Sunday, June 4, 2017

The plane ride to Houston

We boarded our plane and left the gate right on time but were about 15 minutes late taking off as we waited in line behind others.  We are about 2 hours from Houston as I write and it has been a pretty smooth flight so far. The Fasten Seat Belt light only came on as we approached the East coast, a common experience.  We were fed a lunch an hour into the flight.  I slept a little after that and then watched a 50th Anniversary show celebrating The Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan on my phone that CBS aired in 2014. That took up a couple of hours.  I'm suspecting we'll get a snack before we land. I've been munching on trail mix I brought from HEB to keep me going.

It looks like we've made up some of the lost time. I'm just hoping we have a smooth time going through Customs and Immigration so we can get headed back to Austin. More to follow once I'm home. 

Got to London OK

We got through security in Nairobi without a hitch and  took off on time at 11:15 pm local time.  In the past, our flight left at 11:50. While 35 minutes might not seem like much, it's a big difference when you're dog tired. We all got good sleep on the 8 hour flight to Heathrow and I'm writing this on my phone in Terminal 5. As I  noted earlier, I left my laptop with my dear friend Barrack for use in his photography and his Fikisha ministry with the street children in the slum of Kawangware. While my backpack is considerably lighter, it feels very good knowing why. Thank you Lord for providing for your people!

Our next flight to Houston should be about 9 hours. We arrive there at 2:15 pm cst and should clear customs in about an hour.  Randy is picking us up and I  hope to be home before 7. With any luck, I'll get word out from Bush International airport that we made it that far. I wonder if we'll stop for Blue Bell in Brenham? Only time will tell! Keep following the blog for the next few weeks. There are lots of stories to tell and  pictures to share that time, flaky Internet and exhaustion have kept from you so far!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Saturday activities and let the travel begin!

We had breakfast at Rosa Mystica at 7 and were in the Nairobi National Game Park by 8am. My driver from my 2 extra days of photo safaris last November, Simon, was our driver. He quickly found lions, giraffes, zebras, water buffalo, warthogs, elans, rhinos, water bucks, gazelles, impalas and a large crocodile to name a few.  We had a shortened safari so that we could also go to the world famous Elephant Orphanage.  It was entertaining and informative. Diane and Elena adopted a 1 year old elephant named Molima.

We had lunch at the Veranda.  Simon regaled us with all kinds of stories.  After lunch,  we proceeded to the giraffe feeding attraction, where I  got a picture of Kelly the Giraffe kissing Elana.  Actually,  she bad a piece of food in her mouth that Kelly retrieved.  We all had a good laugh.

We went back to Little Daughters for showers and joined with incoming teams for a worship service. Elena, Diane and I each got to share about our clinic before Pastor Mike from Catherine's church gave the sermon.

We are now at the airport waiting to board our flight. More to follow from London. Please pardon typos, I'm writing on my cell phone the rest of the trip.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The clinic finishes on a high note

We had another bang up day. Even with closing the clinic gates a little early so we could make sure we served everyone that was already there,  we saw 641 patients and several more people confessed Christ. For the week, we ended up with 2765 patients plus 300 school kids got screened for eye problems.  97 souls were won over for the Lord as well!  Thanks be to God!

Tomorrow, the Westergren's head to the Masai Mara for a couple of more days of family time in Kenya. We three will do a photo safari at the Nairobi National Game Park followed by lunch and hopefully we will feed some Giraffes at another place. We then will shower at the Little Daughters of St. Joseph before heading to the airport for the long trip home. More to follow as I am able.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thursday surpassed all expectations

A little more about last night’s dinner at Pampa.  Catherine’s son Eugene has always been able to outlast all comers at any “all you can eat” affair that I’ve seen him at.  Last night, he met his match.  The new world champion is Ben Westergren.  After all of us had surrendered by turning our green chip in front of our plates over to red, Ben was still sampling everything that was offered to him.  We thought it was hilarious, because got the kids half price deal and buried the rest of us.  The restaurant lost that bet because It was just short of unbelievable.  We all had a lot of fun with it and the conversation around the table was wonderful all night.
We breakfasted and left about 20 minutes later than usual this morning because there was absolutely no traffic, on foot or vehicular, to be seen.  It was the easiest ride to and through the slum of Kibera that I had ever experienced.  We didn’t know whether we would have a big day or if people might be doing other things on their holiday.  It was the former, we served 667 people before it was all over, with 23 new believers coming to Christ today.  Thank you, Jesus!  Just like yesterday, it was a steady flow of people, we never got a chance to really catch our breath.  We do rotate from one station of the clinic to another, because some jobs are standing and some are sitting, some are repetitive, while others, like triage, involve staying engaged in conversation with our patients, so you need to be attentive at all times. 
I was called out of the clinic to meet with Bishop Bakari near one of our evangelism tents.  He was sitting with an 18 year old guy that had obvious problems with his eyes.  It turns out that he has keratoconitis, a condition where the eyes become more and more shaped like the end of an American football.  We have had luck referring boys less than 10 years old to a clinic for treatment, but the older ones sometimes can only get partial treatment or hard contact lenses that temporarily push the eyes back into shape.  He had gone to one of the clinics we use without the benefit of being connected to Vision for Africa, our project and was told it would be at least $2000 per eye.  It might as well be a million dollars.  I worked with our doctors and they feel they can get the price down to possibly $600 per eye.  In these cases, we typically agree to pay a portion and ask that the family and community fundraise for the rest.  It has worked out well almost every time and it results in more people have skin in the game and actively praying for a good outcome.  I will follow up and report on how things go.
This afternoon, Joseph and Wayne from Waithaka came in to have a follow-up visit for Wayne after his successful surgery after our clinic there last November.  He was the young boy that had a hole in his left eye tear duct that resulted in a chronic dry eye condition.  I’ve posted pictures in the past of him before and just after his surgery.  It was a joy to see them both again, and Wayne is just fine now.  I’ve been in contact with Joseph, the father, by email since we first met.  Another thank you, Jesus!
We have a big day tomorrow, probably 500 or so patients before we must begin packing up the clinic and having one final devotion with the Kibera volunteers.  We have prepared diploma quality certificates of appreciation for them and will award them individually.  The recognition goes a long way with the younger volunteers.  In the past, many have framed them and put them on their walls.  We will say our goodbyes through laughs and tears and will spend our last night at Rosa Mystica.

Saturday, we will be going to the Nairobi National Game Park for a photo safari including a stop at the Elephant Orphanage.  Next will be a nice lunch at the Veranda, a wonderful outdoor dining experience, and finally we hope to get to feed the Giraffes at another attraction.  More to come as time permits.  Thanks for following our adventures and keeping us in your thoughts and prayers!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

We had an awesome Hump Day!

We started our day at the clinic by sending all hands down to the school to examine 300 students with an eye chart and for other problems.  I stayed in the clinic and setup each station so we would be prepared to open when the others were done.  It’s a good thing I did, we were swamped all day.  None of us ever had more than a moment’s break the whole day, it was a steady stream of humanity.  By day’s end, we had served 535 patients in the clinic, so including the children, we made a difference in the visual lives of over 800 people. Praise God!

We had dinner with Catherine and her family, including her mother, her son Eugene and her nephew Brian.  We went to a Brazilian steak house named Pampa near Rosa Mystica, because we couldn’t get a reservation at the Carnivore, probably due to it being on the evening of the holiday celebrating Kenya’s independence from the British.  It was real blessing to see Mama again, which is what we call Caherine's mother.  It was a later than usual night for us, so we all turned in when we got back to our lodging.  I’m writing this quickly Thursday morning and will continue after the clinic today.  I hope we have a HUGE day with people being off work.  More details to come about Wednesday and today…t

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tuesday's Clinic builds on our good start

We had breakfast at 7am and then rode to the clinic.  The setup of all of our stations only took a few minutes.  We sang some Swahili praise songs with our volunteers and Pastor Kevin did a nice devotion based on the Gospel of John.  He talked about the joys of working together to share the Good News, how it is not something God wants for us to do alone.  We strengthen and encourage each other along the way and build unity in the church.
We had another very good day for so early in the week, seeing 501 patients, with 34 of them coming to Christ for the first time or wanting to know more.  It was pretty steady all day long and the clinic is now running smoothly enough for us to see much larger numbers of people easily.  Our only limitations may be how well our supplies of reading glasses and distance lenses and frames hold out.  I expect a very good week, with one question mark hanging over us.  There is a national holiday on Thursday, so we may have a monster day or people may do other things with their families.  Whatever happens, we will take the best care that we can of the people that the Lord sends our way.
At the end of the day, during our team devotion, Bishop Bakari Kea asked if anyone had a testimony to share about the God things that had happened.  Several people talked and then I told my story.   I was near the doctor’s table when an older gentleman approach Dr. Lillian.  He had been there earlier and had been told that he needed cataract surgery and that we would pay for it.  He had decided not to go through with it, saying he was too old.  I remembered that old man who had been in the same seat the day before and how he eagerly looked forward to having his second eye done.  I posted about this yesterday and there is a picture of him with Dr. Lillian on my Facebook page (I’m Dave DeVore there, so check it out).  I pulled out my phone, got the picture displayed and we showed it to our patient.  He then agreed to the surgery and I am looking forward to following his progress through Catherine.  If the story ended there, it would have been fine.  That’s where I finished in front of the group.  Only later did I find out that Tammy had seen the many leave and heard his excuse.  She shouted to Dr Lillian “Is he really too old?”  Lillian said that he wasn’t.  She followed him outside and convinced him to return, which is the point at which my story had begun.  Just look at how Pastor Kevin’s message of working together to accomplish God’s purposes had played out and how many of us He had used in the process.  All I can say is a phrase we hear often in Kenya “God is good.  All the time!”

We just got back from dinner at Java House.  I’m about ready to call it a night.  We have a busy day tomorrow and are going to the Carnivore with Catherine right after the clinic.  We’ll change and freshen up a bit at the restaurant.  It’s similar to a Brazilian steak house, they bring you meat until you surrender by raising a little flag in front of you.  We may be in fairly late, so my next report may be delayed a little bit.  Thanks everybody for all of your prayers, they have been heard and wonderful things are happening by the minute here.  Praise God!