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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

a short thankful list

Fifth day back in Africa, third day of work, and starting to feel like we never left.  I'm getting used to sweatshirts and down blankets, to the rattle of wind and the cadence of Swahili.  But I'm not used to the absence of half our family.  Rinsing dishes, setting out the morning granola, hearing the motorcycles, walking into the bedrooms, the startling absence of guitar chords, all leave a gap.  More like a crater.  So tonight I'm remembering a few things to be thankful for.

 First, Scott.  This is us in our favorite airport, Schipol, on the way home.  Only the coffee gives you a hint that we had been awake for more than 24 hours straight at that point . . . This year has involved a lot of separation, and more to come, something I didn't think we'd allow in our lives but now seems to be part of the territory of compromise.  Allowing children to be different ages with different needs, allowing jobs to continue.
 These smiling faces.  Julia hard at work on a Bible paper, when she's not at tennis practice, or a meeting.  She's a jewel.

And Acacia shown here working on an art project, standing as she prefers when working.  Note the incredible drawing of her cleat.  So thankful to have her in our family for a good chunk of the year.

Jack I think refused to be photographed . . .

NMy USAFA paraphernalia.  Besides the rainbow moment, the placement of Caleb in the THUNDERBIRD squadron was a most confirming moment for me that he's in the right place.  My dad's car, and the camp where Scott and I worked the summer after college.  This was like walking into the chapel at Yale and hearing a hymn that meant something very specific to me, ways that God affirmed His presence and planning.  On a lighter note, my mom found this late 1940's pillow in an antique shop in the small town where my Dad grew up.  She had to buy it.

This baby was born on Tuesday.  She weighed 760 grams with all her equipment, and was an unexpected precipitous surprise at 26 weeks, feet first, head caught, an all-around disastrous start to life.  But she's pink and fighting, and her parents raised 13,000 KSH ($160, no small sum in this place) to buy her surfactant, a slippery soapy liquid derived from the lungs of pigs and cows that should be present to smooth and expand all lungs, but is not developed at 26 weeks.  So day two of work saw me struggling to pass an endotracheal tube into the minuscule airway of this tiny girl after more competent but less senior people failed.  It took two tries and a bold out-loud prayer but we got it in, and today she was improved, huffing along with the extra airway pressure blowing into her nose, but no added oxygen.  And though her chances of survival are still slim, between her spunk and her parents' love and my doubt we had to try.  Partly because of babies like the one pictured here:
Her mother walked and hitched rides on a motorcycle at night when she was born tiny and premature, arriving at Kijabe holding baby Leah against her skin for warmth.  Now she's about as cute as they come.  This is the goal, a growing active alert little person who eats and cries and is almost ready to go home.  

Home is on my list, with the profusion of blooms where once there was mud alone.  The top picture our gardener Ernest created around a bare stump that has now been engulfed in flowers.  Though this house looked cluttered and dirty and small after America, five days in it feels quite homey.  I'm thankful for this place.

Chardonnay and Star.  Nothing beats a dog.  Chardonnay is perky and pesky, Star tolerates her. (Luke take note that C is outside, and S moved inside . . )  I've taken them on some walks/jogs since returning.  Today a mentally ill frequenter of these paths saw me go by with Star, and said in the friendliest way, something along the lines of "you're running!  We clap our hands for you!"  Made me feel nearly olympian.

NOT PICTURED but the most important:  friends.  Anna L and Bethany F are now working at RVA, Anna for at least a year and Bethany for one term.  Wonderful to have team mates, people who have known us for a decade and counting, people who worked with us in Bundi.  And they're both just wonderful women.  Karen M was here when we arrived, orchestrated by God to give us a welcome.  Last night we had a prayer time with a couple of neighbors.  It's been wonderful to see my good friend and partner Mardi, and to welcome new paediatricians (3 since I left!).  More on all those people when I remember to snap their photos.  Then there are RVA friends, our fellow-sponsors of Julia's class, our fellow nurses and parents and teachers.  There's nothing like connection to ease the sorrow of goodbyes.  We've been here for less than two years, but the relationships are deepening and precious.

So we're back, immersed, in work and meetings, patients and phone calls.  We're reading books and making meals and mourning the terrible news from Libya and Egypt tonight, the news that reminds us we are strangers in a strange land in many ways, and Africa is vast and other and capable of anger.  But Africa is also home, and friends, and solid useful work, and history and love.

1 comment:

Jill Donnelly said...

I love that! "You're running!" Jennifer, you run in every area of your life. I clap my hands for you too!

I was blessed to be taken on a cruise by my 81 year old aunt who had a brain aneurysm after booking the cruise. After weeks in the hospital and a month in rehab, she returned home and gained strength and we finally got to go last week. I kept throwing my hands in the air and shouting "We're on a cruise!!!" Definitely worthy of a clap also.

So glad you're home, and I continue to pray for you all.