1. The Eternal Value of Being Present

    The Eternal Value of Being Present

    This is a proverb of wisdom that has come across my mind so often.  While I try to share this heart and blessing, I thank you –readers- ahead of time for patience, support, and grace you extend to me and the followers of Jesus daily as I try and explain this experience.

    In Korr, life is slow, yet busy. Life is hard, yet joyful. The people are simple… yet I laugh at the complexity!! On Thursdays and Fridays, Kim and I teach at school, Tirrim Upper Primary. Let me tell you, I get quite anxious as I sit and plan, picturing myself teaching, then the idea of asking children to stay quiet *yikes* But in those lessons are eternal moments, the silver lining. Students laugh as I stumble to hear their quiet answers to my questions. The hasty recording of the word “sanctification” off the chalkboard. I saw the worthiness of eternity and being present in those lessons, the very moments I was beginning to let slip in the short time I am here.

    In moments of prayer here, God has allowed me to reflect on the eternal value of caring about the present moment. We have often prayed in the community for the gospel to be a light to people who are done with hope. There is such a care for sisters and brothers here to know Christ… hope that I am overwhelmed with. For these are moments of zeal! Oh boy.

    I want to leave you with the descriptive words of C.S. Lewis from his writings in The Screwtape Letters which prompted me to think of such moments in Korr,

    “…humans live in time but our [God, for your understanding] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience of which our [God] has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned with either with eternity… or with the Present –either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure…”

    From C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters

     

  2. It Takes Two to Tango

    Did you know that? It takes two, to dance, to Tango –and often those dancing must exchange who leads and who follows, who makes decisions and those who abide by the decisions made.

    Let me tell you about my Tango in Korr.

    In a day or weeks’ time in Korr. I find my mind racing between things I need to and what I want to do. And those things are immediate or goals for the day or the next few days. The beauty is that while there are immediate frustrations: trying to figure out how to make Chai, figuring out what people are saying and thanking them for slowing down their Rendille, Swahili, or English (so I can understand!), or trying to figure out how I got lost in the desert with my wonderful friend Kim (she’s the bomb!) on our way to school. These frustrations interrupt what I think I need and want to do, with what I need to do and how to actually do it –with many hiccups along the way. So I dance between frustrations, laughter, questions, and realize that at the end of the day I was leading some of the hiccups and decisions, but others were made for me. And I’m thankful for this tango!

    This tango’s next dimension has to do with recognizing God’s beauty and providence within it all. The answers to my questions, the providing of a car and face to come get us when we got lost in the desert, the progression of time as we ease our way into teaching our first lessons, meeting more kids, learning more language (trying!!), and getting used to the heat. We experience it, and at the end of the day I realize that God has allowed us to see and learn all these things.

    So then the final dimension of this tango that I will briefly describe is the steps and decisions we make with the people in our lives. I talk often with people such as Kim, Steve, the pastors Jamhuri, Turuga, Daniel, David and a few more teachers/leaders. They are good people to ask questions to, reflect in conversation with, pray with and create goals and solidarity with. In the house Kim, Steve, and I are blessed with praying often for Korr and for each other. The pastors have led us to our teaching positions in the upper primary school, and Kim is great at telling me exactly what she thinks about something in our day: how to cook, how she likes her coffee, how many rocks there are, learning the names of many people, figuring out how directionally challenged I am, and what our schedule looks like as we continue to plug into the community of Korr. And all these people have patience with me as I am led to make decisions with them. It takes multiple people to tango well!

    So this dance is intricate, but much appreciated because it is so diverse and like a story just as our heavenly God has created our lives to be. And to pay attention to this is very good.

    Praises:

    -Meeting many people in Korr and the continued learning of the local culture

    -The laughter shared with children, students, and adults in games, conversation, and classes

    -The local desire of Christians to spread the love of Jesus

    -The significant strides that people of Korr make to learn English and Swahili in the schools, for the local people to understand the Bible in their own Rendille language

    -For the lives that I have seen in Joy due to their love and heart for Jesus

    Prayer Requests:

    -For health and strength in Korr since it gets quite hot during the day

    -For sustained provision in the local schools to guide students in the wisdom and glory of God and to guide students through each lesson and grade

    -For understanding of grace in relationships within us, our guests, and the hospitality of the Rendille people

    -For peace in the town of Korr of people with differing ambitions

    -For encouragement of students in Korr to continuously focus on their studies

    -For solidarity and joy to be built in relationship for Steve, Kim, and I –“short term mission” accomplices in Korr!

     

  3. The surprise of a second chance. It is often said that people need second chances. That we need to revisit those in our lives whom we love dearly, but may have been hurt by. I have to revisit situations, stories, heartache, hardship, and even places in my life that I thought I was done with. But when our lives continue to bring us back to a place you may ask promptly, “Why am I here?”

    Each day gives me a new reason to be here. I am here in Kenya to laugh, to cry, to listen, to think, to teach, to ask questions, to love, to pray, to seek justice, to read and to play. Let me tell you about Kim. Sweet people of Kenya say, “K-ee-m” Kim keeps me company no matter where we go. Kim and I are very different in personality, strengths, expressions, and much more. But we are in these places together, asking many of the same questions. And being guided by the Spirit as to what is good, how we are blessed, and where grace is powerful.

    Grace is powerful. This last weekend the unexpected occurred and I passed out in Korr. Through the adjustment, I guess my body just took a different turn, so on Friday it was decided that we would go to Kijabe to be checked out and take a few days to reflect on our time in Korr and Kenya for the summer. Kim and other friends were there to accompany me. I didn’t want to leave Korr, but the second chance to go back tomorrow and continue our time of ministry is good. Because I now see myself in Korr, living and doing, loving and learning. Moving right along and not necessarily having a plan for each day -but truly knowing that each day holds so much more than I can predict.

    Just so you all know, I appreciate your prayer and blessed support. And if there is any way you would like to contact me I would love to hear from you. Blessed from Africa and back!

     

  4. Learning to Walk Humbly

    Yesterday I learned the most from short-term missionaries. I learned the journey of making friends and sharing humor through experiences. I became  much more comfortable walking through an African city. Nairobi, you’re superb. I went to the mall and ate Indian food and bought a C.S. Lewis book (no surprise there, ya’ll). Great day. But I was watching my surroundings, having had several conversations with Kim, who is my Korr housemate and Angela, let’s say is our Nairobi organizer for short-term Kenya orientation -AND I SAW HOW MY STORY HERE WAS BLESSED.

    I’m learning how to serve and how people tend to communicate God. While it is my experience, I wanted to highlight some things I have seen concerning sin in our lives.

    Sin is part of us. Sin is part of our past and our continued identity in Christ. Sin will always be in front of us. It separates us from the goodness of God and will always be part of us in a human sense. Now, Christ’s love washes sin in its societal complexity clean -CLEAN. No other good power has the sense to make something so free from bondage. I have the heebeejeebees. 

    So if we can walk with each other in this fellowship guiding each others’ step according to what we perceive as harmful sin, we get a taste as disciples of that freedom apart from sin that causes me to stumble in awe. So I want to encourage you, the one reading this. Because it takes time. We need to be ready and faithful, but our guidance with each other takes time. And we must trust in the Holy Spirit -that we can discern time, sin, love, and grace.

    So watch people and learn from your own journey. And watch steadily how sin separates us from the freedom we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen? 

     

  5. According to Your Steadfast Love

    Oh, it sure is steadfast. The word people in my life have been keen to use is “sustaining.” God is sustaining my mind and Spirit, in its weakness, to see the full life of Korr. There have been many questions between Kim and me about how to live each day in Korr, Kenya. The truth and beauty is that the Rendille people and others of Northern Kenya do this every day. How inspiring and blessed am I!

    Yet with patience and grace, the seed of hope I have with Jesus is leading to my eyes being opened, praying in the best way possible. I see hunger for peace and hope in Korr. I too am feeding off of this hunger to step forward into the unknown future, but also the grace and salvation of Jesus Christ.

    Kim and I have been in Korr for three days and are asking the questions as to who and where we will be teaching and encouraging, loving and listening.  We have just started the experience of walking through life with Korr. Pastor David and Pastor James and many more have met us with a clear desire for people to know Jesus intimately in their community. We have also met Steve Titterton, and Jim & Laura Propst –people who have given us room to grow and be curious about what it looks like to share Jesus with the people of Korr, Kenya.

    Praises:

    • Seeing the strength and glory of God as we take on each mini lesson in our  days here (Kim Benoit, my partner here)
    • For the smiles on the people of Korr as we meet them and try to share time together
    • For the patience and grace Kim and I have received as we picture ourselves here
    • For Steve, a missionary teacher here that thinks it’s quite humorous to see Kim and I learn about living in Korr J
    • For good sustaining health!

    Prayer:

    • For continued patience as I learn, listen, and share in the life of Korr
    • For continued health!
    • For joy and laughter between Kim and I and our fellow brothers and sisters
    • For God’s love and grace to be transforming
    • And… for me to get along with the spiders and other wildlife here J
     

  6. The Ebb and Flow of God’s Beauty

    God’s beauty is within creation, but creation is definitely viewed through a cultural perspective. Even within Christianity, where the pictures of God’s beauty are with lines, shadows, darkness, light, voice, silence, salvation, the Holy Spirit… love, grace, truth, God’s will. At the point of drawing up our own descriptions of these things… we choose how to see them. 

    I see more of God. I draw the lines, and find relief, peace, and love in the beautiful picture I see. Reconciliation will always be needed, and I don’t always choose to see the beauty of God’s faithful creation. We must always be willing to expose the shadowed underbellies of have rocks (in our lives) to the brightness of God and God’s light. 

    And, often I see faith as a rope we hold on to. This rope of faith in seeing and knowing God. But sometimes a state of mind calls for you to let anchored ropes go. Let go to find faith on a new rope somewhere. Sail the ship. Have faith that God will provide another dock with another rope of faith to grasp and settle with. You will see a different picture of God. 

    I have found this rope again in Kenya. And I find hope in Christ.

    "I will hope in  your name for your name is good." Psalm 52:9b

    Pictures to come!

     

  7. It Takes a Village To Raise a Child… And to be Encouraged Well Today

    As I am off to Kenya today. In the last two weeks I have been joyous, frustrated, curious, emotional, realistic, angry, happy, graceful (hopefully), in conversation, receptive, questioning, searching, loving, and thinking. Lots of thinking. All of these things have encouraged me in one tone or another.

    It takes a village to raise a child. Relationships at this age are difficult, for a 20-year-old with no money, for a lower middle class family, for a child with Autism, a young graduate trying to find a job, a wonderful joyous person who vigilantly proclaims a faith in Christ but is asking questions because the answers to the text and the concepts he has been given is not measuring love in truth, and it stopped him short grace.These situations and the relationships you need are not easy to come by. 

    The easy thing to do is to ignore them. To live as though you can in high school run the other way in a few years… go off to college, make enough money to get away, and parents can be out of the picture. This sounds independent, and nice for the fact that you can support yourself. But has anyone ever told you that going through the pain may take you to somewhere greater, in the end? You have to take this walk with people (even if it is only one person right now) that truly care for your joy. Even if it takes your entire life to get there? How about if that reconciliation never comes? Can one hold on to something “worth it” even if you have to force yourself to  believe such a thing at a time?

    My experience with this pain, the doubts, the questions is that I could trust people who love me enough to give me that space. And they’re not sure, they encourage me, and tell me that they do not have more figured out than I do, and give me confidence in the little (AND A LOT) I do know… the love of Jesus Christ.

    People who were sent out and compelled by the love of Christ to share in relationship in the early church about their love were encouraged by the others there along for the ride. They got angry with each other, they laughed, they stumbled, they left and sooner or later came back… whew. They sound a lot like you and I, normal and happy… yet compelled by this thing we can call the grace to at least learn from others, go through the “suck”, build relationships with others, and then even share our faith if God shows such an opportunity.

    So if you’re in the middle of the pain, questioning, and yet feel compelled to do something because of saving grace and love. I think I’m in the same boat as you, even if the trust in the boat is not the same at all times.

    image

     

  8. "They are Simply Figuring out what Life is About"

    I wait until I can tell when something I’ve been told truly resonates with how I feel. I often am not a “fake it ‘til you make it” kind of person. But once I have been patient with myself, and feel a wave of peace as I realize I have been given grace to listen, to understand, to let go of something that I could not forgive… my heart and spirit experience joy-and they smile.

    Tonight I did that with my father. My father is a numerical, logical realist. I think I am a realist, but my father does not think I am a realist. My grandmother told me this weekend I am a kind of realist that chases an opportunity that can seem whimsical, and only if it follows through without harming myself, my family, and those close to me along the way, do those dreams/opportunities come true. So with that whimsical realism, I knew that I had to let go of the anger I had/still have towards some who are very dear to my heart. 

    I am angry because I want them to talk to me, as me, “How are you doing?” But then I asked myself the age-old question, “Have you done this for them, Paige?” And the answer is, no. I have not asked these loved ones how they are doing. I am instead holding a silly little grudge about how I want them to show me affection and search my soul with me. I want them to search my soul with me for the week I am still home this summer.So that tangent about my father being a realist. It’s not important (Oh stop it, I always throw in details in my blog that I think help explain the situation, but never actually do. Moving on).

    I told my father that people are ignorant, that they don’t really know how important these opportunities with family are right now. My father, patiently as ever, “They are simply figuring out what life is about.” I insisted they still had priorities figured out, and that those were wrong. But then, for once I let my father’s words be the end of it. Be what I needed to give them and myself grace, and to move on. And my heart is on its way to being kindred again. It is something I needed in order to leave in 5 days, even if conversations, affection, concern and care, and shared coffee and latte hours are not captured… I am content. Booyah. 

    I should know this by now, so here goes the cliche: I am quite content with what life blesses me with and hands me as a story, even though it is not quite ever how I would write it myself. I would start with being better at writing what already happens.

     

  9. The Wisdom God is Placing in Front of Us

    Here we go! Onto another chapter to be present in the world, in the lives that matter most to us. Our families -the very ones who we struggle with and know us the best besides ourselves with flaws, secrets, questions, scars, regrets, passions, qualities, ALL OF IT.

    See how I listed many different negative, hard, and yet beautiful things? We can handle these, be a midst these things with patience and grace. So my hope for you and I is to have patience and grace as we keep learning. We have learned a lot, but we can always trust the wisdom God is placing in front of us. One close to me right now knows how I become pessimistic and frustrated towards culture today, even attitudes within the church. But that is why I keep pushing for faith in a gospel of Jesus Christ that will always be larger than our own mind and culture’s view of “culture.” Americans may traditionally be calling politics and traditional evangelists back to “proper” culture, where traditional morals kept everything within society in check and balance…

    I see violence, roars of individual rights, disagreements about Biblical interpretation, fights on foreign policy, world hunger, racism, homelessness, lack of support for people with disabilities, gender inequality -all these cries against mainstream society are a way the Lord God Almighty is making it evident to the world that we as people must welcome thy neighbor -with unconditional love. My hope is to live, love, and learn from my neighbor with unconditional love. I leave for Kenya in 8 days and your prayer is transforming the way I am already experience God’s love and identity at this time in my life. Thank you.

    So, be joyful my friends and share this love you have found to change your life. 

     

  10. "The power of what art can do, what a timeless painting can do… what another person looking for something inside of themselves expressed outwardly for others to share… what that can do is change a mood, change a mental state, change an afternoon, a week, a life."