Sunday, July 1, 2012

Two Months Disappear

My time in Kenya is swiftly coming to an end and my heart breaks as I think about leaving Kijabe. There are so many mixed emotions that I have about leaving this place. It has been an amazing two months. I am very excited to get home and see friends and family, but I also hate the idea of spending the rest of my summer with a cell phone, a car and beside a pool. My heart desperately wants to continue serving.

What a better way to spend the last weekend in Kijabe than hiking the local volcano, Mount Longonot. This hike was not nearly as bad as our previous hike through the middle of a forest, but it was pretty intense. We hiked to the top of the volcano, took a lunch break and then hiked the circumference of the volcano.

Matatu Ride!

Mt. Longonot 
The second highest peak had two routes, one was more of a trail and the other was basically rock climbing to the top. The boys picked the rock climbing option and of course the competitiveness in me wouldn't let me take the trail. We hit the rocks. I tried to play it off and act cool, but I was honestly pretty scared. There was one point where you had to strain yourself to get the step up and absolutely nothing to catch you from behind. We surfed the rocks all the way down from the peak and then hiked our way to the highest peak of the day. Not thinking, none of us wore sunscreen and I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from 3rd degree burns.

Highest peak!

After hiking the outer rim!

Warning: wear sunscreen. 
I would really appreciate prayers as I make my way back to the States. I'm really worried about the transition back, but I'm also going to need a lot of prayer as I process these past 2 months. So much has taken place that I don't even know what to think when I look back on this experience. There are so many times that I have experienced the Lord speaking to me in the past 2 months, but I really need to sit and really digest all that He has taught me and wanted to show me. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped me get here. Thank you for believing in the work that the Lord has set out for me.

I'll be observing a few cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries and then it's off to the airport. I'm really going to miss this place. Kwaheri (goodbye) for now.

Our Cat had Kittens!!! 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

T-minus 5 Days

How can it be that this is my last week at the hospital?? Time has literally flown by and it breaks my heart that my time is so close to being up.

This past weekend was spent laughing hysterically and in fellowship with friends. Friday we had our guy friends over to play cards and eat dinner. Saturday we ventured to Nakuru where we spent the day playing with baboons right outside of the National Park. We spent a little time shopping in the market and bought some chips (fries) at a local restaurant before heading back to Kijabe. Sunday we went to a Swahili church service and later said goodbye to our friends as they journeyed back to America.

Our new friend 
That baboon was in the drivers seat
not long after this was taken. 
the crew 
Sunday Afternoon with new friends
The hospital has been at a slow pace this week. They are preparing for a cleft lip and cleft palate clinic that will be taking place for the next two weeks. A team of 16 Americans will be arriving this weekend and will be working nonstop for the next two weeks as they provide surgeries for 60-80 children. Monday I had the chance to assist in a multiple toe excision and that has been the excitement of my week. It is a continued frustration to see a lack of health knowledge here amongst the patients. I have seen quite a few patients who come back for their follow up visits and have not taken proper care of their wounds or haven't done any of the physical therapy that they have been instructed. After care is one of the most important steps in healing properly and to see the neglect is so aggravating.

This weekend we will be hiking Mt. Longonot and preparing our things for our departure on Monday. Coming back to America is going to be difficult. I know the Lord has me in school and living life in America for a reason, but I hate leaving this amazing place and going back to sitting in a classroom. One thing I am really having to learn right now is to find joy in all seasons of life. Isaiah 40:31 says "but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles..." In this time of waiting, I am trusting in the Lord for His strength and trusting that it will only better my future whether that be on or off the mission field. I will be joyful as I make my way back to a time of transitions back in South Carolina. I am learning more and more about the importance of love while I am here and realizing the terrible job I have done of loving my mother in times of trial. I'm sure that there are even more frustrations waiting for me at home with her and Mark, but I hope and pray that I can be more loving and compassionate to them.

Prayer request:
1. Transitioning back into the American culture well.
2. Continued growth in my faith.
3. A life change for my mom and a strength for turning away from addiction.

Thanks to everyone for all of the prayers and the support that I have had while in Kenya!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

1.C.C

What is the 1 Child Challenge?
The 1 Child Challenge is campaign from Cure International to help raise support for children and their surgeries. Whenever you follow ONE child's story, a donor will give $1 for his/her surgery. All you do is press FOLLOW and someone else pays the money, it's FREE for you! You can follow the story either on Facebook or by your email. You will receive updates on the child's status, their procedure, recovery, etc.

How can YOU help?
1. Go to http://cure.org/challenge/
2. Choose a Child's Story
3. Click Follow (either by Facebook or Email)
4. Share the child's story
5. Tell all your friends and family about the challenge

Cassie and I both follow Daisy's story. Daisy is the little girl that I had the opportunity to suture.
Here are some other kids from Cure Kenya (click on their names if you're interested in their stories):
                                              
Paul 
Brian 
Job 
If you have time, please check out one of Cassie's latest blogpost (WARNING: The pictures are very graphic, if you do not think you can handle it -- SCROLL FAST). The Cure Hospital here in Kenya literally bends over backwards to make sure that children from all around Kenya are provided for, however since the hospital only specializes in orthopedics, some cases have to be turned away. That's what happened with James. I won't tell the whole story because Cassie does a great job of that, but his condition was so bad that he needed a plastic surgeon. Cure does not offer these services so James was referred to the Kijabe hospital, but due to a lack of money they decided to go home. James is at a very high risk of infection, such a high risk that death is highly likely. 

We ask that you be praying for this children and for the Kenyan Health Care Systems. There is such a lack of money in this country and health care is desperately needed. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Conquering the Nile


What an insane weekend. We went from Kenya to Uganda to rafting the Nile and then back to Kenya all within 3 days. Thursday afternoon we left for Jinja. We took an overnight bus which was absolutely miserable. I have a hard time sleeping on buses and at 4 am it was time to cross the border. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night and going to the DMV, that's what it felt like as we all marched through the Ugandan and Kenyan border patrol at 4 o'clock in the morning. At 6:30 a.m. we arrived in Jinja and were greeted by a pack of "boda boda" (motorcycle) drivers who were determined to drive us to our destination. Lauren made it very clear that we were not willing to be driven on a motorcycle at that early in the morning and that's when Simon appeared out of the group and offered to find us a driver. The Lord had so much favor over us in our trip. Every situation that could have gone terribly wrong, went perfectly fine. Our resort was more like a hostel for backpackers, but it was awesome. We spent Thursday touring the city of Jinja. We also had the privilege of meeting a guy named Jake at the cafe we went to. Jake had been in Jinja for a while and made friends with a few street boys. These boys (Omar, Derek and Ashvan) all ran away from home and are now living on the streets of Jinja. They have a loss of hope and feel that God has forgotten them. Jake challenged them with the Gospel and then prayed over them. I have never been apart of something so powerful. Jake took the boys to the supermarket and we headed to lunch. We were able to tour Uganda on the back of a motorcycle. Uganda is beautiful and the people are SO nice.

BODA BODA RIDES
Praying for the boys
That night, we had a sunset cruise across the Nile. We met some really awesome people from all over the world and all with such different stories. It's crazy to hear about the way people have been raised. One thing that I keep hearing over and over again is how these people do not believe in Christianity, but they feel like they lack something in their lives. We had some really cool conversations on the cruise and then arrived back at the hostel. After an exhausting day, we hit the bed by 8 that night.

Before the Cruise
(this is the first time we've dressed up in a WHILE)
Sunset on the Nile
Saturday, we were up bright and early for a day spent rafting the Nile. We were the cowards who wanted a calm boat, but we couldn't find any other people to raft with us that did not want to flip. After searching through people for a while, we found a group of 3 (Kevin from South Africa, Gi from Ireland and Antonio from Venezuela). They made the trip so much fun. We started off not wanting to flip, but by the end of the day we were ready to take on the rapids. Surprisingly, we never flipped, but what an experience it was. We were served lunch on the Nile and I also had the chance to swim across the Nile. You can just call me Moses.
Our AWESOME group!

Saturday night, we piled back on a bus, crossed the border and headed home. It was such a short trip, but filled with so many experiences.


Today, was awesome. I had the chance to scrub into a ganglion (cyst) removal and I assisted in my first Spine Fusion today!!!! I have been so blessed by the opportunity to be working in this hospital.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stitch 1, Stitch 2, Stitch 3..

Such an exciting week here in Kijabe. Last Thursday, Cassie and I went on the mobil clinic to an area called Thika. We were working in a school for the disabled. There were so many disabilities to see, but it's amazing the efficiency and speed of the doctors working. People come from the community and the school to have follow-up visits. They also come to be evaluated for surgery or just inspection to see if surgery is needed. We made so many friends in Thika and we later found out that 3 people came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior at the mobil clinic. 
Some of the kids!
My awesome new friend Bilha!
 We had a very chill weekend of watching movies. I managed to go on a nice, long run and Cassie and I met with some senior girls from RVA to talk about college and their new exciting journeys to the United States! The O.R. has been pretty slow this week.


Monday, I scrubbed into Daisy's surgery to help correct her club foot. When it came time to stitch up her incision, Dr. Mbuguae handed me the stitches and said it was my turn to learn! I have never been so nervous in a surgery in my life. Stitching up is definitely more stressful than making the incision. Slowly and nervously I learned how to stitch!  



Tomorrow, all the girls, Cassie, Lauren and our new friend Charmi (she's from the U.K. and has an awesome English accent) will be heading to Uganda to raft the Nile River!! We are stoked and would love for you to be praying for safe travel! 


I have been recently studying the book of Isaiah and the Lord has been teaching me so much through it. A lot of things that I have already learned, but opening my eyes to new things and reminding me of how great His love is for me. Isaiah 30:1-5 warns us of how if we are a people who pursue a plan, not of the Lord, we will only find shame and disgrace. We later see in Isaiah 30:8-17 that people will rebel. People will lie and many people will refuse to hear anything of Jesus, but because they choose this life they will bear iniquity and like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse they will break suddenly. Isn't that true of so many of us? When we run from Christ, when we rebel and want nothing to do with Him, we reach a point where we can't take the weight bearing on us anymore. We can no longer support ourselves and we break suddenly. Thankfully, it is in the rest and in this quietness after breaking that we are saved and find our strength. The beauty of Grace is that if we are willing, if we want help, if we surrender and accept the fact that we cannot stand on our own, the Lord waits to show us grace...

"Therefore the Lord WAITS to be gracious to you, therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who WAIT for him." 
Isaiah 30:18 

Just in case you didn't catch that, the Lord himself, like the guy who created the Heavens and the Earth, the one who suffered death on a cross WAITS for us. For more clarification, I did a little research. 

Wait

  • Stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens
  • Remain in readiness for some purpose


  • Synonyms: 
    verb: await, expect, abide

    noun: waiting, expectation, expectancy, expectance, anticipation

    The God of the universe ANTICIPATES for you to come to Him. He desires for you to turn to Him and BLESSED are those who do. The Lord has been rocking my world with the Scripture, over and over again. How can you not feel love through that? It is my prayer that if you are at that breaking point, if you are in the rest and in the quietness, turn to Him. His blessings are so much more promising and in Him there is so much more joy to be found. 

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Making The Cut

    Tuesday, started off being a hard day. Being overseas is absolutely amazing, but it does have it's downs. Yesterday, I found myself missing home a lot. Not only was I missing home, but my anxieties of all the things I have to get done when I return home got to me. I have a TON to do before I start school at South Carolina in the fall. To go along with all of those things in my head, I haven't talked to my mom since I left. I have no idea how she's doing because she doesn't have internet to contact me. I can honestly only suspect the worst, but I really have no clue. She is on my heart everyday and I pray constantly that her desire to beat addiction is as great as my desire for her to be free of it. With all of that attacking me yesterday morning, the first 3 surgeries I sat through were not the best and I didn't want to go play with any of the children in the ward because I just wasn't in the mood. But thankfully, God has a way of working through others to comfort us and love us. One of the nurses could tell I wasn't in the most chipper of moods, she told me to go scrub in to the surgery in the other room. That automatically put me in a better mood than I was in. So, I did as I was told, scrubbed in and was helping prep the patient when Dr. Mbuguae handed me the scalpel and asked if I wanted to make the cut!!! Not only did I make my first incision yesterday, I made my first 3!!

    The Second Cut 
    Holding the Tendon

    Life Changed. 
    Scrubbing into surgery yesterday was a major day changer. We also had the opportunity to meet a group of guys passing through Kijabe on a mission trip. I always love hearing the stories of other people's passions and knowing that it all comes down to one thing, spreading the love of Christ.

    Wednesday, today I spent the majority of my day watching a spine fusion. The time that I wasn't in the O.R, Cassie and I tracked down the Spiritual Director here at Cure to let her know that we are really interested in seeing more of the spiritual ministry being done. She was so excited to hear that we want to be more involved and even offered for us to go on the spiritual retreat next week. Unfortunately we can't make that trip, but we are so excited to get more involved in ministry. Before we left the hospital today, Pastor Philip invited Cassie and I to join chapel that is held in the ward. Granted the entire service was in Swahili, the Spirit of the Lord was present. The smiles on the faces, the tears that the mothers shed, they were all real. I was able to understand part of one of the mother's testimony, "...now I have Jesus.." that was all I needed to hear. The Lord's work is being done in this hospital. He is using the Cure staff as His hands and feet and most importantly His Kingdom is growing.

    Please continue to be in prayer for this hospital, these patients and their families. One life being changed in the hospital could lead to an entire community of change. I ask you to pray big.

    In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
    Isaiah 29:18-19   

    Monday, June 4, 2012

    The Girls Get Adventurous

    I haven't posted in a while, but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing anything!! The excitement and newness of everything is beginning to wear off and I'm getting in the swing of things here in Kijabe. The hospital has continued to stay steady and we see different patients each week. This week I got to follow around Dr. Theuri at the clinic and help him do rounds. The cases that we saw ranged from follow up visits to constricted neck muscles to a man wanting to get cleared 15 years after his surgery to drive. One of the follow up cases that I had the priveledge to sit in on was Alpha. Alpha had his surgery on both of his deformed legs in February and now he smiles from ear to ear because he has crutches and gets to start walking. You can check out his story here. His story is a perfect example of why Cure does what they do. Rejected from school, healed from surgery and now the joy that this kid illuminates is remarkable. I decided this week that I was going to make get well cards for all of the kids in the ward. I've really been wanting to dive more into the ministry here, but when I'm in surgery's all day it makes it a little more difficult. I figured the get well cards would be an awesome way to love on kids and share scripture with them. I love getting more into a routine at the hospital. Cassie and I are more known around the hospital than when we first arrived, we know faces and are building really great friendships with a lot of the staff.



    Friday, was a national Kenyan holiday, very similar to our Independence Day, so none of us had to work. Instead, the O.R. staff decided to go on a 6 hour hike. When they first told us that we were going on a hike, I expected trails and hills. Something similar to what we would hike in America....but oh how I was SO wrong. Our hike began when we were dropped off on the side of the highway to meet our guide. We walked a good 30 minutes around a mountain, down and up a 90 degree hill. We finally made it to where our hike was to begin. There we met up with 2 rangers, dressed out in full camo, boots and both equipped with fully loaded rifles. Walking towards the forest, Cassie slipped on mud and twisted her ankle. When you're in the middle of no where, having a sprained ankle isn't the best. The boys carried her back up to the road (30 minutes back) and she was picked up by a man on a piki piki (motorcycle) and he drove her back home. In the meantime while waiting for the boys to come back, I met some kids collecting firewood for their homes, learned how to carry firewood and Lauren and I both had a little fun with the machetes. We finally reach the opening of the forest and our guide tells us, "We see signs that there are elephants in the forest. We need to remain very quiet, do not panic because we don't want to disturb the wild elephants in their natural habitat." Then, both of the rangers simultaneously cock their rifles. Lauren and I both look at each other thinking "what the heck did we just get ourselves into." What we got ourselves into was a forest with no trails, our ranger Stephen made them for us with his machete, slippery 90 degree hills, spiky dangerous trees, wild elephants and monkeys in the distance and lauren and myself on our butts more of the hike than on our feet. At one point, we had to cross a river. All of the Kenyans manage to jump over, land perfectly and continue along their way. Well, Lauren goes first, jumps across and finds herself knee deep in mud. Then comes my turn, I jump across, land in the water, fight to stand up and straight sink in the mud. It was absolutely hilarious. I have never been so exhausted, delirious and ready to be back at the house in my life. Overall it was still an awesome day.

    View of the Forest from the top
    Trail Making Machete
    The Elephants

    video


    Saturday, we had a much needed girls day out in Nairobi. We went to the Masai market and were straight attacked because we were white. We then went to the mall where we were able to get lattes, hamburgers, and pedicures. It was fabulous. Lauren's friend was in town, so while she went to meet up with him Cassie and I went to the park with our friends who drove us, Stephen and Samuel. They wanted to ride the paddle boats and then we all went to some hole in the wall Kenyan restaurant. The drive there and the drive home were so stressful. Kenyan driving is absolutely terrifying, lanes do not matter and neither do brake lights. Thankfully, we made it home safely.
    Mall Time!
    Paddle Boats at the Park!
    I can't believe I only have a month left!! Please be praying for the Lord to use this next month to broaden His Kingdom even more. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how the Lord wants to use me in ministry here. I would love for people to be praying for every conversation, every get well card, even every time I paint a mothers nails. Pray that the Gospel is proclaimed, whether that be through actions or conversation. Thank you so much to everyone who has been praying and supporting me through th