27.6.08

Jason Graduates from Residency

Another step towards Africa: This week marks the end of my (Jason's) quarter century of education required to become a general surgeon. Last Saturday I officially graduated from general surgery residency. I was thankful to be surrounded by wonderful family including Heather, in-laws, grandmothers, and siblings, as well as some good friends.

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!

19.6.08

Country Profiles on Sudan & Liberia

Sudan & Liberia are two countries that we have considered as long-term locations. Both countries have recently gone through lengthy civil wars and are in desperate need of help on many levels. To find out more about these countries, click on the links below to view country profiles created by BBC News.

Sudan:

Interesting Facts:
*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


Liberia:

Interesting Facts:
*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

15.6.08

Drs. Kuhn and "The Impact Factor"

Drs. Ted and Sharon Kuhn, medical leads for Mission To the World (MTW), graciously made the trip up from Atlanta, GA, to meet with us and we really appreciate it. The "Lyn" and "Tel" were also present. MTW is an organization within the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), a cousin denomination to our home church, Knox, that is involved in sundry ways with medical mission work across the globe. We all met at Jessica's parents' home (a.k.a. Rivendell), and Rachel, Eric, and Jason were a few minutes late due to an incredible amount of wind, which delayed their bike ride precisely 26 minutes.

We all sat down and the McCropders, via spokesperson Eric, gave a brief overview of where we're at. The conversation lasted quite a while, and probably posed more questions than answered, which we consider to be a difficult but wonderfully necessary feature of this early stage of our planning. Obviously, a complete recap of this meeting is not possible, but here are a few highlights.
Per the Drs. Kuhn, the two main "first things" questions for us at the outset are the following:
1. What is the relationship between Word and Deed in our overall mission model? As the title of this blog makes quite clear, we are committed to the marriage of these two ideas, but how will this really play out in a day-to-day scenario?
2. What will be the relationship of the church to our work, both the local African church, and churches with which we have relationships in the US?
These questions hint at something we have, in our discussions with each other, come to call "The Impact Factor", which is very dear to us. In short, "The Impact Factor" is the ability to bring the most benefit and blessing to those whom we will serve. One of the ways in which this Factor has continued to guide our thinking through the present time is that the more medically underserved area, the better. And yes, some parts of Africa are more than the others, though need is overall quite pervasive. The spin the Kuhns placed on this was in thinking more long-term about Impact. Should we head to a larger city with established hospitals, in order to maximize Impact by working in medical education? Should we be in a similar area in order to take advantage of the increased accessability to maximize Impact?
These questions are not answered, but are a necessary flavoring to our "question stew" as we plan out our overall mission model. Thank you Kuhns, and we look forward to sharing more time and conversations in the future.
God, grant us grace to serve You well.

Zimbabwe

I suppose there are continually many places of great need in Africa, thus part of our interest. However, hearing the latest from the Zimbabwe elections, we ask that you would be in prayer for that country, that they would be spared war and find justice.

12.6.08

Team Picture, Birthday Pictures




The Faders walloped the Cropseys & McLaughlins at "10 Days in Africa". It's a good game. We recommend it. We also recommend that you all someday spend an actual 10 Days in Africa. Or more. With us. :)

6.6.08

Community Thoughts from Stephen Montgomery

This past week, the Cropseys have been visiting Ann Arbor, and a veritable torrent of meetings have taken place. It's given us all a lot to process, and we're grateful for everyone who has provided input to us. We'll try and update the blog with some of our thoughts and recapitulations.

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.