BC Juniors Global

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Jesus’ Call

Every time I know I’ve heard from Jesus, the message is incredibly simple–one you could give to a child. Yet “simple” doesn’t mean “easy.” 

I want to tell you about my last message.

As I’ve already said, I don’t feel ready to leave Greece in a week. There’s too much beauty and redemption and hard, fulfilling work here to just walk away, untouched. Plus, the daily work and burdens we’ve been given to carry always feel harder and more ordinary than others’ seem to be (At least mine do). The moment we turn back and begin to journey home is always a hard one for me. 

But I do not want to be ungrateful for the time I have been given. 

I’ve rubbed shoulders with people wearing raw courage and contagious joy as the only barrier between them and the mocking What If’s of their life. Heartbreaking redemption stories are as common as most peoples’ stories of annoying commutes to work.

I’ve had a little girl run up to me and throw her arms around my neck and refuse to let go. So we walked and held each other and ignored the heat. And then she wanted to play, and I let her go. (Her family left camp early, so I never got to tell her how much I’d learned to love her in those short 3 days, how much I would miss her smile and sassiness.)

I’ve walked where Paul walked. (Nuff said!)

I got to be a part of an awesome team of people. I’ve laughed more on this trip than I have in a long time, and am so thankful that I got to live life with them for 3 weeks. (April, Tiffany, George, Josiah…I’m even #Blessed by y’all! ūüôÉ)

I had a mother come up to me and in broken English tell me about her family back in Afghanistan. I smiled at her pictures and responded as well as I could, until I suddenly understood what she was showing me: A picture of a healthy 5-year-old boy who had been killed, probably by the Taliban. It was her little boy. Her eldest son. 

Never have I been so very aware of the evil in the world. It had the power to wound a mama’ heart forever. To reach through time and bring darkness to a happy moment at a camp in Greece.

We, as a team, had several moments like this. 

The most incredible part is the believers who lived through this–“baby” Christians who still need teaching in things like when God starts accepting us (before or after baptism?)–they have understood something that I am only beginning to see after growing up in the faith. 

That something is this:

Jesus is the goal, himself. 

Don’t underestimate the simplicity of it. 

Let me try to explain what this means. So many times, we lose track of who we are, and spend our days a) building our own kingdoms or b) struggling to get to the point where we look like Jesus. 

Maybe neither are correct. 

Maybe Jesus is the goal. 

If that’s true, than nothing we do really makes a difference. Whether we struggle with jealousy, or unkindness, or financial responsibility. Whether we’ve yelled at our kids once or a dozen times today. If Jesus is the goal, then our job is merely to stay close to him. It’s his to show us when we need to change something. 

If Jesus is the goal, then no matter what happens to us, we’ll be ok. Whether a friend is dying of cancer, or you can’t find a job to support your family, or a legal case is resolved unjustly. Even if the Taliban kill your little boy. If we’re near Jesus, then nothing will break our spirits. 

The most amazing part of this is what Jesus gives us back. He’s not a harsh God who demands we come close, to kneel and receive his judgment for the day. Listen:

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. 

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them–he remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. 

The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 

The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” 

–Psalm 146:5-9

I pray you know how much he loves you. Pray that we–the team and the new Christians we spent last week with–do, too. 

–Hannah

P.S. I have a hard time walking away from a chance to pick on people, soooo…a lighthearted postscript!

I’ve learned April is excited about buying an ugly fanny pack (weirdo!), and that Josiah kinda goes crazy when a painting on the wall isn’t straight, and that George eats a ridiculous amount of snacks on road trips. I have yet to learn that Tiffany is capable of walking near a table without injuring herself. 

And I’m still perfect. ūüėČ

Thanks for reading our blog!! Y’all are awesome. ūüôĆūüŹľ

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Chicago

Hurry. Write. Pack. Rush. 
Drive. Sit. Doze. Hush. 
Not there yet–not where we’ve been promised we’ll be changed. 
We’re at the sleepy, cold-metal-biting-through-jeans, in between place. 
We sit here and breathe, and wonder if we dare to plan on a reality we have yet to taste. 
I think this is what the fragile safety of hope feels like. 


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Giraffes and Elephants and Airports (Oh, My!)

Today’s Bucket List Check:

Feed a giraffe. (Check.)

Watch Kevin feed a giraffe by holding a piece of the feed in his mouth…giraffe kisses.(Uh, check?)

Visit an Elephant orphanage. (Check!)

Get annoyed at the woman stubbornly keeping her spot and preventing me from petting the elephants. (Sigh. Check)

Feel a fiendish delight when baby elephant backs up and passes gas on said woman. (Hehe. Karma. Check!)

Go curio shopping and bargain by myself–definitely impressive considering my previous lack of confidence! (Check!)

Nearly get lost in apparently growing maze of curio shops. (O.o maybe not quiiite so much confidence yet! Check.)

Make it through airport security so quickly, it’s actually painless. (What?! TRIPLE CHECK!!)

Waiting to board. Eager for home. (Yes! Check.)

Already missing Kenya, this incredible place that has been my home for over two weeks. (Check.)

(And double check.)

Goodbye…for now!!


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5 Things I Learned (About Traveling) in Kenya

All the Juniors’ Global teams are heading back to the States soon, and reflecting on all the good, hard, and beautiful things we’ve experienced–super important.

But sometimes we forget to mention the funny stuff.

There are many elements that I love about the Kenyan culture (like their gracious hospitality!). BUT. I’m American. And sometimes, parts of the culture strike me as even more–ahem!–different than I expected. So, here are five lessons that this very White (see what I did there?!) American girl learned on this trip! Hopefully, they’ll teach you a bit more about Kenya, and maybe make you smile. ūüôā

1. Beware the word “program.”¬†

Kenyans love (and I mean LOVE) formal “programs.” This involves one person holding the attention of the entire group, formally saying a few necessary words (and a few that aren’t), and then passing it off to the next person. There’s also introductions all around. Each introduction must have a minimum of two greetings and responses before the speaker actually says his or her name. Building a house? There’s going to be a¬†Program before you leave. Giving a few gifts to a widow? Program. Saying hi to a bunch of (adorable!!) kids in a Nursery School (aka Preschool)? Still a Program. If ever you hear this word, get ready to embrace your patient side and practice putting time with people ahead of your to-do list. (Good job, little American! I know it’s hard!)

2. Never believe it when your Kenyan guide says the road is “passable.”

Never. As far as I can tell, the Kenyan definition of this word means that at some point in the last 500 years, someone was able to use elbow grease, fairy dust, or some rather incredible luck to¬†force their vehicle forward. In case you didn’t know, things can change a lot in 500 years. Also, you should know that Kenyans like to play a game every time they travel in a mutatu (van taxi). It’s called let’s-see-how-many-people-we-can-squish-in-here-and-still-breathe. Sometimes they’ll even leave the sliding door open with some brave soul standing inside and clinging desperately to the roof of the vehicle. A final word of advice on this subject is that you shouldn’t judge vehicles by their appearance. Looks kind of sketch? Have no fear–it will still take you anywhere you want to go…on all those passable roads. ūüėČ

3. Don’t Talk. Unless you’d like to get laughed at.

Apparently, white people (Mzungus) sound like they’re pinching their noses shut when they talk. All the time. Adults find this amusing, but are usually polite enough not to point it out. Kids on the other hand…well, at least your humility will be in good shape!

As a corollary thought, be prepared to laugh a lot, yourself. Kenyans take every chance to laugh–at themselves, at you, at each other. Seriously. The only topic that seems permanently safe from laughter is when someone is seriously ill or dead. o.O Depending on who you’re talking to, anything short of that seems to be free game. Including you!

4. Expect Christian and oddly worded phrases to show up everywhere. 

You are able to get your hair done at The Great I Am Hair and Beauty Salon (well–maybe. If you have white people hair, you might be out of luck.), buy meat at the New Classic Butchery and ride in God’s Favourite van (with original spelling). If you’re feeling adventurous, you can learn to drive–Kenyan style–at the Budget Driving School (but don’t worry. You will be Taught By Professionals). After that long day, you can go home to one of the Whispering Flames Private Houses.

Does American advertising seem this strange to people unaccustomed to it? I wonder…

5. Mealtime. Oh boy…

Rule Number One: WAIT to wash your hands before you eat. Even though they will probably set the whole meal in front of you first, you should never start eating before you can wash your hands. In Kenya, this means you scrub your hands over a bowl as they slowly pour warm water for you. Sometimes they have soap; sometimes they don’t. And don’t ask for a towel. You just let your hands drip dry. Rule Number Two: Do your best to get the salt first. With a few exceptions, salt is served in a shallow bowl. Everyone just takes a pinch when he or she wants some. Germaphobes beware…

And that concludes this brief travel guide. I’ve thought of several more entries, but I think this post is quite long enough! You’ll just have to ask one of us for more stories later. ūüėČ

Hannah


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Final Thoughts.

Tomorrow is our final day out here in the field. It seems so unreal that it is finally here.

These last couple of days have been filled with meeting some widows’ groups. As of Tuesday the 26th we officially built our last house.¬†That itself is very unreal as well. This idea of building a house for some of¬†these widows is such a concept¬†of ministry that not a lot of people in Kenya understand. Being out here in the field and working and being the hands and feet of¬†the Body is amazing.

Taking a step back to look and reflect on the people and the stories there is something much greater that we were apart of.

Pray for travel safety and mostly pray for the widows and pray for Kenya.

-Sean


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A culture of injustice

Conditions that produce injustice aren’t always readably noticeable. I’ve been on a learning curve. The widows we’ve been building homes for have nearly¬†all been younger than me. Young children are nearly always part of the work area. Outside of the men mixing the mud, the only presence of men is a few gawkers looking for excitement.

The circumstances in which women find marriage is through a suitor paying a bride price. The idea of purchase sets the context. Secondly, if a man is wealthy enough, he can purchase a second wife. The whole idea that wives can be purchased belittles their worth. Wives become objects of possession to be arrived at through financial negotiation.

One of our first devotions used Paul’s words from his letter to¬†the Galatians, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor¬†Greek,¬†slave nor free,¬†male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

When a husband dies, the¬†sons inherit the property and the wife can be inherited by the husband’s brother. In many cases the widow loses everything and is destitute. This is where Junior’s Global¬†has joined with Friends Bringing Hope to arrange for houses for those widows left homeless. It has felt like a continuous Christmas celebration as we have come in contact with some of the neediest people in Kenya. Living out the gospel has meant going against popular culture.


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Good, Hard Days (Part 2)

On Friday, we woke up in our rooms at the Kitale Club, a private resort for members (and apparently visitors!). There were tons of monkeys–climbing on the roofs, running across the yard. Kevin and Jesse saw a whole group of them when they went for an early morning walk.

At the Kitale Club. Evelyn (RSP employee, translator, and navigator) and Linet (housekeeper and Answerer-of-Ignorant-Questions), both Bargainers Extraordinaire!! ūüôā

We went from the club to start mudding Priscilla’s house. She was the oldest widow we’ve helped so far.¬†You could see her¬†happiness over her new home¬†shining through her weathered face.

Priscilla handing mud to Jesse

Priscilla handing mud to Jesse

She told us that she only dreamed of having such a nice home in Heaven, never expecting that we would help her have one now! Her gratitude was both humbling¬†and encouraging. We don’t do very much (by American standards), but what we do really does change the lives of these widows for the better!

From there, we went back to Jane Max’s house (this was the one still being built that Jesse wrote about). Jane’s feet are twisted so badly that she walks on the top of her feet, but she hurried around to help us mud and bring us gifts.

Jane Max

Jane Max

On Saturday, we went shopping at some Curio shops and at a mall. We at also had lunch at a beautiful restaurant looking over Lake Victoria. It was so refreshing to feel the breeze coming off the water!

We also went to pay school fees for a blind girl name Lydia. Our brief time at her school (for visually impaired and albino¬†children) was overwhelming and humbling and very empowering. Kevin wants to write his experience there, so I’ll leave it at that.

Thanks for reading! Please keep praying for us as we head into our last week here!

ūüôā Hannah