Saturday, November 26, 2016

The little things: Love & Value

 Day 2 continued.... 

Before heading off to the medical clinic to familiarize ourselves with the layout and the equipment we were honored to go on a home visit.

Meet Schopine (left) & Lizzie (middle). They lost their parents a couple years ago and now live at Brittney's Home of Grace. The rest of their siblings live outside of the compound in Migori and we are taking them to visit their family.  

They were so excited! As soon as we got close Schopine pointed and said "that's my house!"

Reunited with their siblings temporarily. Look at those smiles!

Some of our team brought them gifts from America.What an honor to provide things to these amazing children. They were so grateful. 

And here is Mildred. The oldest sister who dropped out of high school in order to care for her siblings when their parents died. The missionary Devry said she hadn't seen her smile like that in at least 2 years. Amazing. She is pictured here in their one room house.

 And now the bubbles!!!
We captured the attention of all the kids in the neighborhood when we were all gathered at Mildred's house. We came prepared though with a box of bubbles. And to all of our surprise these children had never, ever blown bubbles and we all had an absolute blast.
Trying to figure out what they are.....
Taught them how to say "bubbles." It's amazing.... none of them spoke English and we didn't speak Swahili but love can be felt and known across nations, barriers and cultures. 

Never underestimate the value you can place on others' lives. Never underestimate the power you have to make a difference.
Life's blessings are in the small things. 

Here's a video...if it will play

Back at Brittney's home of grace we spent some time with the children. As I pushed them on the swings we loudly sang songs in Swahili (I had no idea what I was saying, but I just repeated what they said) and they laughed and smiled and my heart just melted.

To lose oneself in serving others, is to truly glimpse the endless possibilities of heaven. May we find moments in our day when we truly see the glittering of heaven on earth.

I don't know all of these children's stories but I do know that life hasn't been easy for them. They were left parent-less in a harsh world yet they are loving and beautiful and warm up quickly to the hand of God's compassion and mercy.
Thank you God for sending me. 

I believe that when Jesus got on his knees to wash the disciples feet and I believe that when Mary sat at Jesus' feet, it was setting an example for all of us to recognize what truly matters. In this time and in this place, with eyes looking toward heaven and feet planted on the ground, may I understand the magnitude of placing worth on those around me because that is truly what really matters. That's how you live an extraordinary life.

                                         God's gift to us is often God's gift to others through us.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Field of Dreams & Expectations

The need is great yet the smiles are plenty. The giving culture of the Kenyans is something to be admired and replicated.

Day 2:
We received a tour of the compound by CEO/Founder Steve James and the unfolding of God's work in this place was revealed to us. not only helps those in need but provides jobs/careers and a steady paycheck for the people of Kenya. So many workers in Kenya are receiving less than $2/day, if that. Some may not even get paid but they show up for work anyways just hoping they'll receive something. May I NEVER complain about working overtime or not getting paid enough. May I work hard & diligently with compassion not expecting a paycheck but expecting the Lord to prosper and bless those around me. Conviction.

Our "backyard" 

This was the best spot to get some wifi! And a lot of journaling took place back here. 

Brittney James Children Fund. People. Unity. Love.

Our drivers were AMAZING! These were our vans for the week.

Children playing on the swing set

The girls' garden 

Laundry! All hand washed.    

To get into high school in Kenya the children must pass tests. If they are unable to pass then they are left to find whatever jobs they can in the community. KenyaRelief seeks to provide these children a strong education and an empowering environment that makes them able to succeed and move on to high school and beyond in pursuit of their dreams.




As we neared the end of our tour I couldn't help but think of Isaiah 29:11 which states that God promises to prosper us. That He has a plan and purpose for each and every one of our lives. But the trick to prospering is to let go of our plans and our dreams and instead grab hold of God's dreams for us. For He can and will do far more and far better than our minds could ever even imagine. We have to be willing though to surrender and walk in blind faith.

The wall of dreams....

Steve called the murals you can see painted here his "wall of dreams." He states what a joy it has been to watch God work and provide even more than he could have imagined for the people of Kenya. I see Jesus here.... I see and feel His love and I am witnessing what it looks like to raise up a broken people to life. And to see that this all started with the dream of a young girl, Steve's daughter, who simply wanted to give a piece of her heart away to a young, stranger in Africa. Look what God can do! Look what he does in the midst of tragedy; He not only triumphs and lifts up lifts up those around us, but prospers us in the process.

Future site of a new hospital! Hallelujah! How many more will be helped within this infrastructure....

And the beginnings of a soccer field for sports ministry. Champions are made in a thousand invisible mornings sweating, persevering, and showing up when no on'es around to witness it.

A photo from the boys dorm: "Jesus said: Follow me & I will make you fishers of men."  
We may have no idea where God is taking us or why, but we do have to trust that it's going to be worth it. That our lives are so much more than what we want and feel and more so about how we can help and change the lives of those around us. Here I am in the middle of Africa, at the end of my anesthesia training, in the middle of October, in the midst of a spiritual journey deepening my relationship with God and strengthening my faith. God can use anybody we just have to be willing.

"Here we are Lord. Send us!" Isaiah 6:8 that we might leave our mark on a world that so desperately needs God's love, grace and mercy.

"Follow me & I will make you fishers of men" Jesus said...and immediately they (the disciples) left the boat and their father and followed Jesus" into a life of undeniable heartache, beautiful miracles and the joy of providing relentless service to others.

There is a message and power in the waiting... and there is a reward for walking and living in constant expectation that God is going to show up. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Karibu: Welcome with Intention (Warning: Lots of photos!)

Here are some photos from our Nairobi drive to Migori:

The beautiful countryside of Africa 

We stopped for a delicious lunch and did some shopping and talked with the locals. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I bought a cross necklace that I have yet to take off.

I still cannot believe that I'm in Africa!!!! Wow!!! I was so tired but couldn't stop looking at all there was to see around me. Tea farms, women carrying heavy loads of stuff on top of their head, children herding cattle and goats, donkeys/mules carrying water....what a lifestyle difference. And everyone was so beautifully dressed and put together. It was incredible.
Town market 
Lots of cattles & donkeys roaming the towns.

Found a Shell station & Visa in Africa!

Bikes seemed to be the way of transportation.

At around 6pm-ish we finally arrived  (this was 11am Eastern time--7 hour time difference)!!
We made it!!!

These beautiful faces welcomed us! 

The children made signs to decorate our rooms with!

Within 30secs of pulling into Brittney's Home of Grace, seeing these excited and beautiful children and receiving hugs and welcome signs from was all worth it. 3 plane rides, 20-some hours of travel, giving up clean water and the comfort-ability of my life.... all worth it. This moment moved me to tears. The missionaries and Steve James (founder/CEO) hugged us and welcomed us as well. It was as if we were coming we all knew each other somehow...I felt so welcomed and loved.

I thought I was there to serve and bless others, yet here we were being served and blessed ourselves. God is good!

And if that wasn't enough the children worked for 2 hours after school and prior to our arrival to put on a show for us. At the last song we got up and danced with them... I believe we did a little twist to the macarena!

 Now dinner time! I have to admit I was a bit nervous about the food and ended up giving all my snacks I packed to the missionaries and the children. Our dinner was fresh fish tacos, rice and cooked kale and I enjoyed a Ginger soda. We had prayer before dinner and then all shared our stories about what brought us to Kenya. The stories were powerful---God had weaved us all together and connected us in ways that you knew it could only be Him.

Devotions & Dinner! Our gathering place. 

Our schedule for the week.

Laying in bed that night I couldn't sleep because I was in such awe of what God was doing here and what He is going to continue to do.

My journal entry that day states: "When I reflect on Africa may I remember to be friendly, welcoming and to slow down. Living with Intention."