This, friends, describes the heart of who we want to be. A place to bring wounded hearts and bodies, to tell the story of all the sorrows, to find the healing of Heaven pouring down to earth. So much of that healing comes just by gathering and telling. And the rest comes by a dimension beyond our wildest dreams pouring, seeping, dripping, splashing over into our broken world.
So begins another week. The nursing strike continues. Babies born at private clinics (private sounds ritzy, but in Naivasha generally means for-profit but not necessarily best-practice care), then bundled over to our Newborn Unit which tries to remain functional. Four died Sunday. Four. Another Monday. Coming too little, too late, too damaged. And often passing through hands that don't recognize the dangers. Scott and I keep showing up, keep trying to give input and model compassion and a level of diligence that might make a difference. Some days it feels futile, or like an uphill battle. Some days we clap our hands--our 880 gram 26-weeker hit 1290 grams and 31 weeks now. Another preem who had intractable vomiting and feeding problems for well over a month reached her due date, still tiny and vomiting . . we stopped all her medicines and just had her mom breast feed and hold her. She's ready to go home today. Last night on our what's app group, one CO intern got the baby in this picture a spot at our main referral hospital in Nairobi, Kenyatta, for evaluation of her heart malformations. An off-duty CO intern volunteered to ride in the ambulance with her late at night, since there are no nurses. Small victories, of medicine and of faith, hard to remember in the face of so many tragedies.
This is a map of Health Care Quality and Accessibility gaps, the darker red the color, the more lives could be saved by provision of health care. Kudos to the data people, those who try and collect it, process it, publish it. We need to tell the stories, tell the anguish so to speak, as both real-life babies with names and photos, and as aggregate numbers that put punch behind the vignettes. This map comes from a Lancet article published last week, distilling death data and health worker availability data from around the world all into an index with a single value per country. The good news: health care quality and accessibility are improving world wide. The bad news: the gap between best and worst, richest and poorest, is widening, and here on the continent of too much red, we feel it. Here's a graph from the next volume of the Lancet, that shows how many lives could be saved by straightforward already-discovered health care practices, right here in Kenya alone. Tens of thousands.
So, getting to the top of those bars, requires some telling of the anguish and some healing from Heaven. Some collaboration and education and rainfall and good governance. Some attention and prayer.
First, pray for the upcoming elections. The nursing strike, the general health care crisis, won't be resolved without strong leadership. Pray for Kenya and America, to choose leaders who consider others' needs before their own power and advancement. This was the scene in the grocery store Saturday--people stocking up on maize-flour to be sure they can make ugali, the staple starch, if the elections turn violent and it all falls apart. We bought a bag too; along with our normal fresh food we threw in some cans. Our neighbors reassure us that all shall be well, but then we sense the palpable disease at the hospital where people from multiple ethnic groups work together. Many will go back to their home areas to vote, both because that's where they are registered (aka Luke 2) and because that's where they feel safe. The elections are scheduled for August 8. Every day there is another crisis that throws the whole process into doubt.
Second, pray for our partnership and friendship. These two women I work with reached out to say they wanted to get to know us better. I invited them for lunch. It takes time to build relationship in a new place, and the strikes have made that even more challenging. But as much as we need solid laws and security to provide the stability for development, we need solid connections with real people to build the trust and common vision for lasting changes. And to keep our weary hearts from giving up. Theirs too.
Third, pray for God to move more hearts to help. We're thankful for our overseas partners who pray, who give, and those who are moved to come. Note the old CPAP improvised out of a cut water bottle and a lot of tape, with the re-used-forever dingy tubing on the right. On rounds yesterday we noted once again that there wasn't enough water in the bottle to bubble; that the baby was struggling. So we replaced it with new supplies brought by two NICU nurses. Wala. The spiff clean blue-topped bottle to the left in the photo, where there is a clear "fill to here" mark, and big numbers to dial the depth of the brand new clean clear tubing. Hooray. We need supplies, but we need people more. People willing to be the community in Moore's quote, to move into hard places and invite their neighbors to bring their anguish, to tell their stories. People willing to be channels of God's healing through truth, through education, through practical services like water and food and medicine. Aren't sure where you fit? Fill out this form and Joanna will help you, and us, figure it out.
This is a lot to believe some days. But it's something we stake our lives upon. I like the double entendre of this water drop, a tear most likely representing sorrow, but like Psalm 126 the tear drop can also represent the life-giving water, healing, bearing fruit, the flow of blessing. The last month I've been reading a commentary on Romans, and comparing it to current events and the tragic history of this continent. Our world teaches us that to be in power is to force those "below" to serve, so that all that is desirable is pushed upwards to the few. Jesus turns that upside down, and says Israel the ethnicity and Israel the new broader all-welcome people of God are to be conduits of blessing that flows out, floods down, serves and waters and heals the world.
Including Naivasha. And Kijabe, Nairobi, Chogoria, Litein. Fort Portal and Bundibugyo. Nyankunde and Bunia. Bujumbura, Kibuye. Mundri. People we love, places we long to see healed.