So how many Callaghan’s does it take to catch a snake? Apparently all six of us, plus Buster our cat. Tonight, just nearing suppertime, Lily had the discovery of a snake crawling up on the roof ledge of her room. Having been fully trained on “snake drills” she knew to back away, call for help, while keeping her eyes on the glossy green snake happily resting in her domain. Problem was no one was in ear shot. A rather shaken Lily still yelling, “SNAKE” stood her ground for some 20 minutes until Jay finally found her. Her tear streaked cheeks and husky voice recovered quite quickly now that Dad was on the scene! What a brave girl. So up on the landing of the roof go the Callaghan boys and Lily on the lookout for a snake which took residence inside the wood moulding. It took all manner of instruments,- a hatchet, hammer, screwdriver, coat hangar, bug spray and crowbar to get this guy. I was a safe distance away, looking up with Jesse sitting on the floor when the snake, having it’s hideout discovered jumped from the ceiling ledge towards Jesse and I. Of course I screamed, picked up Jesse and ran out of the room. The boys utterly disappointed that I screamed saying, “Mom, we don’t think it’s poisonous, there was no need to get all upset!”
Oh the fun never stops. Our last visitor thought it was funny that there was a one-eyed monkey invading our kitchen every chance he got along with the donkey who was grazing under the laundry line.
:Sorry for the delay in writing an update,- since Jesse’s recovery and our return to Kurungu, we are back into the full swing of things.
Laura Ingalls Wilder…. I once had a client when I worked in the child/youth mental health who only would address me as Laura Ingalls. I was never offended, partially because I was once a girl taken by Little House on the Prairie and partially because this client also walked the hospital hallways doing the moonwalk,- but for a little while, I became known as Laura Ingalls. For a few moments in the last few weeks I kind of felt to be living like a pioneer living on the wild frontier. For the last few weeks problems with our solar pump for water or solar battery issues have rendered us much of the time without power and water.And as much as I would like to celebrate my bush living, rustic rural lifestyle, when it comes down to it,- I have no survival skills. I think I passed a record in the days between children bath time episodes. I would pray for rain just so I could have a few moments to throw them outside to rinse off. We started hauling water from various places. Really, who am I kidding, braids or no braids,- I am no pioneer!
Joining the Darkside….I am learning things about darkness that I never knew before. Before, darkness was a problem I had a solution for,- lights. But now, we find ourselves in a position where we are experiencing darkness. Our solar batteries have died a slow and painful death, leaving us now to expend a great deal of energy modifying our routines, shoring ourselves up and readying our strategy before the dark hits. By 645pm we live in the silty greyness of post-sunset glory as the moon rises and the crickets practice their pitch in great numbers our world becomes one of stumbling and bumping, groping and grabbing hold of things. The kids have been troupers. The lack of lights amongst the least of their worries prepared with a double star wars light saber night light and an ikea solar lamp.
But the dark bothers me, I misjudge my steps, I lose my way. The confidence I owned previous is now diminished to a helpless wandering, arms outstretched, hopeful but not assured I won’t yet stub my toe or step on a scorpion. Regardless of how hard I squint and stretch the lenses of my eyes, I simply can not see. The flashlights give but a glimpse of things. A quick reorientation to what is there, what is real and not merely perceived. A flickering candle lights the room spilling shadows on the walls. The soft glow reassuring…. there is light. As small and insignificant the flame seems to be it reaches even the far corners of the room.it comforts. It keeps burning despite the fact that is alone and being consumed.
And oh how I think of and pray that we are like little candles, , although we flicker, although we are dim and are being consumed, we show somehow that glimmer of Hope, reveal that little bit of illumination, share comfort to those who yet search in the darkness trying to find their way.
Welcome Wageni… Over the last 3 weeks we have welcomed a variety of guests and visitors. I think we topped out at over 43 visitors in the last 3 weeks (30 church leaders and missionaries,12 aviators and one scholar) Although this makes for a creative living as we juggle meals and guests and kids ecstatic that their homeschool day is modified to mean “try and look busy and hope mom doesn’t t check work”, we have enjoyed hosting these groups and feel that although some school is missed the experience, the exposure to others and their experiences are equally valuable lessons.
Construction and Cholera
Jay is coordinating a work team of men to prepare the ground, collect gravel, stone and tame the bush so we can start construction of the volunteer rondovals (circular houses). The 250 wheelbarrows of stone needed took only a few days, after letting the word out that Mzee Jay needed Kocoto (stone) we awake to a yard full of small children, mama’s and men streaming in and out of the yard carrying sacks of stone, each to build a pile and weigh for payment at the end of the day. A bit conflicted as to the number of children carrying their little satchel of stones, not wanting to endorse child labour, but also realizing that these children would enable their mama to have money for meals by the end of the day. We gladly provided some chai, sweets and nourishment. There is an established way of doing things here, that is foreign and sometimes unpalatable to our understanding and we wonder how, or if, we challenge these ways of life. By the end of the day there were likely one hundred people in the yard vying for their pile to be measured. By 2pm Jay teaches at the Girls School, he is preparing for exams next week. Pray for him, his days terribly full!
Last Sunday we heard that a small toddler died of diarrheal illness. There is an outbreak of dysentery, we think perhaps cholera or typhoid in Longerin Village with many effected. We put together some Rehydration salts, tylenol, some bleach for the water tank in hopes that these efforts can deter more from becoming seriously ill. The dispensary is still without medicine, which is concerning given the numbers of people in need for assistance. And although there is a clinic in town now, without medicines I seem to be the nurse on call. I even managed to come to the rescue of a monitor lizard which happened to get his head stuck inside a tin can!No Other stream…. Overcome seems to be a word which expresses much of the content of my heart these days. I am overcome with joy, despair, sorrow, hope, peace, conflict. I am overcome with the knowledge of Jesus, a perfect Savior and my deep, dark self in continual need for repentance and restoration. I am overcome by the provision of redemption, by the beauty of grace, by the traces of mercy I see.
I am overcome by the need, and the poverty of my efforts in trying to face and care for the needs here. I live in moments of undulation, swinging between joy and victory and despair and frustration. The last few weeks have brought the deaths of 4 people, two young children from diarrheal illness, a baby in childbirth and a mama who, unintentionally drank poison. I have been going to Jonah’s mynyatta a few times to help with his care. We fear he is nearing the end of his life and want to simply go with others from the church to sit, pray and if possible bring comfort to Jonah and his family. Monica is visibly shaken, torn, wanting to hang on to her beautiful boy, yet not wanting to see him suffer any longer. I can not describe what I see,- Jay was moved to tears this week when he accompanied me, barely able to speak. We have bandaged what we can and have tried to ensure that he has enough pain and sedation medication. Please pray for him, for Monica. The hope of heaven is what I cling to in the times sitting inside the mynyatta with Monica and the small form of Jonah. That mercy is greater than my ability to understand or explain the things I see. As I sit on the edge of these days I must admit I fear that I do not have it in me to fully embrace the rawness of what it is to be in this place.
And I think back on a passage from the Chronicles of Narnia,- books that have struck me time and time again with their secreted truths. I feel like I am the girl, Jill,- terribly thirsty, peering into the glistening stream. The stream of Him, what He has for me, truths to digest, sufferings to share, grace to partake. I peer into this pool. Desperately thirsty, yet fearing to drink, to digest all that awaits. And Jill, as do I ask the question,
“Will you promise not to do anything if I do come (to the stream)” And Aslan replies, “I make no such promises”.
God makes no promises to me of that kind. Partaking of what He has for me in this place, in this experience, He calls me to come a drink, but there is no promise or assurance in the safety of such action. I would like to stay as I am, unshaken in belief, all limbs in tact,- but He sees something else and still beckons me to come. Fearless or afraid, I must decide, do I dare drink or do I walk away with unquenchable thirst?
Jill: “I daren’t come and drink”
Alsan: “Then you will die of thirst”
Jill: “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then”
Aslan: “There is no other stream”