A thrill of hope…the weary world rejoices!
As we sang Christmas carols at our Christmas Eve church service, a familiar and heart-wrenching wailing began in the background, coming from the direction of the hospital. We all know what this sound means…Someone has just lost a dearly loved one. You see, it is rarely a “silent night” at a hospital.
We have just celebrated our second Christmas season in Kenya. It has truly been filled with such joy! But amid the joyful celebrations and rewarding service opportunities, we are surrounded here by constant reminders that we still live in the “messy middle.” This term, “messy middle,” has been used by different people in different ways, sometimes to describe the timeframe between the starting and completion of a goal. But here, I mean the time between the arrival of Christ in human form as the promised redeemer of mankind…and His anticipated return to restore harmony, true PEACE, to His creation.
The struggles of this “messy middle” are not unique to Africa…they are just more intense here… more “in your face” so to speak. The pain of disease, illness, loss, grief…it touches us all at some point. In America, we tend to hide it away if possible. But in this place, a stone’s throw from a hospital in a region where most people live on less than two dollars a day, there is no hiding it. And so we hear wailing while singing carols. Or there’s the Christmas party, interrupted by an urgent request for blood donation for a patient undergoing emergent surgery after a trauma. And there were hundreds of families displaced on Christmas Day in a neighboring county, their homes burned down due to fires set from inter-tribal conflicts. And men with arrow wounds presenting to Tenwek from these same conflicts. And there are daily knocks on our door, asking for help due to these and other struggles. Life is messy.
So, yes, we celebrate Christmas with deeply grateful hearts…as this miraculous coming of Christ to earth gives us hope and promise of things made right and new…and we also longingly yearn for His rule as the true Prince of Peace. This promise gives us true JOY and HOPE even in the midst of pain and suffering. So we strive to LOVE as He taught us…seek PEACE where we can…DEFEND those with no defender…and build God’s kingdom here on earth until He comes to complete the task.
THANK YOU to all who gave toward my “Grown up Christmas list” and to those who give to our ministry year-round. You enabled us to love well this Christmas, and you blessed our community with your gifts. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some pics that describe our Christmas:
We were able to “take” Christmas to one of the local orphanages, Kinduiwa home. It was a fun and humbling experience. We have such respect for the Kenyan pastor and his wife who are committed to the challenging task of raising these children in a safe and loving environment despite very limited resources.
This year we were thrilled to be on the giving side of Operation Christmas Child. After packing boxes in the US for years, this was very special! Tenwek Hospital received boxes to give all of the pediatric patients on Christmas Day.
We had parties at the hospital, with fellow Kenya missionaries, and with the surgery residents. Below are pictures of our chief surgical residents as “living Christmas trees.” This is the closest we will get to a Living Christmas Tree in rural Kenya!
The girls and I continued our now annual tradition of homemade gingerbread houses (more like a village!). This is an anticipated event for the MKs at Tenwek, and one we have come to enjoy. I was much less intimidated this year by the lack of the “kit” and work involved to DIY!
“Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is LOVE and His gospel is PEACE. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of JOY in grateful chorus raise we; Let all within us PRAISE His holy name. Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever! His power and glory evermore proclaim!” ~O Holy Night, verse 3