Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trying new things....

A loan of courage to make the leap.....

Most people don't know that I (Mike) am a bit anxious about heights (mild acrophobia).  So when new friends (Dr. Lisle and Lauren Whitman) took us by boat on nearby South Holston Lake to "cliff island", I wasn't thinking that my fear would be confronted.   It was a flat lake, right?  That's when "D-Dad" told me to strap on my life jacket because we were going to make the jump off of cliff island.  ("D-Dad" is Lisle's 70-something father who is over 6 feet tall and very robust.)   I looked up to the top of cliff island and noticed that the side of a vertical rock wall in front of us was marked every five feet. By those markings, the top of the cliff was right around 30 feet from the water surface  as the summer heat usually drops the water level precipitously by September.  I wanted to politely tell D-Dad that I wasn't interested but something about having a 70 something man figure out that I was afraid of jumping from that height kept me silent and agreeable. (especially with my two daughters watching me).  So, I jumped out of the pontoon boat with D-Dad, his son Dr. Lisle, and three young ladies (our daughters) and swam for the island.  Climbing up the side of the cliff face, up to the top, was a little nerve racking to say the least.  At the top, the six of us gathered near the cliff edge, with our life jackets on and, before I knew it, D-Dad went running off the cliff, feet first, down to the lake below.   He bobbed up and swam for the boat like nothing had happened.  What happened next, surprised Pam and me big time:   I held my life jacket close and leaped in right after D-Dad with a shout!  As I went over the cliff edge, I had the split second feeling that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life!!  Not since I was 14 years old had I jumped from so high and that experience was terrifying.  The fall ended quickly with a big splash, an acute pain in my bum, and huge relief that it was over as I swam to the pontoon boat.  Pam had told Lauren that I would chicken out and she couldn't believe that I made the jump.  All I could say to her was that having D-Dad go first and show me that it wasn't a big deal was an incredible boost for my courage.   If he could jump, I could jump.  He gave me a huge loan of courage, enough for me to do something I would not have attempted otherwise.  I was feeling pretty good about myself until Dr. Lisle, still up on the cliff, threw his life jacket over the cliff and dove in, from 30 feet, HEAD FIRST!  Gulp!
Image result for cliff jumping
Not me...but I DID take the leap and it felt like this!
As I am preparing for an October with many meetings with doctors, residents, and students and their spouses,  D-Dad's example is on my mind.   I am praying that the "leap" which Pam and I took 20 years ago to go to Africa to volunteer as career medical missionaries at Tenwek Hospital will give courage to young health care professionals considering such a calling.   I remember the uncertainties in 1996 about our future financial status, my professional competency as a surgeon, how my wife and kids would handle growing up in Africa, and many other concerns.  After two decades my whole family will agree with me... we wouldn't have wanted it any other way! The leap was worth it and the ride, an amazing, blessed adventure with Jesus Christ as our life jacket.  Yep, we suffered some bruises along the way and others probably handled the jump in more graceful fashion, but we did it .....and God has blessed us over and over again.  As we serve with CMDA-USA in coming months and years, we could have the opportunity to encourage thousands of Christian healthcare trainees and practicing doctors/dentists/PA's/podiatrists/others.   We will ask them to consider a career of medical ministry and we want to hand out courage loans, with no interest, to all we meet.  The mission of CMDA is to "motivate, educate, and equip Christian healthcare professionals to glorify God by serving with professional excellence as witnesses of Christ's love and compassion to all people".  Please pray with us that God will bless our efforts, especially in a busy October and November, to accomplish that mission, to the glory of God.  Our schedule is below:

October 5th to 9th: Trip to Orlando to share at Surgery Grand Rounds, lunch with Orlando medical students,  and speak at CMDA Orlando chapter fall banquet.
October 12th to 14th:  Friends of Tenwek Board meeting and planning, Charlotte, NC
October 17th:  Lunch with Greenville medical students and evening banquet with Upstate SC CMDA chapter
Oct 21st/22nd:  Media training at CMDA headquarters
Nov 9th - 12th:  Global Missions Health Conference,  Louisville (giving talk on Mission Drift)

Between now and the first week of January, Dr. Gene Rudd and I will be working closely together so that I learn well to take on the many responsibilities that Gene has.  Gene is currently in Israel, leading a team of doctors and dentists and CMDA friends on a tour of the Holy Land so I am "minding the fort", getting to know the ~50 staff who work full or part time here in Bristol.

News from Tenwek is encouraging these days.  Several returning and new missionary families have arrived to reinforce the "remnant" that we left in July.   The new house construction that many of you donated to is progressing well.  Dr. Mike Ganey sent us a picture this week which we want to share with you....thanks for giving so generously.  We believe this house could be the first of three or even four houses that your generous giving kick-started!
Roof nearly finished on Ganey family house at Tenwek

Your generous giving and regular prayers ALSO serve as a loan of courage to our family.  Thank you, thank you.

Mike and Pam
2 Tim 1: 6,7

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