So it's been a few days since I blogged. I really do have a good reason or five for the silence. It mostly has to do with the fact that I have 12 guests from Iowa on the ground. That's two teams at the same time. It just happened that way. Not ideal at all, especially since I have personal connections with both teams and want to make their stay as meaningful and memorable as possible. In the process, I'm not living in my house (not enough space right now with the teams here plus 35 new agric students), plus my days have been packed to the point that I am totally spent by the end of the day. (So much so that I fell asleep starting to write this update last night.)
Some of the highlights of the past few days include the following:
Standing in Awe
As I rounded the corner on Sunday morning, I got chills. It was just before sunrise, and on the sports field before me stood more than a hundred staff and children. They were spread out, each on their own spot, except for handful of 5- and 6-year-olds who huddled together. There was total silence, save the sound of birds and the rushing river. Everyone was praying. Quietly. Just talking to God. And listening.
After some time, we came together, sang a worship song, and closed in prayer. Simple. Honest. It was a holy moment.
We have sunrise prayer meetings every Saturday and Sunday morning for anyone who wants to attend. Before, I was never in Kipkaren on weekends. And since I've moved here, I simply haven't attended because I simply hadn't remembered to go. It's early for a night owl, even though I wake up at 6 every morning, walking to the school for a community event is just not the first thing on my mind. But that will be different from now on. I will go back, I know.
"We treat. God heals."
Those are the words on the plaque at our brand new clinic. A team from Iowa sponsored a brand new addition to our clinic and they had the joy of officially opening it on Sunday. Everyone from church walked to the clinic right after the service. You could see a long, long line of young and old making their way through the valley and up to where the big, new clinic is. And they sang and danced and thanked God for the blessing of having this clinic right in the heart of our little village, that there is a place to go and find treatment. We planted some trees, prayed, sang some more, had sodas, and everyone walked through the clinic.
And then we had a meeting to plan for the next 3 days' clinic, because people were already starting to show up to see the doctors. While some of the team unpacked their supplies, I took Juli and some of the others to visit Hannah. It was such a nice visit! The eye patch DeAnn brought gave Hannah some dignity, I think. She didn't have to work at constantly trying to cover her left eye in order to focus with the right. Instead, she could simply visit with us.
I asked if I could take some photos of their family, outside. I'd like to have one enlarged and framed for the family. We went outside and visited until the sun started setting. If we'd've agreed, we'd still be there! Hannah wanted to visit more, even have us spend the night. We laughed together and joked about going for a run with Hannah. As her daughters helped her back inside, we hiked back up the hill to drive home, blessed by her faith and joy.
On Monday, the team saw 135 patients. As we visited about the experience last night, they shared the frustration of not being able to do more, the shock at some of the things they saw, the hope of having being able to help many. Some of the crazier cases included seeing a guy who had a piece of brick in his eye. It has been there for weeks and was thoroughly embedded in the eye. Dr Fitzgerald was able to remove the rock, the size of half a kernel of rice, and the man went home satisfied. As did many, many others.
The McCrights and I had gone to Ilula for the day. They wanted to see what we did there and meet the Sifuna family. They helped me bathe the kids and brought a brand new outfits for everyone. The kids literally shined from head to toes before we left. Even Silas got new clothes (though he didn't put it on since he was working in the yard at the time). I took out new jiggers from three of the kids' hands and toes, and even from Kiprop's lip! Actually, we thought they were jiggers on his lip, but it turned out to be a cold sore. He sat patiently, though, as I opened the sore on his little upper lip. He's such a strong kid! But he knows, too, that he's being cared for, that the pain comes with freedom from pain.
We prayed together, and I told Silas that in January, when the girls start school, that we'd send Kiprop, too. (They start school at age 3 here.) What joy to know that we can be part of this family's world. Now, we must just find a new place for them to live. A place with NO jiggers!
As we got back to Kipkaren, it was evident that they had had some heavy rains here. The McCrights joined the kids at the children's home for devotions while I went to pick up the team from the clinic.
At dinner/debriefing, everyone was tired to the bone, yet profoundly touched by all they had experienced. And so, today, there's more to be done. More patients to see. More to learn.
I'm heading to the clinic soon to pray for patients. I believe that the blind can indeed find sight again. I am believing God will touch lives in profound ways today.