Overwhelmed with Thankfulness

November 20, 2016

“Fill me up God. Fill me up God.

You provide the fire, I’ll provide the sacrifice.

You provide the Spirit and I will open up inside

Love of God permeate me.”

The words of this song fill my ear buds this morning as I type on my computer while Steve and Janet’s (my longtime Kenyan friends or I should say family) little ones, Kiki and Mark, sleep soundly in the bunk beds next to me. I reflect on the day as I lie in bed in Steve’s home which is nestled in Olympic, a section of Kibera in downtown Nairobi, and I find myself so humbled by you Lord.

I reflect on how Steve and I pulled up to the park to meet our BFR secondary kids today, assuming we would have to wait for awhile, but turned around to see a loud bus full of energetic kids singing and dancing, smiling so big and dressed in their tie dyed Ignite shirts they got at camp this past August, pulling in to meet us RIGHT as we parked. Talk about perfect timing!!! If you have ever been to Africa, you know how crazy THAT alone is because between the expected “AfricanTime” and the horrific traffic and city driving practices, you are usually waiting thirty minutes to an hour on someone you are meeting- so the perfect timing of this had to be the Lord intervening. While I watched the joy bustling from within that bus I felt God wrapping his arms around his daughter saying, “I am proud of you. The work of your hands and the sacrifices of these sponsors does not go unnoticed.” Mic drop right there. Mission accomplished. Or so I thought, His goodness was just beginning.  

As they filed off the bus and we started toward the park, we all kept looking to the sky at the dark clouds hoping the rain would hold off. This morning in Kenya it was not only raining but FREEZING! The kids joked with Priscilla, our BFR Kids liaison & their former head teacher when they were at Wings of Life, that they knew the rain would hold off even though she kept warning them they would have to cancel this park day! So we were all thankful she didn’t because they planned this adventure back in August at the BFR Kids family meeting after the Ignite Camp. Priscilla told them to save their pocket money to be able to provide for this park day and enable it to come to fruition. What a great lesson she implemented there. Not only did she put the responsibility on them, but she taught them the importance of saving what little you have to do something big. We all need that lesson don't we- but especially 29 teenagers! Seeing the importance of saying “no” now in order to say “yes” to something bigger and better. It is such a picture of following the Lord too right? Saying no to some little things in order to say yes to something beautiful, pure and life giving.

These little “Sunday Morning Messages” kept happening as the day went on as we trudged through the mud to find a spot in the park for our program. Now there are many times in global ministry where you are standing there, unsure of what is going on, unsure of what is being said and honestly just trying to survive the moment. For an ambivert and a “like to know what’s going on” girl I can always feel the awkwardness filling up in me. But in this moment I made a choice, a choice to trust this experience, trust God, trust Priscilla and lean into the experience and the program that they had set forth. I surpassed the urge to ask every 30 seconds “what are they saying?” and I just went with it. Today’s activity and us being there, wasn’t my doing so the flow of it wasn't on me. They planned this on their own and I just happened to be in Kenya this exact day and had the joy of experiencing it. That had to have been a God orchestrated thing don’t you think? I let go, joined hands with them and again allowed God to embrace me.

Priscilla quickly told the “chairmen and the secretary” to get the program started. I watched as our BFR Secondary Kids; Maxwell, Kimanzi (Joshua), Faith and Britney (Priscilla’s eldest daughter) huddled together and frantically whispered and jotted some things down in a journal then came to the group and gave the program. “Our program today will start with worship songs by Agnes, Maureen and Alice then we will move into the church service, then group activities by colored teams, then we will have games, lunch then free time and finally a word from Priscilla and Britney from BFR," they said. 

“What are we here to do?” said Maxwell. Everyone responded “We are going to keep the fire burning from Ignite.” And just like that we started to sing. I was so filled with joy.  We have spent countless hours teaching these kids on leadership and standing tall together and today that is exactly what happened. It was beautiful and made it feel worth every ounce of hard work and late hours put into every lesson, every mission trip and every single sponsorship.

After we sang many worship songs, danced and praised the Lord we all gathered around an enormous tree to hear the word of God from Kimanzi and Britney (Priscilla’s daughter). Our surroundings were stunning and oozed God’s goodness all in itself, but hearing these young people speak Truth over their peers made it even more awe-inspiring. They spoke so beautifully and I stand listening overwhelmed with thankfulness. 

Kimanzi took us first to 1 Peter and then to Romans 12:2 encouraging us to not be conformed by this world but by the renewal of our minds in the Lord. It was powerful. Then Britney came and spoke to us about putting on the full armor of God and the importance of being rooted in prayer and the Word of God. She told the group if we are to be able to face and resist the temptations of life then we have to go in with the FULL armor of God. She led us into a time of prayer and repentance. Watching these kids bow their heads, kneel, and pray out loud to the Lord was breathtaking. Often when they pray here in Kenya they call out different names of the Lord such as; “Jehovah God”, “King of Glory”, “Lord Almighty” and as I heard these things repeated over and over I could feel my body breath in and out and I could feel the peace and the power of those names rush over me- Jehovah God, King of Glory, Lord Almighty. Wow- what a God we worship who is king of every single thing, king over these kids, over me, over Kenya over the U.S. He is our great creator, great provider, merciful, powerful, loving, omniscient, omnipresent. 

After this time of prayer, they split into their colored teams and each made a skit. We laughed together as their quirks came out and they were goofing around. My favorite part, which our Ignite Camp Team will appreciate, was when “peel banana” started! It was great to see the blue sharks, green gorillas, yellow cobras and red rhinos back in action. It again, reminded me how important the time at Ignite was and how much these kids hold it dear in their hearts and much the fire is still lit within them.

As we finished up, they took some time for games, jumping rope and just hanging out while a few of us prepared lunch. As they got their food, we laughed as some were going to have to use their “five spoons” because they didn’t pack a spoon in their bag and how Kimanzi ran for salt but didn't arrive back until everyone was almost finished, and how hundred of monkeys came out of nowhere to see what we were eating. It was refreshing to just laugh and enjoy these kids.

I had a little paperwork to button up in order to confirm their information for our records. Bless- Between their 3 names and the crazy spellings, their birthdays and their tribes you would have thought they were taking a physics exam. In the U.S. our names are fairly straightforward, first name, middle and our family name. We are also taught our birthdays at such a young age and it is reinforced each year with a big party, cake and gifts. Noooot so much the case here. In Kenya that just isn't the way so when asking a kid their birthday you are faced with a blank stare and a look of confusion, followed by a random spatting of numbers. We all just laughed, helped them zero in on what their actual birthday was and gave birthdays to those that didn’t have one and didn't have family members to call. You might feel saddened by this but let me tell you these kids were not- it just is what it is and they keep on moving. Needless to say I am glad we updated the records. So to our BFR Kid sponsors- when you get a new birthday for you kids, let it roll off your back and hopefully it won’t change again. Haha! 

The day ended with dancing, fun and a final word of encouragement from Priscilla and myself. We really wanted these kids to know how proud we are of them. We wanted them to know how THEY have the future in their hands and how they have been blessed with an avenue of opportunity through their sponsorships. BUT- It is up to them how they use that opportunity. We talked about some tips and tools to help with their studies and I handed out cards that will guide them through time in the Word in hopes to keep the fire burning from Ignite Camp as well as a personalized bookmark to those baptized at camp. Then they were all instructed to go pick up a small stick that will be made into beautiful ornaments, I will bring home, to help go towards funding for Ignite 2017.

So man, what an amazing day. What a time of thanksgiving to the Lord. Thanksgiving for what He has done and what He is continuing to do in the lives of these kids here in Kenya. For me, I am grateful. Grateful to Priscilla and her leadership over these kids, grateful for every single BFR Kid sponsor and their HUGE role in these kids lives, grateful for all of those that helped with Ignite and funded kids to go, grateful to the Ignite team that impacted these kids more than they can ever know and of course the BFR crew- gosh the list goes on and on of the thankfulness that is overwhelming me.

Sometimes it is easy to forget the impact or the life change that is happening because it isn’t in our face every day but it is thriving and flourishing- so thank you…

From the bottom of my full heart, thank you.




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