There are some moments and experiences in life that just open your eyes and change your perspective. On my 25th birthday I rode my motorcycle with the HIV counselor to a town called Isokon. We came to a small mud house where we met an extremely pool family. While visiting us, they pulled out a recycled trash box and proudly showed us how they were each taking all their HIV medicines. Mother and father both had AIDS by this point-- and the children age 8,9, and 10 were all being treated prophylactically. Sitting in their house with them, as millions of flies covered my legs, I couldn't help but think: this is the definition of poverty. This is sickness, hopelessness, and destitution. All the while, the children smiled and giggled at me, eager just to shake my hand and play games with each other.
I came back from the home visit to my friend Kirpa who proceeded to blindfold me and lead me to my Kenyan birthday party at the clinic complete with 2 roasted chickens, chapatis, and potatoes, and a birthday cake. Everyone was singing and dancing, drinking soda, and having a good time. (In Kenya it's truly amazing- how if you give a person soda- instantly everyone thinks they are richer, and blessed, and breaks into song and dance ;) Everyone definitely worked hard to go all out and plan such a nice party for me and it was very special. They also gave me the beautiful shirpa (local Masai warrior dress) below.
There are so many blessings in life, and so often we forget to count them. We forget to dance and celebrate the small things. We forget to praise God for food, and clothes, health, and showers, underwear, and even a roof above our head. There are so many things we take for granted in life that other people have never had.
As I live here in Kenya, I realize there is so much poverty that I will never understand, so much brokenness and suffering that I don't know. And that in America often we live lives of such extravagance- that it is difficult to even explain here.
Sometimes it is so difficult to accept that just because I was born into America, just because my skin is white, just because my parents had good jobs- I was given privilege.
And as I meet beautiful Kenyan people, who help me learn to cook new foods, and teach me to wash my clothes better, or sell me foods in the market. So often as I look into their eyes, or listen to their stories, I am amazed. Because the locals here are strong, brave, beautiful, kind, and so amazing. I want to learn from them, I want their faith to make me stronger.
I feel so blessed this year in more than 25 reasons, more ways than I can count. Two of my dreams have came true this past year: visiting Africa, and learning how to deliver babies. And these are fun- exciting experiences I will never forget. But more than that, I feel so blessed to learn how Kenyans live and love and laugh. To experience thanksgiving as I learn to embrace suffering and community with others. There have been so many blessings in my life- my life has been so richly good- and it's all because I know Jesus and have such wonderful family and friends back home supporting me.