Welcome to our latest link letter! We continue to look forward to moving to Rwanda as mission partners with CMS later this year. We are planning to go to Gahini Hospital in Eastern Rwanda, where we aim to use our skills as doctors to share God’s love with the local community. Steve will work full-time as a surgeon, performing surgery and training local doctors. Catriona will work part-time alongside the nurse anaesthetists, providing complex anaesthetics and enabling professional development for existing staff. We will aim to establish a safe surgical service, which will require a lot of input into the facilities available, and hopefully a good amount of training of local healthcare staff. If this is the first link letter you’ve read, please see this page for further details, along with our previous link letter: http:// churchmissionsociety.org/ bennett
We continue to be blessed with more potential opportunities to assist with our development plans. We have made good contacts with an Australian-based charity which provides new developing-world-appropriate medical equipment, and with an international medical equipment and supplies company, who are interested in how they might support both the hospital and us. We are also making links with a medical equipment charity, based in the UK, who take out and set up refurbished medical equipment in hospitals throughout the developing world.
In order to meet with local Rwandan junior surgeons, Steve is joining the teaching faculty for a basic surgical skills course in Kigali, supported by the Royal College Of Surgeons of Edinburgh; he has recently helped with the UK equivalent. He also expects to be a locally-based tutor for a University of Edinburgh distance-learning surgical masters’ degree.
Now that 2017 is here, we are starting to get more excited about the reality of our move. We can finally turn plans into actions and have been enjoying making decisions to get different aspects of the mission rolling forward. We continue to alternate between days of total joy and enthusiasm about what God has in store for us once we get to Gahini, and days of feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the challenge of what lies ahead. However, we look forward to using our medical experience and enthusiasm for training others, developed over many years in the NHS, as we work with local staff to see what can be accomplished. We are confident that God will continue to equip us for the task and support us through it, providing for all our needs, as we serve him.
The last few months have been particularly focussed on preparing for our move to Oxford after Easter for training with CMS, as well as beginning to think about the logistics of moving to Rwanda in the summer. Steve has been handing over various responsibilities at work, gradually extracting himself from his roles as clinical lead for general surgery and organiser for the junior surgical doctors, and will be finishing work with the NHS in Fife at the end of March. He has been blessed with the opportunity of taking this time away from the NHS as a career break which will enable him to return to NHS work for a couple of weeks each year. This will allow him to maintain his UK medical licence, and hopefully keep up to date with some of his more specialist surgical skills that he may not be using in Rwanda. Meanwhile, Catriona has been on maternity leave looking after Hannah, while somehow managing to do most of our organisation and preparation by sending emails and making phone calls in every free moment. Life, as you can imagine, is rather busy!
We have now secured somewhere to live in Oxford with childcare nearby, a real answer to prayer, and are intrigued to see what CMS will be teaching us while we are there. There are also a couple of medical training courses that we plan to complete before we go to Rwanda. The logistics of living temporarily in Oxford, while preparing to leave our home in Scotland, are complicated to say the least. When you add in travelling with Hannah around the country, along with all of the different baby paraphernalia that she requires in the UK, even the simplest trip seems a major adventure
We have been starting to meet with some of our partner churches, and will be continuing to do so over the next few months. We have received enthusiastic and friendly welcomes from our churches in Scotland, along with our own church that have generously said they are already concerned about missing us; we have been told on several occasions that Hannah is the church’s baby! We are now starting to visit churches further afield, and we managed the long trip down to Plymouth recently to meet with our furthest-away partners at St Jude’s. It was delightful to share what we are doing as part of their family service. We were able to meet with some members of the congregation who had visited Gahini before and had several insights to share with us. We look forward to building on these relationships, and to making new ones with our other churches who we will be visiting soon.
We are also feeling very humbled and encouraged by the number of individuals who are kindly and generously supporting us financially and prayerfully. Every new person or organisation who joins gives us a real boost of seeing God’s hand at work. We have made excellent progress towards our fundraising total, and we are grateful to all our supporters while praising God for his provision.
Unsurprisingly, a large part of our life is taken up with looking after our daughter, Hannah, who is now six months old. Steve is slightly concerned that she will be a teenager before too long, and has already laid out some ground rules to the extent that she required a chaperone (Catriona) to attend the birthday party of a male toddler recently!
We had a wonderful day in October when Hannah was dedicated. Lots of friends and family came to our church for the service, and we had a lovely family meal afterwards. This was followed a couple of weeks later by Hannah’s first trip overseas. Having not had a summer holiday, we took the oportunity to visit Madrid, which gave us some warm sunny days and a lot of relaxation. Hannah coped with the flights very well, which we hope will bode well for the long flight to Rwanda in the summer!
We also enjoyed having all of the grandparents to visit for Christmas, and Hannah is getting a lot of fun out of one of her presents of a “Jumperoo” – she has always found that bouncing is the answer to every problem, although Daddy’s arms are still getting somewhat of a workout as she gets bigger and heavier. Hannah is now trying out various different foods and particularly enjoys spreading Weetabix or Broccoli around the kitchen. She’s also now starting to become independently mobile, which will bring a new set of challenges.
With best wishes,
Catriona and Stephen