I should have closed the loop on this such a long time ago. Life has a way of getting really busy and pulling one off track. Life also has a way of forcing one to stop and refocus. A broken foot is now the tool being used to force me to slow down and refocus.
Through the last blog, you met Tom and Becca, the first team to visit Soweto with me. Shortly after, my “brother” Matt would come and continue the bonding process that would lead to this amazing partnership. When Matt came out, I kept him busy going on safari, shopping, petting giraffe and hanging out with the kids. Because his purpose for visiting Kenya was to minister to my heart and meet my children, I did not focus our time on missions. Big mistake! One of the last days he had in Kenya, I took him over to meet the students at the school. We spent our time getting to know the teachers, playing tag in the alley, and sipping warm sodas. At the end of the day, Matt looks at me and says, “I wondered how long it would take you to show me Kenya!”
And, I guess that is the way it has been for everyone else who has come to visit. For us, Kenya is not the countryside, as beautiful as it is, it is not the wild life, as interesting and marvelous as they are, it’s not even the market place, as bustling with life as it is. For us, Kenya is the stench of the slum, it’s dirty faces, and big brown eyes. It’s hunger satisfied, and thirst met. It’s friendship deeper than cultural differences, social positions, or economic status. It’s acceptance and appreciation for the gifts God gives and the grace He lends. It’s realizing that poverty is not in the heart, just the hand and that barriers are crushed by the love of Christ in us. Simply put, it’s a home for your heart.
As I look back, I can see how this thread of friendship was drawing us all in, pulling us together to form a team that God would use to bring hope to a community where the lack of hope was the deepest deficit. A month after Matt left, the photographer from our wedding flew out. This was very unique for me as I barely knew her! God had called her name, she had responded. Again, she thought her mission was to cheer me and make my time in Kenya more pleasant. As such, she treated us to an over night safari, then we met the giraffes..again (I actually fed the giraffes 14 different times before we went home!). With each of my guests, I wanted their introduction to Soweto to come later in their trip. My theory was that if they went to the slum first, they would only see the slum. I feared that its hopelessness would overpower their ability to see its people. I wanted to ease them into the experience. For certainly, there is poverty everywhere one goes in Kenya, but the hopeless poverty rings loudest in the slums.
As it turns out, Michelle was the final link in the chain. Once Soweto got into her blood, the circle was complete. That night, we planned and dreamed of a partnership between those who had so little and those who had come to love them so dearly. Others would come, all would fall in love with our Samuel and his little community of children. Not a single one would leave untouched. Each would take a piece of Kenya with him in his heart and each would leave a bit of his heart behind. The linking of those pieces is what makes the heart of We Are Kenya beat. As I see it, each person that joins us, gives of himself so that our beat can grow stronger. Each person that travels the distance, leaves a bit of himself behind. And it’s all for one cause. The cause for change. Change in the way a child greets his day. Change in the way he views himself. Change for one, so that many will change-one heart beat at a time.