For the past two months, I have been living in Mbita, Kenya, which is a very rural village situated on Lake Victoria. Most families make their living from fishing, running small shops, or small subsistence farming. Most houses don't have running water or electricity. Internet connectivity is virtually non-existent. The roads are dirt and the land is hot, dry, and rocky. Widows and orphans are many because of the extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS. On my first weekend there, I hiked one of the many hills in the area. It was the first time I noticed how parched and rocky the land was and how there wasn't much growing. I thought to myself, What can grow here? What could grow in such conditions? I soon discovered that love can spring up even in the most barren of places. Hope grows there. Joy grows there. Love grows there.
I had the pleasure of working at a school for the many orphans in the community. Within the brightly colored classrooms of the school, children facing the most stricken of circumstances were showered in love and care. Their joy was contagious and my heart melted.
Life in Mbita is challenging for sure. I longed for ice while under the hot afternoon sun. I longed for steady internet to FaceTime my family back home. I craved pizza and chocolate chip cookies. My heart ached for the familiar, while I was surrounded by the unknown and unfamiliar. But God has worked mightily as I stepped further and further out of my comfort zone. The more I released control, the more free I felt. God provided for me and showed His face in unexpected ways. I'd see it in the eyes of Anil, while she was helping me in the kitchen. I'd see it in the grin of Phina, while we discussed worshiping God through dance, I saw it in Sonelia, as her smile shined brightly during the end of year celebration. I'd see it in the glorious sunset over Lake Victoria each evening and in the night sky as millions of stars shined through the pitch black sky.
I am very grateful that The Lord saw fit to bring me there. My heart has never been more full. My life feels more complete because I've felt God's love in newer and bigger ways. I felt His presence in greater and truer ways. I have seen Him work in a place so remote, so barren, so dry, so rocky. But love grows there. God is raising up a new generation to bring His Kingdom to Kenya through these young lives. I'm grateful I can play a small role.
While I reflect on my time in Mbita, I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I'm excited to spend the holidays in Nairobi with modern conveniences and to have time to rest and reflect, but I know the Lord is calling me back to that small fishing village. He is not done with me yet.
With that, I am so excited to announce that beginning in January 2017, I will be relocating to Mbita, Kenya. I'm not sure how long I'll be there, but I'll stay for as long as The Lord sees fit. I know the challenges that lay ahead, but I also know the joys unspeakable that await. Please stay tuned on how you can pray and support my work there.
When I moved to Kenya over a year ago, I couldn't have expected the journey that I have had. The people that I have met. The places I've seen. But The Lord knew before I ever stepped foot in Kenya His plan for my time here. This week of Thanksgiving I'm thankful for a Lord that pursues without ceasing. I'm thankful for the opportunity to pour out His love, but to also receive His love. I'm thankful for my family and their support. I'm thankful for mentors and friends that listen to my struggles. I'm thankful for an aunt and uncle to spend Thanksgiving with. I'm thankful for a Savior that loves me in spite of my doubt and worries. I'm thankful for sunsets over Lake Victoria. I'm thankful for each and every child that I've had the pleasure of being with and the impression they have left on my heart.
And mostly I'm thankful that The Lord is not done with me yet. I'm heading back to a place that in spite of the challenges, in spite of the poverty, in spite of the strife, love grows there.