First, an update on the sleep situation around here. It was suggested by a seasoned missionary that we not allow Ella to nap for a few days. She has seven kids, I think, so I trusted her advice. Turns out, it worked! Ella has slept through the last three nights, but if you’ve spent time with little kids, you know what happens when they miss naps for several days, even when nighttime sleep is good. Today I only let her play outside for a short time in the afternoon due to her mood swings. Poor thing. Tomorrow we’ll be back to naps. I’m glad this worked for night time sleep, though. It’s something we’ll surely keep in mind for future travel.
Pete had the entire day off today. We began the day with granola bars and milk from a box (how we drink it here) before a short walk to church. The service today was English-speaking with many hospital employees in attendance. It was a nice, full service. Next week we hope to attend a different local church with new friends. It will likely be in Swahili, which is fine with us. We’re looking forward to the experience.
After lunch Pete and Ella headed outside to play. I took Sam out on a blanket in the grass so he could watch the kids. It didn’t take long before numerous young girls were surrounding him. Such a little ladies’ man already. Most of the girls are very good with babies since they probably help a lot with them at home. Sam loves the attention.
While Sam and I were sitting in the grass, a group of about 8 boys between ages 4 and 12, I’d say, ran up to Pete, asking to play. He had played with them a little the previous day and clearly, they loved it. I really enjoyed watching him interact with them. He makes sure everyone is getting a chance to participate and calls them “friend,” which I know they like.
In the last two days, I’ve seen something beautiful return in my husband. When I first met him a little more than seven years ago, he was working quite a bit with the Sunday afternoon kids’ group at our church in downtown Duluth. He would head out on the bus from the church to pick kids up on the Central Hillside, an area that houses a lot of at-risk kids of all ages. The bus would bring them back to the church where they would play, hear Bible stories, and be loved on. I only saw Pete with the kids a handful of times, but he was amazing with them. He exhibited a pure heart and great love when they interacted. Yesterday and today, I saw that part of him coming back. I had almost forgotten it existed. Medical school and residency have taken so much of his time and energy, making it easy to understand why he hasn’t been able to spend time like that with kids in Duluth. Today he ran and played so hard that he fell asleep shortly after coming in the house, and he just might need some ibuprofen in the morning.
When the boys approached Pete today, they were full of hope that he would want to spend time with them. I could read it in their eyes. As soon as he said yes, their bodies seemed to fill with energy and every one of them either tackled Pete or ran away to start a game of tag. Eventually, a few girls joined the game, too. The pack ran back and forth, up and down the grassy hill, laughing and calling out, “You’re it!” in playful voices. At one point, many of them, including Pete, ended up in the tree house. As soon as they were back on the ground, they kept running. This went on for at least an hour, at which time someone realized how thirsty they were (probably Pete) and they all came running onto our porch.
By this time I was inside with Sam, so I mixed up a quick pitcher of Crystal Light and poured glasses as quickly as I could. I think we did about three pitchers before running out of clean water. We have a couple ways of getting clean drinking water here, but the fastest is to walk up to a big filter near the hospital and fill giant blue jugs. What better task for a big group of energetic boys? Off they went, with Pete as their guide, and all was quiet again on the porch.
The quiet vanished the moment they returned, of course. I saw Pete running down the path with a big blue jug in each hand and a boy on his shoulders. They were racing. And Ella wasn’t far behind. She’s certainly not one to miss out, even if the other kids are more than twice her age. Pete quickly ducked into our neighbor’s apartment to borrow The Jesus Storybook Bible. Without a moment of hesitation, he drew the kids around him in the grass beneath a giant tree and began reading the story of Noah. They were transfixed on what he was saying. He did more than read. He explained things and painted pictures they could understand. I’m guessing that many of these kids go to church with their families, but it was like they had never heard the story before. As soon as the story was over, they jumped back into running and laughing and playing.
What I saw today gave me a glimpse into what God has in store for us. It’s hard to remember the feelings of freedom and play during a packed, often frustratingly so, residency schedule at home. Sometimes it feels like that’s all life is. But we know that God has called us to Africa and that He has brought us here right now to renew our hope in that whole big plan. It’s not going to always be about medicine. Even though we haven’t been here long, we’re experiencing days that include medicine and many other things we love. We had a big family dinner together tonight that I cooked. We don’t get to do that very often at home. It’s so good for our hearts to feel what our future holds.
So even though it may not have been a day of physical rest, it was certainly a day of renewal. For that, I am incredibly thankful.
Yesterday I got to do something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Ladies and gentlemen, I made my very own baby food. What made it so great, in my opinion, was that I was able to use the incredibly fresh fruit and veggies I bought at my own door. Food stands are very common here. On Friday, as I was walking back from an errand at the hospital, I met a young woman named Amy (about my age) who has a stand near the back gate of the hospital grounds. After talking, I told her I wouldn’t be able to buy anything from her that day, but that she should come by so I could purchase something the next day. That’s another common occurrence. Vendors come right to the door with bags of whatever they are selling on a particular day. (What would we have to do to get that going in Duluth?) I bought squash, bananas, and oranges and added those to my stash of apples, pears, and green beans. After bleaching everything (a requirement for nearly all produce), I cooked and pureed batches of squash, apples, bananas, and pears. I froze a good amount of the squash in an ice cube tray for easy storage. Later this week I’ll make more. It’s a bit time consuming, but it’s really the only option here. And it’s super inexpensive.
Please pray for continued peace here in Kenya as the national elections approach on March 4. Last Thursday and Friday were the primary elections, and things went fairly well. We had originally been scheduled to be in Kenya until March 8, but now we’ll be leaving before the elections. Possibly March 1. In 2007 the country erupted after the elections. We think it will be best to leave the country early in case anything does happen. We’re praying for peace over the people here.
Big day for Ella tomorrow…she’s starting preschool! She doesn’t know yet. I wanted her to be able to sleep tonight. Many of the local families have children around her age, so they have preschool three mornings a week. Ella is going to be thrilled. It will also give me some time to have chai with some of the women here I’ve really been wanting to meet.