Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kenya Reflections

A little over a year ago, a plane touched down in Kenya and 13 bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Americans stepped off. All but two of them new to the country, they had prepared for months and were ready for what laid before them. Ready to serve, they were expectant God was going to use them - this group of faithful missionaries - in ways they couldn't quite imagine.

And use them He did, but that's not what I'm talking about today.

I'm not talking about how God used them because there's a lot more to it. Something else happened that week that's bigger and greater. God had more plans for this group; He and He alone had plans to send them home with changed hearts and cleared minds and not because of what they did, but what He did in them. In a plot twist that only our perfect father could conjure, God used the mission field to change the missionaries. 

He used the land, he used the people.
The climate, the food, the water, the bathrooms.
The stories.
The relationships.
The unspoken need.
The never-mentioned want.

All of it.

He took every drop of Kenya and diluted the infinite pools of what they thought they knew.

God used Kenya to get to us.

To get to me.

And so, here we are. A year has come and gone. And what did I learn? I've paused for a moment to reflect on where I've seen God use my Kenya experiences to stir my heart and change my way of thinking.

1. Fear and Worry || This is a big one for me and of course something I'll be working on for years to come. Something that I noticed in Kenya was that I didn't worry about anything. It's easy to think, "well of course you didn't worry, you were only there for ten days rounding up," but it was more than that. I came home with a better sense of understanding that God is in control. He is bigger than my fears, his plans go deeper than my dreams and whatever the circumstance, I'm learning to trust in His timing and His faithfulness - whether it's in my relationships (hard), the health of my friends and family (hard) or my career (also hard). Again, this will be a process - a long, tedious process towards letting go of control, but Kenya got the ball rolling more than any other single event in my life.

Applicable verse:
Matthew 6:34 (NLT): So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


2. Giving || The people in Kenya wanted for nothing, but my eyes saw such a need: consistent sources of food, clean water, shoes, clothes. At the beginning on 2014, I finally made tithing to my local church a priority. Coming back from Kenya, I decided that wasn't enough (for me). After seeing how the Kenyans can live on so little, I knew that I could live with less and give much more. I enrolled myself in one (now in 2015, two) child sponsorship programs. It's truly unbelievable how $30-50/month can so greatly impact a child's life. Thirty to fifty dollars a month is FAR less than I would consider paying for a pair of shoes or a dress for a single event. It's less than a coffee drinker's monthly Starbucks bill. Thirty to fifty dollars is minimal to so many of us, yet indispensable to those less fortunate than us. When I filed my taxes this year, there was a substantial difference from 2013 to 2014 and I hope to say the same in 2015 and every year after as I learn to give more to God's kingdom.

Applicable verse:
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT): You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don't give reluctantly or in response to pressure. "For God loves a person who gives cheerfully."


3. Materialism and Money Management || Let's consider this one my biggest work in progress (vulnerability, ack!). God definitely opened my eyes to how materialistic I am while I was in Kenya. Now, this is more of something I have noticed, not something I've mastered (case in point, last weekend I lost to Anthropologie and bought a lot of home decor that I of course don't need), BUT...in Kenya I saw how rich you can be with fewer material items and less money. Again (can I repeat this 100 times?), I'm far from perfect in this area of my life (like, miles away at least), but I am trying to make it a point to be more intentional with how I spend my money (i.e. giving, see above). My biggest accomplishment was to finish paying off my student loans in the year following my return home and, though the learning curve seems to be incredibly steep for me, I do see measurable change in the ways I value and manage my money. I'll be working on this one for a while because my name is Lucy and I am an Anthropologie junkie. I love clothes and shoes and manicures more than I should, but there's hope for me yet.

Applicable verse: 
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT): Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

If you're interested, you can read more about our trip to Kenya.

2 comments:

  1. Love this Lucy. This was my first visit to your b.l.o.g and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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