Chaos & Rest: It Is Well
We've officially been living in Kenya for one month today!! If you read Aaron's previous blog post from around the three week mark, you know that it's been quite a whirlwind! Since our last update, we spent a few days with a team in Kisumu, a region in western Kenya, where CARE for AIDS has 11 centers. We visited 4 of those centers during our 4 days in Kisumu and participated in one-on-one counseling, home visits with clients, as well as our 2nd graduation celebration at the center at Mamboleo Baptist Church.
During our day of home visits, we subdivided into smaller groups and my group was invited into the homes of 6 different clients. We met Grace, who had been kicked out of her home because of her HIV+ status and was living with her sister and their children. One of Grace's son's, Phillip, is 20 years old and disabled. Because of his disability, Phillip has never been able to speak or to walk. Grace cares for him full time and uses a wheelchair to help him get around. Phillip sat with us as Grace told us her story of living with HIV and he exuded such joy at having visitors. As we left their home, I couldn't help but be reminded that I should never be so dependent upon or consumed by material and physical circumstances that lack thereof could steal my joy. Unable to get work, Grace's biggest prayer request was that she could find a job to be able to pay for a home of her own where she could continue to raise her children. Would you join us in praying for God's provision of work for her?
At the end of our day of home visits, we had dinner at a current CARE for AIDS client's home. Lillian was our host for the evening and our team enjoyed learning how to cook some traditional Kenyan food for dinner.
After our days in Kisumu, the team that was with us headed on safari while Aaron and I came back to Nairobi to have a few days to settle in. We had some construction going on in our home, so while it wasn't quiet, it was nice to spend a couple days at a slightly slower pace getting things done around the house. We also took to the Nairobi roads on our own for the first time! Aaron has been our brave driver for the past 10 days and has handled driving on the right side of the car and the left side of the road like a champ!
This past week, we attended our first weekly Monday admin meeting at the CARE for AIDS office. Most every Monday from here on, we'll be joining the other administrative staff in the office for a meeting to start the week. This week we also had the annual CARE for AIDS "all admin" meeting, held in our home. We hosted the administrative staff that traveled to Nairobi from Kisumu and Mombasa for the week and on Thursday and Friday had 30 people here for the meeting! It was a joy to have the opportunity to get to know some of the staff better this week, especially those staying with us from Kisumu and Mombasa. We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary this week, a little differently than last year, but celebrated none-the-less!
It would be dishonest to say that our first month hasn't been without its challenges, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Moving is never easy, and it's only exacerbated when you move to an entirely new continent, country, and culture. Not only do we lack the community we so loved back in Greenville, but even something as simple as figuring out what to do with your trash (plastic bags are no longer legal in Kenya) becomes exceedingly difficult when you're in a new and foreign place. So, we're counting every small victory as a big one (hooray for not having ants anymore!), tackling what we can one day at a time and are incredibly grateful for the friends we've made who show us grace and patience as they answer our long list of crazy questions.
Yesterday, I turned on a Spotify playlist as I was getting ready, and the Bethel music version of the song "It is Well" randomly played first. As I started to get ready, I was almost immediately moved to tears by the lyrics of the song. The song begins, "Grander earth has quaked before; moved by the sound of His voice. Seas that are shaken and stirred, can be calmed and broken for my regard. Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all, It is well. Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. It is well with me." The tears were a combination of being exhausted and needing rest, but also an acknowledgement of where that rest has to come from.
I've been doing Jennie Allen's bible study Proven since I arrived in Kenya and I couldn't help but be reminded of her words about John chapter 6. She says, "nothing but Jesus can issue rest for our chaotic insides." In John 6:16-21, Jesus' disciples have gone out in a boat to cross the sea. It was dark, windy and the waters were rough. Once they were 3-4 miles off shore, they saw Jesus coming towards them, walking on the water. At first, they were even more afraid, but once they knew it was Jesus, their fears were stilled. As Jennie Allen notes in her study, Jesus "could have gotten on the boat before it left the shore, but then [the disciples] would have missed His overwhelming power over all of the chaos. We may feel crushed by the fear of real circumstances, but Jesus is above the circumstances." She goes on later to remind us that "our soul rest is not based on the absence of trouble or chaos. Our soul rest is based on the never-failing character of our good, capable, rich Father God. ... We are as secure as Jesus was on that water because we know our Father God is with us."
This couldn't be more timely encouragement for me right now and hopefully it encourages some of you as well. After a month of hustle and chaos, of questions and confusion, of running on fumes and being really drained, what a sweet reminder that God is above it all and it's in Him that I can find my rest today. If you find yourself in a similar season, week, or even day, let's together remember to fix our eyes on Jesus knowing that regardless of our circumstances, we can still say "it is well with my soul."
If you made it to the end of this more lengthy blog, extra kudos to you!