I have been home from Kenya for almost 3 days now but it feels like my trip was a lifetime ago. I have a camera full of pictures to edit, stories to write down, and things to share but I find myself unable to do any of them without coming to tears. Why? Because I miss it. I miss being there so much already my heart aches. While this may sound crazy and you may not understand, Kenya is my second home.
This medical mission was a blessing in my life. Two years ago I fell in love and wasn't sure if I would ever make it back. Than a phone call came one day at a time when I was down about my purpose and God's plan, leading me back to be His healing hand once again. This time it was harder to leave. This time I really got to know the people who walk amongst the red clay roads, spend all day with backs aching as they tend to their crops, who carry jugs of water ( muddy water) for miles back home, and who have the brightest eyes and biggest smiles you will ever see. This time people became like family to me. Relationships were built that will last a lifetime. This time I saw a glimpse of my purpose in life; to be God's healing hand in the villages surrounding Atemo.
I became a nurse for many reasons. First, I felt called. Led by the Lord into this field. Second, I truly love to care for others. But I now know that there was something more. That back when I was 17 and debating with my Dad about my future, God was already stirring inside me feelings about being a nurse because He knew one day I would use these gifts, these talents, and His love to reach the people in Kenya. No matter where my nursing career takes me. No matter what area of the hospital I will work in. I will always serve in Kenya as well. It's my calling. And someway, somehow I know God will continue to lead me back there throughout my life.
I have so many stories to share and so many pictures to show. I promise I will get to them as many have been asking to see how our clinics went. In the meantime, pray for this reverse culture shock I am going through. I didn't realize what I funk I was in until Trav told me I had been down ever since I returned. The hardest part about being there was not having Trav with me. The hardest part about being home is that he can't possibly understand what I saw, what I experienced, or how I feel. It's frustrating for both of us as I want so badly for him to know how things were and he wants to be at the same place I am. And of course, I don't want to be down. Yet there is a massive Kenyan sized hole inside me and I now need to pray about how I can serve from here.
The one picture I have edited I will share about. This little babe came into my exam room on the last day of clinic in the village of Dago. After taking him from his mom I snuggled him through my exams on the family. I didn't want to let him go and as I gave him a final squeeze I told my translator I was going to put him in my suitcase and take him home with me. I wasn't expecting the response I got. The mom looked at me and said, "Yes, please." After they left the room I sat down in slight shock. How could a mother be so quick to give her child to a mazungo? Ruth, my translator, filled me in on the life of these women. They work all day to tend to the crops, laundry, children, you name it while the men head into town, taking with them the crops that should be saved in case the family needs to trade for something and spend it on drinking and who knows what else. The women are left with the labor, often finding that they can't come up with enough food everyday to feed their whole family. Their families that are so large because they are forbidden to use any form of birth control. The men will not allow it so these 27 year old moms have 6 children and the burden of not being able to provide for them. On top of that many take on family member's children when the parents die of AIDS and other diseases. So when she heard my comment to her it meant her child could finally be cared for in the way he needed. My heart broke.
Another prayer request is for next fall. I have been asked to come back. But this time, Trav will come too. As we pray over this we know that if it is in His plan for us to work side by side serving Him in Kenya things such as timing, funding for the trip, time off of work will fall into place. I am already excited at the possibility of serving with my husband and introducing him to a place I call home.