Small Mercies

October 29, 2014 • Kenya
Small Mercies

A doctor reflects on how God worked in the details of her move to Kenya

Arianna Shirk is a World Medical Mission doctor sent by Samaritan’s Purse through the Post-Residency Program to serve at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya.

In the chaos of a move to another continent, we’ve seen small mercies …

… in the last wedding that we photographed being full of laughter and golden light, a perfect farewell to the career that has carried us for 10 years.

Small Mercies

On their second day in Kenya, Madeline and Annabelle Shirk started school.

… in a friend willing to fly to Baltimore to ease the exhaustion of our last 20 hour drive before our flight and reminding us of the love and care that surrounds us.

… in surprise visits from busy friends to send us on our way and in hugs that brought laughter and warmth during the long hours on a plane that followed.

… in each of our bags weighing exactly 49 pounds when we checked in at the airport.

… in the girls’ walls painted the perfect shade of lavender in our new house to match the new blankets I brought from the States for their beds.

… in the only large scrap in a bag of fabric being purple and enough to cover the bulletin board in their room.

… in a family moving from Nairobi 2 weeks ago and leaving the exact four beds we needed for our new home in Kijabe and in that they fit the rooms like they were made for us.

Small Mercies

The Shirks’ daughters dressed up for a party in Kijabe less than a week after arriving. They are already adjusting to their new life.

… in friends we met 5 years ago for a photo-shoot welcoming us and guiding us throughout the first overwhelming shopping experience—sacrificing precious hours to give us peace of mind and saying, “Who knew then that we would get to do life together?”

… in the only large white refrigerator at the Nakumatt being the perfect size for the space in our new kitchen.

… in the frame for the white board left in our home being the perfect width to stretch the canvas brought from home to hang in our new living room.

… in the hospital retreat being only days after we landed so I was able see the hospital in full, its structure and vision, and the wisdom and kindness that will surround me.

… in our curtains, carefully packed from home, being the perfect size for our windows despite my lack of foresight to measure.

Small Mercies

The Shirks’ youngest daughter, Annabelle, celebrated her first birthday in Kenya soon after arriving.

… in the bag of jumbo marshmallows left on the upstairs shelf that we ate while we unpacked.

… in meal after meal to welcome us and in homemade cinnamon rolls and zucchini bread to allow us to focus on settling and not on food.

… in our house being one of few that gets unlimited Internet so we can upload and download pictures with ease.

… in the girls sleeping through the night perfectly in our move and seeming unfazed by jetlag so they could start school our second day in Kenya.

… in the ancient blinds we found in the back of our kitchen cabinet and in the tapestry needle I threw in our bag at the last minute to restring them so we have perfect light and privacy for our room.

Small Mercies

Through a letter she wrote 27 years ago, Arianna Shirk sees that God had plans for her future long before they were fulfilled.

… in a birthday party when we had been here less than a week so my girls feel a part of this world here and in scraps of ribbon and a silver beaded belt to make party appropriate costumes at the last minute.

… in birthday hats and signs and balloons for Belle when I had not even figured out on which day her birthday would fall.

… in a letter written 27 years ago to my mom as a second grade assignment. We were told to write 20 years in the future from wherever we were. I was a few years off, but after we bought our plane tickets, my mom pointed out the date at the top. It was September 24, the day we arrived in Kijabe.

In a stilted 7-year-old hand, only learning to write, I told her, “I got a new job today … I have a white uniform and special gloves … I’m heading for Africa. I figure it’s best. Well, I have to go now. Bye. Love, Arianna”

There have been so many simple mercies and reassurance that in all the goodbyes and hellos, the confusion and transition, it’s all as it was planned to be.

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Post-Residency Program The World Medical Mission Post-Residency Program is a fully funded two-year program for Christian physicians and their families who have been called to medical missions. Following their residency, doctors are placed at a mission hospital to serve within their specialty alongside career medical missionaries. We provide logistical and financial support to these young men and women as they treat patients and share the love of Jesus Christ.

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