Today I sat down to write the monthly e-newsletter that hasn't been so monthly lately. I haven't had anything to write about. I figure most people don't want to hear yet again, that I have been prayer walking, building relationships and praying for the right people to come forward for this project. I have become impatient. I have become frustrated. I have become tired of doing what is most necessary (praying and building those relationships for future ministry) and really just want to "DO" something. I have hesitated sharing these frustrations. I mentioned them to a friend and she strongly encouraged me to be real with everyone. She said that is the only way you can adequately pray, and that you all are there for the good fun stories and the not so great times as well. So I started to write a newsletter about discouragement and perseverence. I never finished the newsletter...I just couldn't...partly because the program I use wasn't happy with my slow internet connection, and partly because I couldn't communicate my heart effectively.
I ran out of time. Elsa and I were to go prayer walking in Unga today. In all honesty, I was dreading it. Lately I have felt like I am just walking in circles. I felt like all the people could see was a walking dollar sign. I felt like I would never be invited in, that I would never be seen as a potential help, but rather as just a source of cash and objects they were needing. I felt inadequate, I felt like I was failing. I didn't want to be asked yet again for money. I didn't want to get another marriage proposal. I didn't want someone to yet again offer me their child because they thought I had better resources than them to raise their child. I didn't want to go.
But this morning, when I was trying to write that newsletter, and it dawned on me, that I have been praying for a lot of things, but I haven't prayed about their lack of motivation to move forward, or their inability to see that life could be better than it is. So we went with a goal. I shared this with Elsa today, that these are the two focuses of our time, and if God shows us something more we will add to it.
So we start walking. All is going well. Then we encounter a crowd of people standing around a pile of furniture that looks to be the entire contents of a home. I ask if someone is moving. They say no, they are being forced out. I am reminded of the plight of the people. I am reminded that life in Unga is hard. I am reminded that they probably get tired of being there too. We keep walking and praying.
Then we hear someone calling us from a distance. A woman peeks her head out of a doorway and invites us to her home. Katie and I have been invited many times. We have on a few occasions accepted the offer. On all occasions it ended up being a private time to request money from us. I was hesitant, but thought, this will be good for Elsa, lets go.
We are invited in, and Mama Jackson introduces herself. I look at her humble surroundings and she invites us to take a seat. She lets us know she is cooking ugali and then I ask about her family. She says, I am saved. I believed in Jesus years ago and He has never let me down. She then says, I knew you guys were coming today, I didn't know when, but I knew you were coming. Then I heard you talking up the hill (where the house full of furniture and crowd were) and I knew it was you. I bless you for coming to our neighborhood. I knew God was sending you. And I know it is you that we have been waiting for. (I am literally shocked, but at the same time thinking, man this lady is good, wonder what she is gonna ask for...I can be so calloused at times.) She then tells us about how she has been raising her two kids on her own. Her husband decided he didn't want to be married to her and went to be with another woman 10 years ago. She hasn't heard from him since. In the same breath, she says, but God has taken care of my every need. He is so good to me. He loves me and provides more than we can imagine. With pride she tells us about her two kids and how good of a job they are doing at school. Then she asks, so why are you here? I knew you were coming, but why are you here? I have been preparing food for you, because I believe that you sometimes don't know if your guests that are to come are angels or people sent by God. I don't know what you are, but I know God sent you. He told me you would be coming.
I explained to her that we were walking. And since I knew she was a believer, I knew that I could freely share why we were walking. I let her know that we were walking, praying for opportunities, praying for God to open doors for the vision He gave us concerning Unga. Then I shared with her a specific passage from Ezekiel that I specifically believe is a foretelling of what Unga will one day be. She lit up. She asked me where it was, and pulled her bible out. I will say that although I know a lot of swahili, I haven't learned the bible language yet. It forces me to use everyday language if I don't know the "christianese of swahili." So I turn to Ezekial 36:22-36. She started reading it out loud, and I watched as the expression on her face changed when she reached the part of Ezekiel where God says he will make the land fruitful again, and people will look at it with wonder and will want to live there. Her eyes opened wide when God compared the desolate land to that of the garden of Eden. Yes, this passage, it doesn't say Unga specifically, but I truly feel in my heart, that this is God's hope for Unga.
I told her then, that we were praying, hoping God would do this. We were walking hoping to build relationships so that if God moves in this way we could play a part in it. She then stopped me in my tracks..."if Pam?" "IF?" If God says He will do something it is a matter of when not if." (so who is the missionary here?)
We talk, we shared ugali and veggies and fish, we talked some more. Then she took us to meet her friend Mama Abraham. Another similar conversation. We share a few hours with them, and not once did they express a need. They just shared time and space, and a desire to see what God might do in their community. They then made us promise to come back. We committed. Later this week.
As we walk out of Unga (we park the car about a mile away in a safer spot) I explained to Elsa how big today was. Never, have we been invited in like this. Never have we been able to share so much time and space so freely and never have we been able to just "be" and bless people. I explained to her, that God was doing something, that God met us today, that He meets us everyday, but today was different, today He challenged us to keep fighting for this community, and gave us a glimmer of hope of what is to come. We both had smiles from ear to ear. It was a good day in Unga.
I am floored when God knows my needs. I was needing a day like today. I have been so discouraged with the slowness of progress. I could go on and on, but God in His divine mercy, reminded me today, it isn't about me. It isn't about what I want, but at the same time, He knows my every need and was willing to encourage me through Mama Jackson and Mama Abraham. I am humbled that He would take that time out for me, and look forward to being a blessing to Mama Jackson and Mama Abraham.
Join me in praying for them, and for their neighbors. Pray that God would open doors, that He would continue to reveal His plan to us. Pray for healthy relationships to form. Pray for His will to be done. Pray a prayer of thanks, for His knowing, for His willingness to show us a little bit at a time, and for His willingness to use us.