We have experienced many seasons in our young life. Together, we have experienced eight moves within the USA since high school and two internationally. In October, we made international move #3.
Our time in Kenya has come to an end, and we are excited to be moving back to Malawi. We have accepted positions as missionary docs at Nkhoma Mission Hospital. Nkhoma, Malawi is located an hour outside Lilongwe, and roughly 2 hours from where we lived in Malawi from 2015-2016.
The hospital was founded in 1915 by Scottish and South African missionaries and is now grown to a 288-bed mission hospital that serves an area of close to half a million people. Nkhoma Mission Hospital has a family medicine residency training program and a nursing school. While serving in Chogoria, we have realized how much we love teaching, and we are thrilled that this opportunity will continue in Malawi.
Nkhoma Mission Hospital also has 11 community health centers associated with it and a very robust community health program. The lack of community health activity in Chogoria is one of the things we have missed most while serving in Kenya. The medical system in Malawi has much fewer resources than we have been working with in Kenya, and we know our Malawian patients will be much poorer. While we know working with less resources and an underserved population will have its distinct challenges, we believe this is the patient population God has called us to serve.
The community surrounding Nkhoma Mission Hospital is quite different from anything we have lived in before. There is no central compound for housing; instead, we will be living within the town. Fortunately, our next-door neighbors will be another missionary family, the Hodges. They have three girls all around Sophia’s age, and we plan to share a homeschool teacher with their family next year. Another family medicine doctor from Christian Health Service Corps moved to Nkhoma a few months ago with her husband. There is a healthy expat community that we are looking forward to having around for emotional, social, and spiritual support.
A time for everything…
As we reflect back on our time in Kenya, there are so many things we learned about ourselves and the Lord in during our season there.
A time to be born and a time to die…
Oliver was born this year, and while we have not had any death in our immediate family, we have mourned alongside our neighbors and friends in Kenya with the loss of those close to them.
A time to kill and a time to heal…
We witnessed the miraculous healing of God dozens of times over the last two and a half years in the hospital. The severely ill HIV infected patient with cryptococcal meningitis slowly improves with the medication and eventually walks out the doors and into the arms of friends and family. Also, so many times over the past several years, we have watched premature infants not only survive but grow into healthy newborns. We are thankful for these times of healing since we have also experienced a lot of death in our patient population due to infectious diseases, dehydration, prematurity, malnutrition, and cancer.
A time to cry and a time to laugh…
So many tears. In the quiet of our apartment, after the kids were asleep, we would talk about our day. More than one evening was spent in grieving the pain of our patients, our work or our own souls. Then the morning would come and with it the joy of our children and their contentment with simple joys of this world. So much laughter. Sometime because the alternative was tears, but also because the cross cultural misunderstandings know no end point.
A time to grieve and a time to dance…
Grief is a revolving door in medical missions. So many patients die in low resource settings, but the constant movement of people in and out of ones life on the mission field. We are preparing to grieve the loss of more friendships and need more than ever to dance with joy while we can. Sophia is the dancer of the family, always willing to enter a dance circle at any celebration: birthday parties, intern graduation party, Christmas, etc.
A time to search and a time to quit searching…
We have been seeking the Lord’s will for our next hospital for the last nine months and are so glad to have found Nkhoma Mission Hospital in Nkhoma, Malawi. We know the Lord has been preparing us for this new home over the last four and a half years.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak…
This has been one of the greatest lessons of our adult life. Our experiences in Kenya have solidified our ability and confidence in hearing the Lord when he tells us to speak out in truth. Teaching medical learners is also a constant balance of speaking and staying silent. We have to let them learn from their mistakes, so they can become better medical providers.
A time to love and a time to hate…
Love is not always easy, but essential. In the past, we have used 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17, “Rejoice always, pray continually,” as an anchoring verse for our ministry. This year we have chosen a different verse, 1 John 4: 19, “We love because He first loved us.” The single verse is nestled within a beautiful section of scripture that speaks of relying on the love God has for us, how love is made complete among us, and the command to love our “brother and sister.”
Please pray for us during our season of transition as we spend the next two months in the USA fundraising. Pray for our daughter and son to cope with the changes and deal with the grief of of lost friendships with peace and confidence in God’s love and our love for them. Pray for our friends, neighbors and patients we have left behind in Kenya. We know God is faithful and if not us, then someone will step up to continue the work of His hands there.
Pray for our new community in Nkhoma, Malawi. Our greatest concern and financial burden related to our move to Malawi is fixing and repairing the house we will be living in. It has wonderful potential but needs significant updates to make it habitable for our family. However, over the past five years the Lord has consistently provided, and we have confidence that He will continue as long as we follow where He leads.
We have been grateful to partner with Christian Health Service Corps (CHSC) in our ministry over the last three years. They continue to provide our family with the particular administrative and professional assistance we need to face the distinct challenges of being medical missionaries. CHSC will remain our ministry partner in Malawi and will continue to accept all our monetary donations, just as they have done while we served in Kenya.
We are kicking off a big fundraising campaign for our ministry in Malawi. There have already been some significant relocation cost, but the renovation budget, in addition to our routine annual costs means 2020 will be a very expensive year. Thank you so much to everyone who has faithfully given in the past. We hope you will consider helping us once again.