Time

images-3As we start a new year, I think it is worthwhile to reflect on the topic of TIME.  Having split 2013 between vastly different cultures, I can say that perhaps no other issue more clearly highlights the differences between the two.  Time may not be a common topic of conversation over coffee, but in my opinion, other than the forces of good and evil, no other entity has a greater influence on our day-to-day existence.

In 1973, two Princeton University psychologists wanted to examine the effect of time on human behavior.  Their study involved a group of seminary students, half of whom were asked to prepare a talk on Jesus’ Good Samaritan parable and the other half of whom were instructed to prepare a talk on the job market for seminary graduates.  These students were asked to meet at one location but had to give their presentation at another area on campus.  Before each student headed to the place of his or her presentation, they were randomly given one of the following instructions:

1) “Oh, you’re late. They were expecting you a few minutes ago.”

OR

2) “The assistant is ready for you, so please go right over.”

OR

3) “It’ll be a few minutes before they’re ready for you, but you might as well head on over.”

images-6Now here’s where the experiment gets interesting:  en route from the meeting place to the location of the presentation, each student passed a staged individual who was bent over, coughing, and obviously in pain.  So how did the students react?  Sixty-three percent of those with time to spare stopped to help, 45% of those who were right on time offered their assistance, but only 10% of those who were late did the “good deed.”  Interestingly, students who had prepared a talk on the Good Samaritan parable were no more likely help than those who had not.  In short, behavior appeared to be a product  of time, or at least one’s perception of time.

Before looking at what the Bible says about time, I think it is interesting to see what the world has to say (at least in the States):

“Time is money.”

In response to that James Taylor remarks “Time my be money but your money won’t buy time.”

“Time waits for no man.”

“Time will tell.”

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

“Race against time.”

“Time is of the essence.”

“Right on time.”

“Just in time.”

“Stand the test of time.”

“There’s no time like the present.”

“There’s no time to lose.”

“All the time in the world.”

“Killing time.”

“Time’s a wasting.”

During my eight months in Kenya, about the only expression I’ve discovered that references the calendar or the clock is “Chai time.”

clockI’ll admit that, historically, I’m just as guilty as anyone for being obsessive about time.  Shortly after finishing residency, I think the Lord decided enough was enough, and He laid a few verses on my heart to ponder.  And for years I simply could not get them off my mind.  The first is from Ephesians 5, verses 15-16:  “Look therefore carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  The second is from Psalm 103, verses 15-16, which state “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”

Some other passages that put our earthly life into perspective include:

Psalm 39:4 – Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 102:11 – My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass.

Job 8:9 – for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow.

James 4:14 – Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

1 Peter 4:7 – The end of all things is near. Therefore, be clear minded and self-controlled so you can pray.”

At this point you may be thinking, “Wow Paul, thanks a lot for the words of encouragement!”  You’re right, I don’t expect to see these verses gracing the front of some T-shirt or refrigerator magnet.  And I don’t plan on greeting one of my patients with “Good morning, did you know that your days are like grass and the end of all things is near?”  But sometimes we need a reality check from God’s word to humble us.

images-4Yet before we despair of the fleeting nature of our lives, we should consider this miracle:  the shadow of our existence can be made eternally significant by an omnipotent and infinitely loving God.  That He would look down on the broken billions, whose lives are but a mist, and freely share His power and plan with those who choose to follow Him, is beyond comprehension.  And to me, this makes every day, even every hour, a sacred gift.  As I enter into another year, I’m thankful that in Him, and only in Him, the vapor of my life can have an eternal impact.

I pray that this day I won’t be so quick to follow my own purposes that I walk right past His.

Blessings,

Paul

 

12 Days of (Kenyan) Christmas

As we were driving home yesterday from a Christmas Eve party at a local orphanage, our children passed the time by singing Christmas carols.  One of these was The 12 Days of Christmas, during which they humored us with a little improv – thus my motivation to create a Kenyan version of this well known tune.  Those who have lived in Kenya should have an appreciation.  For those who have not, I’ve added some pictures for clarification.  Clear your throats and sing along …

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a family on a piki (pronounced pee-kee)

piki

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two cups of chai …

Chai

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three pot holes …

pot holes

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four calling home …

kids

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five filthy toes …

dirty feet

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six patients praying …

patient

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven slugs so slimy …

slug

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight more mandazis …

Maandazi

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies sewing …

sewing

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten Masaai leaping …

Masaai jum

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven panga slashings …

photo: Sven Torfinn Kenya, Nakuru, January 2008 Young man destroying the windows of a house with his knife, panga. WarriorsÊbelonging to the Kalenjin tribe inÊ the fields outside Nakuru town, from where they are launching attacks on the residential areas

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve donkeys towing …

Heavily overloaded donkeys carrying straw, Ethiopia

 

Putting it all together now …

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a family on a piki

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight more mandazis, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies sewing, eight more mandazis, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten Masaai leaping,  nine ladies sewing, eight more mandazis, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven panga slashings, ten Masaai leaping, nine ladies sewing, eight more mandazis, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, twelve donkeys towing, eleven panga slashings, ten Masaai leaping, nine ladies sewing, eight more mandazis, seven slugs so slimy, six patients praying, five filthy toes, four calling home, three pot holes, two cups of chai, and a family on a piki

Blessings and Merry Christmas,

Paul

A Holiday Update

Season’s greetings to all of you!  Our latest newsletter is finished and can be viewed by clicking on the link below.  Thank you again for your encouragement, prayers, and support.  Since we usually do not post our newsletters on our blogs, if you’d like to continue to receive them throughout the year please send us your email address and we will gladly add you to our list.  Blessings to you in 2014!

December 2013 Newsletter

 

Here and There

Many aspects of life in Kenya have continued just as they would have in the states. However, most of the details of day-to-day living have a new face or appear in a different context.  Below I have chosen just a few of these aspects in a pictorial format to contrast life here and life there.  The pictures on the left are from the states and those on the right are here at Tenwek.

My hospital (left – Kennestone, right – Tenwek)

kennestone2          Tenwek Picture

My work cubicle

UA cubicle          IMG_2372

Office paperwork (maybe an exaggeration, but not by far)

office charts          Tenwk Chart Review

My operating room

IMG_1295          DSC_0157-13

View from a mountain near my home (left – Kennesaw Mountain, right – Mount Motigo)

kennesaw          DSC_0230

Warning sign at a national park we visited

kennesaw sign          park sign

The local river (left – Chattahoochee, right – Nyangores)

Chattahoochee-River-Photo          river

Beautiful trees

Dogwood          local orange tree

My favorite local fruit (Cost in Kenya: 1 peach – $2.50, 1 pineapple – 58 cents!)

peaches          pineapple

My favorite local treat (left – YOU KNOW!, right – mandazis)

KKD          Mandazi

Coffee Creamer

coffee mate          afrimate

Football

american football          kenya football

Our furry friend (left – Oreo, right – Murphy)

DSC_0020          IMG_2366

Local cats in the region

images          DSC_0463

Reptiles around the yard (and occasionally in the house)

frog          DSC_0069

Other animals commonly encountered in the neighborhood

squirrel          donkeys

Currency (dollars versus schillings)

dollar          100 ksh

Electrical outlets (shape isn’t the only difference … we’ve fried a couple of devices)

cover-new-255x400          IMG_2362         

Our dish washing machine

images          IMG_2365

Our drying machine

dryer          Sun and Sky

House key

house key          IMG_2364

Cell phone (kind of nice to pay as you go – no contracts or calling plans here)

iphone 4          IMG_2374

Mode of transportation

suburban          shoes

Road maintenance (yes, we’re in that van, stuck in the mud)

Road construction          IMG_2329

Public transportation (left – boooring, right – that’s what I’m talking about!)

USA - Greyhound Lines Inc          bus

A typical motorcycle scene (note: this is a very “average” load in Kenya)

2008-Victory-Motorcycles-7          piki close up

Many different sights, many different sounds, and many different experiences, but no matter where we go or what the differences are … one God is with us.

“If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” – Psalm 139: 9-10

Blessings,

Paul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Seven Months … A Few Glimpes

Longonot

 

After living in Africa for seven months:

We are experiencing our first rainy season.

My wife would make my barber back home proud.

I have finally started running – a little intimidating on hilly terrain, at 6800 feet, in the homeland of the world’s greatest runners.

Urethroplasties don’t scare me any more thanks to Dr. Jeff Carney.

I have come to realize that meats and vegetables really do taste better without all the pesticides and antibiotics.

I still haven’t gotten used to living in a culture where complaints and sarcasm are as rare as hen’s teeth.

We have a new (four-legged) member of our family.

I have found that a patient’s pain tolerance is culture-dependent.

I’ve been taught that scary-looking sausage flies don’t hurt, but fuzzy caterpillars do.

I appreciate the beauty of simple living.

My obsession with punctuality has disappeared (and my wife is grateful).

I am able to successfully perform surgery with only a headlight.

My wife has learned to make Krispy Kreme-like donuts and wonderful chai (even the Kenyans say so).

I am able to drive comfortably on the “wrong” side of the road, dodging motorcycles, oncoming vehicles, pedestrians, livestock and potholes … but not quite brave enough yet to drive in Nairobi traffic.

I’ve noticed that rich worship happens on dirt floors.

Our family of six shares one bathroom and the world has not come to an end.

I don’t miss all the paperwork that was required to take care of patients in the states.

I am anxiously awaiting my first Kenyan Christmas.

I love sukuma wiki!

I say thank you, thank you to the person who told us to bring a lifetime supply of bandaids for our kids.

I am inspired by the enthusiasm, skill, and spiritual devotion of the trainees at Tenwek Hospital.

I no longer take clean water for granted.

The patient load continues to increase.

My understanding of generosity has been redefined by the Kenyan people.

I expect the unexpected.

The enemy still tries to distract and discourage, but I keep remembering Galatians 6:9.

I am as grateful as ever for the prayers, encouragement and support from our friends and family back home that allow us to continue serving the Lord and His people Kenya.

Blessings,

Paul