Dear Family and Friends,
Please know that this final trip into rural Kenya this summer was the best one yet. It is something I struggle to explain. God has been marvelously molding my heart and continually softening it to the people of Kenya. The following is my prayer to God--the only one who understands what's going on in my heart. I am sorry I cannot capture it any other way.
God, you have shown me something spectacular...something inexplicable...something utterly overwhelming...something wonderful. I sob as I reflect upon my time in rural Kenya. Why? Because just when I thought You couldn't make anything better...you did. I have delighted in You, and You have given me the desires of my heart. You have pounded my heart deep into the dirt of Africa since birth...I just didn't realize it until less than a year ago. And when my heart was awakened to devote myself to glorifying You by serving in health education in rural Africa...a new place I had never been, not to mention, on the other side of the world...I knew it could have only been from You. My heart yearned for this place I never knew, I had never been. I had a love for these people whose faces were unknown and names unheard. And now... here I am... taking a stroll in the rural village of Taita with my Kenyan brother Isaac... during my favorite time of day... just as the sun starts to set... The kids are eagerly running to greet me... I shake hands and exchange "Habari zenu?"s with some of the locals... I look up and see the African sunset... I look to my right and see the mud hut homes... I look down and see my worn TOMS walking in the red dirt of the hills of Taita... I look behind me and see the majestic mountains... I look to my left at Isaac as he explains the way of life of rural Kenya... I am the happiest I have ever been... I feel right at home. God, you gave me this dream. And here I am. I have followed your calling, and I have seen the ways you have prepared me from the very day of my birth. But it is coming to a close and going back is going to be hard--in some ways, it seems impossible. I have been encouraged to be extra gracious with people when I go back, but I need You more than ever to do that. You have taken me by the hand and led me to Kenya. Will you take me by the hand as I leave my home here? Baba, I cannot imagine not coming back to Kenya. I am already planning on coming back. I know if You want me here, You will provide a way. Just like You did for me this summer. Lord, You are so faithful.
You have waterfalled me with blessings. Even the smallest things... even the most intimate things about me, Lord... You know. You knew I wanted to learn to dance the African way. As I headed to my room for the night after the perfect stroll and delicious Kenyan dinner, You had all of the kids of the family gather together to sing and dance to Your name. God, because of who You are, we celebrated under the black sky blanketed with stars. We sang. We danced. Old water buckets and doors for drums...voices lifted high... God, together we sang to you...danced in your name...in Your glorious creation... with Your beautiful people. We laughed. We encouraged one another. It could have just been a night where we went to sleep, but you set that time in motion... and it was the best evening of my life. I thought I already had a wonderful day after waking up to the glorious sound of roosters crowing, pots clanging in preparation for breakfast, people singing praise songs in the nearby church, goats crying, chicks peeping, and voices calling out in Swahili and spending my day at a nearby school teaching young kids on HIV and hand washing. But, God, You knew... my day was just beginning. You had the best evening of my life planned out.
You gave me a family--Pastor Lawrence, Mama Lawrence, the boys, the girls, little Chris. You gave me a home--a spectacular home with a breath-taking view in a safe village with the only concern of elephants crushing the crops at night. You gave me discomfort mixed with comfort, an astounding joy, and a peace of heart. You took me to the village where You revealed Your plans of HEART to Vickie 10 years ago and won my heart over 10 years later. You gave me the desires of my heart. And I am inexplicably grateful.