Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In the Whispers

Our first Sunday, we stayed in for church since we had no idea where to go or how to get there. We read Mark 9 which talks about the Transfiguration of Jesus. What a huge moment for Peter, James, and John. And Jesus. He was about to reveal his magnificent glory to a few of those who had abandoned it all to follow him. As I read these verses, I definitely get the feeling that these three guys were like WHOA! What exactly did we just see. But no matter what must have been going through their minds or going on in their hearts, there was no way they could have missed the glory of God through Jesus.

Next we listened to a sermon by Erwin McManus in which he referenced 1 Kings 19. Elijah is hopeless and desperate because his life has been threatened. He is so desperate that he is laying under a tree praying to die, when an angel comes along and gives him some food. Utterly hopeless. God brings him to the mountain and asks him to stand there and to wait. Then there is a huge windstorm, then an earthquake, and finally a fire. But God is not in those things. No, he comes along afterwards as a whisper. A still small voice. I began to think that what if Elijah would have decided to stop waiting for God to show up because he wasn't in the big things. If you read back a few chapters, God has allowed Elijah to call fire down from Heaven, bring rain to a land that was parched. God has shown up and done some huge stuff. Elijah couldn't have missed the Glory of God in those moments. But here he is right after all that, hopeless, looking for God again. What if he would have missed the whisper because he was expecting the fire?

How many times do we, do I do this? Like with the Transfiguration, God is so obvious in some things. When we went from 20% support to 60% in a week, it was easy to see God in that. But do I miss him in the whispers? In the moments when He leans so close to my face, breathes into my ear, saying "You are my beloved", "I am with you" "There is no one who could hold you tighter than I do", "See my beauty". Tim and I try so much to see God in the big things as well as the small. When he whispers to us through a Jr. High student who gives a speech in class about what God is doing in our lives, when people email us words of encouragement, when our sadnesses are turned to joy, when the internet works and we get to see our family, talk to our faraway friends. Lately, God has been in the whispers so much. Really, nothing HUGE has happened since we have been at language school. Each day is basically just a slightly different version of the previous day. But God has been talking to us in his still, small voice so much. If we would have been looking to be overwhelmed, we would have missed all that He is doing each day. And oddly enough, when we combine all the whispers, we have found ourselves amazed. Overwhelmed.

May we not miss God in the big or the small. He is alive, active, and always on the move.

We would love to here what God is doing in your lives! Leave a comment or email us and let us know how He whispers to you!

(The fine print: I don't even pretend to be scholarly, or a theologian, or know how to use punctuation! These are just my thoughts!)

8 days later

Well, we have made it through a week and a day of language school. Since we are still here and our brains have not exploded, I'm gonna call it a success. I joke with Tim that school appears to be making me dumber. The other night he had to explain to me why when it is light here it is dark in the US. I guess new Swahili words are just taking up too much space in the brain.

A typical day for us is to eat breakfast and begin class at 8:30 a.m. We have a wonderful teacher named Godson and there are only two other people in our class. One girl is from Italy and the other is from Sweden. Both work for NGOs or non-for-profit type organizations here in Tanzania. We are learning a lot of grammar as well as vocabulary. Some days it feels as though we are back in grade school learning language rules, changing sentences from positive to negative, changing statements into questions, etc. We take tea from 10-10:30a.m and then we are back in class until 12:30 p.m. when we break for lunch. In the afternoon we have class from 2-4 p.m. We usually only learn new things in the mornings and in the afternoons we play games using things we have learned that day or on previous days.

The place we are staying at is very nice. We have a little cottage all to ourselves. It has 2 beds and a bathroom complete with a hot shower. It is a bit rustic as we have shared our bathroom with geckos and have killed a lot of crickets. It is beautiful here and the nature that we are surrounded by is very loud! All night we can hear crickets, frogs, birds, and monkeys. Despite all those things, we are getting our much needed rest. The food is delicious and plentiful, but there are days where I would just love a cheeseburger or a pizza. We can have all those things when we get back to Nairobi so until then we wait. And eat rice. And yummy fruit.

We leave here on April 7 and return to Kenya by bus. The bus ride here was nice and it allowed us to see a part of Kenya we had never seen before. Tanzania is beautiful. It is very green and lush. We are located near Mt. Meru and Arusha National Park. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Kilimanjaro from here, but sadly we have yet to see it.

In the picture (which Tim took, doesn't he do a great job?!) You can see Mt. Meru and a giraffe. This was taken while we were on a walking safari. It was so incredible as we were able to get super close to giraffes and water buffalo.

Once we return to Nairobi, we should move into our apartment and start working. We are so thankful to be here. Although there were some days for me especially that were a little rough, we have never questioned our desire to be here. We belong here and we love it.

Until next time, tutaonana baadye!! (See you later!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

So it begins

I am not even sure where to begin. It has not quite been a week since we arrived and it already feels as though it has been such a long time. Perhaps I should begin with a disclaimer stating that we are doing great! I (this is Alicia writing) have struggled with wanting to be completely transparent on this blog and knowing that some things don't translate well in writing. Hence, the disclaimer.

Leaving St. Louis last Monday morning was without question the hardest thing I have even done. Or so I thought. We said our goodbyes and shed tears, but God gave us such peace throughout all our travels to Nairobi. We rested all day Wednesday and on Thursday we went into the city and to Missions of Hope's main center. Later that night, I had a little bit of a meltdown as reality sank in. It is such an odd feeling to arrive at the airport with no return ticket. I was just not prepared for what that would really feel like. Because our past few weeks in the US had been so hectic I don't think I really had time to think about or mourn all that would be left behind. Or maybe you can't experience that until you are gone, until those things are no longer a part of your day-to-day. Thursday night that all hit me. Like a ton of bricks. It knocked the wind out of me. It ripped at my heart.

Months ago we wrote this blog and on Thursday that became reality. Talking about giving things up, trading in all we know for what we have been called to, surrender, etc. seemed so simple when we talked about them. All along this road to Kenya, God has provided markers that indicate we are going the right way, doing what is best. Thursday night was when I think it was time to really surrender it all. To become fully dependent upon God.

Here we are in Nairobi, a place we so deeply love and know and yet all of the sudden it feels so unfamiliar. We don't know how to drive, get around, use the money, and so on. It felt so overwhelming. I know there is absolutely no reason why we would know these things, but it felt like we should.

That night as lay in bed, I wept. I cried out to God from the depths of my soul. I ached for my family, for the known. Tim was so wonderful and God was so kind and gracious. In training we learned about mourning the losses and I think my time had come to do just that. The saying goes that the deeper you love the harder the goodbyes. I can say without hesitation that I have loved and been loved deeply.

During the next fews days I memorized Zephaniah 3:17 which says:
For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a might savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful song.
2 Corinthians 9:8: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need you will abound in every good work.

I have repeated those verses over and over again. God is sufficient. He loves me. He will calm my fears. He has called me to this place and planted a deep love for Kenya in my heart. He has equipt me with all I need. He has also given me such amazing people to love and who love me back. That means leaving them just stinks. But my life is lived so that Christ may be shared and God may be glorified.

I have prayed so many times throughout the years to be like Jesus. Most times I actually meant it. Turns out that is harder than I thought. I can imagine nothing more beautiful than giving my life fully to Christ and allowing God to direct my steps, trusting him for everything, but in that beauty there is pain. There are choices that must continually be made. I love that God is allowing me to experience this so that I may trust Him. I love that He doesn't just allow us to be part of doing His work on Earth, but he beckons us. He pursues us. He provides reminders and joys and challenges and opportunities for growth. He draws us near. He doesn't need us in Kenya, but He wants us here. Wants us to experience bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. For that I am so grateful. Even through the river of tears, I am so happy to be here. I am continuing to fall more deeply in love with Jesus. And with Tim ;)
In the midst of the unknown, they are constant.

Thanks so much for all you prayers. We knew you were praying for us. We felt it. Words will never be able to fully express our gratitude. Thanks for reading and letting me share my heart. We love it here and can't wait to see what lies ahead.