Archive for July, 2012

OK, by now, I know you are thinking “Yes, but what did you DO?” The two most popular questions about my trip…1. What will you do? 2. What did you do? Followed closely by “Will you go back?” We live in a culture of doing, a culture that places value on accomplishing tasks. But Kenyan culture is a relational culture, a culture that places value on relationship and consensus.

You will be glad to know that I did however accomplish some ‘stuff,’ stuff we can all feel good about. I worked with a team of 4 that supported the school nurse, who for 20 years has daily supported not only the 600 students at the elementary school, but also their extended families and all of the students at the secondary school. Two of us took a look at her current record-keeping system and set them up on computer so that going forward, she could keep her records in a spreadsheet on a laptop, which would allow her to easily follow trends over time by student name or by diagnosis. This meant that we got to see a power outlet installed in her office, Kenyan style.

In addition, we helped her complete her monthly health assessment of all 600 students at the elementary school. Each month, she weighs, measures, and deworms all 600 students. We put all of this information in a spreadsheet, and set up the system for the remainder of the year, so that she just has to enter the data each month. Our team did the weighing, measuring, and some of the crowd control, freeing her up to focus her attention on the health education she does with each class when they come in (“We keep our nails short and clean.”) or to  see individual patients who came in for treatment during this time. Before the trip, I was told it would be a miracle if we actually accomplished all of this, and we did. (Or, should I say God did.) So, there it is. Miracle. Praise God. (“Praise God again!”)

But do you know what also happened while we were there? The nurse’s mother passed away unexpectedly. God placed a team of four compassionate Christian women around her to pray for her, to distract her, to ease her burden, to be her hands and feet and occasionally voice, to minister to her, to grieve with her. In my mind, this feels more significant than all of that other stuff.

I pray that our doing was a blessing to her, I pray that our work will be something that continues to be useful to her and that she will be able to continue going forward. But I know that our being was a blessing to her, and to me. I thank God that He let me share in walking beside her during a difficult time.


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As you can see from my last post, I felt like some of the most important work God gave me to do on the trip was just being a mom — seeing and loving the kids as a mother does.

The girls my daughters’ age, current 5th graders around 10 and 11 years old, and I seemed to find each other and hold a mutual admiration society. I saw girls on the cusp of young womanhood, equally apt to play ring around the rosey as sift through their personal beliefs and values. They probably saw someone who noticed them, who cared, who called them by name. “Write our names in your book so you will not forget us.”

They taught me Swahili. We swapped songs, games, and stories. I asked how I could pray for them. They say:  protection for their school, protection for their sponsors, especially when sponsors are traveling between the US and Africa, that they would do well on midterm exams, that their school would be the best in their district, and for protection and health for their parents.

“You are the best mother,” they said. “I wish she was my mother.” I didn’t learn very much about their home lives. I can only assume that many of their parents are absent, or too busy trying to make ends meet to cover all of their emotional needs.

Nevertheless, they were able to minister to me when I was tired and unsure of exactly what I was doing there. Each day, I left them feeling refreshed, loved, and filled. They were the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus to me. “Will you come back?,” they ask. “If God wants me to,” I answer.

I trust God to sustain the connection between us. And to fill the empty places they feel in my absence. He is their hope and their redeemer. I pray that they will continue to sing for joy in the shadow of his wing.

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She must be around 3 years old, and she is always there when I sift back through my pictures and memories. I’m not sure how much English she knows. At first, her eyes were searching mine and questioning. Can you be trusted? Do you have love to share?

By midweek, I’m greeted daily by tiny hands atop outstretched arms asking to be held, wrapped in a hug, assured that everything is ok.

During the second week of our trip as our team walked through the village with school staff, a shosho (Swahili for grandmother) beckoned us to follow her to her home by the river.  We prayed a blessing over her wood and metal home, built for her by community members after her previous home was destroyed by rains.

We learned that her daughter had died the previous year, leaving her to care for her grandchildren on her own, one of whom recently died during the rainy season, and one of whom is this girl…who needs some extra love, and to know that everthing is going to be ok.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ~John 14:18

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