On my list of Top Ten Things I Love about Mission Trips, going to church probably lands in the number 3 spot.
Don’t ask what number 1 and 2 are because then you will most likely label me a bad Christian.
I’ll give you a clue: they both have to do with food.
Anyway, our first Sunday in Kenyan church will live forever on my list of Top Ten Greatest Moments From a Mission Trip. The night of the safari ants is on there too, but I digress.
Our first Sunday in Kenya, we all got up bright and early and put on our Sunday best. Well, everyone else did. I put on my Sunday ehh. I couldn’t fit my Sunday best in my carry on so I packed my Sunday ehh. Around 10 we all shuffled out of the bungalow and walked to church.
We were immediately greeted by an abundance of children.
All the children were out and about, playing with each other, but they stopped and stared the instant they saw the mzungus. To be honest, I would have stared too if I had never before seen a white person in my life. I still get giddy around Asians because I think they’re fabulous and I don’t get much time around them…I mean- ok, I yes, I have a very strange love for the people from the Asian continent and its surrounding islands. You may not judge me.
As a sea of children poked and prodded me, one little girl stared me down, whispered something into Brittany’s ear, and then giggled. Her name was Martha and as soon as she worked up the courage, she held my hand and didn’t let go. During service, she and her friend, Monica, turned my hand over in theirs traces the outline of my blue veins through the skin. They thought my palms and nails were hysterical and that my fingers were too long (they’re not the only ones).
I should also mention that I wasn’t the only one who was claimed by a child in 2.5 seconds. When I looked around the church I noticed that all of my friends had children holding their hands, sitting on their laps, or playing with their hair.
Ariel definitely got her hair braided one day and it was hilarious. They made her look like Pocahontas.
I did too and Tesia told me I looked like Celie from The Color Purple.
So. Not. Funny.
One of the reasons why church lands on the number 3 spot is because I love praise and worship in foreign countries. In Bolivia praise and worship involved a full band, choreography, streamers, and audience participation. Do you know how exhilarating it is to dance in sync with 200 other people? If you don’t, you need to get on that pronto.
Kenyan praise and worship was equally exhilarating because it involved The Grand Poobah of Drums.
This drum could have ground another drum’s bones to make it’s bread.
Anyway, the drum started, the clapping began, and the singing shook the sky. I think Jesus was tapping his feet in heaven and the Holy Spirit was probably putting their singing on his iPod. (Oh, the Holy Spirit has a Zune? My mistake.) They were really good. When the Bible talks about the joyful noise that’s what it’s talking about. It’s talking about singing that starts in your bones and erupts from your soul. It’s talking about letting the words from your mouth be etched onto your life. It’s talking about hands that are calloused from so much praise.
And that’s just for starters.
I could go on and on about how wonderful the praise and worship was (I’m totally bringing a big drum to church this week and only divine intervention can stop me), but the whole reason I wrote this post was to tell you about the moment that will go on the number 1 spot on my Top Ten list.
Wow, that was a really long sentence.
In the midst of all the praise and joy, while I was wrapped up in the drum and Jesus, I took a second to really listen to what the kids were singing. I will say that their words caused an unexpected single perfect tear.
At the top of their lungs, they were shouting, “I have a father who never, ever fails me.”
What you must realize is that the majority of these kids are orphans.
They don’t have fathers.
They don’t have mothers.
Some don’t have siblings.
In the strict definition of the word, they are alone.
In God’s definition, they are never, ever alone.
They have a Father who never, ever fails them.
He may not be there to tuck them in at night. He may not be someone who tapes their report cards to the fridge. He’s not the father who will take them to the zoo. He won’t be there to pick out their school shoes, throw balls with them in the yard, or check under the bed for monsters.
But what he “lacks” in physical presence he makes up for in consistency. When their father’s pass away or jump ship, their Father will be there to guide them. He may not be the helping hand they expect, but he is that still small voice they need.