I’ve been feeling thankfulness well up in great springs lately. It’s overflowing actually. I’m sitting here in my little apartment on a Sunday evening, tea in hand, just thinking about how well I have been taken care of.
I have a home with windows, doors, a bed and a proper toilet. I have running water AND electricity. I have trees and flowers right outside. I have neighbors who know my name, and even want to know my story. They invite me over for home cooked meals AND send me home with Christmas decorations to put up in my place. I even have a cat.
I work with people who are so passionate about seeing others come to know the love of God, that they left everything easy and familiar, and came to this foreign land. To Africa.
Living here is hard. It just is. The power went out for 12 hours yesterday, I still can’t figure out where all those ants are coming from, and the crappiest blender here cost me $42. I keep stumbling over simple Swahili with the gate-guards, cab drivers, new friends, waiters, my host family, anyone Kenyan really. I always have a nagging sense of being seen as a walking $ sign, which is confirmed by the street kids who follow me to the grocery store asking for money/candy/my shoes/anything they can get. Last weekend I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends out here before she walked into the airport to catch her flight back to the States. And to top off my pity party… Christmas is only week and I will be an ocean and several time zones away from my family for the first time. Yeah, it’s hard.
But it is also surprisingly beautiful. Shaking your fist at traffic on a busy highway leading out of Nairobi only to look to your left and see 11 giraffes just munching on acacia trees. Being the only single 20-something at a salad-potluck (with just lame carrot sticks to offer), only to be embraced, included, and loved. Running through the rain in downtown Nairobi with a Kenyan friend, and not being able to describe why you can’t stop laughing and why you don’t care that your shoes are soaked. Tagging along on a random road trip, and finding yourself on a red dirt road in the middle of nowhere watching nearly 100 rural Kenyan kids running toward you, screaming and giggling. Holding hands with women who had served long, tough years in creative-access nations far away, where they couldn’t even breathe the name of Jesus, and watching them cry as they were able to freely and loudly sing O Holy Night in a safe living room.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
count your and see what the Lord has done.
Count your blessings name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
We sang that song in church today. It was hot, 80 degrees in December, and the building was overflowing with hundreds of dancing, praising Kenyans. Swaying shoulder to shoulder with them, I wondered why I got to be there too. Small town, middle class, 5’5”, 23 year old, Caucasian-as-they-come Bess Brownlee… sweating, singing and dancing in a huge African church. Why do I get to live this story?
Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup
You have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I don’t know why I get this opportunity, but I do know that I could never say thank you enough times. It is a privilege to be here. Even when street cats fighting outside my window again, and my tap water comes out slightly brown. Thank you for this life Lord, help me not to waste it.
Merry Christmas everyone, I love you and miss you very very very much.