Kenya and the Navajo Nation

All is well with the McLaughlin family in the city of Gallup, New Mexico, where we are spending our brief detour on the way to Kenya working at the Gallup Indian Medical Center, which serves the Navajo population, as well as some Zuni as well.

This was, of course, not our first plan, and thus we are searching for God's reasons for bringing us here. We have not yet found it. Maybe we'll never know, but we've realized that knowing is not the crux of the issue, but rather obedience is.

And so we're here. And since we're here, we have noted a number of striking similarities between our life and work here, and what we anticipate it will be in Kenya:

1. Both are very needy medical populations. There is a difference of degree here, and that is part of what draws us to Kenya, but nonetheless the need in the Native American population is great.

2. Being white puts you as a minority. Certainly in the hospital, I am a minority, but even in the town of Gallup, the majority are Native American, Latino, or some mixture of other races.

3. Neither location has a symphony orchestra. (Though I hear the surgeon at Tenwek is a mean pianist.)

4. The elevation is approximately the same in both places, near 7000 feet. Thus, hopefully we can endure the headaches, insomnia, and getting winded walking short distances now as we adjust, and it will then be easier at Tenwek.

5. Both Gallup and Tenwek have zero Target and Trader Joe's stores.

6. Both locations are very multilingual, and thus patient care requires interpreters in both places. Actually, Navajo and Zuni are probably more difficult to learn than Kipsigis and Maasai.

7. Both of these locations see diseases that are not commonly learned in US medical education. At Tenwek, it will be malaria, TB, schistosomias, etc. At Gallup, it is Hantavirus and Plague (Yersinia pestis). I haven't actually seen these diseases yet, but had to go through some tutorials on them before starting, because they do occur not infrequently.

8. Both locations are roughly equidistant from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Amazing, I know. Could it be that these similarities represent the reason why we're here? Time may tell us. In the meantime, we pray for the grace to care for the sick and glorify the Lord each day, wherever he brings us.


Anonymous said...

Is it sunny in both places? (We Northerners miss the sun and have vitamin D deficiency)

Robert said...

Don't forget about coccidiomycosis =).

afreakforjc said...

I've read that Navajo is a ridiculously difficult language to learn, with incredibly complex verbs and verb conjugations.