Well, I'm one step closer!! I put my house on the market less than a month ago. As you might expect, I need to sell it before I can head to Mali. This week I got an offer, I counter offered and we met in the middle. So, the papers have been signed and we close on May 28th. I'm amazed that it happened so smoothly and in such a short time. The Lord continues to confirm this move to Africa. What a relief!
There have been so many things fall into place over the past few months. It amazes me. The thought of leaving my medical practice, Bentonville Pediatrics, has been one of the hardest things about leaving. My partner Kim and I started the practice seven years ago this summer. It has been one of the best experiences. I love working there. I love the kids. We have an incredible staff. I'm going to miss it terribly. Over the past few months several things have happened that will make it a little easier to leave. One of the biggest issues was finding someone to take my place in the practice. Well, we were approached a few weeks ago by a pediatrician friend who is looking to make a move. Seems our practice will be a perfect fit. He'll start, Lord willing, in about a month. What a great relief!!
The other part of the puzzle was finding a business manager to help run the business side of the practice. Kim and I have done a lot of that since the beginning because we enjoy it so much. Well, wouldn't you know, someone dropped out of the sky who is perfectly qualified. She started a couple of weeks ago and is doing a great job. What a relief!! Now, after only three weeks, my house has sold. I'm not one who looks for signs around every corner, but I'm convinced the Lord's hand has been in all of this. Things have fallen into place perfectly. I even have a house to go live in until I leave in January.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
It's April 8, 2009 and the reality is really starting to set in.....I'm moving to Mali!!! I am amazed as I look back over the past year and see how God's hand has moved me toward this move. I feel like I'm being swept along in something bigger than myself. Its scary and comforting at the same time. The unknown is scary, but the comfort comes in knowing that God has ordained this.
This all started about two years ago when I attended a Global Missions Health Conference. From there I decided I needed to see some medical mission work first hand. In the summer of 2008 I traveled to West Africa and visited mission hospitals in Niger and Mali. It was so fun to be back in Africa.
I also spent time in Thailand and had the chance to work on the Thai-Burma border at a refugee camp for displaced Karen Burmese. This people group is being systematically killed and persecuted by the Burmese Army. It's one of the worst human rights situations in the world.
So, after my summer of traveling I was excited when I was invited to join the team working at the Women and Children's Hospital in Koutiala, Mali.
Mali is a country of 12 million people. It is a Muslim country. Less than 1% of the population is Christian. The primary language is Bambara, but French is also spoken since Mali is a former French colony. Timbuktu is in Mali, which I think is really cool. I can't wait to see it!!
The life expectancy in Mali is around 38 years old. One in five children die before the age of five years old, mostly of malnutrition and preventable diseases. The hospital is bringing medical care to an area of extreme poverty and disease. The more I've learned about the need, the more I feel compelled to respond. I can't wait to get there.
The way things look now, I'll be leaving the states to go to language school in France in January 2010. After that I'll go to Tropical Medicine school for a few months before arriving in Mali.
Ok, that's a quick recap of the past year or two and how this has all come about. More later....