[Eric]: So, wait. You were in Peru before you went to Italy?
[Eric]: You went down to help my dad.
[Steve]: No, I went to help Dr. Eikenberger in the clinic as a lab technician.
[Eric]: And you went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp?
[Steve]: I went out to the tribe with Bob Tripp, whom you may meet. I don’t know if he’s still about?
[Kathy?]: His wife. . . .
[Steve]: And she was in Peru, too, but that was long before they were married.
[Steve]: Anyway, so yes, we came back from Peru, got married, went to Italy, had two childrens in that episode, the bambinos, bambinas.
[Marcia]: Let me just say that Uncle Wally said, when we got married, “We have a lot of boys in the family, so why don’t you have some girls. So we did our best to live up to his request.”
[Steve]: And that’s all we have [4 girls] and grandchild, too.
[Steve]: Grand-girl. Grand-girl.
So when we came back to the States, I had taken the ECFMG [Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates], which is an exam for internationals who want to get into medicine or do medical practice here in the United States. While I was doing an externship, I found out that I was accepted in that. Oh, that was part of the exam that I took during the years that I came back when Dawn was born . Yes.
But anyway, came back. We did an internship at the Waltham Hospital. And then we went into residency for surgery at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, or part of Boston, Massachusetts. From there, we went to work with the American Indians, the Sioux Indians out in South Dakota.
[Virginia?]: That’s right. You guys gave us a quilt when we got married that was made there or in that area.
[Steve]: Yes. They’re very proud of that work that they do in the quilting. That particular quilt comes from specifically that area, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Indians. So we spent five years there.
At the same time, the same evening, we felt the Lord was speaking to both of us, but separately, that it was time that we do what we had originally thought we were going to be doing, that is getting up and going to a third world situation. The good probability was going to be Angola.
So we applied to a mission. We were refused because somehow they thought we were very charismatic. We had attended an Assembly of God church—never became members—but that was very evangelical and we really learned to love the Lord even more there. Because the mission was so connected to fundamental theology or at least thoughts, they refused us. Later, it was overturned because they realized that we weren’t going to be setting up a Holy Spirit program.
When we applied, we went out to Angola to do the medicine that we felt God had called us to do and use that as a vehicle for sharing the gospel. So we were out there. We were 17 years in Angola. The national language, or the trade language, was Portuguese. It was one of the colonies of Portugal. All the time that we were there, except for one year, we were in the middle of war. A lot of my surgery had to do with wartime injuries, earlier especially.
[T. J.]: I remember mom talking.
[T. J.]: She was always worried about that, about you guys.
[Steve]: Well, uh, in retrospect, we had a place out in an area called Menongue, which was guarded by Cuban troops and I had four girls out there. I wasn’t worried enough. In retrospect, I should have been.
Anyway, we stayed there for 17 years in Angola and then came home and set up shop on Cape Cod in a house that we had arranged for ten years earlier. Nine years earlier? Nine years earlier  on Cape Cod. It was a buyers’ market because there were so many houses on the market to be sold. We were able to get a good deal on this house that is in a place called Sandwich.
We’ve been working there. I’ve been working as a first assistant, they call it, in surgery. In other words, I am not the surgeon in charge, but I am the second pair of hands on many different kinds of surgery.
[Virginia?]: Are you liking that variety?
[Steve]: Yes. Yup. I’m keeping my hands in it long after many other surgeons just close up shop and go home.
[T. J.]: You’re doing that now?
[Steve]: Now. Yes.
The joy, as I put in that record to Brett, the joy that I’ve seen in most recent times, is the joy of discipling, of introducing the love of Christ to one person or more. We have a Bible study at the hospital. But to be spending time with a person to see them either first accept the Lord as their savior or to grow in the Lord—grow at the beginning or grow during the time. And I liken it to one of the deliveries that we do. I’m often involved in a caesarian section and it’s a joy to see a baby born, whether it’s the usual way or the unusual way of caesarian, but to see a baby born, this is to see in a life to be growing. It’s sort of exciting. There’s a great joy in discipling people, to see them grow.
So that sort of fills out where we’ve been, where I’ve been. Perhaps it’s time for Marcia to fill in the real story, the other side of the story, and tell the honest truth.
story told by Steve to the family reunion gathering on January 10, 2014 with questions from Eric Kindberg (Lee’s son), Kathy Courtright (Lee’s daughter), Virginia Gorman (Lee’s daughter), and T. J. Ramey (Kathryn’s son); recorded and transcribed by Dawn Duncan Harrell (Steve’s daughter)
Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)
- Can you fill in the details about Eikenberger? Have I spelled his name correctly? What is his first name? What sort of lab work did you do, Dad/Steve?
- What was Bob Tripp’s wife’s name?
- Can you tell in more detail the story of the dual call to Angola on the same night?
- And what were you doing in 1989, while Marcia and Steve were buying a house on Cape Cod?