The first was yesterday afternoon, a British nurse decided to put on a party for the Royal Wedding. She arranged for a projector and screen to hook up to the live newsfeed, and baked scones and all sorts of sweets and tea, and invited people over. This is someone whom I really like and respect and relate to, and the same person whose birthday party I missed a couple months ago due to crisis in the NICU. I don't think I've made it to any of the women's Bible studies, showers, or other parties . . . So I wasn't too surprised when the time for William and Kate to walk down the aisle approached (1 pm in Kenya) and I was in the ICU with the surgery team putting a chest tube into our most severely ill patient, after a non-stop morning (and night before) of trying to figure out which of his many failing body systems was the priority and what to do about it (his name is Baraka, and his father told me in the midst of all this: just do your part, and God will do the rest. Which I thought was sage advice, and not a bad overall treatment plan. Baraka's prognosis is very guarded, and heroic cure unlikely, but we keep doing our small part, and the big picture is up to God to heal or to take more quickly to paradise). But back to the wedding--about 3 there was finally a lull in admissions and problems, and though I figured I'd missed most of the party, I still went over to see the Balcony Kiss and taste the goodies. The host was so proud of her country, of the pageantry and beauty, of the loyal crowds, of the handsome royals. It was fun to chat with the few die-hards left at the end of the party for a half an hour, to escape the hospital, to be caught up in something bigger . . and to eat. And then back to sick babies.
The second was today, a party at our neighbor's house in honor of their finally-official adoption of the little girl they've been fostering since she was born. She was an abandoned baby in the nursery at the hospital, and my neighbor just volunteered to help out by feeding and holding her, until the staff finally asked her to just take her home temporarily . . . and they bonded. Though they have five kids, three of whom are in college and grad school, they made room in their home and hearts for one more baby. But adoption laws are stringent in Kenya, for good reason, to prevent child trafficking and abuse. Which means that even though they jumped through every legal hoop, with court appearances, lawyers, home visits, child protection officers, embassy letters . . . and even though Hope knows no other family, calls them mom and dad, and is a healthy amazing precocious little girl thriving in her situation . . . the final approval was touch and go. So when the judge refused to rule on Wednesday, and called them back on Thursday, they feared the worst. So many people around the world prayed. And against all predictions, he granted the adoption. Today they invited the whole Kijabe community for cake and ice cream and gave a testimony of God's goodness, and prayed for Hope. Who was sporting a new pink chiffon dress and enjoying the party, though I'm sure she has no idea what it was really all about, since she has no concept of any other life.
Right after her party, a good portion of us headed up the hill to RVA for the final day of Rugby "hell week", the last phase of try-outs which have whittled the field from 80 to 50. There was about a two-hour long scrimmage divided into four shorter games, so that the coaches could cut the last 6 or 8 guys and set the final teams for JV and Varsity. Which means every kid was playing his heart out. But since they are brothers and friends, the atmosphere was festive. It is actually the first time I've watched Rugby, and thankfully I sat next to an extremely helpful and knowledgable 9th grader who had already been cut, and who explained the nuances of scrum and try and conversion and ruck, who is a hooker and who is a fullback or a prop, and what's a line-in. Caleb played well, kicked 2 of his team's 3 conversions, tackled and ran and punted. And mostly just looked like he was having a blast. It's a game with continuous action, strength, risks, smart plays, and constant team work, there are few solo moves. A great paradigm for life. After the scrimmage there was the "Golden Boot" contest. All 50 players start off kicking the rugby ball from the 22 yard line through the uprights, round after round it gets harder (less direct, from the sides, further away) and if you miss you're out. The final round was only 3 boys: Caleb, Aneurin (the boy who stayed with us last week) and a freshman. They all three missed the first attempt, but on the second round after Caleb and the other boy missed, Aneurin got it through, and won. It was fun to see Caleb do so well when he only just started kicking about two weeks ago!
It has occurred to me tonight that all three events are pictures of the Kingdom, straight from the Bible, which explains some of their power and draw. The royal wedding, the prince and his bride, the consummation of longing and the promise of true love, these are the way that Revelations and Psalms describe the future. We are the bride, dressed in white, beautiful and desirable and chosen. The adoption, straight from Galatians and Romans, we are the child who was hopeless and abandoned, now brought into the family, loved and longed for. The battle or contest, from 1 Corinthians and Hebrews, the training and effort and teamwork and concentration on the goal, we are encouraged to push for the prize. All three were times to witness the truth, and times to be encouraged by the reality of the cloud of saints which surrounds us here.