Thursday, August 5, 2010

A True Blessing

The third week of July, I was extremely blessed to be able to head to a much needed retreat at Brackenhurst Retreat Center, just outside of Nairobi. This 4 days of rest, relaxation, pampering, and spiritual encouragement was provided by a wonderful organization called Christian Hospitality Network and CFC church in TN. CHN was started to provide R&R for missionaries around the world. They have it down to an art! When we arrived, we were greeted with true southern hospitality and given goody bags prepared especially for each one of us by the person who had paid for us to be there. Then we were told about all the free things we could take advantage of - medical care, a chiropracter, massages, haircuts and various excursions we could choose from. My favorite part of the week was when I returned to my room one night to find an envelope full of cards and letters from friends and family back home. I'm still not exactly sure how they arranged that, but it was the sweetest surprise and such an encouragement. Thank you to all of you who sent them!

One of my fellow post-residents, John Cropsey, enjoying a free hand massage

The excursion I chose was a visit to a tea plantation. This was the main house - very British colonial

The beautiful lawn where we had a wonderful 4-course lunch

The tea fields were so pretty. Each worker gets 6 shillings (less than 10 cents) for each kilo of leaves they pick. Their daily goal is 100 kilos!

Amelia and Meredith Friess, daughters of another fellow post-resident, playing hide and seek in the tea fields

Me, Vanessa and one of the wonderful hair stylists

Me, Megan Shirley, and Vanessa enjoying gelato during our girls' day in Nairobi

Thank you CHN and CFC church!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My First Pokot Trip

The second weekend in July, we loaded 17 people into 2 (yes 2) vehicles and headed to our neighboring district - Pokot. The Pokot people are nomadic herders. They tend to be fairly uneducated. The girls are usually married by age 12 and start having babies about age 14-15. We are their closest hospital, and my experience with them has been that by the time they get to me, their babies are dead and they are near death. So, I was looking forward to going to Pokot and seeing just why they are all in such bad shape when I see them.
We left early in the morning and I was definitely not prepared for the "road" there, although I had been warned. Had I not been gripping the handle inside the car with a death grip, I would have taken some pictures. Let's just say it's about 1 1/2 hours of driving on the side of a mountain over boulders with a huge drop-off on the side and no guardrails! After that, there still is no real road - just paths. Overall, it took us about 3 hours to get there.
Once we got there, I met Pastor Stephen, a Kenyan missionary to the Pokot people. He and his family have lived there for 4 years, in some very tough conditions. It is dry, hot, dusty, thorny and a stretch even for them. He has started a church that is growing and hungry for teaching. He and his family were such an inspiration to me.
We then set up our clinic and got started. The people were very excited to have us there!

Pastor Charles, one of our hospital chaplains, giving a small talk before the clinic started

We set up a tent so that the Jones' kids would have a place to get out of the heat during the day. They later slept in this same tent!

Our clinic - no worries, the dogs were cleared out before we started seeing patients :)

Our clinic full of patients. We saw over 100 patients in a few hours. Ann (in the red on the left) is giving immunizations - the biggest hit of the clinic. Some children were 2 years old and had never had any.

The very busy pharmacy/cashier table. It kept Mark and Manakhe (visiting medical students) and even Vanessa and Hudson Jones busy all day.

Mikal (left), one of our patient attendants at the hospital and also a dear friend, served as my translator. This is her with one of the patients we saw. The beaded necklaces are traditional wear for the Pokot.

This was one of the best parts of the day. This old Pokot man, who had probably never even used any kind of technology, was fascinated by Mark's phone and loved playing games on it. Such a juxtaposition of cultures!

We spent the night at the pastor's house - some of us inside and some outside in tents. Before going to bed, we had a blessed time outside where many from the church gathered and we sang songs and Kyle preached a small sermon. The next day, we went to Sunday school first. It was great to see so many kids there. Afterwards, we got out a parachute and let them have some fun with it (see below). It was so great to see these children, who live such hard lives, just let loose and have some fun.
We then attended the church service and helped lead it, including singing and sharing testimonies. It was wonderful to worship with them and see their thirst for hearing the Word. This is a very unreached people group in Kenya. Below is the church choir sharing a song - included jumping and an animal skin drum!

They were followed by the children's choir, which was just precious!

It was such a blessed weekend and I'm so thankful that this ministry has been started. We hope to go back every 6-8 weeks as the need is just so great. Over and over they told us of their need for a dispensary (small health center) and a school. Their closest health care is about 40km away and there are no vehicles there. So, they must walk that distance for any kind of health care. Nearly all women deliver at home without even a trained birth attendant. I had the opportunity to sit all of the pregnant women I saw down and talk with them about warning signs during pregnancy and labor that would indicate a need to come to the hospital. They desperately need trained nurses there, as hospital deliveries are just not feasible due to lack of transportation.
So, please join me in praying for the Pokot people and that the Lord would give us wisdom on how best to reach and help them. I look forward to sharing with you about many more trips!