Early one morning this week, I set out for a quick run. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning, as Bosco (my four-legged firstborn) and I made our way through the village of Kijabe. There was nothing but blue skies as we ran along the dirt road on the escarpment, overlooking the Great Rift Valley. You can literally see for miles and miles – the view is dominated by Mount Longonot, towering above the otherwise flat landscape. There I was, running along, feeling strong and full of energy, enjoying the early morning sounds of cocks crowing and birds singing, when my foot caught on a small protruding rock and I fell flat on my face! You know one of those falls, which feel like they are happening in slow motion? I was fully aware for the whole entire 3 seconds that I was sailing through the air that my fall was going to be a bad one. And it was! I ended up with my face in the dirt, having slid along the ground on my left side. I was a sight to behold! My immediate reaction was, “I hope no-one saw that,” as I quickly got up, shook myself off, and attempted to keep running! I didn’t get very far as the adrenaline coursed through my body, forcing me to walk…and maybe even cry a little!
This unfortunate incident got me thinking. It’s a lot like living life here in Kenya. There are days when we are sailing along, full of passion for the work we are doing, wondering why we didn’t do this a decade ago, and relishing in the small but significant victories. And then, bang! We are knocked down on our faces, in the dirt…a bad patient outcome, some seemingly insurmountable obstacle that cannot be moved, a weariness in trying to navigate a different culture, and the frustrations that come with cross-cultural misunderstandings. We pick ourselves back up again, brush off the dirt, and continue on at our previous pace…and hope that no-one has seen us make a fool of ourselves. There is no buffer. There is no inoculation. Life here, at least for Mike and I, is either absolutely wonderful or debilitatingly difficult. Personally speaking, I’ve experienced some of my lowest lows, here in Kijabe. However, I’ve also had moments, which have surpassed my wildest dreams and expectations. There’s something about living here that makes everything feel raw…poverty and desperation are never far away, pain and suffering reveal themselves on a daily basis, and life and death are never more evident. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve witnessed the closeness of the body of Christ like never before, seen miracles happen before my eyes, heard stories of incredible hope and redemption, and have truly felt God’s divine purposes being worked out in my life.
If you read our last blog entry this past week, that was most definitely a “face in the dirt” moment. We both agonized about writing it. We felt somewhat hopeless, wondering how we could possibly be vulnerable with our situation and ask for financial support, while at the same time not wanting to reveal our disillusionment. We really wanted to pick ourselves up and hope that no-one had seen us fall so hard…but, it doesn’t work like that. It’s not meant to work like that. This is the very reason why our sending agency requires that we have a community of supporters standing behind and with us. The constant swing from exuberant to desolate, is exhausting. Some days, a perfect latte, a trip to the cinema, or a nice meal out, seem like the only solution – which, unfortunately, cannot be found in Kijabe.
So, we wrote an honest post, requesting help, and we were blown away by the response. Those few emails, encouraging words, pledges of financial support, and prayers, picked us up and set us on our feet again. Thanks to all of you who responded so sacrificially, and so lovingly. Words cannot adequately express our gratitude at how supported we really feel. If we didn’t fail or fall, we wouldn’t have asked for help, and we would never have been blessed in such an incredible way. Knowing that there are literally hundreds of you who have committed to this crazy adventure together with us, who believe in our calling, and who are willing to give beyond your means so that we can be here, is truly one of the most humbling and significant experiences of both our lives. Thank you for cheering us on from afar, for holding us up in prayer when we cannot even stand, and for believing so relentlessly in God’s purposes and plans for us, here at Kijabe. It helps tremendously both when we are face down in the dirt, but also when we are prevailing in our ministries.
We have also “come up in the world” this week in a very tangible way, here in Kijabe. All of the bumpy roads and dusty pathways were assigned names! We can now tell people that we live on “lane 4.” That’s our house in the top left-hand corner!
And some other highways and byways…look out for Bosco, my constant companion, in the second last photo. If you don’t know the story already, we got Bosco as a tiny puppy the day before we found out I was pregnant with Michael. He has been with our family through thick and thin, he has watched Michael and Jane grow up, and he made the horrendous journey from Bend to Nairobi in the belly of a plane! He is our hero and loyal defender!