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.