Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Going home & going home

I am officially living in Tsiko, Togo!  It has felt like a long time in the making, but I have arrived and have started working at the Karolyn Kempton Memorial Baptist Missions Hospital (AKA HBB by the locals).   For those of you who don’t know, I left Switzerland on March 23rd and traveled to Chicago where I got to spend about 7 days with my family.   I was so blessed during my time in Switzerland with a church base, an amazing Swiss woman, Monika, to live with and other amazing friends.  I was sad to go but excited to be able to visit my family in the States. It was the first time in a while that we were able to be together in one place and it was quite a blessing!  The Lord was gracious and the airfare was actually CHEAPER to go Switzerland à Chicagoà Togo than direct to Togo from Switzerland.   I was able to see my extended family as well, including some aunts that I hadn’t seen in many years.   It was difficult to leave family, but I had no doubts that I was following the Lord in where he wants me to be.  

My arrival in Lomé, Togo (the capital) was largely uneventful and I was greatly relieved and thankful for having received all my luggage!  Thank you to everyone who was praying!  I spent 2 days in the capital trying to accomplish things such as money exchange, visas, and shopping for necessities.   It just so happens that the Mercy Ship is docked in Togo until mid-July and I was able to take a tour.  This is a huge ship run by a Christian organization that travels to West African countries bringing free surgical care to those in need.   We even got to see some patients that HBB had referred for treatment.  It was an amazing ministry where people could get physical healing along with hearing spiritual truth.  Please continue to lift up their ministry in prayer!

I finally arrived in my new home Tsiko, Togo on April 3rd.   The other missionaries were extremely welcoming and gave me a few days to get settled in before starting work in the hospital.  (Truthfully, they planned on giving me 2 weeks to settle in before starting work, but I “happened” to wander into the hospital on April 5th instead!) 

The first week has been bittersweet.  I have been away from practicing medicine for about 9 months and it was great to be back doing what I love.   Unfortunately, in the seven days I have been in the hospital, 6 infants have died.   It has been sobering and frustrating despite my mental preparation for such.   One child was born very prematurely at home, and by the time the family arrived at the hospital there wasn’t anything that could be done for the small baby boy.  That day happened to be Good Friday.  I got to sit down and talk with the mom about Good Friday.  I told her that the Lord knew her pain because he had also lost a son on this day.   And because his Son was raised on the third day and concurred death, so too can we conquer death through Jesus Christ.  

I have also been reminded of, and been able to share, the story of King David in 2 Samuel 12 when he fasted and prayed for his sick child for seven days, after which, the child died.   Surprising to elders of his home, (an myself!) after learning that his child was dead, David dressed himself and began to worship the Lord.   His reasoning? “When the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast?  Can I bring him back again?  I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.    What a response!!!!  I don’t think David’s response was callous to the death of his son.  I believe it showed great faith, understanding, and comfort in the Lord.  David knew that the only way to see his son again would be when he himself died and is in heaven, which prompted him to worship!

For the believer, this is a temporary place where we live by faith, waiting to see God face to face in Glory.   Sometimes, God is gracious and allows me as a Pediatrician to extend the lives of those who are ill.   But death awaits us all.   I hope and pray that the work I will be doing over this next two years goes beyond the list of who lived and who died.   For if my purpose here is to “heal all of the sick”, it will be a losing battle from the start.   For no doctor conquers death with their remedies, they just delay it for a time.   But, if lives can be extended for the purpose of meeting Christ, repentance, glorifying Him, and becoming more like Him—then the battle will be won……the battle has already been won! 

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…that I might make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”

-Colossians 4:2-4

Grace and Peace