Most of you know that I work for an organization called Ndoto: For Africa’s Future, and that I’m back in Kenya after almost a year. It’s been a sweet reunion with friends and family in Kisumu, but I also had a moment in Nairobi where I was told by other missionaries and Kenyan’s I know that I had finally received the “Badge of Honor”.
The Badge of honor came on the first day I was in Nairobi, when my wallet was stolen. I still cannot figure out where or how it was taken, but I know that it was stolen along with my credit card, debit card, and 8,000 Kenyan Shillings (Roughly $90 USD).
As I grabbed my purse to pay for lunch, I realized it was gone. First, there was a feeling where my heart sunk, then I felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t believe it. I am always so careful, always aware, always on guard with my bag. However, despite my best efforts, it was gone and I had no idea! I was sad that someone would do that, and sad that I wouldn’t get to shop at my favorite place in Nairobi, called Amani Ya Juu (A Higher Peace). It’s an NGO that hires women in East Africa who have been marginalized and teaches them to sew and make these beautiful bags, canvas’s, jewelry etc. It really reminds me of walking into Anthropologie.
A few minutes later, I made a decision to let it go. Why would I let something I cannot control ruin my day? It’s sort of funny because this is RARELY my reaction to things at home. However, I was in a foreign country, no phone, no money, and completely unable to do anything about it at the moment. So, I decided to just enjoy the day. Then, I realized that the Lord wanted to teach me a lesson. You see, He has been showing me recently that I have a very difficult time receiving from other people.
When my friend and boss, Allison offered to let me shop at Amani on her. It was so kind, and something I would have done for a friend. However, being on the receiving end of it, was oddly unsettling. It was hard for me to receive, but it was a place I wouldn’t be again in a long time, and so I accepted her offer. The ladies at Amani even let me buy a bag that wasn’t technically out yet, because they knew I wouldn’t be able to come back. The kindness humbled me and blessed me so much.
It will take almost a week to get my new debit card and credit card, so I’m now in Kisumu completely dependent on Allison, the missionaries I’m staying with (Andrea and Jonathan), and others. I have no money to pay for food, tuk tuk, a phone…and yet, I have not gone without. If anything, I have eaten well and gotten where I need to go. It’s been one of the most unsettling weeks of my life. Why do I have such a hard time receiving? and if I can’t receive money for a taxi ride, how can I fully receive the grace, love, and mercy God offers to me?!
I’ve learned to be independent. I’ve always longed to be independent. For some reason, it’s even been hard for me to receive financial help from my parents when I couldn’t do things on my own. I don’t know where I got this or how it started, but I know it’s not good. I don’t want to be someone who is too proud to receive help, or too stubborn to accept such kindness. So, in these days that I’m without, I’m trying to be intentional in learning this lesson. I’m humbly receiving, or trying to! I have to.
I don’t want to be a believer who misses the fullness of grace, love, and mercy that God has to offer me because I can’t receive in a time of need. He is showing me that He is here. He is pouring out grace, pouring out mercy, pouring out favor, faithfulness and fullness of life. He won’t force me to take it, but He is always offering it, and how foolish am I if I say no?! I understand in a new way what it means to humble yourself before the Lord – not just that He is bigger and better than me, but humbling myself in order that I might receive all He wants to give to me, his daughter.
Wallets will come and go, money can be re-earned, and people can be reimbursed…it’s not enough to let it ruin your day. I consider this lesson the real badge of honor, and I’m glad I can claim it, that God has cared enough to reveal this and move me past it. I’m ready to receive all He has.