He looked down at the ground as he listened, but I watched his eyes and I knew the moment he heard it.
I had planned to head to the bush to recheck some goats and treat a few others that we had not had a chance to see the last time we went to this area. I was hoping this would be a quick trip out and back. I was already worn out from a few busy days that preceded this and still had work to do before our team meeting started the next day.
When we arrived in the bush, I received the sad news that the goat they had requested I come treat had already died. I expressed my sympathy and even though I knew there was no way I could have come out sooner, it still hurt me to know that I did not get a chance to examine or treat the goat and I hoped it had not suffered.
Then they brought one other goat for me to check. Since it was just one goat it was a chance to slow down and do some review and teaching with my helpers. Over the past year I have been working on seeking God in every situation and looking for what he wants me to learn or see in that moment. This time I realized I could step back and see if what I had been teaching was getting through. So I told my helpers they could measure the goat (to help estimate weight) and then I would start trimming its hooves, while they calculated doses of the medications we needed to give.
As we gathered our supplies to leave, another man arrived and asked if we could go to his place and look at his sick goats. We were already out here and I knew it would be a week or more before I returned again to this area. I also felt the sadness of the other goats death and wanted to do all we could to help. He told me his place was "close" and assured us he was really just the neighbor of my helper. At this point I knew there was a bit of walking in my future. We drove as far as we could, then left the truck and got out to walk carrying our supplies. It may have only been a 10-15 minute walk, but in the sand and heat, dodging thorn bushes and carrying supplies, it seemed much longer.
When we arrived another older man came out to greet us and the kids started gathering the goats. We began by examining and measuring them, then made a treatment plan, starting with the healthier ones first. As we continued the treatments I began to get more and more tired. At this point I only had one helper with me, because the other was not able to continue on with us.
We examined and treated 12 goats, then they brought out 2 sheep. They looked good. I almost said these sheep are fine, we are done. However, I paused, took a breath, and decided we could at least deworm them instead of doing nothing. It did not take long and at that point although I was still very tired, I thought of the first man of the day and how he had the chance to listen to a heart beat for the first time in his life.
I asked these men if they had ever heard a heart beat. They had not either, so just as I had done earlier I listened and positioned the stethoscope, then passed the ear pieces to the first man.
He looked down at the ground as he listened, but I watched his eyes and I knew the moment he heard it. I had begun to think I needed to reposition the bell because he was concentrating so hard and obviously not hearing it. Then his eyes lit up and a huge smile crossed his face. The joy he was feeling was evident to all around him.
At that moment I was no longer thinking about how tired I was or how much work I needed to do. I was amazed at his joy for something that I take for granted every time I hold my stethoscope and listen to a heart. I stayed still while he listened and made noises to imitate the heart beat. I allowed the second man to listen also. He was even more excited.
Then I looked at the mess of supplies we had that needed to be repacked. I realized we walked so far that I could not even see the truck. My tiredness hit me again, but I knew we needed to pray. Prayer is a very big part of everything I do here and I was not leaving without praying. I like to pray and also have someone else there pray after me. I had my helper ask if one of the men would pray. They discussed this, then my helper told me that neither of them knew how to pray.
At this moment I knew God's purpose for us being there. This was the true teaching that we were there to do that today. So I prayed as I usually do in English, then spoke slower and line by line had my helper translate each into Turkana. When I was done I explained that prayer is really just talking to God and we can do that as a group or by ourselves. God loves it when we do it every day. We should thank him and appreciate all he has done for us. We may ask for help for ourselves and for others. We praise and worship him through our prayers. Prayers may be long and eloquent, or short and simple. God hears all our prayers and does not judge one prayer better or more worthy than the others.
As I began to repack the supplies, I prayed again, but this time silently. I prayed for the sheep and goats we had treated there. I thanked God for providing the medications we used and I asked Him to help heal the goats and that the medicine would help and not cause harm. I prayed for these men to be blessed and thanked God for allowing us to meet with them that day and spend time with them. I prayed for them to desire to talk to God again and be open to learning more about prayer so that they could teach others.
That was a busy, hot, tiring day, but I will always remember it as a good day with special moments.
Father God Thank you so much for a day with so many lessons for me and for those around me. Thank you for allowing me to pause and be present in the special moments of that day.
Please help me to continue to look for moments like these and always seek your presence there. AMEN