Saturday, January 19, 2013

All.


A Journal Entry:  Friday, 01/11/13, Day 12.

What does “I surrender all” really mean?

Today, I learned that the Upper Primary school is in great danger of not opening at all due to lack of funds, which of course left me reeling. What about the kids? What would I do? What’s my purpose here?

Just a few hours later, as we were listening to music, the song, “I surrender all” came on. As the questions swirled around me, the lyrics willed me to stop and ponder the words.

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.

You would think this is enough. To leave my family and friends, a steady job, and the comforts of home to come to the middle of the desert with the desire to live and speak the hope I have in Jesus. Does the Lord want to me to surrender even that? My ideas and notions and dreams for why I came here? I know that God is sovereign, and I know that I can trust him, but do I actually believe that when the rubber meets the road?

I spent the last couple days learning and thinking through what it looks like to be a teacher, and I’m pretty stoked for the opportunity. But is that my hope and desire, or Christ’s? What he may want from me could be very different than what I originally planned for. And truly He knows what is best.

“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” [Ephesians 1:11]

I feel like I am warring with myself. I desperately want the school to open, but above that, may I be able to say that I want desperately for Christ to have his way, whatever that looks like.

Lord, may your will be done. May I surrender all.

~~

Just yesterday, exactly one week after I wrote these words, I stood in front of many eager faces, who were ready to learn whatever math and English knowledge I brought their way. I cannot deny the joy I found in teaching them. Delays, simple accommodations, and lack of resources have no standing when compared to the precious children I have been entrusted with.


The two classrooms that I teach in.
I teach two English classes and one Math to Standard 7 (7th grade) students.

In light of this, it might be easy for me to forget or ignore the questions I was wrestling with only seven days prior. The school has indeed opened, but this does not mean I can surrender anything less than my everything. Sometimes the Lord gives us our desires, and sometimes He gives us new desires. But may our overarching desire be to know Him more, and to surrender anything and everything that stands in the way of that. I am still understanding what “all” looks like, and I will be throughout the whole of my life. But in each moment, both simple and difficult, understandable and incomprehensible, sensible and illogical, may we strive toward that “all.”

Please lift up the school, the 300 students, and the 12 teachers in your prayers. Funding issues have not been resolved, and the teachers are practically volunteering their time as they appreciate whatever sporadic paycheck may come. If you know of any church, organization, or individual who is interested in regularly supporting Biblically-based, Christian education in Kenya, please let me know.

Two of my students, Christine and Chulayo.


I pray that wherever God has us today, we may look to him and say, “I surrender all.” 

On the school grounds. Praising God for this opportunity!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's in a name?


If you’ve ever visited or lived in an area that doesn’t speak your first language, you know it can be a bit disorienting at first. Everyone seems to be speaking a mile a minute, and all you can do is smile and try not to look as thoroughly confused as you are. If you are prepared, you may have learned a few simple phrases that can help you plow through the muddle.

An aerial view of Korr

I landed in Nairobi on Tuesday amidst Swahili land. And just as soon as I had picked up a few of those key phrases, I was whisked away in a 6-seater airplane into the middle of a land that speaks a language called Rendille.

In front of the plane that got me to Korr!

My teammates and I have been adjusting to our new surroundings, and we’ve had the incredible help of our fourth teammate, Hannah, who has been here for a school term already, and another couple who have been serving here for 30 years. (Yes, you read that right. Thirty years!)

Hannah, me, Misha, Sarah

This couple sat us down on the first evening to give us a bit of an orientation. We all will be teaching at schools in the local area- the other three ladies at the secondary school, and myself at the primary. The schools are given the name Tirrim. I had never really given the name a second thought, other than trying to determine just exactly how it is pronounced (to my best knowledge, TEER-uhm is pretty close).

Tirrim Upper Primary School, where I will be teaching. This is one of three buildings.

What I didn’t realize was what the word Tirrim actually means in Rendille. Here in Korr, many people live in small huts called mins, which are made of sticks to compose the structure, with various cloths to enclose it.

Two mins in the center of town
  
It is also crucial to know that it is quite windy here. It makes the heat bearable, but also puts these small huts at risk of blowing straight away. The most essential part of a min is the kingpost in the center of the house. This is the tirrim. The tirrim allows the house to stand, while also helping it to withstand the high winds. Without the tirrim, the min would most assuredly collapse.

The schools were given this name to remind us who is our kingpost. Who is central and most important in our lives. Who we must depend on unless we be blown over by the forceful winds of this world. Of course, this is our God. God who is our Father, who sent His Son, and whose Spirit lives within those who believe and trust in Him.

“For by him all things were created…and in him, all things hold together.”  [Colossians  1:16a,17b]

I think it is quite appropriate that this was the first Rendille word of which I learned the meaning. Coming such a long way from home, away from everyone and everything familiar is a bit daunting and overwhelming. In moments where those thoughts have crept in, I have needed to consciously remember who is my kingpost, who I must depend on, and for whom I have all reason for living and being. But I can’t be selfish. I don’t want to keep this kingpost to myself. I want to share Him with everyone I meet. I want others to experience his goodness and grace and life-sustaining power. I suppose that’s why I’m here, and why I’m taking the time to tell you about Him. This blog isn’t meant to be a diary of my time in northern Kenya. Yes, I want to relay my experiences, but much more important than that, I want the Kingpost, the Tirrim of life to be known by all.

I will begin teaching at Tirrim Upper Primary School in one week. The start was delayed due to lack of funding, so I ask that you would lift up in prayer the school administrators as they work through the obstacles and the children as they wait one week longer. There is no history of education in Korr, so these students are the beginnings of a generation who can read and write. With education comes many opportunities. Please pray that I would be able to effectively teach these students academic skills, while also conveying the beauty of the gospel, the story of God and his incredible love for the world.

I pray that Jesus would be the Tirrim for my students, but for you as well.

Korr at sunset