helpers.

Thinking about Kenya today.

After spending a lot of time in Nairobi, we loaded up the vans and cars and made our way out of the busy city streets and began the winding trek into the mountains of Naivasha to the orphanage Strong Tower. We stopped only to look over the Great Rift Valley and to take a tourist-y picture at the equator…you know the ones where you put one foot in each hemisphere and smile knowing that if you were flushed in a giant toilet the water wouldn’t spin.

Anyways, Strong Tower is on a hillside overlooking Lake Naivasha which looks like a lovely place to swim until you remember its filled with man eating hippos. It is run by the most lovely people who have a passion for God and caring for His children.

During our visit I got to talking to Martha about the kids there. She would tell their stories, one by one, each equally tragic and often involving neglect or abuse. But she spoke with joy at how the kids had grown since joining their family at Strong Tower.

And then she began to talk about Beth. Beth was the first person I met when I found out I was going to Kenya. She loves Africa more than I think she thought she ever would. I’ve seen her dance with the Maasai, scream at our safari driver wholeheartedly believing that a momma lion was about to make her dinner, and laugh hysterically after answering her bedroom door in her nightgown. Also, few people appreciate the Java House and a good mango juice more than she does. She sponsors a child named Charles who has a smile that takes over a room and lives life in a way you would never know he was HIV+. I hope that since one of my middle names is Beth that means I’m a little bit like her.

Martha was talking about what a difference Beth had made in the lives of these children. She said that the kids had very little, but whenever they would do something for another, whenever they would loan or give another kid something or help them in some way they would say to each other “I am going to be your Beth Cayce.”

I don’t cry in public, but I figured halfway across the globe I would make an exception just this one time.

It reminded me of a chapter called Dance Class in the book Grace (Eventually) by one of my favorite authors Anne Lamott. Anne goes to help out at a special needs dance class led by her friends, Karen. After an extremely interesting experience in the class, Karen told her later that one of the students had walked up to her later and said,”I liked those old ladies! They were helpers, and they danced.” Anne’s response was simple: “These are the words I want on my gravestone: that I was a helper, and that I danced.”

I think that phrase is appropriate for Beth: She is a helper, and she danced.

I hope one day someone can say that about me.

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