Story One: A Book, a God-send, and a friendship
Meet Nanjala. Here is how I met her: Three years ago, my first book (A Chameleon, A Boy, and A Quest or $1.99 Kindle here) was coming out. A friend Elizabeth was making a video book trailer for me and requested I record my voice as an introduction, and then a reader's voice, using some high quality equipment. We were taking Jack to orientation at Duke, and he and Julia figured out that we could use the audio lab in the university library. Both wisely refused to employ childhood accents to be the readers sounding African . . so I said, let's pray, surely there are African students at Duke who might be in this library. We prayed in the recording booth, then I walked out to look for our answer. There was Nanjala, standing at the circulation desk wearing some Kenyan ear rings. Hoping she would not think I was a crazy person, I struck up a conversation and a friendship. Now that I know her better, I realize that her personality and courage and faith made her the perfect person to step into a recording booth with strangers. She's a nurse from Kenya who earned a scholarship to do a Master's in Global Health. A few months later we met again at URBANA! Then Friday, she was passing through Naivasha and spent the night with us. Nothing is more fun than connecting with bright young people over time, hearing about life as an immigrant to America through Kenyan eyes, getting fresh perspectives on race and justice and culture from an articulate and ambitious woman.
STORY TWO: GOOD NEWS FROM HOME
Long-time blog readers will remember Basime, one of the young people who became like a foster son to us, whom we sponsored in school at CSB and beyond. When Scott was doing his physical exam form for University, he checked Basime's vision and realized he had visual field loss, just before a visiting ophthalmologist arrived. Dr. Bonner diagnosed severe glaucoma and saved Basime from blindness, with herculean efforts to get him to the USA and back. Though he is significantly impaired, he finished a degree in library science, works now at CSB, got married . . . and this week Dr. Marc on our Bundibugyo team delivered Basime's second daughter by C-section at Bundibugyo Hospital. Welcome Natasha!
Below, Isaiah Kule who graduated from CSB in Caleb's class, graduated from Medical School yesterday. Isaiah was one of the Kule Sponsorship students, thanks to Dr Travis and Amy Johnson's advocacy. He's been a delightful, hard-working, faith-filled young man and we look forward to the good he can do in Uganda.
Story Three: Scott's multicultural Birthday surprise
This past Monday was Scott's birthday, and as we anticipated a visit from one of our supporting church pastors, I had the idea of ordering a cake and gathering some of the people with whom we work to meet our visitors. Well, the visitors were delayed but they still provided the perfect cover to lure Scott to the conference room at 4 pm where most of the OB team and a few others waited to surprise him!! We had chai, mandazi's, cake, speeches, and laughter. I told the story of how we met, Nurse Mid-Wife Helen used the occasion to preach about life and the importance of marrying your friend and how all the ingredients of a cake blend to make something sweet even as two people blend to become a blessing, and even the department head Dr. Chege chimed in on theme. It is rare to pull off a true surprise, and this afternoon tea bolstered our spirits as we saw Scott appreciated.
Meanwhile our visitors arrived, from Lawndale and Kibera, two city-areas where the poor have found homes and where God has called people to bear witness to justice and mercy. Scott worked at Lawndale's clinic before we came to Uganda (when I was completing residency) and we worshiped with the church there during our entire five years in Chicago. The young man second from left married the young woman who helped Scott in clinic over 25 years ago. Pastor "Coach" Gordon is in the center. We had a fun birthday dinner with them as we shared about our lives.
Story Four: Pre-Birthday Preaching and Party
A week ago, the day before his birthday, Scott volunteered to be the preacher on Ephesians 3. He talked about the unmeasurable vastness of God's love and how that gives us confidence as we move through life. He even brought a tape measure to talk about "long and wide and deep and tall" and told a story about his dad. That evening, our neighbors joined us and Scott enjoyed all the home-made story-book cards from the Ickes kids.
Below, the sky on the way home from church, Lake Naivasha in the background. Hope you've enjoyed these four stories that have brought moments of gratefulness into our week. Tell us some of yours!