Friday, September 17, 2010

Ocean Hopping

We are soon heading to the airport, boarding a plane, and hopping back across the massive ocean that separates our worlds. So many thoughts, so many swirling ideas that are waiting to land, waiting for feet to walk out. Please pray for our journey if you think of us. Traveling for this long with three little people can be very exhausting. We fly out tonight (Friday night by Nairobi time) and don't arrive to Arizona until late Saturday night. Loooooooong journey.

Catch ya on the flip side!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Slower Pace

"Ahh, you have become very fat! Very fat now!"

The whole of his thin, frail frame laughs as he throws his head back in joy, while the men of Western influence chuckle nervously.

“Very fat now!”

He turns to the others and exclaims it again, and the laughter pours forth. Yes, life has been very good to me through the years, full of joys and hurts, tears and laughter, and little hands pull at my skirt. This patriarch of many laughs as he embraces, kisses, and greets all in the room.

It is a large, rectangular sitting room; wooden boards that cover the windows now open wide, allowing the breath of God to blow in and out, and His light is the only source to bring life out of darkness. The old wooden chairs that line the walls around the room tell the stories of visitors past, with dents and chips in the wood, and turquoise cushions peaking out from the shreds of the once brightly colored fabrics that cover them. Beat up wooden tables full of character and years fill the space in the middle of the room.

The walls echo of the lives that have passed through this room, grand and simple. 16 children were born and raised in this place, orphans have been taken in, visitors from afar have felt its welcome, all of their laughter and love now distant echoes in a room that now sits empty most days, save the elders who remain behind. The squeals of granddaughters from afar now awake the quiet memories, their giggles resurrecting the joy for all the years past. As I sit quietly here now and listen, murmurs of meetings, homework, children, laughter, families and life overwhelm my heart. This room has seen much.

And the matriarch stands, in quiet majesty, queen of this home for over 50 years, through births and burials, soft voice carries wisdom dealt out gently, patiently, in a tongue I do not know, this mother in love of mine. The face of this aged woman smiles as a whole as she tends to her man-son, granddaughters trailing behind her step. She serves him his favorite food, after all these years. With joy, she still knows how to make her son smile.
She prays to the God of us all, showing gratitude for years come and gone, for children come and gone, for visitors come and gone, and for the travels that bring them all home again. Wrinkled hands folded, calloused and tough by hard years of exhausting labor in the cools fields of this Kenyan village, the lines around her soft eyes speak of the smiles and squints for a lifetime.

She embodies beauty and grace.

She is clothed in strength and dignity.

She serves us traditional porridge in an old calabash and we drink in the warmth of family and home of his birth.

The brothers gather under the tree, the boardroom of this people, their lines speak of clan strength. Dirty kids chew on sugar cane and enjoy the freedom of spitting out the remains. And we pass the remains of the afternoon in this village out in the bush, the gentle breath of God blowing a breeze of refreshment over our travel-weary souls.

And we are reminded that contented simplicity far outweighs the bustle and noises that would otherwise lure and distract from this plain beauty, and that it is good to be home. 

Linking to beautiful Emily at in the hush of the moon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Burnt Offering

Leviticus 9:24 says:
Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown.
If God would come and consume my fat portions, I would certainly shout for joy and fall facedown. Guaranteed.

Just sayin'.

Have a happy Friday, y'all!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hakuna sheda

Hakuna sheda!
No problem!
There are no problems, indeed.
Hakuna sheda.

Horns sound, hoot in a friendly manner,
Alerting rather than cursing.
Cars weave in and out,
on and off the road,
Taxis and buses swerve in and out,
bicycles litter the road,
while pedestrians weave in and out of it all.
And in this disorganized chaos of Africa roads,
There is an understanding of humility,
Of seeing others as more important than oneself.
Hakuna sheda.

Right of way is forfeited,
Hands wave others to pass or cut in.
Intersections are meetings grounds where one slows down and rolls through,
Rather than cruising through with confidence of right of way.
Hakuna sheda

And with the release of fighting for rights
Comes the release of others,
Allowing each to navigate without judging or irritation.
You cannot offend me, 
as I have chosen to not be offended.
Hakuna sheda.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; 
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.
There is a humility here, in this place,
That is unmatched anywhere else.
And I am learning the way of
Hakuna sheda.

Linking up to Emily at in the hush of the moon. Stop by for some amazing poetry.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Coming Down from the Mountain

There is a stirring, a discontent. No, discontent isn't the right word. I cannot put my finger on it. A restlessness that I cannot define. 

We go home in 9 days. 9 days before we return to life stateside, to grocery stores and farmers' markets, preschool, Chipotle, girlfriends, walls and fences, rights and privilege, hot showers, reliable electricity, driving on the left side of the road, car seats, abundance, abundance, abundance.

9 days. Have I learned what You brought me here to teach? My eyes have been opened to MANY, many things, but I am slow to learn. My head is slow and heart is stubborn.

9 days. What I have heard, what I have seen throughout the past four months have been incredible lessons in community, what it is and how to live it. In grace; this has always been an ambiguous, churchy word to me, but I have seen it lived out and now know that it is much harder, and much more freeing than I ever imagined. In humility, which apparently I knew nothing about. It is freeing to know, and believe, that there is One who speaks on my behalf, yet incredibly hard to not open my mouth and fight. Learning to ask the questions, "Does it matter? Will this glorify God?"

Community, grace, humility.

There are things in my own life that I know must change, steps that I have taken that have hindered my growth, slowed my faith walk. Finding your way back to the path of God can be challenging, but He has promised that those who seek Him are sure to find Him. And so I seek, grasp, cry out, and know that He will answer.

I want to pray throughout the day, even fixed-hour prayer. I want to be sure to give You thanks before bites go into the mouth, because my eyes have seen and my heart has loved many who do not have such privilege. They have faces and names, bodies that I have held. They are not strangers to me, and I do not want to forget their plight, or the One who provides for us all. I want to be in the habit of feasting on the real Bread of life several times each day, and not when crisis or concern strikes, as that is what will nourish and grow me through all seasons. I want these things not for the sake of being a "better" Christian, but for the sake of knowing You more, walking more closely with You, living out this Christ-life and actually looking more like Christ. I want these to define my life with passion and energy, without becoming mindless routines.

Somehow, this status quo isn't enough. There is a void that has to be filled and my habit and flesh tendency would fill it with worldly things, such as food, or shopping, or just making myself busier to fill that void. But I have learned enough to know that those things don't fill the void, but only ease the pain of it for a short, short time. Here I have not had access to those "drugs" and so God has revealed Himself in mighty ways, as the Comforter and the One who heals.

How can I be truly set apart when my life feels so ordinary, so much like everybody else? How will anyone know anything about Jesus by looking at my life?

I have seen short-term mission teams come and go throughout the summer, so alive, passion burning. They are intentional and focused, set apart for a short season to proclaim the goodness of God. And I too have been a part of such a team, and remember standing at the mountaintop, bold for my Savior, wildly in love and wanting all in my path to receive His blessings of peace and life. But I cannot help but wonder, what happens when this short season ends and life goes back to normal? My summer began with a team, moving from village to village, but when the team left and everyday life resumed of raising up my family of little people, the excitement and passion of a focused purpose quickly waned. Daily trips to the market for food for dinner, sibling squabbles, diapers, upset tummies, temper tantrums replaced travel and interaction and being seen as important, relevant, needed.

And I wondered, "How now, will they know that I am His?"

When you travel with a mission team, life is a bit different. The standard is set a bit higher and everyone feeds off of each other, for better or worse, and the spiritual air is thick with anticipation of God's movement. With the demands of the mission field, it is know that one cannot survive a day, at least not well, without full reliance on the guidance, grace, and mercy of the Holy Spirit. There is much more reliance. There has to be.

And then seasons shift drastically and the excitement of work well done becomes the mundane of routine. And someone says with the best of intentions, "Just give it some time, and everything will go back to normal."

And somehow it always does, except that it is never quite the same ever again because I'm trying to fit all that my eyes have seen and my heart has absorbed into a box that wasn't prepared for such things. And it just doesn't fit.

What happened when Moses had to come down from the Mountain so beautiful and face so radiant, and deal with bickering, rebellious siblings, and squabbling families, and the chores of keeping the people focused long enough to not build golden calfs and call them god?

He threw his tablets on the ground and stomped his feet in anger.

Yeah, I know that feeling.

How do the passions keep from becoming mere smoldering coals?
Is it that we are to be set apart for a mere short season, a 10-week short-term trip, or set apart for life, day-to-day life lived out in sacrifice and humility and community? And in the "normal" day-to-day of life, what is my role in seeing that the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given water, the orphans are cared for and the widows are loved? What is my role in creating and contributing to community, that they may know that we are one?
And how do we do that when we are all seeking to move away from others, with walls that separate us to preserve our privacy and personal space?

I dont' want everything to go back to normal. I want the radical obedience and wild passion of following Jesus. I just need to know what it looks like.

As we are preparing for the journey back to the states, these are the questions I am struggling with, praying for discernment.
How now shall we live? For the next 9 days, I am pondering this with intensity.

What about you? What are your thoughts on community and humility and grace towards others? 

I have more thoughts to share on those things soon. They are a tornado in my heart right now, moving too fast to make any sense. Hopefully the winds will die down soon.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Touching Base

So, I haven't been around the blogosphere quite as much this past week or so. Today marks two weeks left in Kenya until we fly back to the states, so we have been trying to make like tourists and soak up as much of what we can do around Nairobi as possible. So we visited the Karen Blixen museum and coffee plantation. For those not familiar, she is the author of "Out of Africa," which became a movie in 1985 with Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. Good movie, actually, if you haven't seen it.
We visited the elephant orphanage and had fun watching the silly elephants nurse from bottles. Toria was bored within a few minutes though and ready to move.
So, while we enjoy our remaining time in Kenya, I will try to post some photos so you can see too. Here are some for starters.

Elephant orphanage
African sister love
Always in motion

Spying the elephant in the bush

Peaceful as a flower...