Monthly Archives: August 2013

Encounter

How do you describe the indescribable? I’ve been asking myself this for a week now attempting to write this blog post but feeling a loss for words. It was Saturday. We’d had an amazing day working with the kids in the garden, doing laundry, and taking them to play football (soccer) at a nearby field. I know laundry and gardening may not sound like loads of fun to some people, but when I’m with my kids the most mundane tasks can turn into a memorable experience. One of the best parts about working at a children’s home is that you get to enjoy having teenage children while you still have the energy to keep up with them (well mostly keep up with them).

“Here’s how this works,” Dickson told me as he showed me how to harvest the row of beans that had just been picked and were spread out on long black tarp. “You run from one end of the tarp to the other or jump up and down on the bean pods and at the end if you don’t have sweat it means you didn’t work.”

I laughed and started racing back and forth with the kids jumping on the dried bean pods and then sorting the beans from their pods. The younger kids helped pick up the beans that slipped off the tarp and the older kids got sticks and started to beat the pile of pods until every bean was loose from its pod.

We filled a sack full of beans before coming in for dinner, and after dinner is when the encounter took place shifting my worldview in a way and leaving me with so much to process that I am just now able to attempt to put the experience into words.

We had been talking about prayer and the responsibility Christians have to pray for those around the world who are being persecuted. Earlier in the morning Ruthann had had a breakthrough during her own prayer time in which she felt led to place this prayer need, along with other prayer needs, into the hands of our kids. With the dinner dishes done, we did our regular devotions, and then Ruthann told the kids that today we would be doing something a little different. We started with prayer requests—persecuted Christians around the world, financial needs of the children’s home, prayer for future kids who would be coming to live here, and so on. After prayer request time each child was given something to pray for and then Ruthann announced that we would pray for one hour. When she said one hour I thought, “oh my goodness, I’d be surprised if the kids last twenty minutes, but here goes.”

Ruthann put on some background music and then the kids started to pray all at once. It was a beautiful sound, a mix of Swahili and Kikuyu, earnest prayers from sincere hearts. I prayed for the request that I had been given for awhile and then I started praying individually for each of the kids starting with the oldest and going to the youngest. As I prayed, the room got quieter as the kids finished up their prayers. Soon one of the middle aged boys started dancing in the middle of the room and tried to pull in other kids to dance with him. He got Veronica to dance for a little bit, but the other kids just watched and laughed.

Seeing that attention levels were starting to deteriorate Ruthann switched up the playlist to a song that the kids knew well. It’s a song that I’d never heard before coming to Kenya entitled “Break Every Chain.” Every time I hear the kids sing it I am moved. The kids started to sing and Ruthann started to pray hard. She was so wrapped up in prayer that tears ran down her cheeks. When a few of the younger kids noticed her crying they crawled up on Alyssa and my lap and started crying as well. I tried to explain to the little boy that I was holding that people cry for different reasons sometimes because they are happy or because they are feeling a lot of emotion, but that didn’t stop him from crying. To my right Veronica started to pray again, and she started to pray hard. All of the sudden she began holding her hands out straight and calling out, “Baba, Baba, Baba,” which means father. Ruthann noticed as well and took her into anther room. Now several of the younger children really became upset worried that something bad was happening to Veronica. The little girl that Alyssa was holding began wailing saying that she missed her mom, and I started to wonder, “what in the world have we started. These kids emotional health can be so fragile.”

After calming several of the kids down, I went to check on Ruthann and Veronica. They were seated on the floor Veronica’s eyes had a glazed over appearance like she was in another place. She was rocking back and forth and say “Jesus” and “Baba” over and over. Ruthann told me that Veronica had just seen a vision of children being persecuted for their faith. Veronica had become frightened by what she saw but then excited as she said that she saw angels coming to protect the children. While I was in the room Veronica began to yell. “Jesus is the winner. Jesus is the winner.”

The next three hours were a blur as Ruthann, Alyssa, and I took turns holding Veronica. Sometimes she said she felt weak, once she asked for water, other times she would just praise God, or rock back and forth seeming lost for words and lost in the presence of God, a couple times I softly sang worship songs that she knew and Veronica joined in when I sang.

I kept going in and out of the room taking care of the mundane problems of the other kids while trying to be with Veronica as much as possible. I popped a movie in for the kids still waiting in the living room, went and got Nicholas new cloths when our kitten decided to poop all other him, and got milk for some of the younger kids who where asking for something to drink. All the while my head was spinning. I’d heard about experiences like this, but I’d never been apart of one. At times I felt like a helpless observer as after a couple hours had passed I wondered if Veronica would come back to us. I held her and prayed for her excited that God was giving her this experience yet a little afraid of the unknown.

At one point Veronica became restless again and called for Jane one of our older girls. I went to get her and when she came Ruthann began to pray for Jane while I held Veronica. At first Jane look scared. She’s always been one of our most reserved girls. A girl with a lot of attitude but a girl who shuts down when you begin asking her about her past. As Ruthann prayed louder and louder Jane began to cry and then she began to weep. Veronica became restless again, and I asked her what she saw. She told me she saw a black cat with red eyes and a very big snake. Veronica asked to touch Jane, so I helped her over to Jane and she held on to Jane’s arm and prayed. She prayed in Kiswahili so I wasn’t able to understand everything she said, but Jane did and she cried some more. Then Jane began pointing to something which she appeared to be seeing in the room. She shook her finger at it and said, “No, no.” Ruthann continued to pray for her telling Jane to forgive and let go. After while Jane seemed to experience a release. Her breathing slowed, and she said she felt good again.

Ruthann asked me to get my Bible and read something. I read several Psalms and then the girls both seemed to relax. Ruthann asked them if they wanted to go to bed, and they both said yes.

To be honest. I was blown away. I reacted and acted, but it was as if I was observing everything taking things in but staying on the sidelines. I was blown away that God had given one of our 13 year old girls a vision. I was blown away by the fact that God’s presence was so near.

The next morning I got up to get the kids breakfast, and I saw Veronica outside walking around with her hands together in prayer. I called her and gave her a big hug happy to have her back in a way but thankful for the experience that she had just been through. Ruthann asked her if she would like to journal about the experience and she said yes. She journalled about the vision and about how the Holy Spirit had visited her. She ended her entry by saying that she  hoped He would visit her again sometime.

When Jane woke up she asked me to call Veronica for her. I did, and she and Veronica prayed together. Veronica later explained to me that Jane had a friend at school who has a demon and Veronica told Jane not to walk to school with that friend any more.

Jane also journalled, but her entry consisted mostly of a dream she had after going to bed. She said she remembered little of the experience the night before but her dream involved the girl from school who Veronica said has a demon.

So that was a week ago Saturday. I don’t know how to end this post except to say that God is real. He is a living and active God who speaks to his children. Just being a small part of that experience blew me away and reminded me that I serve a living God who loves and protects his children.

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Take Me to Maraigushu

“Nakuru?” he asked as I walked through the crowded matatu yard.

“No, Maraigushu,” I answered.

“Marigushu?” the man stopped mid stride and looked at me with a look of complete shock. “People like you don’t live in Marigushu,” he informed me.

I had to smile. “That’s where I live,” I replied. “Maraigushu,” and I kept walking to find my matatu.

He’s right. People like me don’t normally live in Marigushu. They don’t usually take matatus either, but I’d rather pay 70 shillings (85 cents) for a matatu ride than 1500 shillings (18 dollars) for a taxi ride.

I squeezed into the back of the matatu a brightly painted 14 passenger van that is usually shoved full of 20 (or sometimes more) people. When the seats are full they put a board across the narrow aisle and let someone sit on the board balanced between two seats. Yes, it’s crowded to the point that someone is practically sitting on you, but as the van wove it’s way up the mountain I thought, “there is nowhere on earth I’d rather be.” The scenery is spectacular, people are friendly, but best of all I was headed home to the smiling faces of seventeen kids who are my world right now. When I walk through the door I’m greeted with excited screams as they all run to give me a hug or a high five. When they run to greet me I feel like I’m returning from a month long journey in the wilderness not from a couple hour shopping trip to pick up groceries- but I wouldn’t trade it.

I wouldn’t trade the moments when one of the kids crawls up on my lap and asks me to read them a story. I won’t trade mornings in the kitchen mixing up a bag and a half of flour for Saturday morning pancakes. I wouldn’t trade watching the younger kids put together a puzzle for the very first time. I wouldn’t trade being able to watch the kids’ faces as they sing their hearts out during Sunday morning church. I wouldn’t trade seeing one of the older boys tuck his little brother in bed after the little guy feel asleep on my lap during evening devotions. Moments that complete me and make me glad that I live in Maraigushu.

Not every moment is a happy moment. There are times when the kids fight. There are times when they lie or when they ruin a brand new toy. There are moments when the noise level gets so loud that I want to run away and hide for awhile. There are times when I think, “God this is more than I can handle.” But, the good moments far out way the bad.

The hardest moments are when I realize that I can’t always give everyone everything they want. I can’t always be there to protect them from people who want to hurt them, and I can’t take away the pain they have experienced in their pasts.

Sometimes I feel small, so small but then I remember that I serve a big God who can provide for each child’s needs. I serve a God who is there to protect the kids even when I can’t be, and I serve a God who can heal the pain from their past.

Being here in Maraigushu, working as part of a team, serving the kids, watching them grow, having the opportunity to be a family it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing, and I wouldn’t trade it for a minute.

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Filed under Contemplations, Kenya, Travel