Saturday, August 16, 2014

heart reflection part 4 - one year later

heart reflection part 3 which includes the links for 1 & 2 as well.

Last week I was encouraged by another book I was reading to read Zephaniah. I have to admit when I sit down to do my devotions I don't always choose an Old Testament book. I feel like I can relate a lot better and somehow think Jesus will speak clearer through the New Testament books. We are on this side of the cross anyway. But Jesus spoke loud and clear through Zephaniah and I've still been mediating over these scriptures and thoughts God gave me ever since.

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. The Lord has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited. -Zephaniah 1:7

*God spoke when I went to my room, closed the door and was silent. No music, no people, nothing. Just my Sovereign Lord, I and silence.
*has prepared and has consecrated...past tense. Even though this was written before Jesus even entered into a human body the preparations and consecrating was already done. He is prepared in heaven for us and we are consecrated already!

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. -Zephaniah 3:17

*My God takes delight in me, a sinful human who deserves constant reprimand and discipline. Delight, he enjoys me, he is happy when we are together. Our great God delights in me!
*1:7 said be silent, 3:17 says he will quiet you. God is the one doing the action now. Once I find the quiet location God does the quieting of my heart, soul and mind.
*I imagine a little baby wrapped in a blanket in the arms of his dad or a young child snuggled in dad's lap while he sings over him. But this is so much greater, that our Lord would rejoice over us.

So with these awesome thoughts in my heart, the room was silent, my heart, soul and mind were in the presence of Jesus ready to lay everything at His feet. So I started asking questions...

- How are us?
- How is my heart?
- What plans do you have?
- What is your purpose for today? for the rest of my time in the village? for this life?

And then God spoke, that small still voice that said It's not about what you can do for me it's about our relationship.

Wait. If you are reminding it's about our relationship, then obvious we are not okay because that is not what I'm focusing on. And then another thought. I have been stressing to my Kenyan friends the difference between religion and relationship and how when events happen in our life we see whether we have a religion (that will fail us) or a relationship (that will sustain us). And now my relationship is not okay? That's like trying to give marriage advice and your not married or your marriage is falling apart. It just doesn't work.

He continues...the outflow of our relationship is service. Going back (to the village) and finding more to-do's is not my purpose for you, go back and find more time alone with me.

ouch! About 6 weeks ago when my attitude changed, my energy level drastically fell and my heart consistently was not okay. I described my daily amount of giving first as a jug. A jug full of water is filled during the morning when I would open my Bible and read.  Maybe even a few songs would be sung, the daily devotion would be read and a great bible study would take place with Ellie all before 8am. Those were good days.

But soon I realized that I wasn't filling up to a jug-size portion anymore. I listened to music, read the devotion but my Bible sat there on the corner of the table. I was now only glass.

Soon music faded and I was lucky to get something from Ellie, pray together and maybe catch the devotion before darting out the door because I was late for school, didn't matter that I was late for my time with Jesus. ouch! Now I was a cup.

The few days before I left for Nairobi for some time away, I shamefully admitted I'm only a tablespoon. I might have opened my bible, I might have listened to a song, I might have even prayed but my heart was so far that nothing was penetrating and therefore I had absolutely nothing to give. I was tired, worn out and had a horribly bad attitude.

Definitely need a lot more than a tablespoon when trying to survive in general, let alone in a culture and life that is not what you grew up in.

One year. one whole year has passed and I've lived the entire thing in another culture. and then take that one culture and split it between two places. Nairobi and the village are very different! It's definitely been a challenging year and has stretched me a lot, and it's been a challenging last month to say the least and yet here I sit and God is still speaking. Even though my relationship with Him has suffered, he still desires me, stills my heart, soul and mind and rejoices over me with singing as long as I find a quiet place to be with him to feel it. 

Easier said than done in the village but it is possible. Actually the first 8-9 months I would say I succeeded with finding a quiet space. I'm not sure exactly what happened. Maybe I became too comfortable? Maybe I thought I had figured it all out and could do it in my own strength? Maybe it was a slow fade and I didn't realize what was happening? Whatever it was it happened. Now the cool part... God continued to speak...

imagine a waterfall. the top of the waterfall (just like the jug, glass, cup and tablespoon) must be filled in order to spill over. In order for your waterfall to be full enough at the top of the mountain to overflow you must find a quiet place where we (God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit) can meet  with you, where you can mediate on the sacrifice, you will feel delighted over, you will be filled up with love and we can rejoice over you with singing.

once that portion is full it can begin to spill over. the water now represents the fruit of the spirit that come out of that quiet place and time. love. joy. peace. patience. kindness. goodness. self-control. these fruits don't flow out of someone who tries on their own and to survive in another culture you have to have all of them! Missionary's job is to give away these fruits right so that unbelievers see Jesus?

once there is enough spill over the land below becomes satisfied and the water now represents everything new. new life. new time. new service. new heart. new peace. new purpose. everything is made new, the ground becomes a place where trees, plants, and flowers can grow and blossom. Life in animals can survive. 
I am not an artist, but this is the image I had in my head and the best I could do to get it on paper. The words you can barely read are the ones in bold above. 
My relationship with Jesus has potential to be a beautiful waterfall with enough water that flowers could grow and fish could make their home in the lake below. If I represent this waterfall, then others could see their reflection in the water and see cleansing because Jesus can make them new from the presence of Himself (the whole reason I'm here, for people to meet Jesus!). Children could swim and laugh together. Adults could enjoy the serenity of the sounds and sights that take place. My soul, my heart and my mind has potential to be this beautiful destination.

With this beautiful picture and a few days to rest, reflect and recover I'm excited to go back as an overflowing waterfall. And if the only thing I have to do is find a quiet place and God will do the rest of the work, I think this next year will be even more fruitful and fun in my small village that I get to call home here in Kenya. My purpose, life, and service all flow out of my relationship with Jesus instead of trying to do so in my own strength and might. May God get all the glory for not just sustaining but even helping me to succeed in what He has for us together. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Twakukumbuka - We will remember

It has taken me multiple attempts to write this blog. I couldn't seem to do her justice without just speaking directly to her. Then I remembered I had wrote her letters in my journal the day after I heard of her passing as well as the day we laid her body in the ground. This blog therefore consists of three journal entries, all letters to her, straight from my heart, and hopefully will give you a little window into the beautiful creation of Mama Clemens and the huge impact she has had on my life.
Mama Clemens and I
Dear Mama Clemens,

Sometime just before 10pm last night you left this world and entered into the presence of Jesus. I know you are rejoicing like a Giriama singing and dancing just like you did when you were here. However, I still can’t believe you are gone. It hasn’t hit me yet that I won’t get to greet you walking by your house or see you in the morning bringing us milk. You made my first year in the village a very special time. You were so patient with me as I struggled to find each word in Kiswahili. You selflessly gave me plenty of soda so we could fellowship together. You were always encouraging me to join you to practice the dances for choir and I loved that you danced to your own beat (even though it made it more challenging for me!).

You, Mama Clemens, impacted the lives of so many people and we miss you terrible. My heart is broken that I won’t see your smiling face or joyful voice anymore. I know the tears are only for a time and you wouldn’t want us to sit around mourning forever but this place will never be the same without you. One day we will get to dance side by side again in the presence of our Savior. Oh what a day that will be!

Me, Mama Clemens and my Kenyan Mama on my first day in the village! August 2013
Mama Clemens,

Today we laid your body in the ground after celebrating the beautiful person God molded you to be. It was a joyous celebration. Our Mama did a great job talking about who you were as a person as well as a member of our church. Pastor gave a message on the hope we have. Your body looked beautiful, but I have to admit it was obvious you weren’t there. I caught a glimpse of the beautiful white wedding dress you were wearing which reminded me that you are now united in the most beautiful union with Jesus. As painful as my heart hurt today, it broke even harder watching the older girls who had grown up with you mourn your absence. Specifically E breaking down after the viewing and P not being able to stop crying for over 20 minutes once everything had finished.

There was an opportunity for your family to present a song and the words were beautiful and one of your cousin looked so much like you but the hardest part was she danced just like you. Those fisted hands out in front going back and forth to the beat of the song. That was hard. The tears started falling as soon as I saw her. It was like you were there.

Mama Clemens doing what she did best, dancing for her Lord.
I wish I could remember which song she was singing but I can guarantee it was a praise song.
She even managed to sing and dance while sitting!
As I look back on today I am grateful for the time to mourn alongside our brothers and sisters. I am sad you are no longer with us but we will never be the same because of you. Thank you for everything you did in Jesus name to make such an impact on our village. You were a big part of why our village feels like home to me and I’m so grateful to you for that. Keep dancing and singing and I can’t wait til the day I get to join you.

Mama Clemens and I together at a wedding October 2013 It was this beautiful woman who baptized me with my Giriama name, Kadzo (beautiful girl in Giriama) Ziro
Mama Clemens,

Almost four weeks have passed since your spirit left this world and entered the holy presence of our Savior. It’s been almost three weeks since we had the opportunity to mourn your earthly death and lay your body in the ground. You were still so beautiful to me. As we wore our lessos as a church that said, “Twakukumbuka daima hata kama umetuacha- We will always remember you even though you have left us” and sang some of your favorite hymns together, I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that you weren’t there because you were cooking or praying but rather because you had left this world. You never missed a church gathering, you were always asked to pray and it has been hard watching the pastors and elders pause before choosing someone to pray because you aren’t there.

Mama Clemens I have to tell you that choir on Sundays during church as well as our two practices a week are still my hardest moments realizing you aren’t there. You stood to my right every week and there were so many times I stopped singing (not necessarily because I didn’t know the words) but because I wanted to hear your voice. I’m so thankful I have some recordings of us practicing because your voice is a beautiful sound to hear.

We also have yet to find someone as generous as you to bring us fresh milk everyday. It was such a blessing to us not necessarily to receive the milk (that was a bonus!) but to see your joyful face everyday of the last year I was in the village. Your milk not only allowed me to be able to drink chai but helped us make delicious breads and pancakes. 
One Saturday morning in particular you joined us for breakfast and you held a baby just days old on your chest like she was your own. At your burial I held that same little girl in the same way you had praying that through her Mama and other relatives that she would be told about who you are and fall in love with the same Savior you worshipped and adored and served.
The lesso you gave me is one of my favorites and I was overjoyed to hear one of your daughters holds the other half. Every time I wear it I think of you. Your presence in the village is missed! People are still trying to figure out how to keep going but God is providing us with strength. You were (by God’s help) such an amazing example to me and the rest of the women of the church (and I know you impacted the wazee(old men) and the children as well) about what it means to have humiliy and serve Jesus with everything you could. You had taken the role of so many positions in the church (only female elder, choir participant, Sunday school teacher, previously a weekly school teacher, school cook, special events cook and organizer, and faithful to tithe all you could) to name just a few.

Now that God is finished with you here in this world I’m looking forward to seeing how the church members will step up and fill in the gaps. You left your mark on the church by providing the pesa (money) and having made the front door of the church. You were such an great example to me of what it means to serve the church in a way I may never have understood if it wasn’t for our time together.

As I look at all the pictures we took together, what I see the most is the life you had in your face to give every ounce of energy to Jesus. What fun you must be having with enough energy to never stop praising. I miss you so much here and still have a hard time walking by your duka(store) but I know you are rejoicing with the angels in front of our great God with a new body in pure white. Thanks for everything you taught me about what it means to be Kenyan, about what it takes to serve Jesus wholeheartedly and what it means to serve His Church.

Love you Mama Clemens,
-Kadzo Ziro

Praising our Savior in the same spot she sat every week. A part of me wants to put a chair there just to honor her but the people would think I'm crazy :)
Mama Clemens was the only person from our village to travel to Nairobi for the wedding of Pastor and Mama's daughter. We sat at the reception where she was telling me fun stories and always had that smile on her face.
November 2013
Mama Clemens with Tabitha on her wedding day. Always so excited for others. February 2014
Hanging out with me and Dr. Fawcett one afternoon. February 2014
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