Monday, February 23, 2009

Caring for Body & Soul - Part 2 of 4

Caring for Body & Soul (continued from here)

The day I started talking about death, dying and what it looks like, we had an incredible break through, As I said, the Kenyans told me that they don't talk about such things. As we began to unwrap this, a couple of the deaconesses who had lost a loved one to death, opened up about their losses and then began to cry (actually sob) and you know what that does to me. Well, we spent about 30 minutes hugging and crying and then the bonds of diakonia began to flow. It was an amazing experience. It was at that point that we became one with them--and the whole feeling of the conference changed. It was the recognition that we are all broken in one way or another. We embody Christ in who we are as we live out this baptismal life in our care towards one another. I know my sisters in Kenya will always be my sisters in Christ. There is a bond that grief and loss and love and healing bring. There is joy that comes in the midst of tears and it was an honor to experience this.

I also spent time talking about HIV/AIDS-I was surprised to discover that only about one quarter of the deaconesses had gone through any formal education/training on HIV/AIDS. Dr. Just commented that when I started talking about this disease and its modes of transmission, that I went "straight into nurse mode and didn't bat an eye" even though the topic can be uncomfortable. We also spent time talking about grief, loss and bereavement.

We ended the week with the Divine Service. This service began with a service of healing, where Dr. Just and Rev. David Chuchu "anointed" us with oil, making the sign of the cross on our foreheads in remembrance of our baptism. We celebrated the Lord's Supper together-only the common cup is used in Kenya. We communed with our brothers and sisters in Christ-many of whom were HIV positive.

There was no discomfort for me in doing this-over the years I have read many studies dismissing the misplaced fears of contracting some disease from the common cup. As the Divine Service ends and people are dismissed they gather outside and each person goes down the greeting line to shake hands, hug, sing and in the end a large circle is formed where the community of believers are gathered. It is a sight of joy to behold.

One more thing I wanted to mention. The Helping Hands group at Holy Cross lovingly made zippered cloths bags for each deaconess. We filled them with the supplies brought in by the Sunday school children, and some other medical and essential items for the deaconesses to take on their visits. They were so very thrilled to have these bags--and to know that their sisters in California made them especially for them.

Also, donations from the Sunday school offering, other members and member from the sewing group at Trinity Lutheran Church in Redding, Ca. totaled $1,500. With this money we were able to help deaconesses buy medicine, pay tuition fees for several school children, help with a Pastor's dowry for his new bride, and start an income generating project for widows in Kisii. All of this was greatly appreciated by the people in Kenya. Holy Cross is certainly seen as a kind and generous congregation. Our willingness to extend a helping hand is a lifeline to many Kenyans

(to be continued)

If you have questions, please contact Pam Boehle-Silva ( She would be more than happy answer questions and speak to your group in Northern California.

And, thanks again to all of you who have given so generously of your time, talent and money.