There is this moment every morning when we stop what we are doing. It is time for tea. One of the girls carries a tray filled with china cups. Into the cup is poured a hot mixture of Kenyan tea, milk, and sugar. I look forward to it each morning. It feels much too elegant for our surroundings, and yet as I stand here looking out toward Lake Naivasha and Mount Logonot with tea cup in hand, I am reminded that in the midst of doing, it is so vitally important to reflect on being here.
Friday was our final full day of work projects at Light of Hope. We have been repairing desks and making new ones for the high school students. We have been painting the interior and exterior of the dorm that was constructed a year ago for the high school girls. This dorm is their home when they are not away at one of the boarding high schools across Kenya (which high school is determined by their 8th grade test scores). We brought sewing kits in an effort to introduce the girls to sewing. There has been some time for this, but the reality is that one week is not long enough. Some on our team have special skills that have been a resource to the school and to the girls. Classes conclude at 4:00 each day, providing opportunities to interact with the girls. Today there were spirited games of “Duck, Duck, Goose” and “Red Rover”. Tomorrow (Saturday), there is a half day of school, and we have an art project that will provide another opportunity to interact with the girls.
At this point in a mission trip, it becomes clear that in one week we can do a variety of projects but the process of being – of understanding a culture and how to appropriately live into this culture, of developing the kinds of relationships with teachers and with students that will bridge two very different worlds and continue to be a source of encouragement – this process has barely started. At each morning’s tea time, I pause to assess where I am. I have learned the names of a few more girls this time. I have learned a little more about a few of them. I have a few more Swahili words in my vocabulary. Mainly I have deep gratitude for you, the people of Messiah who have allowed a place in your hearts for these girls whom the world had thrown away. Today they have hope. Your support has given them a chance at life and the promise of tomorrow.
Yesterday on the bus, I could hear the familiar tune of “Joy to the World” being sung by the girls. It brought to mind the last time I heard the song. It was Christmas Eve night just after the sanctuary was filled with the glow of individual candles, welcoming God’s gift of light into a world of darkness. I guess that’s what we experience here. The darkness of this world and how it has wounded these 69 girls is painfully obvious to us. How the light of Jesus Christ has forced the darkness into retreat and is transforming these lives is almost overwhelming at times. Do we need to travel to the other side of the world to witness this? Perhaps not. But if we don’t go, who will go? We have seen the face of Christ this week and not one of us will ever be the same again.
Today’s readings: Genesis 31-33; Luke 13
After reading these passages, the word that came to mind was restoration. God gives us a second chance. In Genesis, God tells Jacob to return to the land of his birth. He will have to face his past and what he has done. In the process, he struggles with God. God prevails. Jacob is changed and when he meets his brother, Esau, to Jacob’s surprise, he is forgiven.
Luke 13 begins with a call to repentance. There can be a second a chance. As I read the chapter, I kept returning to the verses where Jesus says the Kingdom of God is like yeast. The Kingdom that Jesus announced begins on the inside.