And more importantly, to taste from the fringes a bit of Kijabe/RVA mission life.
We toured Kijabe hospital on Friday: busier than when we worked here during an evacuation so many years ago, but not completely different. 260 beds, 112,000 outpatients/yr, 2000 babies delivered/yr, 9000 surgical operations/yr. Forging ahead to build African leadership: where there were once only missionaries and 3 Kenyan interns, now there are about 8 Kenyan fully-qualified "consultant" physicians and probably 2 dozen doctors-in-training. The missionaries still serve a vital role, but one that is slowly shifting into the background, as it should, year by year, bit by bit. There are ventilators in an ICU and preemies in incubators, and pounding construction as new theatres are built, and hundreds upon hundreds of personnel bustling about. It's pretty impressive. Peaked into the two-bed delivery room where I had Caleb in 1995 on the left-side bed, and Jack in 1998 in the right.
Jack and Julia attended a day of classes at RVA. I think the thing that struck them most was that they blended in, that it was not immediately obvious to everyone because of their skin color that they were different. And that the classroom atmosphere was less intimidating than a Ugandan secondary school, the work more easily understood and accomplished. Kind adults invited Jack to a class party one evening for 7th grade, and he bravely walked right into the fun, no hesitation. Reassuring to parents who wonder about our kids' adjustments.
We really stayed an extra day, though, to see the social event of the year, known as "Banquet". Because of the conservative mission roots of the place no dancing is allowed, so the equivalent of the Junior/Senior prom is an elaborate dinner theatre. Juniors and their parents and sponsors work for months to prepare a creative set, this year with the theme of ancient Greece (last year Luke's class created Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory). Between acts, a gourmet meal is served. Caleb was a tunic-clad waiter, joining many other 10th graders to serve their older classmates for the evening so they could sit at beautifully decorated tables in their formal-wear enjoying the show. The whole thing is very hush-hush in the weeks leading up to the BIG NIGHT, the theme is a CAREFULLY GUARDED SECRET, so that the Seniors are surprised when they walk into the hall. The evening begins with the guys at their dorm getting dressed, taking photos, arranging flowers, corsages. Parents were allowed to hang around with cameras and pin on boutonnieres. Luke and one of his best friends decided to carry on a tradition of wearing two garishly tacky 70's loud suits that had passed on from generation to generation, surfacing every couple of years or so to much laughter. I admit that we were a bit shocked when we saw our son . . . worried that the elegantly dressed young lady he was escorting would burst into tears or at least second-guess her choice of a date. But he was having such a blast with his buddies and all assured us the girl has a great sense of humor . . . After many dorm photos the boys then go in small groups to the girls' dorms where they are allowed in one by one to pick up their dinner partner for the night, whom they escort arm-in-arm up a lantern-lit path to the hall. Watching, I'd say it's a healthy introduction to genteel manners for a bunch of kids who have grown up in some pretty primitive circumstances, and a memorable milestone for their final year together.
The evening lasts well past midnight (2 am??) so the boys were both pretty tired by Saturday. We made a family Bday (early) lunch for Caleb, and it was probably the most extended and relaxed time we had with them the whole two weeks, just hearing about the night and hanging out and eating without any other guests. On this Wednesday Luke leaves for his quick weekend-interview trip. Which leaves Caleb on his real Bday (next Sunday, 28th) the only Myhre in Kenya, the first time one of our kids will spend a Bday with NEITHER parent present. The rain soaks Kampala, dreary, the very atmosphere dripping with goodbye. I suppose though that goodbyes will be part of the essential fabric of our life from now on, with kids at boarding school and soon college, with ministries and travel.