i've been back from kenya for a few weeks now and yet i'm still struggling with how to write about my time there. i'm still struggling with how to process what i saw. felt. lived.
it was a good trip. it was a hard trip. we helped a lot of people-- roughly 2500 saw a doctor, received treatment for a wound, and/or were vaccinated that would not have received help had we not been there; because they couldn't physically get to a hospital, were too poor, or their local medics didn't have proper know-how/ equipment. along with that though, there were so many more we couldn't help. the days weren't long enough. we turned people away.
i saw an old man cry because he hadn't eaten in days and was hungry. i cuddled a baby while his mothered learned she had aids. i held a starving boy, years older than my daughter, and far smaller. i overheard an orphan ask the woman who sponsors him with complete sincerity, if she thought about him/ missed him/ loved him when she was at her home. i guarded a door so that the crowd wouldn't crush those nearest to the building. later, they broke down the door, realizing not everyone would be seen. people like you and me, they were desperate for basic medical aide.
i learned a little more of myself, what i'm capable of and what i'm not. i learned what it means to put your hope in the Lord, what it means to have nothing else to put your hope in. i learned the names of some of the 145 million orphans-- they're naomi, warren, toba...
the need is real. the commercials on tv are real. the reality is emblazoned in my mind and is more than you can imagine.
i had a hard time eating breakfast right when i returned, because i had more than enough. my pantry had more than enough and even if it didn't, i could jump in my car and stare at a store with rows and rows filled with more than enough. this is not the case everywhere. whole communities are hungry without pantries/options/stores.
i look at my little girl and wonder how she and i were so blessed to be born in america. so blessed to have shoes. so rich to have water. forget taxes and mortgages and credit card statements, you and i are rich because we have access to w-a-t-e-r.
i'm searching for what to do with this new awareness. how to live in america with painted toes and decorating magazines with voices of orphans singing songs playing through my thoughts. how to go christmas shopping knowing that people i have sat with may go days without eating.
i haven't figured it all out yet--mostly, i just get overwhelmed with how great the need is and what little i can do to help. tonight, i read haven the story of david and goliath and thought about how the need feels like a towering giant and how tiny my influence looks in its shadow. but, i will not be overcome by fear, i will choose to act. to trust God with the details, but follow in what i know he has said. what his holy words in my worn bible say. love my neighbor. in africa. in america. i will love until it feels uncomfortable, and when i start to get comfortable with that, i'll give until it gets uncomfortable again. because, a $25 check isn't much of a stretch in our household it doesn't really 'cost' us. but a $250 check? a $2500 check? it hurts a little. it means we don't get to eat out for a while. or buy new clothes. or find our security in a bank account. it does mean that someone gets to eat. wears clothes. that i become vested with someone else's worth. and that is love.
could i challenge you to get uncomfortable? allow your heart to break over the reality of your neighbor's need and love them enough to walk with them through it--whatever that means in your neck of the woods?