Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Part of the Family of God

 It was the evening of our farewell in Kisumu, Kenya. My emotions had been all over the place lately and now as we sang, the tears spilled over. "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God...And sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry, sometimes we share together, heart-aches and sighs...together in sunshine, together in rain, together in victory thru His precious name..There'll be no more parting, with Jesus we'll be Together forever, God's family..."
 Our compound family in Kenya went through many many changes and many many challenges. Sometimes we wiped tears of laughter and other times it was tears of hurt or sorrow. Sometimes the love flowed and sometimes we had to pray for grace and love for each other. But in the end we were there for each other through thick (too much ugali or mandazis, Java house?) and thin (another 'bout with malaria? chicken butchering, off to yet another funeral?) and truly we had become family. Sometimes compound life was humorous/ challenging like when I had children down for naps and hear shrieking around my house and discover a youth boy hiding in a bedroom because there was a wild water battle going on. Yes, my children were quick to join in the fray.
 It was helpful as there were usually babysitters available at moments notice if I needed to run to town quick and no school runs since the children could just walk to school. Sometimes our family got embarrassingly noisy and it felt like we lived in a glass house. But in our short time there we learned to know each other better than I felt we knew each other at our home church where we'd been for 7 or so years.
 I wiped more tears as the song came to an end and then I wanted to laugh as the 9 year old boy who had seen the tears picked the next song, "No Tears In Heaven." Bless his heart.
Kenya had truly become part of us and as I thought of leaving it felt like I was leaving a chunk of my heart behind. How I'd come to love the beautiful scenery, the bustling streets, the dear church folks. As I rode to church the last Sunday I tried to soak the sights into my memory and to savor the moments. Some days I felt like spreading my arms and leaning with all my might to hold back Father Time but then it was May 28th and we were on a plane leaving Kisumu and "home" behind.

And yet as we left home behind we were also heading home. Home to Wisconsin, to relatives and church family there that we had missed. How would it be? We had heard stories and many warnings about how hard the adjustments can be, how people don't understand a lot of times where we are coming from, how time changes people.
 As we moved into our new little home on Hwy 27 and got settled in, I wondered when this "re-entry struggle" would hit. There were some of our family whom it didn't seem to faze and others who struggled more. But really it seemed to go so much more smoothly than I had anticipated it might.
 What made the biggest difference? I would say it's because though we traveled nearly half way around the world and are with a totally different group of people than we were with in Kenya, even a totally different church fellowship, it's still a part of the family of God.  
 The church family here welcomed us with open arms. The little house we were going to rent was ready and waiting, walls scrubbed, flower beds cleaned, cupboards stocked. So much time and energy and money had been spent on our behalf. A lovely hanging basket greeted us at the door. Inside a lovely bouquet smiled at us from the table, baking supplies, cleaning supplies, paper-wear, bathroom essentials, welcomed us behind cupboard doors. The fridge nearly groaned as it held fresh fruits, veggies, and meals for while we got settled in. There was clothing for the children and 3 new dresses waiting for me. We felt so humbled and unworthy. We felt loved and wanted. We feel so grateful to be a part of this community, to be part of this Family of God.


  1. This is beautiful, Janice. And your church family here is a huge example to me! ❤❤❤

  2. Thank you. Curious who's commenting��