As I think about how things have been different this year, I can't help but focus on God's faithfulness. When I got here at the end of July last year, there were four things I was praying would be different for my second year. I have to tell you that God answered every one of my prayers beyond what I could have hoped. While these things have been obvious to me all year, I've felt that it's important to put these things into words here at the close of the school year as evidence of His faithfulness so I won't forget!
1. I prayed to find a church where I could get involved and feel like I was a part of it, and be challenged spiritually in the meantime, because that was such an important part of my life before I came here. I began attending ICF, the church that meets here on our campus. For several reasons that aren't really important, I had been a bit skeptical about attending there, but I have to say it has become my church home away from home.
2. I prayed that God would give me deeper relationships this year. The first year after a big transition is hard, and I tend to forget how long it really can take to develop genuine friendships. While I truly felt blessed by my friends here last year, I think we all (myself included) quite often kept things very surface-y and we didn't open up and trust each other as much as sincere friendships require. After another year of doing life with people, I can honestly say I don't feel that way at all this year. One big factor in that was my small group of girls. I love how God arranged this group. There were six of us, from four countries (U.S., Canada, Australia, and Kenya) on three continents, and only two of us were even here last year! We met on Thursday nights throughout the year, first studying a book, and then reading through the book of Isaiah. Each week we spent at least the first hour just catching up on each others' lives, laughing a lot of the time. We also dedicated part of the time each week to pray for each other. Having the accountability and support from them this year just made such a difference to me!
|My small group girls.|
These next two might sound a bit odd, but trust me. I love our Rosslyn community, and these are in no way a reflection on it. They just demonstrate my desire to challenge myself to get outside the bubble to experience more of life in Nairobi.
3. I prayed I would meet people/make friends who weren't a part of the Rosslyn community. There are SO many people here from around the world, and many of them are doing amazing things to serve God and people. It can be very easy to stick around our campus and forget about how God is working in other places. This is a request I'll continue to pray, but I love how God began to answer this year. I met two other girls from Kentucky last fall, and while we didn't get to spend a lot of time together, it was fun running into them occasionally and just knowing they were here! Two people who have become some of my closest friends aren't directly connected to Rosslyn either, although the story of how they almost were is pretty cool--especially since we met them anyway! I think we were all just destined to be friends. :) Spending time with them and learning about their ministry project has been great. There are others I've been able to meet and get to know this year as well, and I pray that God will continue to open doors in this area next school year.
4. I prayed that I would be able to become more involved in non-Rosslyn activities and ministries. This is also something I want to pursue more next year, but I'm satisfied with how this year went. I've been able to make several visits to the Vapor Sports Center in the Kawangware slum. If you don't know about Vapor, you need to! (www.vaporsports.com) Getting to know the director at the center and spend time with some of the kids out there has been special, even if has only been 4 or 5 times throughout the year. Over spring break I got to visit the ministry site of Kawelle (www.kawelle.org) in Vumilia, one of the IDP camps that was created after the election violence of 2007. (Kawelle was started by the friends I mentioned in #3!) It's pretty incredible how God has arranged the circumstances for this project, and He's also put some amazing people in place to help it grow. While I was only able to make one trip up to Makutano this year (sad!), it was still encouraging to see how God continues to bless Village Project Africa. Seriously. Too many stories to tell about perfectly-orchestrated circumstances, finances, human resources, etc. We met an incredible boy named Brian while we were there, and it's just so exciting to be a part of what God's doing. In non-ministry-related things, I was able to once again sing with the Nairobi Music Society during first semester, performing Handel's Messiah in October and a Christmas concert in December. More recently I was invited to play with the Nairobi Orchestra for a spring concert accompanying the Nairobi Music Society in their performance of Jenkins' The Armed Man and Brahms' Requiem. I hadn't played flute in an organized group for sixteen years, so that was both fun and challenging!
Besides these four major requests, there were other smaller things I'd hoped for, and I could tell you all kinds of ways God answered those prayers too. I've had multiple chances to grow personally and professionally, for which I'm also thankful, and it appears that God is already opening doors for more of those things for next year. I've also had some amazing travel experiences--going to Passion and rafting the Nile in Uganda, an educators' conference in South Africa, a trip to the coast in December, and two trips to major parks I wanted to visit here, Lake Nakuru and Amboseli.
I am constantly affirmed that this is where I'm supposed to be right now, and I am so thankful for the support of my family and friends who trust God enough to be ok with me being here, even if they don't like it so much. I'm thankful for this school community that is so supportive and encouraging. Most of all I'm thankful that I can look back and see the hand of my Heavenly Father at work throughout the last year, both in my life and the lives of those around me, and in the gifts He's given, both big and small. Great is His faithfulness.