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?