Rich and Full.

“I don’t feel like a human,” I told Tyler last Monday  as we were walking in the compound here in Kapenguria. It seems like a strange statement, but it was the only way I could think to express how I felt inside. The night before our team had a memorial service for what happened to Laura & Ebel—maybe that’s what sparked this weird feeling of non-humanness. Later that night I went into the tiny kitchen we get to use here. Ari and Ty were cooking, listening to lovely folky music. As I stood there watching them cook & laughing with them over something seemingly insignificant, I’m sure…I realized what I had been feeling all day: nostalgia. I felt nostalgic over nothing specific. I imagined that this night, cooking, listening to good music, the cool African night and having the privilege to eat dinner again with my “forever family”—-this was something, one day I was going to feel nostalgic over.  After dinner we all stood around the kitchen and porch area while the dishes were being done, listening to music and simply enjoying each others company. I had the overwhelming urge to twirl like a little girl in a pretty dress. It all felt like a nostalgic movie scene from a Cameron Crowe film. Like when Penny Lane & the gang sang Tiny Dancer in Almost Famous, or Orlando Bloom jumping in with one hand in the air in Elizabethtown. I almost felt as though I could cry, I wanted to stop time.  My twirling led to the boys seeing how many spins they could go with their forehead on the broomstick & then walk straight. It was absolutely hilarious. At one point Nicholaus was spinning when all of a sudden the power went out. We all screamed in laughter–especially when the lights came back on and Nick was just laying on the ground against the wall of the house. “I thought it was the end of the world,” he got out in between laughs.  To add the movie-esqueness of the night; Tyler, Nick, Michelle and I listened to The Album Leaf as we stared at the Milky Way that shined so bright in the African sky. We talked about nothing much at all, just soaked up the beauty of it all.  While we were laying there Tyler whispered “better pay attention in life, or it’ll pass you by,” after I missed a shooting star. It was a joke, but it hit a nerve. I realized in all my revelation that Lord has been downloading about His gift of FULLNESS—a fear had crept in. I’ve become fearful in every decision I think I might make–scared that I’m making the wrong one and I’m missing the fullness–which in turn paralyzes me.  The next morning Nick played the song in my previous post —“Train song” by Josh Garrels, God started working and damaging that fear:

“And I’m steppin’ out the door,
I’m doin what feels right,
followin’ my Lord through the darkest night,
And when the path gets narrow,
I follow Him…
He said “sing it on the mountain high,or in the valley low
‘He’s my God and He never let me go.”

The fear of missing out on the fullness will in turn guarantee it. I’ll come back to this in a moment….There’s only 2 short weeks left here in Kenya and as we were praying over this time here in Kapenguria we received words of fullness–that each day would be RICH and FULL of LIFE and that’s exactly my heart’s cry. On this past Sunday we had the privilege to attend the opening of church in the Pokot Tribe area, about an hour away from where we are staying. Please read up on the Pokot Tribe if you are curious…but some of the basic culture…The Pokot are polygamous normally having four to five wives.

Although it is against the law (which isn’t enforced properly) they still practice female circumcision (FGM). Boys are circumcised at age 15 and then there is a celebration called “sapana” for them in which they are then declared “real” men.The culture is under such strongholds of tradition and witch-craft so you can imagine the joy it was to see the freedom the Lord had brought to so many of them. It was such a joyous celebration that I am not sure how to put into words. To be part of a church being planted in an unreached people-group area was so surreal. The service was packed full of all kinds of dancing and fellowship–my heart was just “boiling” as Ari would say to express the feeling of peace and “this is right” you get when you know there’s no where else in the world that you should be except right there in that moment.

“This day couldn’t get much better, ” I said. Boy did I not even know what was coming….  On the jam-packed jeep ride home I had an “If This Were A Dream, What Would It Mean?” moment. All four of us girls were sitting on the middle bench, while the two Icelanders, were sitting up front and the boys were in the back packed with way to many Kenyans than should ever fit in a car. Ariel and I were listening to Jonsi in one ear while the sound of the Kenyan girls singing streamed in the other. It was as if Iceland was in one ear, and Kenya in the other. To top it off it started raining, really raining. Which is quite a big deal because they’ve been in a drought here. I smiled and thought about the day getting better and better.

When we arrived back at the compound Fanney had been busy making us french-press coffee and delicious coffee desert! Wow!

We spent some incredible time at their house and then headed back to ours for some rest. All four of us girls were just sitting in the living room enjoying each others company; it was only when Nick called us to dinner that I realized we hadn’t seen the boys all afternoon.  As we walked up to the table we realized that there were only four place-settings. There was a bright-burning candle and flowers all over the table. We sat down only soon to be crowned with princess crowns and African celebration necklaces. The boys proceeded to serve us salad and delicious pasta Milano, we just sat in awe. With every song that came on the playlist we said “awww..” The reality that this time, this season would soon be over hit us all this night. I was holding back my tears but then lost it when the boys surrounded us individually to pray and speak life into us! It was such a sacred time and the spirit was heavily there with us.

We were then guided into the living room for warmth and served chocolate cake and coffee! Oh it was so beautiful. The night came to a close with a movie and letters on our pillows :) A night (and day!) I’ll never forget.

So, going back to my fear of missing out on fullness…as soon as I laid it down to the Lord and let him take my cares, worries and fears…I’ve been able to enjoy this fullness that he’s been pouring into each day!

We head to Mombasa in a week…we’ll get to see the Indian Ocean!! I love my life.

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As we hope in You…

Since I last wrote we traveled to a small town called Sombo–just 30Kil outside Garissa, Kenya in the Northeast. There is a small village way out in the desert bush that is committed to the Lords work among the surrounding villages that are mostly Muslim. By the grace of God they, knowing that the Sombo mission is a christian organization, have accepted them into the area. The Sombo mission provides free schooling to the children in the surrounding villages as well as a medical center. Also in the surrounding desert are 2 unreached people groups! Originally we were going to be living at Sombo while doing outreach to the Somalian refugee camps that were close, but we felt the Lord calling us to a time of prayer and intercession. So instead we didn’t do much but sweat and pray. We did a 24/3 and God gave so many encouraging words to the mission through us. It was challenging to not be physically doing anything but it was such a time of growth in patience and waiting upon the Lord.        The children at the school in Sombo.

The Pastor at Sombo was David Minor, a wonderful man full of the joy of the Lord. He referred to me as his daughter-in-law and wanted me to marry his son. “Freesha, my daughter,” he would say with a big smile. His joy rubbed off on all of us—and his family showed us such an abundance of hospitality! At night the boys and the girls took turns sleeping on a trailer that was out in the compound–falling asleep under the starry African night is something I hope you get to experience one day.

After our short stay there we traveled to the Northwestern part of Kenya where we are now, Kapenguria. We’re nearing the end of our journey, only 3 more weeks in Africa and one more in Iceland–its making my heart desire to squeeze as much life out of these last few precious moments. Here in Kapenguria there is a bible school run by Icelandic missionaries that we are working with. The grounds are beautiful, though you can tell its run by westerners because of the western toilets, showers and kitchen its such an incredible place of rest; cobblestone walkways, beautiful gardens, and real beds! We will be here until we have our debrief week–we will be doing outreach to the surrounding unreached tribes in the area, as well as working with the street boys in this area.

After the long day of traveling on Friday we received some horrible news that I am still struggling to understand. Laura & Ebel, who we worked with in the beginning of our trip, we received a phone-call informing us that three armed robbers broke into their home on the YWAM Athi River base. When Ebel tried to get them out of the house they shot and killed him in front of their two precious children (around the ages of 2 and 4).

I was initially in shock–I wanted to shut down, but I knew I needed to pray fervently for Laura and the children. Before we traveled here to the Northwest we made a pit-stop back in Nairobi to celebrate Esther’s birthday and as we were leaving I felt the urge to ask Esther if I could borrow her copy of “Happy Intercessor” by Beni Johnson. It was literally as we were walking out the door and the taxi was honking. She handed it to me and I ran to the car. So when I felt the need to pray—I had no idea HOW. How do you pray into a situation such as this? The Lord led me to a few pages in the book that helped me to pray WITH Him and into His character. I came to a core peace, like what Steve Berger talks about in Have Heart—core peace doesn’t mean you don’t grieve, but it shuts out the lies and confusion that so often follow tragedies. I’m still consciously having to deny the lies of the enemy against God’s character because I don’t understand–but I also know that I’m not going to. All I know is that this act was the definition, literally, of the enemy. “A thief comes only to steal (robbers), kill (Ebel), and destroy (Levi, Ezra and Laura)–but I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) I know that this was NOT Papa’s will and I know that He has a brilliant plan of redemption that will shine His glory.

We had a little memorial service for Ebel here just with our team, reminiscing on the short time we were able to spend with Ebel. His sarcastic, dry humor and depth of wisdom is what stood out to us most. You can tell by the photo below, taken when we were helping to build on his orphanage community dream:

The guys working in the water tank at Ebel & Laura's orphanage.

The guys working in the water tank at Ebel & Laura’s orphanage.

Ebel and Laura’s hearts beat for the Lord and they dreamt with Him—I am so privileged to have gotten to be a part of the dream that the spirit birthed in them to start an orphanage community here in Kenya. I know in my heart that this dream will live on and shine even more of God’s glory.

I remember sitting in the little classroom at Athi River as Ebel shared him & Laura’s love story and dream for Kenya–just eating it up. The Lord used them to continue speaking to me about LIFE–what he came to bring–throughout this entire outreach he’s been deepening my understanding of what it really means. I’ve been learning to dream WITH him and their story was an incredible encouragement on this journey of deepening.

I hope that as you read this, it strikes your heart to pray for Laura and the children with us as we cry mercy. This song is what I keep praying:

In the still passion Oh God
Open Eyes, Mend hearts
Let the harvest fall like rain
As we cry Mercy. as we cry mercy
Oh, Jesus, You must come
Your presence, we must have
Your power, it must fall
As we hope in you
Our only hope
Mercy, mercy
Lord, show us mercy
Mercy, Mercy
Lord, show us mercy.
 

Meme nakupende Kenya.

In the past few weeks God has been growing, stretching and challenging me and the rest of our team tremendously.

We’ve been working with Janjaap (aka: Jayjay) & Esther (the couple we were led to by Peter). We’ve been working with their ministry with street women & street boys. It’s been so rewarding! Praying, loving and just spending time with them. We’ve seen physical healings, outpourings of the Lords joy and peace,  & realizations of God, the Father’s love for them personally.

Louise, one of the street women.

Some of my favorite moments have been with the street boys; one Friday we were teaching about the Holy Spirit–which was just an incredible day. The boys were open and asking for us to pray with them so they might be able to receive the Holy Spirit! How awesome is that? Me & Ari prayed for this one boy named Francis. After we had been praying for a little bit he started rubbing his forehead really intensely. He told us that he just had felt something leave his body, the translator said “Oh it was probably just a demon” really nonchalantly, ha. But then he said the prayer of salvation and gave his life to Jesus!
Bwana ase five! (Praise Jesus! in Swahili)

I’ve loved that we can’t walk into the city without stopping to spend a moment or two with the women on the hill. We’ve built real relationships with them and its been incredible! Just loving on them–they have such a hunger to be loved. What breaks my heart though, is seeing the boys (10+) sniffing diesel & glue to escape the realities of life. We’ve been trying to speak truth and life into them. To remind them to dream BIG! They’re at pivotal points in their lives where they can either sniff glue and accept the life of living on the streets or fight for more–knowing that they are sons of the Most High–and God has better in store for them; this is what were praying that they realize. So if you want to pray for them, some of their names are: Silas, Virginia, Peter, Bogwa, John, Kennedy and Purity. :)

Also this past week we were robbed at our hostel. Which shook us all up a bit. They took my cameras (Canon 5D and Canon Rebel XTi film), Michelle’s computer & camera along with Gilli’s computer and phone. I have been extremely bummed, bu God is good (All the time) and He’s used this to teach us to lean more on His understanding more & more. And to trust Him.

We’ve been blessed with some amazing times of soaking, rest and refreshment. After the night of the robbery, the next day we went over to Jayjay and Esther’s from some incredible, and much-needed soaking time. While we were there, God first just washed over me with peace and rest–then he started assuring me that he’s going to fulfill his promises of provision and is going to take care of me. When we were praying after soaking, God showed me this picture of me eating the crumbs of financial worries and future worries —he was showing it to me like a chart and I was eating wayyy at the bottom and where He wanted me was wayyy at the top at the banquet table. There is where I can really share His heart and do ministry–living from the banquet table! I felt such a sweet release! Ah it was wonderful. With that release came hunger that I’ve not experienced before. hunger for more and more of God pouring into me!

Michelle’s birthday was also incredible–we went out to a fancy Japanese restaurant for sushi (yummm) and then spent time in park praying over her new year, eating cake, and resting…it was magical.

God’s been teaching me a lot about the goodness He has in store for me (and you!) and A LOT about trust and reliance on Him.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield
The Lord gives grace and glory
He does not withhold the GOOD
from those who live in integrity.
HAPPY is the person who TRUSTS in you,
Oh Lord of Hosts!” Psalm 84:11-12

I love living this adventure with Papa and sharing His love. It’s truly wonderful.

Goodbye Iceland, Hello Kenya!

The first YWAM base in 25 years!

The first YWAM base in 25 years!

WOW! I can’t believe 3 months ago I was getting on a plane to come here to Iceland, last night we had to say our goodbyes to our dts leaders: Carl & Mayke. They are off to Holland to have a beautiful baby!! Some days it seems like these 3 months flew by and other days it seems as though we’ve spent a year or more together. All these wonderful people have been here with me through all the growing and stretching that God’s been doing in my heart–we’ve all cried, laughed and shared sweet moments with the Lord together. It’s been quite the roller-coaster, and now we’re hoping on for another ride–this time in Kenya.

On Thursday we held a benefit concert at the Cafe here, to raise support for our team going to Kenya. It was truly a beautiful night. The amazing people of Mukkaló agreed to give their time to play for the concert as well as our very own Nicholaus Ross & Michelle McEver! After Mukkaló’s  set a few Kenyan ladies that were attending sang some worship songs in Swahili! Everyone started dancing, there were tambourines going and so much joy! It was really freeing. It made me so excited to have many more moments of worship like this in Kenya!

So here’s the wonderful team that I am going with:

Nicholaus Ross, Tyler Dougherty, Benjamin Rave, Þorgils Gunnarsson, Josh Brawdy, Michelle McEver, Me, Kathrin Laurisch, & Ariel Zadai

We fly out in about 16 hours, eeek! We will land in Nairobi and travel to the Athi River YWAM base and stay there for a week. From there we will be working with orphanages, in the slums, widows and their families that have suffered through AIDS and also with two organizations that are in Kenya;  Tears Children and Samband Islenskra Kristniboðsfelaga (S.I.K.). Most of our time will be spent in Nairobi & in Kisumu. Ah so exciting!

During our preparation for this trip we prayed and spent time writing down what we as individuals and as a team want to be about. This is the vision we have:

A family of people clothed in Christ

simply choosing in joy to love,

to listen and laugh

will from fullness pour out hope,

in childlike grace and fearlessness,

led hand in hand by the Father of light,

we will see great wonders and bear sweet fruit,

constantly keeping our eyes on Christ.

As we see ourselves as channels of God’s grace, a workmanship created to do works that are prepared for us in Christ, we see his glory being released through all of who we are. Through our senses, our personalities, our body parts, the way we communicate or behave, the way we touch and the way we laugh, the way we treat each other and those we meet; through us being one body we see his kingdom being released.–We choose to pour out ourselves in obedience, in ministries we partner with or that we initiate, as we follow Jesus.–In all that we do we depend on the presence of God, being lead by the Holy Spirit and simply being obedient to the voice of God, we want to move from a place of intimacy with Papa.

Oh its going to be such a wonderfully sweet adventure with the Lord!

“What I ask during this time is that you just pray, and not only for us as a team, but for the people of Kenya that we will meet; the families that have been through death; the children who do not have a home; the fatherless and motherless; pray for them and hold them in your hearts…they need us.” –Ariel

Financial Update: God’s been good– we raised close to $700 during our benefit concert and money has been coming in for my costs as well. I am still in need of close to $3500–but no number is too big for God!

Thank you all for your prayers and blessings–especially those of you back home–you’ve been so supportive! I will update as soon as I can when we get into Kenya!

Dreams, Plans & Hearts of Stone.

We started off this week with intercession for Haiti, it made such an impact–so powerful, just interceding for the people of Haiti. Speaking life and joy over the country. It was also touched my heart because a few of my close friends from home (Lauren Ellis, Nikki Pendergrass, and Leslie Watson) just returned from doing a missions trip there!

This week’s theme was discipleship, and what it truly means. It’s sort of one of those topics that we hear about all the time, but this week I’ve grasped a better heart-understanding.

“..If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” Matthew 22:34-40

On Tuesday we had the wonderful Simon Turner as a guest speaker at Seek My Face [every Tuesday night we have a time where we soak and seek more intimacy with the Father]. He led us through the Lords Prayer verse by verse, showing us how to customize it to our lives and praying to the Father.

That night the Lord was downloading a lot of vision for the future. He was highlighting so many instances since I’ve been here in Iceland that I had shrugged off as coincidence or maybe not even noticed at all–and he opened my eyes just to see the obvious. He has been knitting my life together so intricately and he was just giving me a glimpse of the things he has in store for me on the road ahead.

I was so excited yet a little frustrated. We all have these ideas of how are life may play out…dreams we have for the future and the people we plan to spend it with. So there I was being bittersweet that the glimpse God was giving me wasn’t what I had in mind. Basically doubting that God had the best in mind for me. I spent some quiet time with the Lord that night and he just continued to highlight the lack of trust I had in him. Which all stems from my lack of fully comprehending the Father Heart of God—fear of abandonment and all that good stuff.

The next morning I was still struggling with the things in my heart I was holding back from God and lo and behold the class that day was all about giving your whole heart to the Lord not just part of it. We were made to write down all the things we felt the Lord was pointing out that we were holding back from him and we laid them at the cross. Gotta love it.

I then proceeded to listen to Alyn & A.J. Jones message from emanate on having a heart of stone –“A heart of stone is a protection mechanism to keep you from pain. But it also keeps God’s love out too.” I was challenged so much in realizing areas of my heart that I have closed off…numbed as a defense mechanism.

The Lords just been showing me so much this week! He’s giving me vision for the future and what he has called me to. He’s showing me areas where I need improvement. He’s breaking me over the characteristics of Christ that I don’t display on a daily basis–or maybe even never. He’s healing broken areas in my heart that I have accepted–thinking they may never be healed. He’s showing me what it means to live in community and what it means to have compassion for those around me.

TRUST.

That’s the big one. Not only just trust in him, I find that easy compared to trusting his children around me. He’s teaching me to open my heart and share with those around me…not being ruled my fear that they might hurt me or abuse my trust; but realizing that that could in fact happen and taking the risk anyways because he has designed us to live in community–to be open. By shutting down my heart and not letting others in I’m actually shutting out the love of the Father as well.

I ended the week with a wonderful weekend! One of the DTS staff, Tyler, has a favorite coffee mug that he drinks out of every morning. We took this cup for an adventure and took photos with it all over town and with random people!

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Then on Sunday I took a trip with some friends to a black-sand beach…and the end point of the great Þjórsárhraun. The greatest lava flow on Earth since the end of the last Ice Age!

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Looking forward to what this week holds.