Monday, May 22, 2017

Welcome Back





These past several weeks have been a whirlwind as we have left Kenya after two and a half years at Tenwek Hospital and are currently back in the United States for a period of home ministry assignment, traditionally called furlough. We completed our work in the hospital at the end of April, having done our best to prepare each of our ministries and responsibilities for our absence. We then spent a week packing all of our belongings, deciding what should be left in Kenya for our return and what should come back with us. We said a lot of good byes – to residents and other trainees, to the hospital staff, to our fellow missionaries and colleagues, and to our church family.

video


Prior to flying out of Nairobi, we were privileged to spend a few days with other physicians and families who are serving in East Africa and the staff of the World Medical Mission’s Post-Residency Program, the program whose funding has been so instrumental in allowing us to serve at Tenwek these first two years as we learn the ropes of medical missions. Those few days created a needed margin between the sadness of good byes and joyful intensity of hellos.

Our Post-Residency Group

We traveled from Nairobi to Amsterdam to Atlanta to Indianapolis, where we were met by several of our very loving and welcoming family and a great friend. We have spent the past several days catching up with family that we haven’t seen for more than two years, meeting a niece and nephew for the first time, recovering from illnesses, and just generally enjoying resting and relaxing a bit.

Greeting family
Airport family picture with
Bob's family and meeting our new niece, Greta

Our friend, Julie, surprised us at the airport

Uncle Bobby plays baseball

Drawing buddies

And doctor

Meeting our new nephew, Todd

So, what is the purpose of a home ministry assignment (HMA) and what do we hope to accomplish in these next months?

Well, for starters, we feel strongly that God has called us to continue in medical missions, specifically at Tenwek. Despite some difficult circumstances and rough adjustments, God has focused our hearts on the ongoing clinical work, surgical training and discipleship and mentoring that has been our ministry at Tenwek these past two years. We recognize that there is a void that is created by our leaving, and, while we are looking forward to these next months, our goal is to return in March of 2018.

While the purpose of an HMA differs for different missionaries and different phases of life, for us, this first HMA term will focus on reconnecting with friends and family, working, gaining some further education, and building the financial and prayer support base that will allow us to continue to serve at Tenwek. Two years is a long time to have been away from family and friends, and we are excited to spend time renewing those relationships and being able to be a bigger presence in the lives of those we love here in the States. Bob will be working part time at the VA in Providence beginning in August. Beginning in June, he will be pursuing a Master of Public Health degree. This will allow him to be more effective in his role as Director of Research at Tenwek. Andrea’s role will largely be that of our support building. As medical missionaries, we do not draw a salary from the mission hospital where we serve, and we are not supported by an organization. Instead, we rely on individuals and churches who support us financially, thus allowing us to work at Tenwek. We will spend time traveling, speaking and meeting with those interested in our ministry in Kenya. As Madison begins her 9th grade year through North Star Academy’s online school, Andrea will also supervise and assist that process.



We are excited about this year and what it holds. We are incredibly grateful for all God has done and continues to do in our lives. And we look forward to seeing His faithfulness in these coming months. If you or someone you know has an interest in medicine, medical missions, Africa, or would just like the opportunity to be involved in what God is doing at Tenwek, we would love to have the opportunity to meet with or talk with you. We will do our best to keep you updated as this year progresses. We thank you for your financial support, prayer, and encouragement of us in this journey.

To partner with us in the work at Tenwek, simply visit www.wgm.org/parker or click on the "Partner with us" link to the right of this post.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Beginnings and Endings

January is a very busy but exciting time in the Tenwek Hospital Surgical Residency Program. It marks the end of one academic year and the beginning of another. Graduation celebrates the chief residents who have spent the last five years of life invested in training to be the best surgeons they can become. In welcoming new first year residents, we celebrate those who are embarking on an incredibly challenging journey of surgical education and spiritual discipleship. And the White Coat Ceremony celebrates what it means to be a Christ-honoring physician and surgeon for those residents who have completed another year of surgery and are moving on to the next year. And in all of these events, we celebrate what God is doing through at Tenwek to provide surgical care for the people of Kenya. As we look to returning for some time to the United States to do further support raising in order to return as career missionaries, it is wonderful to look back on and reflect upon this past year.

General and Orthopedic Surgery Residents and Faculty 


 Graduation

This year, we had the privilege of graduating four surgeons, men and women who are technically-gifted, superb clinicians, and who, most of all, are followers of Jesus Christ, committed to sharing the love of the Gospel with their patients and those around them. Each also has a vision for ongoing training and education of others, whether through training residents or interns or medical students.
They are going to a variety of places and practices within Kenya, and we are excited to see how God uses them. Dr. Seno Saruni will be working at St. Luke’s Hospital in Eldoret, Kenya, providing general surgery and orthopedic care. He will be working with the surgical residency program there to improve education. Additionally, his wife Betty, will be pursuing training in internal medicine. Dr. John Kanyi will join one of our PAACS graduates from last year at AIC Litein Mission Hospital. A second PAACS surgeon will allow the ongoing growth and quality of the surgical program there. Tenwek is honored to welcome Drs. Mike and Liz Mwachiro to our own team as general surgical faculty. Mike graduated from a 2-year endoscopy fellowship at Tenwek Hospital prior to his training in general surgery. He continues to have a passion for surgical endoscopy and research and will work in both endoscopy as well as the general surgery, teaching, training, and doing clinical work. He will also continue to be involved extensively in advancing research projects. Liz is an excellent clinician and educator, and we are excited for her work in the general surgery department. As we are able to grow the faculty within our department, we anticipate being able to increase and improve surgical training.

Graduating Chief Residents: Seno Saruni, John Kanyi, Mike Mwachiro, Liz Mwachiro
Prayer for Our Graduates

White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony is a chance to honor those residents who are new to the program as well as those who are moving on to the next year. This year, we welcomed four new first year residents, two to our general surgery residency program, Drs. Nereah Aruwa and Sam Odongo, and two to our orthopedics program, Drs. Silas Ndege and Joyce Lunar. Between the general surgery and orthopedics residency programs, we now have 17 residents in various years of training. In addition to these residents, our colleagues in the family medicine residency participated in the White Coat Ceremony with us.

Current General Surgery Residents


The White Coat Ceremony was a moving time. It is humbling to reflect on the significance of the white coat, what it means to physicians collectively, what it means to patients, and specifically, what it means for us as Christian physicians to wear this symbol of healing.
Each resident was presented with a new white coat and a gift of a textbook relevant to his or her year. In addition, the faculty surgeon who presented these gifts shared a Bible verse and a brief message with the resident to encourage him or her in this upcoming year.

White Coat Ceremony


It continues to be an honor and a privilege to train these young Christian doctors to be excellent surgeons and educators whose lives and work reflect Christ’s love and sacrifice. And we remain grateful to God for all that he is doing at Tenwek Hospital and throughout Africa.