After several years of an open vacancy for a second doctor at Mbuma Mission Hospital, the Hospital is delighted to announce that the post has been filled. God willing, engineer Sjoerd Janse and his wife, tropical doctor Carolien, will be moving to Zimbabwe in January 2021 with their two sons, Ruben and Floris. We are glad to introduce them to readers.
This will not be the first time that you have lived abroad. Could you tell us more about your past experiences?
We lived in inland Sierra Leone for six months in 2018, when Carolien was working in a rural hospital there to complete her specialist training in tropical medicine. Sjoerd was working for a local electricity company and conducted research into small-scale electricity generation there for his thesis. We very consciously viewed our time in Sierra Leone as a trial period, to discover as a family what it is to live and work in an African environment. We cherish our memories of that time and became aware that the Lord had been using it to prepare us.
The needs of the world are great; help is needed in so many places. How have you ended up at Mbuma?
Carolien was interviewed in the spring of 2019 for the Reformatorisch Dagblad newspaper about the funding of training for tropical doctors. Via Gilia van Wijngaarden, we came into contact with Anneke Snoek, who told us about the unfilled vacancy at Mbuma Mission Hospital. Zimbabwe already had a special place in our hearts, because Carolien had done a tropical medicine internship there before our marriage. Praying and searching for God’s will and His way, in time we felt called to Zimbabwe. The Lord placed the need of the Zimbabwean people on our hearts. In November 2019, we went to Scotland to apply to the Free Presbyterian Church, and we were accepted.
Your departure has been postponed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the delay in receiving your work permit for the same reason. How do you feel about that?
It has been a very uncertain time for us. However, we do realise that the Covid pandemic has brought worries to so many, each in their own different circumstances. We had gained the desire to go to Zimbabwe and then had to wait. This demanded a great deal of patience and flexibility on our part. It has been an uncertain time for our families, too, as our date of departure kept being postponed. Yet we have experienced that God’s timing is the best timing. The Lord used this time to loosen our attachments to the Netherlands, our possessions, our house and all the things we took for granted. On the other hand, we are now yearning even more for “our” place at Mbuma. We have learned anew each day to put our trust in God. A medical metaphor used by our minister, “God’s waiting-room is His treatment-room too”, has often come to mind. We have experienced that indeed: God has made us ready to leave.
After all the preparations, the time to say goodbye to family, friends, work and your church congregation is now impending. How hard is that?
Yes, we find the farewells hard, especially having young, growing children. We see the distance from our family, and in a way from our friends and church, as a sacrifice we must make. But this is a sacrifice we are willing to make in obedience to the path that God is leading us on. We are grateful for the various online ways to keep in touch with each other and we look forward to welcoming relatives and friends to visit us in Zimbabwe at some time in future.
So, you hope to leave in January. What are you looking forward to most?
Our desire to live and work in the tropics — more particularly in Zimbabwe — will finally come true! Gladly and obediently, we wish to follow God’s leading and thus serve in His Kingdom. We are looking forward to doing the job we have trained for and which our hearts are set upon. We also hope and pray that we, as a family, will have a good “landing” at the mission post and that Ruben and Floris will feel at home there. Without a doubt, it will give us a measure of rest to be in the place to which God has called us, after all the troubles of the preparations