Month: January 2019


Our jeep bumped along the rugged trail that was going to bring us to the main road and back home to Nairobi, after a successful humanitarian aid project in a distant rural area of Kenya. My thoughts were already travelling to the busy week ahead. The next project was around the corner and needed to be planned and organized, and there seemed to be too few hours in the day to get it all done.

My knee had been bothering me for the previous few days, and that eventually escalated into a constant dull pain. So far, I had managed to ignore it, but I knew I’d probably end up needing to get it checked. Only, as far as I could see, there simply wasn’t time.

After arriving home, I went to bed early, feeling exhausted and achy. During the night, a pounding pain woke me up, and I discovered swelling all around my knee cap. I popped some painkillers and tried to catch a bit more sleep. In the morning, the pain was even more intense, and I called my doctor who immediately summoned me to his office. There, a thorough checkup, blood tests, and an x-ray confirmed that there was a deep-seated infection in my leg that was threatening to spread.

“We need to hospitalize you today,” the doctor’s concerned voice reverberated in my ears.

I tried to argue. “But I have pressing appointments and work to do this week.”

“Your work has to wait!” said the doctor. “This infection has to be stopped, or you might even lose your leg!”

Relenting, I hobbled over to the next-door hospital to check myself in. Then a nurse met me with a wheelchair and escorted me into a small room. After she left, quietness enveloped me, and the fact that I was grounded sank in fully. The room was sterile and white, and flowered curtained windows faced a tree lined courtyard. There was a small TV attached to the wall, a sink with a small mirror, and a metal-frame bed. I sank into its covers, frustration and worry welling up inside of me.

Soon, the door opened and a nurse entered to set up a drip. “Don’t worry, dear, you’ll be better soon,” she said reassuringly, then smiled and left the room. I was alone again.

I realized that I had two choices. One was to let the situation pull me down, dreading each minute I had to spend here. The other was to start searching for a glimpse of the silver lining that must be hidden somewhere beneath the dark cloud. I opted for the latter and prayed that God would help me find joy in this unexpected and potentially depressing turn of events.

A knock on the door brought me out of my reverie. It was a colleague with a large bunch of flowers. This was soon followed by several phone calls by loved ones offering their best wishes for my recovery. I began to cheer up.

A tray with tea and cake was wheeled in for an afternoon snack, and I couldn’t help a grin when I realized that it had been a long while since I had been served in bed! Later in the day, I rested, read, and watched a movie. It felt great to just relax and let myself enjoy this unexpected but much-needed break.

Within a few days, my knee improved and I was able to go home. In the meantime, others had managed my project just fine.

I’m glad that I chose joy, which brought along peace, and in turn helped to get me back on my feet quickly.

Posted by Iris Richard in General

Creating Space

I decided “better late than never” and ventured into something new and long overdue: at age 50-plus, I registered for lessons at a local driving school.

To my horror, during just my second class, I was taken to drive in the chaotic Nairobi traffic.

“Try to create space around your vehicle,” was one of the first instructions.

“Easier said than done when no one else seems to do that,” I mumbled nervously as I attempted to weave my way through rush hour traffic. Despite my efforts, I soon found myself sandwiched between overloaded minibuses blaring out rap music, motorcycles snaking between lanes, and a dump truck carrying heaps of garbage that towered over my compact car.

“If you can’t have space on all sides, try to have space on two sides—and if not on two, then on at least one, front or back.”

That sounded like a lesson that could be applied to life in general when problems tower over me.

As a mother of seven and a long-time missionary in Africa, I have experienced a wide spectrum of situations that included some so stressful that they threatened to test me beyond my limits. Whenever things felt like they were getting too much to bear, though, this promise would pop into my mind:

God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. [[1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT]]

These strategies have helped me:

  • Create space. To be able to cope with demanding situations, I started taking short breaks throughout the day. These times act as buffers during periods when extra grace and energy are needed.
  • Be honest. I’ve had to learn to be honest with myself and others about my limitations. For example, my three-year-old grandson knows that I have a hard time with noise and respects that, which helps us make the most of our times together.
  • Make time. Our family has always tried to find time to talk things over, as well as to commit difficult issues to God in prayer together.
  • Accept help. Letting others help with stressful situations can be a lifesaver. It’s also a chance to forge deeper bonds through shared victories.
  • Give it a rest. Applying the “sleep on it” principle puts many controversial topics and unsettling issues to rest. It also gives God time to work things out.
Posted by Iris Richard in General