I've been home from Kenya, Africa for 53 days and I'm still struggling to share the stories for so many reasons:
One: I'm a word person and I am having a hard time crafting words that would do justice to what I saw, learned, and experienced over there, and continue to process since being home. Two: So many of the stories aren't mine to share. The stories I've heard have wrecked me and sharpened me and purified my faith. But to share them with you would dishonor their confidence even though they don't have access to the internet or you access to them. So many stories simply aren't mine to share. Three: Life. I got home on a Sunday afternoon and was back to being a stay-at-home mom of 3 little girls, CEO of Sacred Holidays and signed a book deal with an agent that Monday. I've so neglected this space because my words and attention have been pulled else where.
So about Kenya... Oh friends, I loved it. Loved the people. And am crazy wild about His Voice Global (learn more about HVG and follow @hisvoiceglobal on Instagram). I think I'm going to share a story with you every couple of weeks or so to spread out the trip for you and me. There's just no way to do one recap post.
We were there to put on a Women's Conference for the women in the Rift Valley, but the first day was all about learning about about the people and then visiting some in their homes. I'll share more about the home visits, but first I want to share about this boy.
We were walking back to our van down the dusty, rocky roads and we turned a corner and saw some kids in the distance and they took off running towards our group. This little one leap into my arms and wouldn't let me set him down until it was time to go.
The heart breaking thing about so many of these children is they are left to roam the streets all alone. I won't share the details of this boy because it's not mine to share. But I'll tell you that the majority of these kids are wondering the streets of this village because it's been days since their mom has returned home from prostituting themselves. Most of their fathers are dead or gone. Days they go without eye contact or a hug. There is no one intent on adoring them and posting their every success to social media. Days they go without food or water. The women that live in this camp (more details coming about the homes later) that go to the church, Rift Valley Fellowship, that His Voice Global partners with for everything in Kenya, take these children in on the days and nights their moms have disappeared again. They are the Heroes of God's great story.
This is what I wrote in my journal that day:
One boy ran up to me as if he was my son, and I his Mommy he hadn't seen all day. He literally leapt into my arms and wrapped his arms tight around my neck, refusing to be put down. He seemed about Moriah's age, maybe four, but felt the same weight as Chandler (our two year old). His hands were covered with dirt and blood, both were caked on. I couldn't tell why because they were so filthy. His face covered in dirt and blisters. But those eyes of his-- big, brown eyes.
He took his bloody, dirt covered fingers and traced my hot pink lips. Again and again he circled them. We were both lost in the moment and each other.
He patted his chest and said, "James."
He wanted me to know his name. James. I will never forget him, just as a birth mom never forgets the child placed on her chest but given away to someone else.
James. Big brown eyes with bloody, dirty hands. James.
We continued down that rocky, bumpy, dusty road. Other children joining us with each step. Each person on our team had arms and hands full. Soon a child was holding each of my hands too, as James still circled his arms tight around my neck and looked at me with those big bright eyes that still make me smile at the thought of them.
I didn't know why I was in Kenya, it just felt like I was supposed to go. I didn't know what help I could bring or what real difference I could make once I got home. But I knew I was supposed to go.
James taught me something that day: be available for each person that is just in front of you.
I'm such a doer and dreamer/planner that I can get distracted in the here and now. My body may be present but my mind is 6 months or 6 years ahead. It's so ridiculous, I'm so ridiculous. But James taught me to be present.
To be open to whatever God brings about as I'm simply walking down the path I'm on.
To embrace the ones that need it.
To not fear getting messy (or worse) from the things I'll be exposed to when I embrace all kinds of people.
To love on others more fully-- really look them in they eye and see them.
I would've scooped up James that day and brought him home with me that day if the law allowed it. And you better believe I googled Kenya adoption laws and asked Chris if there was any way we could relocate for 6 months (a requirement to adopt from Kenya is to live there for 6 months). But bringing James into our home wasn't God's plan for me or James that day. He has a Mama. The Lord sees him and her and I can only pray that He will rescue them. Not to a life that is clean or rich, but to a life that is full of faith and love.
I wasn't James's hero that day. I was there only for a moment. The hero of His story will always be Jesus. Jesus is the one who sees and looks after James. Jesus is the one that has all those women of the community watching over him when his family doesn't. Jesus is the one that provides extra food for one of those women and a palate on the floor for James. He knows love greater than what I offered him in that moment.
But that moment was still sacred and it was for both of us. I will never forget those eyes or those bloody, dirty fingers tracing over my hot pink lips.