Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Michaelle Joy Kierns

Ok, so I am now Michaelle Joy Kierns. I picked up my Kenyan ID yesterday and that is who it says I am. You gotta love life in Africa! At least they got Joy right.

I'd like to thank each of you who has prayed for and encouraged me over these last two weeks. I have been blessed by the outpouring of encouraging words and prayers. I'm not struggling to get out of bed in the morning now. OK, maybe just a little bit! But I am moving forward. I've posted some encouraging scriptures on the walls throughout my house and I'm taking time to talk with God about the gazillions of emotions I've been experiencing.

I have good news about Jeptoo and her five daughters. We are hoping to move them by next week at the latest! It's looking like she may actually be moving in next door to William and I which is a huge blessing! Please continue to pray for her and the family as they wait for the house to be available. She stopped brewing shortly after we met her. Now the entire neighborhood has shunned her because she is no longer providing easy access to alcohol.

Well I'm a bit brain dead at the moment. I just had my first Kiswahili lesson in two and a half months. The new teacher went about a million miles a minute so my head is overloaded. I'll try to get another post in later this week.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Moving Forward

Before I moved to Kenya many people told me "Michelle you are so brave, you are so strong." Well the truth is that I am not brave and I am not strong. In fact many times I feel like a small scared child. However the good news is that I have a father who is both brave and strong.

I'm finding myself in a place right now where I feel stuck. Since William and I were married in December we have faced one trial after another. Some have been small and merely frustrating. Others have been major and life changing. Through it all I can see God's hand. I know that he has protected us in so many ways. One of the biggest blessings (other than the obvious fact that we are both still alive!) is that I believe William and I have grown stronger as a couple due to the challenges.

However I personally feel very empty right now. I feel like we have hit one trial too many. I don't want to bog you down with our many issues. But I do want to ask for your prayers. Please pray that the Lord will meet us where we are at right now. That he will guide and direct us. That he will bring healing and that he will anoint us with his wisdom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Car Accident

Front View, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

This last week has been one of the hardest in my life. On Saturday April 12 we were in a car accident. We had a wonderful day prior to the crash. William's mom was graduating from an alcohol rehab program. We went to the graduation and were headed home when an accident occurred. We rolled a borrowed Land Rover one and a quarter times. There were eight people in the vehicle. Miraculously no one was killed. One person was ejected from the vehicle through the safari hatch in the roof as the car rolled. We just spoke to him and he says that he is back to work and feeling fine.

We initially thought all injuries were very minor. But it is looking like some may have been more severe than originally thought. Unfortunately the evaluation performed in the emergency department was not so thorough. A few people may be headed back to the hospital today for further evaluation. I myself am beginning to think that something in my left arm may have torn.

Please be praying for the entire situation. I think the emotional pain is even worse than the physical pain. At this point we don't know if parts of the car or the entire car may be salvageable. But regardless we are looking at some pretty serious expense. My whole body is bruised and painful. William is miraculously almost completely free from injury. But as he puts it "I'm under incredible emotional and spiritual warfare."

But through it all we can see God's hand. My wallet and phone were stolen from the scene of the accident. William's brother (who had been ejected) and some onlookers witnessed the theft and chased the man down recovering both phone and wallet. William's mother, aunt and elderly grandmother were in the car. It is a miracle that everyone was able to get out of the car and walk away from the scene. A World Vision truck just happened to drive by right as we were getting out of the car. They were able to load us up and take us all to the hospital. Dealing with police reports can be a real challenge. But in less than 24 hours after the accident all reports were completed, the case was closed, and the vehicle was released to our custody. So through it all we are praising the Lord.

We want to thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. We have been so blessed by the e-mails we are already receiving. I will keep you updated. We are currently in Nairobi trying to get my visa. Unfortunately we are facing challenges with that. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. I confess that I am really struggling right now.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Visiting the Girls

Jeptoo's Home, originally uploaded by momentswithmichelle.

On Friday William and I invited our colleague Juli to go with us to visit Jeptoo and her kids. We left after breakfast and made the walk to her home. This time I brought the camera. Previously I was afraid I might fall in the river while crossing the log bridge so I didn’t bring it.

The girls are all doing a million times better. It is amazing what some food, vitamins and antibiotics can do! They still have a ways to go but I believe they are out of the woods. Now it is their spirits I am most concerned about. These kids have been through a lot and it shows on their faces. I still haven’t seen anything close to a smile from the three youngest.

Jeptoo came to our home at the beginning of the week and shared her story with us. She had gone with her husband to his home village. It was about a six hour drive from us here in Kipkaren. After several years he decided he no longer wanted her. He brought another woman home and beat her with a pipe. The children were present as this happened. She told us that as the girls were crying and running to her he just kept pushing them away. Then he told her that he was going to kill her. She ran away and hid in a cornfield for several days. Then she gathered up the children and made the trip back to her mom’s home (just across the river from us). She has been there since.

Her mother and brother are both alcoholics and Jeptoo had a difficult time trying to figure out how to support the children. So she started brewing alcohol to make a living. Obviously it hasn’t been going very well considering the children are starving. She told us that after we sent Chelagat to the hospital she realized just how grave the situation was. It occurred to her that her children were slowly dying and she couldn’t do a thing about it. At that time she decided it would be better to kill herself and not witness her children’s deaths. Then William and I showed up expressing interest in her and the kids. At that point she decided to give life another chance.

We are hoping in the next week or two to get them moved across the river. We will need to purchase bedding, clothing, food, lanterns etc. It’s going to be a big undertaking but I firmly believe it is completely worthwhile. I’m praying that with time those girls will learn how to smile.

One of the things that has hit me hard lately is the fact that here there are no safety nets. There are no social services. There are no backup plans. There are not resources I can refer patients like this to. If I send them out the door, that’s the end of it. It can be frightening and extremely overwhelming. But then I remember that that is why I’m here. This is why I chose to come to Africa. My ambition has always been to meet needs that no one else is there to meet. And wow, the needs are big! But it is a relief to know that I serve a big God.