Rhonda Baxter traveled to Kenya as a missionary in 2002. To say Rhonda is a hard worker would be an understatement, and her strength of character is evident in the way she speaks about her passions, her future and her past.
During her 14 years in Kenya she drilled three water wells that provided clean drinking water to approximately 4,000 individuals. Additionally, she provided adult literacy training to many of the community’s pastors and to over 300 village women.
However, life is a journey complete with unexpected detours. This was the case in 2011, when Rhonda was experiencing rectal bleeding. She booked an appointment with a GI doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, but the news was grave. Rhonda was diagnosed with rectal cancer.
It was in these early stages that a friend asked what Rhonda was thinking. She replied, “Although cancer was real, I knew this was a personal journey in which I would learn a lot about myself.”
Rhonda returned to the States to receive treatment at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After nearly eight weeks of daily radiation and 24-hour infusion chemotherapy, they did additional testing. The doctors determined that it was necessary to perform surgery to remove the rectum and sigmoid. She now has a permanent colostomy, and no further chemo was done.
Rhonda’s unwavering strength is evident in her eyes when she holds one of her 10 grandchildren, when she talks about her missions in Africa and when she speaks about what she lives for.
“Hope is an amazing thing. People hang on to all kinds of things. My words of encouragement to anyone in this situation are to be sure you are anchoring your hope on something or someone who is faithful.” For her, that anchor was God.
Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is a difficult mountain to climb, but continuing to lead a normal life despite the difficulties is something that seems to have helped Rhonda on her journey.
“Traveling internationally was challenging at times,” she says, “but my surgeon was from Africa and understood my call to missions. It was an amazing journey of hope and healing, and I am thankful for every single day God allows me to wake up.”
Rhonda continues to travel internationally at the age of 62 and has plans to continue her missionary work in Europe. It was with great emotion, surrounded by her children, in August 2016 that her oncologist declared she had graduated with no signs of cancer. She lived for hope during the difficult times, and now, she says, “I live to serve and share my journey of trust.”