Kenyan Stats

A few pertinent facts, to try and flesh out a profile for the place we're moving to:

Independence: 1963
Population: 39 million
Area: 580,637 sq km (about twice the size of Nevada)
Arable land: 8%
Borders: Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Lake Victoria, and the Indian Ocean
GDP per capita: 1600 USD

People and Health:
Life expectancy at birth: 57.9 years
Median age: 18.7 years
Infant mortality: 54.7 deaths /1000 live births
Total fertility rate: 4.56 children born / woman
HIV adult prevalence: 6.7% of population
Literacy: 85% of people over age 15 can read and write

2007 Violence:
"KIBAKI's reelection in December 2007 brought charges of vote rigging from ODM candidate Raila ODINGA and unleashed two months of violence in which as many as 1,500 people died. UN-sponsored talks in late February produced a powersharing accord bringing ODINGA into the government in the restored position of prime minister."

source: CIA world factbook (https://cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ke.html)

Tenwek Pictures

In an effort to give people some images to faciliate their imagination, here are some pictures of Tenwek Hospital, and their surrounding area, pulled from their own website.

The "famous" Hospital sign and motto.

The Hospital itself

A very impressive-looking men's ward...

...and the equally impressive-looking operating theatre.

One of the hospital housing complexes, which we think will be similar to the place we will live.

An outlying village


The Volatile Art of Photographing Young Children

All of us are independently involved in taking some family photos to put on "prayer cards", i.e. family photos to send to family and friends, for them to hang in some prominent location and be reminded to think of and pray for us. (e.g. the fridge, the bathroom mirror, or mayhaps the front door of the home or the steering wheel)
All of us also have small children, which of course can tend to complicate the process, as demonstrated below:

(Elise, watch where you're putting that finger...)

(Anna decides she has had enough. Subtle.)

(Note the ready - and in vain - pacifier.)


Living in the Commonwealth

I don't exactly try to hide my Anglophilic tendencies, and the thought of living in Kenya, a former center of British colonialism, gives me exciting thoughts of customary tea time with milk, learning to drive on the left, and spelling labor "labour". Nevertheless, there remain a few items of British heritage that still escape me, which I look forward to understanding better. Among them are marmite, cricket, and the Commonwealth.

What is this Commonwealth? All I knew is that we in the US are definitely not part of it, and Canada is, and presumably this has something to do with the Queen being on their currency and their highway signs. So I did a little research, and for the purposes of cultural education, I'll pass on a few points.

1. Yes, this is the successor to the British Empire. But given that all of these countries desired independence, this has connoted western imperialism in the past, and the idea of the "White Commonwealth" has been fodder for such anti-Western leaders as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe. (Mugabe withdrew his country from the Commonwealth after they were suspended for electoral and land reform policies in 2002.)

2. There is a distinction between the Commonwealth of Nations and the Commonwealth Realms. The Realms are 16 countries for whom the Queen of England is their head of state. This includes the obvious ones such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as well as a number of smaller, mostly island, states. The larger Commonwealth has a whopping 53 countries, for a total of almost 2 billion people (almost 30% of the world's population!). This is the group to which Kenya (and a lot of other African countries) belongs. These countries may have another monarch (such as the King of Swaziland or the Sultan of Brunei), but the Queen of England is still the ceremonial "Head of the Commonwealth".

3. The "What" is easier to answer than the "Why". There are a lot of stated goals about promoting democracy and development, but I'm not sure how that plays out on the ground. I do know that their most visible event is the Commonwealth Games, which is a sort-of Olympics that is also on a four-year schedule, for all of the Commonwealth member states, and includes some games really only popular within the former British Empire, such as bowls (which is apparently sort of like bocce ball) and netball (which seems to be a largely-women's basketball with no backboard.

All this to look forward to in our new life in Kenya. In the meantime, I'll be working on re-learning my medical vocabulary with such spellings as "paediatrics", "haemorrhage", or my favorite "oesophagus".


Trust and Real Estate

Local opinion seems to be that our peak real estate market ends annually around the end of July. Ours has been on the market since February and we have dropped our price XXX dollars, but still no offer. (I would mention numbers, but comparing home markets is not the point here.)
Over a month ago, we were at an impasse. No showings for over 2 weeks, and if we lowered the price anymore, we would almost certainly owe the bank, and have to delay departing for Kenya by a couple months, while we did some physician temp work to raise some income. We had stopped at a rest stop so Maggie could eat, and I wandered around the trees praying. Is this some way in which You will build our trust in you, by coming through at the last moment, and we just need to wait? Is this just a terrible market, and we need to use common sense, cut our losses, and get on with making a little extra money? I didn't know, so a la Gideon, I prayed for some kind of indication, namely that if we weren't supposed to lower our price, we would get some showings, and soon.
Within ten minutes, our realtor called with a showing, and within 24 hours, we had 4 showings set up. Showings came in steadily for the next several weeks, and it was a great time of building trust, and feeling like all was going to come together just in time.
And it still might. Yet time passes, and nothing.
Here is what I have learned: that the increase of the glory of God is the end that matters, and therefore when something is out of my hands, I can rest and trust God.
I am not good at this, though I am learning. I'm a physician. I'm a professional. I'm an American. I keep things in control. I don't end up in a lot of situations where something important is out of my hands. But I'm also moving to Kenya. With my family, no less. If I thought that this pattern of control would still continue indefinitely, I think everyone can agree that I was mistaken. So I badly need to learn this lesson of trust, and it may be God's severe mercy to teach it sooner rather than later.
I can fall on the rock, or the rock can fall on me. Once again, mercy strips bare some place I thought there was no wound. Some days I keep the big picture in front of me. I think of God's sovreignty and his glory, and I don't worry that it'll be distrupted. This morning, I was riddled with anxiety, and paced around the grass in the backyard, repeating ancient wisdom: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
This truth is medicine. By God's mercy, I now know that I need it, and that knowledge cannot be measured.