Sunday, December 2, 2018
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Friday, July 6, 2018
When we moved our family of almost 8 to Kenya, we left behind what we called home and everything that was familiar. Minnesota was home.
We arrived in East Africa and felt far from home. Separated not only by distance, but also by culture, by language, by complete change of routine, by physical challenges, by new ways of doing daily tasks and schooling.
And we talked about home. “I wish we could go to Costco and get all the samples.” Or “I miss my friend at church.” or “We need snow.” And the most repeated “I just want a Chick-fil-A sandwich.” These things were part of the home that we had left behind.
Nearly two years have passed now and Chick-fil-A and Costco are hardly mentioned. In May, Will flew back to the US for a short medical conference. Before flying back to Kenya, he went to Wal-Mart and called the kids and I to see what we might want him to bring back to us. Joyfully, I announced, “Y’all, Dad is at WAL-MART!!!”
Only 3 of the 6 kids knew what Wal-Mart was. Charley said, “Is that a red place?” Clearly, she’s having Costco flashbacks but just can’t put a name to it.
It’s time now to pack up and go back to the states. Our two-year term serving with Samaritan’s Purse is coming to a close. We board the plane in almost a week.
But are we going home or leaving home?
Pieces of our life here:
Pieces of our life here:
|The road behind our house|
(Emery, 1, Liam, 11)
|the ladies that help us in our home and my friends|
(Me, Joyce, Sheila)
|first broken bone|
(Will, Dr. Kiprono, Liam and Caleb)
|black eye and missing teeth|
|loved by Ms. Sheila|
|girls, girls, girls|
(Nora, Harper, Charley)
|co-workers and friends|
(Will, Nellie, Umi, and Weldon)
|Pizza night with friends|
(Caroline, Joy, me)
|east coast of Kenya|
|time with cousins|
(Copelands and Nicholsons)
|lunch at our gardener Felix's house|
|the beauty of this country|
(Janeth, Nora, Purity, Emery)
|Masai Mara retreat with co-workers|
(Will and Hayden)
(Nora, Emery, Harper)
|Saturday night with friends|
(Will, me, Lydiah and Kimutai)
Kenya has become home.
So when we are asked “Are you excited to go home to the United States? Won’t it be nice to be back home?”, it is not an easy answer.
I think we are forever split. Torn. It is hard to leave our home in Kenya. But we also look forward to going back to our home in the U.S.
We will be returning to Arkansas this month and staying in a rental house on the same street where Will grew up in Little Rock! He may revert back to his childhood – sleeping in late, playing X-box, egging cars, and of course pining after his high school girlfriend (me). Probably not...
Will will be working, doing neurosurgery at the Arkansas Neuroscience Institute. No time for egging cars.
Our hope is to be in Little Rock for about a year as we prepare to return long-term to Kenya. We are in the beginning stages of applying to get back to Tenwek Hospital in the summer of 2019 with an organization called World Gospel Mission.
We will no longer have financial support from Samaritan’s Purse so we are actively looking to grow our monthly support team. If you or your church would be interested in being a part of the work at Tenwek, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, if you are already part of our financial support team, please continue to give as you have been giving with Samaritan’s Purse. We will continue to have ministry-related expenses while in the U.S. and we are required to be fully–funded before returning to Tenwek. We will notify you when things change.
Thank you to our supporters for sticking with us and being a part of this work here over the past two years. We remain grateful and happy that this is just the beginning!
For all of this, to God be the glory!
“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.”
Friday, February 16, 2018
I know many of you have seen the news of the terrible fire here at Tenwek hospital last Friday night. Thankfully, not one patient or staff member was injured! The hospital staff worked bravely to evacuate the patients and to contain the fire. However, the hospital suffered extensive damages. The building housing the kitchen, restaurant, laundry, sterilization, statistics, offices and wound ward was largely destroyed. Rebuilding efforts are just beginning. If you want to help with the hospital recovery please go here.
To all of our support team, we deeply appreciate the important role you play in keeping us in Kenya so that we can be present for these moments of crisis and need. We know you are lifting up Tenwek in your hearts and prayers and we are grateful. God is with us even in the fire.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
|Nora and Charley in the garden|
This week in church we sang the song Great is Thy Faithfulness. The second verse talks about God's faithfulness through "summer and winter and springtime and harvest." I smiled to myself as I sang about seasons in an almost seasonless place.
We have certainly gone through seasons here though:
The homeschooling season.
It is comparable to a severe Minnesota winter. You are trapped inside day after day with all of your children and digging deep for creativity and a positive attitude.
|Harper and Charley in history class|
This season involved vivid dreams of Chick-fil-a chicken biscuits and cheeseburgers. It began to resolve when Will said to me in a stern voice, "You have got to stop talking about chicken biscuits."
|Hayden and her homemade pop tarts this Christmas. Now I need to get her to make me a chicken biscuit.|
This one keeps coming back around. If you know a urologist that is interested in volunteering at a mission hospital in Kenya please give him our contact information. This is not a joke.
|This baby is cute though...|
Emery Laura, 7 months old
We have had blurbs of time when we think we are adjusted. But right before we get too big for our britches this season comes to an end... usually taken over by the homeschooling season, or the pregnancy season, or the culture shock season.
|We all went to the wedding of Felix our gardener. One of my best memories... particularly Will in his gourd shirt.|
|Felix is the man in the middle|
|Joyce and Harper|
New mercies I see... I want to say that each day I wake up with this perspective. But some days I am bogged down in day-to-day challenges... survival of potty-training, slow internet, disobedient children, unfamiliar cultural situations, loneliness, broken appliances, and water-stained clothes. And on those days I long for relief, for a get-away, for an easy button, for mercy!
But there are also many days when my eyes are open to the mercies around me. One afternoon the week before Christmas, Will took me up to the hospital to sit with him in his clinic. Patient after patient came in looking for good news from their neurosurgeon, looking for mercy.
There was a young girl that came in with her 2 year old daughter, Joy. One side of little Joy's face had paralysis. Will looked at her scans and it was not good. She had a tumor deep in her brain that was too difficult to remove. Even if surgery was favorable, her momma did not have healthcare coverage or the money to pay for her baby's care. I sat and watched Will explain in Kiswahili to this young momma her baby's medical situation. He then called in his Kenyan colleague to re-explain to make sure that she was understanding. I was in tears as this mother, who had a little girl the same age as Nora, listened to the very news that I'm sure she had feared she would receive that day.
Waking up each day to healthy, living children is mercy.
The hope of heaven for baby Joy is mercy.
The opportunity for Joy's momma to see a neurosurgeon in rural Kenya and hear about the hope of Jesus, even in what may seem like a hopeless situation, is mercy.
I went home and hugged my messy two-year old a bit tighter.
|Nora Ellis, 2 years old|
The truth... I fear failure. What if I am never able to speak the language here? I am motivated however, because I'm ready to speak with and understand the old woman that comes to my door every week. I'm ready to speak with the workers in our home using their own language. I'm ready for deeper relationships with my Kenyan neighbors.
But what if I can't clear enough space in my brain? I've barely cleared enough space to fit 5th grade math back in.
|On vacation near Lake Naivasha on New Years Eve. A welcome break from 5th grade math.|