Monthly Archives: February 2010

My One Drop

NOTE: Now I know, I often write light-hearted fun looks at our family life or travels. Those wonderful things are still very much a part of everyday life here. But so are difficult things. It’s just not true for me to only share the fun and easy. That’s not reality. So, if you would really rather read funny giraffe stories, just close this up right now and check back next week (I won’t take it personally). If you’re up for a picture of the other side of my reality, read away!

This is a land of extremes,
both the most wonderful
and the most difficult
place I have ever lived.
It’s a package deal.

There are very many wonderful things, but I have been at times overwhelmed by the severity of suffering and poverty and difficulty people face and wonder how I could ever ‘do enough’ to help. It is such a cliche of Africa. You have seen it many times before. Like many of you, I always want to do more than I really am able, and work to keep balance in our lives. There is still a gaping hole, an empty bucket thirsty with need. And I have only one drop to add.

My one drop is all I can give. I am finite. So I give my one drop with cheer and focus not on what seems lacking, the parched hole that remains, but on the drips. Drip, dripping their lovingcare into this immense desert of need. Drip. Drip. It is too heavy to walk carrying the constant burden of this empty bucket. Hopelessness takes you down. Thriving here means reveling in the drips, the droplets that together add up to something more. Hope. A rising water level. Their thirst will not last forever. It will be quenched.

These months here we have finally become acquainted with some of the families in our neighborhood community and 3 of those families have had a death to mourn in this new year. A young mother (my age, maybe not all that ‘young’ I’ll admit…) succumbed to tuberculosis, survived by 5 children. A beloved grandfather killed in a bad road accident. A father killed by a falling tree. The mourning process here is a 3-day community event. Close friends and family members sit with the bereaved day and night. African Traditional Religion says deceased ancestors are to be feared, and it is a heavy time for these families. The weight I carry is that somehow in my mind these deaths seem preventable, unjust.

So with these difficulties in the back of my mind, I was given music for Christmas that was just in time. There is a great temptation to see the empty bucket. To try with all we are and all we have to fill it up. Only to feel we have failed, give up and close our eyes.
Close your eyes.
Hum loudly.
Really it doesn’t exist.
Convince yourself.
And the lyrics of this song speak to that self-protective temptation to avoid heavy realities:

LIKE A LAKE by Sara Groves
Inspired by Lake Kivu and the people of Rwanda

so much hurt and preservation

like a tendril ’round my soul

so much painful information

no clear way on how to hold it

when everything in me is tightening

curling in around this ache

I will lay my heart wide open

like the surface of a lake

wide open like a lake.

standing at this water’s edge

looking in at God’s own heart

I’ve no idea where to begin

to swallow up the way things are

bring the wind and bring the thunder

bring the rain ’til I am tried

when it’s over, bring me stillness

let my face reflect the sky

and all the Grace and all the wonder

of a peace that I can’t fake

wide open like a lake

I am fighting to stay open

open, wide open like a lake


Yes, these sufferings hurt.


But God’s Grace through Jesus Christ is deeper still.

There is incredible power in looking heavy realities in the face. Staring them down. Pouring grace on them. Heaping coals on their heads. Praise God heavy realities are not the end of the story. There is redemption. Drip. Drip. There is a peace that passes understanding – a peace that we can’t ‘fake’ – trusting in our God to sustain us, to guide us and our ‘one drop’, and trusting He will fill this empty bucket of need as only He can: perfectly. In the right way. At the right time. Drip.

On our trip last week we met 3 teenagers working hard under the noon sun to fix the potholes in their small-town country road. We asked them, “Why do you do this?” and they replied, “For our country.” Young people who care about their future, and are willing to work hard toward it? They were a huge encouragement to us. We are not the only ones with ‘one drop’ to give. Drip.

“We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 5:2-4

I’m one of those people who eats up music like food, savoring the best bits slowly and enjoying them over and over, especially with this artist,
Sara Groves, who I had never heard before. There are many reasons I might enjoy her music. She writes it all herself, for one. Her lyrics really make me think for two, and she liberally uses the piano in her songs for three. She’s about my age, has two boys and a little girl, and campaigns for International Justice Mission‘s work in nearby Rwanda. If you want to listen to the above song, without buying the album (Fireflies & Songs), go here or here. Though, for the record, I highly recommend the album.


Our adventure to solve Daisy’s Dilemma (see previous post)
began by 4×4 driving 90 minutes south of here to a small grass airstrip. (One of our tires rolled off into the bush part-way through the trip, but I’ll write about that another day!) We flew out into the jungle in a very small prop plane and landed at Epulu in the heart of the Ituri Rainforest where there is a small population of the only-known relative of the giraffe: the okapi!

The towering trees all struggle for sunlight and the canopy of trees is some 200 feet above us. This picture of one okapi eating his leafy breakfast gives you an idea of just how tall those trees look from the bottom of the jungle floor!

Due to its remote location, most people don’t know the okapi is very elusive. They are not quite ‘endangered’, but are still frequently poached for food. This was a Center on the Okapi Reserve dedicated to helping the species survive. They have sent okapis to zoos all over the world! These pictures are taken of okapis in captivity at the Center, and even then they would run away if we coughed. We had to stand very still and very silent to see if they would approach us. Somehow anticipation always makes the prize more valuable, and finally getting to see the okapi live in person was amazing! They are majestic. That’s the only word that came to mind. Pictures don’t do it justice. Their dark brown/black/blue coat plays off the light so beautifully…

So back to our continuing saga…

We finally located Daisy’s cousin!
Tatu is her name (which means ‘three’ in Swahili).
There is not a whole lot of family resemblance other than long, slow strides, big ears and beautiful dark brown eyes.
She was very shy about meeting with us, but very attentive to our news!

She was very excited for her cousin Daisy and has a 4-yr-old boy herself!

And we got a great vacation out of the deal! =)

Daisy’s Dilemma


Meet Daisy.

Don’t take that personally.
She’s really quite sweet once you get to know her.
She always tries to make the tourists feel they are important
by continually licking and kissing them.

Here’s Daisy hard at work:

All her hard work has paid off and brought her a certain amount of fame over the years, and she has seen quite a number of years so far! She’s even thinking about writing a book about her life. Despite her advanced experience with life, she just had a baby last year and is enjoying being a new Mommy. Here she poses at a professional photo shoot looking very distinguished (obviously not her best side! But she refrains from comment on today’s celebrity photographers…):

She wanted to get the news of this new baby to her distant cousin living in Congo. The distance from Kenya to Congo may not look very daunting on most world maps, but to a new mother giraffe, there is just no way to walk 2,000 mi. Everybody has their limits. It’s good to recognize them. So Daisy, who would usually send news by way of migrating birds, is stuck, because all the reliable families of birds have already migrated for this year.

Her cousin has always been very supportive and has gone through her own struggle to have children, so Daisy insists on getting her the news as it will be a great joy and encouragement.

In her hour of desperation, Daisy is forced to rely on the absolutely worst form of communication: humans. It has been said that humans are responsible for not only missing or forgetting their communications, but (gasp!) even making up their own dramaticly incorrect versions of the truth! But alas, she is out of options.

Our family will be going here for 4 days:

… in the hopes of relaying correctly Daisy’s all-important message.
Can you guess who her cousin is?

Until next week,

Kent & Kim, James, Joel & Anna