Overall, it was easier than we thought it would be with an 11 month old but we were glad to get off of the plane in Houston. We were greeted with great friends, homemade enchiladas, and Blue Bell ice cream! We made it to church that first weekend and we were so glad to see friends again and spend time with Jared’s dad. We appreciate all your support and prayers as we traveled to the U.S.
After a couple days in Houston (for adjusting to the time change), we started the first round of our U.S. adventure in Saint Louis, Missouri. Jenny’s family lives in the Saint Louis area and one of our supporting churches is McKnight Crossings Church of Christ. We had a birthday party for Sophia (a few days early) and spent lots of time with Jenny’s parents and brothers (and families). It had been almost 7 years since all of us had been together!
We also gave a quick mission update at McKnight Crossings one Sunday morning and made plans to do an informational Sunday in December (when we visit again) for all the bible classes, including the kid’s classes. We did something similar at our home church in Houston and loved getting to teach all the kids about vocational missions and what it means to be a Christian doctor working in Africa. We also made some new friends at the church, which is really exciting. Even though Jenny grew up in the Saint Louis area, she did not start going to church until high school and most of the people she knows from that time have all moved away. We cannot wait to hang out with the Vaughn’s and their crazy kids again.
We took a side trip to Columbus, Ohio from Saint Louis and stayed with our longtime friends Nate and Rachel Barrett. We became friends through Northland Mission Church while we were living in Kansas City about 9 years ago in medical school. After all this time, they have remained a constant source of emotional and spiritual support. We ate tons of great food and they introduced us to some epic board games (as always). Mostly we just spent time hanging out and had a great time visiting them, as always!
While in Columbus, we visited another one of our wonderful supporting churches, Southridge Fellowship Church in Wooster, OH. It was great finally getting to meet everyone in the church and we spent one Sunday morning sharing stories and updates on our work in Malawi in front of the church. They were so welcoming and have been so encouraging over the last 2 years.
After Ohio we went back to Saint Louis for a couple days and then on to Houston for about a week. Houston is the about the closest thing we have a home in the U.S., mainly because of our sending church, Clear Lake Church of Christ. When we are in Houston we stay with a wonderful family that is a GIANT blessing, the Thompson’s. They let us live in a spare bedroom and eat all their food, borrow one of their cars, take us to the airport all the time and generally love on us while we are in the U.S. Jared’s sister moved to Portland, Oregon a couple months ago but she and her husband made a trip back to Houston to see his Dad and us.
We gave an “interview update” of our work and ministry in Malawi to Clear Lake Church of Christ one Sunday. Our church family is always very eager to bless us through prayer and encouraging words and we are thankful for all the support that our home church has showed us.
We took a few days away from everything to have a proper family vacation and to recharge. It was four days on the beach with lots of sun. Sophia had an amazing time playing in the waves and digging in the sand. We were without any Internet for most of the trip which was AMAZING because it meant we could really disconnect with everything that distracts us and just have family time. It was a very refreshing trip for us. It was such a beautiful blessing that was very needed. We slept late and took lots of naps. It was epic!
We will be in Houston for another few days and then will travel to Dallas to visit more family as well as attend a missions conference for about a week.
In mid-August we will be back in Malawi and getting ready for the 1st CLI Hospital, Eyes of Africa Center of Excellence, surgical eye camp. This has been in the works for the last 6 months and we are so thrilled to be opening up the operating rooms at CLI Hospital to a team of international surgeons to work alongside local Malawi eye surgeons to treat over 100 patients with complicated eye problems. This surgical week is possible because CLI Hospital has established an outpatient eye clinic that has begun evaluating and treating patients from our surrounding community. We now have a full time ophthalmic clinical officer (mid-level provider) who is working hard alongside our other staff to make sure those in our community who suffer from eye problems finally have an option for evaluation and treatment nearby. Truly, God is using this program to change the lives of hundreds of people in the coming year!
Continue to keep us in your prayers as we travel back to Malawi in early August. We are so grateful for everyone’s encouragement and support.