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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rain and Parties and the muddy blessings of community

 Rain respite.  Sunday evening, the incessant April deluge let up for a few hours.  Just enough time for all eight new Medical Officer Interns to join us in making pizza.  These young men and women will spend a year here at Kijabe, the transition from medical student to fully qualified physician.  Rotating through Paediatrics, OB, Surgery and Medicine.  Taking call every fourth day and night.  Admitting patients, going on rounds, churning through outpatient charts, assisting in surgeries, answering pages, reading texts.  Becoming competent.  And occasionally, having fun. 

 Kenyans have a natural knack for pizza making.  A culture that loves chapatis knows how to handle a rolling pin and dough.  Our interns are adventurous eaters, laughing, willing to try new food combinations.  They tease each other and discover the art of Italian cooking.  And we enjoy seeing them OUTSIDE the hospital.  Learning that one has seven sisters.  Another has a dad in the military and plans to serve himself.  Three are engaged, five are unattached.  In three weeks together they have sorted themselves into roles:  mom, dad, activities coordinator, pastor, cook, exercise instigator, etc.
The group at our door (my hair loves this rainy weather . . )
 Our vision statement at Kijabe Hospital:  Providing excellent and compassionate health care and spiritual ministry to the most vulnerable, extended across East Africa through training.  This night reminds us of one of our primary roles: to pour ourselves into these eight lives.  By God's grace modeling good medicine delivered with compassion in a way that points people to Jesus.  So that in the years to come, the small amount we can do is multiplied as these young doctors move out to areas more remote and needy. 
 Another night, another party.  Every Monday station families take turns hosting a dessert night for welcoming new visiting missionaries.  Problem is, Mondays can be kind of crazy. Julia came on rounds with me, her last day of break.  But then graciously came home to get a start on dessert-making.  I walked in the door at lunchtime to help her when I was paged for a 999 code (dying baby).  So much for baking. Thankfully Scott the "cake boss" rescued me, and made dinner too.  I next tried to come home at 6 pm, walked in the door, and the same page for the same baby trying to die again.  Oh well.  I finally made it home just ahead of our visitors, and my family had done everything to be ready.
 We had several new missionaries, several leaving, and a good number of long-term regulars too.  In a place with high turn-over of volunteers it can be a challenge to connect.  I'll never be the "best" friend of people who have spent a decade or more together . . but I am thankful for growing friendships as we pray and serve side by side, sharing griefs and joys.  And occasionally, cake.  Plus many of the one-to-six month doctors have a gift for quickly connecting and selflessly serving.  We will genuinely miss the young family, single woman, and retired couple all departing this week.
A stripe of sun-glow above the rain-sogged earth and below the heavy clouds, as I walked home from the second code Monday evening.  Thinking about redemption.  About the God who transforms mud into crops that sustain, who brings blessing from clouds.  Who made it clear to us two years ago that we were leaving Bundibugyo, team, neighbors, home, community, work, everything . . but who has brought us to a place with abundant opportunities for teaching, for fellowship, for people to love and serve and feed. 

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