Yesterday marked one week of being on the ground in Kenya. And my, what a week. This week has been full of jet lag, tears, challenges, tests, adventures, lessons, prayers and babies.
True Kenyan style, I hit the ground running. I arrived in Nairobi late Thursday evening. The first night of course was extremely hard. Homesickness mixed with jet lag, combined with anxiety and exhaustion made for a restless night. Friday morning came far too soon and I prepared to depart by plane for Eldoret that afternoon.
Upon landing in Eldoret and de-planing, the first cool breeze since landing in Kenya brushed my face. This breeze was so much more than a gust of air. It was a reminder of hope in a new beginning and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was a reminder that I was not alone. Although this was uncharted and unknown territory for me, I was not going alone. This new adventure I was about to begin would be with the Love of my life.
As Summer and I drove from the airport to their home, I was able to see Eldoret, which is very similar to Franklin Springs. Thank goodness. It is a rural, college, farm town. As we drove deeper and deeper into Eldoret, my heart beat finally began to slow and peace continued to invade. I soon settled in to my room here at Casa de la Sneed then wrestled once more with jet lag.
Saturday morning I toured the campus and met the students of East Africa Bible College (EABC). The campus, like her people, was positively lovely. I drank my first cup of Kenyan Chai and was instantaneously in love.
The next morning I was blessed with the opportunity to preach at Eldoret Worship Center. It was truly surreal. My wildest dream was coming true: I was sharing about the God I loved in the land I had dreamed my whole life of coming to. The worship was enrapturing. There is nothing quite as humbling as hearing praise and adoration to the Great and Glorious King in a different language. It was difficult not to burst into tears as the symphony of diversity united in one Spirit and one truth to worship our One God. I shared with my brothers and sisters that morning the journey to surrender that I have been on the past year and a half. A lesson I learned from Abraham in Genesis 22: When we surrender the safe, sacrifice the sacred, and operate out of the horrifying, then we truly encounter our incredible God.
Sunday evening about twenty missionaries from around the globe serving here in Eldoret gathered at the Sneed home. Once again my heart was moved upon witnessing the community formed here. As we all joined together in worship and prayer for the work here in Eldoret, I embraced the burden for the first time since arriving. I realized how much I had been caught up in my fear, my homesickness, my loneliness, my anxiety, and my personal pity parties, I lost sight of the reason I was here. It was not about me. It was for the students at EABC. It was for the people of Eldoret. It was for the people of Africa. It was to seek and to save the lost. Not for another stamp on my passport or to complete my degree program or to say I did something crazy exciting. It was to complete the mission for which I have been created for. Unfortunately, however, I am a very slow learner and must be reminded of this regularly.
Monday afternoon I spoke once again in the EABC Chapel about finding peace nevertheless. A word I feel will characterize this adventure. Being able to find peace in the process, and instead of saying I will never be able to accomplish this assignment, that I will accomplish it nevertheless.
Tuesday through Thursday I taught classes at EABC. Talk about humility smack down:
1.) Being entrusted my first week on site with instructing classes. 2.) Preparing to lecture for two hours straight each day. 3.) Learning to effectively and clearly communicate through my Southern accent. 4.) Learning to listen effectively to absolutely incredible questions and relay proper answers. 5.) Coming to grips with the fact that I am not all that.
Each day was a test of faith. I would love to say that each day I surrendered everything to the Lord and that I emerged victorious and confident. But no, I faltered in my steps far too often. I think my forehead may be forever scarred from falling on my face so often.
This week, I have had two very special instructors. Their names are Abigail and Nathaniel. Or as they are more formally known: Abby and Baby Nate. I have spent quite a good amount of time with these two little ones and they have taught me oh so much.
Abby and I are very much alike. We like to be busy and we love people. Abby loves to hear stories and ask questions. Yet another thing we have in common, however Abby is far braver than I in relaying her desire to hear and to ask. Abby in all her independence, still realizes her need for dependence. She depends upon her parents for nurture, guidance, love, attention and wisdom. I want to be more like Abby in this sense. I want to be bold in building relationships. Fearless in friendships. Stoked for stories. Desperate in dependence upon my Father.
Then there’s Baby Nate. I truly love this little one. He is pure and innocent. He is unashamed to cry. He seems to stay hungry. His smile can bring light to the darkest of days. He is entirely dependent. Throughout the conversations and classes I have participated in this week there seemed to be a recurring theme: babies. We talked about rebirth. We talked about Paul and Peter and their discussion of babies in the faith. I met with several mothers with newborns and what they were each experiencing. And from it all I learned two things: I need to be more like a baby and I need to stop being such a baby.
Confused? So was I.
In regards to rebirth, I understand that my life began again when I surrendered my life to Christ. However, I forgot about the fact that just as a baby is born pure, innocent and untainted by this fallen world, so we have been offered a new purity and innocence in the Father. So why not, embrace that purity and innocence and come back to it daily? Babies also are unashamed to cry when they need their mother or father and are always hungry. In this respect, Christians need to become more like babies.
I have found myself time and time again this past week desperately in need of my Father, but have not cried out to Him. I want to be like Baby Nate to the point that when I am absolutely and entirely broken and in need of my Father that I will unashamedly cry out to Him with all my might for Him to come, pick me up, draw me close to Himself, and be the comfort that I need. I also want to remain incessantly hungry. I want my hunger for the Most High to never be quenched. I want more and more and more of Him. I want Him to saturate my being.
And on the other hand, I need to stop being such a baby. This past week, Nate has been receiving more food than just milk. He also is learning how to sleep through the night on his own. Nate will continue to be hungry, however he will not be able to survive his whole life on mere milk. In the same way, as I grow in my walk with the Lord I realize my continual need to increase my intake of Him in His Word and in prayer. My prayer life is changing here in Kenya. Less time talking, more time listening. Less time laying in my bed, more time face first on my knees. Less time wallowing in self-pity, more time stepping onto the waves and encountering the unknown. I want to increase my intake so that I can grow more.
Nate is also learning a certain level of independence. He is being pushed outside of his comfort zone to learn what he has the capacity to do, that he didn’t know beforehand he could do. Welcome to the club, brother. As I am learning to increase my dependency upon the Father, I also am being pushed to do things I never imagined myself being able to do. It is hard. It hurts. All I want to do is cry. But it has to be done in order for me to grow and survive. At the end of the day, when I have tried my hardest, maybe won some, most likely lost a ton, my Father is there to console and comfort me.
It is hard to believe it has only been a week. So many lessons have been learned, tears have been cried, challenges faced, prayers whispered and shouted, battles lost, and others won. But amidst the multiple variables, there was One Constant. Oh and babies. Thank God for His constant companionship.
And thank God for babies.
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” -Matthew 19:14
“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” -1 Corinthians 3:1-2