Thursday, January 10, 2013

Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

After Joe finished giving epidural injections yesterday and I took a short nap, we headed up the stairs to Rift Valley Academy to walk the guard trail. The history of Rift Valley Academy as a school for the children of missionaries is quite interesting and includes Theodore Roosevelt laying the cornerstone of one of the main buildings. But we were there to stretch our legs and hopefully see some monkeys, and we were successful on both accounts.

2013-01-09 17.49.29

There are about 5 monkeys in that tree, though the iPhone picture doesn’t quite do them justice. We stopped to listen to an African Gospel choir rehearsal and watched as the sun begin to sink over Mount Longonot before heading back towards home. Joe confessed that there was no tea or coffee at the apartment, so we walked into the Kijabe Central Business District to the Super Duka.

2013-01-09 18.50.29

We bought a 2L CocaCola Light, 100 bags of pure Kenyan tea, a pint of frozen yoghurt, 1 kg of turbinado sugar, and a small notebook for me for less than $8. Joe insisted that we use the change from our 1000 shillings to get some chapati at Mama Chiku’s, which I had heard a lot about the previous year. Even though we had dinner at home, we made an appetizer out of a few chapatis and some chai at Mama Chiku’s Hotel.

2013-01-09 18.58.24

This morning was my first day at Kijabe Hospital, and I wanted to make a good first impression. Except that the shower is a force to be reckoned with and my hair dryer doesn’t work with the convertor. Oh well, this is Africa.

2013-01-10 08.05.49

Joe gave a lecture on sepsis to the ICU nurses, and I pretended to be enthralled. He took me on a tour of the hospital (including the woodworking and metal shop!). It is like being in another world: 8-10 patients in a room, minimal hand sanitization, mopping up bodily fluids with soap and water, and relatives camped out on the lawn waiting for visiting hours. And apparently Kijabe is known as “the nice hospital because there are sheets on the beds.” Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not at Vanderbilt anymore. Nonetheless, I am very impressed by the creativity and flexibility in using the resources around. I mean, who needs a crash cart when you have a Craftsman toolbox?

2013-01-10 07.57.36 

Then I met up with some of the chaplains, and we talked a little about how long I would be there and my experience. Being from significantly more conservative and evangelical backgrounds, they didn’t seem quite to know what to do with the information that I am an ordained priest and the only minister at my church but were welcoming anyway. I was paired up with a younger male chaplain, and we went off to the women’s ward for “bedside evangelism” – standing up in front of the room, introducing ourselves, giving them an encouraging word, and praying.

2013-01-10 14.26.13

One girl had lost her mother and brother in the same house attack that landed her in the hospital with a gunshot to her thigh. Stephen spoke mostly in Swahili and would translate my prayers phrase by phrase. At 12:30, the families come into see the patients, so we took a lunch break. I walked back to our apartment since Joe had made me a sandwich. In the afternoon, Stephen and I did some more individual visits, including one with this 19 year old with spina bifida.

2013-01-10 15.48.23

Stephen had asked her if she wanted to accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior today, and she said yes. Then he turned to me and asked me if I would lead her to Christ. I politely let him know that wasn’t really part of my tradition but that I would observe and support him. Pretty much just like chaplaincy at Vanderbilt. Or not. Like any good day of ministry, it was thoroughly exhausting. We even missed the tea break at 4 pm because we were with an elderly woman who might have malaria and her daughter. Not actually quitting at quitting time? Now that’s a quality of ministry that transcends cultural and political barriers. Joe picked me up at 5 pm, and we walked home together, changed, and then went for a walk around Kijabe to catch up on our days.

We might not be at Vanderbilt or in Kansas anymore, but Kijabe hospital has its own charm that I could get used to.