Thursday, January 27, 2011

The value of a dime

For a while, I wore this dime as a necklace.  But the leather kept tearing every few months, so it now hangs from my rearview mirror.  Nearly everyone who sits in my car asks about it.  One told me that I should write a blog about it.  So, Frank (calling you out!), here it is.

During my first trip to Kenya I met a man named Daniel Juma.  His home is about a 10-15 minute walk away from the compound that we were staying on.  One afternoon we walked to his home to spend some time with his family.  At that time it was Juma, his wife, 7 kids and about 17 orphaned children.  During this trip there were 9 women and 2 men, including myself.  The women were to be spending a significant amount of time working with the Neema Project.  As men, we weren't really sure what we would be doing during those times.  When Seth, the other guy on the team, saw the ceiling in Juma's home, he realized that it would be pretty easy to fix it up a bit.  So, that's what we decided to do.  Fix the ceiling.  What we ended up doing was tearing out the tiles, ripping out a bit of rotten wood and then replacing it all.  Because of some of the wood that had to be ripped out, the ceiling tiles didn't have something to be nailed into as much as they should have.  The result was that in a few places the tiles drooped down.  Things ended up taking a little longer than we expected (the joys of doing home repair in Kenya).  Not everything looked perfect either.  Every time Seth or I would apologize for something Juma kept telling us that "it's okay.  We'll worry about it another time".  On our last night in Kitale, Juma walked to our compound, which due to some early childhood sicknesses is more difficult that for most of us.  He came by just to thank us one more time and to say goodbye before we left Kenya.  Before he left, he handed me this dime and told me to hang onto it to remember him by.  And I haven't forgotten about that since.

I learned a few things from Juma.  When I saw the look on his face, and his childrens' faces when they saw the new ceiling they were overcome with joy.  It was far from perfect, yet he chose to see the beauty in a new ceiling over the flaws.  I read an interesting test some time ago:  Take a blank piece of white paper.  Ask yourself what you see.  The obvious answer is a white sheet of paper.  But next, draw a small, black dot somewhere on that paper.  Now what do you see?  Most will see the black dot.  Few will chose to focus more on the white piece of paper.  So often we, myself as well, tend to focus on the small, black dots in life and let them keep us down.  Really, I know that I need to focus more on the larger picture.  To remember the blessings that I have.  I love that as you read through the Book of Psalms, so much of it is reflecting back on the goodness of God.  The psalmists didn't forget about the bad times, but they chose to reflect on the provision of God instead.  How much happier would we be in life if we could do the same?

That's all for now.      

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