Sunday, May 21, 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.

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 or click on the "Partner with us" link to the right of this post.