“We make our plans, but God has the last word.” Proverbs16:1 (GNB)
1. What do you think happened to my thumb? Picture taken yesterday. I am thankful that it is much better today!
2. Can you guess what this is? What the colored pieces are? Thankful for the creativity that surprises me and makes me happy.
3. Do our participants seem shorter than normal? Thankful for new places to minister and new friends we meet there.
Yesterday, as we finished with the last camel, we were all wilting from the heat. There was more water in the truck, but we had gone through all that was in the jugs we carried out with us. The small amount of water that remained in our individual bottles, tasted like it had been boiled for chai.
My left thumb had begun to ache and I finally stopped to check it out. I wondered if the pain was due to the sting from an insect, bite from a spider, or jab from a pesky thorn off the tree we had earlier used for shade. One branch had given us all fits before it was pruned back.
At this time I am still not sure what the exact cause was, but the result was pain, swelling, bruising, and numbness around the joint, which I could no longer bend. This made it interesting as I drove back to town in my manual vehicle, shifting with my left hand (remember we drive left side of the road, right side of the vehicle here).
As we traveled we shared our good things/God things from the day. I am glad we started doing this awhile back. It helps on the hard, busy, hot days to find the good and see God in the day. It also helps me by hearing some things I would not expect or reminds me that this was the first time that person did that new task. We can then praise and encourage them.
The next topic for conversation was a bit of planning for our next day out (ie today). As this proceeded in the Turkana language, before it was completely translated for me I had the general understanding that our facilitator was not going to join us, due to another meeting. I understand things come up, but he was the one who scheduled us to go back to this certain area and treat many camels that we were not able to treat last week, when we did CHE lessons, Bible study, and animal treatments all in the same day. That was a long day.
My first thought was “Great, I am already short 2 helpers this week, and not sure if either will join us tomorrow (ie today).” However, I was thankful he was telling us early. Usually it is a call as we head out of town or no information at all. Very typical here. I spend lots of time organizing and communicating, only to go try to pick people, who are not available to work that day. I have come to realize it is just part of life here, but that does not make it any less frustrating.
Yesterday, after taking care of business in town and dropping my helpers at their homes, my real work began. This is especially true on days we go out to treat animals back to back. I have to unload, clean, reorganize, restock, and prepare for the next day all as I rehydrate and this time also ice my thumb (after a very thorough hand washing and inspection - not finding any splinters).
As I did all that I prayer for the next day (ie today). I also asked my teammates to pray for my thumb, since I really needed 2 working thumbs. One of my teammates even added prayers for calm, compliant camels. What a great prayer (and alliteration)!
I slept well last night and was happily surprised this morning when both of the extra helpers were able to go today. I also discovered they had had rain in their part of Lodwar overnight. Wow, what a blessing. As we crossed the large, dry river bed on the “short cut” route to the bush, we noticed the ground there was a bit wet also. Thankfully, the river was not flowing and it was not too wet to cross at this time. I said a quick prayer for it to not be flowing before we returned later. I had one experience in the past of waiting over 9 hours for a river to go down before we could cross to get back in to town. I really did not want to have that be the story for today. Little did I know God had something much better planned.
The rest of our trip out was uneventful, but we arrived at a very, quite community. No animals, no people. When 2 ladies finally emerged from one of the huts, they were obviously on their way somewhere else and told us the man with the animals had an emergency and was in Lodwar. Of course he was! This is also quite common and although I realize it will still happen, it is also no less frustrating to me. However today, it actually seemed to bother me less. Maybe I have lowered my expectations so much that nothing can surprise me now, or I have actually become a bit better at giving up control to God.
We decided we could go back to the previous community where we had worked yesterday and see about treating animals there. So off we went, but again no animals and no people. As I walked around searching for phone signal, so I could reach our facilitator, to see if anyone might be at his area today, kids began to gather and gather and gather. I never could get a signal, but eventually as I looked at all the kids, I began to see Gods plan for our day.
I asked the kids if they would want to do a Bible lesson with us. We had been studying Jonah this week and I thought that’s perfect for adapting for a kids only lesson. They all said yes, so we gathered at their meeting tree. We always begin with prayer and I asked if anyone wanted to pray. They were all a bit shy, so I prayed in simple phrases, which were translated to Turkana (because even my Swahili and Turkana, still gets translated into Swahili and Turkana for most people who are not accustomed with the way I speak Swahili and Turkana). The kids all repeated the prayer and it was a really fun way to pray together. After all prayer can be fun as we praise and thank God. Then we had them lead some songs. They kept singing and singing. We told the story of Jonah and included some drama and motions to get them up and moving. Most of us portrayed the storm and then when it was time for Jonah to be swallowed by the fish, they came up with the idea of having the tire rim that they play with be the fish's mouth so our Jonah really got swallowed today. It was very creative on their part and I never would have thought of using that as a fish mouth.
It was a great day and as we got ready to leave a cool breeze came in and energized us all, so that as we packed the truck, they hung around and we prayed again before we departed.
Now you know about my thumb (which is considerably better, although still sore, see picture below). You also know about our short participants today, but what about the colorful rings. Upon our arrival I saw the boy with this stick and I had to know what made all the colors. It’s the inside ring of a plastic soda/ water bottle cap (go get one and take a look, or see picture below if your countries caps are different). I had never seen a walking stick decorated like this and neither had my helpers. We were all impressed and at the end of our time together I negotiated a deal and purchased the stick. I am going to hang it above my new lion painting. The colors are perfect and for me its the simple things that bring joy, like colors from plastic rings used on a walking stick.
We had a wonderful time with the kids, studying the word of God. We will do this lesson tomorrow at the same place with the adults. I invited all the kids to return and said they might even get to help teach and definitely help with the drama and motions. I hope they bring the tire rim so even an adult Jonah can get swallowed properly by the big fish!
As we returned to Lodwar and discussed our day, we all agreed that the whole day was good and fun. We were so happy that God had changed our plans. There was excitement in the truck that we often do not have when were are hot and tired after treating animals. What a blessing today was. How special to spend time teaching the children. I hope we will have a chance to do some more kids only lessons in different places (by the end we did actually have 2 men with us, but they let the kids be the focus.)
Then just as we were thanking God for such a great day, He had another surprise for us. That cool breeze we had felt earlier was also associated with rain. Yes as we drove I said “What is that in the road?” It was huge puddles full of fresh rain water. Wow! One large area got a pretty good rain, so much that we had to detour in a few places. Thankfully the river was not flowing, and we easily returned to town by the “short cut”. Although we are still praying for rain for many more places throughout Turkana and Kenya.
Thank you God for making your plans known. Even when it changes our plans and we question and get frustrated (Kind of like Jonah??). Your plans are our plans and I pray we all become better at seeing the opportunities you are giving us and are willing to follow you in your plans. Amen.