"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Moving to Kenya!!!

Yes the rumors are true! The Smith Family is really moving to Kenya!

Here's the story...

“This is a once in a lifetime experience, kids. We will never do this again so let’s enjoy every moment of it to the fullest!” These were the words we spoke to our children as we boarded a plane headed for Nairobi, Kenya in February of 2008. With plans to visit family overseas and to meet the Oasis sponsored children, we were excited to grow our perspective on the world and see what God was doing in another culture!

But that changed, as soon as we entered the beautiful Trans Mara and met the wonderful Maasai people. After being there for only a day, I remember Rick and I looking at each other and saying, “We are SO coming back here again.” And somewhere in the midst of that week God gave me an insatiable passion for the children in this community in Africa. I think about them every day. New ideas are constantly coming to mind from helping things to run more smoothly on the Hill, to improving heath/living conditions, to helping kids with specific illnesses/condition, to raising the standard of education…I could go on and on.

And so I dove in head first, joining Oasis’s medical team and leading a trip the following year. Returning from the trip in March of 2009, I felt exhilarated and excited to do more. And so in our family, I have done the ‘Oasis thing’ and Rick is very supportive of that. He does the Chapel Mundelein thing, and I am very supportive of that.

However, last fall, Rick caught a vision for Kenya. While he has always been supportive of Oasis, during the Oasis fall fundraiser, as he gave the closing challenge, he realized that there was a new passion stirring in his own heart to see these goals accomplished. And he dove in head first. With an invitation from Chris Herden and Scott Hayward, he joined the board. He also initiated the formation of the education team. Then he started talking about Oasis a lot. At this point, I was oblivious to what was going on but looking back I can see God slowly turning his heart towards what He is doing in Africa.

In the midst of this, Oasis started experiencing some challenges. Joseph had been kidnapped and his health was in question. There were frustrations with the construction projects. The water project was moving slowly. Some of the staff at the children’s home were discouraged. So Rick, Scott, Chris, and Nate planned a trip in early February to investigate and address some of these issues.

The whole Oasis situation obviously led to many discussions b/t Rick and I at home as we brainstormed how to address the issues there. One of the solutions we kept coming up with was to send someone out there for a time – we thought the Haywards or Nate would be a good option. We obviously couldn’t go because we were comfortable at the Chapel and doing exactly what God wanted us to be doing here.
At the beginning of the month of January, I was praying one morning and felt like I heard a direct word from God. I actually heard it several times over several days. This happens to me on occasion and I take these quite seriously. It was this, “At this time next year you will be living in Kenya.” Wow! That was a shock! Felt very ‘out of nowhere.’ I kept it quiet and prayed, “Okay God, IF this is what you want for our family, I know you will bring it about in Your time. Would you please let Rick know?”

About two weeks later after the kids were in bed one evening, Rick said, “Let’s read a book together.” So we did. He started reading,”The Hole in the Gospel”, to me. At the end of reading a few chapters, he turned to me and said, “We should move to Kenya.” I raised my eyebrows, got a goofy grin on my face, didn’t think he was serious, and said quickly, “Yeah, we should do that.” We ‘romanticized’ about it for a while and I let it drop. That week, I found myself in several conversations with Rick where he brought up the idea of us moving to Kenya. I was very excited thinking through this and I debated bringing up what God told me. The following week, we read a few more chapters and as he put the book down, he said, “You were kind of serious when I brought up moving to Kenya. Would you really want to move to Kenya?” I turned it back to him and said, “Well, would you?” He replied, “I actually think that if God was calling us to move there that I would.” It was then that I shared with him what God had told me about moving to Kenya a few weeks prior. We both looked at each other and said, “We better start praying.”

So, knowing that Rick was going to be traveling to Kenya less than a week later, we began praying specifically that he would have some confirmation that this was the direction we should head. Our biggest question was, ‘Would they want us to come?’ We were looking to be invited to come and not to ask to come. We also didn’t only want to be involved in managing the Children’s home but in assisting with the church in the community as well. We specifically prayed that God would ‘lead us by the hand’ in this.

That confirmation came when Rick, Scott, Chris, and Nate sat down to talk with the TMD board the following week in Kenya. The board meeting began by with Joseph taking out the original business plan written when TMD was formed. He turned to the section about ‘partnering with other organizations’ and read that ‘if TMD partners with another organization internationally, it is their requirement that that organization send out a representative to live on the Hill to be a liaison between the two organizations.’ In true Kenyan style, Joseph spent the next 15 minutes explaining in detail that they wanted someone from Oasis to move to Kenya and be a representative of Oasis on the Hill. WOW!

After Joseph spoke, Rick shared with them that God had gone before them in this and that we had already talked about bringing our family out to Kenya. They became very excited. They wanted Rick there and our family.

Towards the end of the meeting, Benson and Jackson, two of the pastors there pulled Rick aside. They told him that they not only want us to come out to help with the Children’s home but they want him to train pastors and lay people. This was all extremely confirming!

While the thought of leaving things here for a time is stressful. And the thought of uprooting our family is stressful, we feel like there is no doubt at this point that we should move forward. In fact one of our friends said, “If you don’t go you better stay away from water.”

So we are on a journey to Kenya to do whatever it is that God wants us to do there. We have a few ideas but know God has so many more. We plan to ‘ship out’ at the end of August. And we need your love and support and prayers because we can’t do this alone.


O'Malleys said...

Wow! You guys are truly inspiring. We will miss you terribly and you will be in our prayers constantly. It is a little less difficult seeing you leave knowing what a amazing mission you are on and knowing you will be back. Take care of each other and we can't wait to hear about your adventures. We love you all! The O'Malleys

Nate Walter said...

That is SO cool, Ann!! Your story reminds me a lot of ours, and we're really excited for you as you take the entire family over. We always say that moving to Spain felt like the most natural thing in the world to us, that we couldn't have imagined *not* doing it. It sounds like you feel this way as well. Please keep us updated with everything. Take care! - Faith

Abe said...

We wish you all the best and Gods blessings. Now we have another family in Kenya. God has a plan and a purpose for all of us and we are glad He has shown you your purpose. We will continue to pray and follow your postings. The Tumuti's

Jenifer said...

Please take care of yourselves, we will anxiously be awaiting the updates! Your family is an inspiration to all of us, and we wish you all of the best on your journey! God bless you all!
The Walsh Family