Friday, September 30, 2011

Titchie Sunday

Each school term the Titchies (elementary school kids) have Titchie Sunday during which they sing a song during church. 

Last year, after our kids' first Titchie Sunday, this kid declared that he would not be going to Kindergarten.  When I asked him why not, he said he didn't want to get up in front of the church to sing.  I assured him that we would not make him go up to sing if he didn't want to and several times throughout the year he confirmed that information.  All week leading up to this term's Titchie Sunday, he kept telling me that he was not going to be singing with the other Titchies and I assured him that he didn't have to.  We were at our Samaritan's Purse retreat for several days leading up to the big performance, so I didn't think he would even know the song.

The big day finally arrived and he asked me again, "Do I have to go up in front of the church to sing?"  And again, I assured him that he did not.  He then said, "Well, I might."  Erik and I exchanged a confused look.  When it was time for us to leave I suggested that Erik bring his camera because things could get interesting.

When we arrived, he went up to the stage and sat down with the other Titchies.  When it was time for them to begin their song he actually stood up with the other kids.

He is in the red striped shirt looking very nervous.
The music started playing and the strangest thing happened - he sang and he even looked like he was enjoying it! 

Erik and I were in disbelief and I might have teared up just a little. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

From Erik in Dadaab

Much has been written and broadcasted of late about the famine in East Africa and the resulting flood of new arrivals to the Dadaab refugee camps.  The population of the camps has swelled to nearly half a million with many of the new arrivals being children.  Like so many others, I have felt heartache and pain for the people who are forced to leave their homes, their culture, and their country to find a safe haven.  The living conditions are difficult in the camps and most of the luxuries of autonomous life are missing.  There is, though, a strange “joy” in seeing patients in the camps.  The often oppressive heat, sandy terrain, and malaria-carrying mosquitos certainly aren’t the draw.  In fact, I’m usually quite ready for the trip back to Kijabe where I live a very blessed and, all things considered, very comfortable life.  I enjoy, however, being able to re-connect with a mother whose baby boy is doing extremely well after surviving a difficult first few days of life and a major operation.  Today I greeted a father with his two boys, both born with cleft lips, whose repair we did a few weeks ago.  Dad was beaming and the boys were happy.  Our languages are worlds apart, but we communicate with handshakes and smiles, both enjoying seeing the results of the boys’ smiles.  I realize that the strange joy I feel stems from gratitude – the gratitude of a Somali father for the care of his sons and the gratitude that I feel as a son toward my Father for the opportunity to be a part of what He is doing to change lives and establish His Kingdom here on earth.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Off to Dadaab

Today Erik left for Dadaab for a few days. Caring for refugees is a big part of his work here, but these trips to the refugee camps are always a challenge (physically and emotionally). Please pray for his team (3 doctors) and for the refugees who desperately need hope and healing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Adventures in African Travel

This past week we enjoyed a retreat with Samaritan's Purse on the Kenyan coast.  Samaritan's Purse field staff from all over Africa joined together for a week of worship, learning, rest and recreation.  It was fun to be reunited with our fellow post-residents to find out how they were doing and to just encourage one another. 

At the end of the retreat all the post residents (including the 12 children) headed to the airport at 11:45am for our 1 hour flight back to Nairobi.  The drive from the coast to Kijabe is about 8 hours so we were thankful that we were able to fly there and back.  But of course, life in Africa is always an adventure and this day was no exception.  When we arrived at the tiny Malindi airport we learned that the plane was running late so there would be a one hour delay.  But when the little prop plane did arrive, it had some mechanical problems - apparently a light came on about a problem with the landing gear.  So we spent four hours in that little airport dining on rationed Pringles and ice cream bars.  Our oldest son added LOTS of coins to his foreign coin collection.  Apparently, an airport full of missionaries from all over Africa is a great place for a numismatist.  It was a relief to be stranded there with patient friends who read to the kids, shared their candy and kept Mom and Dad from going crazy in that tiny room!  

So, we did finally board our flight and had an uneventful hour trip back to Nairobi.  Our bags arrived and our driver was waiting for us when we came out of the airport and he navigated us through the evening Nairobi traffic quite easily to take us to the office compound where our car was parked.  All that was left was the one hour drive to Kijabe - so we thought!

But when we asked the guard at the office for the car keys we had left when we dropped off our car, he said he didn't have them and that they were probably locked inside the office.  After several phone calls, we were able to track down someone who was going to send someone to unlock the office.  An hour and a half later that person arrived and found our keys for us.  

While trying to get out the ridiculously narrow gate at the office parking lot, Erik was having to do a lot of backing and pulling forward and at one point one of the back tires went into a drainage trench and we got stuck.  Once we get pushed out of the trench, we were on our way!

We do everything we can to avoid driving in Nairobi and on the Kenyan highways after dark, but on this night we didn't have many other options so we prayed for God's protection and headed off.  Traffic was a little messy in Nairobi, but we finally got out of it and it seemed to be smooth sailing - until it wasn't!  We came to a sudden stop where cars were not moving at all.  We never did find out what the problem was or even where it was, but mysteriously after about 30 minutes of no movement, it all just broke up and suddenly we were all moving as if nothing had ever happened.  

We did make it home and our wonderful friends who were staying at our house while we were gone had made dinner for us so we were able to eat a great meal before crashing for the night!  Unfortunately, after all the adventures of our return trip, I'd completely forgotten that I'd just had a week of renewal and relaxation!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Day of School

Tuesday was the first day back at school and it was our 6 year old's first day of school.  When I woke him up I said, "It is time to get up for kindergarten," and he responded, "I hate kindergarten."  I explained to him that he couldn't hate kindergarten until after he'd actually been to kindergarten.  Luckily, when I picked him up at noon his attitude had changed!