Sunday, April 10, 2011

Back to life and Good bye

So this is my final blog post. I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. It has been good for me to write and when I start scrapbooking all my pictures these posts will end up in the pages. I am settling back into life here. I have moved in with a friend - will soon start looking for my own place (if you know of a good one bedroom preferably in the West End let me know), I bought a car and worked a few days at the hospital.

Life is back to normal, I guess, except I am not the same. I picked up a little bit of Kenyan culture and my friend looks at me funny when I say sorry, even when it is not my fault - very Kenyan. I have been tempted to say Kenyan phrases like si jooey, and Sawa sawa (not sure about the spelling) for I don't know and ok. Working at the hospital is just like before, in some ways it seems like I never left. Except when I was at a ventilator in-service and I learned that the vent has a back up battery - good, I thought, then when the power goes out we don't have to bag. Then I remembered I am back in Canada and the power at the hospital (almost) never goes out. It also is strange what is normal to me now. I was talking to the staff here and saying that in Tenwek we would often have two babies (occasionally three) in the same warmer - they thought this was very strange, to me this seems perfectly normal. I am also getting used to assessing white patients again - they are much easier because they change colour. It was very hard to see if a Kenyan was jaundiced, cyanotic, mottled etc. unlike white people who change colour.

It has been great to see my friends here again, and enjoy take out. However I miss Kenya, the people, the hospital, the weather etc. I wonder what God has in store for my future. There is a strong possibility that I will go back, probably longer. So I will look into the logistics of that. Those of you here, don't worry that I will be leaving again so soon. It will take at least a year or two for me to figure things out. For those of you in Kenya who wish I would come sooner - pole (Swahili for sorry). I hope you enjoyed this blog. Thanks to my editor for making this understandable. I am done blogging until I have more adventures at Tenwek. Anyone reading this who has questions about Tenwek or respiratory mission work feel free to e-mail me at . Thank you and goodbye.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Coming Home

As promised in my last post I am writing about culture shock and coming home. My last week was a week of goodbyes at Tenwek, a goodbye party with all the missionaries at Tenwek, goodbye to the church, goodbye to Sunday school class and youth group on Sunday, goodbye to the hospital staff on Wednesday. A walk Wednesday afternoon to say a last goodbye to the missionaries.  A goodbye supper Wednesday night followed by the last fire on the porch. Thursday was the last goodbye to friends before hopping in the van and heading off to the airport. 
Great friends
Sunday School Class

My ICU nurse friends

I was able to car pool with a few other people flying out so we hired a van and off we went. Travel in Kenya is always interesting between the matatus full of people and the donkey carts. We had no trouble until we reached the town of Narok, where nothing was moving. We wove our way to the front of the congestion and discovered that people had blocked off the bridge. Our driver went off to see what was up I don’t know if i got the whole story but the jist of it was that the businessman were protesting (by blocking off the road) due to the flooding that occurred yesterday – they wanted money.  Soon after we learned what was going on, the riot police showed up and for our safety the driver took us back about a mile. Here we sat. There was no way around the blockage with the exception of driving through the river, which some people were driving through. However, we were not in a large vehicle and the driver did not think we could make it through the river that just flooded. Our option was sit there or head back to Tenwek and to Nairobi over Kericho than Nakuru – a 6 hour detour. Nairobi is only ~2 hours from Narok so we sat.
As we sat, I realized how much I have changed in the last few months, the old me would have been worried for my safety, and very stressed about making it to my flight on time. Instead I found my flight itinerary to make sure I had the travel agent`s number (I did) and then layed down to take a nap (I had only slept five hours the night before).  I dozed for  a bit, listened to my iPod and we waited. I figured as long as we made it out of Narok by 4:30 we should be ok to get our flights. God was good, after sitting for two hours we started to move half an hour before my requested time of 4:30. Being that we were in Kenya, traffic doesn't all start to move in a nice orderly fashion, all goes at once in the lane, the ditch and the lane where the oncoming traffic would be coming in just a few minutes. But hey, oncoming traffic is taking up all the lanes as well. Like all the kids cramming around the door after recess and no one actually moving. Somehow, everyone eventually got sorted out, we drove out of the ditch that we thought would be quicker (we being the driver) and proceeded on our way.
From then on the trip was uneventful. I got on my flight and proceeded home without any trouble. I slept the first flight, and I was entertained on the 2nd flight with the movies – Voyage of the Dawn Treader (I have the book almost memorized so I was disappointed by the movie), Gulliver's Travels as well as the new (as in most recent) Indiana Jones.
Mom and Dad met me at the airport with the words: glad your flight was on time, we have to go there is a snow storm coming in. I had hoped this was an April Fools joke – but nope the world is still white here. We managed to make it home before the storm but the weekend has been white and the temperature hovering around freezing – I should have stayed longer at Tenwek.

The view from my parents front door - winter.
 I have had a few days at Mom and Dad’s and am enjoying the luxuries of being back in Canada. One of the first things I did when I got home was poured myself a glass of nice cold milk – my first in `six months. Wonderful. Mom sent me to do groceries and I managed to drive on the right side of the road and other than a strange impulse to buy chocolate chips, pens and Ziploc bags the reverse culture shock has not hit me too bad. I am sure it will hit me harder when I return to work on Thursday.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Emotional good-byes and a question

A few hours ago Tenwek had a goodbye party for me. It was a lot of fun to see everyone together - I heard that there were 49 people. It is hard to believe that I have only been here for 6 months. I have built friendships here that will last a life time. I enjoyed the time together but it was also sad, when my friends were talking about how helpful I was here and proceeded to pray for me and my future I almost cried. I kept my farewell words short for fear I would start to cry. Those of you who know me well know that I do not cry often.
Writing this now I am crying, for a few reasons it is 130am and I am tired, the evening was emotional draining, as well as an emotional goodbye party,  I just got back from the hospital where a baby just died - despite intubation, epinephrine and CPR ,we could not get this baby back. This is not just any baby this was the son of a staff member I have seen her many times in the last few months waddling around with her pregnant belly. I don't know the lady's name, but as I was doing CPR in the nursery at 1am I cried for this mama. When I and the doctor explained to the mama that despite our best efforts her son was gone she cried, as did I.
I am saying goodbye to my friends and community here at Tenwek but that grief is nothing compared to the pain this mama is going through. As I walked down the hill I asked a question that I know has been asked many times before. Why God? Why does this mama have to say goodbye so soon to this child she barely got to know.
I wish I had a good answer to this I have heard a few different ones throughout my life. We must understand that evil is in this world. Satan is present and knows how to hit us the hardest and where it hurts. Is not God more powerful than Satan? Could He have not saved this baby? I know God could have but evil will not be totally gone from us until we reach Heaven. God has also already rescued this baby just like he has rescued all of us, on the cross He died for us. We celebrate this in a few weeks at Easter and the promise of everlasting life will be complete when we are with Him in Heaven.

I stopped writing this on Sunday morning at 2 am, and went to bed, I am resuming this post the following Saturday. Last Sunday was a busy Sunday with saying goodbye at church, Sunday school, helping a friend with bible quizzing and youth group. Through this time I thought about what I had written in this post. Writing was therapeutic for me at 2am and then came the question can I finish this post and publish it or does it ask questions that should not be asked.

 I don’t like the latter part of this question I believe in God and his sovereignty, his love, his grace and his power. If I believe this how can I be scared to tackle this question? I do not have any formal biblical education so I don’t know how I can answer it but I after some thoughts and discussion with a friend here are some thoughts (in addition to the ones that were previously mentioned). I was given a book by a friend EPIC by John Eldridge, I was reading this on my flight home (yes I am back in Alberta I will blog about reverse culture shock later) he talks about how everyone’s life is a story, and we don’t know how it will go but God does and he has wonderful things planned for us.

It is hard to imagine something good coming out of the loss of a newborn but I do not know the end of this story God does. God also gives us peace to get through the hard times. God wants us to come to him with our struggles. Me asking this question is pulling me closer to God.  God knows the big picture, I don’t. Does this answer the question? It is possible that my former English teachers would fail me for a poor argument. However I know through faith that Jesus is Lord and that he loves us and there is an eternal reward in which the sufferings of the world will no longer matter.