“Remember, it is a sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17
Sometimes I choose to be numb, to ignore what I know. Because the poverty, brokenness, and injustice of the world is too much to handle. I can’t bear it all. So I can choose to distance myself from it..pretend I don’t know. Because I feel like there’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t feed every hungry person, take in every orphan, free every slave, patch up every wound..so where do I begin? In Ohio, it sometimes can be easy to just go about my life and forget, because it’s not in my face as much – don’t get me wrong, it’s there, it just can be covered by my comfortable life easier. Even here though, it can be overwhelming. I thought that because I’m here, with plenty of opportunities to serve the poor, love the orphans, heal the sick and wounded, I wouldn’t ignore the brokenness of the world around me. But I sometimes pretend these kids don’t have hurts or they are living the life (they do have it good compared to some..but still a very hard life.) Or I fail to see the people who file through the clinic as Christ would see them. I can choose to just see them, take their vitals, and do what I can to treat them without truly loving them or caring for them. In 10 minutes they’ll be out of my room and someone new will be there. Even here, I think I can’t do much so I choose to ignore. Otherwise, I’d be in over my head in caring. It’s too much brokenness for broken me to handle. I’m not God. My compassion is limited.
Good news: God doesn’t ask me to care for everyone hurting or save all the lost or feed all the hungry. He just asks me to care for those around me. One life, one individual at a time. That’s was Jesus did. He spent his life healing a blind man in the middle of no where, a lame begger people overlooked, a demon possessed child. Probably not the most influential people ever, but he saw them as individuals of God, and invested his limited time in ministry in them. And that’s what he asks of me. To invest in one life at a time.
I pray continuously here for God’s strength and compassion to fill me. For his eyes and heart for others to become mine. For his love and his hope to spill out of me. For his Spirit to live and dwell in me and overflow out of me when I’m weary and dry, when I fail to see the needs of those around me. Because I can’t do it on my own. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13 It’s a continual process for God to change me. And it comes from me loving and fearing God, not out of my own will power. The greatest thing is, it is God working in me to act for him. It’s not up to my own love or compassion or power. Which is good, because mine seems to run out before the day even begins sometimes.
This loving and serving the poor, this mercy and giving that I struggle to do on a daily basis are not bonuses to my faith. They are not gold stars or extra credit I get at the end. It doesn’t earn me bonus points. I’m COMMANDED..over and over in the Bible. To love others, to have mercy on the poor, to meet the needs of the poor, to look after orphans, to comfort the hurting. It’s who I am as a Christ follower. Giving and helping the poor is more than handing out money. Money doesn’t fix the brokenness of this world, because that brokenness comes from injustice, lack of love, and not knowing Jesus. Those things can’t be fixed by me writing a check or handing out a wad of cash. It requires us to give of ourselves, to invest. “If I gave everything to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3
I ask God to transform my heart, so that it may love who and what he loves, and break at what his breaks at. I desire for love and mercy to flow naturally out of me. I strive to not ignore the needs and hurts of those around me so that I may love them like Christ would. Abundantly, self-sacrificially, freely.
That’s what I’m learning right now. It’s been heavy on my heart. I desire to become more like Christ every day. He’s given me this awesome opportunity to serve him this summer, and I desire to use it to the full. It’s hard. It’s hard to invest when I know I’m leaving in a little over a month now. It’s hard to care when I know when I care about one face in the clinic, there will be hundreds more that day that will break my heart as well. It’s hard to pour into a child who needs love and attention when there are 80 more that vie for the same.
As for what we have been doing, I’m not going to go into too much detail because we are going into town soon so I don’t have long to type. (Once again, I’m sure Hannah is more detailed into what we’ve been doing if you want to read her blog..because she’s good like that!) We worked in the clinic this week. It’s drastically different than my clinical experience back home. They do a really great job with the supplies and resources they have, it’s just crazy how little that is. And yet the quality of care they provide for their patients is fairly high. Instead of the MRSA or diabetes or hypertension we see in Ohio, the majority of patients file through with malaria, HIV, and malnutrition. It’s been powerful, hard, sad, rewarding. Mainly we are taking vitals, helping dispense drugs in the pharmacy, and watching the nurses while we get the hang of things. But I’m excited for the opportunities that might arise as we get more settled in there. Nurses do everything here: see the patients, diagnose, treat, write prescriptions. There aren’t doctors at the clinic even. We were told yesterday that there are probably 3 doctors in the whole Kajiado district, meaning 3 doctors for about 500,000 people. Talk about a shortage. So the nurses step up and do what needs to be done. It’s also been crazy to realize the language barrier in the clinical setting. Even just calling out names in the waiting area is such a challenge! (We get quite a few laughs, and a lot of just staring at us as they try to figure out if the name we called was any semblence to their name 🙂 Not to mention we couldn’t even use simple instructions to tell our patients what we need them to do or what we are doing, nonetheless participate in small talk. It was discouraging the first day, because it sometimes feels like what impact can I really have if I can’t say more than “habari” to my patients, and wouldn’t understand any answer other than “nzuri” (fine). We quickly learned simple commands, such as “weight first,” “sit here,” “ok we are finished,” “in your ear” (for the thermometer), “your arm” (for the blood pressure), and “wait a little while.” My greatest Swahili accomplishment so far is a full sentence haha: Mimi ni mwanafunzi muuguzi (I am a student nurse). What is extra challenging in the clinic is it is mainly Masai..meaning some don’t even know Swahili, they only know their tribal language. Which throws my limited knowledge of the language here out the window and we are back at square one. Monday we go out on a mobile medical clinic which I’m super excited about. Other than that, we’ve just been playing with the kids, learning more names, eating meals with them, worshipping with them. It’s great. I absolutely love these children. I’m learning Swahili like crazy. Tomorrow we go into Nairobi for the big market day. I’m excited about the souvenirs I can buy! The things they make here are beautiful! Sunday is worship day, maybe we will go into a community church, or maybe we will worship with the kids here again. Monday is the mobile medical clinic, and Tuesday we go on our safari. So these next few days are busy and exciting. After that, most of our time will be in our normal routine. Monday through Wednesday at the clinic. Thursday an off day to relax, be with the kids, do laundry. Friday back at the clinic. Saturdays with the kids, work and play day. Sunday worship day.
I am full. I am happy and blessed to be here. I am growing and learning a lot. Oh, and did I mention I’m 21 now? 🙂
Have a great day! Kwaheri (Goodbye)
love from Kenya,