During many miles of travel this month of July, here in the South, my girls have been discussing their dreams of someday finding their "soul mate". Leave it to Dad to be just a little out of touch with what the term "soul mate" means! "Dad, how can YOU ask THAT? You have MOM!" Pam, understandably frustrated by her husband's dull wit asked "Yeah, what about me?!" Yes, what about her? This past weekend we attended a Pre-field orientation training for over 20 new medical missionaries sponsored by CMDA (Christian Medical Dental Associations) in Bristol, TN. These missionaries are from various mission organizations and will be headed to countries all over the globe in the coming year. Singles, couples, couples with small children were all in attendance. Our primary role was to serve on a panel Friday afternoon and talk about issues that impact the medical missionary family. Our oldest daughter Melody participated with us and joined four other panel members: a retired missionary couple, an internist who had served in China, and an adult MK who is now a grandmother. The discussion was lively, the questions very good ones, and my fellow panel members gave wonderful, sage advice and clarity to what life is really like within the family context on the mission field long term. That included Melody, whom the young parents in the group wanted to especially hear from in terms of her boarding school experience, pros and cons. Mel did such a good job transparently explaining the highs and lows of living away from us at Rift Valley Academy for all four years of high school. She summed it up by saying she would NEVER trade that experience for any other school experience, anywhere. The combination of semi-independent living in high school, deep friendships with kids from many nations whose parents were serving all over Africa, and teachers/dorm parents who are deeply in love with the Lord Jesus and the missionary kids, made for an incredible, foundational life preparation for Melody.
Ok, what about lessons from my soul mate? Pam fielded a number of questions from young wives and moms and even one young surgeon, a husband and dad, who wanted to know from Pam how Mike had been able to make her feel loved above his work with patients and ministry at Tenwek Hospital over the course of 20 years? Gulp! (I started sweating profusely!) Without pause or pretense, my wonderful wife used that question to give a testimony about God's grace and kindness to her over the course of the last 20 years that we have served in Kenya, through good and bad times, through joy and sorrow, success and failures. She explained about struggling with depression in 2008 in the midst of Kenya's post-election crisis, perceived home-schooling failures, and a rather long five year term of service at Tenwek. My soul mate described how that struggle in 2008 -09 had given me, her husband, an opportunity to show her once and for all that she really mattered to me. Her welfare and her emotional health were of greater importance, not my work/ministry in Kenya. I watched in awe as she calmly and genuinely described how she had come out of that situation completely emotionally healed and strong with God's help and an extra year in the US. Instead of "throwing me under the bus" in front of 20+ new medical missionaries (she could have told many interesting stories on her husband!) she shared how God has been faithful to her and our family as we have obeyed his call to serve as medical missionaries in Africa. If only she could have seen herself giving that testimony 20 years ago! Back then she was often feeling insecure, anxious about inadequacy, and wondering why God had picked her to be a missionary and surgeon's wife. Over the years though, Pam has been the steady, stabilizing force in our family. Her name means "sweet fragrance" and she has made our home a sweet smelling place for me and for our children and for our hundreds of guests at Tenwek since 1996. God knew a soul mate that this missionary surgeon would need to survive for the long haul in ministry. He also knew what my wife would need from her soul mate to grow in her faith and trust in God's never failing care for her.
Certainly God is not finished with either of us yet. We leave on Sunday evening, Aug 2nd, for Kenya with arrival in Nairobi, God willing, Monday evening. After a couple of days of shopping and rest in Nairobi, we will head for Tenwek on Thursday morning, August 6th. Mike already has a meeting scheduled with the Tenwek CEO, Mr. Geoffrey Langat, and Don Hoover, one of the founders of the Friends of Tenwek organization, on August 7th. My soul mate and sweet fragrance, Pam, and I request your specific prayers for the following concerns:
- For the trip back to Kenya and Tenwek Hospital with our two younger daughters, Kayla and Ashley, this weekend: for journey "mercies" of some rest and opportunities to be faithful witnesses for our Lord with fellow passengers, security and immigration officers, van drivers, flight attendants, etc.
- For Steve and Melody as they remain in the US and either find jobs or start school in August. Steve has returned to St. Joseph, MI and is looking for work and a more permanent place to live while Melody starts school at the University of South Carolina in Spartanburg on August 20th.
- Staff deficiencies at Tenwek: Since January of this year seven longer term doctors have left Tenwek to return to the US as planned. An additional three long term doctors have had unplanned family and personal issues that have brought them home to the US from Tenwek this summer. On top of that SEVEN short term visiting doctors cancelled their time of service at Tenwek this summer due to concerns about security in Kenya. This has left Tenwek in a crisis with several departments with minimal to no consultant level doctors available to do patient care. An emergency appeal has been sent out from the CMDA (Christian Medical Dental Associations) network and a few doctors have responded from Mike's group in Michigan, PTL. Please pray that God will give incredible strength and grace to the doctors who are currently at Tenwek until reinforcements (including Mike) arrive in August and September.
I'll close this blogpost with a scripture that has become especially meaningful to us this week as God incredibly answered a specific prayer of Mike and a young college graduate. Joel White has a business degree and is the incoming Friends of Tenwek intern for the next two years. He submitted his work permit to serve at Tenwek last April but became discouraged with no news from Kenyan immigration after three months of waiting. Mike called him on Monday to encourage him and they prayed over the phone that God would open the door in His time and allow Joel to go to Kenya to serve. Today, word came from our business assistant in Nairobi, Jane, that his work permit has been granted! PTL! Joel will be a wonderful addition to our Tenwek staff and a big help to Mike and administration as he has an interest in hospital administration for his future. What is that scripture I mentioned above?
Isa 26:7 "But for the righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right and you smooth out the path ahead of them."
Pam and I and the girls are trusting our loving Father to "smooth out the path ahead of us" this weekend as we return to Kenya and ministry at Tenwek Hospital. Thanks to all of you for praying and giving and encouraging the Chupp family this year. We love you.
Dr. Mike and Pam Chupp
Missionaries with World Gospel Mission
Serving at Tenwek Hospital in Kenya