Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bwana Asifiwe

Warm rains came again in earnest last night. Someone (who is it?) describes the sound as "laughter on the roof." Laughter becomes a chorus of delight on a corrugated tin roof in Kenya.

Nadia and I slid our way through the raw, red mud to St. Philip's this morning. It took a little longer than the usual half hour; but, once there, the intimacy of prayer and the immediacy of music made my own heart laugh and sing anew. "Bwana Asifiwe" ("Praise God") is both a call to worship and a Christian greeting. It is repeated during services, in word or song, with increasing intensity until a resounding "Amen!" is heard in response. Tambourines, drums and kayambas -- flat wooden boxes that, shaken, sound like rain sticks -- provide spontaneous accompaniment for the voices raised in praise.

"I thank God continually for you" is my heart's refrain this Advent. Today we heard a different translation of that familiar Philippians 1:3 passage: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." Listening to the reading, a flood of tears caught me by the same surprise as last night's rain. I love this place and these people; I love and miss you all even more. It is a joy to hear about your families and holiday preparations. Thank you for sharing them.

We returned to the hospital for morning rounds after chapel, then walked miles into the community with Theresa, a CCC outreach worker, to visit HIV/AIDS clients in their homes. There are 1850 clients in the Maseno cachement area, approximately 500 of whom receive home visits. We met seven of those clients and their families, admired the amaranth and moringe (nutritional supplements) growing in their gardens, checked on their health and counted out their pills. One elderly man was suffering a variety of opportunistic infections, including a painful outbreak of herpes zoster; his CD4 count was 4. "Stress," commented the outreach worker succinctly: "He has two wives." I judiciously refrained from comment.

Tonight as we scrubbed the clay off our sneakers, the kids next Tonight as we scrubbed the clay off our sneakers, the kids next door brought us fistsful of purloined posies. They proceeded to sing, "He's got the whole world in His hands" in perfect harmony, little realizing the comfort they brought to my momentarily-homesick heart. It is good to remember we are all held in the same loving hands. Bwana Asifiwe and Amen!

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