Easter and the Supreme Court of Kenya
This Easter weekend as we participate in some of our favorite resurrection celebration traditions at Tenwek Hospital, the nation of Kenya has breathed a collective sigh of relief after a Supreme Court ruling that was announced yesterday. The Court decided that the recent election results from March 4th were valid and to be honored. The election of the next president of Kenya was relatively peaceful and over 12 million Kenyan voters participated in the process which led to the Electoral Board/Commission declaring Mr. Uruhu Kenyatta, son of the first President of Kenya, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, as the winner. The victory was immediately challenged with a petition to the Supreme Court by his contender, Mr. Raila Odinga, who has been the Prime Minister of Kenya the past five years. Some threats of demonstrations and protests were rumored to be planned after the Supreme Court decision so the US Embassy encouraged American citizens to stay put and "lay low". Many of you joined us in prayer the first week of March for peaceful elections in this country so we want to thank you for your kindness in going to the throne of grace on behalf of this nation . We are asking the God of peace to overcome any spirit of violence and hatred between political and ethnic groups as the country moves on, anticipating the inauguration of the fourth president of Kenya, Mr. Kenyatta, on April 9th.
"Jesus really loves the children, Daddy"......This is quote from a book that I read last year and found quite remarkable, Heaven is for REAL by Todd Burpo. In this true story told by his father, Colton, at age four, has a near death experience during an operation for a missed ruptured appendix. While on the operating table, Colton spent three days in heaven and gave so many incredible details of the experience that ring true with scripture and with his own families history, that it encourages the reader with a delightful peek into eternity with Jesus. In the months that followed Colton repeatedly told his pastor father, Todd, that Jesus is deeply in love with kids and gave many examples from his visit to heaven to explain his view.
Why do I share this with you now? In the month of March, two precious babies at age 14 months, Ruth and Hannah, left their earthly bodies and went to be with Jesus from Tenwek and Kenya. Ruth was a 14 month old Kenyan baby taken in by the Africa Gospel Church Baby Center in Nakuru, Kenya last year. She was a real cutie in the annual baby center calendar with several of the month calendars featuring pictures of this smiling and happy baby. Baby Ruth developed a sudden illness at the Baby Center and was rushed to Tenwek very sick. In spite of heroic efforts by our peds and surgical teams to correct an intestinal twisting and sepsis that followed, Ruth went to be with Jesus from our ICU about three weeks ago. While our missionary and national staff were still hurting over this loss, another 14 month old girl, Hannah Kelley, only daughter and youngest child of our new neighbors at Tenwek, Dr. Aaron and Stephanie Kelley, suddenly collapsed at home after treatment for nausea and vomiting for a couple of weeks. Aaron, an emergency room doctor, performed CPR on his own daughter while rushing her up the hill to the Tenwek emergency room. Again, heroic efforts on the part of many attempted to stabilize her in the middle of the night in our ICU. A CT scan of her head revealed a large and advanced brain cancer that had pushed on her brain stem, suppressing her breathing and heart rate. She was rushed to our sister hospital, Kijabe, where a pediatric neurosurgeon successfully operated and removed the tumor on a Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning, little Hannah went to be with our Lord Jesus, leaving Mom and Dad and three older brothers behind. You can read a truly inspiring account of this story, told by Dr. Aaron Kelley, at the Kelley blog, www.aaroninkenya.com. It is amazing mostly because Aaron and Stephanie are such committed followers of Jesus, that they clearly clung to the Master through all of this and gave glory and thanks to God for the life of their precious daughter. The Kelleys have returned to the US and the state of Pennsylvania, where family and friends helped them celebrate the life of Hannah in two different memorial services in their home towns. They are planning on returning at the end of April to resume life and ministry with us at Tenwek. Aaron is our first longer term ER doctor (2 years) and has already developed good working relationships with our outpatient staff. Please pray for them as they spend time with family over the next few weeks and then come back to Tenwek without their lastborn at the end of April.
This Easter I am enjoying the thought that Ruth and Hannah and other small children who leave this life after illness at Tenwek Hospital are enjoying the best that Jesus, the lover of children and Lamb of God, has to offer them in his home in heaven. He defeated our enemy death, and his home in heaven is for REAL!
The girls are pictured below while still in earth's outfits.
Our tenacious teen......Steven updateWell, the road for our big guy hasn't been easy but he feels the prayers of many as each day he gets up at O-dark-thirty (before 4am) for muster at Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio. After basic training in January and February, he made it through the first two weeks of a grueling "Development" Course for Pararescue Jumper training that saw only 48 young men make it out of 125 who began with Steven. In the next nine weeks of "Indoctrination" training possibly only half of these 48 men will graduate and advance to the next stage of the "pipeline", a two year period of training for the PJ's. We are amazed at how positive Steven remains in the midst of what sounds like very demanding days, being pushed to the limits of his physical and psychological capacity. Already one fellow trainee has passed out in the pool, underwater, while being trained to buddy breathe. We are enjoying long phone calls with Steven on weekends and his nearly daily texting at the end of his day to tell us how he fared that particular training day. We are getting lots of 2am texts and they often leave us wide awake for the rest of the night! He tells us that spending time with Christ throughout these very hard days is much more challenging than basic training but desires to do so. Pam posts quite a bit on Facebook about Steven's progress so if you want to "keep tabs" on Steven or on our family happenings, just send a friend request to her.
Our older two daughters, Melody and Kayla, are home from Rift Valley Academy for the one month Easter break. Melody has twin classmates, Emily and Katie, who are with us this Easter weekend visiting. The three girls had the opportunity to watch a C-section at the hospital today and then to visit with the precious healthy baby boy born to a Kipsigis mom of three now. Mom and baby are both doing quite well under the care of our long term Ob-Gyn, Dr. Joy Draper.
Melody (in the middle) with friends Emily and Katie Kinser in Tenwek OR
Bible Quizzing finalsAfter three months of studying and memorizing scriptures from the last half of the book of Acts, we have 14 teams from two sites preparing to compete in single elimination tournaments this weekend at Tenwek. This afternoon we had nearly 70 children lined up at our door to collect the 2013 Children's Bible quizzing T-shirt designed by one of our short term volunteers in action, Abby Carlson. The shirts highlight our theme taken from Acts 13:47 "Bringing Salvation to the ends of the earth". We are amazed this year at the numbers of kids, in 5th to 8th grade, who are going to qualify for a gold medal by quoting 50 select verses from Acts chapters 13 to 28. One girl from the second site this year, whom I will call "Mary", has a remarkable story that the Headmaster told Pam and I a couple of weeks ago. Mary was raised in a Muslim home in northeastern Kenya and came in contact with missionaries working for the Africa Gospel Church who were showing the Jesus film. She was in early grade school at the time and went home full of thoughts of who this Jesus might be. In the middle of the night, she had a vision of Jesus who came to her and talked to her in a loving way. The next day she went back to the missionary pastor and told him that the same Jesus in the film had come to her and asked her to follow Him. She gave her life to Christ and then heard of a special school in our area that caters to missionary kids and kids from mission fields in the church. Mary started attending and became interested in the Bible quizzing program last year. I (Mike) noticed that she was so full of joy and excitement over quoting scripture and studying the book of Acts. It was great to tell Mary (after the quiz competition) that God must have something very special in mind for her because she had such a personal invitation from the Lord Jesus himself to come follow Him. Please pray for Mary and the nearly 180 other children who have devoted themselves to earnestly study God's Word this year.
Have a super Easter celebration with family and friends! Thanks for your kind emails and prayers for our ministry here in Kenya!
Mike and Pam