The floor was immaculate by comparison, and lined with a thick patterned plastic design, similar to wallpaper or drawer liner. Blue flowers dotted the ground, and met lace fabric that covered the stack of belongings in the corner. In front of me, a waist high cabinet held pots, pans and other items necessary for daily work and life.
A glimpse of color on the right directed our attention to an image they thought worthy enough to be posted on the wall. A mansion, a computer created image of a home resembling one in Beverly Hills, shone brightly. It was clearly placed in order that the inspirational messages it declared would be read every time one left the house.
A juxtaposition of sorts, in this room of a house, 6 feet deep, and 9 feet wide, rented for 2000 shillings a month.
A single bulb hung on the ceiling. It’s illegal nature was revealed by wires hung vicariously nearby. This too, she pays for.
She is not home as we visit. Out looking for work, the first born was left to take care of the younger two. The older two are beautiful girls with soft round faces, sweet almond shaped eyes, and dark skin framed by close shaven hair. Fifth grade, First grade, and a newborn, have all come in to welcome us. Mom is out looking for work amongst nearby communities. Mom, who had complications after the birth of this newborn. They are sweet words they speak as we ask what we can pray for. Mom’s healing, and a job. Thie woman we are praying for is clearly not idle. She provides for her kids, and works hard. She does not need hand-outs to taint her dignity. Her kids speak volumes of respect and value with their demeanor and tone.
I know Faith. We see each other often at the Pangani center. She doesn’t know what I do, and I didn’t know her very well. But now, I’ve been to her home. I have visited Faith.
After school she runs up to me in the midst of a flurry of kids anxious to get back on the bus to go to the boarding school. “Hi Justine,” she says, and greets me with a smile, covering the width of her face. “Hi Faith,” I respond, shaking her hand, and touching her shoulder. “You are starting school today?” I ask. “Yes,” she replies.
Walking to the car, phone in hand, I continue working, caught up in the things that need to be done before the end of the day. Inevitably, one is forgotten until the middle of dinner, as I grab my phone.
She called me out to say Hi, and I returned the greeting. I remember how I heard my name as I walked through the community earlier today. After two years of living here, I have heard my name from kids whom I cannot remember. They call out, and I feel welcomed.
Once at home, dinner preparations begin. It is eventually followed by the much welcomed new routine of sitting down with my husband on our fold out chairs to dinner.
Here, it catches up to me. Remembering the events of the day. The week. Reflecting, and allowing the every day events to process. They are simply memories, and do not carry a voice of their own. But in the midst of them, a voice settles my heart telling me to listen.
“Listen to what?” I wonder.
“Listen to who?”
There is a voice that has called me every morning, when I fight sleep and often lose. There is a voice that feels real when walking into homes small and dark. There is a voice that feels far when things are the same, and calls me to listen for something new.
New is not glamorous, I have learned. New no longer consists of a different schedule, different things to think about, different tasks or assignments. New, is what the Spirit of God is doing in this community. New is what I am being called to every day. New is what I forget, and what I long for. I don’t always see it, and tonight preach to myself.
He is making all things new.