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Archive for the ‘God-posts’ Category

OK, by now, I know you are thinking “Yes, but what did you DO?” The two most popular questions about my trip…1. What will you do? 2. What did you do? Followed closely by “Will you go back?” We live in a culture of doing, a culture that places value on accomplishing tasks. But Kenyan culture is a relational culture, a culture that places value on relationship and consensus.

You will be glad to know that I did however accomplish some ‘stuff,’ stuff we can all feel good about. I worked with a team of 4 that supported the school nurse, who for 20 years has daily supported not only the 600 students at the elementary school, but also their extended families and all of the students at the secondary school. Two of us took a look at her current record-keeping system and set them up on computer so that going forward, she could keep her records in a spreadsheet on a laptop, which would allow her to easily follow trends over time by student name or by diagnosis. This meant that we got to see a power outlet installed in her office, Kenyan style.

In addition, we helped her complete her monthly health assessment of all 600 students at the elementary school. Each month, she weighs, measures, and deworms all 600 students. We put all of this information in a spreadsheet, and set up the system for the remainder of the year, so that she just has to enter the data each month. Our team did the weighing, measuring, and some of the crowd control, freeing her up to focus her attention on the health education she does with each class when they come in (“We keep our nails short and clean.”) or to  see individual patients who came in for treatment during this time. Before the trip, I was told it would be a miracle if we actually accomplished all of this, and we did. (Or, should I say God did.) So, there it is. Miracle. Praise God. (“Praise God again!”)

But do you know what also happened while we were there? The nurse’s mother passed away unexpectedly. God placed a team of four compassionate Christian women around her to pray for her, to distract her, to ease her burden, to be her hands and feet and occasionally voice, to minister to her, to grieve with her. In my mind, this feels more significant than all of that other stuff.

I pray that our doing was a blessing to her, I pray that our work will be something that continues to be useful to her and that she will be able to continue going forward. But I know that our being was a blessing to her, and to me. I thank God that He let me share in walking beside her during a difficult time.

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This May, I had the opportunity to travel to Nairobi, Kenya with Kenya Children’s Fund. In coming weeks, I will be sharing some of my reflections on this experience here.

Come and see. At first glance, Dandora looks like the most God-forsaken place on Earth. Piles of garbage burn by the side of the road. Men and women sort through the dirty scraps trying to find anything of use to keep or sell. Stall after rickety wooden stall, each one coated in a thick, red dust, line the streets of the village, where vendors peddle their wares to passers by. Kale, fried fish, plastic tubs, shoes, and jeans all are available within steps of each other.

Streets of Dandora

Bill Bryson writes of Kibera, a similar slum in Nairobi:

“To step into Kibera is to be at once in a random, seemingly endless warren of rank, narrow passageways wandering between rows of frail, dirt-floored hovels made of tin and mud and twigs and holes…Each shanty on average is ten feet by ten and home to five or six people. Down the centre of each lane runs a shallow trench filled with a trickle of water and things you don’t want to see or step in. There are no services in Kibera—no running water, no rubbish collection, virtually no electricity, not a single flush toilet…In the rainy season, the whole becomes a liquid ooze. In the dry season it has the charm and healthfulness of a rubbish tip. In all seasons it smells of rot. It’s a little like wandering through a privy. Whatever is the most awful place you have ever experienced, Kibera is worse.”

Kinyago Dandora School provides solace and shelter for the children who daily walk through such a village. When our van enters the gates of the school, the children wave, cheer, shout, and sing for joy. I am thronged by hundreds of the happiest children I have ever seen. They sing:

Joy, joy, joy in my heart is ringing. Joy, joy, joy Jesus has set me singing.
See what the Lord has done for me, He died just to set me free, Fill my heart with melodies with joy, joy, joy. I’m rejoicing.

“Mambo!” I say in my nascent Swahili, greeting each eager child with a smile and a handshake. They smile and return an often barely audible, “Poa,” which means “cool” in Swahili slang. “Jina laku nani,” (What is your name?) I say to one particularly striking girl of about 9 or 10. Her face is luminous. “Purity,” she answers. Yes, Lord. Purity, indeed.)

This is not Purity, but her face glowed with this same warmth

The children are fed here, educated here, nursed here, and sheltered here until night falls. There are only four things they will ever have for lunch: beans, rice and beans, maize and beans, and ugali and beans. They drink porridge that looks more like sludge than sustenance. But they have clean water piped in from the city of Nairobi. And they have living water.

The Lord is here. He dwells with his people. He has not forsaken these precious ones who are in no way deceived about their daily, hourly, moment-by-moment need for Him and His protection and provision. They know they were made to praise Him.

The Lord brings poverty and he gives wealth; He humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the garbage pile. He seats them with the noblemen and gives them a throne of honor. ~1 Samuel 2:7-8

My life no longer makes sense unless it is lived in this context. I have seen my neighbors, and they love me with the love of Jesus — an everlasting love, a love that’s capable of crossing physical, cultural, and intellectual barriers to fill me to overflowing and make my joy complete.

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I had such a down day yesterday. One of those days when you think, “Surely, I’ve gotten it wrong. I thought things were great, but I missed it; I was wrong…because they suck. And I think I’ll just sit here and lie in a hole kind of day.” But then I dragged myself up and went to Ash Wednesday services, because there was really nothing else I wanted to do. And my daughter drew these pictures.

And I said to myself, “Self, sometimes really important things happen in the face of discouragement. Don’t be distracted.”

Lord, thank you for lifting my eyes to the work You are doing. Amen.

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Here are a few of my favorite “God-posts” since I last wrote:

Something on my Mind at Living Proof Ministries Blog — I long to be better at this. Authentically.

Eight Days at YouTube — if you’ve followed the Connor Booth posts, you need to watch this. With a hanky. Bless them for giving God the glory.

A New Song at This Simple Life — I’m convinced that in our “Entertain me” and media-saturated culture, we have forgotten how beautiful it is when we offer ourselves and our gifts beautifully and simply before our Lord. Thank you, Toni.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~Joel 2:13

Thank you all for pointing to Him.

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(aka God-posts #7)

If you did not follow BooMama and Shannon on their trip to Uganda with Compassion International, you have to check out these posts from their journey (grab a hankie):

Our Boy at Rocks in my Dryer

(couples so nicely with this)

A Grateful People from Boomama

And here are a few of my other favorite “God-posts” since I last wrote:

Filling at OneThing

Hands at Antique Mommy

and

Longing for a Heavenly Country at Living Proof Ministries Blog

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~Joel 2:13

Thank you all for pointing to Him.

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It’s been awhile since I did one of these. To be honest, I’ve been seeing things a little differently.

You see sometimes God is doing things that look like this:

Are you smarter than a third grader at Still His Girl

And ‘Oh’ do I love to see Him do that. I’m always on the lookout for that.

Or this:

It’s actually a sweet post about rats at Rocks in my Dryer

I’m pretty good at recognizing that one. Not always so fun. But sweet and manageable.

Or this:

Reindeers don’t say moo at In the Life of a Child

As Michele says, sometimes this one’s a long time coming. But I love to see it when it does.

But sometimes He’s doing things that look like this:

Inch by Inch at The Fruitful Vine

This one’s not so easy for me. Sometimes I have to look away when I see this one. There are so many other thoughts that creep in and have to be dealt with and discerned through. John and Margie are in the midst of it right now. And they continually move forward inch by inch and point to and give praise to the author and perfecter of our faith. I know they would covet your prayers if you could share in their journey inch by inch. I have been blessed to share in it in some small way. I pray that you will be too.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~Joel 2:13

Thank you all for pointing to Him.

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Here are a few of my favorite “God-posts” from the last few weeks:

Words for a friend at Llama Momma — A wonderful example of bloggity-ville as meaningful community with links to some other thoughts on the issue.

I’m a Yamaha at navel gazing at its finest — Let’s just say she thought no one would like this post because it wasn’t funny, and it’s my favorite thing I’ve read there yet.

To Know this love that surpasses knowledge at BooMama’s — I’m not the only one who thinks this is the best post BooMama’s ever written

Waking Up at Sincerely Anna’s — I have to show you this one, since I referenced the two previous posts mentioned here. It ain’t always easy, folks. But I sure am interested in what happens next.

 

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. ~Joel 2:13

Thank you all for pointing to Him.

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