This morning we want to introduce you to our two newsest team members in Kenya, Aaron and Casey Markham!
We left Columbia, SC on the afternoon of Friday, September 1st with a one-way ticket bound for Nairobi, Kenya. We’ve officially been living in Kenya for over a month now, and what a month it has been! We hit the ground running with two back-to-back Impact Trips from the U.S., followed by a week of administrative staff meetings held at our house. It has been a month of transition filled with hosting and learning simultaneously.
In the last 30 days, we’ve participated in 2 Impact Trips, been on 4 flights, visited 10 different CFA centers, celebrated 2 graduations, hosted 24 overnight house guests and 30 other visitors, celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary, and consumed countless cups of Kenyan tea.
During home visits in Kisumu, we visited Grace, a current CARE for AIDS client. Grace had been kicked out of her home because of her HIV+ status and was living with her sister and all of their children. One of Grace's son's, Phillip, is 20 years old and disabled. Because of his disability, Phillip has never been able to speak or to walk. Grace cares for him full time and uses a wheelchair to help him get around. Phillip sat with us as Grace told us her story of living with HIV and he exuded such joy at having visitors, clapping his hands and grinning nonstop. As we left their home, I couldn't help but be reminded that I should never be so dependent upon or consumed by material and physical circumstances that lack thereof could steal my joy. Grace's biggest prayer request was that she could find a job to be able to pay for a home of her own where she could continue to raise Phillip and her other children. Would you join us in praying for God's provision of work for her?
While joy and excitement have been abundant, it would be dishonest to say that our first month in Kenya hasn’t had its challenges, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Moving is never easy, and it's only exacerbated when you move to an entirely new continent, country, and culture. Not only do we lack the community we so loved back in South Carolina, but even something as simple as figuring out what to do with your trash (plastic bags are no longer legal in Kenya) becomes exceedingly difficult when you're in a new and foreign place. So, we're counting every small victory as a big one, tackling what we can one day at a time and are incredibly grateful for the friends we've made who have shown us grace and patience in answering our long list of crazy questions.
A couple days ago, I was moved to tears by the lyrics of the song, “It is Well” (Bethel music). The song begins, "Grander earth has quaked before; moved by the sound of His voice. Seas that are shaken and stirred, can be calmed and broken for my regard. Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. Through it all, through it all, It is well. Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You. It is well with me." The tears were probably a combination of being exhausted and needing rest, but also an acknowledgement of where that rest has to come from.
I've been doing Jennie Allen's bible study Proven since I arrived in Kenya and have been encouraged by her words about John chapter 6. She says, "nothing but Jesus can issue rest of our chaotic insides." In John 6:16-21, Jesus' disciples have gone out in a boat to cross the sea. It was dark, windy and the waters were rough. Once they were 3-4 miles off shore, they saw Jesus coming towards them, walking on the water. At first, they were even more afraid, but once they knew it was Jesus, their fears were stilled. As Jennie Allen notes in her study, Jesus "could have gotten on the boat before it left the shore, but then [the disciples] would have missed His overwhelming power over all of the chaos. We may feel crushed by the fear of real circumstances, but Jesus is above the circumstances." She goes on later to remind us that "our soul rest is not based on the absence of trouble or chaos. Our soul rest is based on the never-failing character of our good, capable, rich Father God. ... We are as secure as Jesus was on that water because we know our Father God is with us."
This couldn't be more timely encouragement for me right now and hopefully it encourages some of you as well. We’ve likely all experienced at least a season of what feels like constant hustle and complete chaos. What a sweet reminder that God is above it all and it's in Him that I can find my rest today. If you find yourself in a similar season, week, or even day, let's together remember to fix our eyes on Jesus knowing that regardless of our circumstances, we can still say "it is well with my soul."
You can learn more about Casey and Aaron and their journey with CARE for AIDS on their personal blog.