Thursday, August 29, 2013

CRYING Out to Our GOOD God

 LOVE starting my day in prayer 
with our Girls With Vision!

How much they have TAUGHT me...



Mama Mary, crying out to GOD!




Let my cry come right 
into your presence, God; 
 
Provide me with the insight that comes only from your Word. 
Give my request your personal attention
Rescue me on the terms of your promise. 
Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you’ve taught me the truth about life! 
And let your promises ring from my tongue; every order you’ve given is right. 
Put your hand out and steady me since I’ve chosen to live by your counsel. 
I’m homesick, God, for your salvation; 
I love it when you show yourself! 
Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well, 
Use your decrees to put iron in my soul. 
And should I wander off like a lost sheep—seek me! 
I’ll recognize the sound of your voice.

Monday, August 26, 2013

What I wish I NEVER had a reason to know...

What I wish I NEVER had a reason to know...

 The price of a prostitute in Ngando...
25 Kenyan shillings
29 cents in the US

Desperate women...
Hungry children...
Hopeless situations...
GOD, help us to bring them YOUR hope!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Emptied Out...


The sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — we are the ones who get to celebrate grace!  Ann Voskamp


Even as we started the slow drive out of the neighborhood, we realized this would be a tough day.  As we drove past a man on the side of the road, Shiku leaned onto her dad (who was truly in great pain) to yell and punch out the window, screaming angrily.   

The windows were all open.  She had visited the bar early that morning, and was already smelling of very strong drink.  The stench filled the car.  People stared.

Baba Shiku laid his head back and moaned.

We arrived.  Mama Wambui and I both queasy... 
 ...from the emotion - of friends carrying this grandfather patient to the car, tears streaming down their cheeks, thinking this could be their last goodbye...  
...from the stench - of unbathed friends, after a night of drinking...  
...from exhaustion, even though the day was only beginning.



We spent most of our day, helping to carry him, from one hospital to another for x-rays, then back to the first.  And the whole time, our friends forgot to be thankful.  Instead, we were bombarded with requests... demands...  

And, as I struggled, feeling utterly poured out, I realized...
I am LOVED by GOD... even when I am unlovely.  
I receive GRACE... even when I am ungrateful!

God, you are asking this of me... that I continue to show YOUR love! 

Tonight, as I battle tears that lie close to my exhausted and empty body, I recognize in a deep, thirsty way - the love that Christ shows me... daily.  And, I am thankful!


The sinners and the sick, the broken, the discouraged, the wounded and burdened — WE are the ones who get to celebrate grace!  Ann Voskamp
     


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

We recognized her... the prostitute from behind our house!

Yesterday afternoon, we got a call...
A lady had approached a member of our Girls With Vision and asked to find us.  (She knew us from the medical camp we had in June).

As we walked to her "home", Mama Wambui whispered to me.  This is NOT going to be easy!

We approached through high grass - what had been built as a 2-stall bathroom (literally, just 2 stalls - with a roof).  

As soon as Shiku saw us, she began to cry - and shake.  

As soon as I saw her, I recognized her - the prostitute from behind our house!  Most of the times that I greet her, she is drunk.  But I have prayed for her!

Her father, also a man that spends most of his time at the bar behind our house, is in horrible pain.  His hip is broken.  He has a terrible cough.  He is occupying the other "stall". He cannot move at all.  He has not even had a Tylenol for his pain.  As we speak to him, we all fear - how will this man survive this?

And then, there is a 7 year old boy.  Climbing, playing, ...a normal 7 year old boy!  Except THIS situation is not normal!  

We had brought food, but there is no place or means for Shiku to cook.

I lay awake last night, and woke up this morning with thoughts of this broken family.  What do we do? How can we help?  How can we REALLY help?  Once again, LORD - we come to you for wisdom!

Shiku never stopped shaking - even as I hugged her goodbye, I could feel her shoulders quaking, tears close.   

THIS is pain...
THIS is hopelessness...
God, how can we bring YOUR HOPE to this situation?
Baba Shiku, eating some food I took him today (one day after this post)...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

MISTAKES... Sometimes They Birth FRIENDSHIPS!!!

It had been weeks since she had been at our group...
Not having seen or heard how she was doing, we began to worry.   Stories are circling that maybe she isn't in a good place!


So yesterday, as we drove home, Mama Wambui and I stopped to check on Catherine.  

The excitement of our visit... along with a car was too much for the children around to handle!  They gathered around, touching... (yes, even scratching a little)... pushing each other.  

I had left the back door open - one little boy decided to be helpful and close it.  Over all the boisterous little voices, I didn't notice that one was crying!  Until, we realized - one little boy's fingers had been stuck in the door when it was closed!  

I jumped, trying to make sure he was OK!  I couldn't see any marks on either of his hands - was never sure exactly which one was hurt... now, I couldn't tell if he was crying from pain or from fear of the white lady who was holding him!  

But I felt terrible!  We were in a section of our community where the poorest of the poor live.  An area where prostitution is how many mamas come home with any food for their children!  Where we have desired to reach - but are faced with deep suspicion and fear.  Where we long to bring Christ's hope and peace - but are met with hesitant withdrawal.  We've prayed for this area!  And now this!  Hurting a little boy could never be a way to the hearts of desperate mamas.  

So today, I went back.  Honestly, I felt a little fear in going back.  Not exactly the safest place to be... and now, they had reason to be angry at me!  What would I face as a greeting today?

I packed a gift  - a big bag of groceries for mama and a dolly for Brian - the boy who I discovered when I arrived, was now knows as - "Little Brian with the hurt fingers".

My coming was a surprise.  I sat with 6 mamas who were out by the road as I tried to figure out where Brian lived.  But soon, Brian himself, along with his mama showed up.  Brian was fine - his mama was thrilled with her gift.  And, Uncle Johnny's dolly was definitely LOVED!
 
 

And so, once again, I am just humbled.  
What I saw as a terrible mistake - one that could jeopardize our impact in a whole burdened section of our neighborhood - God used to enable me to meet some new friends... ones who are interested in joining us at Girls With Vision now!

If reaching into peoples' lives were left up to me, I would bumble the whole thing!  For sure, I would have never gone about it this way!  God can turn my mistakes into hope! 

And these are the smiles of precious children as I left... SO thankful!!!


 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

GIORAS

Fear... 

I feel it gripping me!

We woke up yesterday morning, excitement running through our house.  In a few hours our whole family would head to the airport to collect our Nathan - after 6 long weeks of his being away!

I clicked on my computer to respond to a few messages and this is what I found:

Nairobi Airport ... BURNING

We spent the day trying to figure out where Nathan would end up... only to see that he was stuck in a country where the terror alerts had been heightened and the American embassy shut down...  

This morning, as I awoke, I had no idea where he was.  
No communication.  
Not where a mama likes to be!

As I sat to read and to pray, GOD brought me to this verse...

We actually named Nathan by this verse!

Nathaniel James GIORAS Matlack 
God Is Our Refuge And Strength - Psalm 46:1

I'm resting in THIS promise right now!!! 
 GOD knows right where Nathan is... He knows all the details that will bring him home!

God is Nathan's refuge and strength... and today, I'm claiming Nathan's verse for myself as well!



God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake...
Psalm 46:1-3

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Trudging ALONG... With JOY!!!


RETREAT... it has been the most amazing part of our walk with each new lady who joins Girls With Vision.  After having gone through a 3 month study, we head somewhere... just us.  

For most of them, this is a FIRST!  They have never had the chance to LEAVE, be COOKED for, RELAX, PRAY and WORSHIP while someone else watches their children and cleans the dishes.
  

This is when we REALLY get to know each other!  This is where we learn each others' stories, laugh together and cry over hurts that run deep!  And we pray... how we pray!


We've had 3 retreats so far... and they have been amazing!  This upcoming weekend will be our fourth.  But, 2 days ago, our whole plan came to a complete STOP!  The venue we had booked called to apologize that they had overbooked!  Our reservations were cancelled.  Pauline and I just froze... without a word, we both knew... there was barely enough money for us to cover the first booking!  At this last minute, how would we find a place?  As we called around, our worst fears were confirmed... the money we had would not stretch for this last minute booking!

The next morning, I posted a request on my facebook wall... and we PRAYED!  Then, after Bible study with all of the Girls With Vision, we went.  As we signed the new booking, Pauline and I looked at each other - we both knew we didn't have that money!  But, we also held on to what we know.  GOD cares more about these ladies than even we do!   He would provide!


By the time we got home, the money had ALL come in!  

We want to mention a special word of thanks to each of you who donated!  We don't take it lightly that you have reached across the world to touch the life of someone that much of society ignores... Someone you will never meet, yet you have greatly impacted!  THANK YOU!

The next morning, as we opened our Bibles with the ladies in our group, we shared the whole story with them...  God LOVES you and He CARES about you!!!  Yes, in the end, that was the story in this...  For each of the 15 women who will attend the retreat, it has been confirmed - GOD cares about me!

And what did Pauline and I learn?  ... well, ours is NOT to worry about money...  Ours is only to be faithful... to keep on trudging along with each story that we encounter!  Because, even as we rejoiced, a member of our group arrived, downcast. - She had been locked out of her house when the rent wasn't paid.   And so, as we rejoice in God's provision, we recognize again - these struggles will not soon be over!   Each of our paths toward transformation has a lot more to do with trudging... together!