Sunday, August 18, 2013

No Place Like Home

I’m on the plane, about to (finally!!!) land in Chicago, after an absolutely crazy extra week in Nairobi.  I’m SO grateful to finally be going home, especially after spending hours and hours waiting at what’s left of Nairobi’s airport, only to take all my bags back to the hotel at 1am, still not knowing when I would go home… to when I finally heard my name called last night, and I just about had a heart attack I freaked out so much and everyone was starring at me because I was sliding on the floor running to get my stuff and go to the ticket counter to get my ticket home…  It’s been quite an adventure, to say the least!

The hardest part was the fact that, throughout the last week, we always had to be doing things to figure out how to get home.  We had to wait around, move from hotel to hotel, constantly repack our luggage quickly only to wait for a ride, visit the British Airways office, sit on hold on the phone for hours, stand at the airport for hours, and so on.  It was boring and stressful, there was nothing we could do but wait, and everything was completely out of our control.

But, all that was really a huge answered prayer.  Throughout the last month, I have spent a ton of time amazed at the Kenyans for how strong their faith is and how all the ones I have gotten to know truly rely on God for everything in their lives.  I never really knew what it felt like to have to completely and fully rely on God for everything, because I have always been able to meet my own needs.  I got to learn a HUGE lesson in trust with all the waiting and not knowing what the future held this last week—I usually like to be in control of everything, but there was nothing I could do.  I had no idea when and how I would get home; I just had to trust God and wait on Him, just like many of the Kenyans I have gotten to know do on a daily basis and is such a big part of their life stories.

We did get to spend one day volunteering at New Life Orphanage, which was amazing and very therapeutic considering our situation.  Plus it was so good to be able to help the nurses and love on the babies: They need so much love and human interaction.  (You can read my blog post about New Life the first time I went by clicking here!)

So it’s been an amazing adventure.  I’m so grateful for the time I have gotten to spend in Kenya, for how God moved, and that I finally get to go home and see my family for a bit before going to school.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to my trip financially and through prayers!!!!  God is doing great things in Kenya and in my life; I’m just so blessed to get to participate in his grand plan!

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Good-Bye to Kenya

Note: I wrote this post a couple days before I was supposed to leave, before the fire and getting trapped here and all that.

Love is hard.

On this trip, I fell in love with nine young women, and I honestly don’t know if I will ever see them again.  I don’t like to think about it, because every time I do, I start crying uncontrollably (like, ugly crying, with pathetic gasps and all; it’s humiliating), but, honestly, chances are I won’t.  I mean, eight of them are in a yearlong sewing program at the BCC that ends in December, so in less than a year they will be working in factories.

I can pray, and I know they will be praying, but I just don’t see how it could ever work.  So, yeah, that’s hard.

Praise the Lord, though, because I am comfortable leaving the eight because I know they are in the good hands of the ninth woman: Zippie.  From this incredible woman and her eight beautiful students, I have learned so much.

1. Hope and trust in the Lord to overcome all circumstances.  I have no words for this.  I can’t even begin to explain how they are examples of this and have to wake up every morning believing it.  I can’t even imagine what I would do in their situations, but they (through Zippie’s encouragement and teaching) live and breathe faith and hope.  And it is absolutely incredible.  I have so far to go and so much to learn about truly depending on God.

2.     God wills what God wills for a reason, and His plan WILL be ultimately for everyone’s best.  Whether or not it is God’s will for me to someday return to Nairobi, I know God will use me in the absolute best way possible.

3. Access to education is a ridiculously incredible gift.  Most American college students do not appreciate the education they are getting at all.  So many people, ALL the teachers at the BCC, want so badly to learn, get a degree, and are so desperate for an education, but they are trapped in poverty, so it is impossible.

4.     That being said, school is not for everyone. There are amazing opportunities and paths outside of a regular education that are better for some people.  I’ve always loved learning, so more school might be God’s plan for me, but there are a ton of people whose brains don’t work that way and don’t have that drive or passion, and that simply means they will do a better job and excel at something else.

5.     I don’t know what it feels like to depend on God.  At all.

I’m immeasurably grateful for this experience and have been counting my blessings daily, still amazed that I am actually here in Kenya.  I can’t even comprehend how blessed I am; it blows me away thinking about it multiple times every day.  Not just because I fall in the category of someone with “more than enough” money, I also have been blessed so much with absolutely all the things that matter.  I have constantly found myself wondering why I have been given all these physical and spiritual blessing, but I love knowing that God has a reason and is using all that He has given me to further His kingdom and has me exactly where He knows I will be able to do the best work for Him.

I love it.  I am so excited about serving God and seeing where He takes me every day for the rest of my life!

Leaving the BCC, especially my nine new best friends, is so hard, yes, but I am incredibly grateful for the work God has done both in my life and here in Kenya and for the gift it has been to be here.  I can’t wait to see how I will learn and grow and contribute to the kingdom of God as He has planned back at Baylor this upcoming semester!

Even though the traveling is over for a bit, let the adventure and God’s indescribable joy continue!

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and break for food wil also supply and increase our store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.  You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
-2 Corinthians 9:10-11

Rereading this now, still in Kenya, I am seeing how God is teaching me to depend on Him and have the strong faith in His plan that my kenyan friends do.  I'm depending on Him to get home because this situation is so far out of my control.  It's beautiful to see how God is still working and everything is a part of His plan.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even through refined by fire-- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls." -1 Peter 1:3-9

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Update: Not On My Way Home

As many of you know, I was supposed to be on my way home right now.  As many of you also know, part of Nairobi’s international airport caught on fire yesterday morning.  So we are basically trapped in Kenya until further notice.

As of right now, we’ve rebooked for a flight leaving the evening of August 20th, getting us home the 22nd.  We are doing what we can to get home sooner because a couple of the girls on my team have family emergencies, and we all have work and/or school.  Change is a realistic option because they are doing security checks on the airport and don't really know anything about when they will start flying out again until they know the cause of the fire (whether or not it was an accident and whether or not we are in danger).  Please pray.

What is most important is that we are all safe, trusting God, and believe that this is all somehow a part of His plan.  He has a reason for us to still be in Kenya.  It's scary, but we know that He is in control.  Prayers that we would trust His will, get home as soon as possible, and figure out where we can stay cheaply and safely until then would be greatly appreciated.

On the bright side for y’all, I just did a mass-publishing of blog posts that I have been typing in word documents, unable to post because we haven’t had wifi!  So now you can read all about my trip, although there will soon be more to say seeing as we are still here!

Thank you for your prayers!!!


Kenya Christians do church big.

My teacher friends have all told me about their churches, and how much they do and how much time they spend there.  It is not unusual for them to be at church from 8am to 4pm every Sunday, and to be involved in absolutely everything.  That’s just how they do it, and it’s so awesome.  Let me explain from my experiences:

Every Sunday morning, we go to tiny church right in the middle of the BCC for Sunday school followed by VBS for all the residential kids living there and kids from the community who come for the children’s church service.  It is so fun!  Singing fun kids Swahili songs, listening to the kids share, and teaching them in the service has been so rewarding and such a neat experience to be a part of.  I LOVE VBS afterwards, where they split up by age groups (I take the “teens,” which is basically 6th-8th grade) and we get to talk about the Bible more in-depth.

After all that is over, members of the community use the church space to put on their own service, and this has never failed to be my absolute favorite part.

In my opinion, their church service is much more like how God intended for us to do church that how we do it in America.  Only about 10 people attend the service each week, but those people are all a part of it.  If they feel led by the spirit, they come up to the front and speak.  If someone comes who hasn’t been there in a while, they come up to tell everyone (honestly) how things are going and what’s going on in their life.  If someone wants to sing a song or share anything, they just do it.  Random members of the congregation lead different worship songs and prayers.  Everyone is known as a member of the body of Christ there together, and their service moves wherever the spirit leads.

They also have welcomed us into their little family for the short time that we have been here.  They are always asking us to share whatever God has for us to say with them, and they greet us with great enthusiasm and thanks for the fact that we have decided to join their community; they express how blessed they feel by our presence.

It is so incredible to watch and be a part of such a community, and so insanely humbling.

For example, this morning, someone came up to the front and told the congregation that it has been a long time since he’d gone to church, explained that he is in a really bad place, and asked for prayer.  The congregation immediately came around him and prayed for him.  From the moment he stepped into the little building, he was welcomed back in with open arms and great love.  The pastor spoke with him and encouraged him.  I do not doubt that they will all continue to be behind him, helping him and backing him up as he returns to Christ.  They truly reflect Jesus in the way they interact with one another.

Imagine how different church would be in America if we did it like the Kenyans do.

If we were open and honest about how things were going in our lives with our church community.  If we let the spirit lead our services and spoke as we felt called.  If we always came beside each other and offered Godly encouragement to our brothers and sisters.  If nobody sat back and just watched the service, but everyone always participated as a part of the body.

The body of Christ, the church, the children of the living God coming together as one, is a powerful thing.  It’s one of the greatest tools God has given us here on earth.  It’s so important that we use the church to its full capacity and let it be what God intended it to be for us.

That’s one of many things that I know I can certainly work on doing better when I get back to Baylor.