I see her face in my mind and I want to cry. How could this happen? How does a person arrive at this state? Where were the people in life who were supposed to love and take care of this girl? What happened? Where are they now?
The next morning the girls at CCC weren’t doing their chores well and there was a lot of bickering and a dirty compound. Mommy (what the girls call the director), in her rant to get them to clean, asked who saw the girl who was there yesterday. They all know and remember her. She asked if they wanted to be like that again. She reminded them of when they were taken off of the streets and when they asked Mommy to take many toddlers and other little ones with them and they promised to take care of them. She asked what happened to those promises as the small girls walked around dirty and some only in their knickers that morning.
When you are so inside of a situation perspective is difficult to maintain. As I spend most of my day every day with these girls it is easy to forget that it is by His Grace that they are each alive, well, and have survived the things they have been through. Without an intervening hand these girls were on their way to death, prostitution, abuse of all kinds, child marriage.
I thank God for the grace on their lives and want to bop them on the heads sometimes to remind them of the great gift they have received and seem to regard to carelessly. But I think about the girls still left there. And wonder what will happen to them. And it makes me so angry the great injustices that exist. But I say that sitting in a comfortable chair, in a nice flat, in a wealthy part of Nairobi, here for a little r&r. And even as I sit here this country is in turmoil. 30 minutes away there was a terrorist attack on a shopping mall. A nice one. I’ve been there. It started Saturday and the situation is still going on. More than 60 people are dead. I had friends robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the day just at the other end of this street on Saturday. It makes you wonder if life can ever be easy. Tranquil. Serene.
I watched the news coverage and I cried. I think about one of the girls at CCC who was raped at 7 years old and I cry. For so many years all I wanted desperately was to come to this continent and do something. I’m here. Physical presence doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s something. Teaching the girls to make pretty things so they can maybe secure a future doesn’t feel like enough, but it’s something.
I’ll never be one of them. No matter how long I’m here I’ll never be fully relatable. I have been molded by an entirely different country and culture. I have never been poor and I will never be truly poor. If my life or health were ever to be seriously threatened I have family, community, people that would rally to protect me. So I have to let go of this notion that I’m still holding back or maybe doing something wrong if I’m not living just like they are or am not completely relatable to them. Henri Nouwen puts it well (as he does with many things), “I am not as poor as my neighbors are. I will never be and will not ever be allowed to by those who sent me here. I have to accept my own history and live out my vocation without denying that history. On the other hand, I realize that the way of Christ is a self-emptying way. What that precisely means in my own concrete life will probably remain a life-long question.”
Our faith is a matter of continually learning, stretching, and trying to align our inner sanctums and everyday lives with the truth God is revealing. As soon as I think I’ve got it the light always shifts and illuminates areas I’d never noticed before. These few days to rest have afforded me some of the perspective I was hoping for. No new revelations or deep thoughts. But time to still my mind and reflect. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord, and the second to love our neighbor. The second flows from the first. So if I hope to love anyone well I have to focus my energies on God first. My neighbor will not be neglected if I’m loving the Lord well.
Even in all the darkness all around I look at what He has done. What He is doing. And I can’t help but continue to marvel and his sovereignty and goodness.
“The real good news for humanity is that Jesus is now taking students in the master class of life…Eternity is now in flight and we with it, like it or not.” Dallas Willard