What’s More Important Than Super Bowl XL?

Post a Comment » Written on January 27th, 2006     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (January 27, 2006) – The wife of Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Mike Holmgren won’t be watching her husband’s team in Super Bowl XL – she has more important things to do.

Kathy Holmgren and one of the Holmgren daughters, Calla, leave Thursday on a 17-day medical training mission to Congo. A nurse and obstetrician respectively, the two will travel as part of an eight-person team of physicians and former missionaries to a hospital in Karawa in northwestern Congo. The hospital is part of a medical care system operated by the Covenant Church of Congo in partnership with the Evangelical Covenant Church and its Department of World Mission. The Karawa trip was arranged through Northwest Medical Teams and the Paul Carlson Partnership.

Mike and Kathy Holmgren Other Covenanters making the trip include former medical missionary Dr. Helen Berquist, Dr. Jim Holcomb, Dr. Bob DeMaster, Dr. Todd Ulmer, Dorothy Blakeway (retired Evangelical Free Church), and retired surgeon Dr. Roger Thorpe, who is leading the trip, having previously served in Congo.

To reach the remote area in Karawa, the team will travel over marginal roads that narrow to near non-existence, wade through streams and cross rough-hewn and often improvised bridges. “It takes three days to get in and three days to get out,” says Thorpe.

While the world tunes into the Super Bowl being played in Detroit on Sunday, February 5, the missionaries will begin training the hospital staff, which often must use rudimentary equipment to treat 2,500 patients a month.

Calla will instruct African nurses and midwives on surgical techniques and use of ultrasound equipment that has been purchased by the Paul Carlson Partnership. The other physicians include an orthopaedic surgeon, an ear-nose-throat specialist, and an anesthesiologist who each will train in their specialties. Kathy says she will help wherever she is needed.

Kathy, all four daughters, and two sons-in-law are former North Park University students. Calla is a 1995 graduate as is her sister, Jenny, who recently left the university after seven years as director of communications. Mike and Kathy attend Mercer Island Covenant Church in Mercer Island, Washington.

Calla was the first Holmgren last year to decide to travel to Congo, says Kathy, who says she was less than excited about the idea and expressed concerns for her daughter’s safety. Calla had a different take: “She said she can’t live her life ‘being careful,’ ” Kathy recalls.

“Also she is very anxious to see this area where I spent 10 months in 1970,” adds Kathy, who served as a short-term missionary before marrying. “Mike was very proud of Calla, but slightly worried, so he wanted me to go along with her. So . . . for my birthday last fall, he presented me with the opportunity to go.”

The family didn’t consider that the two might miss the Super Bowl, which traditionally has been played in January. “I don’t think we paid much attention to the date,” Kathy says. “We are so superstitious that we don’t think or plan for it ahead of time.”

“As the possibility of our being in the game became a reality, we decided to continue with our plans,” Kathy says. “The actual game makes me so nervous I don’t watch any way, and we feel like this trip is important.”

The team will carry a satellite phone provided by Covenant World Mission so that among other things, they can find out who wins the Super Bowl. “Mike said ABC will try to find us,” Kathy says. “We shall see.”

(Editor’s note: to learn more about the Holmgren trip to Congo and links to other related information about the Covenant medical system in Congo, please see Holmgren.

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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