From the streets of China to the mountains of Nepal. This was where I was taught that 'different' and 'dark' may have been studied from the wrong angle.
I have learnt a lt this year. I learned that things don't always turn out the way you planned, or the way you think it should. And I've learned that there are things that go wrong that don't always get fixed or get put back together the way they were before. I've learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones. This year wasn't always pretty. It wasn't always comfortable. Some things and situations even break your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness and on your heart. You take something with you, and hopefully also leave some things behind. I will forever remain humble because I know I could have less. And I will always be grateful because I know I've had less.
"Be Still." Two words. Constant and always present. Having morning coffee, I hear it: "Be Still." Swimming in the clear blue ocean. Walking on snow white sand. Watching a Fiery red sunset. "Be Still." Fellowshipping with people who have become family. Listening to music, old and new. Feeling the presence of God.
Davis, aka The Ambassador greeted us with his white smile and a dashing white suit on Sunday morning. He was ready for church. Marié and I ran some last errands, I all the while thinking how the heck is this guy going to keep his white suite white. Why would he even bother with one? It won't stay white, I could guarantee him that. Everything is dusty in Busia, Uganda. Even the tar road has a thick layer of dust making it unrecognizable – and we were far away from the tar road anyway.
We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away, and there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. Kenya is such a place. It is truly like Narnia. There is something beautiful about Kenya that is thousands of years old. Too old to be truly captured by poems and songs. Loved by everyone, loved so very deeply. Kenya is everything real in a world of make believe. But even though I left some part of me behind, I also found a part of myself whom I thought was missing. I found her at a lookout point overlooking the breathtakingly beautiful plains of Massaailand. And I couldn't help thinking and knowing that I serve a God who makes the most beautiful things. We serve a God who loves us so much that He would come down to feel what we feel, to experience what we experience and even gave up His life to leave a part of Himself behind to always stay and be with us. This love, I have found, is not passive, it is never disengaged, it is always present and it hangs on every word we say. His love keeps promises, it keeps its word, it honors what is sacred and its vows are good. This love is not broken, it is not insecure, it is never selfish and is always pure. He is a good good father and He truly does not give His heart in pieces. He gives it unconditionally without is having to do anything to gain it. He loves us not only because but He also loves us despite. That is a love that conquers. He shows us this love not only in big things but in the small events of everyday life. He shows it in 14 hour roller coaster bus rides, cramped taxi game drives, swimming in breathtaking rivers, 24 hour campfires, hippo pool hikes, walking with the Massaai, worship sessions, packages from home, starry starry nights, footscrubbing sessions, nutella chapatis, heart key charms, rural house visits, tea cans, very fast bike rides, wind in your hair, Mika, laughter and so much more. So much love I do not have enough pockets to out it in. Kenya, you will forever be one of my most favorite places on earth. Home away from home. You showed me true humility and servanthood. Nothing I have I can call mine because it belongs to the one who knows the number of hairs on my head. Kenya showed me what family in Christ means and showed me firsthand what James meant when he encourages us to rejoice in suffering and to worship in trials. Tough times really do show us that we should always hold on to Jesus. God is good all the time. Keep holding on to Jesus even if the world around you shakes. Kenya You have taught me gratefulness, and if we are true in the small things, God will be true in the big things. Life is more enjoyable and even more beautiful when we hold on to Jesus. He knows what is good. If this is what it means to sit at the feet of Jesus then I will stay here forever. Jesus is everything. His love is everything. May God bless your nation and His people for you have blessed me with a gift that I can never lose. Staring at the beauty of our King. May peace and grace be yours forever. Asante sana Kenya! x x x
When I first laid my eyes on you and the rolling hills you sat upon. I thought what amazing luck I have that God had created such beautiful things and gave me the eyes to see them. I am forever changed by your existence. You are a place filled with so many stories and I feel so privileged to share some of these stories with you. I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimental sense of how things work. You can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses. These interesting guesses were what brought our team to a lot of interesting places ranging from the far North to the ever ongoing South. You taught me the names of these cities, and I saw that each one of them tell a different story. You introduced me to people that showed me characteristics of Jesus in such a simple and beautiful way. I learnt about the importance of our dependance on God and also what it truly means when Paul writes in Philippians 4:11 "...in every situation I am to be content." I learnt that everything in life needs some sort of foundation, I came to the conclusion that Jesus must be this foundation. Just like the wise builder built his house on the rock. I learnt that rest is necessary especially when we do it in His presence. He gives answers when we listen. I learned that one smile can heal a heart that had walls so tall and painted blue, but now has a door to let people through. Ethiopia you showed me how the Father gives so much more to those He loves. We ask for one ministry point He gives us all of Ethiopia. Kindness is your specialty and somehow you grasp the importance of giving, not only things but yourselves as well. I am truly humbled by it. I will be forever grateful for these foundations you reminded me of. Thank you for showing me what love is by also showing me what it is not. I will carry it in my heart. I will carry you in my heart. YoursTill we meet again
Morocco welcomed us with a night at the airport where we had to sleep through the sound of hammers and chisels ceaselessly building away on a new part of the airport.
To get from Marrakech to Fes we had to take a long bus ride. The plan was to take the bus, arrive at the bus station in Fes, get connected to the Internet and let Mustafa from the hostel know we've arrived as arranged.
6 weeks ago, if people asked me, why are you doing Global Challenge. My answer would have typically been something in the line of: "I am determined to find God and revelation" or "I want to take my relationship with God deeper and gain wisdom and favor" or even "I want to change the world". Those are typically seen as a pretty honorable answers to the question.
Adventure is knocking at my door and it is almost time to respond by flinging this little door of mine wide open. Reflecting back on the past six weeks of training I am humbled by the grace of God and His undeniable faithfulness. What a journey it has been thus far, an adventure in itself. So far I have enjoyed every moment with my team, volunteers and leaders (even the less favorable ones like being out in the elements or walking barefoot for several hours).
New year...new beginnings
We are in Kenya. We are in Kenya. We are in Kenya. A year ago I would have been at work doing some MS Excel programming and moving automotive parts in a warehouse to create space for more parts... I AM IN KENYA. We are walking through the streets of Kenya, we are teaching primary school kids that Jesus is the Winner Man, we are eating mangos, chapattis and beans. Karibu. We are in Kenya. No matter how many times I repeat it, it still feels weird and unreal.
With a heart wild with expectancy, and eyes filled with wonder, I arrived at OR Tambo on the 4th of March. What to expect? I didn't know. All I knew is that I am about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, to live a life like no other. And all this, with Jesus as my compass and anchor. We boarded flight 202 headed to Dar es Salaam, and you could smell the excitement in the air. Our flight only jetted off at 23:20, and I soon found out that a dinner tray can also be used as a pillow. The first akward sleeping position of many to come! When we landed in Dar, and got our bags, we discovered that Génekes bag went missing. We had to say goodbye to our friends, Hidden World and Work Your Way, and leave the airport without Ginxs bag, and headed off to Zanzibar. After almost 3 hours of bag searching, taxi scouting, money drawing, and being bombarded by people who want to assist you with everything you don't want/need and also can't afford. In a city full of chaos, we met Mr Basheer, our first man of peace. He invited all ten of us in to his matchbox sized ferry ticket office, and helped us. When we were thirsty, he gave us water. He's whole being was woven together by kindness and humbleness. He gave us discount on our ferry tickets AND changed it to VIP tickets. When we boarded the ferry, he gave us orange soda and muffins. And he did all this, not because he felt sorry for us, but because of WHO HE IS. Peace that surpasses all understanding. I never quite got that, until it happened to me. But you never really understand something until you see it in your team mate, who's bag, with her whole journeys things inside was stolen. It's all about trusting and knowing that He is control. We arrived in Stone town, Zanzibar, after approximately 14 hours of traveling. Hot, sweaty, overwhelmed by the humidity, hungry and tired, but definately not dismayed. Our host waited for us at the harbors gate, and soon enough we were on our way to the place we would call home for the next 10 days. Our American/Canadian turned Zanzibari hosts welcomed us with open arms, and after we settled in, we had dinner with them, which consisted of Zanzibar pizza, salad and watermelon.
Our journey started in the airport at Johannesburg as the last of us said their final goodbyes to family and friends. The feelings racing through our hearts were of a variety—anxious for the unknown and excited for what is to come as we follow in obedience of God’s calling for our lives.
Three weeks after we have left Cameroon, we as a team were busy with the debrief. I wrote my team the following letter, I think it shows a bit of every day life as a team of Explore Africa and the challenges we were facing....enjoy!
From the moment we were welcomed by white smiles in dark faces, letters on the doors of our new place we will call home for three weeks and a cooked meal which took lots of effort, we knew that our time in Cameroon will be special… We have just entered the land of hospitality and fruitfulness. An exhortation nation.