Tag Archives: Purpose

The Difference

It’s amazing the difference, the cool of the evening contrasted with the heat of mid-day. The tension of not knowing, of not always fitting in, to finally settling and seeing that yes—even during this short two and a half months God has a purpose. A purpose often different from my own, but one that grows me even in areas where I didn’t realize I needed growth.

It’s been two weeks now of living on Kenya’s colorful coast, living in a community of 10 to 25 people depending on the day. Life is simple—bucket showers, a basic diet, a loose often open schedule for the week which for someone who is used to being busy can be hard. Once again I’ve found myself waiting. Why God? Why here? Why this town? Why at this time? His leading to come was so clear, but sometimes the day to day can be less clear. But we’re here. I’m here, and I find that God seems to have the most to teach in the midst of the stillness, and it’s not until I’ve learned those lessons that He allows me to move to the next thing.

I want to accomplish something. He wants me to abide. I want the days to be full, to tick them off the calendar because if I’m honest with myself my eye is already on the next phase. He wants me to be still, to enjoy this moment, to seek His face.

Again, my careful plans change; but as I loosen my fingers and allow Him to write my story beautiful things happen—an opportunity to teach, the chance to invest in a young girl, time for needed spiritual development, conversations that change me, opportunities to encourage, the chance to learn from those who have been there before. Everyday a new opportunity to see what God has for this day. Once again, I’m humbled and thankful to be on this journey, in this place of contrasts, serving a God who knows the futures and delights in the growth of His children.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Contemplations, Kenya

Under Acacia Trees

Restless—it seems to be the only consistent thing. Exhaustion—attempting to go to bed early only to lie awake for hours staring at nothing, and thinking about everything. At first I was just numb, now I find myself almost frantic, desperate to process all of this but not sure how to begin. I’ve avoided writing, but I can’t any longer. I have to process. I have to “move on” but how?

Yesterday I plastered my wall with pictures—smiling faces, precious memories, moments that I will never ever forget. Nineteen children who touched my life. Nineteen children that I’m no longer able to kiss goodnight. Nineteen children who each stole a piece of my heart.

It was abrupt and painful having to say goodbye. For reasons I still don’t understand the woman who started the children’s home where I volunteered for the last year decided to take the project back, move into the children’s home, and run it without the help of the American team that had been working there. So we packed, said goodbye, and returned “home.”

Easter Sunday after leaving the home, I attended a church which chose to celebrate Easter with an outdoor service. As I sat surrounded by acacia trees, trying to feel (but not feel too much) life- giving words soaked into my soul. It was an informal service that day. Several members took turns sharing a scripture reading, poem, or word from their heart. One woman talked about the loss of a dream, something that she had recently experienced in her own life. “It’s like a broken branch,” she said. “You can take that branch and keep trying to put it back on the tree in order to revive the dream you held on to so dearly, or you can let it fall to the ground. As the branch lies on the ground, in time, it will decompose. In time, a new shoot will rise from the death of that dream. In time, a new tree will break from that decomposed branch. A new seed will fall. A new dream will take root but only if we stop digging it up and trying to resurrect something that is no longer meant to be.”

A new dream, direction, purpose. What once seemed so sure and beautiful is no longer there. What once looked so permanent is gone. What once fulfilled me has been taken away leaving me restless, but not empty. There is a purpose, and there are plans far bigger than the ones I plotted out for myself. I look to the Creator, my Healer, my Constant in a world full of change. Nothing surprises my God. No problem is more than He can handle. No person can take away my joy because my joy comes from serving my King wherever He takes me. He has already begun to open new doors, and lead me into a new beautiful chapter, and while I still feel restless at times, this hurt has already begun to heal. This pain is not to be wasted. God is growing me, stretching me, holding me as others disappoint. Leading me when plans fall apart and dreams are taken away. My restless soul finds peace in His sovereignty. My dreams are gifts from Him as He grows new purpose and life from this pain.

I'll always love these smiles. No one can take the memories away.

I’ll always love these smiles. No one can take the memories away.

2 Comments

Filed under Contemplations, Kenya

To the Unsung Kates

“And she’s only 24,” I asked for about the third time as I stood in the kitchen of Serving His Children a malnutrition clinic that reaches out to children in Uganda suffering from malnutrition. I didn’t get to meet Renee while visiting my cousin who is volunteering at the clinic Renee started. But I didn’t have to meet her to know that she is an incredible woman. I looked at the walls and walls of pictures showing what the children looked like when they came and what they looked like when they left. It’s hard to argue against pictures. Renee’s organization (which she first had a vision for when she was 18) educates mothers and relatives about proper nutrition, gets kids back to a healthy weight, seeks to meet families spiritual needs, and checks up on the children once they have returned home to ensure that they stay healthy.

 

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

Just a few of the children whose lives have been saved by Serving His Children

It’s facebook trend at the moment to post the story of Kate Davis author of Kisses from Kate. An incredible story of a young girl who came to Uganda and ended up adopting 13 girls. I haven’t read Kate’s book. I intend to. I’m sure I’ll be able to relate to a lot of her experiences. The longer I’ve lived in Kenya the more I’ve discovered that there are many, many “Kates” maybe not as celebrated but they are definitely making a difference in this crazy world that we call home.

People like Reah whose husband died suddenly leaving her to take care of their young daughter and over 30 children who live at Morning Star Children’s Home. She’s dealt with no money coming in to pay for food, the government threatening to take away her kids, and too many other stories to tell. At the end of the day she trusts in God, and He has brought her through each day.

Or people like Ruthann who manages Abba’s House the children’s home where I work. She’s 24 as well and has been here from the beginning when the youngest boy (who was around 5 at the time) thought it was ok to go to the bathroom in the middle of the living room floor, or when one of our girls thought that taking a shower meant dumping a huge bucket of water over her head flooding the bathroom just before everyone arrived for the grand opening. She’s had to go after a child who ran away because he didn’t want to eat cabbage for dinner and has had to break up fights in the beginning when the kids thought it was ok to settle their differences using physical means.

I could go on and on telling more stories of more people (young people) who are quietly making a big difference in the midst of difficult circumstances. Not to take anything away from Kate Davis, my cousin has met her and she sounds like an incredible, down to earth person who really should be celebrated. I guess my point is that there are a lot of “Kates.” They may not have time to write a book at the moment, but they all have incredible stories. They may not have their story passed around on facebook, but that doesn’t make their story any less inspiring. They make me stop and ask what more can I be doing with my life because they are all younger than me and are living so close to God that’s it’s hard not to feel changed just by knowing a piece of their story. So thank you to everyone who is quietly making a difference in life no matter your age, no matter how celebrated or uncelebrated you are. The world does not appreciate you enough, but your reward in heaven will be great.

4 Comments

Filed under Contemplations, Kenya

Inside in a Green Desert

Sometimes I wondered why I had come. It was a last minute decision. I missed my kids. I was surrounded by doctors, nurses, dentists, and evangelists who spoke the language way better than I did and who had skills to offer that I could never come close to offering. It was me, a team of 80 Kenyans, and one other American. Sometimes I wondered why I had been invited, but I came, observed, tried to communicate, and helped were I could.

The jobs were never glamorous jobs counting out pills in the pharmacy and helping peel a literal mountain of carrots. But, I was happy to be apart of a team ministering in the remote mountains of Kenya no matter how small the job.

Pokot reminded me of a desert, cactus, camels, and thorns everywhere. But, this desert was a green one with leaves mixed in with the thorns and a muddy river nearby. The people dressed more like the remote Maasi tribes of Kenya—large beaded necklaces, gauged ears, and men and boys in plaid wrap around skirts. Small boys with walking sticks in hand herded scattered flocks of goats. Camels rambled through our makeshift dwellings. It felt at times like a whole other world tucked peacefully in the mountains untouched by the stresses and noise of modern life.

Green Desert

Over 500 people showed up the first day for medical and dental care. Councilors were on hand to provide spiritual help to those who wanted it. Evangelism teams walked miles to talk to people in their homes and were greeted by receptive listeners seeking a relationship with God.

 

I joined the Sunday school team. We taught the children Bible lessons while they and their parents waited to see a doctor. The first day we had a small group. The second days we were mobbed with children. I still felt more like an observer than an actual teacher as our translator seemed to be doing such an excellent job of teaching the kids that I  didn’t want to interrupt her flow.

 

Bible story time

Bible story time

Then I met Kipilat. I had seen him come in that morning a slender boy on crutches. He was nimble despite only having one leg, but when all the other kids trooped up the hill to hear a Bible story and to play games he shyly stayed behind. I invited him to come join us in the little broken Swahili that I know. He answered me in Pokot and stayed right where he was. I went to get Elizabeth the other American on the team she works with people who need artificial limbs so she sat with Kipilat for awhile and with the help of a translator they talked for awhile. He was still hesitant to join the other kids. Elizabeth told me that many children born without limbs are seen as having been cursed, so they are often afraid to be around other kids their age. Kipilat seemed to have one good friend a little boy around his age who would come and check on him and hang out with him. We finally convinced him to join us. He still sat away from the other kids, but near enough to hear the story. I gave him a pen and some paper to draw, and he seemed to do well as long as he wasn’t getting too much attention.

 

Elizabeth and Kipilat

Elizabeth and Kipilat

Elizabeth has taken it upon herself to help get Kipilat get an artificial leg so that he can walk to school (right now he is attending nursery school even thought he is 12 years old) and have a more normal life. The boy has been living with an uncle so getting the leg paid for is going to take awhile, but the doctors have agreed to do the surgery now and then raise the money to pay for it. The cost of the leg is only $500 and the cost of the surgery is $800. I’ve asked Elizabeth how I can help because this little boy touched my heart. She told me that for those living outside of Kenya money can be given to

AIC-CURE International Children Hospital
Account Number: 7336323
Bank name: Barclays Bank of Kenya Limited
Bank address: PO Box 14403-00800 Nairobi, Kenya
                      Tel: +254-20-4442685; Fax:+254-20-4453164
Branch: Westlands-Nairobi
Swift code: BARCKENX
Branch code: 022

and for those in Kenya money can go through a pay bill account or brought in person to Cure Children’s Hospital in Kijabe.

 

Kipilat and his friend

Kipilat and his friend

I am excited to see how God will provide for Kipilat. He is scheduled to come on Thursday to begin preparations for surgery. He is such a sweet boy, and I hope I get to see his face when he takes his first step on his new leg.

Kipilat

Leave a comment

Filed under Kenya, Travel

Pale Bare Feet

It’s finally warm! Right now I’m sitting outside on the porch with two cats playing next to me and the gorgeous spring sun shining down on my pale bare feet. It’s 5 o’clock in the evening and the thermometer says 79 degrees. Not bad for March.

I love spring because I love rain, and I also love the hope of a new beginning. I think the new year should start in March not January because March is when the world comes alive again. There is hope after the mushy snow melts and seedlings start pushing their way to the surface. There is hope when the chill in the air gives way to some good old Vitamin D. The world finally feels at peace. The struggle against surviving winter is over, and it feels good to just be outside and soak in the new life.

I guess this is the part where I should start writing about something inspirational, or thought provoking, but on this gorgeous spring day the only words of wisdom I have are- stop and smell the roses. Not an original thought, I know, but it’s an important one that we often hear, but fail to practice. I saw a list this week of the top 5 things people said on their death beds. I found the list quite interesting. People said, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself,” “I wish I didn’t work so hard,” “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings,” “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends,” and “I wish I had let myself be happier.”

Sometimes I think it takes being faced with death to see what really matters in life. It is easy to become so busy planning for the next stage and wanting to be where you are not that the pleasures of today get missed. Yesterday is over. Whether good or bad, it’s gone and no amount of reminiscing will bring it back. It is good to remember the past, but do not miss out on the pleasure of what is here right now by trying to relive something that is over. As far as tomorrow goes, maybe life will be better once you’re married, or once you get that dream job, or once you have kids, or once your kids pass the terrible twos stage, or once they make it through college (you get the idea). Maybe things will be better then, but don’t miss the moments of today, that make life what it is, by always wishing for tomorrow. I say this just as much to myself as to anyone else because it is such an easy trap to fall into. The art of being content is not an easy thing to attain, but it is a worthwhile pursuit that we should all practice more.

We DO have today and when you take the time to stop and savor it, today is a beautiful thing. So smell some roses and make some memories. Don’t take life too seriously. It is good to laugh a little everyday, and it is good to soak in some good ol’ spring sunshine.

2 Comments

Filed under Contemplations

Pageants, Parades, and Tractor pulls

What’s the point really? I find myself stopping so many times through out a typical week asking this question. Maybe I over analyze. In fact, I know that I do. I think it’s part of being a writer, but when I’m driving by myself and honestly stop to take a look at life, this question always comes up.

Writing for a newspaper in a town of about 800 people I often find myself writing about parades, pageants, and tractor pulls not the type of events that grab my interest. Please don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy my job. People in the community have been so supportive, and I have met so many interesting people like the lady I interviewed today who makes amazing cheese cakes.

But, at the end of the day I often feel restless. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up observing Deer Day and going on hay rides. Maybe it’s because for a long time my dream has been to work with orphans or refugees in Africa. But the truth is, I’m here not there and because of that, I often lose my sense of purpose.

Then there are those moments when it hits me. On a Wednesday night while working with a group of “Sparkies” at church. A kindergartener, whose dad is in jail, interrupts the lesson yelling, “I know something. I know something.”

“What’s that?” the leader asks. “Jesus ‘woves’ us,” he responds hugging himself.

Then there’s my little buddy Hailey who stops by the newspaper office with her bike. “Can you give me a ride home?”

“Sure, just give me a minute to finish some things up here.” She usually types on the antique typewriter in the office while she waits. Then I drive her and her bike up the hill.

“Your like my big sister,” she told me the other day. “I always wanted a big sister.”

Purpose— sometimes it’s not in the things you expect it to be in, but it’s there. Just look in a child’s eyes. That always gets me back on track.

5 Comments

Filed under Contemplations