"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Out of Control

Out of Control

Today was well planned. I spent a good half an hour speaking face to face with the scheduling coordinator last week confirming the plans to see Dr. Bovie, the ENT, today and planning surgery if necessary for tomorrow morning for three of our kids. We talked about how far we were coming and why it was important to have open time on Friday morning for the surgeries. In fact, we had done this exact same thing in September with another child and it was ‘no problem,’ she assured me. I watched as she entered the names into the scheduling book and saw indeed space was available. We arrived at Kijabe last night all prepped for the 9am appointment today.

At 8:55 am we marched down to the clinic, cameras and video cameras in hand, ready to see Dr. Bovie. And he wasn’t there. I looked at the self-same scheduling coordinator with incredulity, reviewing the conversation we had less than a week ago. As if it was my fault, she looked at me and in broken English replied, “The doctor is off on Thursday and he is in Nairobi today and he doesn’t do surgery on Friday.” “But we talked about this last week and it was ‘no problem.” “Yes well his schedule has changed.” “Since last week? Why didn’t you call?” “You need to see Isaiah, the intern, first anyways, and then you will be scheduled to see Dr. Bovie, and then we schedule surgery for another time.” “But we talked about this last week, how we are coming from very far away and how we scheduled this same event in September and you remembered us and how it worked before.” “You just see Isaiah and we will see if he thinks you need to see Dr. Bovie tomorrow.” No apologies, no humility… that’s the way it is…

Angry – ohhh, I was SO angry. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been that angry before, which, I know, is a completely ungodly response, but I was very angry. Biting my tongue – HARD, I walked out with the three children to register them anyways. While waiting at the registration office, this sweet, old, American lady (probably 85 years old), came up to me and said, “Do you need some help?” With tears in my eyes I unloaded my frustration on her. She looked at me and without saying a word to me she put her hand on my back and started praying, “Lord, we know You know why these children are here and You know the timing that is best. We give this to You and know You are in control.” And she hugged me and left.

We spent the next hour getting them registered and then went back up to see Isaiah. Yes, he confirmed, they all three needed to see Dr. Bovie! REALLY?! We just needed to come back after lunch for hearing tests…

So we went back to my parent’s house and ate some lunch. During that time, my dad called from the hospital. For some miraculous reason, Dr. Bovie had returned from Nairobi and my dad was somehow able to speak to him. He relayed our situation to him and Dr. Bovie wanted to see all three children right away in the clinic. We rushed, excitedly down to the clinic. He walked in with a huge smile and said, “Don’t even start talking to me or I will start crying, come on back.” I was already teary. And he took the time out of his day off to see each one of them and to explain what each one needs and to make a plan to get them hearing again! One of them is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning, the others will come back in a few months for their surgeries. It was a truly miraculous day! Miraculous!

So what was this all about? I think partly it was a reminder for me, in my Type A, first-born desire to keep things organized, that I am not in control. And despite my best efforts, I ultimately will fail unless I recognize that God is in control.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Maasai Initiation Ceremony

This last week, we had the rare privilege of being invited to participate in the much anticipated ‘initiation ceremony’ that marks the transition from boyhood to manhood in the Maasai culture! While the traditional ceremony is different from the one we experienced, the Christian men in this community felt the need to re-define tradition and hold a new ceremony that is honoring to God. About a year ago, the boys at the Children’s Home asked if they could participate in this new kind of ceremony because they wanted to be ‘agents of change’ in their community and do something ‘more honorable.’ Needless to say, we are extremely proud of each one of them for making a stand against tradition and for setting an example of living like Christ would! They joined 24 other boys making a total of 30 boys to make this stand!

Preparations began long ago as the proper location, day, and schedule were determined. Speakers were invited and choirs and dancers were booked. Cooks were hired to come in from the Maasai Mara game parks.

The week before, people went shopping and choirs started practicing. The boys all had a new set of clothes and shoes, gifts of ‘shinys’ were purchased by community members, good clothes were washed and ironed, hair was braided, nails were painted, and jewelry was picked.

The day before, the food and grounds preparations began. Chipatti and rice were cooked, and potatoes were peeled. Tents were raised and sound systems were tested.

Then the long anticipated morning came! Two large bulls were rounded up and slaughtered for the meal. Around 11 am the men started arriving. They were served a treat of soda along with their meal. At 12 noon, the women and children started coming. They too were given the same treats with their meal! The men talked together in excited groups. The women arranged their ‘shinys’ and made plans as to who would give them out. The children practiced their dances under the shade of the trees and everyone was happy!

Around 2pm, the ceremony began! Over a thousand people crowded into the large field facing a long row of tents. First the elder men slowly marched in dancing with a choir leading them in. They were followed by the mothers of the boys, who were also dancing and singing. I was among these women, as I represented the sponsored parents of the children! Next came the fathers and pastors led by another choir. Rick came with them. Finally, the boys came in led by the Children’s Home choir among whom were our children! Once everyone was seated introductions were made and the ceremony began! There were various speakers, choirs, and dancers that celebrated for the next 3 hours! It started raining and we still celebrated! There was a special dance in the rain!

Finally, the boys all lined up and we passed out the gifts of ‘shinys’ and candy. They were paraded around and danced around and finally were permitted to go take pictures with their family members!

Then the crowds left and the boys and men went into the house. At around midnight, they individually went into a private sterile room and underwent a circumcision process by a professional surgeon. The boys will remain secluded as a group for the next week while they recover. Then our 6 boys will move to a tent in the bush to spend 3 weeks together. There they will be visited each day by elders, pastors, and leaders in the community, who will speak to them about leadership, being a man, and being a strong Christian. Rick will have the opportunity to visit them during this time!

We are so proud of each of the boys and their determination to make a stand! The will be another weeklong celebration at each home that participated in the event when the come out of seclusion! We look forward to the one hosted at Joseph and Annah’s house!

Church in the Bush

We went to church last Sunday at a church again, in the middle of nowhere. Three churches came together deep in the bush where no white people have ever visited (as far as these people recall). They were a group of colorful, Maasai, Christians who gather each Sunday to worship God. Because it was three churches together, some of them walked from up to 20 miles away to join us!

These people are new Christians. The church here is only about 2 years old but the good news is spreading fast! It was so exciting to see a group of young Christians that were so enthusiastic about Jesus!