Friday, October 9, 2015

Yes, we are still alive!

A friendly email reminder from a dear friend motivated me to get back to work on the blog.  I apologize for the super long hiatus.  But as you can see, we are still alive and well in Africa! 

We are adapting to the totally different life here in our new home, Kenya.  Just as moving from Texas to Mexico involves quite a change, so does moving from the country of Rwanda to the country of Kenya.  It's easy to lump Africa all together when living 8,000 miles across the sea, but here, the cultures, the language, the dress, the food.....they are all different.  Again!  For instance, here, we must pick all our own food off the plentiful fruit trees.....thank goodness, we have Deste, who is a terrific tree climber!  Okay, maybe we don't have to pick all our food from trees, but if Deste had his way, we most certainly would! 

Websites describing the effects of major transitions ease the discomfort of feeling as though I am some sort of freak who can't deal with change.  According to the experts, it turns out that the homesickness, the disorientation, the frequent dreams, which assure my mind as I sleep that I am either back in Texas or back in Rwanda ...... these all prove I am NORMAL!  (This is really cool, since I think it is pretty much the first time in my life that I have been normal, haha.)  

I'm not the only one with dreams - every one of us has awakened at one point or other since August with tales of super-real dreams that we are in our home in Rwanda or Texas.   Just yesterday, Ruthie came downstairs and said, "I dreamed that I went out and met Samuelee - (pronounced Samwel-ee - he's a night guard at our mission back in Rwanda) for tea, and we were speaking Kinyarwanda together."  And a while back, Sam said he dreamed of Simeon, a dear friend who worked for us at the mission.  Simeon and Sam used to have so much fun stomping rats together in our kitchen back in the "good old days".  Deste dreamed he was at the ranch with Gaga and Papa, his new grandparents, whom he speaks fondly of regularly*.  Ah, sweet memories! (*The rest of us don't understand how he bonded so much with dear Papa and Gaga - he was only with them a few times when we were in America last year.  But somehow, he knows they are special, and he often speaks of longing to be "at the ranch, with Gaga and Papa", as if it is some magical place like Disneyworld.  All I can say is, it must be a God-caused bond, because we didn't even hope that he would be able to grasp that they were now his relatives - nor did we make a big effort to convince him of this.  It just happened.)

Our hearts ache with the void left by leaving our many Rwandan friends.  The big, sweet smiles, the generous hearts, the daily rhythms, their and inspiring stunning reliance on the Savior ... we miss it all.  

And yet, here we are in Kenya.  Tim is quite busy studying Swahili, so he can better communicate with his surgical patients once his license is approved, which hopefully will happen later this month.  He just "aced" his Swahili mid-term exam, to no one's surprise.  (My husband, the awesome student!)

Tim has also taken up the slack left at home, by my constantly obsessing over teaching my English classes.  He has become "Mr. Mom", and is handling menu planning and grocery shopping.  Tthis involves walking 10 minutes to the village market with the sturdy bag gifted to us by our dear friend, Paige Mixon, picking out fresh veggies and fruit sold by some ladies who grow them nearby, then walking another minute to a small store, or duka, and buying oil, flour, sugar, coffee, salt, powdered milk, etc.  Lastly, he stops by the side of the dirt road and buys a dozen or two fresh eggs from the man who sits under a shade tree every day selling his chickens' work from that morning.  Of course, on the way and back home again, he practices his Swahili.  All in all, it isn't a bad way to spend a morning, he says.  Below are a few pictures from one rare day when we all shopped together on a Saturday.

 Just outside the "Supa Duka", where we buy our dry goods. 
 This is where we buy our vegetables.  (Above) 
And below, starting the walk home from a Saturday shopping trip.  

Once Tim begins working in the hospital, I will have to step my game up a notch and begin shopping and menu planning on Saturdays, but for now, I have enjoyed and appreciated Tim taking care of this home-making chore.  And he says he has finally learned the answer to the question, "Hi honey!  So, what did you do all day?"  :) He says he has also learned why it is not a good idea to ask the question at all, at least not with a tone or follow up question, "Did you get anything done today at all?"

I am a bit bone weary at the moment, but still, I am LOVING teaching British Literature to the senior class at Sam and Ruthie's high school.  L.O.V.I.N.G.I.T.!!  (Did I mention I love it?)  I'd all but forgotten so much of this literature, and so have re-read pieces I hadn't studied for 25 - 30 years, and then have enjoyed sharing them with the greatest class of seniors this world has ever known. 

So far, we've studied Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Caedmon, Bede, and some Anglo-Saxon Eliagic poetry.  Next week, we move on to Chaucer, then later we'll be studying Malory, Marlowe and on to Shakespeare  (Yes, I am excited!), and so forth and so on.  We get to end the year with my all time favorite writer EVER,  Mr. C.S. Lewis.  I am having a blast teaching these kids.  It's so much better than I hoped it would be.  The silly pics are from a day the student council hosted a "fashion purge" day, to build spirit for a big game - pretty much everyone came in as many clashing items of clothing as they could find, beg, borrow or steal.  Well, not steal - this is a missionary kid's school, after all.

 I made my bulletin boards out of colored chalk quotes, since I couldn't find many posters in downtown Kijabe, Kenya...... 

Here's a "dress like a Korean" day, as a spirit builder for Jazz Band.....
Yes, many of these Jazz Band folks ARE Korean, so they had quite an advantage.

Back to "Fashion Purge" day.

Just another day of class......

More than the literature, though, the real reason I love teaching is my students.  What an amazing group of kids.  My classroom houses students from many states of the United States, as well as from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Canada, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, England and more.  Their aspirations include becoming nurses, doctors, teachers, engineers, pastors, professional musicians, linguists, marine biologists and pilots, just to name a few. Not only are these kids from a wide variety of home countries, their parents now work in a wide array of African countries, as well.  

So, I get to read and hear about mission life, as well as get to pray for missionaries serving in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Ghana, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Botswana, Nigeria, Mali, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.  Talk about a diverse group.  What a privilege to teach these kids!  Also, what a cool feeling to know that in a very small way, I am supporting so many missions across Africa, by providing 1/7 of the daily education for these high school seniors, so their families can do the jobs they were sent to Africa to do.  (And you, our supporters, are ALSO supporting all these missions by funding our work here!  So, we thank you so much!)  

Knowing I am enabling so many others to do their direct ministry while I am here, near good kidney care and and near my children, makes me feel so happy, and also a little less guilty about being in such a nice place.  Also, knowing that Tim will soon be gaining invaluable experience learning to run a surgical residency program, so he can help equip more African doctors to know how to perform surgery, which will someday benefit rural Africa's critical need of surgical care, makes us glad we are investing some time here as well.  

Meanwhile, back in Rwanda, thanks to some dear friends IN Rwanda, the Seka ladies' ministry is still going strong!  Words fail me when I try to express how grateful I am that this ministry has continued even with our move.  We are almost ready to ship a whole bunch more bags to America to sell, so please let me know if you want to be a Seka seller for round two of the Powerful Purse Purchase!  
 I mean, why wear a normal purse when you can wear a purse with the power to pay a child's school tuition, or to buy groceries for a family for two months, or that can teach English to Rwandan widows and orphans?  Why wear a designer bag when you can design a way to help sisters you've never met support themselves, and to survive and thrive in their world, 8,000 miles away?  For that matter, why just help one widow with one purse purchase?  Why not buy many, or better yet, why not SELL even more?  

Ruthie and Sam love being "station kids" this year (meaning, they live with their parents on the mission station) rather than boarding kids.  They do miss their friends, and the silly shenanigans that spontaneously happen now and then in the dorms, but it is so nice that they enjoy being with their old mom and dad.  I think perhaps it is Tim and me who enjoy being with our teens more than the teens enjoy being with their geriatric parents, but all in all, it is a Win-Win for all of us.  Ruthie is surviving Chemistry and loving AP English, and Sam is loving Art and Biology and surviving Geometry.

Ruthie and her friend, Grace, volunteered to teach the Rift Valley kids' Sunday School class, and they are doing a FABULOUS job!  I am so proud of her. 

Ruthie the teacher!

Coby, Ruthie's boyfriend (who is from South Carolina), came to help out one Sunday morning.  
Deste, hard at work in Kindergarten! 

Deste, on "round 2" of Kindergarten, has found his stride.  In 15 months, this brilliant boy has conquered the English language, adjusted to his new family, fallen in love with grandparents he hardly ever sees, learned to like and trust men (he used to be quite afraid of them), bonded with his Daddy, knows his ABCs and the sound each letter makes, is learning to read, bit by bit, is able to not run and scream when he sees dogs (and can even sometimes stop and pet them), has learned to swim, can write almost all his letters and numbers up to 10, and has flown to 3 countries and been in 5.  He has started taking piano lessons, and is fiercely committed to practicing "every, every day".  Yes, we are proud of our son!

Though we could never fill their shoes, we are trying to fill one spot that the Myhres left when they went on home assignment this year.  The Myhres are a doctor couple who served as our kids (and many other people's kids) guardians while they were at RVA.  One fun thing they did was host a lunch every Thursday for the boarding students whom they served as guardians.  While we can't be guardians for anyone, due to the fact that we live on campus this year (guardians have to live off of RVA's campus, in case of a need to evacuate the student body), we CAN have boarding students over for meals.  Here's just one example of one of those crazy meal times.  Can you tell how much fun we are having?

(A note to my mom and dad -- the girls in the far back (the blond and the girl with the bun) are the daughters of the girls your San Antonio church has supported all these years!  Cool, huh?) 

Bye!  Thanks for reading, we hope to hear from you soon (feel free to comment, and I promise to write back!) -- and here's hoping I begin writing regularly again.   


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Where are the Bergs?

Since it's been over a month since we've written here, ....

....and because we've received numerous emails asking us what is going on and where we are, I decided to make myself sit down and post this much overdue update.  

After three years of serving at Kibogora Hospital in rural, southwest Rwanda, we moved this August to Kijabe, Kenya, where Tim will teach surgical residents at Kijabe Hospital and Linda will teach 12th grade English (British Lit) at Rift Valley AcademyRift Valley Academy (RVA) is the missionary kid boarding school where Sam is currently a sophomore, Ruthie is a junior and Deste is a kindergartener.  We are very sad to leave Rwanda and feel homesick for our friends there, and at the same time we are so happy to be here and for getting to live with 3 of our children under one roof and to serve in this new capacity.  Working at RVA  and Tim teaching residents with the PAACS Program at Kijabe Hospital, are both behind the scenes mission jobs - Linda is supporting the many missionaries throughout Africa who need a school for their children, so they can remain on the field.  And Tim is working to increase the number of surgeons on this beautiful continent, to help fill that serious need.  We are sad to be away from Rwanda and all we love in that place, but happy about our new positions and the new work that awaits us here. We feel very privileged to join the teams at both of these very respected institutions! 


For those who want to know more about this big change that seemingly happened overnight, here are more of the long version details. 


I guess the easiest way to catch you up on our move, why we moved, how we are settling in, is to take various questions we have received from some of you and answer them here.  Here we go: 

Q: Did you change mission organizations, or .... ?
A: No.  We didn't change mission agencies, but we have been "secunded" to SIM (Serving in Mission) in order to properly fit into the organizations of both RVA and Kijabe Hospital. We are still with Christian Health Service Corps, a relatively new mission agency, designed exclusively to send more doctors and nurses (and dentists) to the mission field. To reach our specific "page" on this website, go to this link. 
Nevermind that it still says we are in Rwanda.  Soon, we will have an updated picture that includes our new son, Deste, as well as updated locale! 
Q. We thought you loved Rwanda and the Rwandan people, and that there was a huge medical need there.  If so, why on earth did you leave all that to go to Kenya, where the medical need is less than Rwanda? 

A. Good question, we are glad you asked!  The answer is rather complicated and multi-faceted, but first, YES, we do love the Rwandan people, the medical need does continue to be intensely serious and dire, and we miss it terribly!

The questions started about a year ago, when we realized that Linda's kidneys were not performing near the level they should.  She has had numerous, numerous tests to try to figure out what is going on - but the cause has not been discovered.  All we know is that my numbers are off.  My kidneys are not filtering my blood the way they should at my age.  And, being in rural Rwanda, we were too far away from medical care should they worsen abruptly.  We needed to either find a place to serve in Africa where I could be treated quickly if my situation deteriorated, or we needed to go home. 


Another difficulty we had been facing was the lack of a team at Kibogora. There is an African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together."  After three years it became apparent that without the support of a team at Kibogora, it was unwise to continue as we were trying to do too much on our own. The needs were only increasing, and could not be properly addressed without a team. We saw there was no way we could keep up the pace we were both living without burning out - soon. We wanted to go far, but that we could not do that alone.


Meanwhile, while we were processing these realities, two amazing doors opened for service in Kenya, near a very good hospital that could continue to treat Linda's kidneys if the need arose.  

First, Kijabe Hospital was looking for another surgeon who could help train surgery residents, who will then go out to hospitals like Kibogora and fill huge needs in the future.  Helping to send out new (younger!) surgeons?  What a great way to help meet the surgery needs on this beautiful continent we've come to love.  

Second, an opening came up in the English department at Sam and Ruthie's boarding school, located just a twenty minute walk from the hospital that needed a surgeon.  My master's degree is in secondary English education - and I've long wished I could teach 12th grade English - exactly the spot that was open!  This school provides a way for missionary families to educate their children so they can remain on the field when they might otherwise have to return to America to seek education for their children.  We serve families from over 17 different home countries, who are working in many, many different countries throughout Africa. 

These facts, combined with a longing to be nearer our children, which has only grown with every year we've been in Rwanda - meant that we decided to try to make the move.  We applied to the two openings, and were accepted to both but sorting out the complicated organizational arrangements took some time. In fact, it took a lot of time.  In fact, we didn't know we could come until just a couple of days before we actually moved!  

This is part of why we never posted much about the move on our blog.  Until just about 48 hours before we actually moved, we were still unsure if all the paperwork would make it possible TO move!  And, we didn't want to confuse everyone with news about a move that never happened.  

Q. So, what will happen with the folks you love and the work you've been doing in Rwanda?

A. Well, that's another good question.  We hope (but of course, only God knows) that we can return to Rwanda someday - pending my health situation and our family situation.  We also hope to keep up with our Rwandan friends and to keep some of our projects running there.  We pray God makes that possible through some good friends we have in Rwanda who can help us stay in touch and up to date on different things there, and through Tim perhaps being able to go and fill in as a surgeon there every so often.

Q. What's your living situation like in Kenya? 

A. We are staying temporarily in another teacher's house, which used to be a dorm, many years ago.  Because it is a renovated old dorm, it is HUGE.  It has a cool wood burning stove for a heater, which we need at night!  We are high up in the clouds here!

With so much new and so many changes we are so grateful for the time in this very comfortable home for our first few months of transition. The missionaries who normally live here are home in the States, due to a medical need with a family member.  While we are so sorry for their situation, we are very grateful for their generosity in opening their home to us, people they've never even met!  Everything in here, except our clothes, belongs to them.  They were so kind to open their home and belongings to us in this way.   

When those teachers return for term 2 of school in January, we will be moved to a duplex close to the hospital.  So, for now, I am enjoying quick walks to school, and come January, Sam, Ruthie, Deste and I will enjoy getting in better shape with our half hour walks back and forth.  (Trying to keep a positive mindset, here!)

 So, we hope this clears things up a bit about where we are, why we are where we are, and what our future hopes and dreams are regarding our beloved Rwanda. 



Thursday, July 23, 2015

SEKA! (Smile!)

After my lovely "upchuck" post, I'm thrilled to have a bit of a more FUN piece of news to share.......

Today we published the new website for an exciting new venture here in Kibogora!  You may want to check it out, so I'll post it here, right where you can't miss it!   

Seka Handbags is a wonderful group of ladies who have learned how to sew this year, and who are making the most delightful bags and purses you have ever seen!  To learn more about Seka, how it started, all about the seamstresses and most importantly, how you can get your hands on one or more of these fabulous bags, be sure to visit our site.  And many thanks to my niece, Gena Ward, and to my daughter, Hannah Berg, for inventoring all our bags and creating the website for me!  

After looking at the website, if you are interested in helping to sell these purses, please let me know by emailing me at, OR by commenting under this post.  

Below is an excerpt from an email I sent to our email list (if you want to join that, please email me as well!), describing more about this new facet of our ministry.  

Also, big news!  We relocate to Kenya in the next couple of weeks!  The email below will tell more about that as well.......

From the email......

~ ~ ~

Be a Missionary from Home!

Dear friends,

This is Linda, and I am writing to the WOMEN on our mailing list ~ so if you're a guy - unless you are a guy with a lot of creative flair, who happens to have a bunch of awesome girl friends - feel free to ignore this email from the Bergs.

We are not sure that we have explained this fully or clearly, but we Bergs are about to make a big move to Kenya.  Long story short - we are continuing our medical mission, but Tim will now be TRAINING the next generation of General Surgeons instead of working as one here in Rwanda - at least for a while.  I will also be working in Kenya.  I will teach Senior English this coming school year at Sam and Ruthie's school, Rift Valley Academy.  Tim's new workplace is only a 5 minute walk from their school, so we can live with our highschoolers again!  Deste will attend Kindergarten at Rift Valley Academy as well.  We move in under two weeks.  Yes, our heads are spinning with all the transitions!

Meanwhile, as excited as we are about this move, we are also heart-broken about leaving Rwanda.  One of the most heart-wrenching things about leaving (just after our sadness that as of yet, no surgeon is scheduled to take Tim's place at the hospital which will leave many Rwandans in need of surgical care without anyone to operate on them) is leaving my sewing co-op, Seka Handbags.

The ladies who make up this co-op have lived more painful lives than any of us in America can even comprehend.  Seriously.  These are the poorest of the poor - the uneducated, the orphan, the widow, those with zero options, no hope, no chances.

They have come from not knowing how to even thread a sewing machine to being able to produce truly beautiful handbags.  Truly Beautiful!

But, as with any new business, it will be a while before we are making a profit.  A big need I have is to find a market in America to sell these bags.

I sent an email before, and had responses.  However, as fast as life is going, I've lost track of who volunteered to help - so I'm wondering if you'd tell me again.  (And, please forgive my scatter-brained self!)

Also, I need help in two specific ways.  I need about 15 women (or more! But at least 15!) who would agree to be "Seka Sellers" - that is, who would agree to have a Purse Party, invite friends over, tell the Seka Story, and see if anyone wants to buy some beautiful purses or gym bags.  You won't have to pay for the purses ahead of time, and can send the money to us, along with any unsold bags, within 3 weeks of receiving them. (You'll mail to an American address.)   And you can have one purse for free for your efforts!

If you want to do this, please email me and send me your mailing address for where to mail your bags!  You will receive them in about 2 - 3 weeks!

Very soon, we will have a website up for you to read all about it.  Thanks in advance.  I am praying that at least 15 wonderful women will agree to be a "Missionary from Home" and will agree to host a Seka Purse Party!  (Prices range from $5 - $45)

The second way you can help would be to temporarily support our work with Seka.  Our overhead is $2,000 a month.  (This includes salaries for 11 people, rent of our building, electricity, night guard, and all the fabric and other sewing materials to make the bags.)  If we could maybe receive donations close to that for three to six months, it would help a lot as we try to get our feet off the ground.  If you could make any donations just for this project, we would need to have them mailed to the Rwanda Benevolence Fund at First United Methodist Church, 321 Thompson Drive, Kerrville, TX  78028.  Please specify the donation is for Seka Handbag Startup Fund.  Thank you!

If you think a little sewing co-op can't really make a difference, please thing again.  Here is an example from just last night.  I was two days late to come and buy the handbags the ladies had made, because we ourselves were short on money.  A friend came to tell me that two of the ladies and their children were very hungry. "They have not eaten at all today."  Here I was, all warm and comfortable in my home, and these poor ladies - mamas and their children! - were going hungry on my watch!

It was already dark, so I could not go out alone.  I called a student friend of ours, Pacifique, and he came and escorted my niece and me to the ladies homes.  We stopped along the way to buy rice, beans, salt and oil from a little store, just as it was closing, and delivered it to our friends.  Their children were so happy!  I was ashamed that I'd been late to make my purchases.  I do not want that to happen again.  Selling these bags truly means the difference between eating and not eating, between attending elementary school and not attending, between having clothes and not, for these ladies and their children.  Each morning, a pastor friend brings a Bible message of hope to the ladies, and they sing and pray together.  Also, we provide tea and bread each morning (newly installed practice).  And starting September 1, I have hired a student to teach them English for one hour each day.  Your support of this program will make all the difference in the lives of these widows and orphan ladies, and to their children (20 children in all). 

Thanks for reading this.  May God Bless you.

In Him,
Linda Berg


Monday, June 29, 2015

Philosophy and Upchuck

Ever noticed you think the most dreary thoughts while lying on a cold, hard bathroom floor, waiting for the next dreaded wave to overtake your stomach and force you to heave all the contents therein outside of your helpless body?  

Yeah, I just wrote that.

A virulent virus is weaving its ugly way through our compound, and Hailey and I were the (un)lucky recipients this weekend. 

(Please pray for our Burundi Evacuee Missionary guests, that we do not give them this gift, as they've had enough to contend with lately......)

Febrile, shaky, sore all over, weak and dizzy -- I found myself in kind of a delirium almost, wanting only for my Mama to be there with her soothing, cold washcloth on my forehead, telling me all would be better soon.  (My mom was always really good at nursing sick children.)


And then I remembered I was in Africa, that my mom was 8,000 miles away, and the worst thing I remembered was that I wasn't a kid anymore.  I was the grownup, and grownups don't get to have their moms lovingly put cold rags on their foreheads when they are throwing up.  Grownups have to be SURE they hit the toilet, lest they get stuck with the job of cleaning up their mess themselves. 

After a major pity party for a few seconds.....

I then started wondering what it would have been like to be like the women in my sewing co-op, who can't even remember their moms, much less ever have their moms put a cold washrag on their faces,  nor ever have cold, running water available in their homes, nor ever even own a clean and cold washrag.   I wondered what it was like to be Deste when he was little(r), when his parents drowned when he was still a nursing baby and had no one except his wonderful, but extremely poor, teenaged aunt to watch over him and to try to care for him when he felt sick.  I thought about how many millions of people have gone without basic care and attention to small things like coping with viruses.   

And then I felt quite silly for feeling sorry for my 50 year old self, that I didn't have my Mama with me just then. 

Being in my stream-of-consciousness, febrile-philosophical state, I also started thinking, "Why can't we do something about all the suffering in the world, about all the kids who don't have Moms?  Why is it wearing Tim and me out so much just trying to alleviate a small bit of suffering in one little corner of one little country in one little side of the Eastern side of Africa?" 

Nothing like trying to do something to make you realize how small and powerless you are, and how big and overpowering the world is.

It seemed to me then, while lying on the cold, hard floor, that it takes a whole lot more than two people to make a dent in something.  It seemed to me that unless every single person in the entire world who has been blessed with loving parents, with physical comforts, with experiencing the love of Jesus, with financial blessings - unless every single one of us decides to share our blessings with those who do not have them, the world will continue to be a painful, painful place for millions - billions - of people.  As someone I deeply admire said to her children when they were growing up: "If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much room." 

This week, Tim has 86 patients to round on every morning and evening.  How is he supposed to do anything BUT round on 86 patients, many of whom are crammed, 3 to a bed, in their ward?  Yet he also has multiple, multiple surgeries scheduled.  And next week, he loses Stephanie Land, who is his right arm in the surgery area.  Oh, and the suction isn't working in surgery, and hasn't been working for over a week.  I don't even know how they've done any surgery without that, but worse, they don't know when it will be fixed.  And, he has one patient who was in a severe motorcycle accident and had the lower half of her arm literally ripped off, along with all the skin from her neck downwards.  It is pretty horrid.  So, he has spent literally 2 hours EACH day cleaning and dressing that wound.  Two hours he doesn't have, treating a patient who is so sick that he would TRANSFER her to a better equipped hospital if he was working at his Kerrville Hospital.  That he is working on someone here who would need to be transferred from Kerrville says a lot.  Kerrville has far, far more ability to provide for this woman's needs than does our mission hospital here - and yet, he treats her here because there is nowhere else to send her.

So, why do we even stay?  Why are we still working in Africa if we can often see no difference being made, and often grow weary and exhausted and discouraged?  We stay because we believe God has asked us to stay, and because we are addicted to the JOY He gives us when we see that glimmer of difference that sometimes God delivers through the offering of our work here.  We stay because we believe "To whom much is given, much is required" (Luke 12:48), and we enjoy being able to share with friends here a bit of what we have so freely received all our lives.  We stay because we have hope that God can take our wimpy little offerings and can bless them and turn them into something big and good for His people here.  We stay because we believe in the power of God's redeeming love.  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Today is a day to remember our fallen heroes, but I also am asking God to bless the wives, husbands, parents and children of our current soldiers. 

They each pay a huge price, missing their daddy or mommy, husband or wife, son or daughter, while they serve overseas. And the soldier also pays such a huge, huge price. 

What a sacrifice of his or her life and time and all he or she holds dear. These families - the soldiers, the spouses, the parents and their children - need our love and support. 

Click to See a Great Video 

I hope our government fully appreciates all they do and all they give up. I don't know if they do, but at least we, the USA citizens, can be kind to them. I wish our government would take care of our veterans the way they should. Let's think of and try to do something special for someone - or for someone's family - who is active in the military today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Surprising Obstacles

Last December, during routine blood tests to check my weird thyroid,  my doctor noticed some out of the ordinary numbers regarding my kidney function.

Someone needs to inform my body that "Fifty = Fabulous", and not Fifty = Full On Body Fail". 

We redid the test a few times, always getting the same results.  The numbers weren't good, but they weren't horrible either, so I went ahead and returned to Rwanda.  I didn't want to delay my return any further, because as it was, I would only just make it back in time to meet Sam and Ruthie for their midterm 4 day break from school.  We had planned for me to fly directly back to Nairobi to meet them, as Tim could not take off work in Rwanda at that time.  It is required for one parent, or a guardian, which we would have had to pre-arrange and hadn't, to be there to pick up kids for this break time when the school shuts down for much needed staff R&R.  Besides really missing my kids, I was quite obligated to be there as well.  So, pretty much unless I was dying, I really needed to get on the plane and get to Africa.

Since then, my sweet in-house doctor, Tim, has made sure I've continued monitoring my kidney numbers via testing in an excellent clinic in Nairobi.  We'd thought perhaps this kidney deal was a temporary problem, which would rectify itself with some time.  However, six months later, my numbers still aren't good.

Frustrating, but certainly nowhere near the kind of concerns, hurts and problems we see daily with so many patients at our hospital - and with patients who have absolutely ZERO other options to just "fly to Kenya or America" for further care.

This really is just what I'd call a kidney "glitch".  It is nowhere near a crisis, or anything super scary.  It is just something we need to watch, and would sure like to figure out.  Yes, it's not good, but truly, it's not a big deal, either.

But, this kidney glitch highlights for me once again the unfairness of this current world.  I admit I am thankful to be born into the privilege that allows me to pay attention to something that wouldn't even be detected yet, were it happening with one of our friends here in Rwanda.  Yet I am also filled with enormous guilt that I am so privileged.  This once more makes me long for Heaven, when finally all will be made right.  All will be equally unfair there.  No one will be there out of "fairness".  All will be enjoying an eternal life of privilege, the bliss and joy of living and loving in a perfect environment, soaking up all that love and care, thrilled to be daily in the presence of our Friend and Savior, Jesus.  None will be left out, none will be second or third class.  None will be deprived while 10% consume 90% of the benefits.  I can't wait.

Meanwhile, my kidneys.  Even after multiple tests, we have no idea why they aren't working well.  We only know that they aren't.  They aren't terrible - I'm far from needing dialysis or anything.  But it is a concern.  I'm a point away from being stage 3 - so, technically stage 2, a good thing.

Is it because of my lifelong habit of drinking Coca-cola, for many years diet and the last 10 the "real thing"?  Is it because I have neglected to eat my veggies regularly?   Am I just unlucky in the kidney department?

We don't know.  But we are now at the point where I need to go back home for a biopsy.  Hopefully, that will tell us why this is happening and help us make a plan.

I won't be able to see anyone besides a few family members on my very quick 10 day trip - but I'd sure love to have your prayers as we try to understand what is happening with this half a century young body of mine, and how it will impact our future ministry in Africa.  We love working here.  We love living here.

Tim jokes that I must have been born African and switched at birth - I thrive in this culture.  And not just because we get to operate on "African Time" - though that really is a big plus for me!  But also, I love the food, the smiles, the greeting your friends on the road, the walking, not having to even worry one minute about my outfit being in style or ever concerning myself or watching others concern themselves with keeping up with the Joneses.  Heck, the Joneses don't even live here.  What do any of us care what they do?

Is it wrong to enjoy where you live and minister?  Or are we only supposed to go where we "suffer for Jesus"?  That isn't a real question, so no need to answer it.  Of course, it sure seems to me that God usually - not always, but usually - gives a real love of a place to those he sends somewhere - He is a good God and loving Father, yes?  Anyway, He certainly has done that for Tim and me and our kids.  As much as I love and miss the good ole USA, especially the Texas part,  I will always be so grateful to have moved to Africa and discovered whole new "lands that I love" and new countries that I pray for God to bless.  I don't just sing "God Bless America" anymore, but "God Bless America, and Rwanda, and Kenya, and DRC, and Burundi...."

Will you pray for me about my kidneys?  And for my travel back home?  And for the biopsy procedure?  And will you pray for Deste as I have to leave him behind yet again for another trip?  He'll be home with his Dad,  and with Aunt Jeanne, too, but still.....I worry about his heart - he has gone through so many changes!  Will you pray for our family? 

Thank you. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

All in the Family

Our 23rd Anniversary Weekend

It might seem a bit strange for a couple to spend their anniversary celebration weekend WITH some of their children, but for us, this year, it was a perfect plan.  

Tim and I had to send Ruthie and Sam back to their boarding school two weeks ago, and we missed them already.  Since I needed to come to Nairobi last week for some medical tests (nothing too serious; don't worry, mom!), Tim decided to come join me here for the weekend so we could celebrate.  

Being so near the kids, we couldn't imagine spending the weekend so nearby them without seeing them.  So, the family-friendly anniversary weekend was born.  We found a very reasonably priced lodge called the "Lake Naivasha Resort", and headed out there on Saturday.  

For nearby families, we really enjoyed this place.  They have a few "luxury tent cabins", which means the tents have comfortable bed, toilet, sink, shower and electricity included.  There are multiple (10?) other non-luxury tents in a grove of beautiful Acacia trees, closer to the lake, which have the bed, but not the bathroom nor electricity, for quite a bargain price, especially in low season like now.  Then there are maybe 10 or 12 log type cabins - I didn't see inside those, but assume they were your basic cabin. They do have electricity.  The grounds are beautiful.  Large, open lawn, beautiful, tall trees, a clean and refreshing swimming pool, a restaurant, and dock with some small boats for cruising around the lake.  


More than anything, the beauty of this place comforted our tired souls and bodies, and provided an uninterrupted place for the four of us to visit, catch up, and just enjoy being together. 

Being Americans, of course we were also entertained by the numerous monkeys, especially the mamas and baby monkeys, roaming about and causing mischief.  One time, I wandered back to my tent from the swimming pool, only to find about 4 monkeys on my bed!  They scampered out as soon as I disturbed them by daring to enter my room.  I assume these cute little guys annoy locals, as they are scavengers and cause a bunch of chaos - kind of the way ranchers in Texas feel about armadillos, nutria in our lakes, and for some, even deer.  But for us Americans, we enjoyed every moment of watching these cute monkeys running around, stealing food, balancing and climbing trees so skillfully. 


What a treat!  Ice in our coke!  Ahhhhhh

I'm not going to want to go back to Nairobi tomorrow! 

But, I can't wait to return to Rwanda on Wednesday or Thursday to see my sweet Deste and Jeanne.  I miss them so much.