Driving from the Masai Mara we headed north west into an area of Kenya, near Bomet, where the green hills reminded us a lot of western Oregon. With the severe drought affecting Kenya we were quite surprised how lush of this part of the country was. Our reason for going this direction was to visit Jeff and Christine Stanfield, missionaries from our home church. Nearly a year ago we talked to them at church, letting them know we would be in their part of the world in April. They generously invited us to visit when we were in country and we decided to take them up on the offer. Kim was keen to join us too as she hadn’t seen this part of Kenya yet.
Upon arriving, Christine met us and before we knew it we were on a tour of Tenwek School of Nursing where she wears many hats. The school offers a 3 1/2 year program that gives Kenyan nationals a nursing education qualifying them to practice traditional nursing, community health nursing, and midwifery. The school is one of the several things the Tenwek community supports. Over the course of our two day/two night stay we were also given the opportunity to tour the Tenwek Hospital with Jeff and spend a day out in a village with two Community Health workers, Richard and Edward, which Christine set up for us. The work being done here is impacting so many people and providing education and healthcare they otherwise would not have or would have to travel great distances to receive.
Our experience with Community Health was impactful. We left Tenwek mid-morning and drove about 30km down a dirt road that made us feel like we were on the mechanical bucking bull at the St. Paul Rodeo. Thankfully we only had one tire puncture which John helped change. A flat tire here is called a puncture because it usually is just that. Richard and Edward are part of a team of community health nurses who make regular rounds to the outlying areas of Bomet. We arrived at the dispensary and there was already a line of women and children forming. One interesting cultural thing we observed was the lack of men around. Kim and I asked about this and Edward said there is a feeling among African men that the clinic is just for women and children. Not sure if it is a pride thing or what, but it was unfortunate to hear as there is so much education and care that could be provided to the men. Regardless, after a word from the village pastor, then from Richard, and finally a greeting from Kim and I, we got to work. John entertained all the kids between the ages of 4 and 12 and Kim and I worked with Edward, preparing vaccination injections for and giving polio drops to the babies. We saw about 50 mothers and babies in about two hours. It was a valuable experience seeing the Kenyan people receive such simple medical treatments we take for granted at home and we realized what a significant difference the inoculations can make for these little ones living in conditions we would consider quite primitive.
We really enjoyed our time with Jeff and Christine, their son Chris, and their sister-in-law, Eloise Hockett, who was also visiting. It was quite an experience to see firsthand what they are doing, where and how they live, the daily challenges they face, and to hear their heart for the people of Kenya and some of the crazy stories about life in Africa. You can imagine after 19 years of living in Kenya that the arsenal of stories would be impressive. It was also a joy to hear their memories of home–they too are from Newberg and have some long time connections to John’s family that we only learned about in this visit–stories of John’s mom, Margaret-Rose and both sets of grandparents were really meaningful. Their gracious hospitality was a testimony of lives committed to giving continuously of themselves. Even when they are not working, there is always something to be done or someone to be hosted. Our time there gave us a new appreciation for missionaries, how they labor, and the impact they can make.