The gift I'm really hoping for

The gift I'm really hoping for

I can’t help but be amazed at what is going on around me here and how God is bringing it all together. And when I stop long enough to think about it I feel emboldened to believe that even more amazing things can happen.

I know that back in America it can take months to get an appointment with a specialist and seeing one obviously costs a ton of money. Here in Tanzania getting to see even a regular doctor is extremely difficult for people in the villages around where we live, and I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find a specialist to help us with off-the-scale complicated things. And so when I am shown a baby here in our village whose head just keeps expanding getting to twice and then three times what should be the normal size, it’s the kind of thing that I am left frightfully wondering even where to begin. Enough to just make me cry.

I can see now though that months ago things were already in the works. One of the missionary teachers who served with us years ago -- she was in a school about 20 miles from here – decided to make a trip back to the continent with her husband, and while they were in Dar they met a child neurologist from Boston where they are now living – and eventually after they made contact back in America she decided to give her my email address. And that’s how Dr. Pamela wrote to me, and how I sent her pictures of little Kenneth here, and how I learned to my great amazement that she already had a trip planned to come to Tanzania, and that yes, she would love to come visit me. Now coming to our little village is nearly 12 hours out of her way (one way), and yet, she still decided to come. And together we made a very long-distance “house call”.

Adorable baby Kenneth is 10 months old. He has a treatable problem called hydrocephalus, a build-up of water around the brain, which makes the head continue to swell and which leads normally to blindness and mental retardation and I guess eventually to death. “All he needs” is a shunt and this unwanted fluid can be drained. Two problems though -- where do we possibly get a surgeon for little Kenneth, and how do we cut through the traditional beliefs surrounding his problem. Educated or not, parents anywhere would be frightened. But throw in the burden of a grandmother who is vocal about her convictions that witchcraft is behind it all, and you have fear overcoming rational thought.

Looking for a neurosurgeon is quite obviously an issue! But God leads my new friend Dr. Pamela to meet, at the Muhimbili National Hospital down in Dar-es-Salaam, with a neurosurgeon, who agrees to give Kenneth top priority. And Dr. Pamela also has a Kenyan friend living in Dar who has taken it upon herself to walk kids and their parents through the scary process of getting medical treatment for neurological problems like hydrocephalus, spina bifida, and the like. All we would have to do is to get them there! Easier said than done though. Hard to get mom to take that first big step of going to the city. Harder still to get grandma, who truly is convinced that it’s all witchcraft, to stop frightening her terrified grandchildren and discouraging the family from even trying to help Kenneth. It all seems overwhelming. But family and friends collected what money they could, I was able to throw in the rest that was needed thanks to the kind help of people who give for our benevolence fund, and the Lord has guided us every step of the way. And so against all odds of what anyone might think of for a little boy born in one of these villages with this kind of a problem, little Kenneth and his parents have started their long voyage across the country to Dar-es-Salaam to see that neurosurgeon. I’m praying for them every step of the way, praying for kindness to be shown to them in that big city, praying for the neurosurgeon to be able to help this little boy. And so I write to all of you, as my friends, and ask you in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays, to take a moment out of your day and to ask God to continue to do something wonderful for this little boy and his family.

And once again, I marvel at His ability to guide us through uncharted waters. What can’t He do? Once again I marvel at how He orchestrated all of the pieces in the puzzle to come together in such a wonderful way. I add this to my very long list of the things I’ve seen Him do these past years as He has worked through weak, but willing, vessels. It is frightening to take on life and death issues like AIDS and heart defects and hydrocephalus, but it’s lovely to see God use our little team here to help people in their greatest hour of need. It such a privilege to get to be a part of seeing this all happen.

If this is like Christmases of years past there will be a multitude of gifts from family and friends and from our teachers and students that will fill our house with joy this year. The gift I’m really hoping for is for Kenneth to come back to our little village happy and healthy. I would be very grateful if you’d join me in praying for him and for his family.

In His service,