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Monday, April 13, 2009

Its the little things...


So sorry that its been so long since I've written. Life's been a whirl wind. Since my last post, my body decided it didn't want to get to 100% health. In fact, it decided to back slide back into being sick again...and then some! When I went back to the doctors this past week, not only did I have my same bad cough and chest infection but I also tacked on an ear infection with a little throat infection. Lovely, huh? I've pretty much been a walking infection for the past month. I go to the doctor tomorrow for a follow up appointment where she will determine what has been/is wrong with me. Earlier in the week I was tested for Malaria and TB but those two have since been ruled out...thank the Lord! Still praying that this cough and all the infection can be cleared away so that it doesn't return! Despite the sickness, I once again was overwhelmed how others have stepped in where I've needed them. Whether it was sitting with me in the waiting room until I got my test results, going grocery shopping for me, or dropping off some tests at the hospital, the out pour of help from fellow missionaries has been overwhelming. Its the little things that mean so much.

On Sunday I got to experience my first big holiday in Kenya! I'm not gonna lie, it was a little hard to not be with family, especially knowing they were all together back at home but I did not feel alone here! On Sunday morning, a family I've been blessed to get to know, picked me up for the Easter service at their church! It was great to go with them and to feel apart of their family. At the end of the service, the pastor said that we would be doing communion a little differently this week. He said that each family would get bread and grape juice and preform the communion as a family. family wasn't there. Before I could think twice, Lesa said, "Come on, be apart of our family...we want you to!" I don't think she knows how much that meant to me. Its the little things that are said by others that can make me feel accepted.

After the service I met up with a family that my family knows from Virginia. They brought with them a package for me that my mom sent! I was so excited to receive this package. There is something special about getting a package all the way from the US. Knowing that each item inside was carefully packed by the hands of someone you love makes you almost feel like you are with them as you open it! Inside was a jump rope (my new method of working out!), some VA honey (yummm), an Easter hand towel, 2 books, a Pampered Chef Avocado peeler, and a journal. I was so excited for each item in that box...each filling a specific need I've had here! Its the little things that make life just a tad bit easier here. (Thanks mom! :) )

Later in the afternoon I headed over to my boss's house for an Easter supper with 2 other families and my roommate. I don't know what I expected but the fellowship shared at this house was exactly what my heart needed. Although I was not with my very own family this day, I felt a part of many families. We ate an AMAZING meal of chicken, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade bread rolls, fruit salad, and punch. We shared, fellowshiped, prayed, sang, and encouraged each other. Its the little things that are beginning to make me feel at home.

Tonight I drove to the airport to drop off my roommate, Liz. She spent two and a half months in Kenya as a mechanic intern at AIMair. It was such a strange and bizarre experience to drop her off at the airport and not be leaving too. The whole day I feel like my heart was a little sad and I think that's because I knew what she must be feeling like. In all the trips I've taken to Africa, I've never left without shedding quite a few tears. I watched Liz say her goodbyes, pack up, and gear up for heading home. Wow...I would not be ready to do that right now, and THAT in itself tells me that my heart is beginning to settle here. Praise God! As we drove her to the airport, I tried to distract her sadness with talking about how exciting it will be for her to see her friends. The more I talked with her about seeing friends and family the more I found MYSELF getting jealous. Haha but obviously the Lord has other plans for me. I'm here now! The reality set in for me as I stood in line with Liz talking with her about her future. In a few hours she would board a plane, spend 24 hrs in the air, and then Land in America. It was crazy for me to be at the Airport and to not be leaving myself. I think that I'm so used to spending just a short time in Africa and then leaving that I almost felt like I should be leaving too! As I gave her a final hug, waved goodbye and watch her disappear behind security, I found myself still standing in Kenya. I wasn't going through security, I wasn't about to board a plane. I'm staying right here. My life is in Kenya now. I walked away from those heading towards security and walked towards the car. The further I got from the airport the more the realization was setting in: Home is here now, home is in Kenya. As we neared my home and I got dropped off, I realized how familiar my neighborhood has become. The sounds, the smells, the neighbors...all are familiar because they are home. As I unlocked my 47 pad locks to get into my house, closed the door, and headed upstairs I realized how comfortable I've become in this house and how its familiarity is such a blessing. Although having to say goodbye is never easy, its the little things that make you realize how far you've come.

Right now I'm clinging to the little things. They are all blessings from our Lord. They grow you, they mold you, they encourage you, and they change you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Take off your shoes...

This past week I've heard multiple references to the Israelites. You'd think after the first few times I'd get it....the Lord is trying to teach me something. It wasn't until today, when I was listening to a song ABOUT the Israelites leaving Egypt that I was able to grasp a morsel of what the Lord may be teaching my heart. Funny how a simple song can finally drive a point home and connect my heart and mind....but that's kind of how I'm wired. I love to listen to a song above skimming over it's lyrics and search deep for its meaning and find beauty in the carefully chosen and woven words.

The song is called "Painting Pictures of Egypt." Sara Groves truly does paint a picture with her lyrics of what my heart feels. The song is about this pull between two places and the heart that is stuck in between. She sings as if she is one of the Israelites on her way into the Promised Land and how it is filled with opportunities and dreams but how her heart still longs for the way things were....comfortable, familiar, easy and "home."

"The past is so tangible...I know it by heart Familiar things are never easy to discard I was dying for some freedom,but now I hesitate to go I am caught between the Promise and the things I know "

Can I relate? 100%. I feel that I'm in this "limbo" stage right now, or as the song says, "I am caught between the Promise and the things I know." I'm not sure if its the things I know or to be known that I miss the most. I took comfort in being known inside and out by friends and family back at home. Here, I'm just a new missionary carving who I am in the sands of Kenya. On Monday, my office had our Monday morning devotion. My co-worker, Andy, was the one to give the devotion. He spoke on this exact topic and explained the same struggle he too had in coming over here and not being known by anyone. He said that the one thing he and his family had to do was claim that the Lord created them for this and to find rest in knowing that the Lord has called them here to Africa and has equipped them accordingly. Our identity should not be found in our skills or talents but in Christ alone.

Things were so comfortable and familiar three months ago...that has since all been stripped. I was talking with my dad the other night and shared with him about my "limbo" status and feeling that my heart is at this tug of war....loving it here but not wanting to settle entirely. The thing he said made me see a verse in a whole new light. He told me to take off my shoes, for where I am is holy ground.

Exodus 3:5 "Take off your shoes, for where you are standing is holy ground."

Hmm...where I am is holy ground...take off your shoes. Yes, of course their is the significance of taking of the shoes because the ground is holy but I started thinking about it in a more "African" way and I learned something new. It is custom here to take off your shoes when you enter in a Kenyan home. You are then "home" and should make yourself feel comfortable. Its like the whole "take off your shoes and relax, stay a while" mindset as if the Lord wants me to take off my shoes here and let myself settle for this season of my life. He doesn't want me spending my time here wearing my shoes in case in a split second I'll need to take off running. I know this will not come easy because my heart longs for the things familiar such as walking into a room and having people know what makes Kate Joyce, Kate Joyce. But then again, who's to say I won't eventually find that here? Maybe its about time I start untying my shoes and feel this holy ground beneath my feet. I always did like walking barefoot anyways! ;)