Wednesday, August 15, 2007

tenwek hospital

Though it already feels like ages ago, I’m pretty sure it was only yesterday that I traveled for hours over a bumpy road from Nairobi, Kenya, to the outskirts of Bomet to the grounds of Tenwek Hospital, a hospital founded decades ago by World Gospel Mission (WGM) and now officially run, as I understand it, by the Africa Gospel Church (which is now an independent body but was begun through the work of WGM missionaries). Both groups are still very interwoven, though.

I’ve known of Tenwek for a long time, though I don’t remember when I first learned of it. I guess I’ve seen enough slide shows from visiting missionaries (you know, before the days of PowerPoint) to create a visual image of Tenwek that hasn’t been quite correct. I probably saw pictures of a mission hospital in Indonesia that became the default “mission hospital” images in my head.

I suppose it’s correct to say that the property is laid out in a less orderly way than I expected. The hospital is, hmm, less Western, perhaps. Or maybe just different than those other mission hospital photos I’ve seen. And much more of the hospital staff is Kenyan than I anticipated. There are many fewer missionaries staffing things than I understood there to be.

The hospital is now actively involved in helping train Kenyan doctors. Though they accept short term residents and medical students from the States and Europe, they don’t actively recruit them. Instead, their training focus is on Kenyan doctors and nurses. There’s a nursing school here. And a few Kenyan doctors at a time can now come here for their residencies. Almost all of the nursing staff are Kenyan. And many of the other hospital staff as well.

This week I’m mostly working with Linda Spriegel. Linda’s husband John is an internist here. Linda is trained as a nurse but isn’t working in that capacity here. Before she was married, though, she spent 10 years working as a nurse in the Congo. Linda and John, WGM career missionaries, have twin 13-year-old daughters, Julia and Rebecca, and a 4th grade son, Joel. The Spriegels have been here for two years and are planning to stay here for many more.

Linda has been leading Bible studies with local women since the Spriegels returned here two years ago. Around 1000 women are now involved in the studies. Linda meets weekly with the area leaders to go over the study. They’re working straight through the book of Luke. Each area leader then meets with the Bible study leaders who are in her area and goes through the week’s lesson with them. Then each study leader leads her Bible study group through that week’s passage. Some of the area leaders walk 2.5 hours from their village to Linda’s house every week! Linda invited me here to help record the stories of some of the women who are part of the studies, stories of the transformation God has wrought in their lives and stories of the ways God is using them in each others’ lives.


Anonymous said...

How fun to read about Linda Spriegel from an outside source! How long did you spend at Tenwek? Do you plan to return?

Kami Rice said...

Hi! I was at Tenwek for about two weeks. I really enjoyed getting to know the Spreigels. I'd be glad to go back to Tenwek, though I don't have immediate plans for that yet. At the moment it looks like Haiti will be my next stop this summer.

Koecharles said...

Wow! that's great to hear people liking your home. Welcome again, again and again... though you rarely welcome us to tour your places(joke).

But Linda Spriegel and you all, where do we get your contacts?

Koech, Bomet

Kami Rice said...

Hi, Koech!
Thanks for visiting my blog! No one else from Bomet has left a comment. I really enjoyed my time there, and would have loved to see more of Bomet. I was mostly just at the hospital. You can contact me via email at khakiface(at)yahoo(dot)com.