Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I received a precious gift on my trip to Kenya, a front row seat watching a divinely orchestrated story unfold. The unveiling of this story with name, places, people, and events that I could not even imagine could only be scripted by One. The only part I played was in my willingness to go and being open to whatever the Lord had for me there.
As the time grew closer for the trip, I grew more anxious. My heart was restless. There were countless conversations with my brother in law and sister about what to expect on the field. I talked to Dustin, Jolie, Roger, Sandra, and others who routinely went or had recently gone. I received advice on everything from sleep pillows to travel toilet paper. I remember saying to my friend Jeannette the week that I was leaving, “ I am struggling to stay focused here because I can feel my heart being turned to Kenya.” I had no clue what to expect other than knowing that God had clearly opened the door for me to go serve and that I was going. His timing would become crystal clear the second day I was there. I thought I was going to give away shoes and spend time with the kids teaching them music. That was the plan until Sunday evening 3 pm at dinner.
After my nap, I joined Pastor Benson, his wife Florence, and another missionary Barbara from Australia who had been visited several local orphanages for the week. I asked Barbara where she had been that day. She began to describe her time at a local hospital with a girl, Hannah, from a nearby orphanage who was suffering from severe anemia. The doctors had given her one unit of blood but they were deeply concerned that if she didn’t receive more blood she may suffer a heart attack before blood could arrive on Monday from Nairobi.
Blood in Kenya is scarce. The HIV epidemic is rampant so many people can’t give and others are afraid to give because they don’t want to find out they have HIV. I asked Barbara what this girl’s blood type was. “O Negative,” she replied. Anyone who is O negative knows what this means, the girl was a universal donor but could only receive from another O negative. I told Barbara that I am O negative and I would be happy to give blood for her. Barbara seemed shocked that I was so willing but the prayer before I went was simple, “Lord, whatever you have for me in Kenya, I want to be available.” Pastor Benson decided that we would do the shoe distribution first and then leave for the hospital. You can read about the shoes here.
My heart was full from watching the kids play and laugh over their new shoes but my focused quickly changed once we got in the car to head over to St. Mary’s Missionary Hospital in Gilgil. I wanted to know the story. What was wrong with this girl? How long had she been sick? Who was helping her?
We arrived and after a brief search found that she was in the women’s ward. We spoke to the nurse manager who directed us to her room. It isn’t like the U.S. She was in a room with seven other women. She was laying on her side and very weak. Barbara began to talk with her to explain what was going on. Hannah spoke in very hushed tones, such that I could barely hear her and I was standing at the foot of the bed. Barbara then told Hannah that I was there to give blood for her. Hannah whispered something so Barbara leaned down to hug her and that is when Hannah began to weep very softly. Barbara cried with her and she held her close. It broke my heart.
Hannah had been at the orphanage for almost two years. She is now fourteen years old. Her mother began prostituting her when she was 9. At the age of 9, she was being given to men for money, food, etc. Hannah would not look at me. She looked at Barbara or she looked at the ground.
Once Hannah was aware of what we were doing, Barbara and I left to meet the lab tech to find out if he would draw my blood. Barbara introduced herself to Paul and explained who we were and why we were there. Normally, Paul would have already finished for the day but a bus accident a mile away caused him to be there late running test. She asked if he could take my blood for Hannah. He hesitated and shook his head no. “It is against regulations to take blood after 6 pm.” This didn’t deter Barbara who asked “can’t we pretend that it is five minutes UNTIL 6 pm so Hannah can receive this blood she so desperately needs?” I love her passion along with a dose of shame and guilt. Paul agreed to help because he knew her condition. He asked me to return in 20 minutes when he finished his other test. Benson, Barbara, and I sat on a bench nearby recounted how God had been faithful to orchestrate this moment and so we gave thanks. I would leave to give blood and they would go visit with Hannah and another boy they knew who was there.
Paul and I began a conversation as he prepared to draw blood. “Why are you in Kenya,” he asked. “Because the Lord made a way” was my response. I knew I couldn’t take credit for any of this. I explained about the shoes, 1Way Ministries, Soles4Souls, the people who helped send me, and how I learned about Fiwagoh. Paul began to tell me that he was once an orphan as well. He told me about his parents dying. He smiled as he described adopting a street boy as a brother because he knew how it felt to be an orphan. We prayed together and were finished. I wanted to let the other know Hannah would be receiving blood soon.
When I returned to Hannah’s room, Barbara and Benson were not there. There was a patient next to Hannah who spoke English. Through her I shared with Hannah that Paul was spinning the blood and she would be receiving it within 30 minutes. Hannah never looked up. I said goodbye and began to leave. Once I was out of sight, she spoke to me. “Asanti (thank you) and God bless you.” I began to weep like a baby in the hallway. It wasn’t a pretty cry either. This is why I came to Kenya. I was sent to Kenya to help save Hannah’s life. I am O negative for Hannah’s sake. I don’t know all the reasons I went but I know this one. God used me to be woven into Hannah’s story.
We were able to go back and check on Hannah the day before I left. She had received blood from Nairobi and was in much better condition. She was sitting up in bed eating when we came. The doctors were still running test but they weren’t as concerned as they were on Sunday night. I received an email from the director of Hannah’s orphanage this past week on Facebook. They are still running test on Hannah but she is feeling stronger. I told him that I am hoping to return in March of 2012. I am praying that I will be able to visit Hannah. When Pastor Benson and I met with Hannah before I left, she wanted me to know that she was grateful and she was praying God’s riches blessings on my life. Those prayers have already been answered.