Today, I will board the first in a series of flights back to California. (I have always hesitated saying "back home" when I leave Kenya for California because, for years, Kitale has felt equally as much like home.)
From the beginning, my plan has been to return to California to celebrate Christmas with my family and assess the previous five months. As the deadline for ticket-purchasing approached, it became clear that, once again, I would be buying a one-way ticket.
If you've been reading this blog, you know that this has been one of the most incredible periods of my life: to have been given the opportunity to live a life filled with stories of generosity...my goodness, that was such a gift to my heart! I am so excited to tell these stories--and others--during the holiday season and see, in the future, how God continues to use the small start-ups to change the lives of these families.
At the same time, this has been one of the clunkiest, loneliest years of my life. I have wrestled through how to share that part of the story here and since I could not find the words to adequately express both gratitude and sorrow--and because I absolutely did not want to overshadow or undermine the stories of life-change in any way--I chose not to. It was strange to feel all of this while also feeling incredibly confident that Kitale is--or was--exactly where I was supposed to be.
In His goodness, amidst all of this, God has been reminding me of so many things that make me who I am. Things that have taken a backseat in this season. Things that I am anxious to reintroduce in to my routine: cooking, baking, singing at the top of my lungs, being part of the lives of high school students, helping people more deeply understand the goodness of our God and creating space for them to respond to Him, deep and thoughtful conversations, space for painting/sewing/creating, hosting dinner parties and sleepovers, designing a home that is an expression of myself and also a space of comfort for guests...
And so, this evening, I am moving back to Orange County. My hope is to find a way to visit Kitale two or three times each year--maybe even bring teams!--to continue the fight against human trafficking through education (women's events) and prevention (beginning more small businesses in partnership with Elevation Center Church, Precious Kids Center, and other organizations I love in and around this town.) Also, I have picked-up quite a bit of Swahili...I'm hoping to expand upon it from CA so I can impress people when I return.
A LOT of tears have been shed over this decision. It took awhile to come to terms with the truth that I don't need to be here full-time to accomplish what God has invited me to do; to admit, but not give-in to, my fears of appearing like a can't-hack-it-failure; my confusion over what I thought was to be a long-term plan being cut-short; and my sadness over leaving so many of the people I have grown accustomed to having as part of my daily life.
Two Bible verses have profoundly spoken to my heart during this process and will continue to remind me of this season and the promise of what's to come:
As I prayed through what was next: This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ Jeremiah 6:16
As I worried about how to explain the change to people: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15
I'll end with a song lyric that has been ringing in my head over the last few months...and never fails to bring tears to my eyes as I think about one more end and new beginning...
"Life without revision would silence our souls."