Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 14: Tears for Africa

Waking up at 4 am Saturday morning to drive to the airport was a little less than wonderful. My time in Kenya can be described in so many words, yet it can't. There aren't enough words to express what I experienced or what I felt. Then maybe perhaps a song could express it... Toto, The Rains in Africa:)
We boarded the plane and began our take off. As I watched the plane leave the ground, my heart jumped into my throat and I choked back tears as if I would never return, but anything is possible. Kenya has been yet another milestone in my journey.

Having the opportunity to go to Kenya was such a dream of mine. Not so much the place, the continent yes, but the adventure of going overseas again. It all came about when I had finished going through a class at my church that worked to get people networked into ministries in the church based on their spiritual gifts and personality traits. I didn't really know where I fit. I have a heart for international people. I work well with people from other countries. I can't explain it; its just in my heart, and it's a gift from God. I got a call from the facilitator of the class who wanted to meet with me and talk about where I saw myself getting plugged into the church's ministry. While we were talking, I went through a few options like behind the scenes work like working on food for events, childcare, and whatnot. Even with all of those options, I still didn't feel like I was passionate about any of these things. I can do them, but did I really want to do it with everything inside of me? Not entirely. The option of short term missions came up when I talked about what I had a passion for. That is when I got the contact information for the missions director at the church. On the drive home from that meeting, I cried tears of pure joy. I had apprehension that I wouldn't be able to go for whatever reason- vacation time at work, money or something random that would fall through. I called the missions leader the next week and chatted about the opportunity. I knew that I wanted to go and everything in my heart was pulling me forward. Everything ended up working together beautifully for me to go, so I was on my way. I could hardly contain myself. I was nervous the week leading up to our departure, but I was bursting with excitement.

During my late college years and a few years after was when I first felt called to go to China. I felt that was my one and only dream. I went and came back- my question has always been, "What's next?"  I enjoyed China, but it was accompanied with heartache. I thought I would stay there for a few years or indefinitely. When I went, I just knew in my depths of my heart that I would only be there for the year I committed to. I just hadn't realized the truth in that reality.

One month after coming home from my year in China, I got a job working with internationals. I learn something new and meet people from new countries regularly. They share their language, their food and social customs- they enjoy seeing me indulge in my love of learning about and experiencing other cultures. I have experienced so much more than I could have ever experienced anywhere else, even if I had stayed in China for a few more years. I am so thankful and blessed to have had these opportunities. The truth is that I have a heart for all nations, some people have a heart for one specific region or nation, but mine has always been for all nations. Every nation, every tongue will proclaim the name of the Lord. That has been my heart all along. It took me the last several years to realize that.
My afterthoughts of being in Kenya: of course a trip like that will drive anyone to have more exposure to 3rd world nations. Seeing the missionaries live their lives for the people really impacted me. I thought to myself- why can't I live like that in my current life? With my knowledge and understanding of  my own culture and having the upper hand on the language, I have such a great opportunity to bridge the gap. Having lived in a foreign country and having experienced the emotions that accompany a location shift of great lengths, I can relate first hand. Seeing the poverty sided with joy that people experience in other countries has spurred me on to live a more focused life. To live life on purpose is tough and challenging, but that is why we are here. Jesus didn't live a comfortable life by any means, and if we are His children, then we are called to live like He did.

Ephesians 1:3-10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (