"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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Drought and Growth - March Update

We are experiencing significant drought in Kenya during this typically rainy season.  The grass has withered, and plants and bushes are dying.  Dust devils rise to the sky and fill the air with eye-irritating and face-stinging particles. Crops remain unplanted, and the few entrepreneurs, who sought early harvest by prematurely sowing seeds in anticipation of the rains, succeeded in growing crops that reached mere inches before they ultimately withered.   Food prices are skyrocketing. A five-shilling cabbage is selling for eighty-five shillings. We expect this price elevation to continue throughout the year as time advances through the growing season and the allotted time for the long rains approaches an end. The already unyielding burden on the poor has become weightier - as if that were possible.  Kenya literally can’t afford to miss a growing season.

Paradoxically, during this time of drought and death we’ve watched new life take root in a young girl named Mary.  By Kenyan standards it was consensual, but then again not many countries have legal defense for date rape, particularly in a male dominated culture. Her word against his wouldn’t hold weight even in a loving family discussion.  As she was taught from birth not to question her father’s authority, she transferred this now firm belief to all of her male relationships.  Would that he’d been an honorable man…

Consensual or not, the result was the same, and walking through her nightmare alongside her has not been easy.  Pregnancy forced her to leave college and with it her dreams for the immediate future.  Upon returning to her childhood mud home in the bush and to her mentally challenged mother, she quickly found herself fleeing for her life from the wrath of her brother, who threatened to kill her for becoming pregnant - as if this was what she wanted. Seeking refuge in the home of a distant cousin, she dragged herself to a bush clinic monthly with the money we’d given her.  While gazing at her swollen belly from across the room, the inexperienced nurse nodded that things appeared as if they were going well and dismissed her with nary a touch. When she became sick, the selfsame nurse determined it was malaria and overdosed her with quinine, nearly terminating the pregnancy.

Can we really afford this responsibility, we ask?  Can we afford not to? If we leave her in the bush, she will probably die, or the babies will.  Babies?  Yep, babies. The appointment we made for her at Kijabe Hospital before she traveled “home” confirmed twins.  Our minds drifted back to that first appointment where Dr. Pete spent time listening to her story, gently broke the news to her about her special pregnancy, verbally encouraged her and prayed over her and her unborn children. OK – Kijabe Hospital it is. We’ll figure it out later.

The 37-week ultrasound showed they were sharing a placenta and the smaller twin would not survive unless a C-section was performed.  Early Wednesday morning, I scrubbed in to the operating theatre and held Mary’s hand as the doctor first prayed over her and then inserted the epidural needle.  She was terrified.  Within minutes little Anna Grace emerged, umbilical cord around her neck but screaming, followed by her bigger but younger sister Catherine, in identical twin fashion, also screaming with the cord around her neck. I left the theater with the two of them, and we waited together for their mama to get stitched back together. “There is no way they would have survived in the bush,” I thought marveling at their smallness and sameness as I cuddled them under the warming lights.

Not long after, I bundled them up and walked with joy in both arms down to the recovery room to introduce them to their mother.  Anticipating her delight at seeing such darling girls, I smiled as I scooted back the curtain with my elbow ready for the big presentation.  Mary wasn’t alone.  There were several doctors and nurses surrounding her as she lay in a pool of blood, hemorrhaging. The weight of the girls in my arms increased in significance and sat like a rock on my sinking heart. I deliberately walked back to the nursery, as if the weight were slowing my steps. I rocked babies, prayed and waited.

Several hours, hemorrhagic episodes, pints of blood and pleadings with God later, I tentatively approached Mary, girls in tow, in the maternal intensive care ward.  Weak and exhausted, she turned towards me with effort only a mother can muster to finally fully see her precious daughters.  “These are little angels sent from God,” she exhaled, and then breathed in their intoxicating newborn scent. She pulled them close, and they slept, content to be together again. 

A week later, under the expert watch of the Kijabe Hospital staff, Mary and company were discharged, alive, healthy and grateful. 

There are times when the impossible seems rational, and the decision to bring Mary to Kijabe was one of those.  Our faith has grown as we’ve watched God rescue her and her children by providing in miraculous ways. Isaiah 58:11a says “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, a spring that will not run dry.”  As I think of the sun-scorched earth outside my door, I am humbled at God’s provision not only for us but for Mary, Anna Grace and Catherine. Just as Kenya can’t afford to miss this growth season, we definitely couldn’t have afforded to miss this growth season either.

1 comment:

Andy Steere said...

What an amazing story of Jesus-as-presence, community, and seasons. Thank you for that. We need to have you guys over for dinner before we go on HA end June.