Well, my hair is a little longer. My unshaven mustache is a little creepier. And when I wake in the mornings, it still feels like I am caught in a dream. I am in Kenya. I am surrounded by children who smile with dirty teeth, mountains and sky that force me to gaze with a dropped jaw, and need. A lot of need.
Honestly, I don't want to write about all the need I am experiencing here but if I didn't, well, I wouldn't be writing honestly. I fought my own will to write about this need. I didn't want to follow up "living joyfully simple" with the "brutal need" in this land. In fact, I have written two other blogs attempting to avoid this subject altogether. But I want to be fully honest with you. I want you to know my thoughts, emotions, and experiences. That is why I started this whole blog. So this entry is going to be brutal and I pray that the brutality of what I am experiencing here comes out on your side with humility and love.
The need is just so obvious and evident here. One of my friends, who has spent more time in Kenya than I, wrote in her blog that if she grew up in Africa she probably wouldn't be able to believe in the Bible. At least in the goodness of the Bible and the hope we have to hold onto. Now living here for a month, that perspective becomes all the more clear. It almost seems like everything is a waste. It almost seems like it is just living to die. Here is an average, dreary day in my current home:
I step out of my bedroom in the morning to children eating porridge and sipping chai, while they swallow their ARV pills. I then get into the van that takes twenty children to school and pass teenage boys already high on glue at 6:30 AM. High on glue because they don't have food and it helps satiate the hunger. And because, honestly, what other escape could they possibly conceive of? I then arrive back to the orphanage to watch Pastor John try to budget the cost of feeding all twenty children, his wife, nephew, and three aunties, and I listen to the strong man sigh. I know why he is sighing. Pastor John has gone three months without pay and his own children are constantly under pressure of being thrown out of school because of unpaid school fees. On top of that his van breaks down at least twice a day and the water hasn't made it through the pipes to the orphanage since April because of the government's reckless tree-planting project destroying more and more of his pipes each day. All the while non-profit, Christian organizations promise help but can't deliver because of heated disagreements and tifs in ownership over "Beat the Drum Corporation". The burden he carries would drop me to my knees and crush my back. It seems hopeless.
As I walk outside the aunties are slaving away carrying 30 liter gas cans of water on their back, while straining their neck with the support rope that distributes part of the weight to their neck and head. This is the water that should not have to be carried. This is also the water that has given two of our children giardia. The drops of sweat bead down their forehead as they pass by the latrine that is slowly becoming a health hazard. The smell from the sewage backing up should already have been cemented over but hasn't do to the low funds. All the while I can walk to town and back and pass a dozen churches that at first glance would be mistaken to be decaying shacks. This is where people who care more for the offering than the salvation they neglect scream at the needy women on Sunday mornings. It sickens my stomach.
I want to vomit.
There are too many questions and too little answers as always.
Joyfully simple seems dead when the children are at school.
It is devotion to hold onto the crumbs of hope.
But it is worth it.
The need is great but the hope is greater. The crumbs of hope that I understand from feasting in the Word allow me to live here in love. It is a gift that I am incredibly thankful for want more of. This kind of love moves you to be one of the few laborers in a huge harvest. This type of love is grounded and rooted and almost seems masochistic. This type of love wants to take on the burdens of the slums, addictions of impoverished teenagers, corruption within the government, waterless orphanages, infected children, etc because it knows that the burden is light. This type of love has a heavy heart. And this type of love has hope.
This love is fully given. It is more than an idealistic non-profit or an attention seeking Angelina Jolie. It doesn't move but gives strength to endure. Endure to move in the so evident brutal need, making hope more obvious than the depravity of this wretched world.
The hope is the truth. The truth is the burden is light with Jesus, and the yoke is easy. He is the source of this love and the gift-giver. This is what he is showing me and teaching me as a spectator, a taster of these burdens. And all I know is I need more of Him.