This was the same write up that I did for the news paper in Carlyle this week, but I wanted to share it here for those of you who might not see the news paper or for any who missed it, and just in general to have out there for people to read!
I don’t have many stories for you this week as I have spent a lot of time in the office where I’ve been needed most recently. Let me tell you, the work these ladies have to do is not easy! They are complex and lengthy jobs and I’m so thankful to have them helping me and quite happy to be able to help them! It has turned into an amazing relationship! I have so much love, admiration and respect for them! They have taught me so much already and I know I still have so much to learn from them!
I received a few emails this week, as well as some comments on previous blog posts and it’s been really encouraging! Most of these responses I’ve gotten are from people I don’t know! So I could tell you more about Kenya, about how beautiful and warm it is, how wonderful the thunderstorms are and how fresh and clean it smells after the rain, the gorgeous smiling children with their warm hugs and the enthusiastic singing and dancing at church, I thought it might be fun to share who I am. So many people are supporting me and encouraging me that I don’t even know, so I want to take some time to share with you a little about who I am and why I ended up in Africa.
I’m a small town girl, born and raised! I have a wonderful family, two amazing parents – my biggest supporters being here and I have two lovely little brothers, who are both bigger than me and are probably the reason I’m as tough as I am! I didn’t grow up in Christian home, I mean yes we went to church most Sunday’s, or at least some Sunday’s but we weren’t a family that lived any differently during the week, we just made sure we showed up at church. When I was about 8 that changed a little bit, my parents became close friends with a Pastor and his wife and my brothers and I became fast friends with their children. Things changed in our home after this. We attended church faithfully and soon my parents got baptized. We went from a loud, angry, fighting family to a family that talked about everything, we became quite close and spent much more time together. There was a newfound peace in our home and the only change I really knew of was that we were now a “Christian Family” and I was okay with that change.
It was likely a summer at Bible camp when I decided that I wanted to be a Christian but I can tell you that it wasn’t because I completely understood what it meant to be a Christian, or that I just wanted to be like the rest of my friends at camp, it was honestly because I have always been an on edge, intense, high strung, nervous and shy person. I saw a sense of peace that being a “Christian” brought into our home and I wanted that same thing in my life, not really fully knowing what it would take to get there.
I use the term ‘Christian’ loosely because I feel like there are so many assumptions and things tied to that word, some good and some bad. Is the reason I’m here because I’m a Christian? Or a good person? What’s the difference? Do I live a perfect life because I follow all the rules? No. Does that make me a hypocrite or less of a Christian? No, it makes me human. I used to think that rules and doing good things was all it took to make me a “Good Christian”. I thought it was certain friends you had, certain words you didn’t use, certain things you drank, places you didn’t go to and events you could or couldn’t attend. Throw in some ‘good deeds’ and I thought I was well on my way to living like a Good Christian and maybe get myself a few brownie points to get into heaven while I was at it. And while those are good things, that’s not what being a Christian is all about and it’s not enough reason for me to leave my family, friends, safety and comforts of home to come to Africa if you ask me!
I realize that those rules I thought defined me as a Christian, were simply there to protect me, to keep me safe and healthy and to have people and experiences in my life that bring something positive and uplifting. They are rules or boundaries God gives us because He loves us, not because He wants to control us. And this idea I had about also making sure I did “good things” is also not what’s going to get me to heaven at the end of it all. Yes, absolutely I believe there is a heaven and a hell and it’s something I don’t fully understand nor will I ever understand but the reason Christians do good things is not to make ourselves look better so God will let us in, or at least that’s not why I do it.
I live by these rules (at least to the best of my ability), and go on these trips and live the life I do not because I want to be a Good Christian or because it makes me look better to God hoping it will give me a leg up into heaven. I do it because over the past few years I’ve realized that God loves me. And not just loves me a little bit, but beyond anything I could fully comprehend. Enough to give up His only son, to let him die so that I didn’t have to. His love for me is bigger and more incredible than anything I could ever imagine and in return for doing something that amazing for me, the least that I can do is to love the people around me, to feed people who are hungry and clothe people who are naked, because God loves and cares about these people to. Most of all, I do it to keep sharing about a God who loves us so much that He let his son take the fall for all the stupid, selfish and unnecessary things that we do, and that he just wants us to believe in Him and live in a way that shows Him we love Him too. If you think about it, sharing the Love of God really isn’t a tall order in comparison to the death Jesus suffered for me.
I know not everyone will agree with what I believe a ‘Christian’ is. I know not everyone will understand what I mean when I say God loves us, or Jesus died for us. But this is the honest truth of what I believe and why I’m here, doing what I’m doing. It’s not about me, my personal gains, or how I benefit. It’s because I believe in a God that showed how much He loves me by letting his son die for me, that I want Him to know I love Him too and that I will go where ever, for who ever, so that they know that He loves them too. And in the long run I guess, I do gain in some ways. I gain incredible relationships, invaluable life experiences and lessons and a new found sense of thankfulness and awareness of how incredibly blessed I am.
My intentions are not to offend or upset. This is simply to share with you who I am, that I’m human the same as each of you, that I make mistakes and I don’t have all the answers, but I live knowing someone loved me enough to die in my place and to love in return, I love through action. I hope if anything is taken away from this, it is that you are greatly and passionately loved, by a God who wants nothing but good things for you. And that there are an endless number of amazing adventures and opportunities waiting for those who will dare to wager that He is, and live a life sold out in Love and Thankfulness in return.