What was it like to leave Malawi?
Our last week in Malawi was difficult because it meant that we were saying goodbye to so many that we had developed relationships with over the past two years. It meant saying goodbye to so many in the community that we served as well as the hospital staff. It was the hospital staff who made our last week in Malawi much easier. When we arrived in Malawi, they openly welcomed us, and we soon felt like family.
Over the past two years, we all grew together through the accomplishments and challenges of opening a new hospital and expanding services to the surrounding community. We kept God first and let Him lead us as we grew as a team. We cannot say enough about our team there. We are also thankful for all the new faces and new team members that God brought to our hospital staff over the past two years. They all could be working at other places in Malawi, but they chose to serve some of the most underserved in rural Malawi. We are glad that they have come because God will continue to work through them and the rest of the hospital staff to serve the communities surrounding the hospital.
During our last week in Malawi, we were able to spend some time outside of the hospital with the staff. They hosted a Farewell Party with all the hospital staff and other staff from Child Legacy. It was an event that we will not ever forget. We were humbled and were so grateful for everyone who organized and participated in the event. The Malawians truly knew how to send us off just as they had openly welcomed us. While there were tears, food, and laughter, there was also plenty of music and singing. They even wrote songs for us. Again, our last week in Malawi was challenging, but the hospital staff who will forever be a part of our family made it very special. We continue to pray for them daily and that God will continue to use their gifts and talents in service to the people of rural Malawi. Please click on the PHOTO (above) to watch a portion of one of the songs they wrote for us.
What’s been going on over the past six weeks?
First, it has been great to see a lot of family and friends. One of the hardest things about serving overseas is the time away from our loved ones. We are grateful that we have been able to catch up with many of you and we look forward spending a little more time with everyone until we leave for Kenya. So many of you support us and we are so grateful for all your prayers, encouragement, and financial support while we have been back.
Besides visiting with family and friends, our schedules have been pretty full while in the US and we have traveled a lot. We’ve been to Houston, twice to Dallas, up to St. Louis, over to Columbus, Ohio, down to Abilene, back to Houston, over to California, and then back to Houston again. Much of the travel was to visit loved ones and for everyone to see Sophia, but much of our time in these places has been devoted to fundraising.
We were able to make it to Abilene, TX where we graduated from Abilene Christian University almost 10 years ago. ACU was and still is an amazing university with professors who really care. We met there, but also got interested in medical missions while we were attending ACU. We went back last month to talk to the pre-health students about medical missions and to encourage and answer questions from those who were interested in medical missions. We enjoyed our time in Abilene and hope to go back every year to speak to the students.
Other things we have accomplished are a lot of the annual stuff that we condense into 2 months: going to the dentist, optometrist, and doctors’ appointments, additional immunizations and renew our passports again. We have also been catching up on our continuing medical education for our US Board Certifications.
One of the things that has really encouraged us was attending the M3 Medical Missions Conference in Houston. We were able to hear other medical missionaries speak who are also on the mission field now. They were all wonderful speakers and God is using them to do amazing things in their communities where they serve. It was also encouraging to see all the pre-health students and others who are interested in medical missions and serving overseas. The next conference will be February 2018, and we encourage anyone who is interested to attend next year. The website is https://m3missions.com.
How is Sophia adjusting to all this change?
There have definitely been very challenging times. With all the travel over the past 6 weeks we have been sleeping in a lot of different places, and she has been a little confused when she wakes up (in a new place, again). Overall though, she handles it better than most 18-month-olds. She loves to jabber and continues to say more words. Her personality is constantly developing and she LOVES to sing and dance. She also is beginning to get a lot more mobile. She took her time on walking but now she walks pretty well, when she wants to. Yes, as she gets closer to being two, everything is “when she wants to.”
She has really enjoyed seeing all our family and friends, especially if they have a dog. She loves most animals but especially dogs. Believe it or not, dogs have made this transitional period much smoother.
We have all managed to stay pretty healthy and are thankful for that considering the amount of airports and planes that we have been on lately. Last week our family was able to take a couple days away and we were thankful for this time of rest and time to spend as a family together.
When are you going to Kenya? If you haven’t already, we encourage you to read our blog post on our call to Kenya HERE. We are hopeful that we will be able to leave to go to Kenya later next month. The main determining factor in when we leave for Kenya is going to be surrounding fundraising. When we move to Kenya, there will be a lot of new challenges and changes in our lives so we need to have the majority of our funding in place before we leave. Fundraising for missionaries is a second job so we will not be able to do this as well as learn the language, Swahili and adjust to life in Kenya.
We have posted a graphic to show you our fundraising progress as of this week. Over the weekend, we were blessed to have several large one-time donations committed. We have gone from 60% to over 100% our one-time, initial needs and moving expenses being given or committed. This is amazing! We are so grateful to everyone at our church in Houston as well as others who have given to support us financially.
Over the past couple weeks, our monthly recurring giving has increased some but we are still not at our goal. We have about 66% of our monthly recurring need being given or committed. We still need to increase this before we leave for Kenya, especially since these recurring donations cover our monthly expenses while we are serving.
If you are giving now, we are so thankful for your generous hearts and your gifts will help as we serve the people of Kenya. Many of you have increase your monthly giving and we are so grateful. We could not do this without the team that God has placed around us. If you’re not giving now, then we ask that you pray and consider partnering with us financially. We will not be able to begin serving in Kenya unless others are willing to support us financially.
What are other ways we can help? Another avenue to increase your giving is to have your employer match your donations. Go to: https://doublethedonation.com/chsc to find out more. If your company is not on this website, then ask your employer if they will match your gift.
We understand that not everyone is in a position where they can give financially. However, many of you can share our ministry with others you know who might be able to give. We challenge you to talk to two other people or families this week about our ministry. Again, this is a team effort and we could not do this without God or without your help.
Lastly, and something everyone can do is to please keep us in your prayers as we continue to work on transitioning to Kenya and raising the needed monthly support. Fundraising can sometimes be exhausting, and we pray for strength and wisdom. We are praying that we are able to come closer to reaching our goal so that we can go and serve as Christian physicians in Kenya. This is our passion and our calling, and we look forward to using the gifts God has given us to serve the people of Kenya. We have stepped out in faith and said “yes” to going to Kenya. Will you do the same, whether that is continuing to partner with us or even stepping out today and becoming a new partner in our ministry?
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