Monday, November 26, 2012

Thoughts from Thanksgiving day

I know I'm a bit late in posting this, as Thanksgiving was last week already.  But, that's how things go.  

This year Thanksgiving was a lot different than last year.  Last year I was sitting at 40 Thieves on the beach of the Indian Ocean.  It was great!  I couldn't get Skype to work with family back home, but at least I had a decent phone connection.  This year, I couldn't even keep a phone call connected in Sibanga.  A few of us celebrated Thanksgiving at the Karibuni Lodge.  Dinner was fantastic!  The food there always is!  

But, Thanksgiving started with more of a difficult time emotionally.  I woke up in the morning and had my morning coffee and morning routine.  Around 8:00 I loaded up 4 of the kids into the van to drive up to the tai stage in the Sibanga market.  I was taking them there along with In Step's social worker because they were on their way to a medical office in Kitale to have their HIV checkup.  Each of the 4 is HIV Positive through birth/breast feeding.  These are 4 very intelligent kids.  4 kids who deserve so much better than this.  All I could think as I drove them was "this is just wrong".  There is something so wrong about the whole situation.  I know that "life isn't fair".  My dad preached that message to me most of my life.  But still, this goes somewhere beyond life not being fair.  To know of the desperate situations they have come from and to know of the horrible disease in their's just wrong in every way.  No one deserves HIV; no one deserves HIV at all.  But to have done nothing at all and still have just doesn't make sense.  

That was the morning.  In the afternoon, I was shown how to change the head dressing for Tracy.  You can read Tracy's story here

Tracy just returned last week from a hospital where another skin graft was done.  Still, a piece of it seems to not be taking right.  As Hoglah showed me the process and we slowly removed the wrap and bandages, I had to force back the tears.  How could any parent do this to their own child?  Again, it's just wrong.  I don't get it.  Not one bit.  It doesn't make sense to me.  How could any parent so badly burn their child and then continue to scratch the wounds open to use that child to beg for money on the streets?  I was talking to Carla about it later and she had a good answer.  She said I don't get it either.  The day I do get it is the day I've been here for too long".  What Tracy's parents did was pure evil and I pray that I never understand that level of evil.  But in the spirt of thankfulness, Tracy is a beautiful, happy little girl!  The whole time that we were with her in the medical room, she was giggling and smiling.  I cleaned and changed the dressing on Saturday again.  She was a blast to be around.  Her smile during the whole thing said that she was going to be okay.  After we were done, I picked her up and walked around with her.  She wouldn't let go of my neck.  We hummed songs and laughed.  I'm thankful that she has overcome the evil done to her.  

While these things do not make any sense at all to me, I'm thankful that I am here to be a part of the healing process for these kids.  I'm thankful that these kids here have a very bright future ahead of them.  It's a huge blessing to watch these kids grow up.  I can't wait to see them as adults.  Leaders in the community and in their jobs.  I'm thankful that what was meant for evil is in the process of being redeemed for good!  

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!  


Sunday, November 11, 2012

The gift of touch

This week has really flown by!  I woke up this time last week after spending the first night at my new home; In Step.  It's been an incredible week too!  We got two more babies this week.  Baby Nate came early in the week.  He was no more than 1 or two weeks old when he was abandoned.  Towards the end of the week baby Ray came.  He was only a two days old when he was abandoned.  He's an adorable little guy too!  Last week our older boys also took mid-terms at a local school.  Next week is finals (crazy, but true schedule because of a teacher strike).

With 121 kids, it gets pretty crazy here sometimes.  It can be loud.  Very loud.  In fact, right now the kids are out on the veranda having church and singing songs at the top of their lungs in Swahili.  I no longer need an alarm because around 6:30 when all of the kids show up in the veranda for breakfast, I wake up.  There is rarely a time in the day where it's totally quiet when the kids are not in class. Even then, there are a bunch of babies making nosies.  Still, it's such a joy!  To hear so many happy voices and see so many giggling faces is a blessing.  Especially when you begin to know some of their stories. They have come from seemingly hopeless situations and are now in a home filled with love and hope.  Hope of a bright future.  Their pasts are in a process of being redeemed.  And that's why I can't help but smile at the noise.  Or when I see a group playing.

One of the things that I've realized this week is that I can't play with every single child all day long.  There're just too many of them. But I've realized that I can at least hold their hand as I walk by.  Or pick them up for a few moments each.  There is something so powerful in that gift of touch.  The kids long for it.  And I think that if we're honest, most of us do too.  It's wonderful to walk past a group of kids and hold them each.  It can be tiring after a dozen kids ask to be held.  But it's a joy too.  To see their smiling face is awesome.  It's as if a child walking by saying "pick me up" is really saying "will you love me".  For me, it's become important to say "yes".  Even if I can't always pick each one up, I can hold their hand, of give them  a hug.