It was a bit of a rough day in regards to mood in our house yesterday. I have been reading a little bit about exercise and mood enhancement, and the correlation is pretty strong that exercise is good for mental health. This is especially true in anxiety and depression. I would say those are the most common struggles of many of us, and especially those of us living in a different culture. I tend to be more optimistic if I find time to exercise, and I envy those who find it easy to do. I do not always want to exercise, much less do I find the time to do it. And this is despite knowing the positive effects. So with everyone a bit down yesterday, I decided we were going on a walk. We would go to the caves and then up to the railroad tracks. A few short steep uphill sections followed by a meandering downhill walk. We noted some clouds in the sky, but it seemed like there was more sun than clouds. The old Boy Scout in me recommended we take some jackets. It was good that we did, because just as we reached the cave, the rain came. We decided we would cross-country home, bush-wacking, avoiding steep drop-offs, spraining wrists, and ruining clothing. But we made it. And you can decide for yourself from the picture whether it had a positive affect.
This is my friend Kennedy with his wife and baby. Kennedy works on our bikes, and he especially helped Annie get her unicycle put together. But I usually see him at work where his energy and smile are an encouragement as he runs around the hospital trying to sort out the different things he manages. About 6 months ago I had the privilege of delivering his baby boy. I remember the case well. His wife was past her due date, and so we were inducing labor. However, for some strange reason every time we checked their babies heart rate, the tones were not normal. She was not even feeling her contractions, but with every unfelt contraction we saw on the monitor, the baby’s heart rate would go down, and in between contractions the heart rate would be too high. These are signs of stress to the baby. I do not like to do a cesarean section on a woman who is not in labor, but in this case we decided to go for it. The surgery went well, and their baby was fine. But the next morning I heard from the pediatric team that the baby had been found to have an imperforate anus. That means there was no way for the baby to have a bowel movement. Obviously, this is a problem The next day they sent their new son into the operating room to get an ostomy which is where the surgeon attaches the end of the intestines to the abdominal wall so that the bowel movement can pass from the body through the abdominal wall. Then they did surgery to correct the closed anus. The last step was yesterday where they reattached the intestines together so that their son can start passing stool normally. It has been a long road, but everything is ending well. Kennedy really wanted a picture of us all together, and I was glad to snap one too. He is obviously happy that his son is doing well, and although I had just the smallest role in it, I am happy too.
For us Valentine’s Day is coming fast. We are sponsoring the Sophomore class at Rift Valley Academy, and on the the class’s responsibilities and biggest projects this year is Valentine’s Day Sales. This is a fundraiser for the Sophomore class that sets them up for their future fundraisers in their Junior and Senior years. Each year’s fundraiser provides the funds needed to buy the supplies needed for the next year. So it needs to be done well. We are helping with the baking committee, which means we will plan to bake 1300 cookies, 500 cupcakes, and 200 brownies. We will also be making jello jigglers and around 200 chocolate dipped s’mores. (Yikes!) We started baking this last Friday, and we probably did not get enough done! The kid’s are in charge and watching them get busy in the Home Economics kitchen was quite a sight. Every weekend for the next month will be spent baking. It is a lot of work, but hopefully the reward will be in a job well done and funds duly earned.
Last year was not my best year for blogging. But every year is new. I will try and do better. It was so great to see so many of our friends while we were back in the USA during the month of December. We laughed and cried with friends. We shared stories, and most of all we got to be in the presence of many of you for whom we care much. But we did not see everyone. That makes us a bit sad, and it makes us feel irresponsible for not connecting with everyone. I promise we try and do the best we can! We are thankful for all of you.
This year we are going to try and experience more joy! Happiness is a gift (and dare I add a command) of God, and I am praying that he will bring more and more of it to our family. Life in a different culture can be hard, missing friends and family is definitely difficult, and watching the “American Dream” (and I mean that in all of its positive aspects, not in a cynical manner) pass you by is challenging. And yet we have so much in life that can and should give us joy. We have our local family, our local friends, a good work to do, and great weather and scenery in which to do it. Thank you God for all of that!
So I hope to share some of our joy in our work and life here in Kenya. Let us all be joyful in 2019! I am starting the joy with this picture I took on a walk today. The Great Rift Valley which extends from the region of the Dead Sea to our south passes right outside out door. We see it every day.
When something happens that we can’t explain, we say that’s a miracle. Under that set of definitions, most things that a magician does would be a miracle to me, and I know good and well they aren’t. Miracle, through the biblical tradition, is not what we don’t understand but what is done for us that we can’t do ourselves. Miracle is functional. It’s what God does for us or does for us through other people that we can’t do ourselves.It’s possible you could understand it, but even if you did, that wouldn’t make it stop being a miracle. The word does not mean that which is beyond our comprehension but rather that which is beyond our ability. So in that way I can, when I walk out in the morning and see the sun coming up over the horizon, say, “That’s a miracle.” And I would be biblically correct. Every morning is a miracle.So how do you focus your eyes to see the miracle of each day? – Eugene Peterson
Not many kids in the United States start school wearing sweaters and jackets. It is one of the weird parts of living in the southern hemisphere at 7000 feet elevation. All of the kids attend Rift Valley Academy, participating in different activities including rugby, band, art, and Model United Nations to name a few. RVA is a boarding school, but our kids live with us and walk up to the school every day. They are glad they get to go home and are not burdened by the “rules” of boarding school life. We are glad they are home, too, but can still enjoy the social life offered at school.
Will continues to be busy in the hospital. For the last 6 months he has been serving primarily on the obstetrics service with occasional shifts in the emergency department. Working in obstetrics means lots of nights on call with runs to the hospital for whatever emergency has recently arrived. It can be tiring, so pray that he will have the energy he needs for each day. A bigger part of Will’s job is Christian medical education. The hospital is full of young doctors, clinical officers, and nurses who come to Kijabe Mission Hospital for medical training. Each day Will is involved in teaching these young doctors through mentoring and training in the wards as well as in didactic medical lectures. The hope is that these doctors will go throughout Kenya and East Africa, practicing excellent medicine as well as sharing the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.