Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Showered with Love"

“Showered with Love”

All glory, laud, and honour
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

It is never easy to leave.   On the day before departure, we were summoned to the Neonatal  Nursery where we sat and sweltered until nursing shift change was completed.  It is a “hot” place for good reasons.    We were already overdressed and then given a Masai blanket along with a beautiful painting of a Masai woman “warming water” (in her mouth) and then showering her baby.  We were honored by the loving, sweet words offered by the nurses.  We grew speechless and we began to sing together “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” with verses for the babies, nurses, helpers, etc.  We left with thankfulness for another opportunity to be with this wonderful community.  

Heshima is a Swahili world with many different meanings - respect, honor, dignity.   I like the translation to “honor” since it is what we experienced and what we can give when we are at Tenwek.  There are probably many reasons we are given this gift of heshima not the least of which is our age!  

In the United States we are more familiar with the word ”respect", but I would propose that there is a significant difference.  The first is that in Kenyan culture, “honor” is a bigger idea.   It is described by Raymond Downing in a dialogue reported in Global Health Means Listening.

“Two days later I asked Dr. Wafula how he would translate heshima. Honor, he said. And which would he prefer—to be honored or respected? Honored, he said” 

Another reason that I like this Swahilli word is that it is used to describe an organization that brings care to children with special needs.  What happens at this organization in Nairobi is truly miraculous.  Children with severe limitations bring honor to life and teach us all to honor their courage and the courage of their families. (See prior blog: Troops Arrive).   We were privileged to see that same courage in the nursery at Tenwek and were honored to be a witness to it.

Upon returning to the US we celebrated Palm Sunday and sang the old words of praise and honor, but now with the experiences of “heshima”.  Thanks and honor be to a God who showers us with his Love,

Marvin & Miriam


Downing, Raymond. Global Health Means Listening (p. 17). Kindle Edition. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Whole World

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! 
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

It is hard to know what experiences will live on in our memories of this time in Kenya.  It was a bigger experience with more “moving parts” than in the past.  In one sense, this “bigger, more moving parts” seems like the theme of Tenwek 2018.  See the other blogs:

Another reality is that we have been more connected to the world than the isolation we have felt in previous years.  Connection to news and church services were surprises.  We were able to hear Jack Hage sing “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands /This is my Father’s World” with backup from the choir at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church.  It moved us to tears here in Kenya!  

Maybe some of the best moments were the ones like walking to the hospital with my son and visiting him in the operating room.  Or maybe, it was seeing the Special Needs Team journey off with Solomon to deliver wheel chairs.  Or maybe it was just seeing grandchildren making friends here in Kenya.  What ever experiences it has been an extraordinary experience for us!

As Miriam reported, we are given gifts like the gourd.   What we have also been given are gifts of friendship and love that we have felt from our home community as well as here.   These gifts are priceless and are freely given!  

Thanks for being part of our experiences here in Kenya, 2018.

Marvin & Miriam


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

God's Beauty

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations
Psalm 104:24 (MSG)

Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
Psalm 23:6a  (MSG)

Monday, March 12, 2018

A Present

“A Present”

I wore a sweater in Kenya during the day for the first time ever today!  The weather has taken a dramatic shift since our first  couple of weeks here.  It is cold and off and on rains.  We had a wonderful relaxing weekend. We went to a bed and breakfast run by a missionary couple in an area about 4 hours from here called Naivasha.  Their very interesting house had a large patio overlooking a gorgeous valley and Lake Naivasha.  We did a little touring but mostly just relaxed, put our feet up and ate some great food!  We toured an old English colonial estate which is now a sanctuary for animals.  You do not get a feel for the English colonialism around here but definitely could see remnants of it there.  Very interesting!

This week will be busy with saying goodbye to people and working in nursery!  We now have three sets of twins.  One has a “Nanya” or grandmother helping.  I am helping the Mom of the tiniest set and are they tiny.  They are named Joy and Blessing!  The Lord is protecting them so far as they are growing “polepole” or very slowly.  Mom is young and these are her first born children which also makes it difficult.  I think of the song, “He’s got the tiny little baby in His hand, He’s got the tiny little baby in His hand, He’s got the whole world in His hands”!  It reassures me that they will make it with the Lord’s help.

This afternoon was a marvelous experience as I went with my friend Sarah to the new house she has been building for three years.  It is about a 45 minute walk from Tenwek so we took a matatu.  I was so surprised to see all the progress she made this year.  She now has windows, doors, ceilings, and cement floors!  None of this was there last year.  She still has the tremendous expense of a cistern for water and electricity hook up.  It may take her at least another year to afford these luxuries.  She brought tea in her thermos and we enjoyed a pleasant time in her new living room sipping tea and eating her fabulous mandazis.   Her neighbor Alice remembers me from the last few years and so I had to greet her and her husband in their hut.    Kenyans insist that you come into their home and it is an insult if you do not.  They are the most precious couple.  We sat down and he got a well worn Bible out and turned to Psalm 27 and read it to me in Kipsigis,  “the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”  I can not tell you how powerful and experience like that is!   Alice and I then held hands as we prayed together and thanked the Lord that we are all one in Him and that He truly is our refuge and strength!   It was another moment that I will hold forever in my heart.   As I left they insisted that I accept a gift of a gourd which is a water jug.  It is so humbling as they have little of this earth’s goods but yet they have everything!  Oh, that I could be that generous and loving!

Our children have arrived safely in the US and for that we are grateful!  They worked extremely hard while they were here and blessed a lot of lives.  It was a joy to work along side them!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

All God's Children

"Great Samosas"

Sorry to always begin the blog with a weather report but it is the first thing I notice  when I sit down to write and look at the beautiful sky out my window!  I just wish there was a way to describe not only the weather but  the road  outside the window and the activity that takes place on it!  A huge bull just meandered up the road, a matatu overloaded with people followed it, Moms with babies tied to their back, and then there are women carrying heavy loads on their heads - Never a dull moment.   

Yesterday, Mimi and I went to the Peds ward and painted toe nails!  We also colored with crayons  and did stickers telling the Christmas story.  Unfortunately,  the characters were  all white, but the kids loved it and most had never played with stickers before!  It is not an easy place to visit and I was proud of Mimi for stepping up and engaging with the children.  One little girl is waiting to have a heart valve replacement, another has severe scoliosis and can not lift her head.  She is so precious and happy even with this terrible handicap.  We are praying that something can be done for her.  

Before the fire when the canteen was here we loved getting samosas for lunch.  Now that it is destroyed we are going to try a local restaurant called the Garden Hotel.  Let me just say that this takes some courage as we are not sure what the kitchen looks like!  Everyone is eager to try one!  Stay tuned for a report on the cuisine!  OK here is the report!  They were delicious and we wished that we had ordered more!  I will not report on the kitchen sighting or the chicken wandering around it!  We had some samosas filled with ground beef and  also vegetarian ones filled with skuma which is much like our collards!  Delicious!  

The grandchildren and I went to the NICU after lunch to bring the wall hanging that Mimi and I had designed and embroidered together!  She chose the saying, God’s Little Angels which seemed very appropriate.    It was a fun project to do together.  The nurses promised to hang it in an appropriate place!

Those of you who read the blog two years ago  might remember Enoch, the darling little boy who had never been able to sit up. If you recall Penny had a local carpenter, Julius, make a special chair for him.  This current picture is of Penny treating Enoch.  Notice that he is now able to sit independently!  It was so touching to see Penny reunite with the family and to see the progress Enoch has made!  We continue to hold this sweet family in our hearts and prayers.

Till next time, lots of love,

Monday, March 5, 2018

Special Needs

Cynthia & Faith

March 5, 2018

Today we celebrate the birthday of our grandson, Jack, who turns 10!  How can it be!  Jack, we are so proud of you and hope you have a wonderful, fun-filled day!  We are eager to hear how you celebrated!  We love and miss you!

It is a Monday and I am having a hard time remembering what we did this weekend!  I know that there are things I want to share but for the life of me I can not think of much.  Senior moment!  I do know that we went to church and that the singing was particularly good this week.  I absolutely love hearing the Kenyans sing in their language.  It truly feeds my soul.  We also celebrated communion which binds us together as Christians all over the world.  It is such a powerful reminder that God loves all people!  Mimi and Preston were not thrilled that the service lasted two hours but they survived!  

I know what I did today and it was really fun!  We hired a car and driver and visited the Baby Centre about 45 minutes away.  I wanted to check on Faith and Cynthia, the twins that i helped take care of last year.  Some of you may recall that their mother fought for her life and tragically lost the battle.  Last year I had to bring them to the baby centre and it was such a difficult day. Their father is elderly, poor, and unable to care for them.  We had been hoping that a relative would step up and adopt them but thus far no one has.   A Baby Centre is not an orphanage in the sense that the children have no family.   At Baby Centre the relatives are free to come and visit and be a part of the children’s lives even though they may presently be unable to care for them.  The future for these little girls is very uncertain.  The father has taken no interest in them.  They are darling of course; but not as strong as I would have liked to have seen.  I have to remember that they were premies and so are a bit behind developmentally.  However, at one year they are unable to stand if you hold them up by their arms.  Their little legs give out.  I think that some little walkers that they could use to scoot around in would really help strengthen their legs.  So I have decided that this would be a really good use of the First Pres Circle money that was given to me!  Walkers are expensive here so I am going to purchase two walkers and then ask the director to purchase some other age appropriate toys.  There did not appear to be many toys there.   I think that this purchase will not only help the twins but many other little ones as well.  Thanks to Circle 2 for their generosity to make this possible!    I hope that this meets with their approval!  It is not a cow but will help these little ones enormously!

Oh, I just remembered what I did on Friday!  It was actually a high light of the trip!  I worked in the special needs clinic along with Betsy, Penny, and Betsy’s friend TR!   Even Mimi  and Preston came along to help entertain the children!  I was the greeter and social director for the mothers while they  waited to be seen.  We  blew bubbles, played with light up toys, and loved on the children.  The women, an Occupational therapist(Penny), and two physical therapists(Betsy and TR)  saw over 30 children that morning. They fit new braces, taught new exercises for Moms to do at home, and gave a lot of encouragement.  It is so difficult to have a child with problems anywhere but especially in a developing country.   The wonderful off shoot of this clinic is that  the Mothers have gotten to know each other and now realize that they are not alone.  Just as in the US, they network and help each other in many ways.  It was a privilege to see my daughter and daughter-in-law blessing children!  One I will long remember!

That afternoon, the three women went with Solomon, the Kenyan PT, to deliver a wheelchair to a child in a village.  I have done this before and it is a humbling, gratifying, fun experience.  Solomon is able to purchase these chairs because of the generosity of many people who have given to the Faith Fund through the Friends of Tenwek.  The Faith Fund was established a few years ago to provide much needed equipment for children in and around Tenwek and is named for a child with spina bifida who had never walked.  Because of the Faith Fund she now walks with crutches and goes to school where she is number one in her class.

Sorry to be so long winded! I should write shorter blogs more often!  Somedays I am just too tired !

Love to all,
Miriam /Micki

Thursday, March 1, 2018


For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
 his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:5 (NIV)

Medical education has been a focus for our work here at Tenwek.  Just as important has been the opportunity to share experiences here at Tenwek with children and grandchildren.  It is hard to know what experiences will remain but I am reassured by the promises of the psalmist.

What I will remember is that for all my children, I have had the privilege to be with them as guests in countries and communities where we have been welcomed as partners.  Now we have had the opportunity to be at Tenwek with two of our grandchildren.   We did some math homework and helped write a blog.  We played basketball and introduced them to our Kenyan friends.  They got to make friends with MK’s (missionary kids).  They have seen their parents and aunt at work.  All of these are part of the promises of a God’s covenant.

I am sure we will hear and see more of these experiences in the coming weeks.  You can check out their blogs at: