Well, this has been a lonely few days. Less than a week after our college team left to go home to the U.S., Howie and our remaining "team" (6 of them, along with 2 other Kenyans) left for Lodwar. Just me and the kids and Manu, and our house helpers in the daytime. A big change from 35 people on the compound!
Lodwar is in the Turkana region of Northeast Kenya, and has been heavily effected by the drought and the severe famine that is happening in the Horn of Africa. They spent the last 2 days distributing food in 4 different villages. They had an armed guard with them the entire time, to keep the peace. When you have children at home who are dying because they are starving, you'll do just about anything for food. Howie said that these people were very aggressive today and it got pretty intense. But they aren't savages--they're starving. I can't even wrap my mind around the thousands of people who have died. So thankful that Howie and our team had the privilege of distributing 11 tons of food to help fight this famine.
I know that the starvation over here is hard to comprehend. You've probably heard the numbers, and it just goes in one ear and out the other, because who can actually make sense out of thousands and thousands of people dying in only a few short months? I'm actually IN the same country and it's hard for me to comprehend. Maybe we can't wrap our brains around it because if we did, we'd never stop crying; don't know.
I get stressed out about what to make for lunch but I can't imagine not having anything to make. I try to get my kids to drink water instead of always wanting juice but I can't imagine not even having water to give them. Even though I live here, I'm still an American. I'm still privileged. I'm still ignorant to what life is like for someone living in poverty, for the sole reason that I've never experienced it. I can get close to it, but I'll never really know.
Today I went to visit my friend Gladys down in the slum near our house. Gladys is a widow living with HIV, and taking care of 2 small children. They live in a mud hut that is small and stinky, and most days they only eat once, if they're lucky. I go and see Gladys and pray with her, and have met some of her needs, but when we say goodbye, I always come home. To food. And water. And soap. And medicine. And a shower. And Skype with friends and family back home telling me that they love me and miss me and they're praying for me. Gladys just stays in her mud hut.
As you can tell, I'm processing the concept of poverty right now. It seems hopeless. I'm in the process of helping another family who I will write about later, who are also living in extreme poverty. Sometimes it's too much. I wrestle with feelings of guilt, anger and hopelessness when I'm with them. Those things aren't of the Lord, I know, so I pray a LOT. God is slowly showing me that Mother Teresa's words are worth repeating: "If you can't feed a hundred, feed one."
God is not calling me to change the world. I can't even change the circumstances for my friend Gladys. But I can take them a bar of soap. I can hug her and pray with her. I can listen to her needs and her concerns, and be a friend. To an American, these things don't seem like a lot. They seem unimportant in the grand scheme of things. But God works in the little things. They matter.
If you're reading this feeling like I am, like it's too much, like the numbers are too high; there's too much need; too much poverty; too many people: be encouraged. God never asked us to do everything, He just asks us to do something. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . ." James 1:27