Short Stories from Tenwek Eye Unit - Son of the Left Handed One

I hear the word "Mosonik" coming from the little, old lady sitting in front of me.  There were many other words, but this one I knew.  It means, "left handed one."  In general, being the left handed one is bad anywhere outside of the West, and this was clearly directed at me.  She seemed nice enough.  She was probably 80-ish, worn by years of labor in the fields.  She had gargantuan earlobes, stretched as is typical of the older Kipsigis, and a particularly captivating smile.  Why the insult?  I had come from Tenwek 150 kms on bad roads to the bush to help her.  Well, after some investigation, she was only calling me the son of Mosonik.  That makes it all better!  Would you rather be called a donkey, or the son of a donkey.  I can't decide.

This is actually the greatest of compliments.  As it turns out, Dr. Steury, who was the first doctor at Tenwek 50 years ago, became known as Daktari Mosonik.  He was not left handed, but when the Kipsigis saw him operate and use his left hand with such agility, word quickly spread through Kipsigis land, and apparently to this nice lady in the bush.  He was much loved and revered.  It is told that people would walk days to be treated by Mosonik, many of them walking by other rural dispensaries on the way.  Why?  "Because his hands are gentle."  He served the Kipsigis with Christ-like compassion and humility.  I'm sure I'm not the first young mission doctor to be called the son of Mosonik, but I still count it a great honor.

As I examined her with my flashlight in our make-shift office in the x-ray room, it was clear that she was blinded in both eyes by cataracts.  Her only chance to see again was to have surgery.  She and several other surgical patients waited for us to finish up our screening camp at this rural government hospital.  Then, we all hopped in the Tenwek Eye Unit bus for the long ride back to the hospital.

She was admitted that Monday night to the eye ward.  On Tuesday morning, she and the other folks enjoyed some singing and a brief testimony of God's goodness with the eye staff.  Everyone then walked next door to our pre-op testing area.  My lady was the first to be scanned.  We measured the curve of her cornea (the clear windshield) and the length of her eye with an ultrasound.  This allows us to replace her cataract with an artificial lens of the appropriate strength so she can see clearly with no to minimal correction with glasses.  In the picture below, she is sitting next to me on the far right of the picture.

Did I mention this was going to be my first small incision extracap cataract case in Africa?  Everything is different.  The microscope, the instruments, the staff . . . NO PRESSURE.  I'm just the Son of Mosonik to this lady.  Off to the O.R. we go.  Thankfully, God was gracious and allowed everything to go smoothly.

Post-op day one she looked great.  She and her friends got a ride back to the bush with their new eyes.  Below is our  post-op day 10 visit.  She is waiting to get enough money to do her second eye.  I admit, she's may favorite patient to see.  She always brightens my day.


Allison said...

keep 'em coming john!! awesome!

Unknown said...

John; Your smile betrays a man delighting in God's call and blessing. It's good for my heart to see this. Thanks.

Sandy said...

Great story, John. I'm soaking in your adventure and can't wait for the next post!

Sandy said...

Do the women in Bomet typically wear dresses or skirts? Or are pants common?

Valerie said...

love getting your updates...great testimony of how God is using your gift!