Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Summer and winter, springtime and harvest

There are two seasons here in Kenya.  Rainy and not rainy.  Most days it feels like it's just about to be summer.  Today it is dry and 78 degrees outside.  My garden is overflowing with lettuce, spinach, rhubarb, carrots and sukuma wiki (similar to kale).
Nora and Charley in the garden
Before my friends think that they don't know me anymore... I did not plant this garden, nor do I tend this garden.  The only thing I've ever personally planted and successfully grown was sugar snap peas the first year we lived in Minnesota.  I only did that so I could talk garden talk with my new crunchy midwestern friends.  My Kenyan garden however, was here by my house when we moved in and it is tended by a gardener that works here three days a week.  Points for life in Kenya.

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
The culture shock season.
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.
The pregnancy season.
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
The "we've got this" season.
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
These words of the song in church sunk in though. "Morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed Thy hand has provided."

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
I begin language school this week.  Will, the achiever that he is, completed 3 months of language school shortly after we arrived in Kenya.  I began with him and promptly dropped out.  It was too much for me at the time.  But I've carried this label of language school drop-out long enough.

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. 
Thank you to all of you that pray for Kenya, for Tenwek Mission Hospital, and for our family.  We cherish your support and encouragement!  Please continue to pray, specifically that we will have stamina and that we will trust in God's provision.  We will pray the same for you.


  1. Alisa - Prayers for you and your family! Love hearing the updates. Hang in there!!! I started a new Bible study this month called "Your Powerful Prayers" by Susie Larson. (I think she's a MN girl!) I'm only two chapters in but love it so far. The section of the book is praying through disappointment. She has lots of wisdom but read this yesterday: " God and remember that he is good even when life is hard." It was an encouragement to me.

    I showed your Christmas card to Carter and pointed out that Liam has 5 sisters to put up with instead of just three. ;) I got a smile! He started high school this year. Yikes! I always thought the kids were so close together when they were little but we're spanning 2nd-9th grades. Lots of schedules to keep with on daily basis.

    Hope its a good day today. Will keep everyone in my prayers. Good luck with the new language - you can do it!!


    1. Thanks so much Lori. I want to look that study up! Maybe someday Carter and Liam can commiserate with one another over their difficult lot in life as brothers to many sisters. :)

  2. Alisa, I am crying as I read this... And laughing a little too... Because I am so proud of you!!! I love you, dear niece, because you are willing!!! Thank you. You are brave. Aunt Maurine

    1. I think of you so often and what your years in france were like for you. You have set the example of willingness. Thank you for your encouragement! Love you so much!!

  3. I love you and your family. Thanks for the update. There is beauty in appreciating the struggle along with the blessings.

    1. I agree, thank you Amanda. You have been a cheerleader for us all along the way and I so appreciate you. We look forward to visiting the states in the summer and hope we can visit you and your fam!!