular topic. For my part, I talked a little about what our plans are for the future, as well as my past experiences abroad both as a medical student and as a resident.
Afterwards, multiple students came up and asked us about a number of topics. The motivations towards international work are various, and for the most part, admirable. The enthusiasm seems to be highest earlier on in medical education, when principles shine bright, and seeming problems with practicalities seem easy to overcome. Given that the options entertained in Africa for us now all have to do with education of Africans, the way to most effectively guide students and residents remains a particularly important topic.
The most poignant and thought-provoking case I experienced while in Liberia was that of the 6 week old boy pictured here. He was finally brought to the Mercyship after a one week history of a painful lump in his groin accompanied by persistent vomiting and lethargy. It turned out to be a strangulated hernia (intestines which died as a result of getting stuck in a defect in the abdominal wall). When he came to us he was severely dehydrated, weighing only 3 pounds! He was too sick to even survive an operation, so we did our best to resuscitate him. In the end, we could not save him, and he died in his father's arms the following day. The father's faith challenged me, as through tears he acknowledged God's sovereignty saying, "God gives and God takes away." This was also Job's response to losing his entire household and all his children as a result of Satan testing his devotion to God in Job 1:21.
While I know that God can, and will, ultimately bring good out of this situation (Romans 8:28), I am also convinced that God did not design for this child to die for lack of a simple surgical procedure. So how is it that this baby died? The simplest answer is that we live in a fallen world, where death is as certain as life. All the same, God has chosen to redeem this fallen world through his church (Ephesians 2:10). What a privilege to be a part of bringing about the Kingdom of God on this earth! Though everything will not be made completely new until Jesus comes again, until then, I hope to be found redeeming the world, one hernia at a time.
"While we were sitting outside at Violet’s house, several kids came around to stare at the funny visitors. Some of the kids were Violet’s grandchildren or nieces/nephews and some were just neighbors. Violet was commenting on the fact that Zachary is as tall as her 5 year old granddaughter and then she said that it made good sense that he was tall because “his father is tall and fat, and his mother is tall and fat.” She said this complete with hand motions demonstrating the enormity of my body habitus. Well excuse me, but Elissa is with child (and looks beautiful by the way) and I’m down over 20lbs in the last 3 months. So I’m not sure if by fat she meant “healthy” or just “fat”, and I didn’t bother to ask. We laughed and I know she didn’t mean anything hurtful but, speaking only for myself, I know I’m quite huge compared to most folks in the village. However, by my calculations, if I continue to drop pounds at this rate, I’ll weigh about 13 lbs when we return home in 2 years. And in 6wks Elissa is going to drop 30lbs pretty quickly. So there you go…there is hope for us after all."
#1: Tie between New Zealand, Sweden, and Denmark
#18: USA (in case you wanted to know), tied with Belgium and Japan
#36: Botswana, the best ranked in Africa
#54: South Africa
#72: Swaziland (interestingly high for the last absolute monarchy in Africa)
#115: Niger, Zambia tied with others
#171: Equatorial Guinea
Most of the above African countries have received some attention (sometimes just a bit), so for those trying to catch of hint of our future location from the above list, take your best shot. =)
We're not at all trying to be secretive about that question, but there's a lot of exciting stuff happening on that front, and we'll be better equipped to give you some news in a little while, we think.
The large vessel pictured here is my temporary residence in Monrovia. This enormous hospital boat is docked here in the country of Liberia for a couple of months and is run by Mercyships. I am here for 3 weeks doing surgery (mainly hernia repairs).
The six operating rooms on board are shockingly well-equipped, and the amenities are fabulous - we even have air conditioning. The boat is so large that I sometimes forget that I am even on a boat, until I look out and see the horizon bobbing up and down.
One highlight thus far has been experiencing the community life on the boat. Eating, working, worshiping, playing, and interacting with the same 400 people from dozens of countries creates a very unique environment on board. Despite the diversity and rapid turnover of short term personnel, relationships are rich and the hospital care is of a very high quality. I'm looking forward to 2 more great weeks.
As a whole, we see this as a huge plus, and the connections with the University will likely have effects in years to come that we can only hypothesize about at the present. As it turns out, within this vast health system, there are a number of medical projects in Africa, and we have been trying to understand these and how we might fit in.
Yesterday morning, Jason and Eric had breakfast with Dr. Andy Haig, Professor of PM&R (physical rehabilitation), who has been involved in two of U of M's Africa projects. The largest project is in Accra, Ghana, where for many years the health system, particularly the OB-GYN department, has been involved in medical education. The most impressive thing that I've heard from this thus far is that, during the time of their involvement, the number of trained OB-GYNs who finished and then stayed to practice in Ghana has risen dramatically. In these times of the highest educated Africans leaving their homes in the so-called "Brain Drain", the significance of this can not be overstated. It is our understanding that U of M is wanting to expand their involvement in Ghana in a big way over the next several years across the board, to include not only different medical fields, but business, pharmacy, nursing, engineering, social work, etc. - a very large endeavor with ambitious but feasible goals.
Dr. Haig has been involved in a smaller project in Liberia, in conjunction with Mercy Ships, in which he has met with numerous people in the government and medical education, regarding possibly developing some kind of Rehabilitation program, which is virtually non-existent there at present. He told us about the state of education, namely that clinical faculty to teach the students are exceedingly rare in these years of post-civil unrest, and thus the graduating physicians are notably undertrained. It's interesting for us to consider this (or a similar opportunity) as a place to invest in the future.
The last project with which we've become acquainted is headed up with the help of Dr. Rusty Chavey, who is also Eric's advisor within Family Medicine. A couple years ago, he teamed up with the U of M business school and they have been working with a hospital in Uganda, with a goal of helping them to improve the delivery of medical services and their own business model, to the end that they could be more financially self-sustainable, and stretch their resources further to provide more care.
The Post-Residency Training Program is a 2-year fellowship funded by World Medical Mission, the medical arm of the larger international relief organization Samaritan's Purse (which is chaired by Billy Graham's son Franklin). WMM does a lot of short term work (including sending the McLaughlins to Bangladesh last year), but is not a long-term agency, and thus we will be looking for another sending agency when our 2 years is up. This fellowship program has been sending people out for a few years now (not just to Africa, but all over the globe), and its purpose is to bridge the gap between residency and longer term work by providing funding and mentorship while you work in a hospital in the developing world.
WMM partners with dozens of hospitals around the world, that are run by other organizations. When someone (like us) is accepted into the PRTP, they will work under one of these mission hospitals, where the fellow provides staffing, and the long-term docs provide mentorship - medical, cultural, spiritual, etc... A big plus for this is that expenses are covered by WMM, including travel, and they partner with Project MedSend, who, in the past, has been very ready to cover student loan payments for the fellows for the 2 year period.
They have never taken on a team of 3 families (4 doctors) before, and we appreciate the flexibility they have shown in working with us. Now begins the location question, but more on that later.
We will be posting more in the next few days regarding this development, regarding more specifics of the program, as well as what this means for location, which is always everyone's big question (ourselves not excluded). For the time being, we'll say that we are all very excited, because (1) this was our preferred path for starting out on this road to African medicine, and (2) that after many months of plans and discussions, we are taking a large step forward together.
One of the countries we have discussed is Liberia, a post-conflict nation in West Africa. The medical need is great, and the post-war situation affords opportunities to positively impact the rebuilding process. We have entertained the possibility of pursuing faculty positions at the medical school.
I, Jason, was recently presented with an opportunity to work in Liberia from September 14 to October 4 as a surgeon with Mercy Ships. I jumped at the opportunity, eager to help and excited to explore future McCropder possibilities. I also anticipate stretching my surgeon wings on what should be some interesting and challenging cases. Like a cantaloupe-sized thyroid for example.
I am looking forward to a stretching, exciting, and enlightening three weeks with Mercy Ships!
The Wounded Healer is a book written by Catholic priest and contemplative writer Henri Nouwen in 1972. Nouwen was a fascinating man, and the book a worthwhile read, though the title itself has more bearing on the present discussion than does the content of the book. The phrase, of course, makes me think of Jesus, and Nouwen uses it to describe us as we imitate Christ. It does not at all remind me of the medical institution’s image of its own practitioners. There, the two pervading images are, either the healer who needs to be whole himself/herself before extending help to others, or the healer whose personal condition has no bearing on his/her healing work.
How is Christ a “wounded healer”, and in what sense are supposed to imitate this? I can think of two ways. First, Christ’s wounds are substitutionary, as Isaiah wrote centuries before Christ, “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (53:5).” Because he was wounded, we no longer have to be. I can envision a few glorious human examples where one might imitate this (such as the end of A Tale of Two Cities), but overall this provides little in the way of guidance for my own medical practice.
But there is a second and more subtle way that Christ may model the “wounded healer”. The unknown writer of the letter to the Hebrews writes that part of the reason Christ is the greatest “high priest” (able to mediate perfectly between God the Father and mankind) is because he “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (5:15).” Did these temptations “wound” Christ? I do not know. But what is evident is that the personal story of Christ (both its ebb and flow) enables his healing of others, instead of detracting or even distracting from it. There is potential here for an appropriate guide for us to model. But how?
I do recommend Ellen's comment from the first post for more food for thought.
We recognize that we had better make peace with this. If my appendix ruptures in a couple years, Jason Fader will become intimate with my colon, and will have to deal with the responsibility of operating on me. If little Elise Cropsey gets malaria, it will likely be my treatment plan that will recuperate her. This is part and parcel to a desire to work in an area where there are minimal other medical providers.
The medical paradigm that creates these (and other) levels of discomfort with treating friends seems to be this: You are the patient. You are coming for help. I am the doctor. To best help, I need to be disconnected, and thus objective. I should not be bringing my personal story into yours, because this is about you, not me. And from this comes a separation between your patients and your friends, for friendship requires a give and take, an intermixing of personal stories. I think that our pastor at Knox was correct is stating this is likely an outgrowth of medicine’s modernistic bent.
And so I question this: Is it really possible to separate yourself personally from the patients you treat? If so, does this really provide objectivity? Does objectivity lead to healing? (If a person can be treated as a scientific physical specimen, then perhaps.) Is this a paradigm that will make a drop of sense in Africa? Is this consistent with Christianity?
More to come, but I would appreciate any thoughts from those who may read this.
Jason's brother Caleb, who is heading out next week for 2 years with the Peace Corps in Uganda, spent 2-3 months in Darfur drilling wells last year. Thankfully he was in town and able to be there, and provided some very personal perspective to an already personal documentary.
David Durham (my brother-in-law's father) wrote that much of the sentiment over Africa can be summed up in a single letter: "O". As in, "O Africa!" The tragedy, the joy, the horror, the need, the gift.
As eight young Americans sat around after our movie last night, it seemed that everyone's heart was crying out "O!", but when we tried to decide what to do, the complexity of any solution loomed large. I do not claim any exhaustive knowledge of world affairs, but it does seem that the greatest world crisis currently is Darfur, with millions displaced, and over 400,000 killed. What to do? Be aware? OK, we can do that. Tell others? We can do that, too. Support sending in armed forces and be involved in another nation-building event? Maybe, but our collective wisdom seems not to be sufficient to answer that definitively.
Pray? Yes, we can pray. God, help Darfur. Help us to know how to act justly. Bring healing, wholeness, peace.
Another highlight from the graduation event was definitely having Eric play the piano during the cocktail hour before the ceremony.
Now I begin a one-year "fellowship" in which I will learn various skills to better prepare me for operating as a surgeon in Africa. This will include learning a wide variety of operations such as C-sections, fracture repair, urological procedures, plastic surgery, and various ENT procedures. The light at the end of the tunnel is certainly getting brighter, as I look forward to getting my first "real job" next year, at the age of 32!
*Largest country in Africa
*The two-decade civil war between the north and the south claimed the lives of 1.5 million people and an estimated 200,000 people have been killed in the Darfur conflict which began in 2003
*Founded by freed American & Caribbean slaves
*250,000 people were killed in the civil war that ended in 2003
*President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became Africa's first female head of state in Jan '06
Stephen Montgomery, 3-year veteran of Niger, soon to return as a hospital administrator to Galmi Hospital, Niger, came as spoke to us regarding Serving in Mission, or SIM, an agency that sends many people, often in medical contexts, to several hospitals in Africa. We enjoyed Moe's burritos together, and then sat in the shade next to Jessica's parents' pool, and talked about many things. Among them, we were interested in his perspectives on life in community, as he not only had lived in the communities in Niger, but also had long-lived in a very close community in the Chicago area. Since we have undertaken to pursue this as 3 families together, we are interested in learning how to best make this aspect of our lives fruitful.
Certainly the take-home quote from Stephen went something like this: "It's true that wisdom can be found within a community, but it's also entirely possible for the sum thoughts of the group to be stupider than any one person's individual wisdom." Noted.
He also spoke from a Jean Vanier (founder of the L'Arche community, often thought of in connection with Henri Nouwen) book. Namely, that the pursuance of community itself can be held so high as an idea, that one begins to see the faults of the members of the community merely as impedances to the idea. In other words, you can't see the trees because of the forest. Community itself can be important, but it is only important because of the people involved, who thus must be upheld above the community idea.
Strong thoughts, and worth learning for us at this point of beginning with this community. Thanks much for your travel and your time, Stephen. God bless your family's work in Niger.
A number of things were discussed, mostly centered around 3 ideas:
1. The status of our current applications with different agencies we are exploring that would send us to Africa.
2. The relative pros and cons of the two main options: namely, going to train for 2 years in Africa, then finding a long-term agency and location vs. attempting to find a longterm agency on the front end and having the training abbreviated to some degree. This will be discussed more in depth when the Cropseys spend a week in Michigan in early June.
3. The agenda for the said visit from the Cropseys, in which we will gather to meet with a couple different organizations.
This was all done in the subtext of friendship and banter that gives our lives its true color. Thus the following 3 things were also discussed:
1. McCropders Summit 2008 in a farm house in Kentucky, at the Global Health Missions Conference. Man, we're psyched.
2. Heather and Eric strangely have the exact same birthday in early June whilst the Cropseys sojourn with us, and thus there will be celebration, food, and Catan to commemorate what will likely be the first of decades of joint Heather/Eric birthday celebrations.
3. John Cropsey inner desires: "I've always dreamed of becoming a jungle bunny." That's right, friends: Jungle. Bunny.
There were a lot of great points that he made, but I'll focus on one. There's an old testament story (2 Sam 12) that I've heard for many years. King David, after committing adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers and getting her pregnant, he indirectly murders the husband and marries the woman himself. Through the prophet Nathan, David learns that God is going to punish his actions by the baby dying. That such a renowned hero of the Bible as David was guilty of such heinous actions, and that God took the life of the innocent, are both parts of the story that deserve long conversations not to be found here.
Here's the focal point: David hears this, and fasts and prays and lays prostrate on the ground for days and days, imploring God to change his mind. He was so desparate that, when the infant did die, his men were afraid to tell him this news, not knowing what he might do. But he senses their hesitation, and they tell him the truth. He gets up, bathes, changes clothes, goes and worships in the temple, and then eats. They ask him how he could act like this. He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
Here is a solemn model for the physician. Ardent striving to save, ardent sacrifice on behalf of the sick and dying that we love. And then, peaceful recognition of the limits of our efforts. Acceptance, and the ability to move on and continue to live as God desires. We sense this tension in which we live. Robert, thanks for using this illustration to acknowledge the tension and instruct in the midst of it.
- Passion for God and His glory is the fuel for missions, and worship is the goal of missions. “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is….When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”
- The Westminster Confession states that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Piper agrees, but also contends that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. He writes, “The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name.”
- Piper states that “…compassion for people must not be detached from passion for the glory of God.” To support this point he quotes from John Dawson’s book Taking Our Cities for God:
“We should never be Christian humanists, taking Jesus to poor sinful people, reducing Jesus to some kind of product that will better their lot. People deserve to be damned, but Jesus, the suffering Lamb of God, deserves the reward of His suffering.”
- Summary: “No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.”
Revelations 15:3-4 "Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
I would really recommend this book. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but it’s already given me a lot to chew on!
To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Last Sunday the McLaughlins and the Faders made their church speaking debut. We were grateful for the opportunity to speak in Sunday school at our church about medical missions. We seized the opportunity to answer some of the common questions and concerns surrounding medical mission work in
Our church provided the perfect audience for our first official church presentation together. This is because, well, public speaking makes some of us (namely the Faders) pretty nervous. And at church, theoretically, the audience should be a relatively nice and forgiving group. We Faders were also comforted to see that Eric’s hands were occasionally shaking a bit, too.
Easing our nerves wasn’t the only reason that our church was the ideal presentation atmosphere. In addition, our church community is full of wonderful and interested people who will possibly come along side of our mission endeavors. We were encouraged just to think of the possibilities of future partnerships with those in attendance.
And yet, we plan on going to a place to practice where there likely are no dentists. And (to state the obvious) this does not at all mean that dental pathology will likewise disappear, in fact it's likely to be all the more severe.
So I'm spending these two weeks working with a fine group of dentists through the UofM dental school. In my first day, I learned a number of helpful tidbits at the hands of some very capable and enthusiastic faculty dentists, and also learned the basics of numbing up pretty much any part of the mouth. One of the residents even let me practice on him. Wow. My hope is that I can learn to do some basic dental assessments, learn regional anesthesia, and even learn how to take teeth out. Anything else is certainly welcome. And I do now know how many teeth we have.
I got to watch something beautiful yesterday. I was riding the bus home from the hospital, and at a particular stop, about a dozen people with various physical and mental disabilities got on the bus, with some assistants. One of the gentleman already on the bus, whom I had not noticed before, apparently also had some mild disability. As soon as his friends got on the bus, he lit up and greeted each of them with an enthusiastic hug, asking them if they would sit with him, and promising them that he was going to teach them how to dance. And for some reason, I just sat there watching, overwhelmed with joy.
I'm no expert opinion on the matter, but my limited experience and observations makes me think that to live with a disability is to live a high stakes life. The joyful moments seem hearbreakingly joyful and the sorrows are heartbreakingly sorrowful. Either way, the heart is always breaking. Such depth seems to make a beautiful life, and reminds me of the emotional responses of children, and that reminds me of Jesus' words about children inheriting the kingdom of God.
What does this have to do with medicine and Africa? I have often thought that working in Africa is also high stakes. For instance, we have looked into working in South Sudan, possibly moving there permanently after some extra training in 2011. Around that same time, South Sudan is set to hold a referendum as to whether they want to secede from the North. So, either we could be in on the ground level of the world's newest sovreign nation, or maybe it could devolve into the 3rd Sudanese Civil war. High Stakes. Great joy or great sorrow. Either way the heart is breaking.
My friend Luke traveled to the Ukraine and worked briefly with the disabled there, finding that only minimal physical care was given, and more or less no thought was given to try to improve their quality of life and instill the dignity due to each man and woman. I can only begin to imagine what I might encounter in this arena in Africa, but I imagine the stakes might be even higher.
The first week was Dr. Steve Telian (of dubious Lyntelnoster fame) speaking on what we can learn from the healings of Jesus as well as the worldview from which he seems to have been healing. Here are a couple of my favorite take home points:
1. Healing through medicine is a good gift of God against the destructive effects of sin in this world, regardless of the motivation of the practitioner. It is not only those with a wrong motivation who often presume on God’s grace to accomplish healing through medicine.
2. Health is a gift of God, since He is keeping and preserving (in addition to healing) everything in nature. Thus, it is fitting that we praise God for our health, since the hand of God is not less active here than in health restored after sickness.
3. Sometimes glorious redeeming work comes through suffering. This is a mystery and a difficult thing to find appropriate application for in medicine, but it is certainly in line with Jesus’ teaching. It is plausible because of the fact that we are never at a position to know the whole story and all the ramifications of a given suffering.
Maybe these paraphrases won’t communicate the same as stand-alone ideas, but food for thought…
Given our interest in Sudan as a possible long-term goal, I found this article fascinating, especially as it focuses on all the Sahel (the southern border of the Sahara across Africa). Partly, it scared me a whole whole lot. For the record, we are more interested in South Sudan, further away from the heart of conflict currently in Darfur where Salopek was jailed. But overall I thought his article was thoughtful and had a large amount of insight into the culture there. And his willingness to go through a jailing and return to Sudan demonstrates an admirable committment to journalism, if not to Africa and their struggle.
Donation information for the Sunds can be found by clicking here.
Eric and Rachel met in 2003 at the world famous Global Health conference in Louisville, KY (held every November--we HIGHLY recommend it!). They were married in 2005 just in time for the tax deduction. Since then, they have tramped all over this good earth, meeting many wonderful people along the way. Their personal blog is found here. Some fun facts below:
Favorite authors: CS Lewis, Frederick Buechner, NT Wright, Thomas Hardy, Tim Keller
Favorite authors: JK Rowling, Tracy Kidder, Stephen Lawhead, CS Lewis, Andrew Peterson
Favorite authors: Arnold Lobel (Frog and Toad et al), Goscinny (Asterix comics)
Favorite authors: Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss
Born: Albertville, France - 2013
Growing up: Kibuye, Burundi
Favorite Bible passage: Psalm 4:8 "In peace, I will both lie down and sleep"
What he does all day: climb on things, smile, and be involved in anything his brother and sister are doing
Favorite authors: James Joyce and Fyodor Dostoevsky, though he recently went through a Balzac phase
|LOVE Park in Philadelphia in December 2015|
Logan and Julie are old team friends from our first days in Kenya in 2010. Logan is a full-scope family doc that will be able to serve on the Adult, Pediatric, and Maternity wards, and also comes with five years of residency teaching experience. We're delighted that their family is going to come out to Burundi to round out our team.
Find out more about them at www.TheBanksOffshore.com
Information on supporting the Nimmons can be found by clicking here.
-From the McLaughlin's September 2007 sojourn in Bangladesh (Malumghat Hospital) as residents, feel free to read about Bangla-Lunch, Outpatient Translational Adventures, and the now-humorous exploits known as Roach Wars. The whole of their blogs from the month can be found here.
-Jason's story post on his Liberia trip in fall 2008 is here.
Strength in What Remains, by Tracy Kidder (Burundi)
From Bloodshed to Hope in Burundi, by Ambassador Robert Kruger
Africa Friends and Money Matters, by David Maranz
The Fate of Africa, by Meredith Martin
Out of the Jaws of the Lion, by Homer Dowdy (Congo)
Into Africa: the Epic Adventures of Stanley and Livingstone, by Martin Dugard
Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering, by Tim Keller
A Sacred Sorrow, by Michael Card
A Praying Life, by Paul Miller
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly, by Marva Dawn
Invitation to Silence and Solitude, by Ruth Haley Barton
Miracle at Tenwek, by Gregg Lewis
Missions and Money, by Jonathan Bonk
Teaching Cross-Culturally, by Judith and Sherwood Lingenfelter
Third Culture Kids, by Pollock and Van Reken
Bruchko, by Bruce Olsen
Pathologies of Power, by Paul Farmer
Wit, by Margarent Edson
We All Went on Safari, by Laurie Krebs
For You Are a Kenyan Child, by Kelly Cunnane
Greedy Zebra, by Mwenye Hadithi
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears, by Verna Aardema
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, by Verna Aardema
The Wycliffe Cookbook
The More With Less Cookbook
The Sonship Course, by Serge/World Harvest Mission
Fluenz Français language learning tools
Petit Futé Burundi (the only good guide book on Burundi, albeit in French)
Article: "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God" by Matthew Parris The Times, click here
The Devil Came on Horseback
The board game "Pandemic"