Wednesday, September 14, 2011


As many of you know, I'm a rather emotional person. I laugh--and cry--very easily. I feel things deeply and I think this is difficult for others to understand and they sometimes misinterpret what shows on the outside of me.

Recently I cried at the clinic over the suffering of a boy with tetanus. I removed myself from the presence of the patient and family, but some of the missionaries, Kenyan staff and CHWs saw me. Later, I'm sure the patient's family could see the evidence of my tears on my face when I resumed care of him.

A few days later, one of the Kenyans on our team told me she thinks I should never let the patients, their families or our staff see me crying as it might be construed as a lack of faith in God. While I appreciate her input and her attempt to help me understand her culture--I don't completely agree with her.

I need to give this a lot of thought. Would you like to weigh in? I'm particularly interested in your thoughts if you are African or have lived in Africa for some time.


At 12:05 AM , Blogger Jill Lauren Schilb said...

Oh, Sheila! What a tough situation! Remember that Jesus was so compassionate that HE cried! You are in a place where suffering is seen all the time and the Kenyans are probably more calloused to it. I think crying shows your deep compassion for these people, it's part of the reason you're serving there. Don't ever lose that. Maybe try to talk with the Kenyan teammate about how to express it without it being seen as lack of faith.

At 7:39 AM , Blogger Stephanie Williams said...

I like Jill's suggestions. But I'd add a few thoughts too.
I cry all the time. I too am American and emotional. Ha! I hide it when I can but sometimes, I just let it flow. Why?
Because they know I'm different. My skin, my hair, my words, ... then why not my attitude toward suffering.
Do keep in mind that for Kenyans (I'm told and have witnessed), people do not cry unless they are scared. So when you cry in front of a patient, you might be displaying love and compassion, but they are seeing fear and confusion. Knowing this tidbit makes your Kenyan's comment relevant. However, I cry with those who mourn now and not before. For the people I work with will not cry until the person is dead, then they will wail and throw themselves on the floor. To them, if their doctor cries early, then they lose all hope. Just a few thoughts. Hope they help. Blessings on you in this work! ~SW


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