It’s been almost two months since we had margin to write down some thoughts or share any stories…we’re sorry we’ve been so quiet! They’ve been full, fruitful and encouraging months, marked by events and visits reminding us of our roles in a larger story–one in which we are co-participants with God in an ever-unfolding, ever-more picturesque landscape.
In the Hebrew scriptures, a word often used for God’s Spirit is ruach: “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth… God’s Spirit (ruach) swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1:). This word didn’t mean some kind of disembodied phantasm – more like the palpable breath accompanying God’s voice. God’s active creative presence, calling all things to life.
One scholar describes the ruach as “…creative of space, or wide vistas, where the living being can unfold. Thus it is that [we can say that] people live in God’s Spirit.” (Jurgen Moltmann)
This description reminds me today that God is not just intangibly present through what has already been done in Jesus, God is physically present here and now, by his Spirit. Drawing us into wide vistas of creative possibility, sustaining us, enabling us to be humanity as God intended it. Calling us to a life of participatory action with Him.
Here’s a snapshot of how that has looked for us in June/July…
June 21-23 saw the realization of an 18-month goal: to bring the coaching training Andy attended in early 2015 to East Africa. Creative Results Management partnered with us to hold the workshop, and their excellent trainer Felix flew in from Spain to run a professionally accredited three-day workshop for Kijabe Hospital leadership (management and medical) and other leaders serving in low-resource settings across East Africa.
The feedback was inspiring: one of our Kenyan medical colleagues commented to me afterwards: “I have always thought that to be a leader meant always having the right answers and telling people what to do…now I understand that this is a very poor understanding of leadership–the best leaders help others discover their own potential, and I feel I now have practical tools with which to empower them to make their own decisions.” Yes!
June 25, surrounded by her friends and our community in Kijabe, Riley was baptized. It was a holy time, with Mardi’s parents participating via Facetime from Australia. She was keen to be baptized, participating enthusiastically and thoughtfully in the baptism classes beforehand, where we discussed questions like “What does ‘go to heaven when you die’ mean, and why isn’t it in the Bible?” I love her questioning mind and enthusiasm to understand!
On June 26-30, Mardi attended a gathering for SIM medical workers in leadership positions across Africa. It was an encouraging time of connection with like-minded people are passionate about excellent medical care and training in the resource-poor world, motivated by a heart of compassion and being the hands and feet of Jesus everywhere. Mardi walked away renewed and encouraged about being a part of a mission whose passion is a holistic approach to bringing God’s kingdom to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the grieving.
From 1-8 July, Andy was in a country in West Africa working on a project to build a new mission hospital. It’s a terrifically exciting project in a difficult and remote region desperately in need of medical help. We’ll have more to say about this project in the future, but due to its location and with multiple stakeholders including the Government involved, we won’t be publishing much about it online. Highlights of Andy’s visit included engineering assessments of land options to select the best place to build a new hospital in an area prone to regular flooding, a 12 hour bus ride without air conditioning with police stops every 10 km (!), meetings with various contractors in the area to determine local capabilities, and eating porcupine!
From 8-22 July, we welcomed a visiting team of dear friends from Southland Church in Adelaide, South Australia. They spent a week and a half working alongside our chaplains ministering to patients, doing home visits with our palliative care team and HIV/AIDS team, visiting a local Vineyard church and school, and generally being a great encouragement to us. Their visit was marked by laughter, joy, long conversations, and the inevitable profound sobering and reflection that accompanies spending time ministering to the dying and sick in a low resource context.
Coincidentally, one of the latest beautiful quilts from our Lala Salama 100 Quilts Project arrived by mail from Australia while the team was here and was immediately put to work keeping a child in the hospital warm on these cold July nights!
And just after the team left, we did our annual trek at 530am into Nairobi for immigration, and this time received a three year extension to our official work permit! This permit allows us to continue working in Kenya, and we don’t take it for granted: they are not always granted and can be difficult to come by. Hallelujah!
On June 30, last, but definitely not least…Mardi attended her final hospital Board meeting as medical director. A major answer to prayer and planning was realized when good friend and colleague Dr Rich Davis agreed to take over from Mardi as Medical Director when she steps down as planned in October. In addition to covering pediatrician Arianna who is going on home assignment, she will step down into one of 4 new “Subdivisional Head” roles she created last year, supporting Rich by leading the “Diagnostic/Therapeutic Division” (pharmacy / radiology / lab / nutrition) in leadership development, advocacy and unified strategic planning.
Together with the other 3 doctors heading up the Medical, Surgical and Allied Health subdivisions, this core leadership team will support and encourage Rich as he takes on this ever-increasing, critical role of shepherding, mentoring and discipling over 100 medical staff and growing. It has been a wild ride for 3 years – but Mardi is grateful to look back over her tenure as medical director and see goals accomplished, an encouraged, growing medical team, and an increasingly robust leadership and retention structure for the medical staff.