Posted on November 4, 2013
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst. -Lamentations 3:28-30 MSG
In a lot of ways October was just a continuation of September. A lot of hard things, some easy things. This update sort of reflects those things. I’m having a hard time summing up everything in a neat and tidy update, so I decided to do it differently this time.
I’ve been reading a devotional Bible for a few months now. It’s The Message version, and it’s called “Solo.” It focuses on lectio divina, helping you learn to meditate on Scripture and see what God may be saying to you. It is uncanny the number of times the “random reading schedule” speaks directly to my heart and what I am feeling. This last week the reading was from Lamentations 3. All about how Jeremiah was despairing, being thrown into a pit, and almost drowning. But, the Lord saved him. And because the Lord came near, Jeremiah had hope. These words of Jeremiah spoke to my heart in a very deep, and profound way last week.
I was also meditating on the words of Psalm 27:13, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
This update is a little bit of both hope and sadness. The hard stuff and the happy stuff. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because truthfully, this life is filled with all 3 most of the time….
This little guy melts my heart. The reason we are friends is because one day, a long time ago, he fell down the stairs leading to one of the shops in town. No one was around to pick him up, clean off the dirt, and wipe away his tears. I went over to him, scooped him up, cleaned him off, and made him smile. Since that day we have been friends. Every time I go to Center he finds me, takes me by the hand, and leads me where he wants to go. It’s awesome. He’s only 2, but he’s a man on a mission… most days a mission to find ndazi or sweets.
The beginning of this month was a rough one for Samaki (he’s called Samaki, which means “fish” because his parents sell fish in town). He fell on a motorbike and got a 3rd degree burn on his stomach. Thankfully I was able to take him to the doctor, get him medicine, and now he is on the mend. He will have a big scar, but other than that no problems.
These days he is afraid of motorbikes and cars, which is not a bad thing. He seems to be back in the groove of playing with friends and having fun with his family, so all in all it’s ending up to be alright for Samaki.
Another awesome dude I get to see almost every day. Kamau is a true picture to me of joy in the midst of crap. He is unshakable in his happiness. I’ve never seen him upset, never seen him mad, never heard him complain about anything. And, if there’s ever a kid who has a right to complain it’s Kamau.
This month I found out about a school in Gilgil, a town 18km from Eburru, that deals with kids with special needs. I took Kamau and his mom to the school to see if we could get Kamau admitted. The kids at this school are unbelievable. So welcoming, so happy, so excited to see me and to see Kamau. Kamau’s entire face lit up when we were at the school, he is so excited about the possibility of learning with other kids. And, he was so glad to see there are other kids like him, seeing he is not alone was good for him.
Right now the school doesn’t have a vacancy for Kamau, but that may change in January when the new year starts. Please pray with me Kamau would be admitted and would be able to start school. It would make a huge difference in his life to be in school with other kids like him.
The Great Potato Harvest, or not….
I harvested my potatoes in October. I was able to get 4 bags of potatoes (think big potato sack bags) from about 1/4 acre of plants. If that sounds good, it isn’t. And, the potatoes are small. Really small. And, I have to give 2 bags to the Shosho who gave me 2 bags in the beginning to use as seedlings. So, really I only have 2 bags to sell.
But then, some “friends” of mine decided to steal potatoes from me. They swapped out my bigger potatoes for their smaller potatoes, leaving me with less than one bag I can sell. So, I went from maybe being able to get 3,000 ksh ($35) for my potatoes to hopefully being able to get 1,250 ksh ($14) for my potatoes. This is not the outcome I was hoping for when I started this shamba project.
Worst part of the whole thing is the friends who stole the potatoes from me are the same friends that receive more help from me than anyone else here in Eburru. There is no way to prove anything, and talking to them about it will just lead to a really frustrating, bad conversation of them blaming other people, so there is really nothing I can do about the whole deal.
I talked to Pastor Steve about it and his response was, “How many times does the Bible say to forgive?” So, there’s that….
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” -Proverbs 27:6
I used to think this proverb was true. Sure, wounds from a friend hurt, but in the long run they’re good for you. Now, I think this Proverb is there just to pour lemon juice on those wounds.
I am finding, over and over and over again, here in Eburru it is really difficult to know who is a friend and who is an enemy. People will tell you they are your friend. They will say all the right things to get you to believe they care about you and only want to help you.
-they will get mad at you if you don’t give them money
-they will steal from you if you don’t do what they want
-they will be jealous if you try to help someone other than them
-they will say bad things about you all over town to keep other people from getting close to you
All while proclaiming to be Christians and proclaiming to love you with the same love God has for you.
I suppose this really isn’t too different here than it is in the states, but I left friends who genuinely do love me and speak truth to me and care about me and now I am surrounded by friends I love so much who just hurt me over and over and over again.
Honestly, there’s nothing else to say other than Child Please!
“So you really think you’re helping people?”
When I came here I had visions of wanting to enter in to the poverty, of wanting to come up with practical ideas of how to help people, of wanting to find ways to take their strengths and turn them into things that could generate income, give them stability, and perhaps change their lives for the better.
Again, Child Please. What was I thinking?
I have never been faced with a more complicated, seemingly hopeless situation than what is here in Eburru. On the surface, it seems like there should be something that can be done, but digging a little deeper reveals there are some long standing ideals and values here that truly impede “progress.”
For example, people here still dig their farms by hand. With a hoe. Every day they go to the shamba to dig. When I asked once why they didn’t use a plow and a donkey to prepare the land for planting the response I got was “what’s that? I’ve never seen that.” And it wasn’t just one person that told me that, it was a lot of them.
Many of the adults in Eburru did not finish Primary school. It’s a whole generation of people who are uneducated. These are the folks who make up the “workforce” here. I’ve talked to a few people who don’t have regular jobs about why they don’t work in Greenpark (really nice place 6km from Eburru, the place where I am currently sitting and writing this update because they have internet). The response: “you only get paid 300 shillings per day and if your family needs 300 shillings per day to eat then you have nothing to show for your work.” Sure, you want to have something to show for your work. But, these are the same people who then turn around and ask everyone in town to give them food, run up credit with the store owners because they can’t afford to buy cooking fat and sugar, and then wonder why their kids are hungry all the time. If you need 300 shillings to feed your kids, and you could get a job that will give you those 300 shillings, it seems like a good idea to go work. But, for these guys it is not a good idea and so their kids suffer as a result.
When I sit with families who still struggle every day for their food. When I see kids sick every day because they live in mud houses and can’t get warm when the rain comes. When I meet folks who have “surrendered” to this life because they just don’t think there is another way to live….well, I get a little depressed, honestly.
And that brings me back to Psalm 27:13.
I would have despaired. Really, truly despaired. Sometimes at night I sit and weep at all I see before me thinking about the impossible uphill climb that remains to “help” these people. Sometimes it gets to be too much for me.
And then I remember what is really important.
Yes, it is important for these kids to be educated. It is important for them to have a good home and a safe place to live. But ultimately, what is important is to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
When I am despairing I picture little Samaki 50 years from now saying to his family, “you know, there was once a certain mzungu who lived here. She was kind and she loved me. I saw God’s love for me through her. I praise God for revealing Himself to me through her.”
And that picture gives me hope to carry on.
That is what is important, and that is what I will try to focus on.
I will try to meet real needs, I will try to be the hands and feet of the One who loves us perfectly, however imperfect my reflection of Him may be.
And in the end, I will hope to have Samaki, Kamau, and kids like them be able to say they know God and love God because of the ways He showed His great love to them.