Sunset, Sunrise… (24/10/11)

We’ve been a little quiet on the blog front in the last 10 days or so.  It has been quite a week and a half.

Last weekend, we had an overnight away with 2 couples who are a joy to be with, the Letchfords and the Myhres.  A just wonderful end to a busy week – a lake view, delightful dinner, and no conversation about work.  At all, I think.  Precious time of getting to know people who are our colleagues, our friends, and brothers-in-arms.

Our plan was to come back on Saturday at lunch time, pack our belongings into boxes and then move into our new house on Sunday – we have been in a hospital-furnished duplex for the last 6 months, and the time had come for us to free up the duplex for shorter-term people.  The Shirley family have just returned home to South Carolina, and we were able to buy their furniture and fully-stocked kitchen (dishes, pots, plastic ware) and move into their home just down the road from us – so moving meant mostly just clothing, toys, books and a LOT of food (we stock up for emergencies here…).  We also had a couple of couches and a desk, so some guys from the hospital housing team were going to help us cart everything to our new house on Sunday afternoon.

Except that when we got back on Saturday, it turned out that they weren’t going to be available on Sunday, and we could move NOW, or put it off for a week or more…

So we moved on Saturday – a slightly frantic throwing of things into boxes and car boots, carting hanging clothes on broom handles.  We were almost done at 4pm, but absolutely exhausted, and were carried across the finish line by the Myhres and their landrover helping  us with the remnants.  Our first night’s sleep in a new house, a bed that is ours, and hopefully the Steere home until our committment here ends.  Oh, we also now have a dog – Kuli, a 10-ish year old golden retriever that comes with this house – we are maybe her fourth or fifth family, and she has adopted us with an eager heart.  Way too eager at 3am for our liking on Saturday and Sunday, but after 2 sleepless nights we’ve figured out how to stop her from barking now…

Monday was a 7am-7pm trip into Nairobi – a rare “girls day out” for Jennifer, Immaculate, Mary (an American pediatrician working on newborn community health here) and myself.  We currently have a relieving pediatric pulmonary specialist helping us for a month, so this was our opportunity to do something together while he held the fort at the hospital.  We took the opportunity to visit a private hospital in Nairobi, and the national referral hospital, Kenyatta.  We met some wonderful, dedicated people and learned more about how we can help children here when our resources don’t quite stretch far enough.  More on that in another post…

Lesley in Hell's Gate Gorge

Tuesday was a day trip into Nairobi to shop for supplies and to pick up the lovely Lesley Woodard-Knight, a friend and colleague from Australia who is visiting us for 2 weeks to see our resource-poor setting compared with the resource-poor setting of Oak Valley, Australia.  Aboriginal health in Australia is not so different from a third world setting, and Lesley is one of many dedicated physicians who spend their time sowing into an often thankless situation.  It is lovely having her here, and it turns out that the Kijabe Guest House (about which I was a little apologetic) is superior to her usual outback accommodations.  Except when it runs out of water, as it did on Saturday, necessitating an emergency shower at our house…

Wednesday to Friday flew past in a blur of work, parenting, settling into a new home, entertaining friends.  Saturday, an all-day safari at Hell’s Gate National Park, finding wildlife, a ploughman’s lunch picnic, stunningly beautiful gorge hike with a charming Maasai guide.

It has been an everything-bagel kind of week.  A frantic and sad work week with over 20 complicated inpatients to see each morning, some requiring painful conversations with family about permanent brain damage or certain death – but ending on a higher note with 11 children going home on Friday, recovered or recovering.  A week punctuated by moments of bliss – a sunset from our porch, afternoon tea and a chat with Lesley, pizza from an outstanding pizza oven laboriously constructed over several months by the Myhres in their back yard.  A week also punctuated by somber moments – learning of Kenya’s military plans to destroy a terrorist group in our northern neighbour country after recent kidnappings from Lamu and Dadaab, trying to figure out what, if anything, that means for us.  Punctuated by moments of finding myself not dealing well with the undercurrent of life, busy-ness, fatigue, work and relationships – finding those things bubbling to the surface in less than idyllic ways.

I am tempted, in weeks like this, to just look ahead – next week will be easier.  Next week we will not be quite so busy, next week this stress will be gone.  But really, embracing what’s happening now is probably a much more mature thing to do.  To ask myself – how have I prepared myself for this week?  How was I doing in the less-crazy times – have I been investing in my family, in my marriage, in my relationship with God – so at the start of this week, could I have been a little more ready for it?  And when the stresses of this week came, how did I respond?

Because weeks like this are going to happen again.  Not in quite the same way, but weeks of feeling overwhelmed in life are part of the journey.  And if I think about that now, and build into myself space for grace for others, unconditional love, and a spiritual life that doesn’t rely on all of my ducks being in the row that I intend for them, I may respond a little better next time.

- M.

Author: steeres

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