So why are we going to Ghana? Let me back up and describe the road we have taken:
I became a Christ follower in college, and Lori became one in childhood. (If you're interested in the details, you can go to the About Us tab to read our testimonies). Before I even met Lori, I had a calling to medicine. It started in my senior year of high school after taking an Anatomy and Physiology class, which I really enjoyed, so I decided to enter college on the pre-med track. I remember talking to someone early on in college that told me about their experience with going to Africa and doing medical activities as an undergraduate. I had never thought about going overseas much before, but this piqued my interest. I tried to sign up for a medical mission trip to South America in my sophomore year, but the plans fell through at the last minute. I did not end up pursuing another international trip until medical school. On my application to medical school, I had stated in my personal statement that I hoped to become a pediatrician or an orthopedic surgeon, and I planned to practice in a suburban clinic with 4 or 5 other doctors. Well, it goes without saying, but those plans changed.
Between my first and second year of medical school, I went to Peru on my first international trip. It was a two-week long medical mission trip with a Christian organization. We would leave everyday from the city where we were staying, drive deep into the Andes mountains, find a village, and set up a medical and dental clinic. It opened my eyes to a whole new world, one outside the comforts of home, where poverty took on a whole new meaning, and I got to witness how faith and medicine could be intimately intertwined. This trip initiated my interest in overseas medical missions. Shortly after getting back from this trip, a special girl on the ultimate frisbee field at school began catching my eye. Her name was Lori. We began dating shortly after that, and we got married less than 2 years later. I discovered very quickly that she shared the same desire to practice medicine overseas as a medical missionary, although her desire had been there longer than mine. Lori had already visited several Central American countries, and her desire for medical missions had begun late in high school.
We went to Bolivia together in our fourth year of medical school to work at a hospital. We grew more in our desire for medical missions while there. We also were privileged to participate in other non-medical missionary work in Bolivia involving visiting an orphanage several times and taking care of children living on the street. We thought we would end up doing mission work in a Spanish-speaking country because of our language background and previous international experiences. But God had other plans for us...
We ended up couples matching into Family Medicine at John Peter Smith Family Medicine Residency in Fort Worth, Texas. We both also chose to participate in the International Health Clinic at the program, which meant that approximately half of our clinics would be utilized for seeing patients from all over the globe, many of them refugees from war-torn areas. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to many ethnic groups, including Burmese, Somali, Vietnamese, Burundi, Russian, Nepalese, and Afghani, among many others. In our second year of training, we spent one month in Ghana at Baptist Medical Centre (BMC) with one of our faculty who had spent most of his professional career as a medical missionary in southeast Asia. This was the first trip to Africa for both of us. We dealt with many challenging cases and learned about the many needs, both physical and spiritual, that were present. We thoroughly enjoyed our experience, but at that time, we did not think we would end up back there.
We had initially thought we would take another trip together to another mission hospital at some other point in residency, but that did not happen. Lori got pregnant a few months after getting back from Ghana and delivered Rebekah halfway through our third year of residency. A few months later, we applied to the Samaritan's Purse World Medical Mission Post-Residency Program, were granted an interview a couple months later, and accepted into the program a few weeks after that. We were initially given two options of mission hospitals, one in Zambia and BMC in Ghana. We prayed a lot before finally making our decision to go back to Ghana.
Lori graduated after three years and has been taking care of our daughter and keeping up the home. We are also expecting another addition to our family in a few weeks! I stayed an extra year at JPS to do a maternal-child health fellowship in order to become more proficient at Cesarean sections. In that year, I took one more trip to Africa (with another faculty member and 3 other residents), but this time it was not to a mission hospital. Instead, it was to a very busy urban hospital in Uganda, where we learned to deal with very complicated OB cases. I feel like this trip will serve me well in handling the many difficult OB cases I will see at BMC in Ghana.
Through the Post-Residency Program, we are committed to two years of service at Baptist Medical Centre. I feel like God has confirmed to me many times our decision to go to Ghana. One way God has done that is allowing me to cross paths with more people from Ghana in the past few months since I finished residency than I did during my entire four years of residency. We look forward to serving God at Baptist Medical Centre in Ghana and learning to trust Him more. We pray that the people we serve in northern Ghana will not see us at work, but that they will see Christ manifesting His gifts through us.