I can hardly believe that we are almost entering the month of April! The short rains, which should have arrived in February, have still not made an appearance and the earth is arid and dusty. Cows and other livestock are emaciated looking as there is no green grass to graze upon. The farmers shrug their shoulders and lift their hands in the air, baffled by the once predictable climate patterns. Dust storms abound, looking like tornadoes from a distance. And still the parched ground waits for life and vitality to be restored once again.
Despite the crazy weather for this time of the year, life continues to be busy around Kijabe. I recently transitioned out of my role as consultant with the Resource Mobilization Department. I felt as if I had taken the department as far as I could, and there are others who have arrived in Kijabe, and who are coming, that have a lot more diversified skills to pour into the role. And so, like the parched ground, I wait to see what God would have me do here next. In the meantime, I am preparing a grant application to USAID/ASHA, for the third consecutive year! It involves a colossal amount of work as USAID change the parameters and specific format each and every year. This year, as in years past, Kijabe Hospital (KH) is applying for money to build additional housing for medical trainees. KH is one of the leading medical training centers in Africa. It has 35 full-time specialty consultants, all of whom are passionate about training the future Christian healthcare leaders of medicine in East Africa and beyond. In 2013, KH was selected as the 25th case study in Harvard Medical School’s Global Health Delivery series. Trainees in the past have not only included Kenyans but also individuals from Cameroon, Senegal, South Sudan, Madagascar, Tanzania, Botswana, and Uganda. The various licensed training programs offered at KH have grown exponentially in recent years and new programs are being added every year. However, KH’s ability to expand these training programs is severely hampered by the lack of available housing for medical trainees. It is quite phenomenal what this small rural hospital has accomplished over the last few decades with extremely limited resources and little or no external funding. The only explanation is that God’s hand is all over this ministry, creating miracles on a daily basis, enabling this place to do much with so very little. Would you please join me in praying for the success of this grant application, which would result in US$500,000 to build a hostel type building with 30 single bedrooms, shared bathrooms, kitchens and lounge areas?
Some of the highlights in our lives over the past few months have involved animals! Anyone who knows me, even vaguely, is probably aware of my adoration of giraffes. There is no other animal on the planet as paradoxically graceful yet gangly (have you ever seen these beasts run?), serene yet feisty (using their necks as batting weapons on very rare occasions)…and their eyes! They have deepest brown eyes and the longest eyelashes you are likely to ever see. Pure, unadulterated beauty and strength! So, as a surprise for my birthday this past January (oh yeah, and Mike’s birthday too), our friends, the Zirschky’s (who come to Kijabe every year to serve at the hospital) presented us (kids and all) with a night at Giraffe Manor, in Nairobi! The. Best. Gift. Ever! I cannot tell you how fantastic this experience was. We arrived at the manor in time for lunch on Saturday afternoon, which is a little over an hour’s drive from our house. From the moment you step across the threshold of the manor, everything you see if giraffe-themed, from the paintings on the walls, to the water jugs, to the candle holders, to the crockery. I was in heaven! After an amazing lunch of gourmet food, we took in the grounds. By 5pm, completely on schedule, the giraffes started to amble up towards the manor house. On every window sill (including the bedrooms), ledge and table, there are small pots of molasses-covered, dried grass pellets – the equivalent of dog treats for giraffes. They approach you, in all their majesty, looking for treats and love and kisses. I obliged them in all of these ways! They come back in the morning, eager to share breakfast with the guests, and stick their long necks in through the slated windows waiting to be fed some molasses treats. I could go on and on, but these photos can tell a thousand words of love instead… Shortly thereafter, upon arrival home from being away with my parents who had come to visit us for three weeks, Jane made a startling discovery! To our complete horror and confusion, Jane had noticed that one of her beloved bunnies had made a nest. “Simba” had gathered together some dry grass and plucked white fur from her breast to make a snug and warm environment for her new babies. I was convinced she was having a phantom pregnancy and explained to Jane that new baby bunnies were highly unlikely. Simba and Carrot (who we suspected was a male) had had a 30-second chance encounter one solitary day, and from what I witnessed, Carrot was a little confused with the direction in which he was aiming. I was quietly confident that Simba was just imagining the “pregnancy”, and the fact that she was still acting hyper and not looking large, made me prepare Jane for the inevitable disappointment. Jane went to bed that night and prayed earnestly that God would send some baby bunnies – she wanted to raise baby bunnies so badly! The next morning, after the sun had barely risen, Jane ran out to the cage and gently stretched her hand into the nest. What happened next was nothing short of bedlam! She had felt multiple warm, naked, babies!!! 9, 12 , 15, she couldn’t be sure! God has answered her prayers! But alas, not mine. We now have 10 rabbits, 7 of whom are adorable, white and fluffy babies. Jane is adamant on keeping the runt of the pack, who she would move to the front of the nest every morning so that she would get milk from her mother without being bullied by her siblings. She’s still small, but cute, and has been aptly named, Runt. As for the other 6? Please, someone, take them off our hands before they approach the copulation age of 6 short months! The kids are off school for the entire month of April (in between terms) and we are headed to the Kenyan coast for our Serge Regional Retreat. Serge teams from Kenya, South Sudan, Burundi, and Uganda, will join together for a time of reflection, fellowship, encouragement, and of course, sundowners! We cannot wait! Thanks for keeping up with our news and for your continued support, emails, cards and love! We wouldn’t be here without you. And, please pray for the success of the ASHA grant, which would be a huge blessing to the hospital.