Lest we forget
"We have nothing to fear for the future lest we forget the way the Lord has led us, and his teaching in our past history."
The past weekend I spent out in nature at a lodge at a thing called "student missions retreat" which is an opportunity to gather with other past missionaries and talk about experiences, reflect on growth and struggles, and develop strategies to readjust back to life in the states. It was truly encouraging and helpful for me to go; and I'm grateful for the opportunity Southern student missions extended for me to attend.
This is my letter- one of my reflections- things I never want to forget about Kenya- some hard things, some beautiful things. But I want to remember this, and I hope you can appreciate this letter that truly comes from my heart.
"Heavenly Father, you have called each one of us to live a life in your footsteps: a life of loving others, a life of giving, a life of sacrificing- just like you showed us your sacrifice of Jesus. I praise you God for the opportunity to see more of the world, to meet the reality of third world poverty, to encounter the hardship of AIDS face to face, to hear the cries of the Masai women whose lives are built on oppression. I thank you for the opportunity to do missions, to meet the "least of these" and to learn how it feels to live a little more like them.
For so long God, going to Africa was my dream. I wanted to see what deep poverty cycles looked and felt like, I wanted to experience the raw openness and savanna's of Kenya, I wanted to meet the strange and indigenous Masai culture. And Lord you alone, took me there. You opened every door so that I could walk through with ease, in face in many ways God, the easiest part was saying "I will go" and the harder part was staying.
You took me on a journey to a place where many are thirsty for clean water, to the desert Sahara where small children are hungry and whose bellies swell from worms. You took me to meet some of the bravest people in the world: Masai warriors who hunt lions for a living and even braver in my opinion, Masai women who carry the weight of their families, the weight of never being good enough because of their gender and living situations, and the pain and wear of gruesome and lonely childbirths. Women who daily rise up to take care of their families, walk miles and miles for clean water, women who choose laughter and smiling in spite of hardship. Women who know the God of joy despite their simple, basic, and difficult conditions of life.
These Masai warriors, mommas, and children have taught me many things but especially what it means to be brave. How to find joy in the midst of challenge, how to cling to the Father in times of trouble, how to rise up when the world knocks you down.
I now understand that being a missionary is not just "roses and butterflies" it's not just "volun-tourism" as many have deemed it, it's not about bucket lists, safaris, or passport stamps. Living on bucket showers and squatting in the dirt is not a game of survival, it's a reality and way of life to many people around the world. It's not a joke, poverty, HIV, malnutrition, distressing births, hunger are real realities to many. I can no longer close my eyes to the injustice or impoverished, because now I connect names to the faces in my head and stories and laughter to those names.
Those names and faces of the most impoverished; I know they are also written on my Father's heart. I know He knows them by name and sings over them, the exact same way he sings over his delight in me and you.
God you know that going to Kenya and staying there for six months was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But God you were with me, you were the faithful sustainer, you were my best friend, and you always provided for me. You protected me. God don't let me be a coward now that I'm back in the states. Help me never forget that you want to take me out of my comfort zone so that I can trust in your promises. Help me to never trust in my self and my abilities but to trust in You alone as the God who can provide everything worth living for. Because God I never want to forget Kenya: the beautiful people I met, freeness of the wild animals, experiencing your gift of life being brought into the world by baby deliveries, but most importantly God I never want to forget you. You God are the only reason I made it through Kenya and can smile and laugh about what a great adventure it was. You God are the only one who can save the Masai just like you are the only one who can save me.
And God missions has helped me fall more in love with knowing you, and that's why I never want to forget it. Following you is the only thing worth living for."