The Push and Pull

Why do these shoes look like this after only 9 months?

If nothing else, my shoes tell me, it is time to go home. This is a beautiful land with intense hurt and ugliness. Today, I went to a wonderful orphanage on gorgeous park-like grounds.  The children seemed happy except of course the three new ones who just lost their mother. Last week there were floods across Kenya.  Many world travelers returning from seeing the most magnificent animals on the face of the earth were inconvenienced up to a week by them. This rain also flooded through a slum in Nairobi and as a woman tried to lift her children to safety she got electrocuted from a poorly placed wire.  The youngest child who is 1 1/2 or 2 years, will only let one of the older girls hold her. Yet she did allow me to come near to her and she played with my glasses and finally allowed me to stroke her head a bit. She has struggled with tuberculosis most of her life and couldn’t even stand up until 6 months.

The boys liked the picture taken of them

Quoting Ecclesiastes 7:1-22

As another sweet child played happily, I was told the progress he and his older sister have made. This sister at four years old was sent to be a house-girl, that is to do chores for a family.  She worked for this family for 2 years.  When she was 6 the mother died.  She took on the mother role of her baby brother.  When he cried because he was hungry, she would mix dirt with water like a porridge to soothe him.  Consequently, when the orphanage got him, he had limbs like little sticks and a big belly full of worms. The HIV he has is manageable, good nutrition, love and God’s grace has brought him far, but will it be extended to reverse the damage of his brain? So far, it looks like God is working that miracle too.

Yesterday at the Ngong WEEP center I enjoyed doing nutrition assessments and talking individually to many women about their nutrition.  These women know the depths of despair, yet they are seeking God and encouraging one another and I get to be a part of it. Margaret who finally got her asthma under control, is lit-up because she believes that she will be able to afford her medical care now. She’s making money and Alice who provided for her a few months also helped her figure out how she would keep up with the costs on her own. The typhoid which Margaret was also diagnosed with on Friday did not seem to dampen her spirit.  Then there is Tabitha who almost died just over a month ago with an appendicitis. She said she prayed, “You will not be defeated” through it. I am not sure what that means exactly but I do know that God is glorified in her life.  Though she is still underweight at times lacks food, she like Margeret exudes with joy.  On the way back, Jackson the driver gets a call to take a route which avoids the city center because an explosion has just occurred and immediately thousands thronged the area.

This morning at HEART Silvia Evans gave a talk on Grief, then she and Vickie anointed with oil and prayed for each one of us. How can I not have a pull to stay?  But it is time to go, my shoes show it and I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends in the USA.

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3 Responses to The Push and Pull

  1. Hellen says:

    Katherine, I read this and I felt that it captured the emotions I go through on a daily basis. Sometimes its easy to get overwhelmed by all the negative/ugly/unfair things. I see the despair and in times like those, I look for that flicker of hope. Sometimes flickering light in the midst of darkness allows you to move foward with courage. I have come to appreciate that for most Kenyans, life is lived like the northern frontiers. There is alot of hardship and only the strong survive (very darwanian). However, God as our loving father intervenes at the appropriate time: the ophaned child gets a home, through Alice, Margaret gets her asthma under control and figures out how to support herself. So we just ‘conquer the frontiers’ one person at a time. My greatest joy is when I see that sense of hope and trust restored in someone whose these qualities had ‘died’. With hope and trust comes the ability to see in themselves their inner strength to survive and even thrive. From here comes independence and then your work is done :-). At this point, you know THEY will conquer the ‘frontier’ and carry others in the process. I saw this with Jane Akinyi and Everlyne at Kibera WEEP. When you see that sense of genuine optimism about life and independence, then you know thats one person ‘saved’ and so will others who come under under their care.
    I will miss you Katherine!

    • admin says:

      Alice and Hellen, how I loved trekking the paths of Kibera with you both. Not because I like Kibera but because together we had the opportunity to help in our various ways. Together our eyes were opened and hearts were deeply touched. Thank you both.

  2. Alice Litton says:

    Your blog just took me right back to Nairobi and all the memories of the WEEP ladies! Their lives are so, so tough. It’s hard for me to just sit here in CA and not be stirred by your stories. I can see the women and feel their pain. I remember those stories of the terrible electrical wiring and am not surprised but just feel that it is so incredibly tragic for children to lose their mother in that very tough environment. I went home and their trials and tribulations just keep going on! How very sad!!

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