So when I first found out I would be in Kenya this year the month that I dreaded the most was April. In February we had the very first pastor’s school for this class, so I knew I would be really busy leading up to that and then there were the elections when I would be staying with Paul’s family in the country. And my friend Erika was here for at least part of March.
But April. Oh April. It was looming over me like a cloud of boredom and loneliness. Not to mention the fact that April is the rainy month and last year was rumored to have rained every single day for an entire month. I was going to slip into a low grade depression, I just knew it. Not one thing was scheduled to happen until the very end of the month and the beginning of the next school session, and although I had plenty of work to fill in my days, I was terrified of the thought of spending that much time by myself. I’m just not very good at being alone. I love to have people around me, to laugh with and cook for. I was starting to sound like Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun where she shouts, “How stupid are you?! You bought a house for a life you don’t have!” Except mine sounded more like this, “How stupid are you?! You moved to Africa for a life you don’t have!”
Now, I wasn’t about to start praying to Saint Lorenzo for someone to cook for, but I was beginning to doubt, to question. Could I do this? Am I even supposed to be here? What if I never have friends…like real friends?
But just like Francis’ prayers to Saint Lorenzo, my cry to my God was quickly answered when I realized I already had friends here.
So I instituted Friday Night Family dinners at the camp, when I get to sit with James and Stella and Samuel (and whoever else is part of the family that week) and eat and talk and laugh and just appreciate each other’s company.
And I went to visit my friend Kaelyn in Nairobi where her wonderful three roommates welcomed me with open arms and an open invitation to come visit any weekend I needed some American company.
And then the best of all…my best friend Allyson told me that her team from the World Race was going to be coming to stay for the month of April to help at the camp and do ministry in Matasia. Most of these girls have been on a team together for the past eight months in eight different countries with different challenges in each place they have visited. Emotional challenges, physical challenges, spiritual challenges. And they have endured them all by leaning heavily into their Father and by encouraging and growing one another through very intimate community.
I have had the beautiful privilege of getting to spend the last two weeks with these ladies, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
One day as Allyson and I were sitting in the car, the rain drizzling down the sides of the windows, I told her about all the things I had been struggling with lately. As I shared my worries and my doubts with her, she listened patiently. She did not condone my attitude or encourage my behavior, but instead corrected me gently, mercifully.
We asked ourselves, what if we not only knew who God was, but really believed He is who He says He is?
I’ve heard it since my days in the youth group. For goodness sake, I’ve led groups of girls in DNows telling them, there is a difference between having a head knowledge of our Father and having a heart knowledge of who He is.
But how do we know which we have?
For me, I found out when I was dreading this month of April. Do I know that the Lord is my provider, my Jehovah Jireh? Do I know that He sees, my El Roi? Do I know that He is the all sufficient one, my El Shaddai? Yes. I know these all are the very character of God.
But do I believe that to be true in my life? Not as I should.
When I came face-to-face with a situation that challenged these characteristics, I chose fear and doubt over the peace and assurance of belief. And that act in itself is the most disobedient thing I can do. I am denying God the glory of all that He is. And this kind of disobedient and willful heart is what scripture warns me of time and time again.
I am just like the man in Mark 9…saying, “God, if you can.” Of COURSE He can! He is Lord. He has shown time and time again who He is and has told us He is Yahweh, unchanging and constant. And yet, I ask in doubt, “If you can…” I ask in doubt when I should be asking in confidence.
Thankfully, I also know my God to be kind and merciful. Apart from my doubt this month, He still showed me His goodness. Still showed me that He sees, that He is all-sufficient, that He provides. His character is not dependent on my actions or belief.
He brought me comfort, and joy, and love, and a whole new group of friends that I couldn’t even have hoped for or deserved. He brought me community. Not just people for the sake of people, either. He brought me people to laugh with and cook for, to grow with and learn with, to encourage me and to gently correct me. He brought me people to remind me WHO HE IS.
So next time I face a situation where I have the option to doubt the character of God, I pray for steadfastness. I pray for strength and confidence. And I echo the words of that father in the book of the Mark:
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
(For more pictures from the past couple of months, scroll down!)