Did I mention that Kijabe means “place of the wind,” and that it gets super windy in the late afternoon? We’re 7,000 feet above sea level it turns out, and the wind rushes down the mountains in the evening as the sun sets, and it sounds like you’re in a winter storm. Then in the morning you wake up and it’s dead calm outside. It’s cold now – about 55. There’s no humidity in the air and it’s quite beautiful. There are lots of pines with bare skinny trunks and fluffy tops. Apparently animals eat the green from the trunks.
Speaking of animals, Dan was telling us that there were some elephants blocking traffic a few weeks ago.
Well I’m sitting at Dan Dooley’s computer in Kijabe writing this. Since Bob and Ann had to get back to Diguna until tomorrow, Dan fixed McKenna and I some grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner tonight. We talked for a short time with Dr. Ibu, a Muslim who’s staying with Dan for a few weeks. There’s a little Kenyan family of three staying here too.
We spent the day at Kijabe Hospital and are joyfully anticipating bed soon. We started out the day at the Wednesday morning chapel service along with 200 doctors, nurses and other staff members. McKenna and I sang some Swahili songs which people really liked, and then I said a few words from Gal. 6:9, “Let us not grow weary in doing good....”
Afterwards we went into the chaplain’s office and met the chaplains – all very nice people: Silvia, Agnes, Samuel, David and John, plus the head chaplain pastor Mark. Samuel took us to a patient waiting room where we sang and welcomed the people to Kijabe Hospital. Then we went to the relative waiting yard and sang outside. I was glad that I’d taken my hat. The air is amazingly comfortable - but at being almost at the equator, the sun is really hot. Then the chaplains served us chai and a donut-like cake.
Did I mention that McKenna is an African name? Only they spell it Makena. Every time she’s introduced they’re amazed and they always remember her! McKenna is tickled about it because in the US nobody could remember her name!
Kijabe Hospital is an amazing place. It’s a non-profit institution devoted to making quality medical care available to the poor. We saw people from different tribes including Somali’s, women in total burka’s, British, Australians – I saw a old Masai man dressed in a blue gown walking slowly down a hall with a cane. You can tell he’s Masai because his ear lobes have a giant hole in each of them and hang down low. The Masai consider this beautiful. The facility itself would take you back to the 50’s in its looks, but it’s clean and the food in the cafeteria was safe to eat.
In the afternoon Silvia took us to the women’s ward – again a throwback to the 50’s like from the movie “One Flew Over The Cookoos’s Nest” with white iron beds and all. McKenna and I prepared to sing but Agnes said, “This is Africa. You have to greet the people.” I thought, ok, I’ll say hello before I sing.
Agnes repeated herself, “This is Africa. You have to greet them first. You must shake their hands.” Oh!
So we went around to each lady and shook her hand and said hello. I was thinking that this is rather different than US customs. In the US you don’t really shake someone’s hand unless you’re being directly introduced to them, or you’re running for office...
Anyway, there was a young woman of 17 sitting in a bed who smiled shyly at me. I went and talked to her later on and she said her name was, “Blessing.” She had stitches in her jaw with sutures poking out. She’d actually been released but didn’t have money to pay her bill; so there she sat.
There were three M*slm women who were about to be discharged and who listened politely to us. When I saw one of them in the hall a little later I touched her shoulder and said goodbye, she said, “Salame” which means “peace.”
Afterwards, Agnes took us to the newborn ward and asked us to pray for them. I saw the tiniest preemie I’d ever seen – so frail – a tiny baby boy. Agnes showed us baby Christina who’d been found abandoned. She was such a beautiful little baby. There were about eight babies in incubators. One was very jaundiced and crying. She quieted right down when a nurse gently lifted her out of the incubator and held her.
After this Agnes took us to the maternity ward where McKenna and I sang and then greeted them both verbally and with handshakes all around. It was very cool! The human touch between strangers from different nations does so much more than words alone. The mothers each had a baby in her bed. Some were nursing them and had no qualms about shaking my hand and moving their baby so that I could put a hand on it and ask God to bless it. They were so cute!
At 3:30 Dan came and took us over to Cure Kenya, a home for handicapped children. It was really nice. They are so dedicated to caring for these children. We sang a couple of songs and said a few words to children and adults who were parents or relatives, plus they do some adult surgeries there. We’ll be back there tomorrow afternoon and then again on Friday morning.
McKenna and I are staying at Kijabe Motel again tonight. It’s a bit old but nice and bright, really quite nice for Kenya from what I’m told. People who are visiting relatives at the hospital stay at the Motel. I saw two robed M*slm women in a downstairs room. Dan told us that the Somalies aren’t used to toilets and stand on the rim...just an interesting tidbit there.
We’ve got to hit the sack. Very busy day at Kijabe Hospital and Cure Kenya tomorrow