Universal Languages: Lessons from Kenya

 

A thumbs up. A smile. A hug. Loneliness. Worship.

Just five ideas I now know are universally understood after a trip to Kenya with Cure International and WAY-FM.

Loneliness is felt whether you are in Kenya or Connecticut, wealthy or poor, married or single.

Mary is a 32 year old single mom who lives in a village outside of Kenya with her two children. Her oldest daughter has disabilities, which aren’t widely accepted in Kenya, and she is divorced, chiefly because of the pressure of having a child with a disability.

Her husband was embarrassed, placed blame on Mary, which is common, and he left.

She carries her daughter, Patience, on her back. Patience has spina bifida, and both of her legs are mispositioned. In the states, this condition would have been remedied at a much younger age.

At six, Patience lives up to her name. She and her mom are grateful to receive the care they are now receiving at a Cure International hospital in Kenya.

Patience has a broad smile, and she lights up a room. I learned she loves “Baby Shark,” crayons, and selfies.

I had the honor of spending some time with Mary and Patience on a mission trip to Kenya with WAY-FM. We visited a Cure International hospital in Kijabe, a mountain village that is very…windy. In fact, Kijabe translates to “Land of Wind.”

Mary’s prayer is that the surgery her daughter received at the Cure hospital will give Patience some of her childhood back. That maybe she will one day run and play and try to keep up with her little sister.

I asked Mary what the most difficult part of this journey is.

She said, “I deal with all of this, and at the end of the day, there is nobody to tell.”

Nobody to tell.

Loneliness is the most difficult part of the journey.

I must have had a look on my face; some sort of twisted up look of surprise and empathy.

She asked, “You don’t have anyone to tell?”

I explained that she is correct, my husband had passed away a few years ago. And I get it. Nobody to tell at the end of the day.

But I was more shocked than anything. She has carried her daughter on her back…for six years…struggles in poverty…is at a mountain hospital separated from her younger daughter…and just prays that her older daughter can be well enough to go to school. And her biggest problem is loneliness.

I recalled a text I received from a friend just before leaving for Kenya. A friend who is successful, married, and has a beautiful little boy who she and her husband adopted. Life seems good in my friend’s world. She sent a photo of a puppy she is taking in.

“Out of my loneliness, I brought this cute little guy home.”

Loneliness? Loneliness. While alone or while surrounded by people…loneliness.

It’s a problem. And it’s universal.

But so is worship.

At the end of that Wednesday afternoon at a windy mountain hospital in Kenya, I witnessed the most beautiful thing: the answer to loneliness, WORSHIP.

The moms and dads in the surgical ward, the staff of the Cure International hospital, and a few awestruck radio people from WAY-FM were together as one community, all in worship. Which in Kenya, can involve some dance. A wedding celebration of sorts, worshipping the same God at the same time, thanking Him, and a little touch of Macarena. No, not really. It wasn’t the Macarena. But it was a dance where it seemed all knew the steps, unity more than unison.

Mary did not look alone in that moment. Not at all.  When in doubt, when in loneliness, when in fear…worship.

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