It’s been a while since we posted, as we have been pretty busy working at the hospital & dental clinic. It’s crazy to think we’ve been in Kenya about 10 months now. Time definitely flew by especially after my family came to visit in December. We got to take them and the Archer family to Maasai Mara National Reserve where Maureen and I were featured at YES Network’s “Wear Brooklyn At?”
Maureen and I also got to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day in Kenya. Earlier this year, we even did a small outreach in Kiserian with Maxwell Adventist Academy teaching ~300 kids about nutrition and the importance of taking care of their teeth.
Sometime last year in December, Dr. Steve H. Chang from Monterey, CA (LLUSD c/o 1990) invited our dental team from Better Living Hospital in Nairobi to join an outreach at Kisii with Weimar Academy & Marantha. Our dental team of 2 dentists and 2 assistants were approved some days off so we could help the medical/dental team from the USA. The hospital gave us some funds for transport and we purchased anesthesia, gloves, masks, gauze and sterilization equipment we needed from our dental suppliers for the outreach. Maureen and I would later come to realize these outreach events would be the first our clinic has participated in for over 5 years.
Dr. Chang, Dr. Neil Nedley and his assistant Eryn Reklei arrived Nairobi on Thursday evening, March 28th. It’s a small world since I met Eryn last year when I was volunteering at Palau Adventist Wellness Center (PAWC). I later found out Eryn went to the Health Seminar at Weimar Academy and eventually stayed to assist Dr. Nedley. It was good to see her doing well and excited about being involved with the outreach in Kenya. After the travel agency took Dr. Nedley and Eryn to the East-Central Africa Division of the SDA Church (ECD) guesthouses, our van took us back to our apartment in town, where Maureen was waiting with some home cooked tofu & vegetable Schwann (adobo style) with garlic rice. We had a long chat with Dr. Chang about life in Kenya, showed him our proposal/wedding videos, and then updated him about the clinic he used to volunteer at ~29 years ago in the year 1990 while he was on his honeymoon and still a 4th year student at LLUSD.
CLINIC QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“30 years ago, the clinic was the best in all of East Africa. They need your support and prayers. The funds that can be reinvested (into the dental clinic) is used to support the hospital. The clinicians are just as good but the clinic needs modern equipment to better serve the people. We should do our best to help those who serve.” – Dr. Steve Chang
After taking Dr. Chang for a quick tour of the hospital, we left for Kisii around 1:30pm Friday, March 29th. Our bus arrived an hour later than expected (Kenyan time) but we were on our way. We finally arrived at Auntie Cecilia’s house about 2km away from Kisii town around 8:30pm. At around 9pm, it was time for supper! The whole table was filled with traditional Kenyan food such as ugali, sour milk, sukuma wiki (collared greens w/ spices), beans, fried chicken, chicken soup and watermelons. We were hosted and fed really well by Auntie Cecilia, the mom of Samson and Edwin Mogusu. It was through Samson, Cecilia’s son who goes to the same church in Monterey, CA with Dr. Chang, that they were able to coordinate our accommodation at Kisii. Later we found out Auntie Cecilia hired Daniel, a local chef to cook for us every day since she wrongly assumed we were staying for 2 weeks!
Immediately following breakfast, Cecilia dropped us off at Ufanisi Resort to catch up with the rest of the Weimar/Maranatha team. The 4 buses left and traveled about 1.5 hours to church. We arrived at just before 11AM at Poroko Maranatha SDA Church and were greeted by the local Maasai. Marantha built the church ~ 2 years ago along with a couple of wells. Their Maasai choir and Weimar choir did a couple of special items, which was pretty nice.
A Weimar Academy student, Rose led out children’s story and about 50 or so kids came to the front. They were so well behaved as not a single kid was running around or crying. Dr. Neil Nedley led out church with a short health message. Afterwards, we were welcomed and given shukas and wooden walking sticks by the local Maasai tribe as a Maasai song played in the background translated to “God first in everything”.
Our schedule for the next 3 days were breakfast around 6:30am, travel to Ufanisi Resort and leave on the Maranatha busses to travel by 7:30am. It took about 1.5 hours to get to the clinics where we would be treating patients. On Sunday we went to Riokindo SDA Health Centre. On Monday we were at Nyagichenche and on Tuesday we were at Riakworo Dispensary. We usually set up clinic upon around 9/9:30am and saw patients until 4pm. Since Dr. Julietta Lucas from the local Adventist clinic came to help us on Sunday, we set a limit to see 100 dental patients the first day and about 80 patients on 2nd and 3rd day.
Dr. Alan Mitchel led the Maranatha medical team of 7 physicians. I later found out Dr. Mitchel is the father of Rebecca, one of the dental student missionaries who helped assist me at PAWC last year. Small world indeed! Our dental team consisted of Dr. Steve Chang, Dr. Jeffery Fisher, Dr. Ham Kibuuka, our 2 assistants Helen and Paska, Maureen and myself. We had about 7 Weimar Academy students helping us set up trays, pass instruments and assist as well. Most of the students were able to extract multiple teeth with our supervision. Maureen extracted 3 teeth and was even able to help give local anesthesia to one of our patients! On mission trips, we can call her “Nursist” from now on.
A lot of the patients we saw had broken teeth, multiple cavities, molar or premolar root tips and really heavy calculus. We mostly just tried to treat their main complaint, extract, suture and gave them pain meds or antibiotics. Dr. Chang brought a portable unit and we were able to do some fillings, a couple of root canals and even a surgical wisdom tooth extraction #32 that took a couple hours since the young man’s bone was super dense. His crown fractured and came off as I tried to elevate the tooth. Later, Dr. Chang broke a couple of elevator tips trying to take it out! We eventually had to wait for a compressor and the unit to be functional so he could surgically take off the buccal and distal bone. We weren’t able to do a lot of cleanings as we only brought a few scalers, so we referred patients that wanted root canals or cleanings to the Nyanchwa Adventist Dental Clinic in Kisii, where Dr. Julietta Lucas works at.
FREE CLINIC OUTREACH QUOTE OF THE DAY:
Patient: All my teeth are moving! (Translated)
Dr. Chang: “All her teeth are moving? Where are they moving to?” 😛
Over 200 local people were seen each day by the medical and dental team at the various dispensary sites we went to from March 31st-April 2nd. We roughly did about 120 extractions and gave out over 350 toothbrushes and toothpaste over the 3 days of outreach. Some patients even traveled from far away just to come and be treated. Others have not had a check up in years! It was amazing to see God’s work at hand. Also, it was inspiring to see Weimar students interested and willing to help wherever there was a need, whether it was accompanying the patients to different stations, assisting in the dental or medical clinic or praying for the patients. What a joy it was to witness the youth serving all the way in Africa. Although we spent less than a week in Kisii, we were beyond blessed for the opportunity to be God’s hands and feet.
On our way back to Nairobi, we decided to stop by Lake Nakuru National Park to see some flamingos and rhinos! Early Wednesday morning we ate breakfast, said our goodbyes to our host and her neighbors, picked up Michael Chang from Ufanisi Resort, and drove to the park. Up at baboon cliff we saw some rock hyrax on the mountain cliffs come out to greet us as we took pictures overlooking the lake. They are super cute! The flamingos were a disappointment, as we did not see very many of them but seeing rhinos for the first time were pretty special.
By God’s grace and protection, we safely arrived back in Nairobi around 9pm. We returned to work the next day but thankfully the weekend was fast approaching. It was a blessing to hear the president of Weimar Academy, Dr. Neil Nedley speak a couple times during his series talk about “Optimizing your Brain”. Dr. Nedley is a practicing physician in Internal Medicine with emphases in Mental Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Gastroenterology and the difficult-to-diagnose patient. It was quite interesting but one point that stood out to us was the quote below.
SERMON QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“For every disappointment, God has an appointment” – Dr. Neil Nedley
Much like Joseph being sold by his brothers into slavery, and ending up in Egypt, there will be many disappointments in our lives that may lead to low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, etc. But we serve a mighty God who can deliver us from darkness and do great things in our lives today despite the disappointments that come our way. We should never give up hope, have faith, and trust in Him regardless of our situation.
So far, it’s been such a privilege to share God’s love through our work to the people of Kenya. But there is still so much work that needs to be done. Maureen and I have come to realize that even though we may have opted to be here on the frontlines serving in Kenya, passionately doing or saying all the right things — we could also as easily opt out and think of this as just a regular gig where we get paid to do certain medical/dental services.
But we realize that we have to be better.
We should not feel satisfied simply with “progress”.
We know we have to be better. So we are trying to push ourselves further regardless of costs to help our clinic or various outreaches we are involved in. We try our best to pray for each patient we see and take the time to listen to his or her concerns and needs.
Everyday, we are all given a choice — we are all granted the same privilege — to be Christ’s hands and feet.
Either we do that, or we fade into the crowd.
We have to be active. I’ll say this again because it’s important. We have to be active.
The reality is, we can as easily fade into the crowd by being comfortable enough observing and listening to whatever may be going on around us, but not do anything about it. More often than not, Maureen and I feel we have more in common with the regular Christian or member at church than our pastors, spiritual mentors or people we have always looked up to. In times like these, we often ask questions such as…
What is it that I actually have to do?
How can I become part of the solution for this lack of activeness in my workplace?
In my church? In my community? In my city? In my country?
Now we don’t have the answers to these questions, but what we do know is this. When God calls, He’s not looking at your age, your gender, or your qualifications. He looks at the heart. Much like the case of the prophet Samuel anointing King David as a young boy (1st Samuel 16), we must realize that God can use both young and old to do improbable and mighty things for His Kingdom. I guess that is why we should not look up to people of the flesh or outward appearances, but more than anything, fix our eyes on Him.
As Seventh-Day Adventists, our mission is to make disciples, following the gospel commission (Matthew 28:18-20) and to “proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels’ Messages in preparation for His soon return”.
But the real question we should be asking ourselves is — Are most of us merely satisfied and comfortable blending in with the crowd? Are we content with all our good works and various mission trips we’ve been involved in? Unfortunately, some of us may even feel a sense of pride or feel “privileged” being a part of the so-called “Remnant Church of end-time Bible prophecy”. But what can we change or what can realistically be done?
To close this blog entry, we remind you that it’s crucial that we each hold each other accountable. Regardless of your age, sex, color, culture, and religion — we all have to be accountable — period. Not just for our own actions but realize that our inaction can cause or create a “safe” space for contentment and satisfaction, which sadly, we often see even in our own institutions, hospitals, clinics, churches and congregations around the world. If you have not been made aware, hundreds of our hospitals and clinics, especially in Africa suffer due to lack of resources, funds or inadequate management. Simply giving back the 10% Tithe that rightly belongs to Him goes a really long way to helping further His work.
We have to be better.
Know that we believe this. We sincerely do.
Know that about us.
Know that we believe all this matters.
We can’t do it alone. But thankfully, we don’t really have to.
Matthew 18:20 states, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them”. Christ has already promised His presence will be with us no matter what. We simply just have to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Just as much as the Maranatha/Weimar Academy team has inspired and encouraged Maureen and I as missionaries here in Kenya to be better, we hope to do the same at the 76th NASDAD Convention at Lake Tahoe and the congregations/churches we speak at in Reno and Southern California during our annual leave later this year. Please continue to pray for us as we try to reach the unreachable and teach, heal, and preach the gospel to all. We encourage you as well to grow in your relationship with Christ, to never stop being a witness, until He comes again.
|Thanks for reading.