Monday, August 30, 2010

Goodbye Friend

This morning I just said goodbye to a friend. Between my home and the clinic is a building that is being used by my friend’s organization, The Living Room. It is a hospice. Although I’m not officially a part of the Living Room staff, I regularly do consults and put together care-plans for the patients there. From day one I have called this patient Agui, which means grandpa. He has been at the Living Room for a number of months. I’ve performed a number of his medical procedures and done some of his dressing changes over the months. Every day he has been out laying or sitting under a tree as I pass by on my way to the clinic. I often stop to visit with him for a few moments. Although we shared neither genetics nor the same language, he became my Kenyan grandfather.

An older man, in his early nineties, he has entertained us with his twinkling eyes and strong spirit. There are times when we have actually thought he might make a full recovery. But last month he developed pneumonia and it finally got the better of him this morning. My friend Juli, who is the international founder and director of this hospice, was away this morning. One of the caregivers from the home came running breathless to my office. He rapidly told me in Swahili that it was Agui and they needed my help. I raced down with him to Agui’s bedroom and saw that he was definitely on his way out of this world.

I sat at his bedside and began to stroke his forehead as my mother had when I was a little girl. I then prayed with him. I asked the Lord to be near to him as he made this final journey. I asked for peace of body, mind and spirit. I asked God for relief of any pain or suffering Agui was feeling. I then asked our friend Morogo, the social worker, to pray in Kalenjin. Morogo asked me if Agui would really understand. I replied that we wouldn’t know for sure, but on the chance that he could it was good for him to hear a prayer in his mother tongue. I then invited a few of the other care-givers to join us in the room to sing songs and hyms. As we sang “Rock of Ages” in Swahili Agui took a final breath and then slipped away through heaven’s door.

I can’t tell you how thankful I was to be there in his final moments. There is something powerful about holding the hand of a friend who is about to meet Jesus face to face. It was a holy moment; one that I wouldn’t trade.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


That's how I feel this weekend. Life has been moving at high speed lately and the pace just keeps picking up. The last two weekends I was involved in outreaches of one sort or another. I really will try my best to get pictures and reports up in the coming days.

We have been searching for two nurses for the clinic for a few months now. About three weeks ago we hired a new graduate and this week we hired another new-grad. The most recent hire is William's cousin and this is her first time away from home/school. We don't have the staff housing for her finished yet so she is actually living with us. She is on call this week and because she is brand, brand new I'm doing a lot of after-hours trips to the clinic with her.

Sometime between Thurs night and Fri morning, William's grandmother suffered a stroke leaving her right side paralyzed and taking her speech. The influx of family members has brought us an additional house-guest. Yesterday was William's 35th birthday so we had a small dinner party for him. Talk about highs and lows!

Add to all this, the fact that we are preparing for a trip to the USA. No wonder I feel a bit discombobulated! I will however, try to get at least one more update posted this week. Take care and God bless!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shadrack - A Story of Hope

Lately I have had a few blog posts in my mind. I've just not had the time and/or energy to get them actually written and posted. But I wanted to share about last night's events while they are still fresh.

The young man with William and I in the above picture is named Shadrack. And if you live in Southern CA get ready to be blessed by his presence!! Shadrack's is a story of hope. When he was still a young boy in elementary school his mother died leaving him and his siblings behind. After the funeral, the crowds left and there were three children left standing at the graveside, Shadrack and his two sisters.

David Tarus, William's uncle, approached them and asked what they were going to do and where they were going. They looked up with hopeless eyes and told him they didn't know. At that moment God moved David's heart and he told them "Come on, let's go home." Since that time Shadrack and his two sisters Jane, and Carolyne have truly been adopted into the family. Last year Shadrack finished high school with very high grades. The entire community celebrated with him. This year the doors have opened for Shadrack to attend Azusa Pacific University in southern CA.

Just over a week ago the entire community came together to raise money for his plane ticket to America. It was a beautiful time as people came to commission him from our small village to the USA. They asked him to represent our people and to study hard so that he can come back and make a difference in the community.

Last night was Shadrack's goodbye service. William and I had a long day making a road trip to recruit a new nurse for the clinic. By the time we were getting back to the community it was long after dark and we were both exhausted and worn out from hours of bumping on the rough roads (think Indianna Jones ride for hours on end!). For a moment I considered not going to the service, after all we were several hours late! But let me tell you I am so glad that I went.

The service went on until nearly midnight as friends and family members took time to recollect Shadrack's growth and to encourage him in this new endeavor. Boy did the tears flow! After many, many words of praise, encouragement and advice, Shadrack was given a turn to speak. He went around the entire room personally thanking each person in attendance and telling them what a blessing they had been in his life.

After the speeches were finished and the tears continued to flow, the group stood together to anoint and pray for Shadrack as he was sent out from our community. The picture below is of that prayer time. Friday night he will board a plane to Dubai and then on to Los Angeles. Life is about to change drastically for this young man. Please pray for him as he goes through the culture shock and transition to life as a college student in the USA. William and I are looking forward to spending some time with him on our upcoming trip. That's right, we will be in the USA from Oct through Christmas!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Comedy of Errors

Well it is another day for two blog posts. This one may be a bit long and hopefully make you smile and possibly even laugh. I confess, I'm hoping that writing the play-by-play of my evening will be therapeutic for me and entertaining for you.

As you know from my last post, I was involved in a late-night and early-morning delivery. We are almost 24 hours out from the beginning of my last post. So I was pretty tired this morning.

During the morning delivery the power went off. Unfortunately this is not at all unusual in Kenya. At any moment the electricity could turn off anywhere, and be out from moments to days. Often when it goes out in the morning it will be gone for the day and then return at either 5, 6 or 7PM.

True to form, the power was off all day. But that was okay, I've got an incredible long-life battery on the computer and so I was still able to complete clinic paperwork and our medication order for the month. The day wrapped up nicely and I prepared to head home.

As we were locking the clinic we had a teenage girl arrive who had slashed her toe open with a machete. It was getting dusky outside but with the help of my handy, dandy, headlamp I was able to get the wound closed and give her a tetanus shot.

I got home and wanted nothing more than a shower. I then remembered that there is no electricity. Which means that my electric shower-head will not work to heat the water. Which lead to the internal debate: To heat water on the stove for a splash shower or not? Then I remembered that we use electricity to pump the water to the tank for running water. No electricity = no water. UGH!

I also had plans of baking chicken wings for supper. With my electric oven it seemed another plan was foiled. So at this point I decided that the best thing to do was to lay on my bed for 30 minutes and hope and pray that the power would return by then.

After 15 minutes on the bed I started thinking about what would happen if the power did NOT return. That would mean that I had to go find a bucket to clean out for water. I would then have to pull the water out of the well, haul it in the house and cook supper on the gas range. All of the above activities are better done when there is still a bit of sunlight peaking through.

So I got the water and started supper; 6PM came and went with no power. I gave up on the power returning in time for the chicken to bake and resorted to frying it. As the chicken was finishing up my phone rang. I had a case at the clinic. I should also mention that at this time the skies decided to open and rain.

So after getting the chicken off the stove, and finding an umbrella, I made my way back to the now dark clinic. There I found a 7-year-old boy who had been chopping grass for the cows when his machete slipped and he chopped the end of his thumb. The wound was deep, and went halfway around the digit and into the nail-bed. I just love doing complicated suture cases in the dark! (I hope you can read the sarcasm there!)

So I'm rooting around the treatment desk for supplies and I can't find a suture set. So I pulled out my keys and went to the maternity building to get a needle driver, tweezers, and scissors. I carefully lock maternity back up and return to do the suturing. Just after I finally finish the last stitch, the power comes on. What great timing! (Insert more sarcasm.)

I then remember that I need to give him a tetanus shot and the tetanus vaccine is back in the maternity room. So out come the keys again and another trip to get the vaccine. Finally he has been stitched, wound-dressed, and injected. After a trip to the pharmacy to get him some pain killers he discharges home. As I'm heading out the door a girl shows up with some random red pills in an envelope. She wants to know if she can trade them for de-worming medicine for someone's baby. Only in Africa! I explain to her that I can't trade the pills but that the medicine is only $0.50 and she will need a bottle to put the syrup in. She agrees to come back in the morning.

Now that the power is back on, I'm on a single-track mind. Shower!!! I remember that I will need to pump the water first. So I go out to the pump-house, grab the extension cord and head for the house to plug it in. I then have to run out to the water tower to listen for the sound of water coming in. Because if I don't hear the water flowing the pump probably needs to be primed (which is a whole different blog post for another day). Thankfully I hear the water flowing. So I head in the house to plug in the computer and start charging it.

After the tank has had a while to fill I turn on the sink tap to see how the pressure is. It's just a trickle! What's up with that? So I poke my head outside. I hear water pouring on the ground. This doesn't make sense to me, because if the tank is full enough to overflow I should have some water pressure. I run back inside to unplug the pump. Then back outside with a flashlight and still hear water pouring. I then notice that someone left the outside tap wide open. A neighbor probably came to fill a bucket with water and kept cranking the tap wider and wider. Upon not finding water he or she must have just walked away. So all of the pumping I just did has resulted in a flooded yard. Big sigh.

I close the tap and go back inside to turn on the pump again. By now I'm praying that there is enough water in the well to fill the tank for my shower. Thankfully there is. During the second filling of the tank I call my husband to say "Where are you and why aren't you dealing with this crisis for me?!" He is on his way to a goodbye service for our colleagues who are headed back to the states. No one told me it was their goodbye tonight. Another sigh. But alas it wouldn't have mattered anyway since I'm on call at the clinic.

As I write, I'm now showered and feeling much better about life. I even have to giggle a bit as I imagine Lucille Ball playing the part of Michelle Kiprop tonight. It would be good for some serious laughs I think. Now here's to hoping that there are no more machete injuries, deliveries, or any other chaos tonight!

In Just 12 Hours...

..... we received the official results that Kenya had voted yes on the new constitution, and then in the clinic delivered not one, but two babies! All of this between 9PM and 9AM.

Last night the official results were announced over the radio that the constitution had been approved by the Kenyan people. It will go into effect just two weeks from now. The leader of the "No" campaign, William Ruto, conceded defeat earlier in the day and made a statement that he accepted that Kenyans had made their choice. His peaceful response is a huge answer to prayer as his reaction was watched by many. So far Kenya continues to be at peace. Praise the Lord!

Shortly after hearing the official news, I headed over to assist with a delivery at the clinic. Our two American interns joined Kitur (our clinical officer) and myself in helping bring a baby boy into the world. It was a text-book smooth delivery. Then this morning as I was waking up I learned that there was yet another delivery in progress. The interns ran from the training center to assist yet again. This delivery was quite a bit more challenging but still resulted in a healthy baby girl. At one point we had 11 people in the room with the mom.

The late-night delivery was a friend of mine and this morning's was another friend's sister. So I was extremely thankful that both babies were born healthy and strong. The picture below shows the team of friends and relatives who were supporting and assisting the mom through her labor. Now I'm off to the office to see what today holds!