Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Survive...or truly live?

First of all, I have NO IDEA how it came to be that it's been a month since we blogged!! Yikes! I could tell you, our more-faithful-than-us readers that we've been TOTALLY IMMERSED into the beginning stages of planning for the mission trip September 6-16th. I could tell you that we've been making some kickin' plans with some amazing people about the cinematic future of Awake and Alive. I could tell you that it's now March and the natives are gettin' restless, and we need to be good mommies first and foremost....but the truth is:
We dropped the ball.
And as I learned in Kenya (Kiswahili), we wanted to say Pole Sana. We are very sorry. Well, we're at least sorry. But we don't want to dwell on it, because more than being sorry, we're VERY excited about the connections Awake and Alive is making and what is transpiring. Pretty incredible stuff. Okay, enough grovelling, now to the other thing I wanted to share with you:
Anybody recognize that girl? Well, that's me the very first time I went to Africa--Summer of 1995. (I recognize some of you reading this might not have been alive then.) And that's James that I'm hugging. I think Julius is beside him. I still remember their names. THAT is when Africa first started getting under my skin. And you know what? It's still there--
Stronger than ever!
This close-up to our left , I think, is when I went back to Kenya to the same location to go to Daystar University and work with the same street boys for 4 1/2 months. You might not be able to see it, but my heart is so full. While I've been a Midwest girl my whole life, it is on African soil that I truly feel home.
I could honestly go on and on about how much I love this beautiful, tragic continent, but I think it would be more powerful to end with a story told to me that first time in Africa about a little boy.
His name was Survivor.
He was six when I met him, but he had already earned such a name.
(He's on the right (in red) up in the tree with me and his buddy Charles.) You see, in the capital city of Nairobi, Kenya when I went in 1995, there were thousands upon thousands of children living on the street, many of them orphans. In fact, according to the US State Department, in 1999 (2 years after I was there the second time) it was reported that "there were over 50,000 street children in Nairobi, and the government estimated that their numbers grew at 10 % per year." It made for a very unsafe environment because these kids were hungry and often sick without adults to care for and protect them. And it definitely didn't make the government look good. So, when a major political event happened a year (or a couple of years?) beforehand, the government came through and "swept the streets." Instead of taking these tens of thousands of children somewhere where they would be well-cared for, they put them in prison. Yes. In prison. Survivor was one of these kids.

But he made it through and ended up at this boys' home created because Youth for Christ Kenya saw the need, and acted. It was a place where there was hope and care and love. Perhaps, over time, Survivor learned that he didn't just have to survive anymore. There was more to life than what he had experienced. I hope this wonderful place was the beginning of a new chapter in his life, but I really don't know. I know there aren't always happy endings. Nonetheless,

Hope is real.

Thank you for being a tangible gift of hope...and faith...and love to children and families in Kechene, the latest chapter in my personal story and some of yours, we hope, as well. May all the "Survivors" in the world--both here and thousands of miles away--know someplace deep in their souls that there is more than what they're currently experiencing and living for. And may we all learn what it means to Truly live.

1 comment:

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing this story Danielle. And thank YOU and Jolene for being such huge beacons of hope! You have inspired me so much and make me want to do MORE every single day!! xo