Laying in the sun—palm trees, a pristine pool, tropical flowers. It feels like a different country, almost a different world. The sun feels so rejuvenating and the cold that has refused to go away for the last three weeks has finally started to break up. There’s nothing like a break in the sun after months of working non-stop. Not that I mind. I love my life, the kids at the children’s home, the daily routines. But, with such an emotional job it’s healthy sometimes to get away; and Mombasa is the perfect place to recharge. The food is amazing (yay a break from ugali and beans). The weather is deliciously warm.
For the last three days I haven’t had anyone really need anything thing from me which feels so good after spending the majority of the last nine months constantly on call caring for 17 of the most wonderful kids in the world. Even though I love the kids I work with to death, it’s a physically and emotionally exhausting job. It’s nice to get away from all the pressure, expectations, and endless needs. I’m already feeling so refreshed after just three days, so I know I’ll be able to do a better job when I return.
Travel, new places, cultural, all feed my soul. There is something so incredible about getting to discover or rediscover a new place. Tuesday we spend the day exploring Mombasa’s Old Town. We bartered a price with a great guide who took us all over the city. We saw the spice market, hundred year old buildings, and even ducked our heads into the fish market where we saw everything from dried shark meat to live lobster.
I ate Swahili prawns for lunch fresh shrimp cooked in coconut sauce. It was heavenly. I’m glad I live in such a diverse world. Full of such beauty and flavor. Last night we sat out in the gazebo chatting with our neighbor and new friend from Germany. We talked about life, God, and the challenges and joys of working in ministry. I love those moments. I feel so alive, at peace, full of purpose, and happy in the presence of my creator. He has made such a beautiful world, and I love being able to enjoy different pieces of His work.
I was sitting in her living room with the voice recorder rolling and so many feelings running through my mind. It was my last artist interview. I was about to turn 26, move to St Louis, and hopefully start a new job with the plan of saving up money and moving to Kenya.
She carved beautiful, intricate gourds, another incredibly talented artist hidden in the small town where I had run a newspaper for the last two years. She told me how sorry she was that I had decided to close the paper. I sympathized but knew that God was calling me to a new chapter in life, and to be honest the last two years had been the hardest two years that I had ever lived through. After the interview she gave me a parting gift—a delicate gourd intricately carved with tiny butterflies. She had fit a small light at the bottom of the gourd so that the butterflies glowed softly through the shell.
“Butterflies,” she told me. “A symbol of new beginnings.” I smiled and embraced the idea. I needed a new beginning and a symbol of hope as I was about to take a step into the dark beginning a journey that was going to take me across the world and require a whole lot of faith.
The butterfly theme kept popping up through out the year of 2013—stickers on a letter, the gift of a butterfly shaped cookie, the exquisite little insects themselves fluttering across my path at unexpected moments. All signs from God that He had me on this adventure. It really was a year of freedom, beauty, and adventure the compete opposite of what the last two years had been.
I just turned 27, and as I look back over the year I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better one. I met my boyfriend in Northern Ireland on my way out to Kenya. I’ve had the privilege of become a parent to 19 amazing Kenyan kids who have absolutely captured my heart. I’ve learned what it means to trust God every day and to simply rest in His presence. I’ve gotten to work with an incredible team of people as we’ve learned what it means to live in community and serve God and these kids even through the hard days. I’ve learned true contentment and what it means to take each day as it comes.
Honestly, I couldn’t be happier. God has blessed my life so much and every day I am more and more amazed by His goodness. He loves me. He has held me through the hard times and brought me to new places. I’m exited for what this next year will bring as I open my hand and watch the year of the butterfly flutter away. I feel refreshed, free, and expectant as I wait for all that God has in store for this new year and this new season of life.