It’s hard to return “home”

It can hurt. I don’t know if it was our last interview with Buckner for the Project Go! video or if it was just spending time with Mel yesterday that has made this aching for Kenya heavily return. When you begin a journey that you have been intellectually, culturally, faithfully and logistically prepared for, knowing still that there will be more to discover…the heart part always surprises you. No matter how many times your travel or how many people you work with or what places you visit or the locals you get to know – God sets apart incredible moments. They are not massive. They don’t scream out “remember this later!” They are small. They are glimpses of Him.

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One of the questions Nathan asked was “What about Project Go! changed your life?” And in thinking back now, I should have said “What about Project Go! didn’t change my life?” Going back and looking through these pictures…they are frozen moments that have changed my perspective, challenged me and humbled me in the moments when I needed humility the most. As embarrassing as it is, I can almost start to “pity” myself when my heart starts to hurt. There is deep rooted joy that overflows through tears and there is an aching in my chest that can’t be explained. So many times I have thought, I would love to sneak into Bible Study on Tuesday morning or can’t we just spend one more Sunday in that little chapel or can we roll out one more chapati or can I take my tea with chocolate one more time? In Kenya, I am forced to be still in moments like these. Moments that may really be nothing special but moments that I can recognize, minute by minute, as precious because they were designed by Him. I can look back and remember every minute. Nothing is fuzzy. No details get mixed up. I have each piece of each moment. Some are visible and some aren’t.

“When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as Your own

You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul”

“I Am Not Alone” is one of Kari Jobe’s newest songs. I am drawn to it because it draws me into His presence and I know the people of Kenya would shout it from their souls. It’s hard to describe what these worshipers sound like. I have said this before but I really believe they sound like Heaven. So, Heaven sounds like concrete floors, shuffling feet, joyous laughter, bowed heads, sliding benches, turning pages, hands clapping and voices raised in unashamed worship and bold, specific prayer. And He is present in these moments and He is present in their lives. 

It is disappointing that I even have the audacity to, almost, feel…sorry for myself. Sad that I cannot instantly return to Kenya while missing every single blessing through each phase of this journey. But it’s the truth. That’s how I feel sometimes. I miss these people.

In Isaiah 43, we are told “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom…since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you…”

This small moment of my painful longing to be in the physical presence of a people who are so focused on the Lord, for me, will pass and return and pass again. There are so many bigger heartaches that have been so quick to transform our lives and perspectives, in this year alone, that may not be so quick to pass. We must find comfort by remaining in His presence, worshipping His name, recognizing His love and being grateful for His grace.

He honors us as His children, and He loves us so He wants to build our faith. 

We are not alone. He will go before us. He will never leave us. We are not alone. 

Wonderful, Marvelous, Excellent

Psalm 8

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants your have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence and foe the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic if your name in all the earth!

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I am so sad this morning.

I miss it all.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled that the Lord chose me.

He sent me.

I was able to be touched & changed by a body of believers across the world who pray fervently, worship passionately and help each other selflessly.

As I so anxiously await the time when the Lord allows me to go back, I am constantly reminded that He is so good and His love endures forever.

The greatest commandment is love and I will continue to love and pray while I am so far away. Missing every moment.

B

Living in Faith

Psalm 121

I lift my eyes up to the hills–

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip-

He who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, He who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord watches over you-

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

 the sun will not harm you by day,

 nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-

He will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

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 The first part of the Psalm above was the memory verse last Sunday for the youngest of the children who attend church at the BCC Chapel. As they practice memorizing the verse through movement, repetition and song, I am humbled by their little voices as they shout…”my help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!!!!!”

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 If there is ever a time when you may doubt the Lord in one of the many ways that we all do – – please make your way to Nairobi. Take a lesson on faith from a people who live through generational hurting, unimaginable difficulty, severe poverty, ceaseless hunger and seemingly unbearable pain that, for many, may not end. Take a lesson from a challenged community that never ceases to point to Jesus.

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Each morning when we arrive at the BCC, the teachers begin with devotion in the staff room at 8:00am.

There are no instruments, lights or videos to sing with. As a collective, their souls loudly proclaim the majesty of the Lord through song. If you were to stand at the door and listen, or if you were to go in and join these teachers, you may not understand the words to each song but you will not doubt the Lord’s presence. His glory reigns and His majesty is so great.

 Before they squish together, now trying to accommodate the 4 ‘mzungus’ on a wooden bench, there is a moment of praise through prayer. Not prayer that is silent like many of us practice in America. Their prayers are bold. Their prayers are spoken. The teachers stand where they are, lift their eyes up and speak words of adoration to the Maker of heaven and earth.

Sometimes, I close my eyes and just listen.

I am certain this is the sound of heaven.

Then Alex or Elizabeth or Lucy or Kevin or whoever feels called to share will stand with their Bible. They passionately give their testimony of God’s grace and continual provision in their daily life and what they know to be true based on His word. They encourage through the word and challenge through personal conviction.

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Their struggle is so great, their hope is so bright and their God is so big.

How great is our God and how blessed we are.

 

 

 

Love, love

B

LISTEN

Can you hear what God is wanting to tell you? Are you deeply searching for what he is wanting to tell you for YOUR plan? Do you know the treasure you are searching and listening for?

Preparing for this trip I prayed for myself and for the other girls to have open hearts, open ears, open eyes, and open minds to the Lord’s will for our lives over our month in Kenya. I can tell you our hearts are stirring, and our minds are thinking about everything that God is trying to teach us while we are here. I am going to continue praying for this, and today was a great day for LISTENING to what God is wanting us to hear.

We arrived to the BCC and then we walked over to the church…Image

We enjoyed the great voices of children singing and leading worship in both our language and in Swahili (spelling?). Their voices were lifted up to the heavens, and the words they sang were angelic. God was present the whole time. Their memory verse today for children’s church and for Sunday School was…

1 Samuel 3:9 “So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If someone (God) calls out to you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I’m LISTENING.'”

When God is calling out to me, I need to LISTEN, when he is telling me things I don’t want to hear at that moment, I need to LISTEN. I feel as if over the last couple of weeks preparing for this trip, and this week I am focusing more on the LISTENING than ever before. 

Today in Sunday School, Belinda, the mother of the residential children, was teaching the Sunday School, she made a really awesome simple statement, “Praying is a two-sided conversation, you are not only speaking to God, but by listening to God you will pray things that you did not plan on praying because he is speaking to you.” Can it be that God is speaking to me, and I am LISTENING but I didn’t even know it?

I was asked before going on this trip several times by Buckner staff if I had something in mind that God was maybe going to show to me while here. I answered several times with, “Valuing relationships, and slowing down to take time to spend with the ones I love, and not being to busy for them.” Did God tell me that? Did I know that is exactly what he was preparing my heart for through prayer – a two-sided conversation? That brings me to what was taught today by Pastor Richard in adult church today….

Matthew 13:44-46, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure that was hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again. He was very happy. So he went and sold everything he had. And he bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a trader who was looking  for fine pearls. He found one that was very valuable. So he went away and sold everything he had. And he bought that pearl.”

“When we meet God is it going to matter how much money we have? Is it going to matter how many hours you put into work? Is it going to matter if you work seven days a week and don’t go to church? Is it going to matter if you LISTENED to God, valued relationships, and reached out to the people who don’t know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?” – Pastor Richard

I’M LISTENING GOD!!! I’M LISTENING!!! I’m going to look for the souls, speak to the souls, value the souls, and spend time with the souls YOU have created and made.

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I’m Listening,

Melanie

To Serve

In preparing for this journey while sitting in the Bucker Dallas office, I found my self reading Isaiah 53. I made a list of the words used to describe Jesus…no beauty or majesty, nothing in his appearance, despised, rejected, man of sorrows, familiar with suffering, one from whom men hide their faces, we esteemed Him not…thinking that others may possibly describe the people we may encounter in Kenya by using some of the same adjectives or phrases that were used to describe Jesus. So I was going to serve them. 

 

And then I spent my Tuesday in the kitchen. 

 

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There is a staff of only 3 who work in the kitchen each day. Paul, the head chef for the past 7 years, with a wife and an 8 month old baby girl at home. Mama Agnes, the kitchen help at the BCC for over 15 years who will remind you of the very best parts of your grandmother with an unending “African woman” work ethic, an infectious laugh and a visibly joyful spirit. And Sarah. Sarah started in the kitchen about 2 months ago. She has a 4 year old son who is called Jeremy in the BCC Nursery and a baby girl who stays home with her cousin who is called Violet. She is currently acting as a single mom – her husband is not residing in Kenya at the moment because of his job. 

 

Most food for the 300+ school children at the BCC is grown (kale, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, carrots) and found (cows for milk) in the farm that can be seen if you are standing in the kitchen washing dishes at the sink. 

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Agnes says, “we waste nothing in the kitchen” after she tells me that I have cut too much of the tomatoes stem off before I began slicing. She cuts around the pieces that can be used, tosses them in the bowl and goes back to what she was doing. 

Sarah is quickly peeling off and washing the outer cabbage leaves covered in dirt from the garden and when I am found watching Paul says, “we waste nothing in the kitchen”.

 

The BCC kitchen has a tile floor, two windows that are usually cracked open and white cabinets. 97% of these cabinets are empty. There is no dishwasher or easy access cleaning area for the GIANT pots used to fill with beans, rice or ugali that replenish hungry stomachs at lunchtime. There is one ancient potato peeler, a few dull knives that are sharpened by Paul each morning on the stone outside, a broken box grater that will slice your hand if you don’t hold it like Paul advises, heavily worn SOS pads, rags and sponges, 2 cutting boards that must be quickly used, washed and shared, a few large but broken plastic bowls…and 3 joyful servants that arrive before 8:00 each morning to feed the children. 

It is now 3:15 and the four of us sit down to take our lunch – almost an hour and a half after the rest of the BCC – and Paul quickly talks about how nice it was to have help in the kitchen today. He talks about how people may forget that serving in the kitchen is a ministry. He talks about how the teachers may come & get frustrated if the cabbage runs our before they arrive for lunch and how he must smile and be kind. He talks about how nothing is wasted in the kitchen because if you go outside of the BCC fence, tears will be in your eyes. He talks about wanting to show me pictures of when some of the resident kids first came to the BCC and how many of them are unrecognizable in comparison to the way they were before. He says they are now nourished and healthy.

Paul ended our conversation by reminding me of the power in the words I speak and quoting Philippians 4:13…I can do everything through Him who gives me strength…before he stands, takes his plate and goes back to the kitchen. 

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I realized quickly that I knew very little about service. These 3 individuals are the living example of humble, joyful servants that have a tremendous workload that begins again each day. I thought I was the one coming to serve, but they have changed my life forever. 

Matthew 9:37 says, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.'”

The harvest at the BCC is plentiful and there are workers in the kitchen. 

How Great is our God. 

 

 

 

Love – 

B

TEN DAYS!!!!!

“The spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Isaiah 61:1-2

 

B and I are so excited to be going to God’s people that He has called us to. We feel so blessed and so honored that he has felt that we are able to complete this mission to love on his children in Kenya. The last couple of months have been so amazing, we met our goal of money that had to be raised for Buckner which was almost $12,000 for the both of us to go for a month, then we even raised EXTRA to buy supplies to take to Kenya for the children.

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The money that has been donated has gone such a long way on taking ALL of the things that Buckner has said these children need. We are so fortunate that in our country that these things are so easily available to us, and that we can take them with us. 

Thank you God for providing and thank you to everyone who is praying for us, and that also helped us financially through this journey to Africa. We look forward to posting often about the mission we are about to embrace.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

Kisses and Hugs… 10 more days,

Mel

Waiting Here for You

If faith can move the mountains
Let the mountains move
We come with expectation
Waiting here for you, I’m waiting here for you

You’re the Lord of all creation
And still you know my heart
The Author of Salvation
You’ve loved us from the start

Waiting here for You
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing Alleluia

You are everything You’ve promised
Your faithfulness is true
And we’re desperate for Your presence
All we need is You

Singing Alleluia
Alleluia, singing alleluia, alleluia

Waiting here for you
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
We’re singing Alleluia

I’m singing Alleluia
Waiting here for you
With our hands lifted high in praise
And it’s You we adore
Singing Alleluia
Singing Alleluia

Getting so excited…thankful for each day that the Lord uses to prepare us from the inside out. Sing out His praise for His name is so great.

love love

B