Thursday, 11 December 2014

Understanding of Home.

I shared last a few days ago on my instagram how there's something about the red dirt in central Africa. While you are there it's frustrating and you feel like its always on your shoes, feet and getting into everything. Kind of like the sand was when we lived in the Middle East. Now I find myself dreaming of that red dirt roads lined with precious children who want to just be with you, always ready to greet you with a smile. 

The concept of home is a strange one to both me and my hubby. Both having grown up away from our home countries and in other cultures it's always a weird thing to be asked where home is. It's such a loaded question that I'm never really sure how I'm supposed to answer.
It usually has many different answers depending on how I gauge the person asking it.
The simple answer would be wherever I currently reside, which is with my hubby in the Midwest in our home together. That is home.
Yet my family are scattered, my parents live in England on the coast. In a farm area where it takes 20 mins to drive to the nearest McDonalds and all the local stores start closing around 4pm and the average age is probably 60 something. That was home for a while too.
Then there's my university town, the dreaming spires, the history, the people who left prints on my heart during the 4 years I wrestled with life in my early 20s. I went to school there, wrestled out my faith and convictions there, started my career there and also ended it there (but that's a whole other story). That is home too.
The desert town which no longer exists in reality because everyone I knew back then now lives in another part of the world and is in a different stage of life. That's home too.

I think the complicated answer is that every place I called home, took a piece of my heart.
Every time we unpacked boxes and I had a room to call my own, it really became mine for a season. I did life in every single one of those empty shells known as houses, they became homes because of the people in them and the events that took place in them. Home is so many different places to me.

I have never known a building where you come home from the hospital and spend 18 years of life in the small four walls growing and maturing along the way. Redecorating your room every time you outgrew the colors or designs. (For the record a lot of my walls have been white, a luxury of  rental houses)
To me every place you go has the possibility of becoming a home.
Maybe that's why I feel like visiting Kenya took another piece of my heart in the same way. I got off the plane and felt a familiarity, a homecoming to a place where I had never been before. A comfort. I have really only visited central Africa twice. Twice. That's it.
Yet it seems to be permanently etched on my heart. On my mind.

Who knows what the Lord will do with that.

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Monday, 8 December 2014

What Kenya Taught me about Fear.

What I have probably never shared before, as I tend not to speak it out loud very often, is that I have a fear. A very irrational fear, one that started just before I got married & seems to keep growing in size. A fear of flying. 

I know. I know. I've heard all the answers for how to get rid of it. But its seriously like being afraid of heights (which I think may be related as tall buildings now terrify me too) you can't simply just explain it away or pretend it doesn't exist. 

Several things help, but really its something that I have to pray through many time throughout the entire duration of any flight. The frequency of flying may make a difference as well. Before we got married and were travelling back and forth across the Atlantic frequently I had less of a fear of flying, then it increased with no bad experience to provoke it, just like I suddenly woke up and realized just how strange it sounds to travel in a metal tube with wings up in the air.

So with our decision to go to Kenya last month, there was a huge understanding for me that this meant getting on a plane. Several planes. 5 different flights to be exact. 35 hrs of being in the air. It was a stretch for me.

Especially when we seemed to encounter problem after problem with our flights on the way to Kenya. Our first flight departed 6 hours late due to mechanical problems with the plane (that information really made me feel so much better!). Then another flight was delayed due to a medical emergency, which really wasn't an emergency at all thankfully. One went through a storm and of course turbulence (which actually has a calming effect on me, I did say it was irrational).

The drive that kept me going of course, was the fact that I really wanted to go to Kenya. We both felt strongly that we were being called to go together & serve for the brief time we were there. And that meant being obedient and getting on that plane. 

It requires putting my trust in God and His plans for my life. Just putting one foot in front of the other and believing that He has good plans for me. Sometimes it feels beyond me to be able to do that. Especially in a fear this real.

But the one motivator I had in all this, was something that I shared during our daily devotionals as a group on our trip. As much as I am afraid of things in this life, it doesn't outweigh the fear I have of missing out on what God has for me because I was afraid. The fear of not doing something out of fear. 
Missing what He has called me to do. Missing out on being a part of what He is doing on this earth. 

So I keep battling & praying that He removes this fear someday! Battling my fears so that I can be a part of something bigger than them and bigger than me. 
Glorifying Him, even when its hard and brings me tears of fear. 
Knowing that He comforts me and protects me. I am never really in control ever in this life, this is all Him. 

And the glimpse it gives me of His creation is pretty incredible. 

I loved reading Nicole's perspective on fear today.

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Monday, 17 November 2014

Oh for a Joy like This.

We have been back for nearly a week and my heart still can't stop thinking about these kids. I really miss them with such a burden, their joy & thankfulness to God despite how little they have! They taught me so much! Yesterday we were asked to sit on a panel in our Sunday School class and talk about our trip and the question of what did we learn from the Kenyan people came up.

The answer is overwhelming, because I am sure we learned more from them, than they did from us. Having been on trips before I knew we wouldn't be going on to accomplish amazing things that couldn't take place without us. That was not our goal or our focus, my husband and I both wanted to go knowing we were joining an organisation already very present in Kenya. Knowing the Lord was already moving among the people in the region this group is working in and we wanted to go and encourage them, witness what the Lord was doing & who knows maybe join them someday? We both feel so burdened to not live permanently in the comfort of the western world and instead to reach other people groups. Of course God is at work in our current community which we are privileged to be a part of and I don't view any of the work here as insignificant. The Lord calls people to different places to do His work and for some that means staying exactly where they are. Our hearts just burn with a passion to do His work elsewhere someday. 

But the children over in Kenya, they amaze me. They are just some of the happiest kids I have ever seen. And it broke my heart watching their everyday routine, how little they have, yet how joyful and excited they are to spend time together and with anyone who will play with them. The pace of life over there was just enjoyable, no stress over online activity or how many likes you have on social media. Just quality time with people, loving on others and enjoying late night conversations with the pastors. My heart is just full. I have no other words to describe the feeling. 

I never got to join the children for their evening devotions as our evening schedules didn't permit that to take place. If I go back, I really want to make that happen. We heard them singing praise songs late in the evenings a few times and it was incredible. 

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."
Matthew 18:2-6

It took everything in me to leave, I wish we had the option to just stay permanently right now. To take on the task of loving these little babes, who were being cared for by 2 selfless amazing women 24/7. To contribute even a little to what the Lord is doing through this ministry. It feels so uncomfortable coming home and discussing Thanksgiving dinner, knowing their are hungry children where I was just a week ago. Or Christmas knowing that they don't even have a toy to call their own while most children in America have more than they could ever possibly hope to play with. 

It feels so unbalanced yet its strange to see which of the children are probably happier. (Not all, just general observations) It's very hard not to dislike the western world after going somewhere like Kenya and coming back feeling guilty about where the Lord has currently called us to. I'm still figuring out what to do with these feelings. 
Until then, I'm praying over and yearning for these kids again.....looking forward to seeing what the Lord does with this passion we both have for them. 

Plus, watching my hubby interact with the older school kids just melted my heart. That man is incredible with them, wanting to know their stories and make them feel special even if he only has a few minutes with them. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me when observing those precious moments, I was too busy etching them into my permanent memory. But it is hopefully something which will occur again and again in our future together. 

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