Monthly Archives: December 2015

Just trying to catch a glimpse

This morning, like every morning, I drove Amaya and Gabi to their bus stop, which is about a quarter mile away.

As we were driving through the intersection of 120 and Cty. Rd. E, we noticed a kid sitting on a bus bench without a jacket on – just wearing a t-shirt. It was 32° outside.

“I can’t stand boys that think it’s cool walk around wearing t-shirts when it’s cold out. Like, they don’t wear jackets because its not cool” says the 14 year old who, while she is wearing long sleeves, did not have her jacket on because she forgot it at school.

“Maybe he doesn’t have a jacket,” I said. “Wouldn’t that be sad?”


After the girls caught their bus, I drove back the way I came and saw he was still there.

“Whenever you saw me cold and without a jacket…”

I drove home, ran down to the basement and found an old jacket that belonged to Shawn.

I drove back to where the young boy was, pulled over and asked him if he needed a jacket. He did. I also gave him my hat.

“We missed the bus to school” he said.

“Who’s we?”

“Me and my little brother.” His little brother was standing down at the street corner.

“Do you want a ride?”

“Sure.”


Ok… so I’m officially that creepy stranger that just lured 2 little kids into my car with a jacket. I decided not stop back at home to grab my purse.

Turns out school is in St. Paul. No problem. I don’t have any meetings today until lunchtime.

The boys are 13 and 12, 8th and 6th grade. They are 2 of 5 children who live with their mom in the townhomes not far from where we live. Their mom works as a PCA. She leaves for work before 4am everyday, so it’s up to the kids to get up and out the door every morning. The 13 year old has a jacket, he just forgot it as he rushed out the door. Typical teen.

They’re GREAT kids. Polite and personable. They knew how to carry a good conversation. I really liked them. They told me they’re from Chicago.

“I’m going to Chicago next week,” I said.

“To see family?”

“No. Well, my work family.”

I asked the youngest what his name meant, and with pride and joy, he stated that he was from Nigeria. His brother quickly corrected that neither they nor their parents were born there.

“I was in Africa recently.”

“With your family?”

“No. Well, with my work family.”

We talked about my work. They had a lot of questions about Africa.

We talked about their school. I’m still not quite sure why they’re going to an inner city school, 20 miles away. But one likes gym and math, the other likes gym and art.

“What do you like about gym?”

“DODGEBALL” they said in unison.

They both want to serve in the army when they grow up, because “I want to help people,” said the eldest.


They hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, and I didn’t have my purse, remember?

Oh well. Good thing I’ve gotten good at asking people for stuff. I pulled over to a Dunn Bros. on Summit, walked in in my pajamas (seriously, sweats and my r2d2 night shirt hanging below my jacket) and flip flops – I looked a mess – and asked for 2 donuts and 2 small cups of coffee (the 12 year old LOVES coffee). I told them I was good for it and I’d be back later to pay for it. Thankfully, they willingly obliged.

With coffee and donuts in hand, I dropped them off at school. But I made sure to send them each friend requests on Facebook before they left.


When I got home, I texted Amaya to tell her about the boy without the jacket.

She said, “you are so inspiring. you are the most genuine person I know.”

LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR. I did not tell her this story to elicit any sort of praise. I’m not sharing it now to make people think I’m awesome. I’m not. I’m really not all that kind or compassionate. To be honest, I have a pretty hard heart – but, that’s why I need Jesus. I was just selfishly hoping to catch a glimpse of him today. Just trying to get close.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:18-25

Anything that is good or kind in me, is Him.


I’m also sharing this story – or making a record of it – because I HOPE that one day I can look back and remember the details of the day I met my good friends.

 

 

 

 

I heard the voice of God

He spoke to me through a woman on a hillside in rural Kenya. I glance at her picture and I weep.

Lemme back up.

Before I went to Kenya, I frequently found myself getting emotional at the simple thought of being with the people of Africa, but it wasn’t out of pity. I knew I would be completely overwhelmed by their beauty.

Jesus said “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”

I believed that when I was with the people of Africa, it would be like I was with Jesus and I’d be looking into the very eyes of my Savior. And it wrecked me. It continues to wreck me.


October 26, 2015. It was our first day in the field and I couldn’t wait. The days prior were cool – Safari in the Masai Mara and a race in Nairobi – but the people – that’s why I was there. We drove for hours on some of THE roughest terrain I’ve ever driven on. It was like you see in the movies – look out the window of our vehicle and there’s the cliff, straight down.

At last, we came to the top of the hill, and there it was – a World Vision water storage tank standing tall above the trees, a solar panel nearby and a school yard, brimming with the joyful sounds of children playing in the yard.

It was real.

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Photo cred: Joseph Johnson

The community came out to greet us. They welcomed us warmly and made their formal introductions.

There was one woman I immediately connected with. She was lively and energetic. She walked with me arm and arm, chattering away – I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying, but she was smiling. She was sheer joy.

But then she said something to me, and it was clear as day. She looked into my eyes and said “I love you”.

Sweet sister. I love you too, I said back to her.

jesus1.jpgIt wasn’t until later though, as we were debriefing as a team over dinner, that it sunk in.  “What you did for them, you did for me…”

She represents Jesus, and she said I love you.

This may have been the very best moment of my life. I never even learned her name, and maybe it’s better that way. I love her.


Through the suffering and through the voice of the poor, I am finally beginning to understand how God loves me.  It’s finally moving from my head to my heart.


If you desire to be close to Jesus, go to where he is.

And when you’re there, when you are able to interact with the poor – the people who the world considers to be the least of those among us,  instead of piously thinking about it as if you’re serving them, or even you’re serving Jesus, watch for how they respond to you.  He is with them. He is in them. It is him speaking through their response. Don’t miss it.

For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:35-40

Africa is with me in much the same way that God is with me. Day in and day out, she is constantly in my thoughts.

My retelling of this moment will never do it justice.