So I have been home for about a week and a half (physically)…I don’t know if my heart, mind & soul are ever planning on returning. I have been bursting at the seams for someone to listen to my stories & will actually understand where I am coming from. Praise the Lord we are having a mini-reunion this weekend because despite the family & friends who have offered their ears for a little while for me to share my stories from Kenya, they just don’t fully comprehend where I am coming from because they simply were not there. Many things experienced in Africa are too awesome or awful or beautiful or exciting or too full of love to use any sort of words. So the last week and a half has been full of feelings of frustration, exhaustion, heartache & displacement (happy things as well, but those are easier to cope with :] ). I have been listening to songs that remind me of the trip nonstop- a soundtrack that is composed of Shakira (waka waka!), Adele, Christy Nockels, Casting Crowns, Kanye, Lion King ballads and more. It is almost embarassing how many times a day I look at pictures from the trip but I am just having such a hard time being back here without all of my Kenyan babies, starry nights, chai, L.A. team, chipati, etc.
But anyway, I was reading over one of my journal entries earlier. This particular one was written one morning when I had to take the morning off to just process some of the things I had seen in the two days prior. So here is an excerpt from my journal, about what may have been the most influential day of my trip &/or life to date. This experience lef tme completely drained and broken. It left me feeling like I should never ever complain about anything ever again & that I will probably not be able to enjoy what was one of my favorite Christmas movies. Here is my story about precious Martin…
Our second home visit in one of the IDP camps (Internally Displaced Persons) & I was not prepared at all for that. While Julie and a couple of the other women from Naomi’s met in the tent; Katie Dare & I stayed outside with Bob’s sister as a mob of children started herding around us yelling “wzungus! wzungus!”. After not even 10 minutes, there were 20+ little children around us, grabbing our hands, petting our skin, hugging our waists & tugging at our bracelets…One little boy had on no pants- at. all. – and one shoe, a little girls sandal. In America, this would be comical, here though, it was heartbreaking. When I was a kid, a lot of times my mom would let me dress myself (just like a lot of moms do) and yeah, I would pick out some crazy things sometimes, but I always had an array of clothes to pick from & I never went out of the house completely naked from the waist down with 1/2 of the proper footwear intact. One little boy caught my eye from the very start. His name is Martin and he was one of the first children on the scene when we arrived. He had a look about him that was frightening in a way, very foreign & ill looking, so initially that’s why he caught my attention. But he had the sweetest smile & was very kind & once he grabbed my hand he did nottt let go the entire time we were there. He kept hugging my waist and smiling up at me. I wondered if he had any parents or someone in his life to cuddle him and show him love. He looked about the same size as Joshua, so I was thinking that he was around 4 and he didn’t say much of anything at all except for when the kids all started singing “I Like To Move It, Move It” from Madagascar. How they knew that song, I have no idea but it cracked us all up. Leave it to a dorky kids movie to break down a language barrier & bring two cultures together instantly. When I heard him singing, he had a high-pitched voice & he was just singing to me quietly & swinging our hands back & forth. I fell in love on the spot. Martin wore (& may even still be wearing) these little plaid pants and an old tshirt with an old, faded Thomas the Train PJ buttondown shirt over it. All of his clothes were filthy, the colors bleached from the sun. Looking at his old worn out PJ shirt made me think of the movie The Polar Express and how pitiful I’ve always seen the poor boy in that movie as being. Looking at little Martin though, I didn’t feel sorry for that “poor” fictitious character anymore; int he story he had a house, boots, clothes, a giant Christmas present & a safe, fun & loving Christmas. I bet Martin has never had much to call his own & probably never clean things to call his own. He doesn’t know the American Christmas traditions of music & laughter & presents & family and maybe he doesn’t even know anything about Jesus & how He loves Martin. Although to be completely honest, it’s hard for me to see how Jesus is loving Martin, too. I have never seen such horrible living conditions & rough lifestyles for little kids. I know in my heart the Lord loves Martin & every one of those children just as much as he loves my spoiled, over-privileged & bratty self but WHY did he choose me to be rich & American? I know I am cursed in my abundance, but Martin is cursed with a life of filth, disease, violence, hunger & poverty- can there not be some sort of happy medium for everyone?
As we were driving off & I was waving to Martin with his smiling, yellow eyes and his distended little belly, Julie told us that he had something like fetal alcohol syndrome & that a couple years ago when they first met Martin, they were told that he was around 7 years old. So two years later, I met Martin- who is still the size of Joshua, maybe smaller- & he is now around 9, with little to no education, poor health, tattered clothes & no comprehension of a life like mine. What a wreckage the Lord has made of my heart on this trip.
I feel like some of that sounds like one of those sad infomercials on TV, but that is really what is there. And yes, some of that is sad to read but Martin stole my heart (along with about 30 other children in Kenya) & there is hope to be found in the IDP camps & there are people who are giving their entire lives to make change happen in those places. Hopefully (sooner rather than later!) I can get back to the side of the earth I belong on & God will let me deliver some more of that hope because I can’t stop thinking about little Martin.
& lots of love