(I had tried to post this yesterday but we lost power so it’s a bit late.)
We came to Tenwek six weeks ago not really expecting to return to the U.S. until we completed our two year term. A few days from now we will be boarding a plane to return to PA to say our final goodbyes to my baby girl. When we arrived at Tenwek, we were welcomed into our missionary family with open arms. Over the past several days those arms have embraced us tightly as we have been bathed in love and prayer. The Kenyan culture is so different (and yet so similar) in so many ways. They see death much more often compared to what we are used to. They know how to sincerely comfort and mourn with you. Mourning in private is not the norm for them as it generally is in America. When someone dies, the home is overflowing with family/friends offering support. They have been incredibly respectful in giving us enough space to grieve in our own way yet still showing their love for our family. We have had many people come by our home to pay their respects and pray with us. We have had meals provided for us along with cards, flowers and more hugs than I think I have ever received in my life. We have felt fully at home.
Yesterday we had a beautiful memorial service celebrating Hannah’s life. So many came to show their love for my family. Songs of worship were sung, powerful scriptures were read, and Jesus was glorified. Even in our short time here, Hannah was loved by many.
Church service today was again a wonderful time of worship and prayer. Tenwek as a whole has had a very difficult week. The death of baby Ruth, and several other patients has made it easy to feel lost and depressed. The uplifting times of prayer and praise were healing for many who attended. It is easy to think that his must be the worst week ever because of Hannah…in some ways I suppose that may be true…but not in every way. Every week that I have worked here I have been witness to the tragedy of death. It is not a new event, rather it is one that occurs with regular frequency for this community. As you pray for Hannah and my family, please remember to pray for the hundreds of patients here. Pray that they may understand and accept the gift that God is offering through His son Jesus Christ. Pray for the many families that are hurting. Pray for the spiritual healing and pray that the staff will be effective and authentic witnesses for Christ.
During our time of worship we sang a beautiful song in Swahili. It really ministered to me so I wanted to share it with you. It went as follows…
Nitainua macho yangu, (I will life up my eyes)
Nitazame milimani, (and look up to the hills)
Msaada wangu watoka wapi? (where does my help come from)
Ninajua ni kwake Bwana (my help comes from the Lord)
Anilindaye halali, (He who keeps me does not sleep)
Ninajua hasinzii (I know He doesn’t slumber)
Nitokapo niingiapo (when I leave and come in)
Kweli najua, ninajua yuko nami (I know He is with me)
Yeye ni Bwana we mabwana (He is the Lord of lords)
Yeye ni Mfalme wa wafalme (He is the King of kings)
Mshauri wa ajabu (a Mighty counselor)
Kimbilio maichani (the refuge of our lives)
We were all able to take brief naps after church. As I woke up from mine, I heard a child crying. I awoke thinking at first that it was Hannah. I quickly realized that it wasn’t and laid back done As much as I hated it when she was screaming, I long to hear that scream now. I miss her wisps of blond hair tickling my face and her sweet Hannah smell when I hold her. I wouldn’t even mind changing one of her not-so-sweet smelling diapers! Miss so much already…but remaining thankful for the memories that we have.
While I’m sitting here writing this, I’m watching my boys, other missionary children, and many Kenyans running and playing games in the yards in front of my home. The laughter and screams of play are priceless. The sun is shining and there is a cool breeze blowing. While I don’t have Hannah sitting here with me watching everyone (as we often did), God remains good. He is in control…and I am still thankful.
One of the verses that has been repeated many times in the last several days is from Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” I still wish that there could have been another way. But His grace is sufficient…I take refuge in His care.
While we will soon be returning to the Untied States, know that we will return to Tenwek to continue the work that God has for us here. We will return to our missionary and Kenyan family. It is our hope that those who have learned of our story will continue with us on this journey. To everyone at Tenwek…we love you. Thank you.