Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Good bye Post-Residency Program

   Well, we have completed our 2 years of service in Nalerigu, Ghana with the Post-residency program of World Medical Mission, an arm of Samaritan's Purse. We are sad that our time with them is over, as they have been wonderful people to work with, full of support and encouragement. Despite our sadness over less communication with the wonderful people of the PRP program, we are excited about what is to come. We have committed to returning to work at Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu as volunteers with WMM through December and possibly returning to the US mid January. We are still unsure of what God has for us beyond that.

Church at the TB village on Easter Sunday

   We have had a busy couple of months. Before leaving Nalerigu, we celebrated Easter. The day before Easter, we went to a woman's home, where she invited many of the nearby missionaries and other ex-patriots. She organized an egg hunt and a potluck dinner for us to celebrate and fellowship together. On Easter, we went to the church at the TB (tuberculosis) village. It was fitting that the first church we went to in Nalerigu (the TB church) was also the last church we went to while there. God is stretching Tim in the area of public speaking, as it is not an area where Tim feels very comfortable. However, both times that we attended the TB church, he was asked to speak. What an honor it was for him to be able to speak about what Jesus did for us on the day we celebrate His resurrection!


Girl with severe burns
Pulling teeth
As a change of pace, the last week of work at BMC, Tim was able to take part in a full-day village dental clinic (aka - pulling lots of bad teeth) when a volunteer dentist came to BMC. Two other notable moments of Tim's last week were: seeing a baby, now several months old, who had been the first to respond to the make-shift bubble CPAP (device that helps newborn babies having difficulty breathing be able to breathe better that Tim and a resident made); and being able to discharge a girl after more than 3 months in the hospital for a severe burn (back of head and most of her back) which was covered with multiple skin grafts.
Baby who came back to see Dr. Tim

The VanDingenens

     Before we left Nalerigu, we had to say several 'until next time's and goodbyes (some fellow missionaries and volunteers). We will miss having the VanDingenen's next door. Thank you for your family's service here at BMC and among the families on campus! May God bless you and your family as you serve God elsewhere. We also miss all our friends in Nalerigu.


  Upon leaving Nalerigu, our family attended a medical missions conference. On the way, we stopped in Accra. There we caught up with some old friends and met a few news ones as well. This was a surprise blessing just before heading to the medical conference. The conference was a great time of learning and we were even able to have a little family time. We met several other medical missionaries and enjoyed the fellowship outside of the lectures we attended. The lectures expanded our knowledge and the girls enjoyed the children's groups, where they made several friends and learned more about Jesus. We were a little concerned how the girls would do since Lori is home with them almost all the time. Despite this, they did very well. They were even quite sad when we were having to leave all their friends. Rebekah is still asking when we will see some of her friends again.

    Not long after returning from the conference, we headed back to the US (as the ending to our term with the PRP). We flew into Fort Worth and enjoyed time with some friends and family. We stayed and visited with some of Lori's extended family in the area. We also enjoyed catching up with many friends from residency and our church, as well as others. Tim was able to speak at our old residency program about what he does and what our life is like. We hope he encouraged them about what all you can do with Family Medicine and possibly to volunteer at BMC. Rebekah and Abigail were able to make new friends every day. They had so much fun playing, but they began to have some difficulty with all the goodbyes.

     After a week in Fort Worth, we traveled to Memphis. Lori's immediate family all live near the Memphis area and we stayed with her parents. Our time was quite full while in Memphis: we celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary; Avalee (Lori's sister's new baby girl) privileged us with her arrival; there was mother's day and grandma's birthday celebrations; strawberries were picked and made into homemade ice cream; while at the zoo, we watched animals climbing, romping, swimming, jumping, and nesting; a few friends met us for dinner, and more. Again, Tim was asked to speak. This time he spoke at our medical school's Christian Medical and Dental Association's end of the year meeting. He did a great job of telling them what we do and encouraging them to follow Christ's leading in their lives. We also were able to speak at a 4 and 5 year old missions class and a 5th grade Sunday school class while in Memphis.

     We then headed towards Ohio, stopping off in the Nashville area to visit some friends. We visited with an attending from residency, Dr. McRay, and his wife.  We enjoyed spending time with this wonderful couple who has played such an important role in our lives. His wife even surprised us with one of our favorite meals for dinner. We then visited with one of Tim's childhood friends, Geoff, and his family. We were able to enjoy visiting with each other while our kids tired each other out playing (a win-win for all of us). Finally, we made our way up to Ohio. Jon, a close college friend of Tim, invited us to stay a couple of days with his family. He and his wife have 2 sons the same ages as our girls and one more on the way. We enjoyed the time of fellowship, as they shared so generously with us. Next, we visited with Tim's extended family and stayed with his cousin, Tracy, and her family. Tracy, an elementary school teacher, and her teenage daughter, Claire, were able to keep our girls happily busy imagining and creating. We enjoyed visiting with Tracy's family, as well as each person that came to Granddad's house for dinner.

   We are now in Knoxville and are being showered by the kindness of Tim's parents. We have been able to enjoy down time filled with playing, grilling out, and swimming. Also, we are sharing as many pictures as we can while we have good internet. We look forward to the rest of our time here and visiting others nearby before heading back to Fort Worth to return to Ghana. We have enjoyed all of our visits with everyone and are sad that we were not able to visit everyone we would have liked. God has used this time to give us some rest and encouragement. We look forward to seeing what God has for us during the next 6 months in Ghana and beyond. We desire that more people will fall in love with the God that has brought us there.

    Please pray for God to show us what He still has for us in Ghana. Please pray for the hospital, as there have been some issues that have occurred while we have been away. Please pray for the people of Northern Ghana to be prepared and eager to know the Truth. Lastly, please pray that God would reveal to us what he wants us to do next year. Thank you for all of your love and support!

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