Saturday, December 20, 2014

Answer to prayer: hearts united

We got the picture! Is this machine not the most beautiful thing? I did try it... not as easy as an electric.
But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. -1 Thess 2:17-20

Over the last two months as I sat in Nairobi waiting for the go-ahead to return to the coast, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 became my heart’s cry and my soul’s yearning. On October 7th, I left where I call home here in Kenya and really wasn’t sure when I would get to return. The goodbyes seemed beyond what I could imagine and I didn’t feel finished. I’m grateful for all the counseling, prayers offered on my behalf, shoulders to cry on and good food to pass the time. I’ve learned so much in the last couple months that I pray I can remember as I transition into what’s next.

But I can’t begin to put into words how excited I was when I got the email on November 21st and realized God had answered my prayer of 1 Thessalonians. As the days went by I began to prepare emotionally, spiritually and physically for my return. Three days in the village was all we could manage with people’s busy schedules but I was willing to take anything I could get.

On Thursday Dec 11th I boarded the bus and like so many times before was overjoyed to be headed “home”. The buses have sure improved over the last year and it was the most comfortable trip I’ve had. I have to admit I wasn’t about to take one bit of it for granted so maybe my attitude helped a bit. I arrived around 6:30am the next day so ready to see everyone. I was not about to waste one minute of daylight lying in bed when I could be out seeing people.

Friday and Saturday, after breakfast with my family, were spent out in the community spending time with different families, catching up with people, getting to hear how God had been working in their hearts over the last two months and encouraging them. Friday, God put together a time of remembrance for Mama Clemens and we got to go back to her house, praise God for her life and put the final piece, a cross, on the top of her tombstone. Just another way God showed me His perfect timing in my return.

My most memorable moment
Sunday was church. Rewind a bit, when I first came to Kenya with the expectation of learning Kiswahili, I set a personal goal to be able to greet the church and share a few words all by myself at the end. Because this wasn’t “the end” exactly, and I fully look forward to my return in April (I’ll leave that for another blog post), I was prepared to speak to the church but with a translator. I had a beautiful little message in English and expected someone to translate for me. I asked Elizabeth, I got the look like I was crazy with a very determined no. I went up and asked Pastor if he would “help me”. He smiled and said, “You know Swahili you can do it”….I can try… and so I did. I did scratch a lot of what I was going to say but I was amazed (thank you Holy Spirit!) for how well the words just flowed. I said everything I wanted to, I read from my Kiswahili Bible and really wasn’t nervous at all. I enjoyed it actually and looking back this was most definitely my most memorable moment of the trip.

After church we took lots of pictures (see below), I got to join choir for their practice and learned a few Christmas songs and dances and laughed a lot! I went to Elizabeth and Selina’s afterwards to get some good pictures with them and their family, we prayed together and then said the extremely hard, tears falling, heart wrenching see you laters at the gate of the primary school.

The hardest part of the entire trip was the following day, boarding the bus for the 10hr drive back to Nairobi. As soon as the bus pulled out of Malindi the tears fell. By the time we reached “my stop” I was shaking I was crying so hard. I texted Elizabeth to let her know we were passing and I really was not okay. Her response, “my heart is crying”.

I’ve put off writing this because of just how painful it all was. But really, looking back, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more in those three days than what God gave me. I do thank God over and over for the reconciling that happened and now wait with eager expectation for April, getting to return to celebrate a wedding! I got the closure that I needed that I can now enter the New Year ready for what the Lord has next. I’m thankful He allowed these last few months to be focused on healing and I really can’t wait to see what He has next. The ministry at the coast was beyond anything I could have asked for or dreamed of. And therefore I know that whatever is next is going to be even better if that’s even possible…

Our awesome church choir! Love this group!
Selina and Elizabeth. Man if I could get one more squeeze in!
Thankful for my Kenyan parents. Loved getting to spend the weekend with two of their girls and two of their grandsons.
Shadrack and his beautiful new wife. So fun to get to see them there! 
Beautiful twin girls!

Madam Kazungu, Mama Pili and her youngest, Hilda

Onesimus, he loves to make me speak giriama
Sweet Mariam, loved how she attached over the weekend :)
Almost got the whole family! There are 7 sisters in all and one brother, wrangling all of them was a task :) 
Loved getting to unite with this beautiful girl! She has the most amazing voice and I enjoyed getting to worship with her again!
These two guys have been such an encouragement to me while I've been here in Kenya. Thanks Silas and Samuel!
Me with my Kenyan brothers... Peter, Shadrack and Samuel
More group pictures with Selina, Elizabeth and all the kiddos at their house
Me and the kids!
I'm big Kadzo, Selina's Kadzo and then baby Kadzo :) 
Mercy! I love this girl! She's grown up so much in the last two months. I loved teaching her and I think she equally loved being in my class. She told her mom (also a teacher) who would teach her when I left?
Asha.. one of my students
Jumwa, aka Joyce... Selina's oldest
So thankful I had Monday in Malindi to connect with this awesome girl! She starts form 4 (senior year of high school) in January and we as a team will help contribute so that she can finish  this year strong and hopefully continue into computer work. 

Thank you Jesus for allowing this sweet reunion to happen. What a privilege it was to get to know each one of these beautiful people you created, that you have drawn to yourself. I pray I was able to be an encouragement to them as you continue to equip them to spread your good news! I can't wait to see how you will use them in my life as we continue this adventure together. I also pray for all the little people that I got to love and teach. May they desire to shine your light through their lives and make decisions to follow you wherever you will take them. Thank you for the smiles, laughter, and songs we got to share together in school. I pray those simple English songs about you will forever be in their hearts. And I can't wait for April! May you continue to work on my heart during this time of ministry transition here in Kenya. I love you Jesus. 
It's in your precious name I pray, Amen

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I will show you

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you . . . and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” 
- Genesis 12:1-3

God made this promise to Abram. I will show you. God called Abram to go and then said He would show him where. And then there was another promise. I will bless you…and you will be a blessing to others.

I read this from my Christmas Advent devotion by Ann Voskamp and was overwhelmed with the reminder of how God answers our simple prayers. I haven’t prayed a lot lately, especially for myself. It’s mostly been something along the lines of, “God can you just show me where to go.” And He always only leads one step at a time.

The last month I’ve finally had enough strength (so I thought) to start talking with leadership here in Kenya about long-term ministries. We’ve tried to walk thru many doors only to find them close in our faces before we even took a step.  Many closed doors on an already tender heart. I wasn’t sure I could take much more. I started journaling, trying to see what God was doing. And I realized, as I searched out all these new places with new people, I felt like I was abandoning my village family from the coast. I don’t feel finished there, I need that closure.

So the next step. I get to return to the village. I get to return to my home here in Kenya. I get to return to the people that stole my heart. I get to return to my Kenyan family who has blessed me beyond words. I will show you. And He has answered. And I have peace. I travel Thursday night Dec 11th and return Monday night Dec 15th. 

I will bless you…and you will be a blessing to others. That is my prayer as I return. That God would bless this small amount of time together. That God would bless each conversation, each meal that is shared, and each hug that is exchanged. I pray that it would be a great time of blessing one another.

So that is the next step. I’m so incredible grateful that I know something. Once I return to Nairobi I will get to celebrate the birth of our Savior with some great people and then start the New Year looking for that next place where our Great God has already ordained for us to go and continue to share the Good News of His birth and death and resurrection. I think good things are ahead.

Let the blessing begin.

I haven't gotten to see this couple since this day! The groom lived at the church as the associate Pastor my entire time in the village. He was on his honeymoon when I left but has since returned. Can't wait to see them! This is the group that I traveled with to his wedding, a full night traveling Kenyan style with all Kenyans! Love love love these people!
Peter... my Kenyan big brother. I hope we can cook a few meals together and laugh like we did every night. We refused to say bye, we said see you later. And I'm sure we will say it again this time too. And little Mercy. Her and I shared tears together the night before I left, her head rested on my shoulder just outside my house. Once I calmed down she nodded in agreement when I asked her if we could eat together. She's also the one who asked her mom who would teach her when I left, her mom being the teacher who had taught her almost the whole year. 
My giriama sister big Kache won't be there...sad our two twins will be. Can't wait to see these kiddos and their siblings. 
I think this summarizes my heart for the village and the people there. Life is all about people and this young lady I can't wait to hug again!
And I can't wait to take this same picture again but with me in it! Selina and I will definitely do something laughing together. I've loved our phone dates every other night getting to catch up on what's going on there. It will be like I haven't even left thanks to this one!
And of course getting to share meals and live alongside my Kenyan parents for a few days again. Can't wait to see these faces and hopefully get the opportunity to give a lot of blessings to one another.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...