Tonight at church the Kenya mission team shared stories of their trip. Here is what I shared.
Since I was a child, I have always wanted two things: to be a mom and to go to Africa. So going in never the question for me. The question is if it is God's will for my family and I at this particular time. I was confident it was until a few days before we left when I can only explain as an unsettling came over my spirit. Something like fear, doom even...it was weird. This is from my journal the first night of our trip:
We finally arrived after 6 countries, 5 connections and 42 hours of travel. It is awesome to see God at work in this team.
The past few days I have had some serious restlessness in my spirit. Honestly questioning if I were to still come. I can't really explain it but it was hard to discern if it were a divine inspired feeling of caution or just the devil trying to get in the way. After a lot of prayer, seeking out some Godly counsel, unsolicited encouragement from others and talking to Trevor, I decided to trust God.
On the plane between Brussels and Rwanda, I finished my talk for the women's conference my friend Christie and I would be giving to the Maasai women. I had been trying to write it for months and it came spewing out of me in one hours time. Scripture came to my mind and words to my heart and when I layed my pen down I knew exactly why I had those feelings a few days earlier...Satan was skeered! God was using me; this country girl from the hog farm in Southern Indiana to tell the Maasai women in the Bush of Kenya how much God values their life and loves them.
You know, it's funny, I always told Trevor before we were married to tell me now if he ever thought he was going to be called to be a preacher because I was not called to be a preacher's wife but I think I may have just written my first sermon.
My fears have always been in my limitations, my inadequacies...especially when i'm in an experience with people I love and care for and the needs are so great. I'm a helper by nature so it is uncomfortable for me to feel so small in the midst of intense suffering. So this trip for me was very personal this time around. It was a series of God revealing himself to me moments. The reassurance of His love for the people and country I love, His love for me and just how big He is.
This happened in a number of ways. The first was seeing our child we sponsor again. I met her two years ago on my first trip and it was a wonderful feeling to see her again. I said her name when I saw her and she said, "Jen you're here." It was the best feeling to get to look into this child's face and let her know that I was not just a tourist passing by but someone who loved her and prayed for her and was completely invested in her life. There were CHE trainers, teachers, social workers and other children I had met two years prior and their names just kept coming to me as if the Holy Spirit whispered each one to me and fed those relationships. It encouraged them and me.
On our tour of the slum the fist day, Jesus again showed me His face while we were walking through and we ran into Mary. The exact same Mary I had met two years before on my first day. She invited us into her home and it was a reminder to me how encouraging it is to them to have us show up time and time again to show Jesus' love to them.
At Joska, the boarding school we visited there were 3 girls I had spent a lot of time with on my previous trip that I was really hoping I would see again. We were there for worship on Sunday and it is a large school of almost 800. When a hand grabbed mine to dance in praise, I should not have been surprised that it would be Lucy, one of the 3, sitting directly behind me out of the hundreds that filled the place.
It was in a shanty in Mathare that I took a women named Anne's confession of faith.
And the loudest "our God is greater" moment for me was on the final day of celebration with Area 2 school. Each afternoon it had been tough for me to leave Mercy. I would become teary and an unbearable sadness would fill my heart that this was her home. I often struggle with why I was born into the privilege I was and others have such a different story. Before traveling I had asked if it would be possible to meet with Mercy's family and was told no. On that final day, I walked into the school and out of the close to 800,000 residents in Mathare Valley, God had brought Catherine, Mercy's mother, to me. She sat in the corner with her baby on her lap and I knew right away it was her. I was able to speak with her and show her pictures of our family and tell her we pray for them. She had on the necklace Grace had sent with me for Mercy and I had given her just a few days before. The cross now hung on her neck and it felt in my spirit as if God were saying, Mercy is okay. Her family is okay. I am with them and love you all so much. I love you enough to give you this gift of this meeting and the peace I know it will bring to your heart. Our God is so BIG and in every detail.
I always question how I can have an impact, of what use am I? God knowingly acknowledged my insecurities at each turn placing people in my path as if to say, I am big enough for both of us. I love you immensely. Thank you for saying yes.