We are glad to be home! I am working again in the hospital. In fact this weekend I have been busy covering the ICU. I am glad for the meaningful work, and again I am impressed with the challenges of doing good care in complex situations. Allison is teaching at RVA, and the kids are in school. We all feel a hole in our lives where David was, however it is not a painful hole, but a sudden missing of having him around. We are happy for him at ACU! He seems to be having a good time. The weather has been beautiful overall, and that has allowed us to get out and do some walks on the weekend. All these pictures are taken within an easy walk of our house. We live in a beautiful part of the world. We are thankful!
It has been a weird four years. Moving to Kenya as a freshman and then all the losses COVID caused. David heads out on his Senior trip tomorrow. We are super happy for him! He graduates next Saturday. Hopefully we will have a trip to the our favorite restaurant in Nairobi to celebrate the following day, and then back to Dallas. The group in the picture above were the core of his friends. Not all of them made it through all four years as their families moved home or away, but they flew back this summer after they finished school in the US to have one last hurrah in Kijabe! I am thankful for each of them. We had barely arrived in Kenya in 2017, and on our first full day in town this group walked by the house and invited David to go up the hill with them for a bonfire. That was the beginning and they have been good friends since. God has been good to David with these loyal friends. Now we look forward to how God gives him friends at ACU!
A visitor to Kijabe was coming up the local road when a leopard jumped on the road in front of their car. They slowed down and despite the its camouflage were able to get it on video. As I walked by this spot yesterday with my dogs, I took my headphones out of my ears and kept a better lookout than usual. Today riding bikes with David, we blew by it quickly. It is very cool to have a leopard nearby. We have baboons, hyenas, and now leopards right around Kijabe. A bike ride away I have seen elephant droppings in the forest. If you go down to the valley there are all sorts of grazing animals like giraffe, buffalos, and zebras. When we camp by the lake, sometimes the hippos come It does not feel wild around here, but we certainly have a lot of wild animals.
. . . you might be surprised when rounding a corner, come to a complete stop, and then grab your camera! I know this is just a normal thing for people who have grown up here, although even Kenyans generally get excited when they see the big animals up close. However for a kid from Oklahoma, these sightings are always exceptional.
Today is Madaraka Day in Kenya. It is a national holiday celebrated every first of June. It commemorates the day in 1963 that Kenya attained internal self rule after being a British colony since 1920. Madaraka is a Swahili word for authority/power. For the hospital it is a day off from routine activities. So emergency care and surgeries continue, but clinics are closed. I am on call for the ICU today. Rift Valley Academy does not celebrate any national holidays from any country and so for them it is school as normal
Possibly some people wonder what a weekend in Kijabe is like. It is similar in to a weekend in the US, except that it is more relaxed. There are no organized sports or activities, no restaurants to eat at, and everyone we would want to see is within walking distance. If I am not on call, I will go in on Saturday morning and round on the week’s patients. Afterward, I turn my patients over to the on call physician for the weekend and I am free (sort of – it is hard to completely disengage from the hospital). The kids usually have school activities, but those have decreased significantly because of COVID precautions . . . which is a real bummer as we all agree. However most Friday and Saturday nights they have class activities up at school. If we have an occasion to go to Nairobi, we will make the hour drive to do grocery shopping or eat a nice meal. Pre-covid, we might go into the city to see a movie or go bowling. Sometimes we can go camping in one of the nearby national parks or we go to the lake that is an hour away to go sailing. If we stay in Kijabe (usually) we may build a fire in the pizza oven and have friends over for pizza as the sun sets. I go on long hikes in the forest and give the dogs a chance to run and chase monkeys. I work in the yard, Allison cooks something fun in the kitchen, I clean the storage container (a never ending process), and other odd jobs around the house are completed. Often we have friends over for coffee on the porch or we go to their place for the same. It really is a good life. So what should we do this weekend? We’ll figure out something.
I have wondered what it might take for more people to come to visit Kenya and Kijabe. Maybe when the pandemic is over you will get a call from me inviting you personally to see what is going on. I recognized that personal invitations instead of generalized invites apply more pressure, and I have been hesitant in the past to do so. But I feel like there are things to see and understand that cannot be known via blog or stories. So this is one last general invitation (ok, probably not the last), and then you can wonder if I will send a personal invite. Or maybe I will decide that I do not want to pressure anyone. It may depend on the mood. However, if you do come, besides seeing the good work of Kijabe Mission Hospital and Rift Valley Academy, we might be able to hook you up with other good projects going on near us. And even more, you can go on safari. We have been on three safaris since moving to Kenya. They are quite the experience. Here are some highlights.
Some random thoughts this morning. Most often we attend a small group Bible study on Sunday nights. This week we hosted at our place. It is a nice time to relax and enjoy other’s company. It is a good time to pray corporately. Almost always it is part of making new friendships in the transient world of a missionary community. We miss friends back home . . . did you know we have been living outside the US for almost 9 years! It has felt short and long. Our kids were small when we left, and now we send our oldest off to college next year at Abilene Christian University. Time really does fly as they say. It is sad to see him go, especially after such a bummer year with the COVID restrictions. On the other hand I am really happy for him. ACU is a blast, or at least it was. I hope it continues to be so. In the picture below are several of our Kijabe friends. One couple runs an organization committed to environmental protection while encouraging productive farming. Another teaches at the local seminary. Another is helping to establish small clinics in the poorest communities of Kenya. Another is an anesthesiologist at the hospital. There is a lot of good work being done!
Many of you know we have been in a governmental lockdown for the last month. We are over one year into a curfew. Schools have been closed for the past month, and mostly closed for the past year. We did not know if our kids were going to finish school online or in person. We were praying for in person. Today we got notification that everything is open again!. For us this means freedom of movement through all of Kenya. The lockdown spoilt a vacation we had planned for early April, but at least we now have flight vouchers for an obscure regional Kenyan airline. Maybe we can use those next Christmas to go to the coast? Instead we did a trip I have been wanting to do for four years to Amboseli National Park which happened to be within the region we were allowed to travel. Amboseli is a beauty. There were not so many animals as hoped, but the setting made up for it. So although it was no the trip to the beach we had hoped for, it was a nice respite nonetheless.