Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Paul and Becca
Sunday, August 10, 2008
We have been settling in and Paul starts at the hospital on Monday.
Most of the things packed in our really heavy bags seems useful,
however we did not bring enough warm clothes. When we got off the
plane it was 59 degrees and it has only broken 70 one day. But trust
me we are NOT complaining after hearing Dallas was scheduled to 107 a
few days ago.
The trip went well and after arriving in Addis Ababa we spent a few
days there buying appliances and meat and cheese. We are 8 hours
ahead of central time and we are over jet lag. Nathan did great
switching his clock to African time.
We are having trouble accessing our blog and have had our good friends
Dan and Diedra post this for us. Hopefully we will figure it out and
be able to access it soon, but we do have reliable email, so feel free
to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the prayers and encouragement, they have helped a lot.
Please let us know if there are things we are missing out on in your
lives, so we can be praying for you.
love, Becca, Paul and baby Nate
Monday, August 4, 2008
It has been a long time of goodbye's. God has blessed us with so many wonderful people that it takes a long time to say goodbye to only a fraction of them! Wonderful parents who raised us and taught us to be the people we are today (Mom, JD, Dad, Kim, Patty and Steve, I'm going to miss you all big-time). Amazing grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Close and endearing friends (today I talked with a very dear friend, Chad, a surgeon in Dallas). They are all over the world. Due to our layover here we had the opportunity to spend an evening with one of my long-lost and much-admired uncles, Uncle Dan. He lives here in Washington and works for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He's a brilliant lawyer, one of the smartest people I know. The congressmen may talk about their laws, but Dan is the one who writes them. I haven't seen him in over 10 years and, thanks to this trip, we had a great dinner and I got to show off my wife and son.
It makes me think of all the places God is putting people. I recently talked with an old roommate and friend from college who is leaving for the mission field in Angola as a church leader and pastoral educator. As we talked, we realized that three of the seven of us guys who shared a suite in college will be living in Africa! In addition to the two of us, our other friend is working for the US government in Nairobi, Kenya. One of my best friends from medical school is living and working at a mission hospital in Cameroon as a family practice and obstetrics doctor. My sister-in-law and her husband, two people dear to my heart, will be leaving for the mission field around December this year to work with Wycliffe Bible translators, likely in west Asia.
For an introvert who has often struggled with people skills, God has put a lot of awesome people in my life! I realize I'm kind of rambling, but it's late and I've had about seven hours of sleep in the last 72 hours. I say all that to say this: it's people that really matter. I thank God for the people I've met and known. I'm going to miss all you people, but it's for people that we're going. I'm also excited about the new people we will meet and befriend. Looking forward to sharing them with you.
We leave DC at 8:30 eastern time Monday and should arrive in Addis in the evening on Tuesday. Which will be around midday central time. We hope to be able to blog from Ethiopia in a few days, to let you know we made it safe and sound...
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Below is an informational about us that was featured in the recent PAACS newsletter:
PAUL AND REBECCA GRAY JOIN THE PAACS TEAM AT SODDO
Next month, Paul and Becca Gray will leave their home in Texas to travel to Soddo, Ethiopia, where Paul will become the new Program Director.
Paul wrote recently: “I first felt God's tug into medical missions during a college mission trip to a hospital in central India. Over the next several years God confirmed this as I finished college and attended medical school at the University of Louisville.
“I first learned of PAACS in a lecture given by Dr. Dave Thompson at the Global Missions Health Conference at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville during my second year of medical school. I was drawn to the idea of training others to multiply what a single missionary surgeon could do during his entire career. Furthermore, this was in keeping with Christ's example. While He ministered to a tremendous number of people in His lifetime, He mainly poured Himself into twelve men who carried on after He left.
“Following medical school, I attended a general surgical residency at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. There I met and married my wife, Rebecca. During my third year of residency, I contacted PAACS by email and subsequently spent the month of May, 2007 at Bongolo Hospital in Gabon, working with Dave Thompson and his residents. This was a definite confirmation of God's plan to us. After asking where we might best contribute, Dave and Bruce Steffes suggested that we prayerfully consider Soddo Christian Hospital in Ethiopia.
“During our prayer and research about Ethiopia, we were visited by both the Andersons and the Adolphs. Once again, we felt confirmed in our decision. God directed to Global Outreach International as a sending agency, and after being accepted as missionaries we set about raising support.
“After graduating from residency in June, 2007, I worked for one year as a trauma/critical care surgeon at Baylor while raising support. At this point, we have liquidated life here in the USA and are excitedly anticipating the transition to a missionary life that is ten years in the making.
“We feel like we’re now on that part on a roller coaster ride where you are strapped in and chunking up the slope to the first drop. You have a dry mouth as you eyeball the height, but there's no turning back! We are confident in the Lord, though, and ready to trust in His grace and provision. The challenges that await us at Soddo are more than daunting, but we’re eager to get at it. May God be praised!”
Monday, July 28, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I always hear this phrase in the morning, when I don't yet know what that day holds. But what about yesterday? Yesterday, was a day the Lord had made as well, even when yesterday was blanketed with pain.
Yesterday was a day the Lord had made... Let me tell you about a few things that happened yesterday, July 22, 2008. Three of our close friends had babies yesterday. But July 22nd was not only filled with the joy of our friends and their families.
Mary Margaret was born to Mary Evelyn and Dan Fore in Memphis, Tennessee
Caden was born to Jen and Jeff Richardson in Austin, Texas
Andrew Wayne was born to Brooke and Scott Holliday in Houston, Texas.
Shortly after Andrew was born, he died. I do not know all of the details, but I do know that there are many family members and friends who are grieving for this small life. Many people who are feeling the pain of losing such an innocent soul. We don't always know why the Lord chooses such painful situations and I don't pretend to know here. I am just a mother grieving for another mother.
to Andrew Wayne Holliday: I know you were such a special blessing to your parents and your sister. Although you knew this world for a short time, the love and prayers that surrounded you were abundant. The way your mom and dad prayed for you even before you were created was so gracious. You have traveled to so many places and have been to parts of the world that other American children will only hear about. You have a bond with your mother that only a mother can know. You brought so much joy to your parents as you grew and as you kicked around. You are such a special boy and although I never knew you, you have made me remember how big our God is. How God is so powerful and so mighty that he can love us and forgive us. That He can grant us the kind of grace and love that is even more powerful than a parents love. Andrew, in the midst of the pain and longing I feel, you have made me reflect on how God has all of us in the palm of His hand. And there is no other place I would rather be.
As we rejoice in the Lord for these new lives we rejoice Him for our own. As Paul and I are 12 days from moving to Ethiopia with Nathan, we have to realize that no matter where we go we are not in control, but we are in the palm of God's hand.
Please pray for my friends Brooke and Scott during this time. And may we pray for all parents who have dealt with the loss of a child. Earlier this week I was reading a mother's blog who recently lost a daughter after 2 short hours of life. Please pray for her as well (Her blog is here).
Lord, my prayers to you are such a small offering of love for those who are hurting. I pray tonight for Brooke and for Scott and how they must be on their knees, filled with sorrow. I pray that you would give them glimpses of your peace and comfort. And that you would help them through this day and then through tomorrow and then the next. Amen.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
OK, I've been negligent in keeping up with blogging. Here is a summary of where we are at in regards to the transition to the mission field.
The visit to Wheaton, IL, for the board meeting of the St. Luke's Healthcare Foundation (Owns Soddo Christian Hospital, the hospital to which we are going)
We visited Wheaton, IL, recently to attend the annual board meeting of the St. Luke's Healthcare Foundation. This foundation owns Soddo Hospital and we had an informative time getting to know them as they got to know us. We spent three nights in Wheaton and were privileged to share a condo with Duane and Jackie Anderson, the orthopedic surgeon essentially in charge of the hospital and his wife. They answered our long list of questions and we learned more about their needs and how we could help. Duane and Jackie are a wonderful couple, full of love and compassion, and we are excited to be their neighbors (they will be the other occupants of the duplex in which we will live). They are expecting their first grandchild this January so we hope Nathan will be an acceptable substitute in the mean time.
The foundation is composed of an energetic group of individuals, including a lawyer, a former hospital administrator, a financial adviser, a construction owner, a doctor and several other helpful individuals. They have an ambitious plan for the growing hospital and we are proud to be able to pitch in for the work. Here are some prayer requests that came out of the meetings:
1. Good relations with the local government
2. Continued cooperation with the local churches
3. Discipleship of new believers from the hospital
4. Raising of funds - especially for a new electrical generator (their current one is being overworked), a new well (more water will be needed for expansion), new residential housing on the hospital grounds (both for the surgical residents and visiting physicians), and new hospital wards (two)
Meeting with Bruce Steffes, MD, CEO of PAACS (Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons)
During our visit in Wheaton, we were also pleased to spend a short period of time the CEO of PAACS, Dr. Bruce Steffes. Bruce is one of the most productive, energetic and articulate men I've ever met. PAACS is lucky to have him. He gave us some advice regarding our beginning at Soddo. First, in a view to the long haul, he strongly recommended I not begin clinical duties at the hospital for at least two weeks after arrival at Soddo. We have to support each other as a family during the initial adjustment phase. "Go to the market with your wife," he said, "learn how to cook, shop, take care of a child and live in a third-world setting." Statistically, he says the most common reason for leaving the mission field is family problems. A sobering thought and good advice for a type-A kind of guy.
After 31 years of being a student, it is a challenge learning to transition to the role of a teacher. This year at Baylor has been helpful as I have worked with the residents of my own prior residency. Next year, however, will be a whole new ballgame. Though I will not technically be the program director at Soddo for a couple of years due to PAACS rules regarding experience requirements for program directors, I will clearly be immediately stepping into a leadership role of the residency program. This is a daunting challenge and I will need all of the Lord's grace and guidance to make it work. I recently spoke with a general surgeon who spent a couple months helping with the program last year. According to him, the residents of Soddo have had a long string of short-term general surgeons for the last three years and they are most in need of someone who will be there long term... someone constant, to whom they can look as their leader. Imagine a sports team whose coach changed every month or two. Though young and inexperienced, I pray I can at least provide an abiding presence with these young surgeons and help lead them to maturity as doctors.
"I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be sir. Do you maggots understand that? Sir, yes, sir!!"
Carrying the responsibility for the excellence of new surgeons has been a particular burden for me lately. How high do I set the bar? As I've spent this last year working with residents at Baylor, I've discovered a disjoint between my level of expectation regarding my own performance as a resident and my expectations of the residents with whom I work. As a consequence, I don't think I have led residents to the highest possible level of their potential. I am encouraged and inspired by the fact, however, that as Christians, we are called to an even higher expectation. The standard to which we ought to compare all of our activities is no less than Jesus Himself. We should do all things with excellence, serving as unto the Lord. This of course is beyond our abilities but I believe that God will give us the grace to proceed. These residents will be among some of the first graduates of a training program that bears Christ's name. I pray that their excellence, and ours, will be a testimony to the goodness that the Lord offers to the world.
Saying goodbye to Dallas
Becca and I are wrapping up our time here in Dallas and it will certainly be difficult to leave. We have loved our time here and it will always provide fond memories for us. As an Army brat, I've lived in a lot of different places growing up. I've actually spent more consecutive time here in Dallas than anywhere else. I met my wife here. My son was born here. Lifelong friends are here. I learned my profession here. God has led me considerably further down the road of my faith here. June 25 will be my last day at Baylor Medical Center (two more call days to go...) and our family will drive away July 8. Though we are excited about the changes to come, we will miss what we are leaving behind.
Saying goodbye to family and friends
We will be taking a 3000 mile "road trip" to visit family and friends around the southeast US before leaving for Ethiopia. These goodbyes will certainly be the hardest. We are so thankful for the wonderful and supportive relationships the Lord has given us in our family and friends. We are who we are because of them. We pray that these relationships will be sustained across an ocean in the years to come.
A new beginning
We have purchased tickets (one-way) to Ethiopia for August 4. We hope to be on the same plane as the Anderson's for the journey to Addis Ababa. Though we are saddened by what we are leaving, we are looking forward to the blessings the Lord has in store for us as we serve in Soddo. Our time with the leadership of the hospital has invigorated our anticipation of what is to come. There will certainly be challenges but we are trusting that Christ will be with us, as He has promised. Looking forward to updates from abroad!
Love, Paul Gray
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
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I thought these pictures were so sweet of the two most charming and handsome men in my life. Nathan loves his daddy. Paul often makes him laugh and giggle. Nathan is definitely posing for the camera in a few of these. He can be smiling so big and as soon as he hears the camera come on, he stares with this pensive look and stops smiling. Oh well, he is still adorable.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
This picture shows just how sweet he is! He has found his hands and he loves to hold on to them. It is like an automatic toy no matter where we are. Here he is sitting in the Bumbo. He loves to sit up and play in there.
After he gets up in the morning and eats breakfast we spend some time sitting and playing!
This was a mommy-get-together with some friends at the mall. We each have recently had our first child. And it has been a lot of fun to get together and share stories and ideas! Although it is adult time, all we talk about are our sweet babies!
From Left to Right: Meryn was born Dec 19th, Hunter was born Jan 25th and Nathan was born Dec 29th. They were so cute sitting together!