Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Ate (Pronounced: Ah-Tay)

Five AM came a bit earlier than expected. The rust in my joints creaked as I eased out of bed, tied up my hair, and sullenly glared at the puffy-eyed woman in the mirror.

I hate early morning flights.

An hour and three cups of coffee later, we were skirting through Nairobi’s center heading for the airport. My R&R was over; it was time to go home.

Suitcases in hand, I pushed through the small screening room, only to wait some more with a dozen other early travelers outside the small terminal.

The whine of the small jet engines fill my ears as the metallic stench of fuel floated past. Piles of luggage to my right and a steady stream of would-be travelers to my left, I hedged toward a wall to wait out from under foot.

Then I heard my name and someone grabbed my arm.

Turning to look on a face wildly out of place, I squeal like a teeny-bopper from Beverly Hills and begin to bounce.

Yes. I was instantly morphed into the spastic teenager I made fun of in school. But I couldn’t help it; I was overcome with joy and surprise.

It was Elai!

Elai had been one of my midwifery teachers at Newlife School of Midwifery in the Philippines. She embodied so much of what I aspired to be.         --Patient. Loving. Skilled. Godly. Kind. Gentle. Wise.

I had heard she was now working in Northern Sudan; so seeing her in Kenya didn’t quite fit.

What in the world?

We laughed and hugged each other at the unexpected joy of bumping into a friend so far from ‘home’, and she explained that the organization she works for had temporarily placed her in the South. 

Our time was short but sweet as we swapped stories of our respective work then I was pulled away. My flight was ready.

I hugged her and walked away thinking “When will I hug her next, Lord?”

I love these ‘God appointments’; they are like little kisses from heaven.

And all I can say is Southern Sudan is blessed to have her.

I love you dear Elai! I hope you love Southern Sudan as much as I do!

By the way in the Philippines, ATE (Ah-Tay) means older sister. Even though she is barely a few months older than I am, she is still my Ate and always will be.