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Friday, October 16, 2009

The Desert.

I was a child when I realized my thirst. I remember the desert, and the void. I heard about a man who could quench that thirst forever. “How is that possible?” I wondered. I was a human, a sinner in need with a thirst that could not be satisfied by anything…anything on earth.
Then He came to me. I was sitting at the well under the heat of the sun, lost and in need of a savior. He asked me for a drink. I asked "why?". Then he spoke the words that would change my life forever.

“If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

My curiosity was peaked. “How?” I asked.

“Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

That night, I drank from the water He provides.

I was the woman at the well… and I often find myself there still. Not because the well has run dry, no, He promised that would never happen. I find myself there because I have neglected to drink from it.

If anyone would ask me “How has your time in Africa been?” I will return an honest answer. It is not easy. For those who have been joining me on my journey, you know. You know how many times I’ve been in a “desert” while out here. After the events of this summer I felt like I was plopped in the middle of a desert, mid day, no hat, no sunscreen, no water, no map. Not only did I want to get out of the desert but I wanted to fast.

I remember calling my dad up and asking him if I can just come home, end my time here early and leave. I didn’t want to be here and I especially didn’t want to learn any more life lessons. I had anticipated a warm welcome to come home. Anticipation and expectations are my downfall. He encouraged me to stay the course, stay committed, stay encouraged, but most of all stay in constant seek of the Lord.

That was the last thing I wanted to hear but after much prayer I knew it was true. Staying the course would be difficult and bring pain but I needed to. I continued to feel the heat of the desert. I knew the Lord was there but I continued to wander. I tried to quench my thirst with different things… advice from friends, different Christian books, and so on. It was like coming in from long summer run, needing a drink and instead of grabbing a refreshing glass of ice water, you are handed a glass of hot chocolate. It might taste amazing but it will never quench your thirst...

I left for my OFM trip still feeling the desert and ironically that’s exactly where we were heading…the desert of Northern Kenya. As you all know, I was TERRIFIED of the bugs, to say the least. I had already set a glimpse in my mind of what life would be like up there; constantly swatting flies, brushing off spiders, sleeping with cockroaches, and showering with scorpions. Ohhhh wait, that’s right, I DID shower with a scorpion…but that’s another story.

The first night in the desert I found out that there were two other young single missionary girls my age stationed where we were filming. They were great. We stayed up late chatting about life. We talked about our lives back in the states, those we left behind, the transition to coming here, and our lives now. It was exactly what I needed. Slowly I began to realize that God was providing. There were NO bugs in site but there were two girls that provided me with some much-needed community.

That night before I went to bed I opened up my bible. I turned to Psalm 107. This part of the Psalms has never stood out to me but I read and am forever glad that I did. These verses pertained to me so deeply. Read them with me…

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithfulness endures forever. “

“Some wandered in the desert, lost and homeless. Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety.”

“For he satisfies the thirsty.”

“He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry land…But he also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into flowing springs.”

It was as if could hear my soul crying to God with those same words, “Lord, help!” Once again, He and I were having that same conversation again and I was reminded… “Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.” It was as if a glass was being offered to me, pressed to my lips, and suddenly I was drinking. It wasn’t hot chocolate but the crisp fresh taste of clean, cold, refreshing water. And it was restoring.

The time in the literal desert continued to be incredible. Our team spent five days up in Korr and Karungu, Kenya (Apparently not even on a map). We took one of the 4 seater planes up there which was flown by one of my team members, Mike. We all have to do many different jobs on the team….thankfully flying a plane will never be a requirement for me. It was two hours after take off when we finally started to descend. In the middle of nowhere! Gotta love my job…. Not going to lie.

Our job was to film for our new documentary on nomadic people, take notes for articles, and snap as many pictures as we could in those 5 days…. Ok, maybe I took too many… oh well, that’s my passion!

The trip was rough for photography. With no cloud in site and a very bright sun above us mean harsh shadows, which just means a little more moving around to get a good shot.

We got to hang out with the Rendillie and Samburu tribes, drive through miles and miles of desert, walk on lava flow, chase dust devils, follow a huge herd of camels, and bask in the beauty found in the desert. I loved waking up in the mornings to the bright sun coming over the African desert, feeling the heat and the wind combine together as it swirled past me.

I loved getting a chance to sit inside one of the Rendillie houses and share a cup of warm goat chai with homemade mandazis…

Its ok, I too thought the sound of it was kind of unappetizing especially at the tail end of an extremely hot day of shooting…. but cool to experience it, none the less!

The children up there were so cute. They were so eager to have their pictures taken, to grab my hand, to have me twirl their little naked bodies in the air.

I just love how curious they are...

Whether it’s touching my skin to see if my white will come off onto their little black hands or touching my camera lens while I take their pictures. They are all precious.

One of my most memorable times in the desert was getting a chance to talk with the missionaries about their ministry. Whether in Korr or Karungu, they all had such amazing stories to share. Humility and their trust in the Lord graced their stories through and through. They have done great things with these tribes and I felt honored to sit and listen to these stories.

The Lord continued to provide during that week. He continued to remind me as we sat at the well together that he will always be there through the deserts and through the springs. I know, as I continue my walk with the Lord here in Africa and wherever else he leads, that He and I will have many chats by the well. He told me from the beginning that He has living water. I drank… but I’m also a stubborn human and often forget that water is more sustaining than hot chocolate will ever be.

"This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides"


Courtney said... beautiful! everything..the people, your pictures, your heart! thanks for sharing all that! GREAT reminders!!! LOVE you!!

Bhavya.B said...

Every time you surprises me ...I never knew Africa has this much to speak .

Anonymous said...

I love you. I am praying for you. I cannot wait to see you and your beautiful heart again.

Love and prayers,
Alicia Ressmann
(Korr, Kenya)

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