Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Way Forward

So much has happened in the last month (including writer’s block)!

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me and sent me advice. I really appreciated it!

God made it clear which path I should take. I am returning to the United States at the end of this month. I will be living in North Carolina with my family for the time being.

So let me back up a bit. I met via skype with the founder of LIMBS International on February 15th. When I told him of my decision, he gave me just ONE MONTH to wrap up the last four years of LIMBS work in Kenya and leave. This was my biggest shock! 4 weeks does not seem like enough time to wrap up 4 years of work! But God is good; He will not give or ask of me more than I can bear.

Although I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks, I am almost finished. Between February 16th and March 15th, I collected all the unused LIMBoxes and closed the programs at 5 clinic locations. This week I delivered 18 LIMBoxes to an organization wishing to purchase them for their work in East Africa. All that’s left is to follow-up on a few stories.

The last 4 years have been quite a learning experience for me and no matter how hard it got, I wouldn’t trade them.

Here are some things I have learned:
1. Africa does not run on American time. Africa runs on relationships and relationships take time.

2. Standing and refusing to pay bribes can be very hard. It may mean delays or even the failure of a program in a needy area. But when you stand your ground, God can also do amazing things.

3. TEAMS ARE IMPORTANT. Over the last three years especially, I have realized just how important it is to have a supportive support network in place. I have gotten a lot of demands but not a lot of support from LIMBS while I have been on the field. This has led to frustration, depression, loneliness, and burn out.

4. It is important to have a clearly defined position and role when entering a partnership with a Kenyan Organization or hospital. Because my role was not well defined when I came to Kenya, I have had numerous problems and conflicts within my work at CURE hospital. This is not CURE’s fault. The problem lay in finding out exactly where I fit into the workings of CURE. Where did I fit in the hierarchy? Who was my supervisor? Etc..

5. You can’t win every battle. Sometimes you have to lose a few battles to win the war.

6. Corruption is everywhere. It may wear a different mask but it exists at home and abroad.

7. Being the guinea pig is not easy, but if God puts you their He will help you through. I have been the “guinea pig” many times in my life (Family, Coop, job, etc). It has never been easy but when I look back I can see all the ways God has helped, taught, and grown me.

8. Packing and saying good bye is hard. I insisted that I have at least a week after shutdown to pack up my house, but saying good bye started at the beginning of March. I have said good bye to the people I have ministered with, worked with, and socialized with during my time here in Kenya. This is still ongoing.

I have focused exclusively on packing for almost a week now and my house is starting to look empty. The TV is gone, the dressers are gone, the shelves are sold, the mixer is sold, the microwave is sold, my linens and matress is sold. Also, I continue to struggle with a specific person taking things without asking and only finding out about it after she is unavailable. The things she takes are things I would not readily miss but will notice after a week or two. Oh and she is a master manipulator, prayers appreciated! Please pray that I would remember God owns everything and if something is stolen it is not a huge deal since it was God’s originally anyway. Thanks!

On the bright side, the last few weeks have not been all work and no play. I decided that if I had to leave Kenya, I was at least going to do some of the things I had been putting off. 

First, a visiting physical therapist and I went to Hell’s Gate National Park. I don’t know for sure, but I think the name comes from the geothermal activity in the area. We took matatus to the park and walked from there. There are no man eating predators in the park so it is safe to walk. Let me tell you this, walking gives you a whole new perspective in terms of wildlife. Did you know that an Eland is the size of a large horse? Or that a giraffe foot is twice the size of mine? 
However, the real adventure started when we got lost. During the last year, a new road has been added for better access to the nearby geothermal plants. It cuts right through the old trails in the park! We had a map but this road, obviously, was not on it. Also, right about this time, we reached the end of our water supply and had been walking for around 5 – 6 hours in the bright hot sun. Several prayers and phone calls later, an Icelandic man stopped and helped us out. He even gave us a ride out of the park and back to the main road where we could get a Matatu home. 

All I can say is GOD’S PROVISION!!!!! 

Last weekend, we went to the Elephant Orphanage, Giraffe Centre, and Animal orphanage. The baby animals at the orphanages are SO CUTE! At the elephant orphanage, we saw 29 orphans ranging from 7 months to three and a half years. The 7 month olds’ backs reached my knees and the 3.5 year old’s back reached my shoulder. Also, the elephant orphanage works to rehabilitate and release their orphans back into the wild once they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Nothing like good milk

See the little one in the middle?

The keeper with his "babies". Notice the difference in size between the 7 month old (middle) and the 18 month old (right).
This is NOT photo-shopped. The baby really was that close! 

The animal orphanage houses other animal orphans that are harder or impossible to reintroduce back into the wild. Some of these orphans were confiscated from smugglers in Mombasa, some were abandoned, some were badly injured, and still others lost their parents due to poaching. Patas is a white-spot nose monkey from West Africa. He was rescued from smugglers in Mombasa when he was just a few weeks old. He can never been reintroduced to his native environment because he has passed through so many African countries and risks spreading/introducing disease to the native population back in West Africa. All the animals I saw had a story to tell, but not all had them posted for public display. I also found out the orphanage feeds the animals at 2:30 pm six days a week (not Monday), so I stayed around to watch. It was quite a scene. The keepers train the animals from an early age what to do during meal times. The lions and other aggressive animals have to go into their sleeping quarters before the keepers bring in the food/meat. However, on Sunday, one of the lionesses decided she wasn’t hungry so why did SHE have to go to the sleeping quarters? After some cajoling, she finally went where she was supposed to go, but on release she just went back to lie down in the shade and her mate ate a double portion.
This 8 month old giraffe was so friendly!

Great African Crane

Who says there is a difference between house cats and lions?
Both love sleeping with their paws against the wall!

This little guy was trying SO HARD to get to the leaves on the upper branches.
So I gave him a hand!
Lunch anyone? =)
The giraffe center was started as a breeding program for Rothchild giraffes to save them from extinction. It has been widely successful! If you ever go to Nakuru National park, most of the giraffes you see there probably came from the giraffe center at some point. (This is also probably the reason they are so friendly!) At the giraffe center, we got to feed the giraffe from a raised platform and even get them to eat from your mouth! There are three types of giraffe in Kenya; the masaii giraffe, the reticulated or common giraffe, and the Rothschild giraffe. The masaii giraffe has flower-like patches, the Reticulated giraffe has brick red block like patches, and the Rothschild giraffe has patches with darker spots in them. So the giraffe center only has Rothschild giraffes but if you go into the gift shop, all the giraffes on display are reticulated giraffes. How ironic!

Stacy was SO hungry! 
The warthogs hung around eating the scraps and dropped food at the Giraffes feet.

While I will miss Kenya greatly, I am looking forward to what the future holds.

Here is what I know so far.

Here is what I need to do once I get to the USA:
1. Renew my driving license

2. Attend a debriefing and reentry seminar

3. Prepare to take more college classes.

4. Take said college classes

5. Readjust to American life

6. Change my health insurance coverage

7. Find a source of income

Prayer Items:

1. Peace and packing. As I pack up my life here in Kenya and prepare to move to North Carolina, please pray that I would have peace. Change has NEVER been easy for me.

2. Please pray for the debriefing and reentry seminar I need to attend. Because I have been so immersed in Kenyan culture for the last 3.5 years, I know I will face challenges reintegrating into American life. I am not the woman I was in 2011! Also, please pray that God would provide the $500 plus travel that I need in order to attend the seminar.

3. God has “blessed” me with unique difficulties when it comes to learning in an academic environment. Please pray for me as I do the proper testing and fill the proper forms in order to get the help I need while taking more college courses.

4. God is leading me towards pursuing training in Prosthetics and Orthotics. In order to do this I have several prerequisite classes that I need to take. Please pray for God’s provision in all aspects of this pursuit.

5. Due to Healthcare reform, I have had to buy US health insurance that I never use. Now that I am moving back to NC, I have to change my address for health care as well. (Previously, my address was listed in TX). Please pray that this all goes smoothly!

6. College tuition is not cheap. Pray for God’s Provision and that I would trust it.

Thank you so much for your support these last 4 years. 

LIMBS International will send me any donations that come in before April 15th. So if you feel led to contribute and help with my relocation expenses you can do so through them as long as they are received before April 15th. 

LIMBS Address:
500 W. Overland, Suite 230
El Paso, Texas 79901
(Put my name in the memo line)

To donate online:
(Click "donate online", then enter my name in the memo line)


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