Thursday, May 31, 2012


I have felt such an abundance of peace, joy, and appreciation over the last two days.  Again, our perfect Heavenly Father knows exactly what we each need, and He continues to abundantly provide.  I am in the presence of such spiritual beauty - it is almost overwhelming.  I've had some of the most authentic conversations I've ever had as well as a sought-after growing intimacy with the Lord.  Our team is complete now, 12 women, wholeheartedly seeking the Lord in all that we do to bring glory to Him.  I've been able to connect with one of the woman, a college graduate fresh out of school, and it's been so amazing to see how God is developing a friendship that is so inspiring and encouraging. 

Today I was able to spend longer periods of time teaching and sharing with the kids, which is amazing! I love sharing their pictures with them from 2009 and 2010.  I felt like I had let the kids and teachers down last year by not returning.  I didn't want to be just another Muzungu with a fleeting passion for what's right in front of me, but instead a vested friend, sister in Christ, and a teacher who loves them genuinely and is dedicated to them. My returning feels like redemption and a restored joy - I feel so selfish even sharing these thoughts, but my heart has been rejoicing as I have been able to reconnect with both the teachers and students.  My staff position with Kenya Children's Fund is to advocate for the teachers, and best serve them, which is exactly what I have been able to do.  Relationships have been built and are being nourished.  How did He choose me to do this?  I fall on my face in praise for Him.

Please continue to cover us in prayer.  We appreciate it - they are absolutely felt!   Spiritual, physical and emotional health are our top requests, as well as God's will to be done in Dandora!  We pray that the children continue to be a light and to be game-changers!!  I have to specific children that I am praying for - Kilbe and Peter - they both have severe special needs.  It breaks my heart to see them not be able to read or write, but I trust God's plan for each of them.  I know that school is serving as a light for them, a fortress of safety and protection that is constantly showering them in God's rich love. 

I praise Him for strength, wisdom, the Spirit's overwhelming presence, the children, my rock and my Salvation - Jesus Christ, the amazing family and friends that are supporting me, provisions, protection, and your encouragement.  Your words mean so much to me. 

Here is the link for my facebook album if you can't see it/you are resisting facebook :) 

Love you all! 

In Him, Jen

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My heart is alive

"I'll care for you, love you, and teach you, always.  For you are my tenderheart." - excerpt from "Papa Do you Love me?" A Masai story by Barbara Jane Mosea 

This is how we began our day in the simple office inside the school.  We are constantly reminded that the Lord loves us wildly, loves these children, and that He will care for each of us, always.  God has been at work in amazing ways since I have been here.  I've become more and more dependent on the Holy Spirit and less and less on myself (John 3:30). It is such an honor to be a part of such an amazing ministry that is tangibly serving the last and the least.  I cannot express how many times a day I find myself thanking the Lord for this opportunity.  Last night in my quiet time, I was reminded, "He who trusts in His riches will wither." Prov. 11:28 - it is comforting to know that it is not what we have materially, but spiritually.  The joy of the Lord is upon us; He is our strength and He is the leader of this trip, school, and community. 

The children, like all children around the world, like to ask for things, and a phrase they use is, "Mark this face."  That stuck with me, because I am marking those faces, not to bring them candy or balls, but as the future of Kenya, as change in a filthy, corrupt, world that seems to have left them behind.   Today, my heart was awakened in a way in which only God could do.  He knew what I needed, and gave me just that.  My heart is for children.  I know that I am gifted in the area to teach, and it was such a strong affirmation today of why I am called to this profession (and the scary reminder that part of me wanted to leave the profession just 7 months ago).  The confidence, joy, and hope that a teacher has the gift to deliver is beautiful, and something we often times forget. 

I spent time working with kindergarteners, first, second and third graders today.  In each class, I am working with the teachers to help them best serve their children's needs, which means engaging the advanced students as well as spending extra time with the students who have difficulty.  At times, I was working with smaller groups of students to reinforce skills as well as give that extra confidence boost.   I am so humbled that the teachers are open, receptive, and asking for help.  We may not realize it, but in essence it is saying that, "I am not succeeding at my job, and I need help."  How many people really are willing to do so?  How they can let me in so quickly, break down personal and cultural boundaries, and trust me to work with them and their children can only be a work of God.  There is a mutual relationship of respect and admiration, and for this I am thankful.  

The best part of my day was being able to work one on one with kids, and to see the joy in their faces when they were making progress.  To see their confidence increase right in front of my eyes is another gift from God.  Too often we forget how much words of kindness and encouragement mean to one another.  He who refreshes is also refreshed!  There are so many moments of God's glory throughout the day that I could not write them all to you.  He is so tangibly present, and at work in the lives of the teachers, students and their families.  

The holy spirit also tangibly answered two of my "immediate need" prayers - very awesome to be in tune with the spirit to experience His presence so clearly.    Where/when is your heart most alive? Thank you for your prayers - again, they are absolutely felt, and still seriously coveted.  Please continue to pray for God's love and glory to shine through us - "Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 ESV) Without God, I am nothing. 

Pray that I would have the wisdom and understanding to best serve each teacher and student, the creativity and ingenuity to do so, and that he would restore and empower me each time I step into a room, only the way He can do.  Please pray that our team is bonded in harmony, protected by Him, and our time is best spent meeting the needs of the school. 

Our team verse(s) is Colossians 3:12-17 "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:12-17 ESV)

Thank you for all that You do to encourage me, empower me with prayer, and protect me with the Holy Spirit.  Wholly His, Jen PS I am learning the Lord's prayer in kiswahili, and my accent is starting to sound pretty legit for a muzungu. :) Asante sana Bebe!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A city set on a hill cannot be hidden

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14 ESV)

My last two days at the school have been amazing-affirming, encouraging, challenging and joyful.  I love being back at the school.  I fallen in love all over again.  There is such beauty penetrating the darkness.  God is so tangibly at work at KDS! I am so incredibly humbled to be given the privilege in taking part of His story in Dandora.  It's also so amazing to see - I don't know if it's because I have grown spiritually, have a deepened sense of appreciation, or sensitivity to the spirit...or all of the above, but God is everywhere.  Listening to their songs, looking at the faded, hand-written posters of the Word of God, the lessons we walked in during Christian Religious Education, seeing the light in each of their faces, deepening the relationships with staff.........  I.  Love.  It.   

There is a lot on my heart to share, but I am emotionally spent for today.  Please continue to cover us in prayer.  That we would do everything out of love, that we trust in the Lord's sovereignty and deliverance at times when the enemy attacks us with the appalling poverty and destitution, and that these kids would continue to shine their light in the community.  

I want to thank God for the invitation to follow His call, the privilege to invest and be invested in by such a wonderful, dedicated staff of teachers, and for the trust established as I do my best to serve each teacher and student.  I am humbled and honored by the vulnerability, sincerity and receptivity of the teachers.  I have 14 scheduled classroom visits/lessons/collaborations over the next few days, so I am seeking wisdom, creativity, rejuvenation, when necessary, and ingenuity.  Above all, I seek to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and for God to use me in whatever way He chooses.  Here I am God - I am available and willing to all that you have in store for me! I promise to expand on our journey in the coming days! PS I love and appreciate your personal comments, prayers and emails! I will do my best to get back to them as we have time. They are very encouraging, and bring a touch of home exactly when I need it! I cannot post pictures here, so check on facebook for that.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

He is speaking, can you hear Him?

Today is the Sabbath, and our first full day in Kenya. After a tumultous 49 hours of traveling, we were welcomed last night by the fresh scent of rain and a beautiful rainbow stretching out over the countryside. Our bags made it - from ATL to Washington, DC to Zurich, then rerouted to Dubai and finally to Nairobi! It felt even better to wake up this morning, well-rested, safe, and greeted by the sounds of birds outside of my window. With late arrivals and a heavy rainy season thus far, we opted to do church together here at Gracia.

We spent our time worshipping the Lord and discussing communion with God - something that the Holy Spirit has consistently brought to the forefront. The phrase that keeps on coming back to me is "I am searching for my heart." It began two weeks ago during a "date" with God - extended meditation and quiet time - and it has continued through friends, Cornerstone's speaker, Sarah Ott and the message she shared, devotionals, and today, our message. It is still astounding that the Creator of the Universe, the One true God, desires an intimate relationship with me, an imperfect, broken sinner. But He does not see me this way. He sees me for all that He created me to be - His daughter created in His image - fearfully and wonderfully made, destined for greatness through a relationship with Jesus Christ. We owe it to ourselves and to God to cultivate this relationship He has designed us for - how else will we know Jesus and be able to become more like Him? That is God's desire for us. It is here in relationship that God speaks to us, teaches us, instructs, guides, and counsels us. Through this relationship, service, program and productivity flows. Let us fully abide in Him as He abides in us. This delights the Lord as we come to Him, humbly and hungry for His word.

 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." (John 14:12, 16-21 ESV)

As Ginger and all of the other messages the Holy Spirit has been sending me, listening to and communing with God is a lifestyle. It takes discipline and practice. You must set your heart and mind on His promises and rest in those. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:3-7 ESV)

How is God speaking to you? What are you going to do if you cannot hear Him right now?

Sunrise over Basra

Today, as another day begins, I am reminded of the gift of new beginnings each day.  To look out and see the sky illuminated with the sun rising and cascading colors from orange to blue, I am amazed. (God is definitely a Gator!)

He reminds me with this beauty, this undeserved luxury, and this re-energizes me.  It inspires me all over again to see the beauty of the heart in each of God's people, regardless of the background, culture, differences or similarities.  The irony is watching God's sunrise over Basra, and realizing there is an overwhelmingly large population of people right below us that do not know the love of Christ.  I am thankful as well as inspired by my friend's courage to reach others in the Muslim community. 

This vision of beauty in creation brings me back to of our first night in Haiti last year, sitting under the same stars, but in a completely different world, engulfed in the intoxicating environment of New Life orphanage in Port au Prince.  The memory is almost tangible.. to see the stars, hold the children in my lap, worship the One true God, sing Chris Tomlin songs, and enjoy the abundance of life in that moment... it was such a gift.

My prayer is that God continue to liberate my thoughts and misconceptions, transform my heart, and continue to guide me to take the next leap of faith He has planned for me.  I urge you to follow God's call and experience the greatness He has planned for you as well.  In one of Craig Groeschel's sermons, he urges, "You will never know Great if you don't let go of good enough."  

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV)

What good do you need to let go so that God can show you better?

Friday, May 25, 2012


Today is full of blessings, but not the kind you would imagine.  We all have different perspectives and ideas that come to mind when you hear the word.  A new baby, the marriage proposal, the dream job landed, whatever you've perceived as that "thing" that will make all the difference in your life. 

But today I am reminded of the blessings that we overlook as we are busy "doing" rather than being.  God's peace and abundant life are offered through Him.  This in itself is enough.  But God still chooses to bless us immensely beyond salvation-it's just whether or not you open your eyes and engage your senses to the world He has created and orchestrated for you.  Today I chose to find what I am thankful for rather than the small trials that come with everyday life in our broken world.  Until we meet our Maker again, we can fully expect trials, but the difference is in how we approach and handle life's circumstances. 

Everyone knows the latter part of the scripture, but I find myself resting in the contentment that comes from Christ alone. God has really been showing me this lately.

For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

I am thankful for God rescuing and restoring me.  The gift of grace is something that I will never wholly comprehend, but I pray that I would continue to extend grace and His love to others as He has done for me.  Today begins the fourth journey God has planned for me to embark upon - journeys to places I never thought I would go to for reasons that I never conceived.   I am grateful for the generosity of others.  Both of my trips were fully funded because of people's generosity and ultimately the support and spread of His kingdom.  To see others selflessly giving towards something so much bigger than ourselves is so inspiring.   I am humbled by the call of God and the privilege to obey, the community He has surrounded me with, and I am honored to be the hands and feet of Christ in Kinyago-Dandora.  I am privileged to sit around a table with godly women, to hear their stories, absorb their wisdom, and be invested and poured into as we sit in the various airports.  I love discussing the same book with my Africa group as my Haiti team (Toxic Charity - a must read for nonprofits!) and hearing of budding ideas from the women of the community for microenterprise.  

God in everything:  For the glowing, beautiful sunset over Washington, DC as we departed for Zurich, the ability to reshuffle all of my belongings into 2 perfect 50 pound bags, Meghan driving me to the airport, the woman next to me trading seats (I love a good window seat!), soft, fuzzy socks that were practical but also brought me joy because one of my students gave them to me, facetime with my momma!, sincere encouragement from friends, Karen coming to lunch in Washington, DC, the empty seat next to me allowing me ample room to curl up on the plane, the afternoon latte after 20 hours of travel and the Dove dark chocolate reminding me to open my eyes to the love all around me.  What are you thankful for today?

Logistical update:  After a mechanical failure in DC, we departed for Zurich three hours later than expected and subsequently missed our connecting flight to Nairobi.  We have been rebooked on the third flight to Dubai to then connect into Nairobi as our nearest flight.  After some light cardio around the airport and pleading with staff, we finally found someone to take pity on our group since everyone had varying information.  Once one person was helpful, the mercy continued!  Our bags are located, we are fed, and if all goes to the (new) plan, we depart at 10:45 tonight and should arrive around 6am tomorrow morning.  Our last flight connects to Nairobi bringing us in around 2pm on Saturday.  I am thankful to be in good company during this wait and to share some deep belly laughs during our (mis)adventures in Zurich!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Waiting with Expectation

"In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly." Psalm 5:3

I covet your prayers as I near my initial departure date! I'm excited and encouraged for Kenya, time with Ginger, my mentor and the CEO of Kenya Children's Fund, the opportunity to invest in the schools, staff and children who are ultimately the future of Africa, and the solitude that will continue to draw me closer to God.  Through it all, I pray that the service would never impede the intimacy and encounters with God that He has planned for me.   
I am traveling in Europe June 7-11 then I will be home for 2 days before babysitting, attending a training for school, then departing for Haiti. Please pray for my safe travels, and that we would be the salt and the light, that we would encourage others, and bring the fervent hope and confident joy of Christ to all we come in contact with.
 "By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News." Eph. 3:7 NLT

 "He must become greater and greater, and [we] must become less and less." John 3:30

“Come to me with your ears wide open.Listen, and you will find life.  I will make an everlasting covenant with you.  I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.  See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.  I made him a leader among the nations.  You also will command nations you do not know, and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey, because I, the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”  Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong.  Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.  Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.  “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:3-9
In Him,