First off, I want to apologize for not updating! I can count on one hand how many I opened my laptop in the month of April. A lot of my day-to -day ministry in Kenya, involves my laptop- updates, newsletters, sponsorship communication, curriculum writing, missions research, e-mails and so on. As you can guess, that means I did very little “ministry” in April.
So if I wasn’t doing “ministry” what was I doing?
I was living.
Let me take you through April for our family.
The first week of April was a wonderful beginning as we spent Mom’s last days at the Coast! We were relaxed and rejuvenated as we returned back to Kisumu. As we traveled to Kisumu to Mombasa (over a 30 hour journey!) and back- we were truly protected by the blood of Jesus. We left Nairobi an hour before a bus bombing, miles from where we were. Once we arrived in Mombasa, we had reached our hotel 2 hours before the murder of a well-known terrorist in Mombasa. Then as we headed back to Nairobi, we had passed Mombasa City, 2 hours before a huge riot took place due to the murder of the terrorist that had taken place earlier in the week. At the end of our journey we looked back and saw how God had protected us every step of the way. He is faithful.
Once we arrived in Nairobi, Mom traveled back to the States and we went back home to Kisumu. It was a sad goodbye, but it was such a memorable time together!
But our month of “living” in April, wasn’t just beaches and relaxation…
After we arrived back in Kisumu, we heard difficult news that a church member and close friend, Samuel, had been admitted to the hospital and wasn’t doing well. Fred and I are very close to Samuel, and I’m especially close with his wife Milkah. I would consider Milkah to be my best Kenyan friend. Earlier this year, Samuel was having a difficult time finding a job, so Fred helped him open a small shop selling everyday goods for his village. Milkah comes over to help me wash clothes during the week as we don’t have a washing machine, and it would take me HOURS to wash clothes by hand. Before we were married she had asked Fred if she could help us because both her and her husband weren’t working. I was resistant at first, but it only took a couple days of washing clothes to realize if I was to do any ministry, I needed some help! We’ve grown to love this family; we have had them over for dinner, game nights, Christmas and more.
Friday, April 11, Fred and I traveled 4 hours to go visit Sam in the hospital as his condition was getting worse and he was no longer stable. We never knew that his life would end so fast, but that Friday evening after we reached back home, Sam passed away. Milkah called me screaming the moment he died. She had lost so much, a husband, a friend, her son’s father and her supporter. Milkah had stayed where Sam died for 1 week, (4 hours away) until the funeral. Two days after Sam’s death, I told Fred I couldn’t stay in Kisumu any longer. I needed to go be with Milkah until the funeral. There were a lot of precautions with me being white. Kenya funerals are VERY different and I had never attended one, nor stood by the wife during the process. I remember telling Fred, “I know it won’t’ be easy for me to go, it will be a sacrifice, it will be challenging and difficult, it is in every way out of my comfort zone, but it is what I need to do- she is my closest friend in Kenya and if I was in the States, I would be beside my best friend the entire time.” Fred allowed me to go for 4 days, until the body would be taken and we would travel to the village for the funeral.
As we came back from the funeral, we helped Milkah find a new house to rent, move her and get her settled. She is doing good and is now adjusting back to life and continues to say “I want to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.”
As I prayed and contemplated all that had happened over the two weeks- of Sam’s death and funeral, I realized I never once felt like a “missionary.”
Definition of Missionary: mis·sion·ar·y
noun: missionary; plural noun: missionaries1.
a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.
I had felt like I actually lived here, and these people are my people. It was a great feeling to see how God used the opportunity to grow and challenge me. Each day this place becomes more and more of my home- and losing a brother, and supporting my best friend in Kenya- felt like the most natural thing I’ve done since I’ve been here. What I know is that God has called me to be a missionary here, but in the same way that you be may feel like a missionary in your hometown, that is how I feel. I don’t feel like Kenya “is so far” anymore or that these people are so different from me. God continues to give me a heart for my people as he makes Kenya feel more like home every day.
As the month continued- it was time to get Lucy ready to go back to School, Kenya has the month of April off from school (they go year round, with one month breaks three times a year). So here I am now in the first week of May, trying to get back into “ministry.” This week has been filled with bringing our sponsored children back to school, paying school fees, preparing them, meeting with leaders, training new Awana leaders, preparing Sunday School curriculum and planning with our Youth leaders. As I return to ministry, I return with a new outlook, a new revelation of the place I am serving and living, and the people I am reaching and loving.
God’s moving in my heart, in my life, as I live every day for him.
As I seek more of Him, He continues to give me more, a bigger heart for my people and a bigger desire to serve Him, this is my journey to more.