Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life Lessons

  • We are moving this week.  We are just moving to a different house up the hill so it shouldn't be a big deal - but it is.  We hope to move on Friday, but we might have to wait until Saturday (or sometime next week!)  Life in Kenya is a lesson in flexibility.
  • The painter went to the new house to walk through it so he could tell me how much paint to buy and then he called me and told me to buy 14 cans.  I drove to Nairobi and went into the store to buy the paint and the lady thought I was crazy buying 14 cans of paint.  She only had 9 cans so I was going to have to go to another store in a different part of Nairobi for the rest.  I took the 9 cans and made another trip to Nairobi a few days later to get the remaining cans.   When I dropped off 16 cans of paint (I decided to buy a couple extra) I walked the painter through the house to show him what we wanted painted.  I took him upstairs and he said, "I didn't know there was an upstairs."  What???  So, he needed 3 additional cans of paint (I bought 4).  Life in Kenya is a lesson in perseverance.
  • The painter called me this week and told me that he wanted to use lead paint in the house.  I freaked out a bit because I didn't want ANY lead paint in the house ANYWHERE.  He said that is what was already there and he was just going to paint over it with the same thing.  Finally I remembered that the Kikuyu people have trouble pronouncing their "r"s and "l"s so I said, "Do you mean RED paint?"  He said, "Yes, lead paint."  OK, sure!  Life in Kenya is a lesson in communication.

One day we WILL move, but the lessons will continue and so will the blessings of life in Kenya.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Things We Didn't Think We'd Miss

When we decided to move to Africa, there were many things that we knew we'd miss. We knew we'd miss our family, our friends, our church and we knew we'd miss Target & McDonald's too.  (Oh, how I've missed McDonald's)  But we've been surprised by some of the things we've found ourselves craving so we've been working on a little list for you.

1. Pickles
2. Milk that doesn't smell like a barn
3. Good deli meat
4. Street signs
5. Jif Natural Peanut Butter
6. Kraft Olive Oil Mayo
7. Traffic lights (or at least traffic lights that people actually obey)
8. Home Depot
9. Being able to call a repair person and having him come out and fix the broken item correctly the first time.  (Nevermind - that didn't happen in the US either).
10. Being able to go places without having people stare and laugh at us.  (Who knew we were so entertaining?)
11. a reliable internet connection
12. Rotel

All joking aside, there are certainly things we miss about the US, but there are so many things we've grown to love about our new home. 

1.  We love Chai time - not just because of the chai, but because it is a time to slow down and fellowship.  Now Erik is not a big fan of chai time because that means people just walk out of the operating room during a case, but in most circumstances Chai time is a really good thing.
2. Mandazi - We don't have Krispy Kreme here, but mandazi are the next best thing.  They are a Kenyan fry bread that are not sweet, but we top ours with Nutella, honey, powdered sugar or whatever topping we can think of and they are a fun weekend treat.
3. Fresh passion fruit juice.
4. A slower pace of life.
5. Our new friends and our little family away from family.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Caring for Refugees

“Dadaab” is the largest refugee camp in the world.  It was established in Eastern Kenya in the early 1990’s to provide refuge for thousands of Somalis fleeing the violent conflict in their own country.  Under the direction of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) run three separate “camps” located around the Kenyan city of Dadaab, each built for and intended to house approximately 30,000 refugees.  The latest figures put the total population at ~350,000!  It’s literally bursting at the seams as 10,000 new arrivals are welcomed each month in the camps mostly because of the draught in the region.  In the past, newly arrived families received food ration cards, a small plot of land and some building supplies.  There is no more land to build on and people are left to construct huts of sticks and mud.  The climate is arid with oppressively hot temperatures reaching 110-115⁰F.  There is sparse foliage growing in the desert-like sands.  In the midst of this, there are glimmers of hope for the people since schools, limited healthcare, and safety are provided within the camps.  While the NGO workers exhaust themselves to care for these often forgotten people, funds are limited; this is especially true when it comes to healthcare.  Each camp has a small hospital and clinic where 2-3 physicians, usually with only one year of post-medical school training, are tasked with providing healthcare to over 100,000 people.  Specialty care, including much surgical care, has to be referred outside the camps.  Emergent cases are freely and quickly referred, but each camp has funds available for only 6-8 referrals per month.  BethanyKids has committed to caring for the surgical needs of the thousands of kids in the camps.  In conjunction with the NGOs in the camps, BethanyKids screens patients in each camp every two months.  During our visits to Dadaab, we are also able to do some smaller procedures at the hospitals in the camps, but larger procedures require transport to Kijabe Hospital where BethanyKids provides all the necessary care.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet basic needs and to be the healing hands of Our Lord. 

Note:  Recently featured Dadaab and its 20 year existence.  The photos will give you some idea of the conditions of the camp.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Meet Mercy

BethanyKids’ medical work in Kijabe is a practical way to show God’s love to children and their families.  It involves dozens of people doing a multitude of jobs to reach out and care for these kids.  One of the most integral members of the team is Pastor Mercy.  She is the chaplain for BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital and is a woman in love with her Lord and committed to the children and their families.  All children admitted to the hospital are required to have a parent/guardian stay with them, and as one might expect, these are mostly mothers.  Mercy personally visits every patient and parent during their stay in the hospital.  She counsels, encourages, and teaches them about the love of our Savior.  Each year for the past few years, she has seen 300-400 people commit their lives to Christ during their stay in the hospital.  She also has a network of 265 patients’ mothers called “disciplers” who are spread across the country.  These women help to identify medical problems in the community, spread awareness for the work of BethanyKids, Kijabe Hospital, and CURE Hospital, follow-up patients, visit clinics, follow-up new believers, and evangelize.  These women saw literally thousands of people commit or re-commit their lives to Christ last year.  The numbers alone aren’t important, but the hearts and souls that they represent mean everything.  People may bring their kids to Kijabe for the surgical care offered there, but as a surgeon, I know that the spiritual and emotional care that Mercy provides is ultimately more important than any operation I could do.  Christ made the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the dead to rise, but more than that He came that we all might have abundant life.

Please pray for Mercy and the very important work that she does at the hospital.