An Unexpected Lifeline Amidst Loneliness

On this particular day, it felt like we parachuted out of an airplane at 10,000 feet into the village where we lived. Foreign. Newlywed. Living in someone else’s hut until ours was built.

This was a moment of dark loneliness, yet my husband Matt and I peacefully knew we were right where we needed to be. It’s a conundrum of the soul that can’t be explained.

We’d arrived in a Kenyan village outside of Eldoret seven months prior and only a few months after our wedding, integrating our lives into the culture, the language, the people, and the beauty surrounding us. September 11, 2001 had hit and the war in Afghanistan began. Cries from the States for us to come home were prevalent, but we knew we were supposed to stay.

We lived on a compound with our Kenyan family, Samuel and Rhoda, who mentored us and welcomed us into their dining room for every single meal. Without electricity and running water, life was simple. No emails. No phone. No lights after dark except maybe a lantern if there was kerosene. Every sunset was noticed. Every sunrise was welcomed. Every hand shook of those passing by on the red dirt road. There was always time for chai.

Yet, there were times of missing: missing familiar, missing family and friendships, missing food, missing moments.

And here I sat, feeling a heaviness of heart.

Samuel arrived home from town that day and knocked on our door carrying a medium-sized box from the States. The weight of the package surprised us and sank in our arms. We saw the return address label and read the names. It felt like gold to our hearts, and we had yet to even open it. We needed a lifeline of encouragement, and we were holding our answered prayer.

We peeled the layers of tape off the creases and ripped the box open to find the most glorious, incredible sight: a 12-pack of Dr. Pepper and a 150-count tub of multi-colored sour belt candies. We laughed at the sight, more out of disbelief and joy than the situation being funny. It felt like manna from the sky.

“Wait a minute?” Matt said to me. “How much did it cost to ship this?”

We scrambled to find the postage and our jaws dropped as we humbly read $65.

The postage far exceeded the value of the package’s ingredients, yet it was clear to the giver none of that mattered. The giver thought not about himself, but of the sheer joy of the recipient’s response.

That simple box of two items sustained our tired days as we taught and served. It reminded me that honesty with Jesus when we’re downcast matters, and that he hears our prayers. I just never thought answered prayer would come in the form of soda and candy. It was a beautiful moment where I felt held in the grace-filled hands of Jesus, thankful for those in our lives who selflessly give as vessels of the Lord.

And it was a gentle reminder of this truth: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23 NIV).

It makes me think…when have you received a lifeline of encouragement in a way you never expected?  Is there a situation – or a someone – in your life where you can be that vessel from the Lord?


  1. Amy Flores November 8, 2017

    I loved your post and could relate. For me, it came in the form of a large package of red Twizzlers and a trilogy from my favorite author when I was serving in Honduras and missing home.

    1. Anika Ortiz November 8, 2017

      Oh, I love that! The simple things can speak so deeply to our longing hearts!

  2. Spring November 8, 2017

    What a simple thing a package packed with love. Soda and candy. What a profound impact. I also think of cost when it comes to Jesus. It is not trite the cost he paid for us, he looked at us and paid it, so humbling. Thank you for the reminder that we are held

    1. Anika Ortiz November 8, 2017

      That is so true! Jesus paid the ultimate cost for us. Everything else shifts into perspective when we’re humbled by that reality.

  3. Katie November 9, 2017

    A huge encouragement came out way when we were in grad school and we’re unable to pay for tickets to return home for the summer to visit our family. Former students of ours whose wedding we had just attended and who had returned to the field surprisingly sent us a check, money tithed from their wedding gifts(!!!) that would cover airplane tickets for our family of four to make the cross-country trip to visit our families that summer. Talk about humbling and encouraging!

    1. Anika Ortiz November 9, 2017

      I love this! What a beautiful picture of community and the love they had for you!

    2. Nicole November 10, 2017

      That’s amazing! That encourages me too! In June I was missing an event that I had never missed before in my life and it was so important to me. But I didn’t have the money to return home from Kenya. God worked it out that someone needed me to travel with them and someone else paid for my ticket home. I was so humbled and will never forget that. Thank the Lord for looking out for us, and may He bless those that are so generous!

  4. Nicole November 10, 2017

    Wow! This is so true! And ironic, I live in a village right outside of Eldoret too. I immediately felt connected to what you were saying 🙂
    And I have had those moments when a gift from home encouraged me for a long time. My mom has sent me packages. Who thought I would be so excited to get measuring cups or a bar of dark chocolate.

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