Longing for Jesus

Christmas is over and I feel like I can now collect all my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

This Christmas I longed for Jesus more than ever before. I kept finding myself just uttering His sweet name all day long. Under my breath, in my mind, on my heart – “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”

It was more out of desperation than out of praise.

This Christmas season was hard for me. I spent most of it with a pretty heavy heart and a lot of discomfort. And I don’t think I was alone. I kept reading about and talking with people all over the world who were feeling the same, mostly those who live abroad and away from everything comforting and known. One person even entitled their post ‘Surviving Christmas’. Since when did Christmas become such a struggle that we must survive through? It was always a time of relaxation, rejuvenation, family, comfort, abundance, and food. But I understood this post. I felt like I just wanted to survive through this Christmas and move on.

Jesus

I really wanted a real Christmas tree and I wanted to open lots of gifts on Christmas morning. Is that selfish of me? I have now spent four Christmas’ in Kenya with no tree or gifts and, for the most part, I didn’t mind that one bit. But this Christmas, I wanted lots of junk food in my stocking and some new stylish clothes and maybe a fancy gadget. I miss spending Christmas with my family and doing things the way that I did growing up.

Jesus

It is unbearably hot here. Not sure what happened but it seems hotter than last year. It’s made everything a lot more difficult and daunting. Plus we have are all battling some sort of head cold that is making everything that much more uncomfortable. You can’t even sit still without sweating. Last night I had the fan blasted on high and draped my body with a damp towel and I was still sweating. Tears streamed down my face just wanting to be cool.

Jesus

Kelvin’s family is here and although I adore them, they do things differently. They don’t even speak english so often I have been left out of the conversation. I am so nervous to cook for his mom that I just keep messing up. My rice has been mushy and my chai too strong. I am not even sure if I want to explain how uncomfortable I was having a chicken on my deck. Before we killed it on Christmas morning, I had to go to my room and compose myself so tears didn’t decide to show up for all to see. Chicken. Blood. Everywhere. And me being uptight about cleanliness hovered over Kelvin trying to make sure everything was washed with hot water and bleach. At some point I scratched my nose only to realize that I just smeared chicken blood all over my face.

Jesus

It’s not always easy knowing that you don’t have the means to buy your loved ones gifts. Kelvin and I went to the grocery store the other day and had the intent of treating his family to some nice gifts. Once we looked at the cash in our hands we realized that it was not going to be possible. We ended up buying some more expensive sweets for them all to share. However, it is even harder when I look around and see people who don’t have any food or any family for Christmas. They are right outside my door.

Jesus 

My heart aches with all the suffering around me and all over the world. Shootings, bombs, sicknesses, poverty, dysfunction all around. One heart break after another.

Jesus Jesus Jesus 

I believe I have understood now more than ever what it means to long for a Saviour, to await the coming of Hope, to depend solely on the Son of God. How many times I had to stop and whisper ‘Jesus’ knowing that He was the only thing that could get me through this next day, hour, minute. At times I didn’t even know what I needed or how to get there so I just murmured out His name.

And He did show up. I did get through. And I am doing well. There were great moments of joy and wonder. I did laugh and smile and make merry. We enjoyed family and loved ones and ate amazing food. Sweet breezes and cold showers cooled my body.

God is indeed with us.

 We prepared a huge Christmas feast. It was way too much food but we doggie bagged most of it and sent it home with everyone. Was so so thankful to have all of Kelvin’s sisters there to help cook and clean.
 This was part of the chicken we killed in the morning. I was especially happy to see it eaten as it was waking us up at 4am cock-a-doodle-dooing.
We played some Rummikub. 

 It was Kelvin’s twin sisters’, Joan and Harriet, birthday on the 24th so we decided to celebrate it on Christmas when the whole family was there. I woke up extra early to bake it before they woke up. It was a pretty sad cake but it did the trick.
Then we had a dance party. 

Yes, He is really with us.

Some Muddy Soccer

We are home! We did indeed make it to Kipkaren for a wonderful week of learning, listening, teaching, and fellowshipping. 
I grew up in a small town so I love the intimacy of a small community. Mombasa was the last place I ever wanted to be cause its so big, clustered, dirty, and cramped. Going to the village is like a vacation for me even if I am working all day long. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the quietness, the green landscape, the cool weather, the simple lifestyle, the fresh produce, the humble people, and the slower pace of life. So wonderful! 
Our hosts were amazing! They have this swanky guesthouse (which was three times bigger than our apartment in Mombasa) fit with the most comfortable beds and steaming hot showers!! They fed us wonderful meals and let us enjoy their family. We learned a lot from them! They too are a mixed couple like Kelvin and I. They have been doing community development in this area for 14+  years. I picked their brains on so many things like their mistakes, triumphs, difficulties, finances, etc. We were so privileged to work with them. 
 We tried to wake up early every morning to have coffee and do devotions together while the sun was rising. Spectacular! 
The reason we were asked to come up there was to help start a youth program similar to ours. The state of the youth in this community really broke our hearts. I was especially heartbroken for the young women most of whom dropped out of school at an early age and got pregnant either by their husbands, someone else’s husband, or some random men. They really need someone to walk alongside of them and point them towards Jesus their Healer, Forgiver, Redeemer, Lover, Provider and Father.
Above Kelvin was doing devotions for a group of youth and widows in the community. After devotions, we took the youth and did some team building exercises while teaching them a few life skills. 

 Jayden, the son of our hosts, is too adorable for words. Seriously, he melts the heart of everyone he meets. He is a man of the community just like his father.
 Jayden watching as the boys begin to play soccer. 
 It was really really muddy. It poured with rain every afternoon we were there. I loved the thunder and lightening but didn’t so much enjoy standing outside watching soccer in the rain….
….hence the awkward missionary/village/freezing cold fashion. Finally, by the third day of being ridiculously cold, I put away my pride and dressed to be warm instead of trying to look decent.
 We came hoping to find a bunch of youth eager to play soccer. We were told there were many but quickly learned that they only come if there is something they will get out of it (like a ball, blankets, gifts). So our method of reaching youth through soccer didn’t work out so well. The show still went on and Kelvin did what he does best: love on youth and point them to Jesus. Here they are praying after practice. 

 We even brought some swanky cones and balls for them to practice with.
 A seriously cute kid! The best part is that he doesn’t even speak english (even though his Mom is american)! They taught him swahili first which has kind of inspired me to learn so that my kids will be bi-lingual. 
 Kelvin utterly amazed me the whole week. He was in his element doing what God has created him to do best. It was so amazing to see my husband truly THRIVE in what he was doing. I was so so proud of him!!! 
We have committed to supporting a group of youth in the community. About 50 of them have formed a group where they come together to grow closer to God, grow closer to each other, support one another in their lives, create jobs and do income generating projects together. We hope to go again every couple months to mentor, train, walk alongside, and love on them. 

We couldn’t go all the way to Eldoret and not go to Ilula to visit all the kids and my ‘family’. We only spent one night but it was just enough to drink yummy chai, sing the latest hits with the girls, goof around with the young kids, and talk and laugh around the dinner table with the Ronos. To our surprise, Emmanuel picked us up in their ‘new’ car. We had quite the ride to the children’s home. At one point a large piece of metal fell off the side of my door as we were sliding around in the mud. It felt so good to be home….

We are back in Mombasa and will be updating you with some exciting stuff soon!!

Eid is bringing back the memories

Eid Mubarak friends!

It’s Eid al Adha, the Muslim holiday which celebrates Abraham’s courage, faith, and obedience to God when he took his son Ishmael to be a sacrifice. Yes, his son Ishmael, not Isaac, like we Christians believe.

For me, this holiday brings me back to when I first moved to Mombasa. We had only been in the city for about 3 weeks and were having a really hard time adjusting. I woke up one morning only to find the eerie prayer calls going for hours and hours. Totally confused, I started getting text messages from Muslim friends wishing me a ‘Eid Mubarak’. I was so baffled as to what was happening. It was all so new and surreal to me.

I was able to find an email I sent out to friends about the day. Here is a short passage that I wrote:


Lately I’ve been able to sleep through the loud and eerie prayer calls from the local mosques in the morning so when I woke up this morning at 4:30 I knew that they would be coming soon and that I wouldn’t be able to sleep through them. Well they started around 5 am and they played and they played and they played and they played some more. It wasn’t until about 7am that I decided to get out of bed and figure why they have playing for hours. I discovered that today is one of the biggest celebrations for muslims called Eid al-Adha.

I had to look up what the significance of this day is and this is what my book said, “This celebration commemorates the willingness of Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Abraham showed his readiness and Al’ah was very pleased. A ram was sacrificed instead of Ishmael on Al’ah’s command.” Does that sound familiar? Muslims believe that it wasn’t Isaac Abraham offered to sacrifice but Ishmael. I also believe that this day celebrates the end of Hajj which is the 10 day period where the pilgrimage to Mecca is made. If muslims do their pilgrimage to Mecca during these 10 days, it is more significant than if they go at any other time of the year.

 Today, they will go to the mosque in the morning to do their prayers, fast all day, then slaughter a goat and feast on it tonight. I was walking around town today and there was definitely a different feel to the city. I ran into a friend of mine from the library who was trying to explain to me her excitement that she gets to go shopping They are supposed to buy new and fancy outfits to wear for the feast tonight. I had another friend who text messaged me first thing this morning to wish me a happy Eid day. I can see their excitement. This is a day where they get new clothes, get a wonderful meal, and get to spend time with their families.

Outside our house we usually find this large herd of goats. There must be about 25-30 of them that wander around out neighborhood. Lately, we haven’t been seeing them and I now understand why. Every mus.lim family in the world is supposed to slaughter a goat today if they have the means to. Now, that’s a lot of goats. My guess is that those goats were especially bred and kept for this day. As we walked through the streets yesterday, we could see goats tied up outside of everyone’s houses. And they all have green spots on them! I am not sure the reason for it but the entire city is filled with green goats! We will never see our little neighborhood goats again…

I have learned to love Eid. The beauty of living in a city that embraces two religions is that you get two sets of public holidays! We are not working today since most of our youth are muslims and are busy with Eid celebrations. Kongowea kind of shuts down. Even the Christians celebrate it.

I am not really sure if people really understand what they are celebrating. I think some just know that its Eid so they must celebrate.

For most people, celebrating means food! It’s the one day they save up for to make biryani. And its YUM!

In fact, as I was in the middle of writing this post, we had a friend deliver a big pot of biryani to our front door! Guess what we are having for supper!?

Our prayer this morning was that our Muslim friends would seek God with all their hearts.

Because God promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, the true God.