March 26 and COVID-19

Today is a relatively normal day in the hospital. What does make it a little different are the small things that show preparation for what may be to come. My temperature was scanned as I entered the hospital and I was asked if I have COVID-19 risk factors. I had a Outbreak Committee meeting for 2 hours in the middle of the day. As head of the internal medicine department, I have been a part of developing protocols for the care of hospitalized patients as well as determining how we will staff such cases. I have asked around about what is going on in Nairobi, and I hear rumors that the hospitals are getting busier with respiratory infections. We are probably 1-2 weeks behind them.

There are things that make me optimistic. I know the statistics. I personally at am low risk as is my family. I know we will get it at some point, but it will be a flu-like illness for us if we are symptomatic at all. I live in a tropical climate with lots of sun which equals lots of vitamin D. We do not have many elderly people in Kenya, so those most affected in other parts of the world do not exist here in such high numbers. Italy has 1 in 4 people over age 65. 25 percent! Only 3.9% of our population is over age 65. The average life expectancy is around 63. We will not see the same mortality rate here. I believe at this point when all the statistics are done retrospectively that the infection and mortality rate will not be that high. The problem is that it is hitting everyone in the world at the same time!

Things that make me pessimistic. We have very limited PPE, limited doctors, limited ICU beds, very limited ventilators. Basically we have limited health care resources. The decisions about who will live and die that other doctors talk about having to make with COVID-19, we make everyday because of our decreased resources. However, we do not lack for very smart and compassionate doctors, at least at Kijabe Hospital. I get a sense that all my interns are ready to be a part of caring for their country! Our young have other conditions that may complicate their recovery. Specifically HIV, TB, and malnutrition could be disastrous for the young people who in other countries are doing so well.

I hope everyone everywhere is doing well. God is good, and I am remembering these good promises.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

How are you?

How are you, friends, during this topsy turvy time? It is hard to imagine the places we love emptied of worshippers, groceries, patrons, and pedestrians. We pray that you have peace, confidence, and toilet paper.

A few of you have asked how we are. I am sorry that we have been such sporadic communicators on the blog. I confess that I forget to be grateful for all the people around the world who care about us and pray for us. I’m afraid I focus on the people and projects here in Kenya and I neglect to look around and give thanks for those who allow us to be here.

So, into the third paragraph, how are we? We are fine. Kenya is behind the curve, as it were, in the development of the coronavirus. We have a few cases, brought in by travelers, but it is not spread through community transmission yet. We don’t have a documented case in our hospital, but Will and the Kijabe Hospital staff are gearing up for the influx of patients. They are surprised at the relative calm thus far. Will has been watching lots of medical videos about treating COVID-19 and how to best use the available ventilators in the hospital.

Rift Valley Academy decided to end school two and a half weeks before our scheduled term break. There was a Herculean effort to get almost 300 dorm kids scheduled on planes, trains, and buses out of Kenya and to the countries where their families live with only 4 days’ notice. Amazing stories trickled in over the weekend of students’ flights being received only minutes before the border was closed, of students who were going to be quarantined in the airport, but some kindly official released them to their friends’ father, a medical missionary, and of arduous 40-hour bus rides that ended in successful border crossings.

The early closure meant that all junior and senior educational trips (called “Interims”) were cancelled, including mine to Spain. David was scheduled to go to Zanzibar, Tanzania. That was a tough blow to all the upperclassmen. The sudden closure meant the seniors had to say their goodbyes in a day or two, not knowing whether they would return from their country nor when. My heart goes out to these seniors whose lives are so full of change and transition anyway and then this unique kink in plans was added. One crazy story from a student whose parents have served in mostly closed countries is that she said that until now, RVA was the only place she had lived from which she had not been evacuated.

Right now, we teachers are knee-deep in tech training so that we can commence online classes with a hope to see our students face-to-face when God allows.

We had been looking forward to returning to the Christian Medical and Dental Association’s medical mission conference in Greece in April. It was a great place to connect with our fellow Christian Health Service Corps missionaries serving in East Africa, plus there was great food and it was fun to be in Europe. Of course, that is cancelled, much to the chagrin of the family.

For now, though, we are thankful for the beautiful weather, the community of fellow missionaries, the (so-far) stocked grocery stores in Nairobi, the people who have helped all of us make big decisions, the hand of God sustaining us.

Many of you are doing BSF, as am I (my class was already a video chat!), so I will leave you with a quote from this weeks’ lesson: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” I Corinthians 15:58

Photos of recent shenanigans:

Living Life with Allison is Awesome

Nineteen years of living with Allison. Ten houses in four countries in 19 years. We are having fun! Happy Anniversary!

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Chillin’ with A in Nairobi

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My sweet Valentine!

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Awesome selfies by Will and Allison

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I brought a friend with me today!

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True love in Cuzco

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Feeling the love at 14,000 feet!

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Big kiss under big mistletoe!

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Hoodies and a hug keep a couple warm!

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Come away with me my love.

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Livin' the life in Cura-town!

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What’s New

We are looking forward to the Christmas season! Thanksgiving will be a quick after work and school dinner with some of our friends here in Kijabe, then after a half day of school on Friday, Christmas break will begin. (For those who do not know our school runs on a trimester system with three month long breaks each year.) Some much deserved rest for Allison and the kids will be enjoyed afterward. Allison continues to work hard as Head of the Department for International Languages. It is a role with many responsibilities, some enjoyable, others not as much. She and her students inaugurated a Spanish Club which started the year with a Spanish Karaoke party that went off with moderate success. I wanted to get up and sing, but I didn’t want to be that Dad at the party, so I held back. I am now working as Head of Department for Internal Medicine at AIC Kijabe Mission Hospital. I continue to take call in the Obstetrics department, as well as in the ICU and the Internal Medicine wards. I enjoy the work a lot, and I hope that I can grow into the role of HOD. Administration has not always been my strong suit, but I feel privileged to serve, and I know it was a position that needed to be filled. The kids are doing well, and Allison and I are facing the the reality that David will be gone in just around 18 months! He is busy at school with Model United Nations, running a pizza delivery business, creating his vlog, and working at the Teddy’s, the student snack shop. Peter is doing well in his freshman year participating in choir, jazz band, and band as a trumpet player. He also quite fascinated with the guitar. Annie is in junior high band playing trombone. She loves drama and is excited to be a part of the field hockey team. Sarah is thriving as a sixth grader, the top of Titchie (elementary school). She plays piano and is venturing into saxophone. All of them are busy. As a family we try and get into Nairobi for good food when we can, and about once a month we try and head the other direction to Lake Naivasha to escape the hospital and relax in the best part of what Kenya has to offer (besides the awesome people of course), its natural beauty and wildlife. Thanks for thinking of us and praying for us. We trust God for the energy to live cross culturally and to do the good work he has given us to do.

Jazz Band

This is the first of what I hope are many years of Jazz band in our future. Peter first picked up a trumpet that was given to him when we lived in Peru. He taught himself a little, got a bit more instruction in his marching band at Colegio Diospi Suyana, then it kicked into gear on arrival to Rift Valley Academy. He is really good, and this year as a freshman he gets to be in the high school jazz band. We just had the Christmas concert, and it was a joy to listen to him and the other kids go for it. I am so thankful for the missionary teachers who have given him instruction over the years. Here is to 3 1/2 more years of trumpet in our house. (He is picking up guitar too!)

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Jazz band

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Dung Beetle

I am not sure what I think of these little bugs. Actually they are not so little. You cannot tell how big it is in the video, but that ball of dung is somewhere between the size of a golfball and and tennis ball. And that poor beetle pushes it with what seems like the futility of Sisyphus.

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Dung beetle

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David has a Video Blog

Have I posted this before. If not, please go check it out. If you follow his Vlog he would be quite pleased. I recommend the pranks vlog and this most recent linked below. It is a decent glimpse of life at RVA for a Junior.