A Badge Of Honor

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.

Sugar, Sleep & Spiritual Disciplines

So, I’ve been convicted lately of some things that I think many people probably struggle with in one way or another, and I figure, if I can save someone from having to learn the incredibly hard way by sharing, then it’s a worthwhile investment.

In the beginning of 2014, my church did a church wide fast for 21 days, prayer and fasting combined.  I’ve never been a faster. I remember in college seeing some of my peers learning about fasting and becoming very boastful about their righteousness because they could fast for x amount of days from x amount of things. I also had someone tell me when I was younger that fasting is for the super spiritually strong, and that if I couldn’t do it, I was immature. Needless to say, after that, I steered clear of fasting and those that involved themselves with it.  I always knew that it was a spiritual discipline, and something our Lord Jesus did on a regular basis, but I was not interested in taking part.  I had grown up Methodist/Lutheran and we sacrifice things during lent. it was so very different from fasting in my mind, though it was basically the same thing!

This January was different for me. I felt a strong tug on my heart from the Lord to participate in this discipline with my church family.  As I prayed about what I should fast from, the Lord spoke to my heart about food, something I typically don’t dare let him mess with! ha I try and eat healthy, take care of myself, work out etc…but why does the Lord need to be involved in my food choices?! It just didn’t make sense.  Well, sure enough, the Lord spoke even more specifically as I prayed and as I spoke with wise friends, about fasting from REFINED SUGARS. Say WHAT?! Initially, I thought…hmm…no ice cream for 21 days, no problem! I can do that…although it’s my favorite food.

Well, as I began to research refined sugar, I realized that I had made quite a commitment. Did you know it’s in literally EVERYTHING?! I had no idea. I just thought I was making good food choices! So, as the 21 days began, I slightly became depressed about my lack of choices for the next few weeks.  My church also had 21 days of early morning prayer at 7am, which was great for me to keep focus of why I was doing this to begin with.

Thankfully, Gateway had the early morning prayer online as a live feed and then throughout the rest of the day for you to replay at a time that worked.  For those that know me, you know I hate the early morning hours unless I am going to travel, or do something amazing! I would win an Olympic gold medal at sleeping.  For these 21 days, I was committed to wake up, roll out of my bed and at least turn on my computer and join in the hour long prayer time.  I was successful…for the first few days.
It was so good until I slept through my alarm!

What I learned in the process was profound. First, I have really bad boundaries with my time and how I spend it, which leaves me going to sleep late, and struggling to wake up on time or early. Second, I learned that foods with refined sugars have filled a lot of things in my life that I never knew.

I found myself stressed, upset, angry, happy, sad, tired…whatever it was…in the moments, I was often craving the foods I had vowed to fast from for 21 days.  Sugar was satisfying my emotions, and even spiritual needs that I should have been satisfying with the bread of HEAVEN, the WORD of God.  It really did sort of shock me that I’d never made the connection till now.  I’ve been getting healthy for several years now, and struggled in the process. In all my work outs, in all my healthy choices, viewing of the biggest loser, I never made the spiritual connection in my eating.

I found that I not only had more energy, lost weight, and felt better than I have in years, but above all, I was more closely connected with the Lord than I have been in a long time. Before the fast began, the Lord really impressed upon my heart this verse: 2 Timothy 1:7 “I did not give you a spirit of fear but of power, love and self-discipline.” I really felt the Lord say to me “Ash, I gave you a spirit of discipline. If you choose not to use it, that’s on you. I gave it to you. You are without excuse.” Ouch. Sometimes the Lord has to be sort of sassy with me, because let’s face it…I’m sassy, stubborn and don’t always listen closely.  But when I read that verse, I was so convicted that I had said for so long that I don’t have discipline, and I want it…and here the Lord was telling me He’s already given me a spirit of discipline. I just have to use it.  I was just being lazy in spiritual disciplines. Just like I was being lazy in my boundaries with my time, claiming I struggled with discipline. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

During those 21 days, the Lord spoke truth to me that I hope I don’t loose. I was made aware of a stronghold in my life, that I’ve hopefully broken free from but will continue to become free from daily.  I learned the importance of structure, though I’ve since failed at keeping those boundaries. I learned that God is alive and always speaking, but I may not always be in tune. I learned that American food is full of a ton of crap. I learned God’s grace is abundant, that I cannot wear out His patience, and that His love for me is so rich and so deep that He would not let me stay in the stronghold I was unaware of. 🙂

It’s a struggle to be disciplined, to have healthy boundaries not just in relationships but in your health, and your time….it’s just a struggle to be a mature adult. Sometimes, the growing pains hurt more than I expect, but at the end of it all, I’m so grateful the Lord revealed this to me as I started off the year 2014 with a desire to be different and not look back next year and say “I wish I would have _____”. I am confident the year will be hard, and that breaking strongholds will take work, but I am confident that the Lord will lead me and that as 2015 begins I will look back and say “With the Lord by my side I did ______ and this year I will do _____”.

What does the Lord want to show you?! I hope this snippet into my life as of late has encouraged you to press in and know Him more deeply.

A look in the rearview mirror…2013 recap

So, I completely failed at blogging in the year 2013, so here’s a quick re-cap of the challenges and blessings I faced this past year! 

In 2013…

  • I had 25 job interviews
  • I was was totally unemployed for 6 months, part time for 4 months, full time for December and counting… 😀 Praise God!
  • I got a job with Ndoto: For Africa’s Future (the ministry I served in Kenya with for 6 months in 2012) using both my degrees. 
  • I got really hand, foot and mouth disease (a virus that is normally only for small children) in July and found out in August that I had a vocal chord injury. I stopped singing, had vocal therapy and am still going… 
  • I went to China with my dad in October for 15 days, and therefore, stepped foot on all the continents except Antarctica before age 30. 
  • I spoke to a classroom of Chinese 7th graders, climbed the Great Wall, Hiked the yellow mountain, had tea in a home of a woman in an unreached people group in China, froze my behind off in Lijiang, shared the gospel with my tour guide outside a buddhist temple, went on a boat ride in the West Lake, saw Giant pandas, walked in Tiennamen Square and the Forbidden City, and laughed so hard with my dad and our 16 tour friends! 
  • I had a fourth of july family party at the lake with my dearest loved ones and my sweet niece and nephew, Shane and Callie (6 & 3). Laughed so hard, watched our dads blow up fireworks and not catch on fire, and soaked up memories! 
  • I joined Gateway Frisco, started volunteering and found a great group of ladies to share life with! 
  • In November, my dermatologist noticed a nodule on my neck near my ear/jaw line. Turned out, I had a 2cm tumor in my parotid gland. I had surgery December 11 to remove the tumor after having a sonogram, ct scan, and biopsy. Turned out, the tumor was benign (again, praise God) but the tricky part was that during surgery, my surgeon found that the nerve which controls the movement of my face was completey wrapped around my tumor. So, it took tedious work to remove the tumor and keep my facial nerve in tact. BUT…my surgeon did it! God guided his hand in such a way that my nerve didn’t even have temporary damage! Now, i’m totally healed, my voice is back to full strength, and I have no cancer! YES! 
I know it’s a short glimpse into the past year, but I wanted to just recap the struggles I’ve had, and the blessing that God has shown in my life.  In the last year I have learned that His plans are good, and they have perfect timing! It’s hard to see it sometimes, but looking back always makes it easy to see what He was up to. 
I have learned in a new way (not to say I have learned it completely) how to be content whatever the circumstances. Maintaining joy in serving cute kids in Kenya, and in a life of unemployment is difficult, but if it’s from the source of all life, Jesus Christ, it is possible.  In my mind, in those months of 25 job interviews, I had no choice but to rejoice in the Lord, trust for His provision, and let His presence be my joy. I guess you could sink into a dark depression and self pity, but I’ve been down those roads before and this time, the Lord refused to allow me to go there, and I’m so grateful! 

When I think about where the Lord has brought me, I am in awe. He has grown me so much. Even in the past few months, a dear friend told me that she can see the difference in my attitude and my heart, just by talking with me for a moment.  I’m glad the Lord’s footprint on my heart is visible to others. … what a ministry to those that are suffering. Like I always have heard since college, there is no pit too deep that God can’t get you out of it. Or, like Priscilla Shirer said at the Gateway First Conference, you cannot wear God out. His patience is unending. I am so glad I can’t wear Him out. I wear myself out, so I’m glad He’s never lacking in margin to deal with me! 

In the last year I have been bratty, broken, bruised and hurt. I’ve also been joyful, happy, full of faith, full of doubt, full of anger, full of chaos, and full of peace. I have been blessed beyond measure to experience the presence of God in my life in 2013, though I was happy to say “see ya sucka” and welcome the year 2014 with high hopes.  Though 2013 was a hard year, full of hope deferred, God was still good, gracious, near and faithful. 

Here’s hoping that 2014 is a year of favor, blessing, joy, and abundant life! 🙂 

He makes all things new!

As I am sitting here bundled up in a blanket with a hot cup of chai, I cannot believe that I’m in the USA and I cannot believe that it is New Year’s day, let alone the year 2013! I have been back in the states from Kenya for a week and four days…and what a week and four days it has been.

Upon leaving Kenya, I walked through the international terminal at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and cried as I walked around the stores waiting for 11:40pm to arrive. I was so sad that I had to leave this new life I had made, these people that I had fallen in love with, and the ministry that my heart had become attached to. I am sure that everyone that saw me thought “This girl has completely lost her mind”, but I obviously did not care! Strangely enough, 2 flights later, I was crying in the DFW airport as I got off the plane and sprinted to the customs line.  The sweet, old texas customs agent with his precious accent, looked at my passport and then looked at me and said “Well welcome home sweet heart” and I just tearfully said “Thank you sir”. Then when I walked through the doors at the arrival area and burst into tears when I saw my family, my best friend, and some others welcoming me home. I think that this will now be tradition for whenever I am going to Kenya and coming back (not that I know when that will be).  My heart has officially straddled two continents and will not hop over to onto one or the other.

This first week home has been full of things that used to be so normal to be but now are strangely unsettling.  As I struggle to re-enter my culture and adjust to the United States, I am struggling to figure out who exactly I am and while that is so difficult because I have changed so much, the Lord has encouraged me with some deep spiritual truths! There is this battle to be pulled back into the person I was before I moved to Kenya.  When I read 2 Corinthians 5:17, I was reminded that I don’t have to be pulled back into the old me. Therefore if anyone is in Christ,  He is a new creation. the old has gone and the new has come.”  I can just rest in the reality that I am a new and improved version of myself, and that the new has come! I also am resting in the fact that God says HE is creator, redeemer and restorer. He creates and He makes all things new and He restores and redeems things in my life to newness and likeness to his son. I’m so incredibly encouraged by that! I don’t have to worry about how I will fit in America now, nor do I have to worry about what’s next or what this year will bring, because I know and love and trust the One who makes all things new. If I have learned anything in these last 6 months, it’s that the Lord Jesus Christ is more than able, and He WILL redeem and restore everything in my life that is broken until His return. He WILL lead, guide and direct my steps. He WILL speak. He WILL make me new because His word promises that in HIM, I am a new creation. 
Isaiah 43:19 says “See, I am doing a NEW THING! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?! I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” I am certain that this year will not be what I expect, but I am certain that it will be a new thing, and that He is making a way…whatever that looks like.  I have decided that if it’s back to Kenya, or off to some other state, or another crazy land…wherever He leads, and whatever He asks, I am ready to obey, because I have seen with my eyes, and know in my heart that his promises are true and that He can be trusted in this new year and this new season. Whatever he does, he will take this life and he will help me create a new normal again in the US. He will give me new purpose as He has shaped me and molded me these last months. So, while it may change tomorrow with the way my adjustment is going, today, I am choosing to look forward with expectancy and joy at what the Lord Almighty will do!

I hope you are encouraged to do the same this New Year’s day. While you may not have lived in a foreign country, you, just like me, are not the same person you were 6 months ago. It may be more subtle, but you are constantly growing and changing. For those of you that know they Lord Jesus, there is no way you are the same that you were last week even. He is constantly at work in your life, your heart, your situation and circumstances. Don’t be discouraged, but be encouraged that the God who causes the sun to rise every day, will move and show Himself strong in this new Year. 

If you’re happy/sad and you know it…write a blog?

As I sit here at a little cafe in town called Laughing Buddha, I am overwhelmed that in around three weeks I will be leaving this country and heading back to the USA. In these very short 6 months, the town of Kisumu has become home to me. My life consists of wearing chaco sandals, having curly hair, and riding in tuk tuk taxi’s daily where I am greeted on the road to Obunga by tons of little kids shouting “Mzungu, Mzungu, Mzungu!!! How are you!?!?”
My driver is one of my best friends I’ve ever had in life, and I’m actually used to the bumps and bounces on the roads now. I was in Nairobi for thanksgiving, riding in a car on a smooth road and I actually found it quite strange. This is my first time to make a life for myself apart from my family except for those brief 4 years of college. There is a sense of maturity and “grown up-ness” that I feel when I think about it. I’ve figured out in a lot of ways how to get along here in Kisumu without so many things that I’m used to and while there are times where I greatly miss things in the US and even more so, people in the US…the life I’m living here is nice. It’s simple, yet so complicated sometimes.

Now, I don’t say this to mean that I don’t like the states and I don’t want to come home at all. It’s just a very strange dichotomy. I love this place, and I love home too. How do you straddle two continents when there is one ginormous ocean separating them? How do you experience sadness at leaving and happiness at arriving home all at the same time? The emotions are completely contrasting and don’t go together at all…but somehow I am going to be forced to deal with them simultaneously. For right now, I’m just avoiding it at all cost. I simply am enjoying every moment and enjoying christmas decorations in kenya for the time being.

This time separated from all that I’ve known my whole life has really caused me to evaluate what I value and who I value in my life. It’s funny the things you think you love so much but in the end, half way around the world, you realize that they are seriously not valuable. Then there are other things that you don’t even realize you enjoy until you’re gone. Same with people. It’s interesting the friends that I have stayed in great contact with and the ones that have significantly dropped off the face of the earth in my life. Not saying that as one who is angry…it’s really just quite interesting to me! I think it’s good for everyone to take that time away from what they know as normal, and evaluate who and what is really important in life. Not only do I have a new profound love for certain people that I may have under valued before, but I have re-prioritized my relationships in such a good way. When you’re in a place like this, you are forced to rely on Jesus in ways that you never knew you needed before. And what I have learned is that when Jesus is the biggest and first priority, he brings into place everything else and puts them into the right place. I know that’s a simple spiritual truth but it has taken on a new profound meaning in my life. I won’t take this place or these people for granted and I also have such a great appreciation for some folks back home that I didn’t even realize were so wonderful in my life.

I’ve also seen and known God in such precious ways that I have never experienced before. I don’t even know where to begin explaining those things, but when you’re in a foreign land away from everything, God takes on a new closeness. I think He’s probably always that close, but we have so many things in the way. He has become all things to me. He’s my friend, my family, the lover of my soul, healer, sanctifier, companion, guider, listener, he speaks, he rejoices with me…I almost feel him wrap his arms around me in times of deep sadness and struggle. The closeness of my God who is living, in this place, is something I am desperate to hold on to. I don’t ever want to go backwards with Him. It’s like any other relationship…the deeper and more sweet it grows, you don’t ever want it to be shallow or distant again.

I am hoping and praying that God in his mercy will give me the strength and grace I need to experience and handle the strange combinations of emotions that I am starting to feel. I am also praying that He will never again be removed from first priority in my life and most valued. When he’s not there, nothing else makes good sense. What I know to be true is that Jesus rules and reigns and while I am nervous and anxious about the emotions and the leaving and my future and what I will do next, I know that He is the one who provides, protects and prepares my heart for all that will come my way. Thank you Lord Jesus, for you are good and your lovingkindness endures forever! Amen!

A Masai kind of thanksgiving!

Last week was Thanksgiving week as you all know and we had the great joy of experiencing it a bit early with our kenyan staff in the Masai Mara!! For those of you who don’t know, the Mara is one of the greatest vacation spots in the world. It is the open Savannah where the wild and exotic african animals roam. It is the place where the disney drawers came to draw the Lion King, and it is home to one of Kenya’s biggest incomes….Safari’s!

The crazy thing about this is because it’s so expensive to go on safari, a lot of Kenyan’s have never been! It blows my mind because this is what everyone thinks of when they picture this country. You think of Lions and Cheetah’s running through the wilderness inhibited. It was such a joy to me to be able to go on Safari with our staff as it was all of their first times to be in the Masai Mara and to see animals like Lion, Cheetah, Buffalo, Elephant, Zebras and Giraffes. Watching their faces light up at every animal brought such joy to my heart. They were like a little kid at Christmas…being overjoyed at everything! We saw secretary birds, hired them and sent them back to the office to do work for us while we were away, and we got such a kick out of Warthogs running and Hippos swimming all around!
We stayed in a tented camp where you had to be careful or else the zebras and hyenas might come up at night and disturb you! ha We had great food and so many laughs that it was a trip I will never forget!

We even had an early christmas party and had a great white elephant gift exchange. The way they do snatching of gifts is serious business! You have to fight for it…you don’t just get to steal the gift in an organized fashion like I’m used to. You have to seriously fight for it and make it happen. I tried to steal cool sandals from Susan for about 5 minutes and she would NOT let go! I ended up getting a flamingo puppet, that was stolen…believe it or not, and a thing of roach poisoning. It was funny because the staff have seen me flip out at roaches, and mice and they just don’t get it! I wouldn’t even touch the roach poison box because of the roach on the picture! haha Luckily, someone else grabbed it to meet a genuine need in their home haha and I ended up with a scarf from Allison, which is perfect for me as I am a little obsessed with Scarfs!

At night, we sat around the fire at the camp and talked about all things from Jesus to Luo cultural traditions, to Would You Rather questions! All in all, I would say it was a beautiful surprise to the staff to take them to the Mara, and it brought Team Ndoto to a greater closeness and unity than we had before! They took loads of pictures, as did I. However, my silly camera broke on the way. The lens won’t close and it’s at a shop in Nairobi where I am hopeful they will fix it and mail it to me before the week is up. I will be so sad if I can’t take pictures of my last weeks here.

One more quick thing…Allison and I had the privilege to go to Nairobi for actual thanksgiving and spend a few nights at a super nice hotel that someone paid for! It was incredible to sleep with AC…and a fluffy pillow and a down comforter. I mean, the things I’ve taken for granted in life. Wow. I was so blown away that I used to expect those things and now they are just such a sweet blessing. I hope I don’t ever get sucked into that again, but who knows! For thanksgiving, I had a delicious pumpkin muffin, chicken fajitas that tasted like home and warm apple pie! I’d say almost all the necessities! ha I’m thankful for those few days of rest where I slept like a rock, worked out in the gym, and laughed seriously with my dear friend Allison. I’m thankful for this life that God has called me to live regardless of the unexpected twists and turns it takes…and I am so thankful for Team Ndoto and the blessing that each one of them are in my life. They have impacted me and changed me for my good and God’s glory and I’m grateful.

I’m also thankful for the way He provides for my friends here. Our very own staff member, David Omondi got married today to sweet Sheila Ouma! We are so happy for them and cannot wait to see what God will do in their future together! Praise Him, for He is faithful!

Lastly, I heard a rumor that Baylor beat K State, and RGIII beat the cowboys…. Happy Thanksgiving and SIC ‘EM! 🙂

sodas, swings, and surgeries

Well, I have been here in Kenya for 4 months and I can’t even believe it!  The time is flying faster and faster every day. I am completely mixed about this because I am so excited to see my family and friends, and yes…my puppy when I come back to America, but the thought of leaving this place, these people and not knowing when I will be back absolutely cuts my heart to the core.

The past couple of months have been extremely full of so many memories and blessings and heart breaks that I almost don’t know where to start when I sit down to write a new blog. So, since I can’t give you anything but glimpses into my life here, I’ll try to just hit the highlights!

Since the day we took Tony, student #114, to buy his backpack and first school uniform, God has been rapidly on the move.  We accepted 75 new students into the Ndoto sponsorship program in September, and have since been getting to know them and their families.  We have also started asking for new sponsors, and God has been so faithful to raise up around 15 in just around one month! Watching these students learn that they were accepted into the program has been one of the deepest joys during my time here.  I have watched them smile from ear to ear and praise God with every ounce of their being. We had students bring every member of the Ndoto staff hand written thank you notes, and since they’ve been accepted, we have even had students show up on the compound and work hard slashing and cleaning up around.  I am so blessed to see God working in their lives. These students have such a tangible joy in the Lord, a rare, genuine gratitude for everything He does in their lives. They thank Him for each day.  They praise Him for being the God who provides, who heals, who protects, who saves, redeems, and makes their life new. If I have learned anything here in these past 4 months, it is how to genuinely thank God and how to see him in everything. There are moments where it is hard or where satan and sin get in the way and cloud my vision, but I am seeing the Lord Jesus and His work even in the small things in every day.

Also, since #114 got his backpack and uniform, we have seen the completion of one of God’s miracles! Emily, the girl I told y’all about months ago, finally had her surgery to remove her tumor.  On the way to nairobi, her bus flipped over, she was injured, even lost for almost 12 hours… The Lord took care of her, and brought her to surgery and she came out of an 8 hour operation with her hand in tact! After a giant tumor that was suspected to be cancerous, they were able to remove it and keep her hand in tact! I have shown the pictures of her tumor to doctor’s in the USA and they have guaranteed me that it is cancer. I firmly believe that God healed her body and restored her health, and provided a doctor who was risky enough to try to save her arm.  He has been so good and not only has He healed Emily’s body, but He has healed her heart! The joy in her heart leaves me completely floored. When I moved here, Emily barely spoke, was in so much pain, and was deeply sad in her soul.  Today, she is so full of joy that I truly don’t even know how to explain it! Praise God for He is Jehovah Rafa! The God who Heals!

One day in September, we had the joy of taking about 15 of our primary school kiddos to a playground in town.  It’s so fun to see them lighten up and be able to forget about fetching water, doing chores, washing utensils, cleaning clothes etc…and just play. They were so excited that they sang the entire way there and the entire way home.  At the playground, as we discovered the swing sets, and the rides that spin around really quickly, the kids got over eager and we ended up with 5 or so of them laying in the grass trying not to throw up! They just were too excited and they’ve never been to such a playground! It was quite hilarious, but it was a blessing to just be able to love on them for a while. A few of them had never even been to town before from Obunga, so it was fun to see their eyes light up just to have a soda and play.  I am learning what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a tangible way and combining it with speaking His word in the process.  Sometimes, I think I’m just playing with kids in a foreign country, but then God reminds me that He is loving them through me and teaching them in every day situations as I interact with them. I’ve been challenged to not be so hard on myself, but to just remember that as a believer in Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in me and therefore, He just is in everything that I do. He’s just in me and as I love, it’s Him loving through me. I remember that there is no way on my own free will I would love these kids the way I do. So I am just praying and trusting that He will use me in whatever ways He sees fit in this time.