healing faith

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The initial surgery, performed by a Kenyan orthopedic surgeon, revealed Mark not only had a compound fracture of his ulna bone, but a comminuted fracture to his wrist as well. His wrist was shattered – like corn flakes. They cleaned the wound but because of the amount of swelling they only installed two pins to align the ulna bone. Once the swelling lessened two days later, Dr. Mara, a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon from the USA performed a second surgery to install an external fixator which stabilized his arm and shattered wrist. In the meantime Mark developed a fever and was put on IV antibiotics. His blood oxygen level was very low and caused concern. It was finally determined that he had torn a chest muscle in the fall. His broken arm being placed on his chest was preventing him from breathing properly.

Life in an African hospital, even one as good as Kijabe Hospital is quite different from what we are used to here in the USA. His first night there, he shared a room with a Kenyan man and it seemed his whole family as well. They treated Mark like one of the family, sitting on his bed and talking late into the night. Mark was later moved to a quiet private room. Everything must be paid for in advance in Kenya, even in the hospital. Each time something was needed – x-rays, medication, surgery – Mark’s father would walk to the finance office, stand in line, and pay the bill in shillings, returning with a paid receipt.

Daily meals consisted of porridge, fruit and tea for breakfast, stewed goat and boiled kale for lunch and dinner. Water to drink needed to be brought in by family. Mark’s IVs and physical condition prevented him from using the much-needed mosquito net so the mosquitos buzzed in his ears all night. He wondered why the sun was up so early that first morning only to learn that it was the lights. They were kept on all night to keep the mosquitos away, which of course did not work. A storm came through that week and knocked out the electricity and water in the hospital for a couple of days, which would make hospital life difficult anywhere in the world.

Sylvia, Mark’s step-mom, stayed with him through the nights and most of the days, walking up the road to their room at a small hotel for short rests. She shared with me that her years of working as a night nurse had taught her how to sleep upright in a chair. She called me regularly to keep me informed. God bless her! Mark’s Dad rested and recovered from the grueling task he had of driving Mark to the hospital. When he was not taking care of hospital paperwork, he met with many Kenyan pastors and friends. Mark’s brothers, upon returning from their safari came and spent a day with him at the hospital. One morning while waiting in the hall for an x-ray, Mark noticed a patient lying on a cot that had on a J316 bracelet. J316 Ministries is a ministry that we have partnered with. How amazing was that!?

oceans

oceans

One night that was particularly difficult for Mark. His Dad and Sylvia had returned to Kisumu to retrieve their things, since they had left in such a hurry when the accident happened. Mark was alone and recounts how he felt such darkness and oppression. Across the hall an expat couple was having a baby. They played music and it began to fill Mark’s room and soul; beautiful soothing familiar music that God used to calm him and let him know He was with him. When asked, Mark would say the thing he remembers the most about his stay at Kijabe Hospital was the kind gracious care of the Kenyan people. He is most grateful. A friend from my childhood days in Suriname lives in Nairobi and another friend from high school lives in Kijabe. Having them there willing to help Mark as needed was such a huge comfort and blessing.

Finally seven days after being admitted, Mark was discharged from the hospital free of infection and with a long road of recovery ahead of him. He recovered for two nights with his parents at the AIM Mayfield Guest House, a wonderful bed and breakfast in Nairobi where he enjoyed hot showers, a comfortable room and flavorful foods as well as listening to stories of adventures in Africa from the other guests; expats and missionaries.

And then the day finally arrived for him and his brothers to travel home to America. There just aren’t words for the relief and joy when he was finally home.

{DISCLAIMER: For some reason this was not easy to write. It’s taken me months to even begin. It just did not flow, nor is it good writing. Maybe because it’s just the facts and it is Mark’s story not mine. Maybe now is not the time to share what is underneath the facts. I hope that will come sooner than later. Regardless, I wanted to write it down… to record the goodness of the Lord, whether my writing is good or not.}

Read other posts about Mark’s African Adventure:

#1 faith not fear {Mark’s Africa trip} (the reason)

#2 faith in the middle of fear (the accident)

#3 traveling with fear (the trip to the hospital)

Heartfelt thanks to Mark’s brother, Paul De Jong, who generously shared his amazing professional photographs from this trip to Africa with us. Be sure to check out his photography website. He is also writing a series of historical novels of adventure and romance set in South Africa in the 1960’s.

traveling with faith

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They secured a car that would make the grueling trip, along African roads to the hospital. Leaving the jobsite in the remote village of Muunyini, they drove fifteen minutes to the house they had called home for the week. Mark calmly pointed out his belongings as Sylvia quickly gathered and stuffed them in his suitcase. A couple hours after the accident, they began their journey to the hospital. Mark’s Dad undertook the daunting task of driving his injured son, wife Sylvia, and Kenyan pastor/friend, Benjamin to the Kijabe Mission Hospital . This hospital, located within the Rift Valley escarpment, in a rural area located about 65 kilometers northwest of Nairobi, was founded in 1915 by missionaries from Africa Inland Mission and initially named Theodora Hospital after US President Theodore Roosevelt.

An hour into their trip, the pain became unbearable. Benjamin suggested they stop at his doctor’s office in Machakos to see what help could be given. As they navigated through narrow streets, they somehow found a place to park and entered a dark dank corridor, wondering what they might encounter. Mark’s bruised and broken body struggled to ascend three flights of stairs. A clean doctor’s office and immediate care brought relief. Mark’s arm had swollen to the point where the tree branch splints were disappearing into his arm and needed to be replaced. A young boy sent downstairs to the tailor’s shop, brought back a couple slats from a packing crate to use as a splint. It took an hour or so, but as soon as they applied the splint and administered a shot of morphine, they continued on.

 

Their journey took them to the Mombasa highway, known as one of the most dangerous roads in Kenya due to its deadly accidents and bandit activity. Just outside of Nairobi they stopped to get something to eat, which took forever. They entered the southeast edge of Nairobi just in time for rush hour; crawling through massive traffic jams, noisy horns, and the smell of smoking diesel fuel. Finally they exited Nairobi on the northwest side with only 65 km to go.

 

They left the highway and traveled along the road leading to the hospital. The deteriorated black top road with its maze of potholes was by far the worst road they had traveled on all day. Five hours had passed since Mark received the morphine shot and the jarring ride down this final stretch intensified his pain level. They arrived at Kijabe Hospital around seven o’clock in the evening, waiting an hour and a half before being admitted. Surgery would need to be delayed a few hours due to the fact that Mark had eaten a couple hours earlier.

to be continued…

 

Read other posts about Mark’s African Adventure:

#1 faith not fear {Mark’s Africa trip} (the reason)

#2 faith in the middle of fear (the accident)

 

Heartfelt thanks to Mark’s brother, Paul De Jong, who generously shared his amazing professional photographs from this trip to Africa with us. Be sure to check out his photography website. He is also writing a series of historical novels of adventure and romance set in South Africa in the 1960’s.

 

faith in the middle of fear

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It’s been ten weeks since I wrote my last post, faith not fear {Mark’s Africa trip}. Little did I know then how life was about to change. Or did I?

africa trip 2014

I remember being surprised by my emotions at the security gate. Even after we said good-bye and he walked out of sight, I could not leave the airport. I sat and leaned into my thoughts and feelings, not wanting to brush them aside like I usually do. I watched the human stories unfold in front of me. Finally I drove home, letting the tears fall. What is this? I learned long time ago how to say good-bye, to steel myself against the sadness of missing someone I love. Another call and a couple texts from My Love before he flew over the Atlantic, comforted me and I began to look forward to a road trip Mom and I would take to visit my oldest daughter and her family.

We did indeed have a wonderful time celebrating Sweet Pea’s 2nd birthday, watching her and her brother take swim lessons and just being together. Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy.

I had told Mark not to stress about calling me. You know, no news is good news, right? But it was really great to hear his voice when he called me late in the evening the day after Mom and I returned from our road trip. He was feeling good, his energy level was up and he was enjoying his time working on the project and being with his family.

Early the next morning I was awakened from a deep sleep by my phone alarm. Or so I thought. I fumbled to hit some button, silencing it. I could not get back to sleep so decided to get up. Glanced at my phone and realized I had missed a call from Kenya… “254…” I tried to call the number back, but with no success. I then checked my emails, seeing one from my sister-in-law in Kenya… “not to worry you but wanted to let you know we just got a call and it looks like Mark has broken his arm… on the way to the hospital… a couple hours from where they are working…” My mind began racing! Mark is hurt… going to a hospital… IN AFRICA! A couple hours later, which seemed like eternity, I finally got a call and was able to talk with him. The remainder of the day was spent trying to understand what was happening, eight hours ahead and eight thousand miles east. Cell phone calls, with their delay, made it difficult to communicate as normal, but were a blessed lifeline at the same time.

My plans for the day had been oragnized weeks earlier, to spend it with a close friend. God knew I would need her more than ever. It was a beautiful Florida winter day, with warm sunshine and cool breezes . We sat by the sparkling bay. She let me think, She prayed with me. She was comfortable with my emotions. She listened to the phone calls from Africa, remembering details I could not. She helped me make decisions. She stayed with me until I was ok to be alone. I saw real friendship in action.

It was the last day of the mission project. They were installing the last heavy steel truss of the day. Something went wrong and Mark had to make a choice… be crushed between the falling truss and the wall or jump eight feet to the ground. What happened next is still a mystery and in some ways a miracle. He jumped, but ended up inverted, heading down head first. His left hand/wrist jammed into the crease of the rock wall and the concrete floor. He recalls thinking, “why such velocity?” Almost as if he had been thrown to the ground. His shoulder was pressed against the wall, preventing him from instinctively rolling. With his right shoulder against the wall and his left hand jammed in the crease of the wall, he wonders why he had no bumps, bruises or cuts to his head. God’s protection? The miracle? As he sat up in the mud puddle created by the previous night’s rain, he saw the bone in his arm come out and retract and knew that his wrist was badly broken as well.  His brother, father and others on the team helped him to a chair where they washed the wound with bottled water, first aid spray and then splinted it with two tree branches, wrapped it with gauze from the first aid kit, and crafted a sling out of one of the African women’s scarfs. Calls to his brother living in western Kenya, helped them know which hospital to go to.

to be continued…

 

My heartfelt thanks to Mark’s brother, Paul De Jong, who generously shared his amazing professional photographs from this trip to Africa with us. Be sure to check out his photography website. He is also writing a series of historical novels of adventure and romance set in South Africa in the 1960’s.

 

faith not fear {Mark’s Africa trip}

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He was just one year old, the youngest of five sons, born a year after a brother he never knew died too soon, when his little feet touched the soil of South Africa. As the son of a missionary builder, he learned to work with his hands, problem solve with his mind, love and appreciate people and cultures different than his own, and trust God. His parents made sure the boys experienced life. Camping across Europe on their way to and from Africa, hiking in the Drackenburg Mountains, exploring around Victoria Falls, camping trips to the Indian Ocean, going to mission stations in the bush, he grew up having experienced what some only read about. Daily life was adventurous, dangerous even. He recalls getting caught once in a sand storm, telling how he had to crawl by feel, blinded by the sand, along a fence, until he found a gate and then a door to knock on for help. Veldt (grassy plains) fires were common and moved quickly. One day he found it necessary to escape one. The only way out was to jump down an abandoned unstable mine shaft.

Every day life taught him about fear, courage, hard work, faith, perseverance and God’s Protection. Lessoned learned decades ago and on another continent continue to remind him today, that whether it’s groping in the dark to find help or trying to survive the current economy, we are called to go forward in faith not fear.

Not liking school very much, it thrilled him to work alongside his father on a mission project. He learned construction skills and innovative thinking that serve him well many years later as a talented and respected builder.

DeJong family 1972

David & Esther DeJong return to the US with their family, 1971

It’s been forty-three years since Mark, his father and his brothers have all been together in Africa. His father and stepmom have been making trips to Africa for the past few years, spending two to three months participating in conferences and working on various mission projects. Next month the four brothers and their father will work and play alongside each other in Africa once again, going to Kenya where his brother, James and his family, have lived and worked for many years. One of the things they will be doing is fabricating a roof for the Muunyini church. It’s not only an opportunity to give back and enrich the lives of the Africans, but a time to honor a father and strengthen brotherly bonds.

daring adventure

Fear can tell us a million reasons not to go;  it’s not a safe adventure, the resources won’t be provided, our business will suffer with his absence, you’ll get sick, and so on. But life has taught us that the safest place in all the world is living in faith; doing what God has put before us. It would encourage us to have you pray with us. He will provide all that is needed and prove Himself Faithful.

Trying something new with my photos. If you run your mouse over each photo a little caption with pop up. And if there is an advertisement below (video), it is WordPress’s doings not mine. Just so you know…