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50th Anniversary and Good-byes

July 23, 2009
The very first hospital buidling at Tenwek.

One of the very early hospital buidlings at Tenwek.

It’s hard to believe it’s time to go, but today’s the day.  We’re actually leaving on the 50th anniversary celebration of Tenwek’s formal recognition as a Kenyan hospital.  Tenwek actually started providing care in the early 1900’s with a group of dedicated missionary nurses.   They prayed for decades for a physician to come to Tenwek.  Finally in 1959 Ernie Steury arrived on site and the Kenyan government recognized Tenwek as a hospital. Remember that aerial shot of Tenwek in one of the earlier posts?  Can you believe that large Tenwek compound started from a simple little building and one other similarly sized in the picture to the right? (You can see the second building in the left background of the picture).

A lot of people have committed time or even their lives to building Tenwek into the hospital it is today.  There are a bunch of new faces here on campus today for the 50th anniversary celebration.  The new faces make us feel like the “old timers” even though we’ve only been here 2 weeks.  When you talk to them though you realize many of them are board members of Tenwek or long term supporters of Tenwek and have been actively involved with the hospital for years if not decades.  I’m sure for them this visit is one of both joy, nostalgia and maybe a little bit of remorse too.  After all we all feel pride in helping build things, but the reality is time and progress continue on without us as well.  So some of the true “old timers” who have been involved with Tenwek may feel like outsiders in the presence of all the short-term volunteers (and there are a LOT of us) who have formed their own group of relationships apart from the ones who have gone before us.  That being said, I anticipate today will be a day of great celebration and worship, because God has truly blessed this place.  I’m sure it’s God’s timing that we’re leaving today, because our departure will be quiet and likely unnoticed.  That’s probably a good thing to prevent us from being prideful of our work over the past two weeks.



It is hard to say goodbye anytime we leave the mission field.  The relationships you form working in mission environment are often deeper than ones we form in the US unless with we are intentional in building the relationship over much longer periods of time.  Ginnie mentioned in yesterday’s post (sorry we haven’t figured out how to change the name of the writer on the blog yet) that she worked with Reuben one of the Kenyans who is heavily involved with the endoscopy suite at Tenwek.  Reuben is a very kind man.  He  helped Ginnie deliver tons of bad news to parents this past week.  For instance, “your teenage child is likely to die in his/her twenties because the heart defect is now irreverisble”; or “your baby will only live the next day or two”.  Other than prayer what else can we offer?  It would be the same even in US.  Here the reality of death is much more apparent.  But the true blessing for Ginnie was when Reuben told her that he had learned from her how to combine dedication, compassion and mercy with praying for the patients.  That too me is a huge blessing and reminder that way we comport ourselves really matters.

As for me working in the OR and working with the nationals was the greatest blessing.  In the OR you really have a lot of time to get to know each other.  Thus it was particularly hard to hear to the nationals when they said “What you’re leaving tomorrow? It’s too short” “When are you coming back?” “You have been such a blessing to us”.  The reality is they have been a blessing to me having being willing to open their hearts and lives to me–a mere short term volunteer only on site for 10 days.

We leave at noon today (5AM Friday Eastern) to start the long trip home.  Hopefully, we’ll meet some dear mentors and friends in the Detroit airport Saturday afternoon and be home around 3 pm Eastern Saturday.  We’ll try to post from Amsterdam airport. Thank you again for your prayers, continued financial support and your interest in what we do.

God bless–Aaron & Ginnie.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 24, 2009 11:32 pm

    We’re praying for your travels home! You going to venture to church on Sunday? 😀

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