Pacific Rim -- Take II

Once again, the McCropders have been spoiled by the Tang family who graciously hosted us at their Ann Arbor restaurant, Pacific Rim.  Bryan & Toanh Popp (an Ob/Gyn couple from the Ann Arbor area who worked with us at Tenwek for 9 months) joined us for the evening.  We're trying to convince them to join us in Burundi.  We figure they can claim the "op" portion of the McCropder name.

We enjoyed a fabulous evening of ribeye, tuna, wasabi-peppercorn tenderloin, crabcakes, chocolate-passion fruit mousse...to name only a few of the wonderful things we feasted on.  While we dined, our children were well cared for by Janet Tang and a host of people from our church (Knox).  They had a blast and we heard something about lions attacking damsels in distress.    

Many thanks to Duc, Janet, Abby, Grace, Nicholas, Barb, & Kristin for a delightful evening!



Thanks, CHN!

View from our balcony
Everyone said furlough/home assignment would be busy.  We believed them, sort of.  But not really.  After 2 1/2+ months home in the States, now we finally understand.  It's been crazy!  Fortunately all of us have had time to spend with family.  But there are so many people to reconnect with, and the always present "support raising cloud" hanging over our head.  Eric wrote about our busy-ness recently.

So after a wonderful but hectic two weeks in Michigan, we needed a break.  Last year, an organization called the Christian Hospitality Network came to Brackenhurst, Kenya, and provided a free retreat for missionaries--free food and lodging, massages, hair cuts, pampering galore.  Eric and I weren't able to go, but heard that part of the CHN was a bed and breakfast in eastern TN that provided free stays to missionaries.  Our ears perked up, since Eric's parents live in Nashville.  We made plans to spend a few nights at the Whitestone Inn, left the kids with Eric's parents, and took off.

It.  Was.  Awesome.  Our room was on the second floor and we had a private balcony, jacuzzi tub, fireplace, amazing breakfasts, etc etc.  A perfect respite (complete with 9-10 hours of sleep per NIGHT!), and just one of the perks of our "job".  I write this to 2 groups of people.  Missionaries, seriously, take them up on this offer (or any number of other B&Bs that offer discounts).  Anyone else, the CHN is a great ministry to support...but even more than that, it has been such a blessing to be home these past several months and enjoy the gifts of the body of Christ.  Whether that be a free place to stay, a meal, some new clothes, encouraging words, or watching our kids, we as the McCropders are so genuinely thankful for all of you.  Thank you for helping us to do what God has called us to do.  Happy Thanksgiving.


Happy Birthday McCropders!

The Global Missions Health Conference in Louisville, KY has a special place in each McCropder's heart.  (For the McLaughlins, it is particularly special since it is where they first met.)  It was at this conference in 2007 that the McCropders first came to officially be.  You can read more history about that here.

For those of you not familiar with this conference, it is one of the largest annual medical missions conferences.  It's an amazing experience to rub shoulders with thousands of people who are all passionate about the same thing -- bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ through medicine.

We went into this conference with very different goals than previous years.  Instead of visiting every booth trying to figure out what to do with our lives, we were able to stay primarily at the World Harvest booth and talk with people.  Of course, there were still other booths to visit.  The LandCruiser booth was particularly popular with the boys as were the organizations that help provide engineering expertise, water, lab equipment, etc. for mission hospitals.

One of the highlights this year was meeting up with friends.  There were lots of people that we met at Tenwek who were at the conference as well.  It was fun to catch up.

Happy 4th birthday, McCropders!  During our first 4 years together, God has nearly doubled our numbers (with the addition of 5 more children, Alyssa, & Carlan), provided us with two invaluable years of experience and service at Tenwek Hospital, and guided us to a wonderful teaching opportunity in Burundi.  He has been so faithful.    

The McCropders (minus Elise & Micah who were in Michigan with grandparents) in front of the world map at the conference.  We were excited to see several other tacks besides ours pinned in Burundi!  



When people ask me what I miss most about Kenya, many things come to mind, but mainly the wonderful people we got a chance to know.  Sometimes people are surprised by my answer: the community (of course, had they read our "top 10" list this would be expected, right?!).  These past 2 1/2 months the McCropders have been together just a handful of days, and never in complete form.  We met in September for our World Harvest orientation, sans kids.  We met in October for PFR, but without the Cropseys, Carlan, and Fader kids.  Finally in November we were all together for the Knox Missions Weekend (except Carlan), but it was such a busy time that we barely saw each other!  The year has been a whirlwind so far for all of us, with many miles on the car or a newborn in the house.  It has been wonderful to reconnect with friends and family, but our kids were especially excited when they finally got a chance to see each other again.  I was holding Maggie when she saw Elise for the first time in 3 months and she got rigid with excitement, then super wiggly!  It was sweet.  Here are a few photos of our kids reconnecting.  What a blessing to have McCropders.

The "boys' club":  Micah finally has some friends!

Maggie and Abi hiding behind the snack table at a speaking engagement...

The girls are all helping Ben out with some tummy time:

Kids' picnic at Danny and Abby Fahim's house:  Elise, Abi, Greta Bast, and David Fahim

Maggie and Ben meeting up with an old friend from Tenwek, Liam Banks:


COTW: My toughest case

As we travel around these days, one of the questions that often arises is "what is the toughest case you have done in these past two years at Tenwek?" My thoughts usually fall back to the time when a baby was born at Tenwek with respiratory distress. An x-ray confirmed that the baby had an abnormal left lung which was too big, thereby compressing the heart and the normal right lung. For those interested, the baby had Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malformation.

Although I had never done a pneumonectomy in a neonate, it was necessary to remove the entire left lung to save the baby's life. I was thankful to have one of my very competent residents, Agneta, operating with me on this 3-day-old baby as we removed the abnormal lung and tied off some very small, yet important blood vessels right next to the heart (see second picture if your stomach will not be queasy). One bad move and the baby’s life could have been in jeopardy. We finished the operation and closed the chest, and since there was then a big empty space in the left chest, we filled it with water (sterile, of course). The baby did quite well, and I recently heard from Agneta that she saw the baby back in clinic and the baby continues to do fine.

Although this child will likely never run with the Kenyan marathon team, it seems that God has granted her a normal life through this nervous surgeon and his resident.


Autumn and Things of Home

We arrived in Michigan last week, and the effect was immediate.  All the leaves were either gold, red, or already on the ground.  We had left an early autumn in Tennessee to arrive the next day in late autumn.  We bundled up in sweatshirts, and stepped out into an evening of 40 degrees fahrenheit.  It was the coldest weather I had experienced in two years, hands down, and it felt wonderful.

All of these external cues: the pumpkins, the raking of leaves, the football games, the Michigan cider, the winterizing of the patio furniture... All of these bring back an entire sphere of the world that I couldn't ever seem to conjure in my imagination, no matter how I tried, surrounded as I was by equatorial climate.  It's a sphere filled with decades of people and places, some long gone, now rushing back.  In short, it's my home.

I sympathize with people who read this and have trouble fathoming how I would rejoice at this after living 2 years with 60-80 degree weather year round.  And maybe I will be taking a different tack by March.  However, I'm learning that though these seasons may not be better than year round temperate weather, it is still good.  It's good, and it's my home.  My Kenyan friends can yearn for the dry and rainy season.  I'll take spring, summer, autumn, and even winter.  And this is itself a good gift and a reason for rejoicing.

Last Sunday, for the first time in two years, we pulled up to Knox Presbyterian Church.  All these friends, all these acquaintances.  Some elements of the church service so skillfully done.  Some idiosyncracies are a little more quirky, but all of them so wonderfully ours.  So wonderfully home.

A good gift.


Knox Missions Sunday

Dear Friends and Family in the Ann Arbor area,

We would like to invite you to Knox Missions Sunday this weekend.  The McCropder team (minus Carlan in LA) will be leading this year's missions Sunday at Knox Presbyterian Church.  Eric will be involved in the music, John will be preaching the sermon and Jason will be leading the Adult Education hour.  We would love for you to be there to hear about what God taught us in Kenya these past two years and the plans He has called us to in Burundi.

Worship Service: 9:30 am
Adult Education:  11:15 am
Address:  2065 South Wagner Road, Ann Arbor MI, 48103

Hope to see you there!