On transitions. . .
Now that we have been in Kenya for 4! years, we have been through our fair share of transitions. . .of people coming, people going, teams shifting, and building new relationships. It’s easy to think about them as goodbyes, but today I am choosing to think of them in terms of shifting sands – transition. The world is smaller and smaller, and as people come and go we are adding places all over the world that have taken a piece of our heart.
Many things have been written about how kids overseas learn to go deep fast, but also guard themselves because of the number of goodbyes they go through, and I have held Madeline several times in the past year as she cried because of another rending of her heart as someone else has had to move away. David and I have cried as well.
This post is a glimpse into some of those transitions on this side of the ocean – of the people who have shaped our time here and how they have changed us:
- Rachel and Catherine: They were the other missionary doctor mamas that arrived within a couple months of us. . . our kids were similar ages and we learned to maneuver the all consuming nature of the hospital with our kids at RVA and had a lot of fun. . .we struggled, pondered, studied, and laughed together. They have both moved back to America in the last year, and when I walk the halls their absence is still palpable. They pushed and encouraged me and I am so glad they were here for our initial transition.
- Michelle, Tabitha, and Tabitha: Our clinical officers have been growing and growing as we have built our pediatrics department, so when these women left for school, a certain steady familiarity left with them. They are all planning to come back when they finish this next step of school, but they have taught me so much and steadied me with their optimism and enthusiasm. The countdown is on to their return.
- Our Interns: One of my favorite, favorite things about our work and life here is watching the interns grow and change every year. . .but they are only with us a year and as soon as I get to know they all, they move on to the next part of their lives. Every once in awhile at a wedding or chance visit, we reunite, and I hear all the amazing things they are doing, but every year is a bit of mourning and a transition to the next group as I wonder who will stay in touch.
- the Davis’s: we just blogged about them a few weeks ago, but the list wouldn’t be complete without them. They are still in transition as Adam goes to doctor’s appointments and they negotiate the details of their new life in the States. We miss them, and their wisdom and the safe place they are for us.
- the Massos, Maras, Bethany, and Myrhes: Our Serge team is one of our families away from family in Kijabe since we transitioned to them 3 years ago. Our mentors, wise voices, weekly prayer partners, voices of reason. Our team has changed dramatically, and we love the new people that have joined it in the last year, but we miss the beautiful presence that taught us the ropes and spoke gentle wisdom.
6. Stephanie: This is the next goodbye coming. Stephanie has been here with us since day one in Kijabe, for late night chats, loving our girls, growing and admonishing, late night Nerts games, camping trips, and quick trips to Nairobi. We have walked together through lots of things, and I am not quite sure I have fully wrapped my mind around the fact that she is not going to be here next week. She has exuded faithfulness and friendship, honesty and total pursuit of calling, and we are glad that she is giving us one more place to look forward to visiting in the US.
7. Mardi and Nate: These are some of the funny relationships of life overseas. . .people leave for long periods of time (Mardi for a year-and-a-half, Nate for 2), and then they return. It is a strange thing to have someone be part of everyday life, then gone, then back again. You get used to them being gone. You change. They change. And then they return, a piece of your Kenyan home that was uprooted for awhile is back.
8. Visitors: We have between 10 and 15 short term visitors come for anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months every year from the States, they bring wisdom and often much needed relief from the relentless pace in the hospital. And the friends that come bring bridge points and connections to the US that are invaluable. Wayne came for 6 months and was part of our team as much as any long term person. I love that many of them are returning again and again – it softens the good byes, but they also bring periods of transition as they come and leave that we have to navigate. . .and it is a very real part of life here.
9. Caren and Jecinter: Jecinter and Caren are the two Kenyan pediatricians that have been on our team in the last 4 years that have moved on to new jobs since I started working here. They have been colleagues and friends, walking with me as our team has grown and as pediatrics has changed.
10. Ima: Ima was one of my first friends and mentors when I moved to Kenya. . . we think alike and work alike and feel things deeply in the same way about life and our patients. Her friendship was and is a haven for me, so when she moved to the UK with her family two years ago, with plans to come back after her husband finished fellowship, I was excited for them but also really sad. But we stayed in touch, grew together as we both figured out how to negotiate situations that are different, visited them last year when I was feeling topsy turvy, and when she and her family returned this fall, we picked up, not just where we left off, but stronger for maintaining friendship through the distance. . .
Now, at risk of you worrying about life here too much, I’ll try to balance this post with a glimpse of the people that hold and sustain us here too tomorrow. . .transition like we have here has actually strengthened me in many ways – to appreciate deep conversations, to revel in new and real connections, to hold tightly to David and the girls, to good friends in spite of distance, an to the One who is constant and unchanging in this world of often shifting sand.