Wednesday, December 21, 2016
“I may not be where I want to be but I'm thankful for not being where I used to be.” ― Habeeb Akande
Back in early January of this year, I was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in Nairobi to deal with the EOL or “end of life” of my implanted defibrillator which required its emergency surgical replacement and an additional lead (wire) inserted in my heart. This was complicated by an earlier bout with malaria that resulted in my tearing several ligaments in my right foot. So, a month in Nairobi (with great help both getting there and recovering from my good friend Daniel Kroppach). Then, six months of rehab with much time spent in a wheelchair and having to use a walker. Add three more bouts of malaria, one of them cerebral (almost killed me), and follow that with seven weeks of serious problems with my prostate requiring three trips to the hospital in Mwanza, two surgeries, and countless doctor visits to my home including two potentially fatal emergencies and you can see that I didn’t do much missionary work this year. Last night, when the doctor left my house at ten o’clock he left with me as much returned to normal as possible. All the artificial plumbing had been removed, the two injection ports in each hand were gone, all the massive IV antibiotics had been pumped into me, and life has returned to normal. I just missed out on almost everything from January 10th to December 21st. Not what I’d call a stellar year, but God was good, I was blessed with so many friends and family who prayed and helped pay for all my medical bills (exceeded $20,000 and we have no insurance). My wife and son John were right there with me every step of the way, and no matter how hard it was for me, it was also very hard on them. Karen kept both schools here at our mission running all year, did seminars for the teachers and parents of the six others we’ve started, and all while fighting her own pain from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. John made several trips to Mwanza and Dar Es Salaam working on rural solar projects and getting free computers into schools here. Even as big a drain as I was both in terms of time and money, God kept all our mission projects up and running. We’ve been a little late with some biosand water filters, but that order will be filled in the coming weeks. Wow. What a year. So very proud of Karen and John and so very proud of all those who have and continue to support our work here. I wasn’t much help this year but had a lot of time to think and came to the conclusion that I don’t want to be anywhere else. This is where we are supposed to be and if God can keep pulling rabbits out of hats to keep me alive (at least seven times this year alone), He must have some more important work for us to do here in East Africa. I am so very happy to be writing this right now, and so very happy that we will have a turkey on Christmas day. Our celebration of Christ’s birth will be very special this year even with just two or three gifts under a small artificial tree with no lights and no ornaments. Christmas isn’t about the lights or the ornaments or the presents. Christmas is about being reminded that we are part of something great, something that takes all our strength, courage, and faith to continue doing what we have been called to do. Now that’s special. Don’t feel sorry for us this Christmas day, we are blessed beyond belief, and many of our blessings are you. So, thank you for being God’s hands and voices to us and for helping us to continue following our call. Merry Christmas.