One of our favorite traditions here at Tenwek (which will not happen this COVID year!) is Christmas caroling through the hospital.
Unsurprisingly, our hoard of carolers descending on the wards with this western tradition–lustily belting English carols, and even attempting a few in Kiswahili and Kipsigis–has resulted in some memorable encounters.
Our neighbor Dr. Manchester recently shared that several years ago, as the group was serenading the pediatric ward, one ailing patient began retching in perfect timing to the breath breaks in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Our friend’s father, Dr. Freije, leaned over, handed the nurse a script for Zofran (an anti-nausea medicine), and stepped back into place without missing a note.
Then there was last year.
Since the days of Dr. Freije, the hospital has grown, and so has the size of our caroling chorus!
We split up and each took a part of the hospital. Our group stepped into PACU (the post-operative recovery unit) singing “O Come All Ye Faithful” to two young adults who had recently undergone open heart surgery. As we sang, “O come let us adore Him….” two nurses rushed in carrying a bundle swaddled in green. They set it on a small resuscitation table and as we sang, “O come let us adore Him….” they opened the surgical cloths to reveal a brand new, slimy, flailing, and wonderfully, lustily screaming baby.
It you’ve ever expected or welcomed a baby during the advent season or, like me, witnessed the first breaths of a Christmas baby, it’s hard not to have a deepened sense of wonder. At the miracle of that life. And at the miracle that God would step down to be found in the likeness of man, fulness of God in helpless babe.
“The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
On them has a light shone….
For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon his shoulder,
And his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 6: 2, 6 (ESV)
VENTILATOR UPDATE: In less than one week, all the funds needed for us to buy all five modern ventilators were provided! In fact, we raised enough for Clark to begin construction of new incubators and phototherapy units for the NICU babies. Honestly, we have been overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues from the University of Kentucky gave. Family gave. Friends of friends gave. Strangers gave. We look forward to sharing with you the day these ventilators arrive in Kenya. Thank you!
*NICU picture credit: Julie Ganey