Burning Bridges!

Well, there’s no going back now.  After 17 years, I’ve turned in my pager at St. Charles Hospital.  This has been a week of saying good bye to long term friends and co-workers.  My time at Desert Orthopedics, Bend Surgery Center, and St. Charles Hospital has been unbelievably rewarding, but that chapter has drawn to a close. Tearful good byes, feelings of dislocation and sadness mixed with excitement and anticipation.

Our house is under contract, with a very nice couple from Texas schedule to take possession on May 25th, pending a few things.  This house, too has been a long term friend, and will be a sad parting in the not too distant future.  Right now, though, we’ve really already said good bye to the house, and are looking at the mountain of stuff growing in the garage.  A pile for Kenya, a pile for Goodwill, and a mystery pile of stuff we’re not getting rid of, that will wind up in a container sitting somewhere.  By the time we leave Bend, we’ll be down to what we can fit in our overstuffed, overweight, oversized suitcases.

Ann and I are really feeling like the little grain of wheat that has to die to come to fruition.  Letting go of all these things we love, all these things that are normal, all these things that give us security, feels like a little bit of death.  With that, though, we also look forward to blossoming in the next chapter that God has in store.

Sometimes I get a little uncertain, a little doubtful, about the work in Africa.  Maybe I won’t be qualified, maybe I won’t be able to handle it, maybe it will just be too hard.  But then, while reading a colleague Dan Poenaru’s blog, I saw a picture of a girl in a Kenyan refugee camp, completely crippled, and brought to clinic in a wheelbarrow like so much garden refuse.  Then I know that none of my little worries, insecurities, and limitations matter at all.  What matters is that there are millions of people suffering terribly in the world, and God has given me the ability to do a little something for a tiny percentage of them.

So the bridges are burning, but we can’t look back.

‘Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”(Luke 9:62)  I don’t think that He wouldn’t want you there, it would just be pretty hard to find your way if you’re looking back all the time.  Through the hardest struggles, it’s so important to keep looking forward, keep “plowing” ahead, until the day when the Master exclaims, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”The bridges we’ll carefully maintain are the relationships with the amazing friends we’ve made here.  Ironic that the best group of friends I’ve ever had in my life, and now I’m leaving.  My mountain bike buddies are all meeting in Moab for one final mountain bike extravaganza.  Probably a bad sign that we’re being sponsored by one of the local breweries.  It’s really sad to think about leaving friends, but we’re hopeful that at least a few can come over at some point to catch up, maybe work a little, and experience some Kenyan culture and sights.We continue to be humbled by the enthusiasm, faithfulness, and generosity of our support team.  Financially, we’re already approaching 2/3 of the way to funding the first five years of work!  Thank you for all of your prayers, encouragement, and support.  We’ve had the opportunity to make new friends, and deepen relationships with people who were previously only acquaintances.  We’re really excited to be representing a team of such great, fun, enthusiastic and purposeful supporters.

Our tentative plan at this point is to depart from Bend around the third week in July, and Ann may or may not have been convinced that driving a motorhome to Colorado via Yellowstone is both more economical and way more fun than flying.  We’re schedule to begin a three week cross-cultural training program in Colorado Springs on  July 30, followed by a brief visit to the World Harvest Mission headquarters in Philadelphia, before boarding the plane for Nairobi in late August.  Thanks for visiting the blog, and be sure to “follow” with the link at the left if you’d like to be notified of post by email.

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Burning Bridges!

  1. Gary Jacquot

    Thanks for keeping us up on things. I hope that you’ll be able to stop in some morning and share some coffee with me before you leave.

  2. Paul

    Excellent piece of writing Mike – the journey ahead is going to be a very exciting and rewarding one. These posts are great – keep them coming!

  3. Mary Barbi Dunham

    You could have been a writer Dr. Mara. My surgury was a success and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Wishing you and your family great adventure and thanks for making a difference!
    Your last patient at St. Charles
    Mary Barbi Dunham

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