This week’s guest blog post comes from a Kiu, Kenya trip participant. Enjoy!
I don’t know if you have ever been at a point in your life when you have felt forgotten—maybe by a person, maybe by a whole group of persons, or maybe by a whole group of persons that ends up being some institution or organization. I think that life sometimes has a way of making you feel small. You plug along through your daily life at your desk in front of your lap top or in front of that mountain of clothes that has yet to have been folded. You put your head down. You place your nose upon “the grind” and you do what needs to be done. And somewhere along the way, because your head is down and your hands are busy, you begin to wonder if anyone notices you—if God notices you. Have I been forgotten? You ask. And yet, all the while, you know that deep inside you were meant to be part of a greater story; you are just waiting for God to break through and that greater story to happen to you…
About two and a half years ago, God did just that. He broke through. My dreams came together with the dreams of 16 high school students and 5 adults to travel to Kiu, Kenya on our first international mission trip. Around the time of that trip, The 410 Bridge had adopted the motto “See a Face. Share a Name. Tell a Story.” To this day, each person on that trip would share their experience by showing you a picture, telling you a name, and explaining something significant about the life of that individual. I am no different. This is my person.
Her name is Mutheau. I have told our story many times. This picture is on the wall in my office next to the desk where my laptop sits on most days.
Mutheau noticed me out of a sea of people at an open air crusade in Kiu. She chose me. Grabbing my hand, we danced and played. Finally, I ask for her name. After multiple attempts to get this white, American girl to say “Mutheau” with no success, she disappears for a moment and returns with a pen. She grabs my hand and before I know what is happening, she scrawls her name across the palm of my hand—“Muthea.” “Remember me,” her eyes implore me. It only seemed right that I grab the pen from her and write my name across her own hand—“Jen.”
In that moment, the words that the Lord speaks to Isaiah (Ch. 49) came to my mind, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” I laughed as she proudly showed off my name on her hand to all the other children. I was amazed when she came running up to me the next day at the primary school and thrust her hand in my face. The letters, though faded, still preserved on her hand—my name. She had not forgotten.
As I prepared to leave, I searched out the verse from Isaiah 49 and found that it said, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”
In that moment, I knew this truth: Mutheau from the little town of Kiu and Jennifer from the little town of Mandeville were not forgotten by God.
That story and the face of that child, I know, is what has kept me connected to Kiu. It is what has compelled me to sponsor three children to go to secondary school. It is what brought me back to that same community just this past November.
I needed my sponsor children, whom I had only known through letters and pictures, to know that God had not forgotten them—that they were and are worth traveling the distance between us. I needed Mutheau to know that God still hadn’t forgotten us.
Going back to a community that meant so much to you two and a half years later is a little bit surreal. You know that what you experienced was significant and life-changing, but I think it is hard to believe that your being there actually made any sort of impact on anyone else besides yourself. I think in the back of my mind, I doubted Mutheau or anyone else for that matter would ever remember that I had been there before, which was totally “ok” with me. Tons of groups make their way in and out. And afterall, it’s not about me, anyway, right?!
Fast forward to my first day in the community, I spot her. Our eyes meet. And there it is…the light of recognition. I know you. You know me. You came back.
What stood out to me on my second visit to Kiu more than anything else was the power of relationship to connect us to one another and to, ultimately, connect us to God. On both sides of the bridge we experience the poverty of what it means to be human—to hurt, to need, to feel forgotten.
I hear over and over again the “just write the check” mentality when it comes to missions. I get it. I would never want to diminish that generosity, and I think sometimes we get to go and sometimes we get to send. But our ability to write the check should never be our excuse not to be willing to come close. Yes, the people of Kiu can use my money, but they also need my face, my name, and my story just like I need theirs. This coming close in relationship reminds me that God has seen me, chosen me, and has written me into a greater story—His story—involving costly journeys that build bridges to create relationships that change everything.
When we receive stories from trip participants like Jen’s, we can’t help but to praise God for His faithfulness. We believe this provision of Jen’s timely words has come to us for such a time as this – to pose a question for YOU – as you read this…
Currently, the community of Kiu, along with several others in Kenya have an immediate need to fill. There are 42 open slots for sponsorship – and 6 in Kiu. These slots are open because deserving students have completed their exams and qualified to continue their education in secondary school.
But… it requires help from YOU. School began February 8 – this Monday.
Would you consider the gift of sponsorship today?
please visit: bit.ly/2016KESponsor
Your generosity makes a world of difference, and we are grateful!