proclaiminglove

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Going Home

After today, we have 4 days left here in Kenya. 4 days. It seems crazy. This is our last blog post from this cute little internet cafe (that I’ve grown to like..even though I was so frustrated I was almost in tears the first day using it). We’ve had our last market day. Tomorrow is our last day at AIC clinic. We’ve had a great past week. Saturday there was a reception here for this Maasai Girls organization that is based in the US but obviously their work is here in Maasailand. There were a lot of Americans (like 10!!) here. It was crazy to be here while they were. They were touring the compound, we were working side by side the kids sorting the grain. They were fascinated by the cute kids, we love those kids’ hearts. Nothing against them, that’s how we were 6 weeks ago..but it just reminded me how blessed I am to be here for a significant period of time. Sunday we worshipped with the kids..I took some videos, I’m excited to show those of you who want to see! Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we went to the clinic. It seems like every spare moment we have now we are with the kids, or doing things to prepare their gifts for them. I have some absolutely precious memories of time with the kids the past couple of days..just walking through the gate and them running up to us, hugs, shaking hands, playing chako (like everybody’s it tag), taking pictures, helping with their homework. Today is our day off, we are getting gifts around, doing laundry, going into town one last time, eating lunch at a “hotel” (restaurant) for Hannah’s birthday, having tea with Agnes today. Tomorrow is our last day at the clinic and we are going to Agnes’ house for dinner..I’m so excited. Saturday is a day we are going to play games with the kids, and pop popcorn to eat when they have their weekly TV time after dinner. Sunday is worship and giving gifts and packing. Monday is final packing and cleaning and the saying of goodbyes. It is going to be a busy next few days. I want to soak in every moment left.

Part of me feels like we have been here forever…it seems like ages ago that we climbed on that plane in Detroit. We are used to the life here. Hannah and I commented the other day while we were walking through town that the streets, buildings, people, and culture just walking through town are so different than the US, but we don’t think anything of it any more, it’s just Kajiado, part of our every day life. But part of me is blown away that our trip is nearly over. That we will be climbing back on a plane in a few short nights. I have so many mixed emotions about leaving. I am crazy excited to come home. I miss people. I am excited to come home to the way of life that is familiar to me. I’m excited for my own bed. I’m excited to start another year of nursing and learn more now that I have a renewed excitement for using it in life, not just studying all the time. I’m excited for foods (cake, chocolate, ice cream, pizza, tacos, a summer cookout..seem to be on my mind this morning :). I have so many stories to tell and pictures to show (I only have room for 48 more pictures between the two of my memory cards!) that if I stay here much longer I don’t know what I’ll do! But when I think about leaving the relationships we’ve built, I’m super sad. The kids have starting asking us when we are leaving, and when we are coming back. I get multiple times a day, “Morgan, when you leave, I will miss you much.” My heart is attached. A relationship I didn’t expect coming into this summer is the friendship we’ve built with the matron here. Her name is Agnes, and she has become a dear friend. She is crazy strong, but when we talk about leaving, it seems like she is about to cry every time. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this torn in my emotions. Last night I saw a plane in the sky and I immediately had tears in my eyes, from both the joy of going home and the sadness of leaving here. Mom and Dad, you wouldn’t mind if I brought 50 some Kenyan kids home would you?? They are precious and adorable and very respectful let me assure you πŸ™‚ And I guess maybe I should ask Brittany too..that could get a little crowded in our dorm room, but I’m sure she wouldn’t mind!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

As I think about leaving here and coming home, God is teaching me about his home for me. I love the place I’m in right now, but I also long to go “home” (to the US). Not that the US is heaven, but it’s making sense in my head more what the picture of living this life is as well as looking forward to heaven. I can enjoy the place I’m in, making the most of my time here, whether it is 6 weeks, 4 days, or years. But part of me aches for home. Same with heaven. God has given us this life to enjoy, and to use for him. Not to just sit around and wait til we go home to him. But our hearts truly, deep down, ache for something more. For the life we were created for with God. To be made whole and holy and perfect. To be in perfect intimate relationship with our Lord. To go home.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world, for all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desires are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

This world is not my home. I can live in this world and enjoy it when I love God and follow him. He has given me time on this earth for a reason. Every day I’m here, I’m here to use to love him and make him known. He has given me life to love and enjoy. But there’s more than this. There is no reason to cling to the things around me because these things are passing away. I desire to live with my eyes set on things above, on God and his plan for now as well as his hope for the future. Hope. I’ve learned a lot about hope this trip. And it comes back up again. Hope gives me the energy and strength and courage to have faith and love now. Because I know there is more than this life. I know I’m not at home here.

“He who has prepared us for this very thing has given us the Spirit as a guarentee. So we are always confident; for we know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:5-9

Hannah said to me on our walk to the clinic the other day, “I wonder what it would be like to have faith so strong that you literally do not fear death at all. That the things here are nothing compared to your longing for heaven.” I can say I don’t fear death. I’m not scared of dying. I know that leaving this world means the greatest gain I could receive. But I’d prefer not to die right now. There are things in this life I’d like to do before that happens. I want to travel, become a nurse, spend time with those I love, sit by the pool with my mom when I get home, meet Nathan Just, go to OSU football games this fall, do ministry at OSU, get married, have kids…just some random things. I know I wouldn’t really be disappointed if I died before one or all of those things happened, but I don’t know if I can say with wholehearted conviction that I long for heaven so much that the things here seem like nothing in comparison. My heart is made for intimacy with God. It longs for something more than anything in this world can give me. But what would it be like to really live in that? To truly value and long for my time with God more than anything else? To put my full hope in being with God over the good things in this life?

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

God promises that heaven is going to be great. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us we can’t outdream God. Nothing we have seen, heard, experienced, or can even imagine can compare to what he has planned for us. I feel like I’ve gotten to see little slices of heaven while I’m here, especially what it may be like to stand and worship with people from every tongue, tribe, and nation (or at least one different from my own in my case here). And to think that the best moments in this life, and the most extravagent, best things I could think up can’t even begin to compare to the greatness of what heaven really will be like.

I am excited to be going home.

Kwaheri, one last time from Kenya!
Morgan

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Life

Two posts today, because I have a lot to say πŸ™‚ Shouldn’t be a shocker..I’m a talker. But in all seriousness, we are doing a lot but I am growing even more. So there are a lot of things I have in my mind that I want to write about. But our time here is running short. We will be home in a week and a half. I don’t know when we will be going to the internet cafe again after this, we want to spend the little extra time we have left here with the kids.

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:10-11

God calls us to a lot of things. Things that are hard: taking up our cross, dying to ourselves, not loving the world around us, selling all our possessions, loving our enemies, spending of ourselves for the sake of the poor.

I say I desire to be someone who goes all out for God. Someone who lives radically, who values making God known more than valuing things of this world. You know, I dream of serving in Africa. I dream about going to a place steeped in poverty, and how I would serve God there. How I would be full and always pouring out. How I would have this unending energy, passion, and patience for loving God’s people. How my life would look radically different than it does when I’m in my comfortable life in the US. Then I would be living out what God has called me to…when I’m in Africa, surrounded by orphans, the poor, and the sick who don’t have access to medical care. Then I’d really be able to live out my faith.

Guess what. I’m there. I’m in Kenya, living at an orphanage (constantly being pulled at by kids who are poor, orphaned, abandoned), working in a Christian clinic that serves people who would otherwise have little access to medical care. And it still just feels like life. I still struggle to wake up at 6:30. I still can find myself counting the hours until we are done with work for the day. I get frustrated when “mzungu!” is constantly being yelled at me..(thinking “I’m really not that different, can we get over it yet?”). I still can think about losing weight or what I’m going to do on my day off as many times in a day as I think about how I can serve the poor. I still can want to sit and read instead of engaging in the world around me. I still get tired and worn out. I get exhausted loving the kids. I can still complain about the food or the way of life.

I’m living the dream…plopped down in the exact opportunity I thought would be perfect for doing what God commands me to do. I thought that when I’m in this situation, then my life would look different. That this is the place when my faith would really come alive 100 percent. But I’m learning that all the situations I’m in, they are just life. Whether I’m in Archbold, Columbus, Kenya, or elsewhere, it is just day to day life. Life that God has given me to live for him. Therefore, I’m learning that my cop-out of saying “Yes!! Giving my all for Jesus sounds great! As soon as I…(fill in the blank) – go to Africa, finish studying for this exam, grow up and become an adult, graduate, get a job that could physically help someone, get married, move here”..(the list could go on and on) – doesn’t work. My changing situation will no better prepare me for ministry and following God than I’m in right now. Yes, in different situations and through life I can learn and gain understanding in how to do ministry and love God. That is a constant growing process. But going to Africa does not automatically magically give me some super-Christian power to be able to give my all for God. I need to choose to live radically. It’s a heart issue, not a circumstantial issue. The place in life I’m in right now does not inhibit me from going all out for Jesus. It’s my heart that is inhibiting me. There’s no use waiting for the perfect opportunity in life. I’ll always be waiting. Because I’m learning that wherever we are..that is our opportunity. I’m at no greater advantage for serving God where I am right now than where I was 5 weeks ago.

“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” Ephesians 5:15-16

“God determined the times set for men and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26-27

God calls us to love his people, proclaim his gospel of grace, and to bring him glory. I will not put it off any longer. I will not wait for a certain time or situation in my life. He has given me the life I’m in right now to do exactly what he has called me to.

“But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.”Β  Acts 20:24

much love from Kenya,
Morgan

The Kids :)

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine…you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.” -the Lord Isaiah 43:1,4

The kids.
I love them.
I love their voices and their faces. I love their excitement about life and their joy. I love their dancing and singing. I love their little hands that are constantly pulling at me or grasping my hand. I love their hugs and their whispers of “I love you.” I love playing football and hand games with them. I love their eyes and their smiles. I love their fascination with my hair. I love the way they say “how are you?” and “you look smart.” I love their questions and their desire to know us. I love their love and passion for God.

Just in the past week or so, I’ve learned that I deeply love them individually. Not as a group, but as single individual unique kids who I know. Some are ornery, some are rule-followers. Some are shy others are crazy loud. Some are mischievious and hilarious, others are quiet. Some love football, some love drawing, nearly all love singing and dancing. Some are funny while others are serious. Some are sweet and gentle, some are troublemakers and teasers. There’s Nantago, John, Moriaso, Laina, Lapono, Nora, Isaiah, Ikonet, and Shiela. There’s Lamiya, Longai, Elizabeth, Lucy, Reusi, Karino, Cliff and Sarah. There’s Nabooshi, Hellen, Kasinye, Kithomas, Miriamu, Janet, Parmuet, Timothy, Hosea, and Sein. There’s Panina, Eunice, Stephen, Salaash, Maria, Joseline, Mwange, Patrick, Abraham, Richard, Rafael, Amon, and Naserian. They are individuals. Who have individual personalities, likes and dislikes, dreams, and stories. They aren’t so different from you and me, or the kids in our families and schools. I am blessed to have met these kids and had them in my life. I’m so thankful that we are here for a long time, so we have an opportunity to learn who they are. I love that I know them and their stories and their hopes and dreams. How Lucy is crazy and fun, amazing at photography, needs glasses, loves reading the Bible (but doesn’t have one), always leads fellowship time, and wants to be a doctor. How Hellen is joyful and hilarious and has a smile that can literally light up the room, and wants to be a nurse :). How Panina is quieter, but is an amazing singer, picks out every carrot in the meals, and desires to be loved though she won’t outwardly show it because she’s independent. How Hosea somehow knows how to fix every hole in a shoe, is diligent and always wanting to help, and is a fantastic writer..in English! How Abraham fiercely loves his six or seven brothers and sisters, but desires an education so much he will spend years away from them. How Nantago is maybe only 4, but belts out every song we sing and can take care of herself as well as tries to take care of the others. How Patrick was abandoned, but is a strong and hardworking boy who loves drawing and wants to be a pilot. How Sein is a natural leader, strong and sure, first in her class, and wants to be a surgeon.

“Here, in that renewal, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free, but Christ is all and in all!” Colossians 3:11

I’m reminded when I’m with them that though they are Kenyan, and the majority of them are orphaned, abandoned, and dirt poor, we are the same in Christ. I have so much to learn from them. They teach me about worship and loving God. They teach me about joy and getting along with others. They teach me about appreciating the simple things in life. They teach me about hard work. When I stand and sing to God with them, whether in words I understand or words I have no idea the meaning to, I’m reminded that we are in Christ together. We are the body. This group of Kenyan kids and two mzungu girls. The staff. You. God has chosen us to bear his name and his witness.

These kids are by far both the most exhausting and most rewarding part of this trip. Just writing this my heart is exploding for my love for them. It’s going to be hard to leave, but it’ll be the right time. I’m just praying that we have touched their lives, made it known to them that they are loved and worthy and special, and most of all shown God’s love and hope to them. That they wouldn’t be devastated when we leave their lives, but instead filled by the One who loves them infinitely more than I ever could.

“I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.” – JesusΒ  John 14:18

As for what we are doing: we have 5 more days at the clinic. I’m learning a lot..we are even starting to be able to look at symptoms and diagnose. We’ve done a lot of vitals, injections, respiratory assessments, eye exams, prenatal assessments, and even some wound care. I’m still hoping I get to do an IV before we leave πŸ™‚ Our nights are full of the kids. Dinner, fellowship, and homework time with them. We spend Thursdays getting things done like laundry, cleaning, dishes, as well as resting. Saturdays we are with the kids, playing and working. We got out nail polish and balloons last week. I think it’s time for some bouncy ball fun this weekend. (Sara, they loved the nail polish! Tell Sam good work in picking out the cool silvers..the boys even painted their toenails because they liked those colors! πŸ™‚ We are already trying to plan our gifts and goodbyes..it seems overwhelming because we want to leave each kid with something special and make sure they get a chance to say goodbye. Prayers as we start our week of lasts and that we can make the most of our time left here.

grace,
Morgan

Hannah

I am blessed beyond belief to be on this trip with Hannah. Hannah is dedicated and strong. She’s deep and extremely observant. She’s an analyzer and a thinker. She leads by serving quietly. She has a kind, quiet, gentle spirit. She is deeply devoted to God. She’s honest and funny. She’s a fighter, not someone who gives up. She’s beautiful. She’s constant. She’s a faithful friend. She is an encourager..not in a loud, cheerleader way, but in the way that she knows your heart and knows exactly what you need. She is thoughtful and selfless. Hannah and I met almost 2 years ago now our freshman year at OSU. I was so scared to go to college. I didn’t want to leave home and my friends and my church and the identity that I had built for myself. I was so convinced that I wouldn’t know any Christians, and therefore not have any good deep friends who could push me like I knew I needed to be pushed. It may sound crazy and overdramatic, but it’s what I feared. But God was faithful. He put me on the third floor of Siebert Hall with 2 other nursing majors who took me along to orientation day with them. I had no idea that day that those two girls would have such an impact on my life. Not only did Hannah and her roommate Abby turn out to be people to walk to nursing with, but they turned out to be strong Christian women who went to church with me, and we were all in a small group together that year. They became some of my deepest friends, supported me, encouraged me, and pushed me towards God. Girls I shared my life with, laughed with, cried with. One of my first distinct memories of Hannah and I past that she knocked on my door and asked me to walk with them, is her asking questions about my life. We were just walking somewhere on campus and this girl I barely knew was asking me to share deep things about my life..but I was thankful. I wanted someone to know me deeply and know my life, why not start out going deep?? Deep we went. We became fast friends. Sharing good things and hard things. She was my first friend at college, and I am so thankful. We shared life together..living just down the hall from each other, eating our meals together, nearly all of our classes were together (I specifically remember lots and lots of chem labs :), small group together, studying and homework, deep conversations and lighthearted ones, walking places, attending H20, sleepovers and movie nights…just life. All the time. Hannah and Abby became my roommates sophomore year, as we fought our way through our intense first year of nursing together. Together we learned a lot about life and relationships, conflict and communication, supporting each other and love, God and ministry. Anyway…I just wanted to communicate how it still seems crazy to me how blessed I am that God put Hannah and I together 2 years ago because he knew I needed that friendship. And how without that, we wouldn’t be here in Kenya together. I am thankful Hannah is here with me. I’m learning how well we balance each other. We are very different. Those of you who know us both I think would agree. And even those of you who don’t can probably tell by our blogs..I haven’t read hers at all, but I’m just guessing they are pretty different even though we see the same things every day. Our personalities are just different. She’s neat, I’m messy. She thinks things through, I more go on a whim and think later. She analyzes things while I first process things with my emotions. I talk a lot, Hannah is an excellent listener. I’m a leader by doing, Hannah leads by serving. I’m a hugger and a cuddler, Hannah not so much (right Erin? though we are working on it :). Hannah hates to be idle, I sometimes can like to just sit (I don’t like to think of it as lazy, just being). Hannah likes to wash the dishes, I’d rather rinse and dry. She’s more of a morning person, I’m more of a night. Neither is right or wrong, we are just different people. And I don’t think I realized how well we compliment each other until this trip, even after living with her for a year. But God has really put it together so that we work and live well together here. Whether it is in the clinic, doing dishes, cooking, cleaning, or playing with the kids, I have thoroughly enjoyed working by her side. Hannah notices things I never would, like the beauty of the littlest thing in nature or the emotions one of the kids is trying to hide. Her view of the world makes me stop and appreciate things I never think about. Her attention to detail help me to take in what is going on around me. She can stay calm when I get worked up or overwhelmed, and I can laugh at things when she gets worked up or overwhelmed. She picks on me when I make a mistake, making me see how it’s not a big deal. She puts me before herself. Her fascination with the little things in life push me to see the beauty God gives us. She just helps me to see life, God, and our time here in a different light, and I’m thankful. Hannah has been a rock on this trip. I thought, and worried, that because I’ve been here before, I’d have to always be strong or know what’s going on. Nope. Hannah fell right into life here, taking everything in step. She’s supported me when I’m crying. She’s picked me up when I’m discouraged. She pushes me when I’m exhausted. She excels at nursing and loves these kids so well. And maybe the most encouraging thing of all, Hannah has really pushed me in my faith. She tries to memorize a Bible verse a day..and one day during our 45 minute walk to the clinic in the morning she started saying her verse of the day out loud to me. Since that day, we’ve made it a habit to memorize the verse together. She always comes with one she wants to memorize, and we quiz each other until we can recite it back to the other. She asks me how my quiet times are going, and how my heart is doing. She asks to pray together out loud while we lay in the dark in our bunk beds. She comes up with ideas I overlook, like to be praying together for the kids here. She shares with me cool passages from her CS Lewis devotion book that make me think. I’ve seen God in new ways and drawn nearer to him this trip because of the ways Hannah influences my life. I don’t have words other than I’m blessed and extremely thankful that Hannah is here with me. Asante sana Baba. I tell you about the things we do and see, and what I think about them, but one of the biggest parts of this trip is my time with Hannah. We are always together, experiencing things together, talking and trying to process different things we see together, working side by side. So I thought it was just as important to tell you about this part of my trip as well. I love you Hannah. Thanks for taking a huge step of faith and coming to Kenya this summer πŸ™‚ love, Morgan

The slums

“He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor. For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order.” 1 Samuel 2:8

God is in the slums. He’s in the place where all hope seems lost and darkness seems to cover all. Let me tell you about it

On Sunday, we left Kajiado to go into Nairobi to worship in the slum of Kibera. Predictably the second largest slum in the world. The pastor we know picked us up from where we got off the mtatu and drove us to the outskirts of the slum. You can’t drive in. So from here we walked. I wish I had pictures, it still is uncomprehendable to my mind what this place is like, and this is my second time visiting. But taking pictures makes us stick out even more, more than just our white skin. And plus, as much as I want pictures to show you, it doesn’t seem right to take pictures just because their place of living seems terrible to me..it seems to strip these people of their dignity. So instead I will try to explain the best I can. For those of you who have seen Slumdog Millionaire though, picture what the kids are running through in the first couple minutes of the movie..that’s the slum in India, but the picture is similar. We walked, a long downhill walk into the slum. At first it was the normal rough footpath that is common here, full of rocks, dust, ruts, and litter. Then, the trash increased, until we were walking on paths made almost completely of garbage and waste. The path became less dusty and more muddy..only not probably really mud: waste. At one point we came to a 4-5 foot running river of sewage. We proceded to hop on rocks to get across..my heart was pounding, you don’t want to fall in. We came to another river, this one much wider and running faster, so we opted to take a probably 20 minute or more detour to get to a bridge to cross. Once we crossed the bridge, we were into the slum area. The smell in all of Kibera is overwhelming, like nothing I know. Garbage and sewage and just tons of people and pollution. We are now standing in the streets of Kibera. Where an estimated 1.2 million people live in a 2.5 square mile or less area. The government of Kenya recently did a “census” and declared that 200,000 people live in Kibera, but the people who live there told us differently. They say the government would have an impossible time counting accurately, plus, who wants the 2nd largest slum in the world in your city..not the best reputation. So they say a significantly lower number. We now weaved in and out of the tiny streets. You can reach your hands out if you are standing in the middle of the street and touch the sides of the houses on either side..though you don’t want to stand in the middle of the street because there is a rut where the sewage runs down. There are houses packed next to houses, people living on top of each other. The houses are sticks with mud and tin roofs. Some nice ones have some concrete walls. Though other houses don’t even have solid walls..just whatever scraps of tin they could find patched together on the sticks. You have to watch every step you take. It’s not an easy path..don’t imagine a flat terrain or a good sidewalk. We walked..up, down, hop left then right, squeeze here, turn sideways, watch your head there, jump here, make sure you step on this rock, avoid that stream of sewage, watch the goat, and the rooster! People sitting outside, a lot staring at us. Faces that just look blank, hopeless. Kids by themselves, playing in the dirt or garbage..yelling “mzungu! how are you?” at us. Trash everywhere, mixed with sewage in the narrow streets. Laundry hanging down strung across from one house to the next, so low that I have to bend over at a nearly 45 degree angle.
It’s hard to believe people live here. But they do. Real people, people no different than myself, or you. I’m someone who is ok being dirty or not showering everyday..but I felt thoroughly filthy after our walk. I remember thinking, I don’t know how people live here. But it is their home. They aren’t less intelligent, they don’t feel less than I do, they have dreams, they make jokes, they love. They are real people. They have stories, joys and heartbreaks, families, hopes and dreams. They are God’s people, loved and treasured and unique. I felt dirty after just walking through, which I feel ashamed of now. This is their home..and they feel just like me.
Finally at the end of our walk, we ducked through a doorway, into another street, but this one cool and dark and quiet..and remarkably clean. We turned to our left, a large wood and cement building with a tin roof. An oasis in the middle of a desert. A breath of fresh air. It was the church. The second Pastor Mkuku walked in, he was swarmed by children. It was obvious from the first seconds how big of an impact this man is making in this place. He and his wife don’t live in Kibera, they could just have pretended it doesn’t exist like most other people. But they chose to obey God and follow him into ministry into one of the most hopeless places in the world. As we said hello to the people already gathered, it was immediately evident that there was something different in these people’s faces (whether little children or adults.) An obvious difference from all the faces we had just passed to get here. It was hope. An obvious hope in the middle of hopelessness. A light in the middle of darkness. Their faces shown with life. It amazed me how quickly I saw it, how evident it was. HOPE.

“But the needy will not be ignored forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.” Psalm 9:18

We found seats and started worshipping. Maybe I wrote my blog on worship too soon..because I have more to add. Worshipping in the slums is maybe one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had. The majority of the church at this point was children..and I find myself wondering if they come on their own, where their parents are, if they have parents. There were a handful of people our age, and a handful of adults. The kids run and jump and dance and sing their little hearts out. Imagine a concert, up front where everyone is jumping, pushing into eachother, pumping their arms up and down..now imagine 3-9 year olds, a little extra African dancing, and their tiny voices shouting out big to our God. It literally gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. I shut my eyes for a moment to absorb it. A little hand slipped into mine while my eyes were closed and I was just standing there. I snuck a quick glimpse at this precious one who had the courage to come up to me..a beautiful girl, maybe about 4 years old. I closed my eyes again and just absorbed the warmth from her little hand clutching mine. I prayed my heart out for this girl..there is so much I could ask God to do, so many lives I could ask him to protect, but I started with this one. I prayed that the blood I could feel pumping in her veins wouldn’t have a deadly disease coursing through them. I prayed she would be fed and loved and safe. I prayed that she wouldn’t be married off in a few short years or forced into selling herself to have enough money to eat. I prayed desperately that she would have a way out, an opportunity that most don’t have. I prayed that she would know Jesus and not be pulled away by the despair surrounding her. When I opened my eyes again our eyes met and locked. Huge smiles cautiously, slowly, spreading across both our faces. When I looked into those huge almond shaped eyes that sparkled, a deep chocolate brown, the light coffee colored face, and the breathtakingly beautiful smile she wore..I saw Jesus. She held onto my hand, just smiling a smile that is forever etched into my mind, even though I will never have a picture of her face. And she didn’t let go. I finally, after probably 30 minutes, leaned my head down and whispered, “Jina lako ni nani?” (What is your name?). “Sarah” she whispered back..then ran away to Sunday School.

We went to a bible study for adults, where they are working their way through different books of the Bible with the hopes of making it through the entire Bible. They were on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. Talking about our calling to righteousness, being different than the world around us, and not having anything to do with sexual impurity. They talked alot about living in holiness and not in sexual impurity, which surrounds them on a daily basis, with even deadlier consequences than we see in the US. 1 in 3 people in Kibera have AIDS. 1 in 3. This obviously doesn’t all have to do with sexual impurity, but is the life and stats they are faced with daily. But these aren’t just statistics. These are the people sitting around me. Welcoming me. Praying with me. This room of people challenged me. They are choosing something drastically different than the world around them. They are choosing to hope when the world tells them all is hopeless. They are choosing to follow God is a place of darkness. The hunger for God is nearly tangible in the room around me. I want that desire.

We went back to the main church for the service. More singing and dancing. Little Sarah found her way back to me and slipped her hand into mine..slipping her heart into mine as well. And once again she didn’t let go. We are talking about hours. Hours of standing and sitting, singing and listening. All the while her little hand clenched in mine. About an hour in, she very deliberately leaned her head in so her forehead rested on mine. It was as if she had been planning this moment for the past hour. And she whispered, “How are you?”..probably the only English she knew. But the words said didn’t matter, it was the effort of connecting deeper. I answered “nzuri sana” (very good). And that was that. She still held onto my hand, and we exchanged smiles and love..but no more words. Over an hour later, her hand still holding mine, I leaned down and whispered “Uko mrembo” (you are beautiful). Her smile got even wider if possible. And that was the extent of our words. But our connection was deeper than words exchanged. We can’t speak each other’s language, but there’s a little girl with sparkling almond eyes and a smile that could win the world running around Kibera with my orange hairtie and a part of my heart.

Throughout the service, the time when Jesus said to let the little children come to him and when he explained that the greatest in heaven are those that have faith like the little children kept coming to my head. These kids’ faith astounds me. Pure, uninhibited, not-held-back faith. These are normal kids. Brothers who pick on each other, girls who needed told more than once by their mothers to be quiet, kids who got restless when the sermon went long and a little cranky when they got hungry. But their love of Jesus shines.

“Has God not chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” James 2:5

God is in the slums. He is bringing hope to the hopeless. He is moving and working. The people I worshipped with that day may be poor beyond belief in the eyes of the world, but they are truly rich in faith. I have much to learn and gain.

We’ve done so much in the past week. I don’t have time to tell you all, but I will summarize. On Sunday we also went to a smaller slum called Dagoretti Corner and an orphanage there. Last week we visited a Maasai boma (homestead). Monday we went with the mobile medical clinic AIC has. Tuesday we were at AIC but got an emergency case (a man found unconcious near the clinic) that we had to take to the district hospital after he was stablized. So we got an unexpected tour of the Kajiado District hospital. Not only was I shocked, I was infuriated by the care provided there. Wednesday more clinic, with the chance to give more immunizations. Lots of invaluable time with the kids here. We managed market day on Wednesday on our own..I love that we know life here and can function in it. Today is our day off..blog updates, laundry day, playing with the kids. And Friday is back to the clinic. We only have a little over 2 weeks left, it seems like time has flown by. Larry has left..we feel safe and comfortable with life here. There are people we know and trust that are looking out for us. But prayers as we function independently in a foreign country.

Kwaheri!
love, Morgan

The clinic

We work at the African Inland Church clinic, which is a mission based outpatient clinic that serves mainly the Maasai people of this area. We get up at 6:30 am, eat breakfast, pack our stuff and get ready, leaving for the clinic by hopefully 7:15. Sometimes it’s later than that..which is ok because we are on African time πŸ™‚ It takes us a solid 45 minutes to walk there, and that’s at a pretty solid pace, not just leisurely walking. There is a devotion time with the staff starting around 8 or 8:10..which some days we go to and others we spend that hour counting out meds, cleaning, and preparing for the day in the clinic. The clinic starts taking patients at 9. People file in, register at the reception desk, and then sit and wait. Pretty typical. But the scene is so much different. I wish I could show you pictures. The people coming in are Maasai, adorned with their brightly colored wraps and lots and lots of beaded colorful jewerly. Mom’s have their babies strapped to their backs with wraps. The clinic was not built to be a clinic and dispensory, it was built to be a dorm for kids who live there for the rehabilitation center that is part of the compound. Needless to say, the set up is not the most convenient for the sometimes masses of people who file through each day. It is crammed. The waiting room has only 5 benches, all of which are typically pretty squished full. It overflows outside, where there are a few more benches, and where people sit or sometimes lay in the dirt. It is typically loud, smelly, and very packed. Our consistent job that we do independently is to call out names and do vitals on our patients. I’m getting to be an expert at this manual blood pressure thing πŸ™‚ Where we see patients is on the opposite side of the waiting room of where we need to take cards back to the reception desk for the nurses to pick up. Which means a lot of trying to weasle my way though lots of people. We also get to go into rooms with the Kenyan nurses and see patients, help examine, give injections, weigh babies. There aren’t any doctors there, just 3 nurses (plus one volunteer nurse who is leaving this week..so we’ve had 4 the past couple weeks), a receptionist, a lab tech, and a pharmacist. We see a lot of malaria patients, people coming in for HIV testing or treatment, mom’s with babies who are sick or need immunizations, a lot of maternity patients for prenatal check-ups, eye patients (because we have a nurse who is a trained eye examiner here), infections, worms, anemia, malnutrition. It has been really interesting to sit in and see these cases. It is so different than what I’m used to: a different language, different culture, different diseases and sicknesses, nurses seeing patients diagnosing and writing prescriptions, different resources, plus I’m so used to inpatient from my clinical experience that it is weird to sit in a room and wonder what of the wide spectrum of complaints the next person may come in with. I’m catching on to how to look at the symptoms that are translated for us and put them together into a logical guess of what might be wrong with our patient. Some of the things I’ve been honored to sit in on (some super great others super sad) are:
-hearing a baby’s heartbeat in utero, using a fetoscope. Which is basically a double ended cone that is placed up next to the mom’s pregnant belly! Quite different than the ultrasounds we have
-seeing patients come in for HIV testing. Seeing the relief and immense joy that comes with a negative result. And being present in the devestating life changing positive results. I was in a room with a 13 year old girl who came in with pretty advanced HIV but didn’t know it..it was heartbreaking
-learning to examine pregnant mothers. Hopefully bringing some comfort by my love to the extremely young ones who come in alone looking so scared. In the culture here it is not unusual to see young girls (sometimes as young as 11-13) married off to a middle aged man. The men can have multiple wives too. Mostly the mom’s come in alone, the men don’t come with them.
-weighing cute tiny babies
-giving IM injections. Sorry OSU nursing, we do give the dorsal gluteal injection here. I don’t know my place to change practices they have here..these nurses may not be the most thoroughly educated in the Western sense but they are very experienced and do their job excellently.

Some days are busier than others. Wednesday is by far our busiest day. Because it is market day people come into town, so they come into the clinic on those days as well since they can walk for miles and miles from their homes in the bush. It is also the immunization clinic day, so mom’s come in with their babies to get them immunized. Thursdays are slow days..we thought this would be our day off but we have yet to have a typical week so we’ve been there the past 2 Thursdays.

Some crazy things: you never know when the clinic will have electricity. It is more often than not on, but even then there’s only really one light in the waiting room and small lights in other rooms. The clinic has no running water. None. There are no doctors. The rooms we see people in are very tiny..I wish I had an accurate guess..maybe like 6 foot by 9..at the most. The Kenyan staff hardly ever wears gloves..they are in short supply. The lab tech does..but I’ve seen other staff give injections, and even prick a finger for an HIV test without gloves. We take temperature with an in the ear thermometer, which they didn’t change the disposable sheath or alcohol swab it at all when we got there..we have been though, adding a little sanitation education. There are basically 2 examination rooms, but sometimes the administrator’s office becomes one, or the room that is open to the waiting room where we normally take vitals becomes one..depends on how busy it is. With the limited resources, I have been amazed at the level of care the staff provides. And even more so, I’m amazed at the staff’s passion, devotion, and compassion for loving God’s people. They are strong Christian men and women.

At first I really struggled with how to really make an impact at the clinic. I don’t know the language, how am I supposed to connect to, provide care for, love on, or educate my patients. But I’m learning a little Swahili – enough to give instructions to my patients. Plus, we provide comical relief for our patients as we call out names or as children burst into tears at the sight of us wazungu (white people). (Also, small grammer lesson in Swahili: the prefix wa- is plural and the prefix m- is singular. I’m learning πŸ™‚ But most of all, I’m learning how God’s love and compassion and comfort can fill me and pour out of me even when I can’t speak the language.

“When the Son of Man comes into his glory..All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats..Then the King will say to those on his right ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance..for I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink?’…The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25

and “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8

In the first passage, Jesus doesn’t say that our faith includes talking in depth to lots and lots of people, or sharing the gospel in words, or even using my words to tell people about what he’s given those who know him. It is physical acts. Giving, taking people in, feeding, looking after the sick. It is loving people. I can do that with my patients even if I don’t know Swahili or Maasai. Is it helpful to communicate my faith if I had words? Yes. But I don’t. And I have been filled up by Matthew 25. God has been transforming my heart and training my eyes to see the sick people who sit in front of me every day as him. And when I love them, I love him. And I hopefully show them at least a glimpse of his love for them. And the second passage, well..I’ve received freely. I’ve received material wealth in this world, a good family, being born in a place not torn by poverty or war or corruption, education (yes mom and dad I realize we pay for this..but the opportunity was still handed to us), etc…all freely. Meaning God has blessed me with these things. But even moreso, I’ve been freely given the gift of life, eternally. And so I’m not commanded to be tightfisted and hold onto my wealth, whether material or the wealth I have from knowing Jesus. But instead to give freely. And God has really been putting that fire in my heart to go to the clinic and pour myself out as much as I can. Because it’s not really me I’m pouring out. I’m pouring out of what God has filled me with, I’m pouring out because of the abundance of the Holy Spirit he has freely given me. And when I come home at night, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained, God has been faithful in filling me back up. Giving me enough energy and strength and love to pour out to the kids. And then again, filling me up so I can do it again the next day. I don’t need to be stingy with my energy or my love, because God is providing.

That’s all for now. Time to play with some cute kids πŸ™‚
love, Morgan

Worship

Hello πŸ™‚

I’m missing home tonight..so I’ll write a blog. Hopefully we will stop by the internet cafe tomorrow when we go into town for market day after we work at the clinic.

The past couple of days have been similar to what we thought..Saturday to Nairobi for market day. It took us over 4 hours to go through..and that was just one section of this huge market. It was crazy, but I got pretty good at bartering for prices by the end of the day!! That was a fun day. Sunday we went to a community church..more in a little bit. Monday we did not go on a mobile medical day, which I was kind of sad about, but it was a busy day at the clinic. I really am starting to feel comfortable there. Tuesday we went to Amboseli National Park for a safari. So cool. God’s creation is breathtakingly beautiful. We saw tons of animals, some really up close! I took approximately 400 pictures, which we can’t upload but those of you who are interested, look forward to this when I get home. (Liane, our tour guide even explained the Masai giraffes and I thought of you! No rhinos though). Tomorrow (Wednesday), Thursday, and Friday we are back in the clinic. Should be fairly typical days. We’ve been pretty busy these past couple of days, so prayers for some time to rest soon.

Ok, so I’d love to explain worship here, especially Sundays. It is drastically different than what I’m used to at home. Whether fellowship (chapel-like) time at night with the kids, or in our two Sunday church service experiences so far, fairly consistent parts of worship are: music, lots of it and loud; clapping and drumming; dancing; and joy. The fellowship time with the kids at night are usually only 15 to 30 minutes. Here I am most impressed with the kids’ commitment and ability to memorize verses. One kid stands in front of the others, every night, and recites one or two verses. Without a Bible in front of them. They probably have more scripture memorized than I do..even some of the younger ones. And to my knowledge, no one is making them learn one a night or anything. I don’t even think every child has a Bible. I’m humbled when I hear them reciting this scripture and then explaining what it means to them (even though I’m still only understanding a few words of what they are saying.) It inspires me to be more disciplined in learning the Word. Now onto explaining Sundays:

Sunday is not a day where I commit a few hours in the morning to church and then plan on using the rest of the day for other things. It is a full worship day. You don’t really know when it will end, just whenever it does. You don’t make plans for after, you just worship. Here at the home, the kids have Sunday School around 9, with worship “starting” around 10 and lasting well into the afternoon (the day we went to church with the kids we got done around 1:30. And start is a relative term. Similar to what I explain later with the community church, singing takes place before the actual start of church, but then just flows into the service with no real beginning point.) A short break for lunch, then they have like a Bible study all the rest of the afternoon until dinner. This past Sunday we went to a community church in the town over. We left at 9. It’s a good thing the church doesn’t really have a starting time, because what should have been about a 30 minute travel time turned into an hour and a half to get to church. You have to wait who-knows-how-long for a mtatu (like a van that acts as a taxi). Then you wait for it to fill up in town. Finally you leave. Then you drive, and unload, and walk a good 10-15 minutes more to the actual church. When we got there people were singing and music was playing. This lasted awhile, they served us chai while we sat down. Then around 11, the pastor had us all move forward so there were no empty seats. It is a building that has 3 walls and the other side is just open to the outside. Plastic picnic chairs were set up in rows, and a tent covered the back half rows because the church has outgrown the building. They said it’s pretty bad in the rainy season (which I can imagine with most of the plastic chairs sitting in the dust, and not a solid structure covering them). But it is cool to see how God has grown the church! For about an hour (which is similar to the worship service at the children’s home) we just stood and sang. Throughout this, more and more people are showing up. Around 12 the church seemed to fill up. At the children’s home, it wasn’t until 2 hours into the service that the main speakers started talking. Yes, speakers plural. Up until then, they invite multiple people to come up and greet the congregation – which can be anything from hello, I’m happy and blessed to be here, to a 10 or 15 minute mini-sermon type thing or testimony. Then the sermons begin. Music and singing and dancing is mixed into this. At the community church, we not only had a church service, but also a wedding and an ordination..all wrapped into one. Why not? Needless to say, church got over around 4 or 4:30 πŸ™‚ I’ll be honest, it is really hard to stay focused and engaged for that many hours when none of the service was in English. But there were definitely some powerful parts.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.” Psalm 98:4

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For our Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Psalm 100

A lot of times when someone is talking and I don’t understand in church, I pull out my Bible and read. These two verses in Psalms struck me early in the service on Sunday. It’s something that has really made an impression on me here. The joyful noise. The people here sing their hearts out. And they don’t stop there..there is clapping and dancing and jumping and moving and dancing down the aisles and shouting and “ey-ey-ey”ing. Worship is free and powerful and full of joy. And it amazes me that I am here, making a joyful noise to the Lord with a different part of the earth. That I am witnessing first hand that there are people all over the earth singing praises to our one God. I am honored and blessed to be getting this opportunity. To worship my God in a different country and language and culture. Worship here is powerful in such a different way than I’m used to. They hold nothing back. You dance and move and sing out for God. It doesn’t matter what the person beside you is doing or what they might think of you. You go all out because you love God and he moves you. I desire this freedom. Don’t worry those of you who attend church with me..I don’t really forsee myself dancing down aisles at either St. John’s or H20. But I want the freedom to enter into the presence of God with my worship. To not be distracted by what is going on around me, but to just let myself go all out because God is present in my life. Pour my all out to God. Because worship is not about me or what I feel or what I get from it or what I learn. But instead about praising God, who is worthy.

The other super cool and powerful thing that is common here is praying out loud. I don’t mean just all saying the Lord’s Prayer together, or having one person pray out loud for the group. But instead, everyone talking to God at the same time. It’s really powerful for a place to be filled with the sound of prayer..all praying their own thing, but praying together to our God. Knowing and realizing that God hears and cares about every single word that is said, and those that go unspoken. I don’t understand what they say, but I hear alot of “asante” which means thank you. Joining together, yet individually in thanking God for what he has done in their lives and praying whatever is on their hearts.

And what is consistent is this deep joy. I don’t know how to explain it. But whether the kids, the staff and adults, the community, there is a nearly tangible joy filling the room in worship. It pours out of people. You can see it in their eyes, and see it in their movements, and feel it in the place. A joy that fills the people around me and fills me.

I’m growing in my worship of God. I’m learning what it means to worship even when I don’t know the songs or don’t understand what is being said. I’m learning how to seek God even when I don’t know what book of the Bible they are reading out of. It is challenging, but it will be growing for me and my relationship with God.

That’s all for now. Sorry if this is a little choppy and unorganized. It’s late and I’m tired. Lala Salaama (goodnight)…even though I’ll not post this til tomorrow evening which means it’s morning in the US, it is bedtime for me now!

love, Morgan

PS, Aunt Karen, I’m really missing the 3rd of July celebration tonight! I hope you all had fun and I’m allowed to come next year πŸ™‚

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