Christmas by a Child

…And a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

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Never have the words of the above scripture verse been as true for my household as it has been this past few weeks. And such a true delight. But particularly in the last few days. Christmas this year has been difficult to celebrate – not because of the debates around its origins and the true dates of the birth of The LORD Jesus Christ ( I am one of those who are of the opinion that dates are details when it comes to this – the fact that He came, and the impact of His coming to me and mine, and indeed the larger Household of God are worth celebrating) but just how the year 2019 has been.

December came with many still reeling from the year’s devastating whirlwinds. Particularly with grief over loss of loved ones and property, and heavy questions about the morrows…what, where and when. God was not really silent for us, but seemed to be over the issues that stabbed continually at our open wounds. Fatigue came, with it a sense that we were walking through the surreal…indeed the unreal, because storms were not known to run this intense – this long. But it was in this month that each member of my household found themselves seeking God together in late night prayer meetings. The most awake, and the most active during these beautiful encounters with God has been our ‘little one’.

It was he that shouted out his prayers (I wonder why toddlers rarely speak in low tones) and decided the order of service – including who prayed when. His thoughts over the scriptures we have read as well as his prayers have been simple and profound. So much so that we would giggle as we ‘Amen’ed at his pure and selfless requests. He had heard that God had a birthday coming up so his daily prayer would be “Heavenly Father…Your Birthday. Give us a party.” The rest of us were concerned about rent, bills, food and fees – the usual culprits – BUT GG wanted a party – A Birthday Party for God. Ok…
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Christmas midnight found us in prayer, and led by him, we sung the birthday song for Dear Jesus and then went to sleep. I woke up a few hours later wondering what to do about God’s Birthday party. I was not really in a party mood. I had spent the last two days with my aunt and family over the loss of my cousin Sussy – whose funeral is this Friday. I was also thinking about those with no homes in Kisii, Tassia, Pokot, Nyando and the various places in Kenya for whom December had meant burials etc. I actually intended to engage in a fasting prayer for the nation but God spoke up and said ‘Not Today.’. There was not a drop of food in the house so I got up, bathed and went out to hunt. Driven by the Spirit inspired prayers of a little child. By the time he and his mum were up, breakfast was available. Leroy and I are early risers.
It was a slow day, but Gio was determined to jump-start it by dragging about the box that had the Christmas decorations from yester-years begging us to put up the lights and blow balloons until we gave in at around 4pm. And then he honors our efforts by drawing us all in to marvel at the lights as we sung again ‘Happy Birthday Dear Jesus’. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever lived through a more profoundly meaningful Christmas ‘party’ than this one.
God bless my little drummer boy. God bless the little child. God bless you for honoring God, with either a fast or a feast ton this day that is dedicated to Him. Amen.

#GodinTheDetails

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Our Child Went Missing

69433603_888739851485226_5182694137949847552_nMy Song of Praise today (EXTREMELY LONG TESTIMONY ALERT) : I have not slept much in the last two days. For different reasons, but last night it was because my heart and mind actively remained in a state of worship and praise. Let me share why:

Yesterday – early afternoon – my daughter Shukri left the house to take a walk. She needed time alone to clear stuff on her mind. Gio – my grandson – and I relaxed inside a duvet to watch a cartoon movie as we waited for her to return. I had been writing until around 5am, so i appreciated this time for a series of short power naps. My phone was on a charger beyond my reach so i temporarily ignored the text that came in but then it begun to ring. It was Shukri.

“Mami, please call me back!” I loaded my phone with units wondering what this was about.
“Mami, I have run into Aunty Kitty. She is crying. Leroy has been missing since Sunday. They have not found him and they don’t know what to do. Please come.”

I shot like ten rapid questions at her trying to understand what she was saying but what I now remember is saying “Ok I am on my way.”

I showered quickly – my friend Kitty is extremely keen on things like that🙃 – dressed and left. I had called her first, but she wept mostly and I cried with her before telling her that I was on my way. I started getting that ‘floating feeling’ and prayed “God, please lead me to Leroy so I give Kitty good news when I see her.”

I went to the road but our regular bodaboda (motorbike taxi) guys were not there. I flagged one down, but he wanted too much money for the distance I was going. All this while God kept me in His deep, perplexing peace. I talked to everyone i met on that road – asking if they may have seen him, describing him, telling them to bring him to where we stayed or to the police station if they saw him. I was feeling very light headed and a bit wobbly on my feet and I realized that my BP was getting dangerously high. From the back of my head I noticed a bodaboda heading the opposite direction and called out to him.

We agreed on the fare and I hopped on telling this stranger my mission as I did.
He said “Haiya, I saw him. On Sunday afternoon. He was headed towards Soweto – Kayole. He had on a grey track trouser and green shirt and he behaved as though he was a little out of his mind. I remember him.” (Leroy lives with autism)

Ok…what are the chances…God was already answering our prayers. We met with Kitty, hugged and cried a bit and then Denno the bodaboda guy (God bless him…please bless him) repeated his story. Kitty showed him Leroy’s photo and he confirmed that that was the child he had seen. They exchanged numbers…just in case, and we released him.

We held hands and prayed then decided to walk to Kayole – hmmmm none of us had any idea how far that was (actually I did but my brain was on autopilot…) – as we walked we talked to anyone we met, familiar or not. At one point we got to an apartment building whose caretaker is fondly nicknamed ‘Odiero’. I shared our story with him. A well-dressed man was seated next to him. They asked for our contact details just in case and promised to tell others as well. The well dressed gentleman said to us “We will look but you must also know that some Kenyans are not good people and may ha…” I stopped him there. ” I need for Mama Leroy to be strong…so I understand what you are saying, but we cannot listen to you.”
“But I am just saying so that you know. Some…” I stopped him. Said thanks to everyone and we – Kitty, Shukri and I went on our way. He who has ears…you know we meet well-meaning people like these in our individual pilgrims and sometimes, unfortunately, are them.

We got to where we currently live, and met with a group of pastors who are my immediate neighbors. They told us to go to Soweto Police station as that is where he would be if anyone found him. They also advised us not to ‘catch feelings’ if the police were rude to us – they would be just testing us to see if we genuinely cared. We agreed and took two bodabodas – one with Shukri and Kitty and the other with me (I am wide load – not able to share 🙈)

The ride over the sewage flooded Soweto bridge with its murky green waters brought terrifying thoughts 🥺that I quickly pushed back “God, I KNOW that You are leading us to Leroy. You will not let us down.”

We got to the police station and were warmly received and served by the police officers we found. They too assured us that he would be found. Kitty’s Mum had joined us. She had been searching all of the previous night and all of this day, everywhere including in hospitals. The police told us that if anyone had found him, he would most probably be at a children’s home. We passed by the now closed chief’s camp and begun our walk through the slums of Soweto, looking for Leroy, looking through the children’s homes. One after another, they wished us well but said he had not been by.

Finally we got to one called ‘By Grace’ now in Kayole. The lady received us as she continued to cut vegetables. We repeated Leroy’s details and she looked straight at me and said he had been brought in the morning by police. “You must be his mother – you look exactly the same.” I smiled and shook my head and pointed at Kitty’s retreating back…she was weeping again.

“I was not able to take him in because I was full but I want to assure you that he is well and safe.” She continued. ” I could tell that he was not a street child but a well cared for one who baths every day” she said smiling gently.

We thanked her and went to look in the two police locations she had pointed us towards: Komarock and Mihang’o. We had no idea where those were but if Leroy had found his way there, so would we. Outside the home though, we met a friendly “Mama mboga” (Lady vegetable seller). She strongly advised us to first of all pass by the DO’s office as that was where such cases were first reported. She almost physically hauled us into a matatu…God bless you dear angel.

We got to the DOs and linked arms as we walked to the reception of the small police post. Kitty kept telling me “We will find him here.”

We repeated our story to the kind looking female officer…and the two others with her in the booth. She smiled and turned and picked her phone talking as she did. I cannot for the life of me remember what she was saying…just that Leroy was safe. She called a lady who still happened to be in the compound. Susan Owuor Njuguna runs a children’s program called Elroi Hope Center (Leroy:Elroi – see our God!!! El Roi is also a Hebrew name for God – ‘The God Who Sees me”).

The officer introduced us to her and she smiled. Took out her phone and showed use a photo of our baby taken that morning. Ok…here we all broke down and wept as we went into a worship session to the One Who sees us. Kitty ran to the gate saying she would only let up when she saw Leroy. We talked a bit with Susan. She reassured us over Leroy’s well being and that we would go home with him that night.

We got into a very noisy matatu headed to Mihang’o to meet a lady called Maggie who would give us our child. She is a child officer in Komarock. We kept asking the conductor if we were there yet. While alighting the conductor gave further directions to the police station
Vukeni barabara na mupenye hako ka chum hiyo pande ingine. Tembeeni mpaka mwisho utaona kwa polisi.” before whistling sharply and banging the matatu with his hand and taking off. We laughed at this delightful way of showing us the way. ‘Ka chum…”  😂😅.An elderly light skinned lady smiled at us and repeated the instructions in proper Swahili – telling us basically to walk through a path on the opposite side of the road till its end.

It was now about 7pm…and we were at the edge of Kayole. With no idea where we were and how we would get back home…just knowing that we had to have Leroy with us when we did.

We called Maggie and she came to us and led us into the police station. We met with the Child Officer attached to this station – Nduta – who had was already well on her way home before she was called back to assist us in releasing Leroy. They verified Kitty’s relationship with Leroy and then went to get him. Here Kitty broke and wept. And we all joined her when Leroy walked in. He too was in tears. Quietly, gently. We lifted up praise and the police must have taken a photo then.

Back home Leroy’s Nanny and little sisters met us with tearful hugs and we sung along 70201976_888728864819658_5975010660830937088_o.jpgwith a neighbor and praised God. He is worthy. He is Worthy.

We are so grateful for the destiny helpers He sent to protect Leroy on the two nights he was alone, and yesterday (For all who prayed, were kind to him, kept him for us, may you experience The God of Leroy in very special ways in your lives. To Soweto Police, Tassia Police Post, Buruburu Police Station, Kayole Police Station, DO’s Office Kayole, By Grace Children’s Home Kayole, And ESPECIALLY TO Missing Child Kenya, Child officers Maggie (Komarock) and Nduta (Kayole), Susan Owuor Njuguna (Elroi) and the Askari’s who sheltered him Monday night, as well as Denno the bodaboda angel who pointed us to look towards Kayole, to Shukri and Nancy… May God raise you and yours up to Himself to shower you with His Glory in every way. Thank you. Thank You ABBA.).

Truly grateful to Nancy, Sammy and their family for coming to take us home🙌…that’s how we did it and for everyone who prayed, called, searched with us, encouraged us…God bless you.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

#ComeUpHereAndSee #OurAllseeingHope#IHaveAnotherReasonToPraiseTheLORD

Mud in the House of God

Its been weeks of this…pain…increasing pain, escalating pain –  and then its been a week of intense pain.  I am sitting at a women’s meeting in a church near where I have walked my walk of faith for the last seven years. The worship has bought me peace but the pain, the darkness that clings tenaciously around my heart and head. I deny the weariness I have felt. The onset of my menses come with the call from God and His chosen servant to go in a fast, for this in indeed the gong of a new season. I have danced this morning, for the songs God chose for His daughters this day, resonate with the balm my entire life craves. I am not trying to impress God, nor any of His daughters…am fighting to find Him in this situation. I want to see my Daddy Eternal.

You see, with the silence of family- of friends, with the advice that I have received that points more to the grave…echoes the hollow taste of being useless to the world because you have measured your life by the standards of a system under which you no longer operate. I hear in my mind – a lot – “Did God really say that to you?” “But that is not really God’s MO.” “If this is how God treats you, then I would not follow Him.” “You are foolish to throw your entire lot with Him – you must leave Him just a little and throw your whole lot into surviving this world.” And the ache of hearing the comforted comfortable with whom I have stood saying to me “Your life is worth nothing without money – now look, where will you and your family live.”

I look down at my shoes, cheap rubber shoes, precious to me for they are a sign of a walk I have taken with my God. They remind me of the day God took me to view a house in an area I would never have afforded,even if i had turned my back to Him when He took me on this beloved stroll. They remind me of the many places, the many gates I have knocked, the many doors slammed on my face, the trips to my ATM – hoping and them weeping. They remind me of the morning, earlier this week, when I dared try take a step without them and ended up back home in less than five minutes with muddy sewage clinging on my sandled feet, all the way up my thighs, and up my beautiful orange dress and my sleeveless arms after falling into a pool that stood between me and the place I needed to get to. They remind me of both my yielded obedience, and my attempts at rebellion. They have dust atop and mud on their soles. I look at the floor around my feet and the black sooty mud particles that have soiled the portion around where I danced before weariness took over.

I look at the room full of women, and the aches of their journeys, their triumphs and their defeats crowd in on me. I begin to pray for them. I talk to their Father and mine, I ask Him to meet them here, because they woke up this cold morning to meet Him. I join in to their ululations, their worship of The King of kings, I sit down to listen to the woman of God. Then my phone rings and I see that its Daddy calling and the dams break for me. For the last eight weeks since this orgy of pain begun, i have longed to see his name on my ringing phone – I have longed for his voice telling me that it would be well…but there has been silence. And now I am not able to take his call. The tears escape and flow fast onto my dark blue skirt as I disconnect and text him a short message “I am in church.” I find out later, that he had not really called – his android reached out to me in error. But by then, I am frozen from all the weeping I  have done before The Throne of my Eternal Daddy. Why hasn’t He come? Why is my rescue and that of my family taking so long?

I look to my feet…there is sooty mud under my cheap but faithful rubber shoes…and I have caught the eyes of those that try not to stare at them – the combined dust and mud that have encased my feet. I have a race to run. I rest.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Bird Call

So I woke up this morning. I tried to get out of my bedding but was struck by the heavy implications of this day coming at me – headlong and in full speed. I lay my head back on the pillow as a deep darkness sought to overwhelm and drag me to a place I no longer had the strength to dwell in or out of on my own. I heard my Forever Friend whisper in answer to my unspoken plea for a particular breakthrough “Not today beloved.”
At least I knew what to expect from this day – I encouraged myself as the darkness rushed at me. But The Holy Spirit is never asleep and I heard my mouth begin to pray: And my heart to reminisce – especially to the beginning of the last ten years. And the words that poured out of my heart – battling painfully with my determined enemy were those of thanksgiving. God took me back to a time I was facing a similar situation but was even more frightened and reminded me that He had taken me through. And that opened a floodgate of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving from various places I was now privileged to remember during that period. Slowly the darkness dissipated and I was now overwhelmed by peace. I got up, drank my bottle of water, folded my bedding and packed them neatly into a large shopping bag.
Then I sat. And the darkness that I thought had given up on me for the day, returned. I faced head-on the meaning and possible implications of my Forever Friend’s words. At least I knew. But just in case He had forgotten, my mouth opened and I began to speak from a place of pain, despair, fear even…and peace fought back. The battle in me evoked tears. More sad words poured out of my mouth – honest words, then I heard what to me sounded like a crowing of a cockerel. I tried to push it back but another, and then another rang out. At the third cry, I heard the words coming out of me change to repentance as I wept. The frantic crowing went on until the bird had vented seven or eight soul piercing sounds…then silence. I continued to pray, to repent, and when the darkness had passed, got up and took a bath.
I realize that this is battle. I have had one other session of thanksgiving, this time going back to the time of my children’s birthing. The peace has prevailed but I am alert to the possible attack of the darkness. As I stood outside trying to catch a bit of the lingering warmth of the sun, I noticed a mother hen walk by followed by her four beautiful white and light brown chicks. It sank then – the trumpet had been sounded by a mother hen, and not her mate. I laugh thankfully and then sit down to immortalize this lest I forget. Thank You LORD for ensuring I stay faithful. Shalom.
#WhenAMotherCries #MotherCall #MotherHeartofGod #WellUnderHisWings
“I will extol The Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in The Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify The Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.”
Psalm 34:1-3
vipslit@yahoo.ca
+254-722755485

Burning Un-burning

As this month ends, I hold God in great awe yet again. He preserves lives – does what He wants to do.

The house I live in and the flats behind us, hold a special position in our neighborhood by being right next to the electrical transformer. In the last about six months we have had three occasions where something happened to the poles and transformer and a fire, akin that of Moses’ Burning Bush, explodes on the line that connects our house to the main one and hangs low over the balcony. Its a Moses Fire as it burns big and bright, ‘speaks’ like thunder and yet does not seem to burn anything. It always happens when there is no one on the balcony and for that I am grateful, but each time, leaves us traumatized with the ‘what ifs’.

Last night was different and yet the same. 7:30pm finds us in the family room with Gio; Shukri was on the stairs coming up and saying something, Leroy was busy doing something in his room. The first explosion was very loud and the fire burnt bright, switching off our lights and then dying out as the lights came back on. All these must have taken place in a minute or two but it seems like hours to us who were caught in it. Gio was immediately on my side. The second and third explosion find me reaching down for him and partway down the stairs calling out to Leroy and Shukri to follow us outside. My feet felt like lead and for a second I wondered if there was anything in the house that I could go back for, but my arms were holding all they could – Baby Giovanni.

At the bottom of the stairs I put him down and he reached up to me and said “I am scared.” I carried him and ran out of the house as the fourth explosion came, wondering why Leroy and Shukri were not right behind me. It felt as though the house was shaking – but Shukri told me later it wasn’t. Outside the house Gio repeats “Dani, I am scared, let us go back into the house.” I quickly explain as I run to the gate calling out for Leroy and Shukri, that the house was about to catch fire and we were safer outside. Leroy was apparently in the middle of sending out that all important text, Shukri had noticed that I was carrying her son out barefoot and had gone back upstairs to get his little shoes. Gio and I were outside the gate looking up and then down at the lines that had come undone and were now on the bush that fences the house. I found out then the entire immediate neighborhood had been drawn out of their houses by the noise and huge sparks…

After about 20 minutes of traumatizing one another with frightening discourse among the group of neighbors gathered in the road in front of our house, we all went back to our houses. Surprisingly, we still had electricity, though a line of neighbors did not. We had a ‘normal night’ except for the baby that was especially clingy as I prayed and asked God not to allow us to die in an electric fire, but if this was what was coming to this house – to move us again. This morning the technicians from KPLC were telling me as they worked that it could kill someone, because its a live fire that searches for something to attach itself to…that we needed to switch off the lights from the mains when that happens…but thinking about how far downstairs was last night…I don’t know…if it even possible to reach there on time without God…I hope we never have to find out… I am just grateful for today.

“…When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…”
Isaiah 43:2-3

The Child Would Not Die or Be Silent

How long does it take for one to forgive their mother or father for what they did to them?” the little girl asked me. I smiled, but not from amusement. I was trying not to cry. Which was impossible anyway…because ever since I had walked into this children’s home and rescue center in Nairobi my whole system had frozen. God had taken over…I had known to be in prayer about this particular assignment the whole week. I had been invited to replace Pastor Terry Gobanga who was away – and it was not really about filling her really large and excellent shoes. It was about being asked to share wisdom with about 67 children…who were there not because their parents were no longer alive, but had allegedly become predators that orphaned the children they had borne.

This was the second rescue center, mostly inhabited by children who were healing from sexual violence, that I had been asked to speak at in a month. I wondered about that. But as I held a five week old baby girl in my arms, then later looked around the circle of about 30 eyes (the rest had been excused from my session for a play session with other members of the group we had gone with), I wondered how I could answer that question. Most of us, resent those that call us to account for the way we raise our own children: Mostly because they catch us at a moment, and make it about our entire parenting. But these were not ordinary parenting moments…although it seemed that it was becoming more normalized, this was a crisis.

In this particular home, all ‘except one’ (and I shudder at the use of those two words – because it was still one too many) had been assaulted by a mother, father or uncle – biological. Most of these children were in delicate security situations since their parents’ cases were still ongoing, and there was need by some clans to either “mute or get rid of the evidence.” Most of them were girls…but there were boys too…one too many. There were others who were or had been admitted in hospital, to undergo multiple reconstructive surgeries to lend their lives some semblance of normality. Most of the girls were first borns of at least one of their parents, or their only female child. I looked at their Mum1 – the founder of this home…fourteen (14) years of mothering other people’s children in their worst states had not dimmed her life Light.

How could I answer the children? What would forgiveness look like for them? How do you answer a child who in one moment, or a hundred, had endured war in their genitals to satisfy the hungers of a parent who temporarily forgot that they were supposed to protect not prey on them? Does forgiveness mean that what happened to them was ok? That it should be forgotten? That the children should repent of these (Because they were so often stigmatized – Mum1 shared for instant how one ‘church’ had denied them baptism after going through the classes under the excuse of not being able to afford T-shirts.) Many of these children bore the brunt of these shameful acts against them again and again as they lived each breath with the rejection of the extended families to which they had once belonged – who had perhaps initially celebrated their births and birthdays – who now wanted to forget them for the shame they are accused of bringing home. “For why hadn’t they just died instead of crying out, or getting pregnant, getting an important benefactor and family member whose quaint habits could be ignored into ‘disrepute’ or incarceration for ‘just’ a moment? Why wouldn’t they just let this go and keep up the facade?” This seemed to be the attitude their families had towards them.  What exactly would forgiveness mean for these?

The nightmares needed to end, the healing to come. Forgiveness may be about the offender (e.g. When God forgives our sins it puts us in the best place with Him), but it’s more about the offended (Humanly speaking). You forgive even when the fault is not confessed or admitted to because if allowed to – one offense can define the rest of your life in the worst ways possible. Unforgiveness often translates to meditating on an offence and giving it the power to shut down the functioning of what is still functional in us to hit back at the offender and survive the offense. Meditating constantly on what was done to you gives a grievous injury even more power over you than  it had initially. It can colour, darken everything…take away your smile…your life. I cannot remember what I said to them, because I was praying a lot, and asking God to speak to His little ones.  But they smiled…and they spoke…and they gave me strength as well. There was nothing God could not heal. It was hard leaving the home, leaving them behind to go be with my own household…I had intended to leave by 2pm. I was there till 6:30pm. It was hard to leave these little ones that because they still suffered from parenting wounds had become part of my own story. Their hugs, the whispered stories after the main session, the tears they allowed me to see, and the feel of them as they held onto me while I prayed for them – made them mine – indelibly. As I left though, I realized that they were indeed in the best place they could be for now, having been rescued and that for this moment were truly safer because they cried out and refused to die.

But somewhere in this same neighborhood, in this country, in this globe, other children were unfortunately starting the journey they were walking. I prayed that their parents would be hit by Heaven’s Might, that they would not put their babies through this, and that the babies who had gone through this, would find Hope again, find God, in parental touches by those in whose hands God would place them in. I don’t know…

vipslit@yahoo.ca

Keep Talking Penina

Keep speaking to me Penina, even though I am no longer listening…I am asking of God for myself, what you could never achieve in your strength. For what, if He gave it to me, I could never keep the crown for…but know for sure that I must return to Him – for it is eternally God’s.

Penina…if I were you, I would direct my speech at The Almighty, ask Him for more than this world could give…incomparable to any other; I would not waste my strength raging at my current barrenness…for there is no gain that my grieving could truly give you. I know my waiting and searching has taken long…but I am not cursed as you think.

And even though you use my place of worship, my bended posture before The Almighty God as an occasion for mockery, accusation, and although I have wept at your taunts and slander…I am not cursed…I am more blessed than you could ever imagine me to be. For when silence engulfs your mockery…you eyes will open to the Magnificence of God in my life…and while your name fades into oblivion…or maybe shines for reasons different…God makes mine unforgettable in His books…because of my bended posture before Him – the posture that brings you so much mirth.

I have touched The Scepter of God…I have touched His Heart…because He let me..stand on my knees..before Him. Keep speaking at and about me Penina, for it is your route to oblivion and my platform to eternity.

#HeHeardHeGave

“And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, YEAR BY YEAR, WHEN SHE WENT UP TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”
1 Samuel 1:6-7

Strike Your Shepherd Scatter Your Brethren

The LORD IS my Shepherd.
Recently, Leroy (my son) and I were standing side by side early morning on our balcony, looking out mostly quietly at…just about anything that passed. Its where and how we bond many times. Suddenly a flock of sheep bust into our view (yes we live in Nairobi city) running in one direction in a way that reminded me somewhat of a waterfall. We watched, partly because there was nothing else to see at that time, but for me, because I sensed deeply that God was speaking to us about something.
 
Leroy remarked on the beauty of the flock, I agreed saying that God often spoke of us as Sheep. We noticed that a few of the sheep broke off in two groups, running in different directions from the rest. Suddenly the shepherd rushed into our view as well. He was a short, slightly built man wearing tan trousers, a luminous green shirt and a pink cap. I smiled. He had this long cane, that I believed could reach the from one end of the flock to another [his rod and staff – they comfort me].
 
Apparently the entire flock had herded and were eating from a place he did not want them to be. He rushed first at the majority of them. I marveled at his agility…knowing that this was a daily and day-long activity for him. He rounded the sheep…in my mind it seemed he chased them, rod in hand to the direction he wanted them to be facing, before running after the other five that we probably eating somebody’s house plants some way up our street, before finally coming for the two standing before our house.
 
Somehow, his activities made me think of leadership… of church leadership, and my spirit was humbled within me. Each one of those sheep had a mind of their own…but most tended to head towards the direction that the ones in the front row were headed. Some more independent ones got up to their own devices, in their own directions. Two things stood out for me from this morning scene – the passionate resilience of the shepherd in re-channeling the flow of the sheep to his way, and also, that as long as they were not following the way he wanted them to be on, despite their independence, the greenness of the meadows they ended up at, they were ALL wrong. And then my friend sends me this sadly hilarious video clip :). It reminds me of the biblical proverb – strike the shepherd and scatter the sheep. And that its not always an exterior enemy that brings down the shepherd, but a sheep in his or her care. Thanks Nyar Ruoth.
 
 
#HeWhoHasEars
vipslit@yahoo.ca

Stories That Never End

I was in prayer on Wednesday morning and was led to read Genesis 19 – the story about the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah. I was left  with a bad feeling in my spirit as I wondered at God’s message in this.
 
This thing about town’s men gathering at one’s door to try and rape your visitors (who unknown to them are angels); a father so appalled at this show that he offers them his two virgin daughters instead (thank God they declined); the exodus of a family comprising individuals who had the previous day probably dreamt of stability in marriage but ended up as singles because their intended spouses would not believe the urgent warning about the impending doom and got caught up in it, and a wife who just had to have a last look; a righteous man who took to the bottle and ended up being the victim of rape by his virgin daughters so that they could raise for him descendants, descendants who end up as enemies of God’s people… Honestly, this story of God’s triumphant deliverance of Lot’s family read more like a tragedy.
 
Until God reminded me of something – nothing in life is linear…not really, not permanently. Something can be terrible, tragic, catastrophic – but ultimately God turns it around for good. Lot sired a son by his daughter called Moab…he became a nation, and from this nation returned Ruth the Moabites, to Israel as the virtuous wife of Boaz. She became mother of Obed, who was David’s grandfather…and the line of David is that through which Christ Jesus was reckoned. An eternal Kingdom line.
 
First, from the attack on the angels by the townsmen, I learn that God is able to defend His messengers. It doesn’t matter how many attack them, how close they are to accomplishing their evil mission, God remains in control. I never cease to be amazed by God’s ability to turn a messy beginning, or messy process, into something beautiful…something eternal, something Him. That when He defines someone a certain way – even when it doesn’t remotely resemble the current issue, He to Whom all wisdom belongs knows what He is talking about.
Our stories, have other chapters…
vipslit@yahoo.ca

Our Twins Came Pre-Term

Tears and Triumphs Through The Muhami’s Journey with their sons

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Sam: I am a 43 year old Auditor working for the National Treasury. Mercy, 38 years and I have been married since December 11, 2004. We have four children; Dennis who is 10, Cynthia, and then the twins Alex and Felix. We experienced no challenges in our first two pregnancies. I attended pre-natal clinics with Mercy and even went to the labour ward for the birth of our second child Cynthia. When Mercy fell pregnant a third time, we thought it would be as easy. At the 7 weeks clinic, we were told that it was one baby, but the sixth month scan revealed that she was carrying twin boys. It was then that we started attending Gynaecologist Dr. Kagema’s clinic. We saw him twice or thrice before Mercy went into premature labour at 7 months. He was the one who prepared us for the possibility that the babies would be born early, and administered an injection that was intended to strengthen the lungs of the baby. We were to go for another but Mercy went into labour.

Mercy: I have never smoked, drunk alcohol, I had no issues with blood pressure and my husband is very supportive and nonviolent. When I was young, I had asked God that when it was time to name my father, He would allow me to have twins so I could name him and my eldest brother at the same time. This was before I got married. I was there for ecstatic when a scan revealed that I would be having twin boys.  My father had died while we were still young, and my eldest brother, who is about 20 years older than I, had taken us through school. I never missed a day of school due to fees.

I started experiencing a pain on my right side, and the doctor said my small frame was being taxed by the twins within me. We had been to Dr. Kagema’s on June 22, 2013. He had told me that everything was progressing well with my pregnancy. So when I started having cramps the next day from around 10am, Sam and I were convinced it was not labour. We finally decided to go to hospital at 4pm. I had dilated 7cms already and had they delayed more, I would have had the twins naturally. I was in theatre at 10pm when I delivered them. Actually I opted for it since the babies were so tiny and I did not want to loose either of them through the birth process. They scored high during the birth, they cried well and Alex weighed 1650 grams while Felix weighed 1480 grams. They actually brought them to me soon after birth for a short while before I was wheeled to the ward and then to nursery. The next day, I was in a lot of pain from the operated area so I was not able to see them. Sam however came and told me they were well. I had no reason not to believe him. I was to find out later that Felix was admitted straight into the ICU. He reduced to less than 1000 grames and Alex to 1200grams. Neither of them were able to feed.

Sam: When I first visited them I was informed that the children were very sick. I was also advised not to share this information with my wife since she was still in extreme pain from the operation the previous day.

Mercy: The next day, however, I felt I needed to see them. I steeled myself against the pain, and walked the distance to the nursery. I was told that they were in the ICU as they were critically ill. They took me to see Felix first. I was horrified. He was tiny, and in respiratory distress, each breath lifted him off the bed. I fainted. I did not see Alex that day. The resuscitated me and took me to the ward. I wept and was not able to talk to my visitors. I didn’t think I would ever be able to look at my babies again. After some hours I gathered courage and went and saw Alex. He was helpless and in an incubator. I was advised to express milk, and I tried but could not since I was stressed up. I looked at the other mothers in there. They seemed to have their act together, and easily expressed, and fed their children.

Sam: They prescribed and administered Surfactant for the development of the lungs. It normally costs Kshs, 60,000 for a 10 ml bottle of which they only use 7ml. We asked the staff to keep the remainder for a parent who was not able to afford it for their child.  I would visit daily. The children were on I.V.s. Mercy is strong, and would diligently express milk for them as they were not able to suckle on their own. Preterm babies, cannot like other babies, suckle, breath and swallow simultaneously and risk chocking or even dying if they try. She would divide the expressed milk between the children according to the doctors recommendations. They started with 1 ml each through N.G. tubes.

Mercy: They would feed after every three hours. I had to go to the nursery despite the fact that my wound had not yet healed. To check if they had digested the milk we would stick a syringe into the N.G. tubes, and pull it back. If something was drawn from the child it would mean that they were not digesting well. Alex despite being the bigger of the two was admitted into ICU on his fourth day as he had lost weight due to his inability to digest food.

They need also to make smaller diapers for preterms. The smallest pampers almost covered their entire bodies. Huggies had a smaller one that fitted better but was still way too big.

Sam: The back and forth between the ward and the ICU every three hours was depressing for my strong wife. The doctors tested the babies’ blood constantly to see if infections had set in, in order to treat these.

IMG_3128.JPGMercy: KNH has about one nurse to 50 babies so we have to be involved. I would wake up and go clean my babies from that day. I forgot about my wound and have no idea to-date exactly when it healed. They had administered Surfactant to Felix and he was breathing more normally now. Since he was in ICU, the nurses would clean him but I still was the one to feed him. Alex on the other hand had not been able to digest food for four days, and was admitted into the ICU as well. After two weeks, a Professor recommended that he be taken to theatre the next day and be put on a central line. I was depressed. He was the bigger baby, and the one on whom I had hope and now he was scheduled for theatre.  I talked to another mother about this and she discouraged me saying that most babies died during the process of this procedure. I wept again. I made three calls to my brother, to my cousin and to my friend and didn’t say anything just cried and disconnected.  I then called my Aunt Nancy who is a nurse. She came to see me. She told me that God was able to do a miracle if I prayed. I asked God not to allow the operation but to heal Alex. I did not sleep that night but talked to God about Alex.

The next morning I determined to feed Alex which was not procedural before surgery. The nurses tried to stop me but the doctor finally allowed me to exercise my faith. I began with 2ml, then 5ml, and then 7ml. By the next morning he was taking and digesting all of 10mls. The doctor was amazed and in short, he did not go to theatre. He was fed and eventually put on 600gms. Putting on even 100gms for a pre-term baby is a miracle. I was also Kangarooing Alex, he was jaundiced and was also put under blue light.

Both my babies needed transfusions and my husband and brothers in law had donated blood for them. Bureaucracy made it sometimes complicated for them to be transfused. I remember one day just going mad and going to the nurses station when I discovered that they had not been. I made a scene and they ended up giving them the blood.

IMG_3041.JPGAfter a week Felix was discharged from ICU. One day I was feeding him in the nursery and the nurses came and asked for him. He was throwing his hands and feet. One nurse shouted something like ‘Apnea’. I did not know what that meant. I went back to the nursery after 3 hours and found so many doctors around him. One of them was telling the others that he hoped I would not walk in when I did. My baby was purple. I was shocked. I called my husband, my pastor and my cousin who is an elder. I would call, cry and disconnect. I run to the nurses room and hid under a bed. I cried bitterly calling out to God. He heard me. The now late Nurse Judy came for me. She simply said “Mercy, toka chini ya kitanda. Mtoto ameamka.” Felix was in ICU attached to a machine. His SPO2 – flow of oxygen was almost 100. This was a good sign. He was doing fine. My cousin had been at a Gospel outreach Pastor’s forum when I called. He interrupted his colleagues and they prayed for me without knowing what was the matter.

After this I could go the ICU and find the readings at 70, but as I stood there, they would rise steadily to 100. One mother noticed this and asked if I practised magic, I told her it was simply the power of prayer. I prayed a lot. I sang, and I cried.

One day my friend Grace’ baby who had been stronger than mine died. Not just hers, but three babies around Felix. I was not able to feed him that day. The other mothers were holding me and crying and calling me. Every three hours, a baby would die. They were taken to the Sluice Room. When we came in for feeding we knew whose it was by either checking into that room first or if a nurse called a mother aside to sit with them.

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I cried a lot during my time in hospital. I was known as ‘mama wa kulia, na kuomba na kuimba’. One time our couples’ fellowship – Precious Couples visited me. The women just came and cried with me. The nurses were shocked at this. The next day one of them pulled me aside and on confirming I was Christian, read to me from Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” My now late mother coincidentally visited me at this time, on the insistence of my brothers who were concerned that I could not stop crying. She was 78 years then, a mother of 10 children. She told me that Kikuyu customs did not allow for tears to fall on nursing breasts. I don’t think this is true but it worked – I never cried after this; well not as much anyway.  My brothers have never let me forget this.

After this, whenever I was with my babies, I would talk to them telling them that they would survive their beginnings. I would create time between the feeding schedules that lasted one hour for each child to do KMC. My husband was only able to support me in this when the babies came home for hygiene reasons.  I was vigilant about accessing my babies to what they needed to survive.

Before we were discharged, the doctors ensured that the twins were able to suckle. Finally August 9, 2013 came round. I was called by a doctor and told I could go home. I was ecstatic. I just wanted to be home and sleep on a mattress. We were sleeping in the Mothers Mess where we shared beds or mattress on the floor by now. I just wanted to sleep in my own bed.  I could hardly wait for my husband, my sister Purity and my friend Nancy to get there.

Sam: I paid for most of the general drugs and test while NHIF paid about Kshs 500,000/ to cover their time in hospital. We are not rich but have never lacked for anything. God provides. For instance they were able to use Huggies throughout.

We had chosen Kenyatta National Hospital for the delivery because we had faith in the doctors there, and that the hospital was more than adequately equipped for any eventuality. It proved a good choice but I also think we also played a role; parents must follow the instructions of medical personnel. Upon their discharge for instance, the nurses demanded total hygiene on and around the children. Their room had to be disinfected and the nursing cups washed and handled only by my wife and myself. They were to have no visitors initially as their immunity was low. This was really hard to effect.

Mercy: I would plead with Sam sometimes to allow friends and relatives to see the children. Some came from really far away to see them but he was firm; especially when Felix got an infection two weeks later, and we had to be readmitted for a week. Some people took real offence.

When Felix got sick two weeks later and we had to go back, I was devastated. I refused to pack but somehow when we got to hospital, our things were all packed. He was put in the isolation room, diagnosed with mild pneumonia. Shortly afterwards another baby was brought in diagnosed with menegitis. I cried then but was told the kind of menegitis this baby had was not infectious. I was concerned also about Alex. How would he feed without me? Sam and the nurses assured me that Sam would be able to handle Alex. Still they would fight over the milk I expressed.

Sam: When one twin gets sick at this stage both are admitted along with their mother, so it gets really costly. The sick that is not sick gets exposed to infections and may end up unwell too. To avoid this, I requested to keep Alex with me, and signed him out into my custody. This meant I had to be at KNH thrice daily to get breast milk for him; at 6am, lunch time and evening. The milk needed to be warm. One time, I was flagged down by a police man for over-speeding at night. Alex had been crying and I had his milk. I told the police man to take my car and allow me to get food to my two month old son whose mother was in hospital. The policeman had compassion on me and released me. Sometimes the nurses in hospital wanted to keep the expressed milk for Felix, as he was their priority. We would literally tug over this.  Alex on the other hand would through fits throughout the night.

Mercy: Felix was discharged a week later, and thankfully the twins have never been admitted since.

Sam: We were grateful for the care of Drs. Miriam Karanja, Kihara, and Opondo of KNH, but met and have been seeing Dr Ngugi Maina at Kasarani’s Josma Medical Center. Since we were afraid of infections and hardly took the twins out in the sun, Felix got rickets at 7 months. Thankfully these were treated. He had to go through physiotherapy  and at some point had straps on his legs. He just begun walking on May 20, this year at the age of 3. Alex had started at 14 months and experienced normal milestones. We learnt from our doctors to never measure our children against the achievements of another child, not even each other.

Mercy: Felix also spoke later, and is now learning to form sentences.

Sam: The twins are both poor feeders. Mercy, who is a qualified accountant, has stayed indoors voluntarily since 2013. We try to feed them as many times as possible. They have even been on appetizers from time to time. One would wake up at night and then wake the others. We started taking shifts sleeping so we could face the next day.

IMG_3045.JPGThey are fraternal twins. They love being together but fight a lot too. Alex who is older is domineering and manipulative. He is also friendly and remembers faces and names of those he meets. Felix is a worshipper. He loves dance and music. He persistent, determined, focused and strong willed. He is a fighter. Alex fluctuates in his weight whereas Felix keeps the weight he has gained.

We keep two house girls; remember the two older ones are still babies themselves. We had our househelp Cugu who has been with us for 9 years, but needed a new one so we could handle especially the mornings. Initially for the first two months we did not sleep. Our other children understood why we gave most attention to the twins. Mercy’s elder sister Purity was really supportive and lived with us for 9 months.

Mercy: It was hard for Robert and Cynthia initially with me being away for two months in hospital with the babies, and their father trying to cope between home, office and hospital. He would bring them to the hospital to see me from time to time.

Sam: I have a very understanding boss who is also a parent. Understanding my challenges, he would allow me to work on flex time. I needed to be available for all hospital visits and emergencies.

Mercy: Back at home a week later, we were now even more paranoid about infections.  We would not take them out of the house. Felix developed Rickets. We found a good nutritionist and were given some powder from the UN called Prampinot I think, and another medicine.

Until they were three years, my life has been a whirlwind. I had physiotherapy with Felix and would cry when they massaged him. He finally began walking at the age of three and is now stringing words together to form a sentence. I can now think about engaging in income generation outside the house.

Sam: We have actually been able to get away twice on our own without the children. For three days each time. It is important for me that my wife is happy and rested.

Mercy: Sam has supported me throughout this journey. We are grateful to God, to the staff at KNH, to our siblings , our pastors, and the very many visitors who came and who sometimes did not get to see me. I was touched by the plight of many of the mothers of preterms. Some were married but were never visited by their husbands. Some of their husbands would encourage them to abandon their babies there – hence the presence of so many KNH babies. Some mothers loose all their babies, like one who remains childless as all her three babies have been preterm. One time a mother stole her own child out of ICU presumably to go throw it away.

On the children’s first birthday we went back to celebrate with the mothers then at the nursery. We had noticed in our time there that they had a shortage of heaters so we gifted them with a few, and brought cake for the nurses. It really encouraged the mothers there to see Alex and Felix. I remembered while there I had wished that I could have a mother come back and just say “Mimi nilikua hapa and these are my babies”.

Pre-term children can survive and thrive. I know one who is now studying at JKUAT, and one who was born in KNH at 900grams and is now a doctor there. Once they overcome, they perform well and are like other children. As a parent, the words you say over your children stick to them. Be careful therefore. Never give up on them – even when the doctors do.

Sam: In the last three years, we have lost four people who stood with us during this ordeal. My father, my eldest sister who even lived with us for a while, My mother and my mum- in law. Its been difficult but we know to be strong. My late mother in law told us at the very beginning that she knew the boys would be well enough to visit her fun and she could see them in her mind’s eye running around. This prophesy has come to pass, many times.

vipslit@yahoo.ca

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