08 October 2009

And Life Is Worth Living Just Because He Lives

Yesterday, after a morning at Oasis {filled with Bre and Jordan's first chigger-removal experience}, we walked in to town to meet Ben and Christine, first for lunch at Iroko Boulevard and then to visit their secondary school, Gilgal. We were 5 minutes early (typical for me). They were 25 minutes late (typical for them). We were so pleased to listen as they told their story during lunch: how Gilgal came to be, about the Holy Cow project they are now benefiting from, and even about the continued ministry to the Bosnia Refugee Camp.

Gilgal is a secondary school that was started as a place for Refugees who could not afford school fees. (For example, the initial Form 1 (Freshman) class had 4 Sudanese boys.) Ben and Christine allow students to pay "whatever they can pay" as school fees, which opens the doors for many students who would, otherwise, not attend Secondary School.

The school opened in February of 2008, in the middle of the post-election clashes, with a Form 1 of about 35 students. This school year, the Form 1 students moved up to Form 2 and a new class of Form 1 students came in. They are now a school of about 60 students.

Yesterday, during our visit, both classes merged in to one room so we could all talk together.
When we visited Gilgal in the past, the students have spent some time asking questions about Kenyan culture vs. American culture, American government, and--it always lands here--marriage, dowries, and can a woman approach a man for dating or marriage in America...

Yesterday, we did the same. They asked questions like: "Which is higher in America, the birth rate or the death rate?" "What are some of the good things President Obama has done so far? And some of the bad?" "What are the most economically-stimulating industries in America?" "Do you have to have a wedding to be considered married in America?" These students are so smart...I don't remember thinking about these things in high school.

This is Baby. Her mother, Mary, is the Principal of Gilgal. Last year, Baby would scream and run away when she saw us coming...yesterday, she shook my hand and even smiled a bit.
Bre, Jordan and I stood up-front as the students asked question after question...
See my sweet tie-dye shirt? That's for you, Maguires.
Once the questions died down, it was time to trade songs. They were slightly stubborn and would not sing for us until I sang for them...I sang two songs and they sang two songs, including "Because He Lives", which has quickly become a Gilgal classic...I should have recorded it for you.
I sang "Here I Am to Worship" during my first visit to Gilgal {last July}. They asked me to write down the words and Christine told me they sing it all the time in school now. So they asked me to sing it yesterday. I love the chorus of that song for the memories it carries {it was sung on the first weekend I attended my church in London, providing familiarity and comfort during a time of deep homesickness}

But I also love it because of the word "here".

Each time I sing the song, I try to remember all of the "here"s in my life at that moment. So yesterday, I was singing about being "here" {in the school, in Kitale, in this team, in this world, in that moment} to worship. It's so beautifully overwhelming to think about being placed, and then intentionally aware and available to worship in each of those contexts. I most recently heard worship defined, by Kyle, as "responding with all that we are, to all that God is". Seriously, what an incredible opportunity and responsibility and privilege.


Julie Hibbard said...

I dig it all!
The amazing, memory-filled song, the tales of London homesickness, the admirable and ever-growing intelligence of the students, and the little girl named 'Baby' (is her mom a dirty dancing fan?)

Oh, and that SWEET tie-dye shirt!!!

Love you!

The Maguires said...

Because of the tie-dye I feel apart of your journey. Thank you.