Our time in Kenya has come to an end. Some beautiful moments mixed with hard things – most not measurable or tangible… Our last day was spent with 10 of the Taraja boys at the KYFC center. Slowly but surely they arrived from their various home communities, through rain and a variety of transport avenues… The closest one, Michael, took one hour to get here. Benjamin arrived last as he had a long journey, and wisely came in high rubber boots (a luxury in this rainy season!).
Bev and I got to spend time chatting and joking with them as well as asking them two questions: What do you praise God for? and what is a challenge that needs prayer?… I won’t share the intimate details, but I will say that more than one boy said they praised God for their life. That they are alive…as so many they know around them have died. Sobering…. The prayers for several were that they could be reunited with family members. Their longing is deep. Our human desires to be loved and connected are stronger than that for food and bread (paraphrased from Mother Teresa). As a mom and grandmother, my heart aches for them. Some of them will meet or reunite with family in the future, and I’m sad to say, they will likely be disappointed. That mother or father that has been missing or absent, is deeply troubled/addicted/ill or simply without compassion for the one who longs for them…
Life is hard. Truth is often hard, but at the same time healing. Once one’s mind can see the truth, it can move on to receive God’s mercy and grace. There are things that only He can fill – for all of us – not just these boys…
I took a piece of paper and divided it into 3 columns and wrote: Let Go — Wait — Move forward. I told them that I, myself, have been working on things in life and have put my thought in these 3 categories.
Some things, people or circumstances we need to just let go. They are not meant to be in our lives and do not make us better people…
Think about these things… Write them and then cut off that section and tear it to bits!
The last 2 categories should be prioritized. Some things God has shown us: This is what you can do. This is what you need to wait on. Live in the present – do what you can, do not worry about what you cannot at this time…. Move forward with what you are able to! And fold that paper so that the ‘wait’ is on the backside. It will come – the timing is not now – trust – and go on….
Then we broke for tea and bread. Duncan – a true leader – was not afraid to ask us to serve them. I smiled, we were happy to serve. (I think in part he wasn’t sure what they were supposed to do or how much to take, but truly, that is our call ‘to serve one another in love’)…. Ravished, the boys did not hesitate to partake! For some – or likely all – I know they had likely been without food for some time and it was a blessing to watch them eat…
Sponsor gifts were next and it is always fun to see the boys open simple thing like books, flashlights, deodorant, etc., and have such wide smiles. Each also got a cap – and this was big news for many. John owino’s was a Rockies cap – brand new. Bev offered to pull the plastic hook on top off for him and he refused. he grinned and said, “NO- this shows i have something NEW!” A rare thing in his life. I imagine it will still be there next time we see him. 😀 In addition, they were given some shillings for basic needs from sponsors…oh the joy and wide eyes…
That said by far, the favorite things are the personal letters and photographs….a sense of belonging….a sense that someone has not forgotten me…
Bev and I left them to counsel with Robert while we had lunch with our friend Grace. A beautiful setting and company – yes the differences were vast – but that is life. Relationships are important and valued, regardless of status, age, gender, etc. Grace has been a mentor and heroine to me over the years so this lunch and time was priceless… Loss is no respecter of age or status either. I was sad to hear that she had lost a brother and a sister within days of each other just before Easter. Her grief was evident. I grieve with her – and also hope that I brought some joy and love – just as I receive from others in seasons that are hard…. Not to miss small side joys, I showed Grace the “shamrocks’ growing wild in her flower bed.. how they were a big part of my family growing up. She showed us that they were something they, too enjoy because they are edible! What?!! I was hesitant but Bev was not – her response had me follow quickly – so surprising that these leaves taste like sour apples (ok, kind of)! I honestly don’t know if it is the same as we have at home, but willing to see….!
We were supposed to do 3 more home visits. I am sorry to say due to time and rain we were not able – but we commit to next time! Very hard for me as I knew a few of the visits would’ve made a big difference and impact for these guys…
But instead we decided to go grocery shopping for each one. Michael was chosen to come with us. (He is strong – and in need of community after a particularly hard season in life.)
In no time, Bev, Director Robert, social worker Lois and Michael had big bags of ugali, rice, beans, sugar, vaseline, soap, laundry detergent, etc., for each boy…it filled my heart just watching them (and counting the cost) 🙂 As the shosho (grandmother), I had to add apple flavored gum for each at the checkout – and also because there was just enough money left for it!
I love these guys – and what Robert has worked hard to do in their lives. It is clearly not easy; there are no magic formulas. There are many ups, downs and arounds and it takes many hands and hearts…. But to see a transformation in just one….or many….is well worth it!
If you would like to help Taraja through prayer or giving, please email: email@example.com