It can hit you hard sometimes, especially on a bike. I have only been on my bike a few times since I returned to Kenya from our Christmas in the US. Each time I go home I gain a few pounds (maybe a lot of pounds). I cannot resist Mexican food and hamburgers. But usually when I get back I drop 10 pounds just because of the setting. I had accomplished the weight gain in the last trip, but for some reason the weight loss was not following our arrival to Kijabe. I did not want to ride my bike because it is so much harder to pull this weight up the long hills. If I could just lose a few, then the bike ride would be more fun. And so I kept delaying. But last weekend a friend sent out a text saying they were going to ride Awesome Sauce, probably my favorite ride in Kijabe. I could not resist the invitation. I joined them at the local dukas, and we headed up the first steep hill by the waterfall. I began in the front, but ended the climb at the rear. I quickly came to the front in the next two downhills, but then came the next very steep climb. My heart began to beat out of my chest, the sweat of my head turned icy, and the world became smaller and less stable. I couldn’t do it. I hopped off my bike to push up the hill as I soberly realized I was not going to be able to make the ride. I called ahead to my friend who was already out of sight and said I was turning back. David graciously accompanied me on a return trip with some great downhills, but with none of the excitement of Awesome Sauce. Getting older can be great in some ways, but physically it can hit hard. There is a lesson in here somewhere. It probably is that you should exercise regularly and watch your weight.
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.
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.
I am still working in obstetrics. I did not expect it to be such a big part of my job when I moved to Kijabe. I have a love-hate relationship with delivering babies. When it is going well, it is fun and joyful. When it goes bad, it is probably the worst thing in medicine. And then there are times when things threaten to go bad, but because we are there as physicians and healthcare workers things go well. Of course, that is very satisfying. Probably the best part is holding babies after they are delivered. I should take advantage of the opportunity more often. I pray all the time when things get a little scary in the hospital. I trust God to help me make timely and wise decisions. And then I use the knowledge and experience that he has given me to do the very best I can. God is good, and I have learned a lot.
The best recreational activities in Kijabe, just as they were in Peru, are biking and hiking. Peter came on the 4×4 with a bike wrench so that I could put the screw back in and ride home. If it had not been for some school kids walking home from school along the road who found my screw and delivered it to me I would have been without a working bike until I could find a replacement part. I am thankful for honest Kenyan children. As I called home to get help, I felt them sneaking up behind me and touching my white skin. I hope they liked the way my sweaty white skin felt.