Thursday, June 30, 2011

God is WILD about you!

"He's Wild! He's Wild! God is Wiilllddd about YOU!" Trav has come to find it normal that I dance around the house singing this song with my hands in the air doing the hand motions. No, it's not a new release on the Fish. It's even cooler than's from Vacation Bible School last week!

Due to school or work I haven't been able to help with VBS since I was in high school. When I realized that this summer my schedule is a little too free, I jumped at the chance to spend a week with these kiddos and teach them about how God really is wild for each one of them. My good friend put the whole week long event together and did an incredible job. I mean, incredible. Even the smallest details were planned with perfection. What amazed me even more was that throughout the week she never showed signs of stress or being frazzled. There was always a smile on her face. It was contagious.

The theme this year was Panda Mania, God is WILD about you! The kids loved it! From visits from Kung Fuey every morning to movie mania, tasty snacks, bible adventures, water games, and cool crafts we had busy fun filled mornings. I had a class of 11, all mixed ages, that was named "Komodo Dragons". One girl in my crew made up our cheer that went like this, " Komodo Dragons one by one. We shine God's light because we are having fun!" So cute! 

One of my favorite parts of the week was having Vander, my nephew, in my crew. I didn't think they would let him because he is only 4 but they did! It was so fun watching him get excited about everything, learn the memory verses, wanting to help the Living Water fund and walk away talking about the Bible stories along with everything he learned. It was a fun week from our car rides to and from VBS, watching his little faith grow, hiding from the water gun shooting panda, and getting to spend so much time together! For being only 4 I was amazed at how he kept up with the big kids and how smart he is! On the last day he volunteered to go up front and recite a memory verse in front of everyone! Way to go Van!
Van going into the belly of the big fish for bible time!

At the end of the week there was a wrap up BBQ held at the school with bounce houses, hot dogs, ice cream, and.....the real Jana Alyra. :) We took Van and Huddy as our dates. I have to say, it was one of the best nights we have had. We grabbed our hot dogs and hamburgers, spread out our blanket, and before you knew t we were having a picnic with some of the other kids from our crew. Vander and Huddy ran off with Brandon, another Komodo Dragon, and disappeared into the land of the bounce houses! During the concert they sat up towards the front and danced the whole time. Both were called up on stage to sing with Jana. They loved it! After dropping them off I looked at Trav and said," Nights like this make me..." and before I could complete my sentence he finished it for me by saying, "...excited to have kids one day!" 

It was a special week, both with Van and being able to lead a group of fantastic kids into being on fire for the Lord. At a time where I have been missing Kenya I was thankful and blessed for the opportunity to serve His children right here. The book, Heaven is for Real, stresses how much Jesus loves the children. I can truly see how He works through them to reach all of us. There is nothing like a child's faith!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Learning to Surrender

I took a small hiatus from bloggin about my Kenya trip. I guess I did for many reasons. My brother in law got married at the beginning of June and with all the festivities, I forgot about hopping on here. After coming home from Santa Rosa we had family visiting from the Philippines and than I went right into teaching VBS for a week. But let's face it, those really aren't reasons just excuses I have made up in my head. The real reason I was purposefully not making time to sit down and recap my trip was simply: I miss Kenya.

The other day my husband and I were watching, Invictus. Thinking back, since I have been home from either trip I have never watched a movie that took place in Africa. I spent the movie missing the little things. The run down buildings. The half painted walls. Children running around the street, barefoot with torn clothing. Random games being played along the side of the road. Women walking around with their possessions on their heads. The music. The language. Crowded streets. The people. I was homesick. I had that feeling in my gut that I used to get when I would go away for summer camp and missed being home. Why do I miss Kenya so much? Why can't I let this reverse culture shock go? Why do I wake up in the morning and wish there was a mosquito net over my bed? Why do the faces of the children run through my dreams? Why does my heart ache throughout the day to be back in the countryside?

The other night we were at the Fishfest and my sister in law asked me how my reverse culture shock is. I lied at first and said ok. (Actually, I never fully told her how rough it's been because I probably would have burst into tears in public.) Than, I opened up a little. She must have been reading my mind because she asked right at the time I was sitting there listening to the music thinking, "If only I could pick this concert up and drop it in the middle of Atemo." She is one of the few people I can say I think it's weird being in a place with so many white people and not think I am out of my mind. ;) 

You probably think I am crazy since I was only there two weeks. Maybe you are right. But it's something I can't totally describe. It's where I am supposed to be. I am without a doubt called to serve there. I am not saying pack up and move. However, I do know that somehow I will always return.

I think one of the hardest things is finding my purpose right now. Not having a job is rough. It makes me feel like my days aren't worthwhile. I need to snap out of that quickly. But these thoughts keep running through my head." I'm made for something more. I want to help the worst of the worst. I want to walk among people who are in a great need of love, healing, and you, Lord. I want to be challenged. I want to be taken out of my comfort zone. I want to be stripped of all things worldly. I want to be a trader." I wake up to these thoughts. They run through my dreams. They are there in the shower, in church, while I eat. It's constant. So, what does it mean, Lord? What am I supposed to be doing? What is my ministry right now, right here?

A good friend who we refer to each other as "africa sisters" gave me this soon after I came home...

Two weeks ago a missionary came to our church and said, “In college the Lord asked me if I would go anywhere for Him. And knowing my heart He then asked, even the United States?”

This spoke volumes to me. While I was in Uganda last January through March I fell in love with the people of Kampala. I saw our family living there, serving in the slums, the orphanages, and filling our home with kids off the streets. While I was there the Lord spoke to my husband and He asked Nathan if he would be willing to move our family to Uganda someday. He said yes.

For months my heart ached and I obsessed about going back. I asked the Lord, “Why aren’t we there Lord? Why are we here? We are willing to go. Why haven’t you called?”

Through prayer I have come to understand that just because He asked, it doesn’t mean go. He may have asked to see if we were willing. He may have asked because someday we will go. I don’t know why He asked, but I do know that He is perfect and His plan is perfect.

Several months ago in an evening church service the Lord pointed His loving finger at an area in my heart I needed to surrender…

my will.

So I wept to the alter and laid down my will.

And traded it in for His.

Right now His will is for us is to serve right here in this city.

And I have found victory.

Victory in picking up garbage off the sidewalks with my children.

Victory in holding hands with saints in the nursing home.

Victory in praying with aching, addicted, women who do desperately want Jesus.

Victory in watching my oldest daughter serve turkey to people in this city for her birthday.

Victory in playing board games with men and women who do not have a place to call home.

Because the people in Marion, Indiana and Kampala, Uganda are all His children.

This city, Marion IN, is the perfect place for me and my family right now.

He is perfect.

He is always perfect.

His will is perfect.

And He always, always knows what is best.

This is His best for me.

And I love where He has me.

So, I am ready to surrender. Ready to let Him show me what He has in store for me right here. To let His will be done. Please, lead me to where I can help, Lord. I am thankful that He does know what is best for my life and I am waiting with an open heart for whatever is next. 

Here is a song from the movie Invcitus that I love. Pretty sure I leave it on repeat multiple times a day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kenyan Meal

During our time in Kenya we really ate like royalty. It's funny because I packed bags of snacks ( granola bars, trail mix, jerky, and more) thinking I really wouldn't eat that much. But, once again, I forgot. I had forgotten how much I love the food there. Call me crazy, it's ok. :-)

Pictured above is one of our usual dinners. I will do my best to describe the food to you. Your mouth may not be watering right now, but after one bite of chapati you will want it every day!

Teeny Tiny Bananas: Though small, they are scrumptious. And a safe fruit to eat on our own without worrying about getting sick. They are literally as big as my finger but completed any meal!

Chapati: ( by the bananas, looks like tortillas) I am in love with chapati. We had a cooking lesson where we learned how to make it. Once we are back from the wedding weekend I plan on introducing Trav. It is kind of a mix between a tortilla and flat bread. It is cooked on the griddle and so, so, so yummy!

Kachumbar:  ( behind chapati, red dish) A mix of chopped tomatoes and onions with a little pepper. 
(and probably something else) Surprisingly, a dish that seems so plain was so good! You usually eat it with ugali and one night we put it on noodles which was excellent.

Goat ribs: The first night we had them I devoured mine. They were so good! i was assuming it was chicken. No, that is a lie. It was darker than chicken but I guess I didn't want to question the source of my protein. Joel made a joke that one of the guard dogs was missing. Low and behold when we were finished we learned it was goat. First time I had it and loved it.

Ugali: ( the big, white ball) Ugali is a staple in Kenya. In the villages, it is eaten everyday. Usually the kids just get one serving of ugali each day. That's all they eat. If they are lucky they may have beans served with it or sukuma wiki. But since they all have maize crops it is the easiest and cheapest form of food. It is also served with meals at restaurants. You usually eat it by rolling it up with your fingers and dipping or scooping up the side dish with it.

Sukuma Wiki: ( the bowl of greens ) A make shift veggie stew. Usually kale, I believe. ( my mom would be proud I ate it!) The name itself means " stretch the week" because when they eat it they make it last a really long time.

So, as you can see, we did not go unfed. Instead, we ate traditional Kenyan meals and fell in love with some! Ooo, I am craving a warm piece of chapati right now!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Clinic begins!

Our first day of clinic was here! I would like to say I bounded out of bed. But it definitely took some stretching, yawning, and a," can't I just hit my snooze for 5 more minutes?" to get up. I will say though, it felt great to put scrubs back on. We organized everything we would need for the day than headed up to the big guest house for breakfast. ( ok, and some much needed coffee!) Once again we were spoiled by the ladies in the kitchen with a breakfast feast! The vans were packed and we were off!
( Please note in this picture the helmet was totally necessary. If you sat in that seat as a man you were guaranteed a head injury. Earl learned the hard way on the drive to Atemo.)
There was something I had forgotten about the last trip. The drives. As we road through Atemo than on to the dirt roads leading to the clinic, kids lined the streets shouting, "Mazungos! Mazungos!" You would hear squeals as they first looked at the vans coming down the road and than saw they were filled with Americans. Out in the fields men and women would stop their plowing or planting to stand up straight and watch us drive by. We were constantly waving and I don't think you could wipe the smiles off our faces as we waved to these little ones.

As we pulled into the clinic compound our eyes grew wide as we saw there was a crowd waiting for us. The word was out: American doctors are in town! Most of the kids stared right back with wide eyes as the strange white people unloaded the vans. Surprisingly, clinic was set up rather quickly and before I knew it I had my first patient!
Yes, it was a child. I knew right than it was going to be a great day because I already was able to snuggle a sweet Kenyan. We moved at a fast pace. The triage station was right outside my room and I often would grab patients to triage myself to help the flow and also, if you recall from my post here, I was slightly timid prescribing and diagnosing on my first day. There was a good amount of women that came through my door that day, all complaining of back pain, headaches, inability to sleep, and pain "everywhere." I prescribed them pain meds but I wanted to say, " Let me give you a day off. How about you just go rest and relax. I'll walk the miles and get your water for you today." Think about that. How often to you find yourself saying," I'm tired. It's been one of those days and I need a break. To just get away and have time to myself." I do it all the time which is comical because I am unemployed, no longer a student, and I don't have children. These women don't know what time to themselves or simply relaxing for a day is. I would give anything to have taken their workload for a day so they could rest. But, instead, along with their pain meds, they were given a warm smile, a casual hug, or a gentle rub on their back.

Above are pictures of patients waiting outside the pharmacy for their meds as well as the inside of the pharmacy in Tala. Let me tell you, these ladies worked hard! For each person who came to the window there were 2-3 prescriptions that needed to be filled for each member of the family of 4-5. They stood on their feet all day and never once complained. They were quite the pair!
Joel and Brenton were hard at work treating patients all day. Sharing their room was a Kenyan doctor as well. I could hear them talking from where I was in my room and I would listen in as Joel explained everything in great detail to Brenton, who being pre-med soaked it all up. Joel is great with all who come through the door but he is especially great with the kids. I could hear the slaps of high fives and the compliments on "princess" dresses. The kids loved him just as much!
It amazes me also how there was a constant patient flow all day. Never a lull or a lag. Just one after the other from start to finish. And they all waited so long. I get beyond impatient if I have a doctors appointment and they do not call me back on time. Yet these people come early in the morning and hang out all day long until it is their turn. Some even get sent away, unseen, when clinic is over.

I had to sneak away at times to check on the kids outside. Sometimes I wondered why they were staring at me so weird because I forgot that my white skin stuck out to them. I look back at the pictures I have with the kids and I can't help but see the absolute beauty of our skin colors next to each other.
Taking pictures of all the kids was a hoot because they all love seeing themselves on the screen afterward. They would squeal and shriek, some even were a little shy, as they picked each other out of the pictures. Even the moms and grandmas liked to see them too! 

Our first day of clinic was a great success. ( Well, minus my ooops incident but I will write about that in a different post!) Driving home was similar to the drive to clinic as we all waved to kids the whole way home. Dinner was once again a feast and we were so spoiled by our chefs! The night ended with starting a game of "Phase 10" that would later be known as "Skip Larry" only to be played every night until usually midnight. Who needs sleep, right?

After a great first day we were ready for another day of clinic, another day to be God's hands there in Kenya, to love on His precious people, and another day to let His light shine through us.