When I first moved to Kenya, I was tired all the time. Partly because I was recovering from a sinus infection and partly because of the high altitude. I would get winded walking even the shortest of distances. The one mile hike to kibera seemed like a marathon, and I’d barely be able to even stand when I got there. Getting up to my room was a task for sure, walking up the 11 flights of stairs, I’d have to stop midway and by the time I got to the top, I was exhausted. My stamina was limited, and I wondered if I would be able to endure here if I couldn’t even walk five steps without losing my breath.
I’m amazed at how much my endurance has increased in the nearly 3 months I’ve been here. I walk everywhere now, and with ease I might add. I walk up and down hills to get to the supermarket, or mall, or coffee shop. I can nearly sprint up the stairs without even the faintest feeling of exhaustion. I have more endurance for the physically challenging situation where I live. I’ve had to adapt to not only the altitude, but also living without a car, and being forced to either walk or take public transportation. My body has adapted, but more so my faith has adapted as well. I am learning to endure in this Christian race.
When I first came to Kenya, I was ready to change the whole country in one day. Maybe that is an exaggeration, but I wanted action, and I wanted immediate results. I wanted God to reveal His plan for me here, and I wanted to act on it in that second. But that’s not how it’s happened. My mindset was short term. I was thinking about a sprint instead of a marathon. God’s timing is not like our timing. I’m sure in an instant He could open any door for me and give me the means and provisions to walk through that door. But that’s not His plan for me. He seeks for me to endure. To build my patience. To build my faith. To build my trust. He is working, and I see fruits of His work daily, but it’s not instantaneous. Unlike modern photography where pictures can be seen on the spot, God is revealing His picture for my life using film that takes time and darkness to develop. Just like I feel my lungs getting stronger with each breath, I feel my faith getting stronger with each day. Moving to another country, by myself has not been easy. There have been challenges and times of loneliness and sadness, but just like the dark room in photography, I know those times are the places for developing, and when the full picture emerges it will be a beautiful sight.
Paul urged the early church to "run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2). I heed Paul’s advice today, and every day, and I know it’s through Jesus that I will have the strength to endure. This will not be a sprint. It’s a marathon. And my mind, body, and spirit are adapting for the race ahead.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
So did this really happen...I quit my job, gave away my furniture, packed 3 suitcases, and moved to Kenya? Is this a dream? Is this my life? Is this real?
These are just some of the thoughts that race through my head when I wake up some mornings. And when reality sets in again, I'm still amazed that I live in Kenya. What's even more startling is that I moved to a new country by myself, without any established community or friends. So when I think about all that has happened over the past 2 months it's even more amazing. God is even more amazing!
My dad left over a month ago, for the first few days after he left I was sad. The realization that I was all alone in a foreign country was so overwhelming. Fast forward several weeks, and God has filled my life with some amazing people. I have met a couple from Nashville, and they have adopted me as their "daughter." Their generosity and love has been a game changer for me. I have joined a small group at my church, and several of my new church members have opened their homes to me. The way God forms community and fellowship is amazing! I am truly grateful for all the people I have met, and look forward to watching how The Lord grows these relationships and friendships during my time here.
In addition to forming new friendships and community, The Lord has used this time to give me a new vision for my work here in Kenya. I came here with the intention of using tennis as a means to build relationships with kids and share the joy of Christ. My current situation doesn't allow me to fully live out those intentions. So The Lord has given me the desire to branch out some and go into schools, nurseries, churches, and children's homes and run mini tennis and bible camps. Whether for 1 day or 3 weeks, I'd love to use my time in these schools to use tennis as a vehicle for the gospel and build meaningful relationships with kids. I have several challenges to fully achieving this vision, but I am faithful that God will provide where He has laid the plans. (I'll be writing a follow-up post on my specific plans and ways to support and pray for this mission).
Nothing can renew faith like being in a needy situation. I literally need The Lord for all of my needs. I must rely on Him to provide for me while I'm in this foreign country. I rely on Him for safety, for transportation. I rely on Him to help me communicate in a foreign tongue. I rely on Him for food, water, and shelter. He is literally my everything, and it has greatly increased my faith and trust in Jesus. As I attempt to start my own mission and ministry, I know that I will have to trust Him more and more, and I'm excited about this new faith journey.
Two months down, many many more to come! Can't wait to see what other news things The Lord will produce.