He who finds his life will lose it, but he who loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt 10:39)
I lost my sister’s phone number again. It’s really annoying. I need to call her tomorrow because tomorrow is my nephew’s second birthday. I also lost my black guitar pick. I really need to keep up with my other two because I have no idea where I can buy them here. One of my earrings that Joshua bought me from Zimbabwe is also missing. Ugh! I had already lost the other pair he bought me and was hoping to hold on to this pair for a while… Its seems like everything is going missing lately.
The last couple weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions for me. We have watched dreams die and new ones come to life. We have also watched our old dreams that had died be resurrected right before our eyes. Our little family of 3 has grown by one and will be growing again in just a couple of days. I now feel comfortable and adjusted to living here in Kenya. I know how to get around and am learning the language relatively quickly. Many of our projects that were at a standstill are now in full swing again. When I first arrived here we were doing many home visits to our girls in the village and therefore hearing many tragic stories and seeing such poverty frequently. Because of that we got pretty overwhelmed (and maybe a little traumatized by one too many rape stories) so we stopped doing them for a while. We took some time and rested and got rejuvenated and now we are back at visiting girls frequently and carrying heaven with us! Our Thursday meetings with the girls are also going incredibly well. We’ve been doing lots of artwork lately which they love! Bella House had also been brought to a halt because we were really struggling to find girls that fit our criteria and then we had resistance from the government regarding our registration paperwork. But Bella House is now back in motion yaaay! We just received approval that we can officially begin moving girls into our home and we have found some girls that fit our criteria and have very quickly snuck their ways into our hearts forever with just a smile or glance of their eyes. How can we not bring them home with us?
The most exciting progression we have made lately though (in my opinion) is definitely the “Can’t Be Bought Campaign”. We officially launched it yesterday! The CBBC is a series of empowerment workshops that we are doing in schools aimed at stopping child prostitution,exploitation and sexual abuse before it starts. We use tools such as interactive games, drama, music, movement etc to teach girls about their value and empower them with the truth that they are not for sale, that they are priceless and no amount of money can buy them! We work with each grade level once per week in several different schools for 15 week cycles . Right now the program runs Mon-Fri. Each session is about 45 minutes long. We also touch on themes such as boundaries, self-esteem, sex education, body image and dreams/purpose. My big dream for this project is to present it in every school in our village during the week and on Saturdays hold “Cant Be Bought” sessions in a local community center for girls who can not afford to go to school. By doing this we will be able to reach every single girl in all of Mtwapa with this message. Every. Single. One. And im sure that as a result the child sex industry which is destroying Mtwapa will significantly decrease and freedom and laughter and love will increase. Let it be so!
This is all very very exciting! But as I mentioned above, the last two weeks have been a roller coaster of emotions. Roller coasters have their highs and they also have their lows. Since leaving Harvest School I just feel like i’ve been losing a lot, not just my sister’s phone number and my guitar pick, but big things… things that seem huge to me even if they seem small to you. When I came to Kenya I was not planning to stay. I bought one tiny suitcase and my guitar. That’s it. But when I got here God asked me to stay. I love it here and so staying is no problem. Its actually a great joy! But, because we are pioneering there is so much work to be done and things that need to be started and nurtured as they grow, so God also asked me to stay here and continue working while Cassandra is in America… she will be in America for 2 and a half months. I have had my heart and my hope so set on going home to the States for the holidays to hug and kiss my nephew and see everyone I love, but I had to loose that. Cassandra and I became good friends and hung out everyday while she was here and really worked and played hard together. I had to lose her too. She left last night. At least its only for a few months. Sometimes when I walk through our big empty house with beds and furniture and everything ready for kids to come I get a bit sad because there are still no kids in it, and it reminds me of something else I lost- my dream for mothering those 42 precious children in Cameroon. I thought id be holding dozens of little Cameroonian treasures in my arms every night by now, but at bedtime I say goodnight to the rest of the team and I go to my room alone and sleep in my single bed. My best friend of 14 years had a baby before I left the States. Dreams of being there to watch him grow are lost. I lost my boyfriend. I lost the opportunity to be at my nephew’s second birthday party. I just feel like i’m losing so many things.
When I think about the loss I get sad, but I try not to think about the loss much. I try to think more about who’s sake i’m loosing everything for. The truth is that im loosing these things for the sake of a man who lost His life for me. And its only in losing that I can be found. My greatest joy in life is finding Jesus. I look for Him in everything, every situation, every emotion, every project. I’m constantly looking for my Love. And yes, I truly do find Him in everything. He’s a God that likes to be found. But I realize that I find Him most in loss. As I’ve lost all these things i’ve gained so much more of Him, and having Him is worth more than having any of these things. Im willing to give up any of them to pursue the depths of His love any day! On Sunday I was riding through the village on a piki piki (a motorbike used as a taxi) to church and no matter how hard I tried I couldnt hold back tears of joy. As we were driving the hot wind was blowing in my face and my butt was sore from bumping along the dirt road and I was looking out and I just saw Him everywhere. I saw Him in the simple mud huts we were driving past and the little faces that excitedly yell “jambo!!!” as we pass. I was Him smiling at me as He sat next to an old lady sitting in front of her hut weaving a grass mat. I found Him in all the noise- chickens clucking, piki pikis blowing their horns, children laughing, churches praising, babies crying. I was overwhelmed with joy. We got off of the piki piki when we arrived at church and I tried to look normal before Cass saw me foolishly crying over a scene that we see all the time. We walked into church and there He was again! When all of our girls saw us and smiled and passed out hugs and handshakes I found Him. When the church members welcomed us so warmly and even old mamas got out of their seats in the front to let us sit in the “seats of honor” I was just wrecked. I saw Jesus. I saw His beautiful heart. I wasn’t thinking about going home for the holidays, or Cameroon, or my ex-boyfriend, or my nephew’s second birthday party. Because none of that can compare to His heart. And its moments like that when the loss doesn’t feel like loss at all. For His sake im willing to “lose” anything if only I can have His heart- in the bumpy piki piki rides and in the mud huts and in the rape stories and in the Can’t Be Bought lessons and in the warm smiles at church on Sunday- if only I can have His heart then I have found exactly what i’m looking for and what i’m living for. And no matter what the cost, its worth it!
The thing about a roller coaster is that the lower you go, the more exhilarating the high part is. The high part is only high if you first go low. I’m learning that more everyday. Enjoying the “going low”, enjoying the “losing” and then relishing in the high part and in being found.