Saturday, January 30, 2010

Reflections on a Solar Eclipse and Prayers for Joshua

Reflections on a Solar Eclipse

Over one year ago when we first announced our intentions to serve in Kenya, my former partner, Dr. Jerry Chase, promptly advised us that there would be an annular solar eclipse in our area on January 15, 2010. We are glad that he gave us that “heads up” to fully appreciate it. On Jerry’s advice we had ordered 30 cardboard “Solar eclipse shades” a year ago and thankfully we were able to find them amongst the supplies we had shipped here. It was great to use and share the special shades with others on the day of the eclipse. Some of the Missionary Kids also used unexposed x-ray film to view the eclipse. I am not the “Eclipsologist” that Jerry is, but basically a solar eclipse is seen when the moon is exactly between a spot on the earth and the sun. During an annular solar eclipse the moon does not completely block out all of the light from the sun even though the moon is fully between the earth and the sun.

We were especially grateful that it was a SUNNY morning on January 15th, because that day was in the middle of 3 weeks straight with at least some significant rain every day and otherwise very cloudy skies. (There was rain the night before and also during the afternoon after the eclipse.) We never saw the moon at sunrise, because the sunrise was hidden behind hills, but slowly in mid-morning we experienced some eerie changes as the moon passed between the sun and us. The bright sunlight and warmth changed to a vague sense of dusk, “but the shadows were in the wrong places.” With the annular eclipse there still was a complete ring of light (like a donut) shining around the moon. We actually noticed a significant drop in temperature more than the change in sunlight. Crickets and birds changed their sounds. During the eclipse we could follow with our special shades as the shadow of the moon slowly proceeded across the sun from a crescent shape to a donut to a crescent shape again and then the full light of the sun returned. It was amazing to see the shadows through pinholes or the holes in Alene’s crocheted shawl cast similar changing shadows. Many of the folks around the hospital were completely unaware that the eclipse was occurring, but were delighted to have a chance to look through the special solar eclipse shades to see it for themselves. Rather promptly, heat returned as the full sunlight returned.

We couldn’t help reflecting on Jesus’ light to this world as we experienced the eclipse. Jesus came into the world and was “the true light that gives light to every man.” (John 1:9) As followers of Jesus Christ we are reminded: “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men.” (Matthew 5:14-16) Even a little light can show the way. Even when the moon appeared to cover 90% of the sun’s surface there still was ample light to see our way, but it wasn’t totally clear to people why the lighting was a bit different. We (with our special shades) were very excited to share the experience and explanation for what was happening. We are thankful for those in our lives who have shared with us and enabled us to see the Good News of Christ’s coming more clearly. May we continually share our enthusiasm and tools, such as wisdom from the Bible, to help others clearly see what a gift there is in Jesus and what life His light can bring for all of us. We recognized that if there were no sunlight at all, this earth would be very cold and there would be no life whatsoever. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gives true life. With the annular eclipse we saw that even major obstacles may come into our lives and seem to get between God and us, but God’s power is not diminished and He will overcome any obstacle. May each of us see Jesus’ light and let our light shine brightly for others.

When is the next solar eclipse here in Kenya? We better ask Jerry, but as I checked the NASA website it appears that the next “Hybrid Solar Eclipse” will be here on November 3, 2013. (We’ll need to ask Jerry what a hybrid solar eclipse is!)

We have a few photos on the web link:

The Tenwek group photo and the solar eclipse sequence is kindly courtesy of Jeff Stanfield.

Random Observations …. as Questions:

*How many shops did it take for us to buy an axe in Bomet, Kenya?

The 1st shop - to buy the axe head, a 2nd shop - to buy wood for the axe handle, a 3rd shop – for a carpenter to assemble the axe, and finally a 4th shop – to sharpen the axe!

*Does time really move faster south of the equator?

We are not sure, but this past month has certainly zipped by quickly as we conclude our final month of Swahili language training. We appreciate your prayers as we transition into our ministry services in February.

Prayers for Joshua.

We are continually amazed at how the Lord works! While Alene and I were in Swahili class one day in November our language teacher’s sister, Jane, stopped by for a brief visit. She had been in a distant village and had taken a cellphone photo of a tumor on a toddler’s wrist. I looked at it and advised an orthopedic surgery evaluation, and then sent the photo by email to Dr. Dan Galat , an orthopedic surgeon, who agreed to see the patient at Tenwek Hospital. It took the family some weeks to gather up funds for the lengthy bus trip, but Mama and 1 ½ year old Joshua arrived on Wednesday, January 27th, and the sizeable tumor was removed on Thursday. Our language teacher (Daniel), Alene, Dr. Galat, and I were all able to pray with Joshua and his mother before the surgery and on the following day. Joshua was a happy and delightful child before and after his operation. (Check our photo link.) He and his mother returned to their village the day after the surgery.

Please share in our continued prayers for complete healing for Joshua and a good report on the tissue findings.

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