Saturday, January 26, 2013

Day 4: The Joy of Their Salvation

The fourth day of being in Kenya was probably one of my favorites and full of impact. There is an organization called Back to Africa. 

This organization sells paper beads made into necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Mothers and wives spend countless hours rolling magazine paper into beads. What they earn from their work supports their families. We were able to visit and share with these women in a city named Gil Gil. We drove up and saw 10-12 women sitting on the ground with their beads in hand tirelessly stringing and securing the fasteners. We sat and chatted with the women as they shared some of their stories with us. Many of these women have been victims of abuse or abandonment. They are doing all they can to support their families. All of the women were mothers and we called them 'Mama- (first born)' as the custom is. One of our teammates, Pat, had prepared a devotional on Proverbs 31:10. She shared the background of the the virtuous woman and then simply read the Word of God. It was translated by one of the women who spoke English well, and the family resemblance of the body of Christ was evident across culture and language. As Pat read the proverb, we realized that we were surrounded by virtuous women. Proverbs 31:17-20: 

She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

These few verses portray what these women were doing in their daily lives. We had the chance to give them some toys and coloring books for their children and also soap and toothbrushes for the family. They were so grateful for the things we take for granted. We overheard one of the ladies telling another that she was going to share the items with her  neighbor because she knew that the family was struggling. When we heard this, it reminded us of the Widow's Offering from Mark 12:43:

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.

We are so used to taking what extra we have for ourselves. If I have an extra $20 dollars at the end of the month, chances are I'm going to save it or spend it on myself. Very few times do we think in our culture to help our neighbor who is in need.

After the devotional was finished, the women sang a song in Swahili. We couldn't understand it, but it was beautiful. Before we knew it, they had us dancing and singing with them. We sang some familiar songs in English and Swahili. The expression of joy was one of the most beautiful things I've experienced in my life. Their joy is pure and true and I say that because they don't have all the luxuries and comforts that we have or most of the world has; they only have Jesus which is all they will ever need.
(I have pictures and video of this morning and I will post them when I receive them from my team)

The afternoon came quickly and we spent it hiking up a mountain for an hour. It was roughly 3 miles and we were headed to a place called Gatamaiyu to hang doors on the outhouses at a church. We were running an hour behind schedule, but TIA (this is Africa). Much to our surprise, members of the church were there waiting for us to begin. They held a special service with a customized message to mention our coming. The village was very humble and shy on the comforts of life, but the beauty of the natural surroundings and being so high in the mountains trumped anything that was lacking. There were a few natural gardens and a water basin filled with natural spring water from the Rift Valley. As the doors were hung, we had plenty of time to chat with the locals and hear about life in the village. I would say they were the most joyful bunch of people I'd met. The ladies in Gil Gil had joyful expressions during their worship, but the people in this humble village just overflowed with joy. They absolutely loved their way of life. It spoke a lot about how we live and the distractions that take us away from the bigger matters in life. The sun started to go down and we had to get back because there are no city lights up there and the hike was rocky and gravity was against us. As we rushed back, the people from the church and others from the community walked a long way with us. Their smiles will remain in my memory forever. Our urgency to get down while the daylight was still on our side pushed us home just in time. In the mean time, we were able to catch the most beautiful sunsets.  

At the end of this day, I walked away a different person. Joy, love and faith were some of the common virtues I experienced. Seeing the people in Gatamaiyu increased my faith that God is all sovereign and any fear I've ever had about life, money, jobs, family and what not, is totally and completely irrelevant. If God shows such great faithfulness to a people living in the humblest conditions, what do I have to be concerned with? Well, His work that is. The great commission has become greater in my view during these two short weeks.

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