Sunday, June 14, 2009

Update from Pamela: Lutheran Kenya Deaconess Training (Part 3)

Part 3
continued from part 2)

From Pamela Boehle-Silva

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and All Whom I Love,

(continued from part 2... ) Ok, enough of my somberness. There was joy in the midst of tears
yesterday - joy - when in the car with the deaconesses, who sang and laughed, and were surprised at the hotness of the candy I brought - Hot Tamales. We laughed until we cried as one of the deaconesses asked me if she could swallow them? She had been holding them in her mouth because they were so hot.

We were surprised by a wonderful lunch at deaconess Mary's home. We had chicken, ugali, chapati. We were touched by the trust that these women have in us as they shared their sorrows and their joys.

The scenery is stunning here and I never grow tired of looking outside. The people, especially the children, are beautiful and engaging. The Kenyans are gracious, kind and appreciative. It continues to be a humbling experience for me.

Kali wrote me a letter including a poem from Gerard Manley Hopkins. All she wrote was so true.

We see Christ in all people
He appears in many faces,
with eyes not His,
and whose limbs may be
lovely to God,
but the beauty is more difficult
to see.
We must ask God for
eyes and ears
and hearts to

This is my prayer for all of us, and especially for Dr. Just and me as we are with the deaconesses for the next 2 weeks.

My love to all.

Thanks for your emails and your prayers. I carry all of you with me here.

With love and hope in Christ.

Update from Pamela: Lutheran Kenya Deaconess Training (Part 2)

Part 2
(Continued from Part 1)
From Pamela Boehle-Silva

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and All Whom I Love,

(continued from part 1...) I am trying to process all that went on yesterday and find the tears close at hand. Usually I wait until I am home, but I am immensely touched by the suffering we saw. It is not only the people who suffer, but the deaconesses as well as they bear the burdens of those they care for.

It is not uncommon for a deaconess to walk 3 hours to visit someone. Then, in the words of one deaconess, "(They) have to sit for another hour to catch their breath and rest because they are so tired" before they can minister to the person they are visiting.

The deaconesses think they come empty handed because they have nothing tangible to bring those in need. (My hope is that we can instill in them the reality that they bring Christ to those in need and this is no small thing. If we can accomplish that this week, I will be happy). One of the women we visited, Paris, lived in a crumbling mud hut. When it rains, she has no shelter. She sleeps on the dirt floor with no bed, no table no nothin' except a couple of chickens. The deaconesses were hesitant to bring us to see her because they were afraid that we might be ashamed of it all (I prayed the Kyrie a lot during that visit), but the woman was in good health and was very happy to have us visit here. Some of what we saw is unimaginable - and did I mention how hot it is in the Kenyan sun? I would guess it was in the 90's, very hot.

(continued here, part 3)

Update from Pamela: Lutheran Kenya Deaconess Training (Part 1)

From Pamela Boehle-Silva (Part 1)

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and All Whom I Love

Greetings from Kisumu, Kenya:

I am good. Sleeping well, but very emotionally spent this morning. Yesterday we went out on home visits with 3 of the deaconesses, a social work intern and Ruth, the wife of Joseph, seminary professor. What we saw was beyond words. To say that the visits in 2006 were "sugar coated" would not be accurate, but yesterday's visits were people and places with no joy.

What these deaconesses face is unbelievable. Most of the women - and they were all widows - we visited, were HIV+ and, of course, had many other maladies. I did get to play nurse with each visit and that was both frustrating and satisfying. Frustrating in that the problems are complex - or rather getting help is complex - but satisfying, in that, even the simplest remedies are welcomed and bring some relief.

We saw people with chronic wounds, Tuberculosis - hence the shortness of breath, coughing and lethargy - diarrhea, malnutrition, high blood pressure, anemia, cardiac irregularities... and then there were those whose lives are affected by the fatigue that goes with not feeling well and not having enough to eat.

The deaconesses are frustrated because they cannot provide for the needs of their people. We left each person money for food and medical care. We dressed wounds, gave ibuprofen and children's Tylenol. Instilled hope through song, the Word of God, prayer and touch.

(continued in part 2)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thanks for Your Acts of Mercy: Deaconess Training Seminar in Kenya in Progress!

Last I posted, we were $7000 short for our Deaconess Training Seminar in Kenya. Thanks to many of you, we were able to catch up and fund the seminar, just in time.

Dr. Arthur Just and Parish Nurse Pamela Boehle-Silva are in Kenya right now and are training the deaconesses with the Word of God and care for the sick in their congregations.

The training will continue this week and beginning next week, Dr. Just and Pamela will join the deaconesses in visiting the sick in many different villages.

This was possible only because you decided to make a difference and support such biblical and Christ-centered work. It is a real life example of caring for body and soul.