Exhaust fumes billowed around me as the bus rumbled by. Choke! Gag! A slight breeze kicked up dust from the road as Matthew and I walked down the street. I glanced up at the bright sky. I’m in Africa – in Kenya – in Nairobi – on Mtongwe Road. And I realize something. I love it here, exhaust and all!
I don’t understand all that I have experienced in our 18 months in Kenya. Not by a long shot. But what I do understand is this: I belong here, for this time, in this season. Most of the time it’s because of little things, those small moments that make up a day, a week, a year.
Small moments like when 9 year old Matthew watches our house help, Sarah, make tortillas and they have tiny conversations and laugh together.
Or when I attempt to use Swahili with a taxi driver and he grins large, and
conversation opens. When the woman hired to clean one of our missionary houses comes to my house to get the key, and together we share about God’s faithfulness to provide – cultural barriers crumble in the truths of His promises.
When my big boys, my young men, take time for their little brother and his friends – to teach them a new game, to play basketball with them, or just be available – it warms my momma heart.
When these same young men were asked to lead a three groups of home-schooled children in physical education classes because the regular teacher wasn’t there. And I see how they have matured and grown since arriving here in Kenya.
Or when our neighbor boy Max comes over with a piece of carefully wrapped birthday cake to share with all of us, such a small thing, but so vital as we learn to be receivers and not just givers.
When Mr. Michael, our strawberry and English muffin supplier, arrives I serve him chai and we talk about life, about God, and he tells me that our lives inspire him to do more for God – I am the one who is challenged and encouraged.
When my friend Carrie and I were the only white ladies at a church bridal shower, the focus was not on the gifts, but rather on passing along advice and experiences to the bride-to-be. I left amazed and encouraged by the wisdom shared with these godly Kenyan women.
When, over Christmas break, we visited a children’s home and I watched as a little deaf boy grabbed Phil’s hand and wouldn’t let go, my heart broke for the boy as I wondered about his future. But in that moment, he felt acceptance and love.
Or watching our sons develop friendships with people of all ages and backgrounds, and seeing God at work in their lives – this is a gift, because they are ministering right alongside us.
All these small moments – I treasure them deeply in my heart – and they add up to so much fullness.
Then there are other small ministry moments that don’t always feel like ministry at the time, but truly are important.
Like when a partner organization needed to be evacuated and our AIM AIR team provided the flights. My actual role was quite small – donating clothes, toys and chocolate bars to the traumatized family with children. And I prayed – we all prayed – for their safety and transition. Read the story from a pilot’s perspective here: http://tabrown.aimsites.org/
Or when we hosted a fellow AIM missionary from a remote village in South Sudan and when, as a joke he suggested chocolate covered strawberries for dessert. Hey, I can do that!
When Phil explains all the paperwork details of maintaining planes in a foreign country, I’m grateful for his attention to detail and abilities as a mechanic.
There are times when I feel tired, weary, inadequate – what am I doing for the Kingdom of God?
Yet He reminds me of so many more small moments that have made up our time in Nairobi. My heart fills, overflowing in thankfulness. The weariness dissipates like the exhaust fumes from the bus.
I do love living here in Nairobi, even though it isn’t easy. I love the people we meet and the people we serve. I love knowing we are making a small difference in people’s lives.
All these small, seemingly insignificant things, they all add up…and fill my heart. And I think, perhaps, that they fill God’s heart too.
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