Sometimes I try to see patterns in our life here. I try to see things as representing more than they are, to make sense out of the way things happen. I’m starting to realize, that things are just what they are: each person, each situation, doesn’t necessarily represent some bigger picture. It must be my brain trying to organize all the different sights, sounds, and situations arising from our move to Kenya.
In view of that, some random unrelated and non-representative situations pop to mind. Each stands on its own, as far as I can tell.
The last several months have been punctuated by visits from great friends and family members.
My nephew Will decided the best way to spend his summer would be to experience life and work at a rural African hospital. It was amazing to host him, thinking back to when I used to bounce him on my head in his diapers, and now seeing him get to work doing a cost analysis project for our emergency room!
He also got to observe in the OR,
and, of course, join us on safari.
Our great friends Andy and Jodie Barram were able to join us for two action packed weeks with their intrepid kids David and Rachel. It seemed strange that it seemed so normal to be sitting in a little village in Kenya catching up with our long time friends from Bend. The Barrams packed safaris,
mountain climbing, cooking, and mountain biking into their stay. The sadness of saying “kwaheri” was only softened a little by the fact that we’ll get to see them again in Bend next year.
A less welcome visitor joined us as Ann finished her afternoon run. This six foot “Boomslang” was crossing the road in front of our house as she ran by. Some local villagers had killed it by the time the kids and I got there. Initially, our thoughts went to the green mamba, famous for its deadly bite. We were only a little comforted by the boomslang’s lowly ranking as the fifth deadliest snake in Africa! The kids were delighted to learn that one bite from this guy leads to a slow death by oozing blood from every pore. I was not delighted to notice that it had been slithering directly away from our house: I’ve been scanning the trees a little more closely since then.
Our work here continues unabated. We were warned before we came here to set boundaries, that Kijabe was a place of great need, and could wear people out if they weren’t careful. We assured ourselves that only other people make that mistake, not us. We’ve been with World Harvest Mission for a year now, and “Meredith the Missionary Care Man” scheduled a skype call with us. There was stunned silence when he asked us how much vacation we’d taken, and we realized we’d only taken two weeks since we got here. “Do you think that might have something to do with your feelings of fatigue?”, he wisely asked. We’re heading to Mombasa for a week on Saturday.
The work here is always about the patients. It would be hard to be more vulnerable than to be sick in Africa. Health resources are scarce, and usually far too expensive for the vast majority of the population. Ann has been hard at work helping to form a Resource Mobilization team, tasked with website development, social media outreach, and fundraising for the most vulnerable. A beautiful new website will be launched shortly, with stunning photography and videography telling the amazing story of the life-changing work happening every day at Kijabe. Very few places in Africa provide such high level care, combined with prayerful love and support of the patients. Kijabe does this at very low cost, even by African standards, and this story desperately needs to be told.
Orthopaedic surgery in Kenya is never boring. Patients who come to Kijabe have often been to other hospitals for treatment, often complicating their already difficult problem. Recent patients have included a young camel herder, kicked by one of his camels and shattering his femur, or thigh bone. He lives in a very remote and violent part of Kenya, and his only resource was a “traditional healer”. These practitioners use a combination of spiritual, medicinal, and physical means to treat conditions in the village. This young man came in with tattoos burned on to his fracture site
in an effort to induce healing, but the leg was shortened, crooked, and painful. The delay of several months made the surgery much more difficult, but he should eventually herd camels again.
This morning, the Jomo Kenyatta International Terminal in Nairobi was gutted by a massive fire. One of the largest hubs in Africa is completely shut down at the moment. It turns out that the county of Nairobi, with a population of 3.3 million people, doesn’t have a functioning fire truck. They had three until last year, but when they couldn’t pay the $1,000 bill to have them repaired, the repair shop auctioned them off. When the private sector fire trucks arrived at the airport to fight the inferno, the fire hydrants didn’t have water. Amazingly, however, they have already resumed domestic flights using a cargo terminal, and will resume international flights within a few days. These are the types of things that amaze me. Despite grinding poverty and overwhelming odds, this airport is back on its feet while the embers of its largest terminal are still smoking. And our flight to Mombasa will leave on schedule Saturday as if nothing ever happened.
I don’t have a connecting thread or common theme here. For our family, the move to Kenya has been a dizzying string of seemingly unrelated events. We’re starting to learn to take some time to slow down, be a little healthier, and pace ourselves for the long haul. Thanks for standing with us!