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.
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.
I’m doing a lot of thinking about eyes lately. The most graphic reminder is our precious daughter, Sarah. Look at her poor eye!
This was after a week of healing. You should have seen it at its worst!
This pitiful looking burn is brought to you by a bug, ironically named “Nairobi Eye.” If you crush them or even, as Sarah did, flick them off you, they release an acid that burns the skin. We have had a major infestation on campus, as well as a few around our house. I washed one down the shower drain the other morning, as I did not want to bathe with it. Sarah was playing outside with her friends, climbing on playground equipment, and one of these beetles dropped on her face.
Although I feel a wave of sympathy every time I look at her, I keep reminding myself to be so thankful that she did not get the acid inside her eye.
I am leading the ninth grade through The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who have not read it (you should!), but in the first few chapters the narrator wonders if he might lose his eye. I was telling my classes that my mom lost her right eye and functioned very well for twenty years more! It is a brilliant metaphor in the book for the character’s awakening, for his experience of seeing things with new eyes, reconsidering all his assumptions. It makes me wonder what I need to re-see, what I assume is truth that needs to be upended. Living in another country will do that to you– challenge your assumptions, so that you can see better.