Jambo (hello) from Kenya.
For the past two weeks, I’ve found myself traveling in East Africa to participate in the work of Feed the Children.
I’ve taken early morning flights. I’ve brushed my teeth with bottled water. I’ve visited primary schools. I’ve watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean. I’ve taken lots of pictures for FEED’s social media. I’ve helped to cook Thanksgiving dinner for 50 kids. I’ve sorted Christmas presents. I’ve eaten more chips (french fries) than I should. I’ve held babies, lots of them.
In all of these things, I’m learning.
I’m learning about the importance of traveling with lots of vitamin C, good shoes and your own plane blanket.
I’m learning about having throw-up cloths near by at all times when holding babies, and never to underestimate the power of showing a child a picture of his or her face (what joy!).
I’m learning that slowing down is the way of life in Tanzania and good tea is everything you dream it to be and more in Kenya.
It’s my 6th trip to the region since 1999. My East African country list includes Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda as well as having flown through Ethiopia on multiple occasions. This region feels more and more part of my life every time I visit. In fact, the Feed the Children staff now greet me when I arrive, “Welcome home!”
I’m learning that when an African says, karibu (welcome) they really do mean it and want you to feel a part of their lives and space.
I’m learning the sweetness of friendship is so very possible here, even if there were so many reasons to be disconnected.
But even more than this, this preacher on the plaza is learning about my faith, the faith that I want to have in Jesus.
Coming to Africa reminds me that the Jesus I think I know isn’t wrapped up in my American citizenship. Jesus always crosses racial and language divides. Jesus always leads us to the stories of the most vulnerable and ignored. And then asks us do something about what we hear!
Most of all I am learning to not be surprised when Africa opens my heart, like no other place on earth can.
To new friends.
To eyes that tell stories.
To shocking possibilities.
One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott says this: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
There’s so much I’m hoping for here.
For more children to be well-fed.
For nations and their leaders to be at peace.
For my own heart to live into what has eternal value.
Africa: what a classroom!
I’m so glad I’m here.