Monday, April 29, 2019

Tales of Transition

The bags were packed, the deep storage stored, the keys handed back to my folks.  "Boys, time to get in the car!" I shouted to our three little munchkins.  It was time to fly back to Kenya.

I grabbed my own bag, headed out the door, and heard a voice from around the corner.  "Mama, I had an accident."  I turned to see our 6-year old standing in the grass, soaked all the way down to his toes.  It was not the kind of accident we were accustomed to hearing about, which our potty-training 3-year old was a pro at.  So I was confused, then suddenly panicky, and downright upset.

"What happened???" I yelled at him.

"I fell into the lake."

What? I thought.  You mean, the lake at the bottom of the hill that you're expressly forbidden to go to by yourself, and on today of all days when the bags are packed and the car is packed and I have no spare clothes anymore to find for you???  That lake???

It was not my best parenting moment.

Thankfully, my own parents came to the rescue and we found clothes for my son and dried his shoes and I was given space to cry my hot and angry tears and we still got on the road with enough time to make it to Detroit Metro in time for our flight to Nairobi.

*deep breath*

And our son recovered his excitement to fly back to Kenya, which I had temporarily squashed with my parental freak-out moment.

And then we had a great trip overseas!  The boys were all-star travelers, as usual.  We arrived tired but in one piece, and all our luggage came through without issue.

And then we had a smooth reentry into Kenya, minus the expected jet lag which hit the boys pretty hard.  But we rolled with it, administering melatonin and movies at 4am like it was our sole purpose in life.  We saw close friends, we saw a pair of hornbills at the guesthouse (yay!), we went on the annual field retreat and reconnected with a ton of people and met some new friends (sea creatures included), and we started the process of moving from Tenwek Hospital to Chogoria Hospital, where Eli will be the new program director for the family medicine residency there.

We also traveled back to Tenwek to meet and greet old friends and help our hearts with the transition of moving to a new home.  The boys were happy in that familiar place and loved climbing their favorite trees again and playing with one of their best buds.  It was a wonderful time.

Then, finally, we officially moved to our new home at Chogoria Hospital - eight hours away from Tenwek in a different part of the country, among a different people group and a different tribal language.  We love it here.  We love our new house, even thought it's taking a long time to get settled.  And the boys love all the bugs to catch both inside and outside the house.  And we love our new neighbors who've been a delight and a godsend at the same time.

Overall, our transition back to Kenya was smooth.  Quite simply, we were doing great for about three weeks and counted ourselves blessed to have such a smooth transition.

And then this past week happened.

The small-ish trials included power outages, ant infestations in the kitchen, ant bites on the kids, losing some of our stuff in the move from Tenwek to Chogoria, misadventures during a supply run, getting rear-ended by a motorcycle, whiny kids and short tempers, and waking up to water all over the bathroom floor that came from a leak in the hallway closet connected to a plumbing problem with our hot water heater.

The big trial was the morning that Asa accidentally fell off the top bunk of our new triple bunk and landed on the back of his head.  Long story short: his screams were awful, my heart froze with fear, he eventually vomited three times as a result of a concussion, my heart froze again, we took him to the hospital for a CT scan and continued praying for God's protection over our little man. In the end, the images showed no intracranial bleeding but they did show a hairline fracture on the back of his skull.  My heart gave out again, as if it wasn't already spent after the initial trauma.  By God's great grace, Asa was back to his normal self the following day and all we have to do is continually keep our active 3-year old from being too active so his skull has the time to heal on its own.

first night with the new bunk, 
before the incident

waiting for the scan

getting scanned and 
telling him happy thoughts

looking at the results

Asa liked seeing pictures of his skull

We rejoice in God's protection over Asa, whose fall could have resulted in a much worse injury.  Not only did God protect him completely, but He held our hearts close in the midst of fear.  He gave us the prayers of His people and Scripture to claim.  He strengthened us and sustained through that intense trial.

That was actually the first of our trials last week.  Meaning that everything else pales in comparison.  Yet it doesn't negate everything else.  We have still felt the weight of the other burdens and stresses and we still feel the desire to be freed from them.  So many struggles have come at us this past week that it feels like a barrage.  A deluge of difficulties.  An avalanche of adversity.

Which made me remember something I wrote down a while ago.

Two years ago I wrote this in my journal:

The only way to ensure that you won't be attacked by the enemy of God is to do little or nothing for God.... But if you are trying to bear fruit for the kingdom of God, if you are trying to spread the Gospel, if you are trying to be a source of light in this very dark world, then be assured that the enemy of God will make enemies of you too and will mount his attacks against you.

After the water leak incident this morning I suddenly remembered writing these words and went back to find them.  I wrote those words as an encouragement to myself during a difficult time when it felt like we were under spiritual attack.  I remembered those words this morning, not only because we now find ourselves feeling the same way again - under attack - but also because we're in the middle of transition, which seems to be a prime time for the enemy to go on the offensive.

In general, I don't think Satan chooses to attack people just because they're in transition.  But I do think he chooses to attack people who are making an obedient choice to do the will of God, especially if that choice requires altering courses in order to do it.  Which is why times of transition are especially susceptible to spiritual attacks.  Whenever a person chooses to fulfill God's good plan, it invites the enemy's schemes.  When coupled with the underlying stress inherent with major transition, the enemy's schemes are particularly potent.

Back to my journal entry from a two years ago:

What matters is not that we will have trouble in this world or that we will be attacked by the enemy of God if we are bringing glory to God.  What matters is how we choose to respond to it.  There's no denying that trials and hardships are a burden.  The crux of the matter is whether or not we bear the burden well.  That is what Satan is really concerned about, and what God is really concerned about too....  We should be prayerful.  We should be reading Scripture and reminding ourselves that a servant is no greater than his master - if Jesus can be tested by the devil then so can we, and so shall we be....  

We are certainly being tested and tried.  And we have a choice: the choice is how we respond.  God instructs us how to respond when Satan attacks, which is to resist him and stand firm in the faith.  Our choice is whether to do it or not.

Just yesterday I read a book to the boys that was among the many we've unearthed since being back in Kenya.  It's called The Sheep That No One Could Find and is a rhyming retelling of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  In it, the lost sheep is depicted as being pursued first by a wolf, then a lion, then a snake, all out to destroy him.  I asked our boys why they thought the author would write that into the story even though the real story doesn't include those kinds of details.  Caleb immediately said, "Because the lion is prowling around looking for someone to devour!"  That kid knows Scripture.  I opened my Bible to 1 Peter and read them the passage he was remembering: "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (5:8-9).

This is how we're resisting the enemy in this very present trial: we've started laughing instead of stewing, we're reading Scripture truths that speak into this, we're praying for joy and peace, we're contacting other people to also pray for us, and we did a prayer walk through our house to pray over every single room.  Let me tell you, it was powerful to hear our sons pray with us, saying things like, "Thank you for this room" and "make Satan just go away from this room" and "God, come here."

If we resist the devil and stand firm in the faith, we give glory to God.  And as I ended my journal entry two years ago,

If God can be glorified, then Satan is defeated.


  1. I loved your descriptions of this major transition in your lives. Glad Asa is doing well. Loved that the kids were a part of the prayer walk through your 'new' house. Praise the Lord!!

  2. Great piece. Love how you describe everything so well and the fact that you have so strong faith and you pray together as a family!

    1. Thank you! This feels like a long time ago now, but we regularly remember God's faithfulness to us during that time of transition, especially His protection over our son who fell from the bunk. God was so good and gracious to us!