The doctor’s office was simple and bleak. The walls were empty except for the chipping beige paint on stone walls connected to a stone floor. There were two worn cots with a simple white sheet on each one and a small wooden desk with a chair on either side.
This was the room where a young Somali mother brought her dying, infant son and the room where I came face to face with a malnourished baby.
This wasn’t an infomercial and there were no famous actors and film crews pleading to me through the television. Less than a foot away from me was a baby boy – barely breathing with sunken cheeks and a bloated stomach. His arms and legs were like toothpicks and he laid in his mother’s arms lifeless. Except for a faint irregular breathe that sucked my own breathe out of me.
The mother was young and guarded. The volunteer doctors that I was there with tried to get information from her but her answers were vague. Who knows why … Muslim girl in an Islamic neighborhood in a Christian clinic; young and scared; threatened by someone…. We didn’t know. We just needed answers if this baby had any chance of living. And even with an answer it didn’t seem likely that this young boy had a chance at a future.
The baby hadn’t eaten in weeks. Why? We don’t know. But the baby was starving to death. I literally thought he would die in her lap and several times we all paused waiting for another breathe to escape from his tiny mouth. I’ve never felt so helpless. The doctors felt the same way. They didn’t have the resources at the clinic to help the boy and there was no reason to believe the woman would do what was needed now if she wasn’t willing or able to do so before. The nearest hospital would not see her because she had no money and Somalians are hated by most Kenyans. The doctors debated what to do knowing the baby had only minutes. They reached into their own pockets and gathered enough money to send the mother and baby to a nearby mission hospital. They went out and secured the ride themselves to make sure she went. They weren’t hopeful that the baby would even make it to the hospital. But they had to try. They had to do something.
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I own part of a cow in Africa. I was thinking of her today and what a beautiful cow she is. I haven’t seen her but she is beautiful because of God’s story in her. Like so many of us – beautiful because of God’s story in us.
In June, we went to Kenya to spend time with our friends and our partners. On the second morning, our partner Joel picked us up to take us to the House of Hope.
‘How did you sleep last night, Joel?’ I asked.
‘Not so well. Our cow. She died.’
Thinking my broken English was too broken, I said with the deepest compassion – ‘What?!’
‘Our milking cow died last night.’
Not the actual cow but a friendly Google cow for this post.
Their only milking cow – that they only had one week – got sick in night, bloated beyond help, and died. Joel went up to the home in the night while the children were sleeping to take care of things.
Our team was shocked. We had just mocked that cow the day before as it grazed on the soccer field. We mourned with Joel who didn’t need this kind of blow. Every day he fights to keep his head above water and to care for these 23 children. Now, he was out 40,000 shillings ($400) which can be nearly 10 months salary for many Kenyans. With school fees, food needs, medical bills, salaries to pay and water to buy due to no rain, Joel didn’t have the money. But he never said that. Joel never expressed doubt – only faith. Faith that God would provide.
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I leave for Kenya Monday morning at 9:30 am. The team covets your prayers for safe travels and for God to bless every aspect of our trip.
I am traveling with four others for a 11 day trip to our partner country, Kenya. Although we will not be working directly with our partner school on this trip, we will be working with some missionaries there that we have connected with on our previous trip.
- Depart Monday, June 1st
- Arrive in Nairobi on Tuesday night and travel to the town of Naivasha
- Work at the House of Hope orphanage in Naivasha from Wednesday – Sunday.
- Monday, June 8th, we travel to Masai Mara National Park and stay the night there. (As I type this, I am watching a special on the Discovery Channel about the animals in this region. It is a fascinating and inspiring place.)
- Wednesday, June 10th, we travel to Nairobi for the day and flight out that night at 10 pm.
- Thursday, June 11th – arrive to St. Louis at 4 pm.
We are so grateful for your prayers! I will continue to post brief updates from the trip so please check daily throughout the trip.