We have had plenty of COVID patients in the hospital. It is a weird disease. If you are low risk, you are definitely in good statistical shape in regards to your quite low probability of dying. If you are older, obese, or diabetic your risks are higher. And it is an infection that when it gets going, and if you are susceptible, there is no good way to stop it. Dealing with it in a resource poor hospital is even more challenging. And so we continue to do our best within the situation we find ourselves in. I am one of those who has respect for COVID, but not fear. And I strongly feel like the Christian response to a pandemic should never be fear. Caution is normal, but as followers of Jesus we should run toward the infected and not away from them. If someone needs a final hug before dying we should give it. We are the ones who lay down our lives for the sake of others. I know that vector transmission and societal good complicate how a person views Christian compassion, but I strongly believe that compassion to the person in front of you even when you are at risk is a character trait of highest value.
I hope that as a Christian brotherhood and sisterhood we spend some time thinking through the theology of Christian love in an era of pandemic. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, the one who came into our world of sin and died because of it for the sake of all of us? I want to be different than a normal person. I want to be a Christ-affected person who shows compassion even at risk of personal safety and security. It intimidates me to write it, because it is such a high standard, but the highest standards are worth striving toward.
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!
This is a long story, and so let me cut to the chase. We are trying to raise 6000 USD for our friend Isaac. He is a man who is trying to break a cycle of poverty and family abuse while providing for his wife and three children. If you can help us raise this support we will likely influence generations as he will be able to support himself well enough to send his kids to better schools and possibly even university education. This is straight charity with no tax breaks and no hope of payback, but he is our Christian brother in need. Maybe and hopefully this will have one of the greatest impacts of any of the work we have done in Africa and Peru. Or it could all fail, but not every Christian act of kindness produces fruit we can see. But it all is used by God for his purpose. Read Isaac’s story below.
To give, please contact me directly at email@example.com or WhatsApp me at +254 700 895 116. We are in great need help for Isaac by the middle of April. Support for this will not be going through our mission agency as it does not technically fit our mission’s goals.
This is a very brief summary. I am happy to give more details in private. Around 18 months ago Isaac’s house that he had built on his family’s property washed away in a flood. At that time a friend of mine who does community development came to Isaac to discuss a project for farming in the valley. It seemed a like a good new start for him, and Isaac was naturally excited. Unfortunately the COVID epidemic messed up those plans, and the man who was the driving force behind this community development has returned to the US. Meanwhile due to bad family dynamics including physical abuse of his wife by his family, Isaac had to leave his family and find a new place to live. He has moved from place to place over the past year trying to find a place his wife can be safe from his parents and sisters. Finally in his eagerness to try and provide for his family he has overextended himself financially, and he needs to be rescued from losing land that he has purchased to try and better his life, support his family, and provide education and way out of for his children. This is a rescue plan for Isaac, and I need your help. I have been employing Isaac since the day I arrived in Kenya. He was almost the first Kenyan I met, and he has worked for me 3 days a week since that time. He is industrious – in fact in the 6 weeks he has had his land he has planted crops, built a house, planted a hedgerow, dug a 35 foot pit latrine, and installed a water tank. I do not believe our generosity will be wasted. However he needs our help. 6000 USD is not much for a bunch of Americans working together. For Isaac that is 6 years salary. Please help me help him if you can. Please email me for more details of why he is in this situation and how to send money to help. Thank you.
Today I fly to Kenya! Getting back home did not go as smoothly as hoped, but at last it is happening. Wednesday I went for my COVID test to be cleared to fly, and it came back inconclusive. What!!! That same day I got my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. And so yesterday I was up early to try and get another COVID test, but was also noticing that I felt a bit feverish and chilled. I knew this could be a side affect of the vaccine . . . I have heard that even some people get chills to the point of shakes. However, since I had an inconclusive test the day before, I was imagining that at last I was possibly coming down with COVID the day before I was scheduled to fly to Kenya. I will add that despite the fact that I felt a bit funky, I could have pushed through it without concern if not for the inconclusive test and the possible delay of my flight making me imagine worse outcomes. So I went back to the lab to get my test, and they told me their internet was down. Uh oh! Time to scramble to find another testing sight. Luckily there is an ER that will do the test for $450!! dollars with results in a couple hours. I drove over there quickly, and got my test. Negative! So I went to bed early last night after taking some Nyquil, and I feel better this morning, if not perfect. However, no fever or chills. I am off to the airport in an hour or so for the long flight and travel to Kijabe! I am glad to be going home, and I am glad to see my family soon. It has been too long!
Today, after multiple attempts, Allison and the kids flew out to Dallas toward Nairobi. Allison received her tourist visa this morning, and so we got up early and had the tickets changed and put everyone but me on a plane today at 3PM. I am so glad for them. It allows them to avoid sitting in a 2 week quarantine in Kijabe before they could attend school in person. So tomorrow around noon our time in Dallas, Allison and the kids should be landing in Nairobi. Yeah!
We went to the airport today so Allison and the kids could fly to Kenya. When we arrived with our 17 bags to check, 5 backpacks and 5 carry ons (whew!) we were informed that London had new entry requirements (COVID safe traveler forms). OK. No big deal. We rapidly filled that out as we stood in line the second time (we were sent to the back of the line to fill those forms out). At the counter again we were asked if we had the Kenya safe traveler forms done. No we hadn’t because we did not have the seat numbers for our flights into London. We could not get them electronically, and had to get them at the airport. The forms required seat numbers. She told us you could put in any made up seat number. Uhhh. OK will do. We did that quickly, but the bar codes that were supposed to be generated were not coming onto the iPhone despite trying several different browsers. Shoot! That is going to be a problem. Or maybe not since there is possibly a bigger issue at play. According to the ticket agent something looks wrong with Allison’s work permit. They don’t like the look of it. (Keep in mind that this is the same document that we have been using to travel in and out of Kenya for the last 3 years without issue.) Now what . . . maybe if we could get an electronic tourist visa quickly, we can still make it? Oh wait those need a formal invitation to Kenya as well as other documents we don’t have.
Eventually time ran out. We called for our rides to come pick us back up and drove somberly and disappointedly home.
Time to try again in a couple days, but that means repeating all of our COVID tests! Darn! This will be number four for Annie in the last 2 weeks. Forgot to mention that her name was misspelled on one that was done earlier this week, so it had to be repeated.
All tests came back normal in regards to COVID. Everyone is negative. So Allison and the kids fly out tomorrow for Kenya. Everyone is looking forward to arriving in Kenya if not the trip. I am staying for a little longer. I will try and work some, spend some time with friends, and then will fly out at the end of the month after I get another dose of vaccine. So things are looking up again in the Caire household, and life in Kenya will soon be back to normal.
We leave on Monday for Kenya. Before then we have to move our household goods to storage, celebrate Christmas with two families, pack up around 18 checked bags plus a carry-on and a backpack for each of us. OUCH! Packing up to go home from our other home is very weird. Sarah, who has never really gone to school in the US is always eager to get back to Kenya or Peru. Peter who loves his garden and projects, is also glad to go home. Annie loves people and experiences, and so while glad to go home, her feelings are mixed as she leaves the people and experiences she is having here. David loves living in the US and he loves having the freedom of a car and a license. He is less glad to go to back to Kenya, but he is looking forward to seeing some of his friends again. Allison loves teaching in person. She will be glad to be back in the classroom at RVA with her students face to face. I am glad to be going back as well. I look forward to seeing our residents and medical officers that we teach in the hospital. I look forward to good weather with long hikes to unwind. I like the medical missionary life!
Please pray for us in these last three stressful days of packing and saying goodbye. Please pray that we will do good work in Kenya. Please pray that we will all adjust well to life again back at our other home. Please pray for our finances as well. Thank you for reading and being a part of it all! God bless you this Christmas and in the New Year!
The following video is full of happiness and “good times”. I think it best represents an effort to try and chase away feelings of sadness and guilt about not being in Kijabe. Coming to the USA is a mixed bag. It is home and I really love being here. Everything is known, comfortable and easy. It is the place where I feel normal. I will appear to be and truthfully will be happy when you see me. However, when I see pictures of friends working in Kijabe, when I get their messages through Whatsapp, when I hear the struggles and victories, I get sad and even jealous. There is great work going on there that is full of purpose! I have a sense of what it is like for many of our friends who have left Kijabe and Peru permanently although they did not wish to do so. I am sure every time they see pictures of friends back in Kenya, it is a mixed bag of emotions. The mission was where the work was, home is where the comfort lies.
We are home for a little while, and hopefully we will be back to Kijabe at the end of the year. Please pray that Rift Valley Academy will open as planned in January. Please pray that some needs for our kids will be met while we are here in Texas. Please pray for Allison as she continues to teach at RVA online. Our girls will continue to take classes from RVA. Our boys will enter the local public school. Please pray that I will get a some work locally that will both give me a sense of purpose and also supplement our salaries. The US dollar goes a lot farther in Kenya than in the US. Thank you for partnering with us, and as COVID allows, lets try and see one another.