I am not sure 5AM is the best time to be doing this, but I think I’ll write a little about how things are.
First of all, I’m not really sure what God is saying needs to happen with my life. Often I pray he’ll show me. More often than praying for his will, I pray for awareness of his will for my life. I think I’ve been praying backwards. It’s selfish to always pray, “God I’m willing. Show me what to do with my life.” I think, “God I’m willing…glorify your name on earth,” is closer to what we as Christians ought to say.
That said, I lie awake a lot of mornings, 4-ish, thinking about how soon I am going to end up back at work/class. I’m not as homesick this time, which is directly related to the unheard of “niceness” of Africans I’ve met. I’m being taken care of and nothing feels more right than to be doing specifically what Jesus said to do (look out for orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.)
Thing is, I know I can look out for orphans and widows by working hard in corporate America, getting a sweet job and sending missionaries funds. I know that’s one way to go. I’ve thought about getting a Ph.d., and think I could be a student for a while. Still, it’s hard to doubt I’m in God’s will when I’m here helping orphans—and I am afraid to go home and make a lot of money and academic success. (I have a pride issue and especially about education.)
I’m probably complicating things. If you’re from VanDamme and reading this, don’t worry, I promised to come back and I will for at least a while (and we all knew before I wouldn’t work there for the next 30 years, though if I could work for the company from here, I might do it.)
Basically, my ideal job is like this:
a.) Providing enough funds to not have to write support letters.
b.) Specifically doing what Christ said to do (helping the helpless).
c.) Giving me the chance to travel 2-3 months a year or more.
d.) Something I am good at (writing)?
e.) Something I can do remotely so i am working as I travel (technical manuals? Other articles?)
f.) Maybe somehow helping the poor learn to sustain their own lives without just donating money (not sure).
I’m learning a lot about starting ministries or NGOs from scratch (since its what im doing here for a large part.) I think it’ll help me figure out if I want to start my own thing or go apply at compassion international or something.
So many thoughts. I’ve been trying to figure out how to help the community I visited on Saturday help themselves (internet café? Vegetable garden? How can they make money for the kids to eat?) Clearly, I haven’t figured it out, but I do think this was too short a trip.
I’ve always wanted to live by the sea and the more I live in America the more I like specific comforts (like dunkin coffee and my bed in my room.) Now that I’ve been here, I’m thinking God’s destroyed me for normal life. By this I mean…I’d been able to rationalize my lifestyle before a little easier. I think now I could rationalize staying in the states if I worked for a large nonprofit that was doing work here in Africa, or I could go to any country if God specifically said “GO THERE.” But for now, all I’ve got is “look out for those who cant look out for themselves” and I think most of them are here in Africa. Sure they’re all over the world, but seriously..if I live in Cali my entire life and achieve great success as a reporter or something, and don’t send most of my paycheck over to this continent…I’m going to have a lot to answer for when standing before God someday.
This isn’t a rant or a guilt trip for readers..but he really did say to expend ourselves on behalf of the poor, and this place really does have the poorest. We can’t say “I never saw you sick or in prison or hungry and didn’t help, visit or feed you,” because we have seen it in the media or in person and have no excuse. What the heck will I say to him if I don’t either a.) live and work here or b.) make tons of money and send almost all over? I could say, “well, I didn’t personally feel called to help Africans,” (and this can be valid). But he would want to know which of the poor I did feel “called to.” Or I could say I didn’t have enough for them and a comfortable life for my family. But that would be a lie.
Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot. MANY of you offered to help with things or begged me to help you learn ways to volunteer and when I come home I think theres a lot to talk about.
I also think I’m going to have more work at home compiling forms/grant requests/photos/website content, etc. than I assumed and work / school starting up so soon is going to be tricky. But the money’s gotta come from someplace and I promised to work there for a while and I want to finish my degree asap.
Please don’t think im saying anything about you personally not giving enough. I’m just saying Jesus said help the poor and theres a LOT of them in the world (not just Africa) and we as Christians are all not going to live ‘normal’ lives. I wish I knew at least what mine would look like but I don’t. that’s ok.
Anyway its now 5:30 and my water (for coffee!) is boiling. I start teaching today (but still don’t have a voice above a whisperiness.) ive got some praying to do.
Saturday involved meeting families and recording information about kids with no parents. Michael broke my heart the most—not knowing how old he was, never having been to school (he was 13 I imagine), because he was too sick “on and off” and now being the only one working in his family for food (his grandmother and himself.) the other kids were younger and cuter and also parentless but Michael’s face as he sat in the corner as others fought over his actual age and pointed out that he had never been educated and his mom died very recently was especially upsetting/memorable.
I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up working primarily in America for Africa or in Africa for Africa. Or in America for Kenya and other countries. The good news is, the church is here and not going anywhere. The bad news is, it’s a bit weird that all the signs in our town are religious: “Man of God dentist”, “Blessed redeemer minimart” and my favorite, “Love of Christ gun shop”. Some Christians need discipleship (don’t we all?) but their passion is unbelievable! Church yesterday at AIC was amazing.
In other news, electricity here does extremely strange things. Sometimes mine goes out for long periods of time and there’s nothing I can do about it.
::update::today was the first class i taught and it was wonderful and will be mentioned later, as was sightseeing the city with a new friend afterwards (national archives, picnic in the park, probable water-poisoning from the amazing yummy fruit juice i drank then realized was filled with tap water or something..just kidding, lawi…nothing like seeing nairobi with a friendly local friend.)
i miss you all but im not homesick as i was last year because folks are FRIENDLY. 😀