Sunday, April 14, 2013

March in Zambia

I spent the month of March on a working vacation in Zambia. I say “working vacation” because Ruth and I were asked to go support the work of Kids Alive there, and while we were still as busy as ever, it was rather nice to have a change of scenery and become acquainted with another arm of the ministry. I spent most of my time working with the sponsorship coordinators and pestering everyone with my camera and questions for some stories and photos I was collecting for the US office.  It was great to meet and work with some of the extended Kids Alive Family and learn about what God is doing in their beautiful country. We were even able to break away for two days to see Victoria Falls and walk with some full grown lions in Livingstone!

Here are a few highlights of the month:


  Visiting the two Kids Alive community schools in Mongu, western Zambia. Every day Kids Alive provides free education and lunch to more than 700 of the poorest children in this area.


Spending time at the Msisi Care Center, where Kids Alive offers counseling, scholarships, after school support, lunch and hope for a brighter future to more than 50 children who reside in one of Lusaka’s largest slum areas

Getting to know some of the devoted staff members who have committed their lives to loving and raising more than 80 beautiful children in Kids Alive’s full time residential program. What an honor to have been able to spend the month learning from these remarkable people.

Being present when a huge gust of wind ripped the entire roof off of the boys’ home during a freak thunderstorm, throwing it onto the nearby powerlines. God protected us in that no one was hurt, and I was able to use our car to drive through the storm to the power company and have the electricity turned off immediately. Not a happy highlight, but definitely a memorable moment! If you’d like to help Kids Alive put a new roof on the boys’ home, please visit: 
Seeing Victoria Falls: The Smoke that Thunders

Walking and playing with two full grown lionesses in Livingstone – definitely a once in a lifetime experience!

Overall it was a great month. I learned a lot, made some new friends, had some very memorable experiences and hopefully was able to make a positive contribution to the ministry there!

Now back to work here in Kenya – we have several busy months ahead of us!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Journey Continues

My journey of trusting God through uncertainty, and learning to be present and grateful in the times and places He allows me to be, is not yet over.  I think in my lifetime that journey probably won’t ever be fully complete, as I’ve been learning and exploring the depths of trust and gratitude for many years, and every time I think I've "got it down", He takes me even deeper, but this particular season of uncertainty over my immigration status is definitely not yet over. God has been again proving Himself to be so good and faithful however, and I have seen Him answer my prayers in small yet very tangible ways in these last two months.
For example, Ruth and I were asked to spend the month of March serving in the Kids Alive programs in Zambia (More about that in an upcoming post), and because the chaos of the recent elections effectively shut down almost all government offices for the past 3 months, my Kenyan work permit has still not been approved. So leaving to go to Zambia would mean having to obtain another visitors’ visa upon my return to Kenya, something that, without an approved work permit, gets harder every time I leave the country. After a lot of prayer, I decided that I would “just go” and trust that if God wanted me to be allowed back into Kenya, He would make it happen.
After a wonderful month with our partners in Zambia, as we boarded our return flight from Lusaka, I began to feel very nervous about how I would be received at the the immigration desk in Nairobi. I spent the entire flight (except for the one hour when I fell asleep listening to a random bollywood film soundtrack) praying that the officer would be kind and I would be granted another visa without being harassed like I was last time (in January the officer questioned me for almost 20 minutes, threatened to arrest me, and then gave me a visa that was only valid for 3 weeks).   I asked God to help me word my visa application in a way that was truthful, but would raise the smallest number of questions.
 When it came time to make the application, I nervously began filling in my details as always, but when I came to the line where I was asked to list my occupation, a thought, very much from outside myself, popped into my head. To my surprise, instead of “Missionary” or “NGO volunteer”, the words I usually use to describe my profession, my pen formed the word “Writer”. Writer? I suppose I do write for work quite a bit, I thought– reports for donors, newsletters about our programs, stories about the kids for their sponsors, this blog – but I never ever in my life have considered myself to be a  professional writer of any sort. Because the thought was so clearly not mine, and because the more I thought about it the more I realized it was technically true, I decided to go with it and see what would happen. Well it worked! The immigration officer was the kindest I’ve had yet, and he accepted my application without any queries. We chatted about the weather in Nyeri this time of year; he asked me if I’ve learned to speak any Kikuyu yet. I smiled and tried (probably rather ridiculously) to be as charming as possible - and that was it! Stamped!  Approved! Just like that. No harassing, no threats. No ulcers. Three more months (that I will in NO WAY take for granted) to legally be in this place to which God has so clearly called me. I walked down the stairs to baggage claim wearing what Ruth said was the biggest smile she’d seen from me in weeks, inwardly shouting praises to God for His clear intervention, grace, kindness and favor.
Maybe this example seems small and insignificant, but to me it’s huge. It was such an immediate, perfect answer to my prayers and proof that God IS working all things toward His good purposes. True, He didn’t miraculously open the government offices and compel the officials to go to work and approve my work permit. He didn’t blind the immigration officers and let me walk across the border undetected. My status here is still very tenuous. But He did miraculously show up right when I needed Him most, calming my nerves and giving me exactly the words (or I suppose just the one word) I needed right when I needed them. He is faithful and his timing is perfect. I am beyond grateful. Amen.
P.S. The next time I freak out about my future and forget about being grateful and trusting His faithfulness (which in all honesty could be as early as tomorrow), if you wouldn’t mind, someone please show me this post? Thanks so much :)