Tuesday, January 29, 2013


It has been 3 and a half weeks since we returned from Kenya.  Most of that time has been spent getting my house, life and kids back in order.  Some of that time has been spent retelling some of our experiences to our friends and family.  A lot of that time has been spent sleeping.

The large majority of the conversations, with those that have been interested, have ended with my story of Blair.  Blair was a young albino boy that we had the privilege to meet toward the end of our time in Africa.  Blair was the icing on my cake, the cherry on top of my sundae, and the story that brings me to tears every time I retell it.

I have really struggled with how to tell this story.  I have struggled with what the take-home-message of this story should be--to me and to all of you.  I have batted around ideas, the sequence of events, the "meaning" behind the meaning, and the idea that maybe it shouldn't even be "out there" in cyber space at all.  I fear for this young boy's life.  I am concerned that my telling of this story in such a public way will put him in harm's way.  I am worried that I have perhaps not "gleaned" what God wanted me to glean out of this experience.

As I am writing this, I am realizing that all of the words I have been using to describe my feelings are not fruits of the spirit.  "Fear, concern, worry", etc.  So, I have decided to just tell the story as best I can and rely on God to do the rest.  Relying on my own words, this may not go so well.  However, there is an amazing story here to tell and my prayer is that you will allow God to speak into you what He wants you to hear--not what Vanessa has decided is important.

So, here we go. . . . .

It was the next-to-the-last day of work for us in Kenya.  Our team assembled at the end of the day for our nightly "decompression" session and retelling of the events of the day.  (Our group was actually 3 groups in one, so it was a great treat every night to hear what the other 2 teams had done, seen, and experienced during the day).  This particular night was spent talking about a young albino boy our construction and children's teams had encountered.  My friend, Michael, seemed to be the one most touched by this young boy and was on a mission to get us all involved with ways to help him.  He retold the experience of sitting out in a large field with literally hundreds and hundreds of children for a sort of makeshift vacation bible school. 

Anyway, it seems that this boy was out in this field, under the direct mid-afternoon sun (about 3:00 p.m.) with no shade, no sunscreen, and no protection for his non-pigmented eyes.  Michael retold the story of this young boy being sunburned, with lips bleeding, and squinting (in obvious discomfort), under the intense sunlight of the afternoon.  He was so touched by the sight of this boy that he returned to our team requesting we donate any chapstick and sunscreen that we could spare.  He appealed to me for some sunglasses and whatever else I thought might be helpful.  Michael's intention was to gather these supplies and head back to the school the following day and give them to this young boy.

As the conversation continued, the pastor that we were working with asked us if we had noticed the lack of albinos in Kenya.  I have to be honest, I hadn't really paid attention, as the disorder is really not something that I come in contact with much, even in the US.  He went on to relate how albinos are an "endangered species" in Kenya because of the mysticism and lore perpetuated by the local witch doctors.  The general belief in Africa is that the tissue of albinos has some sort of mystical and/or healing properties to it.  Therefore these individuals are victims of human trafficking within many part of Africa.

While I was touched by this story, my natural inclination is to not believe everything I hear.  No, everything you read on the Internet is not true--that's why I am intimately familiar with Snopes!  However, on my return to the States, I did research it a bit.  Seems it is a very true story.  You can read about it here, if you are a natural cynic, too. 

So, we gathered all our remaining sunscreen and chapstick.  I dug through the few remaining pairs of sunglasses in an attempt to find one that would fit a 10 year old boy.  And, we placed all the items in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag for delivery the next day.

Fast forward to the next morning:  our teams split into our usual 3 teams and went our merry ways.  Michael was armed with his bag of supplies and the rest of us were moving on into the last lap of a very long and exhausting race.  My team, the eye clinic, boarded our little Matatu bound for our final mud-hut clinic of the trip.  We arrived, set up, and began what would be the most frustrating and personally humbling experience of my trip.

About an hour into our clinic, all 4 batteries housed in my hand-held equipment died.  I had recharged them all night long, yet they somehow just stopped working--all at once!!!

Since my battery powered handles are like my own little personal "lie detectors", this was quite a blow to my entire method of examination.  There's just no getting around the results of a quick and accurate retinoscopy.  It has been my most valuable piece of equipment--both in the States, and here in Kenya.  Simply put, I was dead in the water!

So, here I am in this little mud hut with no running water, no electricity, no juice in my lie detectors, and about 200 people in line anticipating an eye exam. My exams were infinitely harder, but we somehow managed to muddle through (once Dave talked me out of just packing up and moving out for the day). 

Two hours into my now REALLY primitive eye clinic, I look out the doorway of the hut and see this middle-school aged white kid standing in the crowd.  He was moderately sunburned.  His lips were scabbed over, and he had a fairly significant nystagmus that I could see from 30 feet away.  I called Dave over and told him that we had an albino boy in the crowd and that I was curious if it was the same one Michael had been telling us about.  Nobody on our team knew if it was the same boy, but I made the decision that it didn't really matter.  This boy was here, in my line, needing my services, and by the power vested in me we were going to help him, doggonit!

So, I took another stab at my defunct handles.  I realized that I could get about 2-3 seconds of light out of each one before they completely died.  Dave and I formulated a plan.  I had 2 handles and 4 batteries.  I could scope for 3 seconds at a time switching handles and/or batteries in between.  I told Dave, "If I could just get 10 seconds of battery, I think I can come up with a prescription."  So, armed with a plan, our little albino patient perfectly positioned behind the phoropter, I began the most important and quickest retinoscopy of my entire career.  God, in his faithfulness, provided me the 10 seconds I had begged Him for.  My husband was as precise as a NASCAR pit crew swapping out handles, and we managed to get 'er done!

Now, I want all of you to imagine the whole picture:  10 year old albino kid in Kenya being forced to survive in the sun AT THE EQUATOR, without sunscreen, chapstick, or sunglasses.  He and his family living in fear of human trafficking and possible dismemberment and death at every turn.  His vision is already decreased due to the albinism and nystagmus, and now I find that the poor kid is a    -6.00?!? What?  Really, God?  Are you kidding me?  How much does this poor kid have to endure?  I mean, we are talking trials in life that would give Job a run for his money!  (For those of you not familiar with ophthalmic optics--which I would imagine is most of you--the focal point for someone that is a -6.00 is somewhere around 8 inches from your nose.  That means his whole world is only clear from his nose to 8 inches.  Imagine living life where everything that is farther than 8 inches from your nose is blurry).

Armed with the knowledge that this kid needs some serious minus correction, Dave and I start pouring over bags of donated prescription glasses.  Keep in mind, this is our very last day of clinics and we have picked over most of the decent frames and prescriptions that we had brought.  I managed to find a pair of clear glasses that were surprisingly close to his prescription and actually fit his face.  I handed them to Dave.  Dave put the glasses on this kid and handed him the near acuity chart that we had brought with us.  (We had printed some acuity charts in English and Swahili with scripture passages in various sized fonts). 

As I am still digging through bags (trying to find every single pair of glasses I had left in his prescription) I hear this sweet little voice start reading in his British-filled English, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".  As the tears flooded my eyes, I grabbed another pair of glasses (this time a bifocal) and handed them to Dave.  Dave put this pair on him and he read the next passage on the page, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life". 

At this the tears came.  As I sat there in that dark, tiny, mud hut in Africa it hit me:  God sent his son to this earth to live as a man and die as a criminal on a cross in the sun with no sunscreen, water, chapstick, or sunglasses in order that I might experience eternal life with Him in heaven.  He did it for me. He did it for you. He did it for all the crazy people that would eventually denounce him and spit in his face. And, He did it for sweet Blair.  He knew that Blair would be born in unbearable conditions and be forced to live in fear and pain.  However, He also knew that He would be there to help Blair through the pain.  Blair doesn't know any different way of life than what he as always lived.  But, he knows that the God of the universe is there with him.  God has not left Blair's side and I am comforted to know that whatever the outcome, He will be there with Blair every step of the way.

Do I feel guilty for being born into such a cake-walk of a life?  Yes.  Does it make me sad that I don't recognize God's grace and provision more?  Yes.  Am I now forever impacted to stop complaining and give God thanks for the grace that He has bestowed on me?  You betcha!

So, my take-home message to myself is this:  God didn't need me to go to Africa to help Blair or the other 899 people that I came in contact with.  God is the God of the universe.  He doesn't need me to do anything in order for His plan to be fulfilled.  However, I am thankful that God chose me to be a part of His awesome plan.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have been able to walk alongside God in such a spectacular way. 

I will never be the same.  My heart's desire is that someday soon, while I'm still existing on this blue sphere of His, God will allow me to have a front row seat to another amazing concert in this orchestra he calls "life".

I hope you have the opportunity, very soon, to walk alongside God.  I hope you recognize the invitation when you see it.  But, most of all, I hope that you acknowledge, and use, the lines of communication that are always available between you and THE Creator of the universe. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Kenya Has Forever Impacted Me

Kenya has changed me.  I hope, forever.  I was so blessed to be a part of such an amazing and life-changing journey.  I have been struggling with what to write, how to tell the stories, and how to bring to life the amazing and wonderful people I was able to encounter on this journey.  My brain is still processing many of these things, and I want to be able to do the stories justice.  However, for now, I wanted to share a few of the things that I personally learned and the ways that Africa has changed me.  Below are the top 10 things that my mind is processing differently these past few days.

1.  I am not nearly as wasteful as I once was. 

Americans spend millions and millions of dollars on weight loss every year.  So, rather than consume crap and then spend even more money trying to counter the ill effects of said crap, I have always been that person that would clear my cabinets of all the junk that is unhealthy.  I work very hard to keep my kitchen free of highly processed and starchy carbohydrates.  In the past, I would just gather these items up, put them in a trash bag, and haul them all the way down to the dumpster. 

Upon our return from Kenya, there was a lot of this kind of stuff in my house.  I mean, A LOT!!  Normally, it would go straight to the dump.  This time, however, I found myself gradually incorporating the left-overs into our normal meal prep.  When in Kenya, we noticed that not a grain of rice went unconsumed.  The villagers that we encountered were masters of getting the last bit of use and consumption out of everything.  I was very convicted about the amount of stuff that we waste every day in the Anderson household.  Granted, I will not intentionally purchase the "bad stuff" once it is finally gone, but I am finding myself more tolerant of it in my home, and thankful that we have enough food to eat 3 squares a day.

2.  I can pretty much pee anywhere now.

In the remote villages that we visited, there was no running water and no electricity.  The bathroom/lavatory/toilet/hole in the ground/whatever you would like to call it, was typically some sort of mud hut or shack with a hole in the floor.  No toilet paper, no toilet seat, no toilet--period.  When you gotta go, you gotta go.  So, go I went.  It didn't kill me, make me sick, or permanently scar me for life.  What it did do is make me realize that we are so blessed and fortunate in this country to have access to running water on a regular basis.

3.  Americans are vile and dirty people.

If you reference item number 2 above, you will remember that I have now hovered over a community "hole in the ground" to relieve myself.  Did it smell bad?  Yep.  Was it any worse than the restroom at any local Wal Mart right here in the good ol' US of A?  Nope.  While the Kenyan outhouses were pretty much a "no-frills" kind of place, I have to tell you they were significantly cleaner than most public restrooms in the States.  The lack of running water notwithstanding, I actually felt significantly less dirty there than I typically do in the US.  Granted, I did slather my hands with hand sanitizer when I was done, but at least I didn't have to touch a dirty door handle on the restroom door after washing my hands like I do here in America.  (Mostly because, well, there wasn't a door. . . but, details, details. . . )  Anyway, have you ever just observed how many people here don't wash their hands after using the restroom?  Yikes!!  And a lot of these folks prepare your food in restaurants. . . just sayin'.

4.  I am (I hate to admit) a helicopter parent.

As I have established in previous posts, I am a huge micro manger of my kids.  I have spent the last 9 and a half years doing everything for them.  We started this process of "turning loose" of our kids and teaching them independence several months prior to our trip.  You can read that earlier post here.  However, in Kenya, I was blessed to witness children ages 2 and up playing just feet from busy highways.  Kids just 5 or 6 years old would walk several miles to get water--and then carrying said water back to their villages in large, heavy buckets--on their heads, no less!  What?  I micromanage everything my kids do!  But not any more!  Does that mean that I am going to let them play in traffic?  No.  But it does mean that I will relax a bit more when they are outside playing.  I have also found myself less anxious and more tolerant of letting them "fend for themselves" a bit more.  I has been good for them, and very freeing for me.

5.  American children are spoiled and behave very badly.

One of the most dramatic things that I noticed in Kenya was how well-behaved the children were.  We were literally around hundreds of kids at a time--every day.  I encountered exactly 2 children that misbehaved.  One was a kid in the airport on our way out of the country, and I think he and his family weren't even actually Kenyan.  The other was a grade-school-aged kid (maybe 7 or 8) that kept acting up at one of our eye clinics.  He ran into the clinic a number of times, but was very quickly and swiftly disciplined by the nearest Kenyan national. 

It was so impressive to see the "village" approach to parenting in that environment.  Many children there are orphaned, or have only one parent.  The entire culture revolves around the community taking responsibility for the training and rearing of children.  All I could think was, "can you imagine the irate parents and number of lawsuits that would occur in the US if we did this?"  I have to admit, though, after witnessing their methods of parenting children, American families could learn a lot from them!

6.  The Kenyan people prioritize technology in a very interesting way.

We were in extremely remote areas of Kenya on this trip.  No running water, no electricity, and very few cars.  The majority of the locals walk everywhere they go.  If they have a long distance to travel, they will hire a motorcycle or bus to take them.  However, it seems as if every person in the country has a cell phone!  Weirdest thing:  I would be right in the middle of an eye exam, my patient would be sitting in the little mud hut with no shoes on, and their cell phone would ring!

I did inquire as to how these folks would charge their cell phones (as they had no access to electricity).  I was told that there is an entire industry in Kenya that revolves around cell phone charging stations.  Yep, they will actually pay someone in town to charge their cell phones!  Crazy!  Personally, I would rather have running water over a cell phone, but to each his own.  I often dream of what it would be like to NOT be saddled to my cell phone.  It was interesting to see how another culture so highly values this mode of communication.

7.  Jet lag is brutal!

It has been 6 days since my return to US soil.  Yesterday was the first day that I did not have to utilize caffeine to remain vertical after 2:00 p.m.  Everybody told me that the first 5 days would be rough, but I was unsure about what to expect.  I was pleased to find that I functioned remarkably well (even on day one) early in the day.  2:00 was a whole 'nother story though!  I am really thankful for Benadryl and melatonin!

8.  Dave and I have awesome friends!

Dave and I have always known that our friends are significantly better-than-average people.  Since this trip, we have confirmed that these relationships are indeed great.  So many people have encouraged us, prayed for us, and been excited for us along this journey.  We have been overwhelmed by the interest and outpouring of questions from our good friends.  It has been really fun getting to share this experience with all of these awesome people.

9.  I have the coolest job on the planet.

I know, a lot of you think my job must be completely boring--"which is better one or two"?  After approximately 900 exams in mud huts I was excited and raring to go Monday morning when I returned back to my nice, clean, fancy-schmancy private practice here in Texas.  I have never been more energized and excited about what I do for a living.  It is my calling, really.  I know, what I do must seem really boring to a lot of you.  However, I think it is the best thing in the world to spend 20 minutes eyeball to eyeball with a person and at the end realize that what I do makes a difference in people's lives.  I absolutely LOVE it!

10.  My kids are funny, sweet, smart, and amazing little people!

Everyone kept asking me, while we were in Kenya, if I missed my kids yet.  I can honestly say that for the first 12 days I did not. 

What?. . . .  

Gasp!. . . .

I think it must have been a God thing--keeping me on task, not letting me get distracted, and providing some much-needed time away.  During the 48 hour trek home, however, I did find myself getting strangely excited about being back with my children. 

I'm sure some of you are horrified at the notion that a mother can be without her children by her side for even one day.  When I say it out loud, I agree that I sound a little cold-hearted.  However, I never (not even for one second) doubted their safety.  In fact, Grandma and Grandpa pretty frequently afford my children more adequate and yes, even better supervision than even Dave and I do.  I knew that they were having a blast, were being safely and lovingly cared for, and were more than likely not really missing us either.  (I was right about all of those things, by the way!)

What I found, on my return, was that I was much more relaxed and patient with my kids.  I had received some much-needed perspective on life in general, and have been re-energized with my parenting as well.  Life moved at an entirely different pace in Kenya than I am used to.  It was good for me to spend some time re-prioritizing what is important in life. 

What I found is that I am even more excited about the years of parenting that I still have left.  I am excited to someday being able to share experiences like this with my kids beside me.  I look forward to the day when they can witness, first-hand, a different culture and a different way of life than what they have in Texas.  In fact, Dave and I have begun the dialogue that includes them joining us in the future on a trip to Africa!  It is all very exciting for us!

So, there you have it:  my top 10 list of things that I learned while in Kenya.  I hope you enjoyed them and I hope to find the words in the next few weeks to share with you more of the life-changing encounters that we had.

Monday, January 7, 2013


In the medical field, a designation of 20/20 is considered "perfect vision". Now, there are some that can see "better than perfect" at 20/15, and somewhere around 10% of the human population can physiologically achieve even 20/10 vision. As an Optometrist, my goal with every patient is 20/20, or what the medical community considers "perfect vision".

I had a very wise instructor in Optometry School teach me that there is a very big difference between "20/20" and something that he called "20/Happy".  The gist of his lesson was that there are some people whom you can never please. They are 20/15, but want to be 20/10. There are also others that are 20/50 and pleased as they can be with how they see. These are the people that he called "20/Happy".

Today was a very good day in Kenya. I was blessed to witness a lot of 20/Happy. Every day that we have been here I have encountered dozens of people with vision so bad that they literally can only see light and some movement. The causes for their vision loss vary--severe cataracts, retinal detachments, eye trauma, and end-stage glaucoma. All of these have been so sad for me to witness. Yes, I deal with this kind of thing back in The States, too--just not dozens and dozens of them all in one day.

I had one little 80 year old man today come in unable to see anything far away. We were able to find him some glasses that helped him to see approximately 20/80.  They were a bright red swanky women's frame, and I'm tellin' you, he was lookin' fly on his way out of our little dirt-floored mud hut. His head was held high. He had the biggest grin on his face.  His chest was puffed out.  He was the king of the world. . . . . and 20/happy!

The one that nearly brought me to tears though, was the 75 year old little woman who came in with the assistance of her nephew.  Unable to get any kind of measurable vision, I just punted and reverted back to some of my old-school low vision lessons. I outfitted her with some glasses that I hoped would provide any kind of vision whatsoever. As soon as I put them on her face, she turned to look at her nephew (who was helping with the very complicated translation--English to Swahili and then Swahili to some other language I can't even pronounce).  She got the biggest smile on her face, tears in her eyes, and with a choked and raspy voice said (in whatever crazy language it was) that she could see her nephew's face for the first time in years!

THAT, my friends, is 20/happy!!!!!

We have 2 more days of eye clinics. I look forward to more opportunities to help people achieve their 20/happy. I am blessed to be a part of such a wonderful endeavor.

I have been constantly reminded on this trip that everything is relative. My hope is that I will be constantly reminded of what is really important in this world and to always view life through 20/happy eyes.

May you experience a 20/happy kind of day!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The "One"

We just finished our first full day of work. According to my team members, I examined 109 people today! Wow! I'm not really even sure how that is humanly possible. It was hard. It was frustrating. Of those 109, exactly 4 spoke English. So, 105 of these exams were done via an interpreter.

As a side note, Patricia, my interpreter was unbelievable! She was kind, calm, precise with her directions and extremely patient with all of our sweet patients. She was like the anti-Vanessa! We made an excellent team.

Our team was able to help some, and not help others. We turned away many at the end, which was very hard for me to do. I ended the day in tears as the weight of it all hit me like a ton of bricks.

Now back in my room, rehydrated with a full meal of grilled tilapia, rice, cabbage and a dessert that was 10 parts sugar and 1 part mixed fresh fruit in my belly, I am feeling better (I had a strip of beef jerky and a handful of almonds sometime mid-afternoon at the insistence of my awesome--and strangely bossy--husband). My brain is once again firing on all cylinders and I have had time to reflect on a few of the things I saw today.

I was reminded, very early in the day, that God has both a purpose AND a sense of humor. In order to explain how He revealed both of these, you will need some back-story.

A little over a month ago, I noticed my son had this weird lesion on his head. I was not too concerned, since we have battled psoriasis off and on with him since he was very young. I started the normal psoriasis treatments and after several weeks came to the realization that they were not working this time around. So, I finally took him to our pediatrician to get a second set of eyes on the thing.

Long story short, the first round of meds that were prescribed did not work. In fact, just a couple of days before Christmas I noticed a small patch of what looked like eczema on my neck. By Christmas, it was evident it was not eczema, but ringworm! What? How the heck did I get ringworm?!? Oh, it's from my son's head! It's right in the spot where he nuzzles in when he gives me those big heart-wrenching hugs of his!

So, now armed with a better idea of what the junk on his head was, we headed back to the doctor for a more accurate and thorough history of the condition. The result? A months worth of medication for my son, and a complete set of labs to insure they don't have long-term side effects for him and his little nine year old liver. All this just 4 days before leaving for Kenya! Really God? You, the omnipotent and omnicient creator of the universe couldn't see fit to have a little better timing with this kind of inconvenience? Sheesh!

So, I know some of you are wondering what in the world does this have to do with Kenya and our first day of eye clinics? I will tell you: I have been in practice for 16 years and have never seen ringworm on a single patient in my life! Because of this little incident with my son, I became intimately familiar with the disease appearance and treatment. Well, wouldn't you know, 3 patients in, I have this little 4 year old boy sitting there looking all cute. His mom was standing next to him expressing concern over what this strange growth was on his lower eyelid and cheek. Well, of course, it was a ringworm!! Seriously, what are the odds? (Apparently, not very big, as ringworm seems to be a big problem here). However, the odds of me actually knowing what it was approximately a second and a half after laying eyes on it were extremely enormous!

It was a relatively quick conversation with the mother (through my awesome interpreter) and this little guy was on his way to being fungus free!

So, what I viewed as God having bad timing was just a reminder to me that while His timing is always perfect it is also pertinent, and profound.

I am still trying my best to live a hakuna matata life, while also keeping my sense of humor. I saw things today that frustrated me (mostly because they would be so easy to remedy in the US, but impossible to fix here). I was also able to witness smiles of joy and elation as people were able to see again. There was good with the bad.

Before coming on this trip, my friend Marci encouraged me to "focus on the one". While this little 4 year old boy was only with me for about 5 minutes, today he was my "one". The one that I was able to really help. The one that could be easily helped--with the right diagnosis and treatment. And the one that I will remember for a lifetime. My great reminder that even when things don't seem to be going well, or the timing is inconvenient, God ultimately has a purpose.

So, I am still "looking around", trying very hard to "breathe" and am comforted to know that whatever the circumstances, God always has plan and a purpose. I hope today you are able to recognize your "one" and know that God is totally in control--whether it's convenient for you, or not.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hakuna Matata

I am a planner. A big time planner. I schedule every minute of every day, and I am rarely late or behind. It also drives me crazy to be idle. In the spirit of my New Year's Resolution, I have been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been for me to just breathe, and take everything in. It is now the end of our first full day in Kenya. We landed last night--after 25 hours of travel time, spent an hour at the airport getting Visa's and locating all 24 of our bags (which miraculously all arrived!), and then another hour driving to our destination for the night.

Today we spent the day acclimating to the 9 hour time zone difference, gathering supplies, and doing a lot of waiting. I mean A LOT of waiting. Apparently, in Kenya, the locals really like to celebrate Christmas and New Years Day. I saw one sign that said, "Our shop will reopen on February 1st." Wow! Really? February 1st?

Anyway, while we were waiting for some very important supplies, it was nice to just sit and take in the local culture and surroundings. There was no stress, no need to be anywhere, no deadlines, and best of all, no internet! I literally spent an hour watching a Kenyan man "mow" a small patch of grass with some sort of primitive hoe that looked more like a golf putter, than anything else. It was surprisingly relaxing for this "make the most of every moment" type A girl from Texas!

In the past 36 hours, alone, I have eaten lamb stew filled with bone shards (well, I tried to eat it, but finally stopped when I decided a cracked tooth might hinder the rest of the trip). I have made the mistake of drinking a big 'ol glass of local water (ironically, so I could wash down the anti-malarial meds). I was nailed square in the forehead by a piece of plastic from the shower head that shot off like a bullet when I turned the shower on this morning. And that doesn't even take into account the shock I received from the exposed electrical wires on top of the small instant-heat shower head when I tried to reattach, said plastic projectile. So, you can see it has been quite a series of interesting events.

Kenyan's have a popular Swahili phrase that really encompasses my state of mind right now. For those of you with children, you will probably recognize the phrase from the movie "The Lion King". Hakuna Matata. Loosely translated to English it means "no worries".

I have been living the hakuna matata life now for 3 days. I have to tell you, it is awesome! Yep, even the almost-electrocution in the shower this morning was just a small blip on my radar, and now just fodder for a funny story I will get to tell for the rest of my life.

Before we left Amarillo, other people were stressing for me--it's supposed to snow on New Year's Eve, what if your flight gets cancelled? What if your equipment doesn't make it? What if you get eaten by lions? What if, what if, what if?

I'll just tell you, in my mind, I have been kind of strangely excited about the "what if's" (well, maybe not the getting eaten by a lion part). What if our plans change? What if God has something even cooler than examining thousands of eyes? What if me being obedient has the potential to forever impact someone's life? What if I meet someone that has an eternal impact on my life? Cool. I say, bring it on, what if!!

I have no idea what the next 10 days has in store for me or our team. What I do know is that I serve a very big God. I mean, this is the dude that created the entire universe in 6 days! He's also the same dude that took the 7th day to chill. I'm pretty sure God always lives the hakuna matata life. Of course, He has that whole omnicient thing going for Him, but I'm fairly certain that He has "no worries".

I'm excited for what lies ahead, encouraged by what the past 3 days have revealed, and looking forward to reacting with laughter at the ever-changing course of events in life.

Now I am off in an attempt to locate a wifi connection so that those of you who are interested, may read about our fun adventures. Hakuna matata, everyone. If you are reading this, then all went well. If not, no worries!