Have 3 weeks really passed since leaving LAX to head to Kenya? I left 3 weeks ago starting out for 2 weeks with a team of 18 students and graduates from Life Pacific college whom most I had never met, joining as well were a few of us from other church homes. It's still far too soon to make sense and believe that 3 weeks have passed since arriving. With much still being processed and reflected on as well as continually learning and growing with each day from all that was experienced and seen, I am challenged as to where to begin. Wifi and Internet is extremely limited and scarce here and what ideally would have been a weekly blog has been delayed. That said, I feel the most understandable and suitable response in starting would be to praise and acknowledge the Lord.
"How great are you O' sovereign Lord. There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you! " 2 Samuel 7:22
It was not more then moments after arriving in Kenya that I knew and it was confirmed that I was connecting with a part of me that had been long awaited for. Although it was a late arrival in Nairobi where we would begin and many of us had jet lag as well as were hungry, it all felt so right and was well with our souls. We knew we were in for a long as well as full but blessed week and the anticipation which had built had now arrived. In the morning after gathering rest for a night in Nairobi, we would be hitting the ground running and as sun arrived the following day we did just that. A good breakfast pared with the popular Kenya chai, Kenya Mayfield coffee, boiled eggs and side of worship was just the key to start the week. I was also happy to lodge with two awesome ladies from LPC who I was able to connect with as well as get to know on a "missional experience level" rooming the whole time together. Jasmine and Jammie, if you are reading, you are missed!
As I now reflect on the past two weeks, the experiences, wild rides prayerfully and musically traveling from village to village, people met, pre schools and secondary schools as well as high schools which were visited and testimonies shared at, the gospel message of Christ Jesus shared, the many ill prayed for who suffered from ailments such as poor eye sight, probably due to sun exposure from working in the fields all day, as well as those flightIng malaria or phenomena, as well as many who come desperate due to migraines which some have battled their whole life. They too came with aches, pains and arthritis from hours and days of harvesting and plowing in the field to make a living and get by. Additionally filled was the care provided, crusades and pastors conferences offered at each stop as well as each and every individual child held, kiddos I was used as a pillow by, each wave given, hand shook (there are many as they love to greet the visitors and touch our not so common skin color while making giggle at the not so similar accent. We found many high fives which were also not in shortage. Additionally, I don't think I've ever seen as many children so thrilled to see so many Americans nor have I felt so odd yet good being a ' mazungu'. Often times being a visitor or foreigner in a land, you don't exactly know how you may be received but the smiles and welcomes we received for the majority were nothing short of sweet.
Alongside such joy, I can't deny there is part of me that struggles with the thought and consideration that I may never see them again. The idea of making yourself known to one, visible in their sight and yours, while too knowing that it is likely that this short time spent is probable to be forever or until heaven, it can bring many questions, thoughts and considerations to surface. However in the same pondering, I also rest in gratitude for the time that was given, opportunities of prayers that were had over the ill and those sufferings, the healings that came, those we are still believing for, relationships built and laughter we all shared within the springs of living water that was tasted throughout both the praise and too through the moments of faith in the dark, pain and even tears. Loving another human then leaving is not easy, however is a cost we had to count with a rather short trip at each base and therefore at each stop in every village, we made the most of every second we had, believing that good will continue to grow with the prayers that follow.
You see, gathered this far, Kenya is a beautiful place. It is filled with vivid color, lush farms when a good rain season provides fields of harvest and you find vivid flowers, bright full moons and clear galaxy of stars that illuminate over the vast land and the almost daily rains in their current rainy season which have blessed the land with their showering, leaving skies laced with rainbow stiches of promise to uncover. The smiles of the children, Mt. Kenya in the distance reaching into the clouds, the warm welcoming of many locals, the food in it's fresh flavor and the even butterflies and incredible animals such as the lionness we saw chase a waryhog one day; which was quite the experience I have to say! We felt like we stepped into the lion king for a moment as we were rooting for pumba; and for the record as far as we know, Pumba took the win! Moreover, the praise, dance and song in worship that can be faintly heard echoing through the smallest of towns and miles of hills; I think it's safe to conclude that there is not much which can compare a great deal to life here.
It was not hard to spot beauty and God's glory and presence in many places here in Kenya but we quickly realized and began to see the areas which tugged at our heart in another way. You see, not all of Kenya is rainbows and butterflies. Many choose to see then colors in the sky and light in the dark though choosing joy and carrying the staff of promise yet this is also a choice, one we all have to make as well as each of us while on the trip in an unknown land away from any comforts of home. People are people everywhere, brokenness and broken systems exist everywhere and we share many struggles and hurts as well as live in the same a broken world regardless of location. We are all subject to the same challenges; in Kenya they just appear slightly different and also lack specific resources that each community could benefit from such as quality water and quality health care and access to care at that.
Since I think best way to know ones self is to get to know another, I would like to introduce a few of my new friends and a few of those I had the opportunity to meet.