rotating header

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Snapshots of the week

Jolting along a rutted track at over 10,000 feet in the Aberdare Mountains, testing each mud-hole with a stick lest we become stuck out of the range of cell phones, having not seen another human all day. Bamboo gives way to heather, bogs, grasses, sky and more sky. Acacia spots wild dogs, rare carnivores which hunt in packs, their variegated ears round and large and effective, pointing up through the tall grass. Then we come around a curve and a large feline crosses the road, jumps up on the embankment, and turns to watch us, crouched, poised. It is a leopard, sleek, powerful, perfect. Time suspended, we ease down the windows, watch, awed. Then it saunters away.

Rain sweeps over the plateau, at ten thousand feet, chilling dampness. We decide to leave our remote tent site and drive to a simple shelter built for group camps, to be dry as we cook dinner. The setting sun dips below the clouds and sparkles back a vivid rainbow, a full arch across the sky as we light our charcoal. I roll out simple naan flatbread cooking each round over the coals while Scott grills the chicken, and we all eat huddled around the fires, with our fingers, ravenous and thankful.

The Norwegian blood rises to the surface as always, and everyone decides to go for a swim in the icy mountain stream, where a 100-foot waterfall pours into shady pools. Breathtaking. Painful. Alive.

Shivering into the delicious warmth of a down sleeping bag, dry and protected from the night's downpour, as a hyena barks and whines in the darkness not too far away. And awakening to a cloudless alpine vista, the night washed clean.

Sitting by the window in our Treetops hotel room, where the current Queen Elizabeth stayed on a Kenyan tour in 1952 the night her father died and she was transformed from Princess to Queen 60 years ago. Scott reads aloud from our friend Josh Trott's excellent adventure/fantasy/allegory book while I watch bushbuck, eland, buffalo, warthogs, and later and elephant all come and go from the waterhole below.

We get texts on the way back to Kijabe that a sweet couple who came to have their baby at Kijabe have indeed delivered during the night. We're sorry we missed the event, and hurry over to see them as soon as we pull in. Having had two babies here, and for other indefinable reasons, I feel a real connection with this family. So it's an honor to be asked to pose for a photo with baby Ashton.

Plunge back into the hospital: complicated patients, anxious parents. Scuffling through the corridor in a sterile gown and cap, cradling the newly delivered infant of a mother who has not one but two serious potentially (and eventually) fatal diseases herself, and has just produced a baby with hydrocephalus, a fluid-ballooned brain. The baby is not breathing, but a minute of expanding her lungs with air from the ambu bag and drying her blue wet skin and positioning her huge head, and she begins to whimper, then cry. Death to life. Never gets old.

Sitting with another couple, gently explaining that their baby's brain injury confirmed by CT scan is catastrophic. Leaving room for miracle, room for hope, but pointing to Heaven as well. Life to death, never gets comfortable.

Up to RVA for Spiritual Emphasis Week, hand-raising drum-rolling guitar-vibrating worship with complicated riffs and energetic passion, then a powerful prophetic no-hold-barred preacher who was once a Kenyan MK and RVA student himself. Messages full of Scripture and truth and challenge, radical stuff. Sitting in the back and praying, knowing that the harsh words about holiness and glory suffering and death will be hard for many to hear, the wrathful picture of God may be frightening, but also that many will be stirred and changed.

Chatting with my expat patients whom I love to see, with colds and motorcycle scrapes, then back to the ICU with a child whose intractable seizures after surgery for a brain tumor require massive intervention, then back to the premature twins huffing along with perhaps too much expenditure of energy, watching, wondering if they will turn the corner soon, and which way.

And it's only Thursday.

No comments: