“Mungu ni mwema” (God is good) she said with a small smile as her eyes met mine through her tears.
Sometimes giving thanks is not easy. Sometimes it’s downright hard. For Susan, this week was one of those times. Over the last few years she’s transitioned from being merely my patient, to a good friend. To say that her life has not been easy would be an understatement.
As I arrived at her mud house for our scheduled appointment this week, something felt off about her. She shared the latest developments of life with me, and my heart ached. I found myself asking “Lord has this woman not been through enough already?” And yet through her latest hardship she could lift her eyes, smile and make the statement that God is good. She loves and trusts him. Even on the hard days. She has been an encouragement and an inspiration to me. And I was blessed by God’s timing. He allowed this latest challenge to walk into her life on the same morning that I was coming to see her. And because of that, I was able to not only pray with her, but to tangibly help her through this latest difficulty.
I have to confess that in this past week I myself have not felt abundantly thankful. My husband and I have faced a string of deaths in the last few months. The day before Thanksgiving we found ourselves sitting in yet another burial service, this one for a cousin who died at just age 32. Several of the people we minister to and work closely with are facing very difficult challenges during this season. This year I’m treating patients and working in the office on Thanksgiving day. I’ve faced some pretty tough personal struggles and losses myself in recent times. And yet when I sit down and really think about it, from the depths of my heart I have to confess that God truly is good. I’ve discovered that when we seek him, we find him. That in the cold and dark hours he is the lifter of heads and the one who sees and saves our tears. He knows our personal pains and he cares.
I’m learning more and more that thankfulness is not about being happy or having a perfect life. It’s about being able to recognize and identify the gifts that God has given and appreciate them. I’m learning that even when the heart is heavy, and circumstances are difficult, that it is possible to say mungu ni mwema from the heart and really mean it.
I don’t know where you are at on this American Thanksgiving day. But I do know that God is there with you. Today may be a day filled with fellowship, fun, and good food. Or your day may be lonely and perhaps even a bit desperate. Either way God is there with you. He longs to hold you in his arms and show you his heart of love and compassion. He wants you to see and know that he truly is good and there is always something that we can thank him for.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17
We are excited to announce that we have been accepted by the organization Medsend to become one of their associates. So who is Medsend and what does this mean for Hope Matters? Medsend is an organization that helps medical missionaries to get to the field as quickly as possible. They know that the debt incurred in getting an education in the medical field can be prohibitive from beginning missionary service. So they exist to help get medical missionaries to the field sooner by helping to make student loan payments for qualified missionaries belonging to their associate organizations.
For the last seven years I (Michelle Kiprop) have been receiving a grant from Medsend which has allowed me to stay on the field. It also means that when donors financially support the ministry I’m involved in, none of that support has ever had to be applied to paying my student loans, but instead goes directly to the work I’m doing here in Africa.
With Hope Matters becoming a Medsend associate, my grant will continue. This also means that future medical missionaries with Hope Matters will also be eligible to apply for similar grants. Exciting news all around! If you would like to learn more about Medsend, you can click here to visit their website.
It was a humbling moment for sure. My patient held up a bag of locally grown oranges and asked if my family would eat them. She wanted to give me a gift to say thank you for all of the time, energy and resources that I’ve invested in treating the chronic wounds on her leg. With tears in her eyes she told me that my care, concern, and regular visits to her home in recent months have overwhelmed her. It was a rather difficult exchange for for me because in the months of caring for her, I’ve seen very little improvement. In fact today her leg looked worse than it had in a while. It’s frustrating as a medical provider when you are trying everything you know to do, and the patient just doesn’t seem to be improving. But in that moment, as she gave me this loving gift with tear-filled eyes, I realized that my visits have been about so much more than trying to heal broken skin. They have been about building a relationship. Showing love. Being Jesus with skin-on to this beautiful soul who sells fish for a living, and thus always smells like fish. This gift of oranges forced me to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I was reminded that the times we sit together to hold hands and pray are far more valuable in the grand scheme of things, than the bandages that I put on her wounds.
Prayer Points for the Month of November
- It’s a month where Americans are spending a lot of time thinking about things they are thankful for (or at least hopefully that is the case!). Take a few minutes to join us in giving thanks for the ministry of Hope Matters. Praise our Father for the lives that have been touched through our work in Kenya.
- Here in Kenya it’s warming up and students are starting their summer break. Both eighth graders and high school seniors are in the midst of exams that will determine their future. Pray for these students as they have an incredible amount of pressure on their shoulders this month.
- Continue to ask God to fill us with His divine wisdom and direction for every decision that is made within Hope Matters.
- Kenyan farmers are busy with the harvest season. Pray for their labor to be rewarded. Pray also for a great spiritual harvest in this land.
- Mid-month William and Michelle will be traveling to Nairobi to take care of some business there. Please pray for a safe and productive journey.
- We are working on plans for 2015 and looking at some exciting potentials for growth in the ministry. Please pray that God will guide our plans, and that the financial resources will be provided to move forward in developing our land and expanding health ministry.
- We’ve posted this one before, but please continue to pray for the Kiprop Family to grow in grace and love each new day. Pray that the Lord would reveal HIS heart and HIS plans to our Hope Matters leadership team, and that their hearts and minds would be clearly tuned to him so that they might walk in the steps he has for Hope Matters.