Sunday, July 8, 2012

A dose of Reality

Here it is, a little over 3 weeks since we arrived back in Oklahoma from Uganda, and I am getting a healthy dose of reality.  Let me explain.  Since we sold our home in Duncan and moved to Uganda in February, we have had our heads down serving others, but wondering what our new reality would be when we got home.  Our plan was and continues to be that we will live in our farm house that is on our ranch.  Over the past weeks, we have been based in our farm house, but we have still had our heads down with Jill’s father.  First, we had a week to spend time with Herb, doing things that he liked and going to his favorite restaurants.   Then, we spent 10 days in OKC, helping as he had his surgery and recovery.  He has recovered faster and better than we expected, and now, we have come face to face with our new reality.  WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF, for the available space and it is 100 degrees, all the time, in Oklahoma!

This week, I will be digging back into my work at the clinic, and we will start trying to unpack and sort through some of the boxes that we have stacked in the house and barns.  It is just now that I am wrestling with feeling depressed that our work on the ground in Uganda is on “hold” for now.  The work that we started in Uganda through Due Unto Others and Renewal Health Network continues.  Even this week, our friends, the Gash family, will be helping in a 4 day clinic in Gaba. 

At the end of these 4 days, 100% of the sponsorship locations in the Africa Renewal Ministries program will have been visited by our team.  Joseph and Faith, with other hired and volunteer help, will be performing various outreach and community clinics over the next several months.  Even though all of this medical mission work will continue, and we will be helping to fund raise and bring awareness to the need from the USA, we still will miss being in Uganda, with our hands on the need.  Jill and I are looking forward to going to churches to share about what God is doing in Uganda.  It also looks like we will also be able to share at the World Medical Missions conference in Kentucky in November.  We would trade these engagements for a long day at Mulago, taking one of our starfish to see a medical specialist and trying to avoid the bathrooms.

I think the trick for me will be to spend the next period of time working to deepen my walk, my prayer life and my study time.   Then as I get back into my work routine, I will need to continue to look for “That One Person” that needs to feel God’s love.  I will be continuing to keep up with our special friends in Uganda.  As you know, 4 of the Cardiac Kids will be undergoing operations between now and the end of the year.  We are still raising funds for these procedures to allow them to move forward.  The reality is that we feel that we are where God wants us, for now.  It can seem less fulfilling than loving on kids in Uganda, but God’s will is not for us to understand, it is for us to try to discover, then follow.

The Reality is that we are blessed and we would be wise to Realize it.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dependence Day

Do you know what day it is in Uganda?  That’s right, it is July 4th.  It is not Independence Day there, but it is July 4th.  After spending almost 5 months in Uganda earlier this year, I have a fresh perspective of how blessed we are to be Americans!  We have more wealth, more comfort, more food, more freedom, more luxury and more health care than anyone in the world.  We have less hunger, less needless death, less loss of utilities, less poverty, less childhood mortality and most of all LESS DEPENDENCE ON GOD than anyone in the world.  All of our comforts and access to the best, makes it where we are able to not be dependent on God.  We are far too self-reliant.  We are independent this day!

While in Uganda, it was interesting to see the Ugandan’s view of Americans.  Many of them think that everyone in the USA is rich.  To be honest, if you compared Americans to most of the people in Uganda, that statement is true.  We also heard some interesting comments like, “All Americans are so kind and caring”, or “Americans are so giving”.  As much as I wish those statements were true across the board, I know that they are not.  I explained to our Ugandan friends, there are many good people in the US, but there are also those that choose to do wrong and actually those that are evil.  Most in Uganda see all Americans as the same, or with similar Christian beliefs.  I know that this is how our country was founded, and I sorely wish that this were still true.

When I look at the US, I see a country divided, oblivious to how blessed we are and how we are on the edge of losing these blessings.  We can argue over healthcare, gay marriage, fast and furious, deficit spending or taxes, but if we could just get back to agreeing on being one nation, under God, I think most of our differences would fade away.  While we were gone, I was “tuned out” of all of these debates for the entire time.  When I returned, the same exact debates and arguments were still raging out of control.  There had been no resolution or common ground found.

For all of my Oklahoma friends, I want you to remember how good it felt to be “One state under the Thunder”.  We had something in common.  We were pulling the rope in the same direction, cheering for our neighbor, and gathering momentum.  Just think about how much momentum we could gather if we all rallied behind a Living God!  What will it take to get America back “Under God”?  What will it take for us to have Dependence Day?   What would it take to get us to be the people that the Ugandans see us as?  The great American philosopher, Brad Allen, said that he thinks there will be another revival in the US, but he is concerned about 2 things:  1.) It may happen outside of our current churches & 2.) It may have to get a lot worse in the US before we turn to Christ.  I too am worried that this may be true.  We are so self-reliant, that I am afraid of what God may have to do or take away to get our collective attention.

I pray that on this Independence Day, we will be more dependent on Him.  I pray also that we will return to Dependence before the blessings of America are gone.  Could we schedule a Dependence Day?  I'll bring the fireworks!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!!! 
You did not realize that it was a new year did you?  It is in the medical world.  On July 1st, the world of medical education graduates to a new year.  I have been aware of this new year many times over the past 20 years.  Over the past 12 years, though, July 1st has mainly been my anniversary.  As many of you know, we are on day 7 of Jill’s father Herb’s hospitalization for his laryngectomy.  So we have spent the last week at the OU medical center.  With the 1st falling on a Sunday, today is really the new year of medicine at the OU medical center.  We are seeing confused young men and women looking to make sense of the maze of charts and cranky nurses.  At the same time, they are trying to study about different illnesses so they can answer the “pimp” questions that will surely be coming from their residents and attendings.  I once read an article titled, “Don’t get sick in July”.  In this article, the author states that July is the worst time to get sick because in July, college students become medical students, medical students become interns, interns become residents and residents become attendings.  Everyone in a new position and learning new things.

 I am standing in “Presby Tower” (formerly Presbyterian hospital) remembering 16 years ago.  I started my internship in Presby Hospital on July 1st of 1996.  I was on an Internal Medicine rotation and I was supposed to be on call every 4 nights.  But, since I was the “off service” intern (Emergency Medicine intern working with the Internal Medicine team), I got the pleasure of taking call on the very first night, then getting to come back, just 3 nights later, on the 4th.  That day I was scared to death that the “code pager” was going to go off.  I was on my first day as a doctor, and I was responsible for all code blues in a big OKC hospital.  That night, I could not sleep, worried the pager would sound.  With time and experience, my anxiety about those situations lessened.  God was able to heal people despite my inexperience.

The following July, I became a licensed doctor, and started moonlighting some.  In July of 1998, I became an upper level resident and started to moonlight in Duncan and make schedules for our residency.  By July 1st of 2000, I was finished with my residency and our family moved to Duncan.  Come to think of it, more life changes have happened, for me, on the Medical New Year than on January 1st.  It was July 1st that I became a husband, a medical student, an intern, a resident, a “real” doctor, and it was July 1st of last year that our family woke up in Uganda, for the first time. God was able to bring Jill and I through all of these changes and bless our family each time.

I read an article this week that says US hospitals and Doctors spend 31 Billion each year on malpractice insurance.  Out of this staggering number, “only” 6 billion end up in the pockets of patients that have a malpractice claim.  The other 25 billion ends up in the pockets of malpractice attorneys and insurance companies.  In addition to this large number, another 650 Billion is spent on tests and studies to try to protect against malpractice suits.  My medical generation, the one before it, and every one since has been trained in an environment of malpractice avoidance.  In my humble opinion, I think that this is the biggest issue facing healthcare in the US.  We still have the greatest medical care in the world, it is just too expensive.  This additional 681 billion spent to avoid exposure to malpractice claims, adds greatly to the expense.

Herb is doing well.  He is recovering and is getting to sip on some water today to see how his swallowing is working. 

He is walking the halls and getting his strength back.  He met a man named Greg yesterday. 

Greg had a laryngectomy in January and he was able to encourage us and give us some pointers.  I think that this encounter was a very productive one.  Herb was introduced to a support group of men and women who live active lives after a laryngectomy.  God is able to bring Herb through this with a positive witness to help others.

Many of you may have seen this already, but our most current mission video, GOD IS ABLE, is up on youtube and we would be delighted if you would take a look at it.

Happy New Year!


Sunday, July 1, 2012

To the Heart of the Matter

This blog will be part two of the information regarding the Cardiac Kids.  I profiled Kenneth andLydia on my blog a few days ago.  Before I move on to introduce you to the other two heart patients, I would like to update you on Lydia.  I just got word from Dr. Martin this morning, and he says that Lydia has stabilized on some new medication.  She has been scheduled for surgery on August 2nd, as long as she remains stable.  Please pray that, over the next 32 days, she will remain stable and be able to have the procedure done.  Compared to the other Cardiac Kids, this procedure is more simple, but her disease has progressed to more problems.

The third “That One Person” with heart problems is Mercy. 

She is 2 years old and, like Lydia and Kenneth, is from Rushere.  We noticed her in the Rushere clinic that we did 6 weeks ago.  She was very afraid of Mzungus, so it was hard to examine her.  In fact, despite her big heart problem, I could not determine a murmur over the screaming.  We did notice the “clubbing” of her fingers.  This is a problem where the finger tips get thicker in response to chronic low levels of oxygen.  We see it commonly in people with chronic COPD.  She went on the bus to Mbarara with Dr. Abdul and then to Mulago.  She has been found to have Tetralogy of Fallot.  This is a problem where parts of the heart and big vessels entering or exiting the heart are on the wrong side.  This is a surgery that cannot be done in Uganda, except for the fact that a visiting surgeon from the West (UK I think), comes to do surgery.  She has been put on medicine, and awaits the visiting surgeon for her operation in December.  This will be the most complicated and expensive surgery of the 4.  We don’t have an exact amount for that surgery yet, because they are still pricing and getting some of the supplies that they will need for the surgery.  I am estimating that this operation, and care surrounding it, will cost around $10,000 USD.  What a blessing that she will be able to have this done without traveling to another country.  If she had needed to come to the US, her costs and family disruption would have been much greater.

Our fourth Cardiac Kid is Joseph. 

Joseph is a 12 year old boy from Soroti.  We found Joseph on our last trip that we made while in Uganda.  We saw him on a Saturday, and were standing in Oklahoma the following Friday.  He is easy going young man with a big smile.  The interpreter, that I was working with in Soroti, pointed out Joseph to me because he had noticed that Joseph was not growing and seemed to have muscle wasting.  He wanted me to check him over to make sure that he did not have a big illness going on.  Joseph’s heart murmur gave away at least one of his problems.  He was seen at Mulago, and found to have a large PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis) that is causing some dilated left heart chambers and some pulmonary hypertension.  The PDA allows blood to flow in the wrong direction in his heart. Joseph has been put on medication and scheduled for surgery on August 20th.  The estimated cost for the operation, hospitalization, medications, and family travel will be $1,500 USD.  He has some dilation of his heart, but this should improve if the problem is corrected.

Please join me in praying for Joseph and Mercy.  They have life saving and life changing surgeries coming up.  We are praying that the healing that they receive will be a display of God’s love to their families and their villages.  We pray that people will be drawn to Jesus from their care.  If you feel called to help with these two awesome kids, please email me at  I’d be happy to give you more information about these kids and their families. 

Here is a quick update on my buddy Jamil.  I got an email from Pastor Fred this week that said that Jamil has moved into the boarding school and is progressing well in his classes.  The Due Unto Others supporters have sponsored Jamil through the end of 2012 by paying for his school, room and board and by getting his uniforms, bedding, towels, shoes etc. 

You can see from this picture that Jamil is happy about this new lease on life that he has received after having the large tumor removed from behind his eye.  Thank you to all who have been praying for Jamil and for those who have helped sponsor his surgery and school.