Sunday, August 18, 2013

Beautiful Things: Kenya (Part 1)

       I am kind of at a loss as to how to even begin these posts. How do I even begin to place all of my experiences, heartaches and joy into one nicely packaged blog post? I could create post after post of pictures and words and you would only see a sliver of my life changing experience in Kenya. And yet, here we go... 

   And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he sat upon the throne and said, Behold I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  
                                 Revelations 21:4-5

       Isn't it interesting that we go on mission trips to bless and yet we come home feeling tremendously blessed beyond measure ourselves? I will never be able to put into words exactly how I feel or what I experienced after two weeks in Kenya.  My soul is so full, that there are days I think I may burst with joy, for people I didn't even know 3 weeks ago.  The only thing I can chalk it up to is that I simply experienced a small piece of heaven in Kenya. And once you've experienced THAT, there is no turning back. 

Makuru Slums:

    You think you can prepare yourself for experiences that you know are coming.  I knew the slums were going to be a little rough around the edges and a hard place to be.  I prepared myself mentally for the things I thought I would see... or at least I thought I did. 

         There was no way I could have truly prepared myself because I had no context of the poverty that I would be encountering that first day.  In my mind I was envisioning chipped cement buildings and dark alley ways with no electricity.  How could it get any worse?  As we drove toward the slums, things clearly were getting more impoverished but I knew, with one turn, that we had arrived. 

        Scraps of metal nailed together to form housing, the smell of smoke and waste filled the air, trenches dug along the road for sewage to run, dirty faces peering out of doors.... no, I had never known what poverty really looked like, until that moment.  If I am completely honest, it took everything in me not to yell out, "No! Take me back! This is too hard... too heart wrenching... too uncomfortable!"  I've never done well with uncomfortable, I have run away from it so many times, but God does INCREDIBLE things when we are least comfortable, when I am uncomfortable. 

     It was there, in one of the most impoverished places in the world, that I saw what the hands and feet of Jesus really look like.  It was there, that I met Mary and Joseph and saw what giving your life up for Christ meant in a very real and tangible way. You see, this couple was living the "good life."  I mean, they had it all by worldly standards: money, cars, a house, nice things, but one thing they really grasped is Philippians 1:21-22 that says, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.

       They walked away.  They gave it all up.  Why?  Because Jesus means more; Jesus is EVERYTHING!  Oh, what treasures they will have when this life passes away!  They will be richly rewarded indeed.

       I sat and listened (with tears in my eyes) about how they saw a need and said, "Why not? Why not us?"  So, they sold everything and headed to the Makuru slums where they now minister to countless men and women in their clinic and counseling center.  They bring in orphaned girls and provide a safe place for them to live and learn and survive.  So, what a joy and honor to wash dishes, make beds, and sweep floors during my short time there.  

       Then there were the children.... oh my heart. It's one thing to watch adults suffer in poverty, but to see a child under those circumstances is enough to rip your heart right out of your chest. They were covered in dirt and flies and I desperately wanted to shoo the flies away, put food in their little bellies, and bathe them. That wasn't my job though, my job was to love them; to shine the light of Jesus in that dark place. 

        Let me tell you, they were easy to love! They smiled the brightest smiles and held my hand with fervent joy.  When they sang, it seemed that all of heaven and earth paused to listen.  

       Yes, I went  to bless, but was richly rewarded by the blessings that flowed out of the most unlikely of places. 

He makes beautiful things out of dust.

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