Life continues to race by here in the sleepy village of Kijabe! We are 18 months into our assignment at Kijabe Hospital and feel as if we are just now lifting our heads above water. It has been a wild and wonderful journey, thus far. At many points throughout the past year and a half, we seriously wondered if we were going to make it. Some days felt as if we just didn’t have the strength to make it even another 24 hours. Last November was the lowest point of all. The hardest part was seeing Mike bend under the enormous pressure of all that was set before him. He generally begins work (rounds) at 6am, and wasn’t getting home until after the kids were in bed. It was miserable. The overwhelming need for orthopedic care in Kenya was the biggest reason why we chose to come here. In Kenya, there is one trained orthopedic surgeon for every one million people – It is no wonder that Mike and his Kenyan colleague are inundated with patients on a daily basis, who usually present with the most complicated of cases.
We quickly realized coming back to Kijabe in January that something had to give. Either our family would suffer the consequences, or patients would. How do you make such a difficult decision? We live 60 seconds walk from the front entrance of the hospital. There is never a time when Mike is not on call, really. We wrestled with how we were going to draw boundaries that would protect the balance within our family. So difficult. But finally, we agreed upon a couple of changes that appeared small, but which have made a tremendous difference. We both came to the realization that this adventure is a marathon. We had been sprinting for the first 18 months and were beyond the point of exhaustion and depletion. If we were to last for the long haul, we would need to make difficult decisions and stick by them.
It was at our lowest point that two sets of friends came alongside us – they recognized our struggles and our tiredness and rallied their churches to come alongside us in prayer. The prayers of hundreds of people who have never even met us, has made all the difference in the world! Literally. Thank you Bob and Sally Zirschky and Ben and Lauren Edwards for reminding us that we are not supposed to run this race alone….that we are meant to operate as part of God’s larger church body….that we cannot ever underestimate the power of prayer by God’s faithful followers. I just arrived back from spending the last 10 days in Los Angeles for the 2014 Justice Conference. I got a chance to meet many friends from Bend, Oregon, all of whom assured me of their continued prayers. To all of our supporters, your love and prayers are our daily bread. They sustain us. We would NOT be here without you. Our thanks seem so inadequate.
As for Los Angeles, I believe that it was the best Justice Conference yet! The speakers were anointed, the musicians phenomenal, the production seamless, and the organization of all the details superb. 1,700 individuals showed up at the Orpheum theatre in downtown L.A., in addition to countless others who joined us via simulcast in 42 partner sites across the US and Canada! How about that for impacting a generation for Justice! So many hearts and minds challenged by our call to do justice on a daily basis. So many individuals motivated to make a difference in this world of injustices. So many people inspired to move towards the frontlines in the fight for justice.
The highlights of the trip for me were spending a day with Laura Wytsma driving around the suburbs of Beverly Hills and enjoying lunch by the beach…dipping my toes into the Pacific ocean!…eating sushi…staying at the Biltmore Hotel in a room by myself!…taking a bubble bath…laughing until I cried with amazing friends, Erin and Caitlin…emceeing the best conference on the planet…watching Jars of Clay perform on stage…seeing speaker, Bryan Stevenson, get a standing ovation…drinking take-away coffees…being part of the most incredible team of individuals sacrificially giving of their time and talents to make the conference a success.
(If you are interested in watching the speakers from this year’s conference, all plenary sessions should be available to watch on the website towards the end of March: http://www.thejusticeconference.com)
And now, back to where I belong. With Mike and the kids. Making dinners and school lunches. Helping mobilize much-needed resources for Kijabe Hospital. Life is full. And oh so good!