Today I’m missing one of my favorite little lady’s 4th birthday. I had been living with her parents for almost 4 years when she was born. I was just months from moving to Kenya, and they were kind enough to let me continue living with them after she was born…in a 2 bedroom house and about 1200 square feet. Her nursery was a random open office area/hallway leading to the back yard (her newest sister still lives in that nursery). It wasn’t the most comfortable solution for them, but I had been invited into their family in a breathtaking way that didn’t stop when Maven came along. It’s still one of the most generous gifts I’ve been given – to be reminded that I have a home with them whether there is room or not. I had no idea at the time how much of an anchor that place and those people would prove to be as I made a new home in Kenya. Those two months remain so important to me as I balance having homes on 2 continents. So I celebrate Miss Maven today. She’s spunky and smart and hilarious and every bit her mother’s daughter in all the best ways. Missing milestones and celebrations like this are always hard days. That’s why I’m grateful for my generous Father who sends along reminders of why I am here and not there. Today was a day I needed a reminder, so He sent Fabian’s family.
Fabian was born at about 25 weeks of pregnancy. He was transferred to Kijabe Hospital from another facility when he was 7 days old, weighing only 2 1/4 pounds and in for a fight with severe jaundice and an infection threatening to end his tiny life. Our pediatricians in Kijabe fought alongside him and after 2 months in the hospital, this little miracle got to go home.
Today he is a pretty typical 3 year old boy, but in January, his family made their way back to Kijabe because he wasn’t talking yet and they suspected he wasn’t hearing well. Those suspicions were confirmed and we fit hearing aids on both ears a month ago. I told his family not to expect too much from him hearing aids. The degree of loss made me think he might not be able to communicate only using speech, so I wanted them to know that up front. I told them not to expect him to talk for months, maybe longer. I was wrong. This kiddo who defied the odds just living past such an early birth appears to want to make a liar of all doctors who try to tell his family what he will and won’t be able to do. Not only is he starting to use his voice, he has learned 5 new words in one month with zero speech therapy (because there are no services offered nearby) and only his family to help him along. He’s a bit of a rockstar.
His mother is a single mom whose grandfather is helping pay for her to go to university and whose family helps take care of Fabian. For his other 2 appointments, I had seen him with his mother and great-grandfather. He came today with what can only be described as an entourage. Great-grandpa, Great-grandma, grandmother, great-uncle and mom all came with Fabian to his appointment today – and they came ready to celebrate. They had gifts and Great-Grandmother was not there to be a spectator. She was there as the matriarch of her family to bring blessings to those of us who had been a part of Fabian’s team. Everyone who has seen this family in the last 2 months had a gift in their bag – the nurse, the receptionist, the customer care representatives they had met with. And me. I was in tears as this sweet woman put a beaded Maasai necklace around my neck and spoke blessings over me and my co-workers. It was far and away the most joy-filled moment I have experienced in my work in Kijabe.
I just kept thinking, “This is why I’m here.” I don’t do this job in this place to garner blessing. I do it first because I feel strongly that this is where God has placed me in this season and He knows best. But I also do it because God lets me be a part of His work in the life of a baby born too soon who lives to tell the tale and a family that celebrates His faithfulness.
These two tiny humans on two different continents and their generous families are both reminders to me today that I serve a generous God who gives good gifts to his children.