Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm going to be a great dad!

My friend Adam and I just watched the movie Courageous.  I definitely think that it's a movie that all dads should watch.  Right from the beginning I was hooked.  The opening scene is of a man stopping for gas.  As he turns around to pick up the window washing squeegee someone runs over and steals his truck.  This man turns around and climbs onto the window and starts fighting with the car thief.  Barely hanging on he causes the truck to swerve and finally crash into a tree.  The thief runs out and gets away.  But what happened next was incredible.  The man is thrown to the ground and crawls over to the truck.  Another car had stopped and told him to stay still and not worry about the truck.  He responds that he isn't worried about the truck as he opens the back door to check on his baby boy in the car seat.  It reminded me of the only happy memory I have of my biological father.  We were at a BBQ and swimming.  I remember going over to the pool when no one was watching and trying to jump into a round inflatable (I'll admit it - I haven't grown out of that adventure yet!).  I missed as the inflatable floated away and I sank to the bottom of the pool.  The next thing I remember is my dad jumping in the pool, fully clothed, and pulling me out.  Strangely, I remember his watch, of all things, still on his wrist and not working after.  I remember that my father saved me without concern for his belongings.

As the movie went on there were more encounters with dads (mostly all police officers) and their kids.  Another powerful moment is when two of the cops were driving while off duty.  The one dad had his daughter in the back and they were waiting for the other cop to come out of a building.  The daughter's favorite song came on the radio and she got out of the car and begged her dad to dance with her.  The dad was more concerned about what other people would think and he refused.  He told her that he was "dancing with her in his heart", but from inside the car he just watched.

There were more examples as these fathers began to really understand their roles as dads and as husbands.  As I watched more, I saw more and more how important it is for fathers to be their for their children; not just provide a roof over their heads.  Dads need to BE THERE for their kids.  Do things that their kids want to do, even if they hate it.  Earlier we watched an episode of the new show Person of Interest.  In it a character talks about how his dad walked out on him but always send him $200 a week.  One day he went and found his dad who had a new family.  The dad just gave him another $200.  The character said that he didn't want the money.  What he wanted was a dad.

My biological father was a drunk, abusive man - not a good role model.  But yet, that one memory of him can still bring me to tears because I know that on some level, at some point, he must have cared - even if it was just a little.  I have an amazing man that I now call my dad from when I was adopted.  He took me out back and taught me to throw a ball.  He taught me to ride a bike.  We went camping and took day trips together.  He came to my concerts when I was in the band in school.  My dad was present.  Since I've been coming to Kenya he has been incredible!  He's been so supportive of my decisions in every aspect.  I call my dad and start telling him current events here and he knows most of it because he's keeping on up Kenyan news.  Sometimes he knows more than I do and I've been living here for nearly 6 months now!

While I'm definitely not a father yet, nor will I be anytime in the near future, I can honestly say that I look forward to fatherhood.  I know that when I have children they will be my priority.  In that first scene two police officers were talking about how the man wouldn't let go of that steering wheel when his truck was being stolen.  The one asked the other, "there are a lot ways he could have died there.  Would you have kept holding that wheel?".  Such a thought provoking question!  Look from a different angle.  Your child;s life may not be in danger as your car is being stolen, but his heart is in danger!  Will you hold onto it so tight that you are willing to sacrifice anything for him?  What I mean is will you sacrifice your time to spend it with your son?  Will you sacrifice your pride and dance with your daughter in the park?  Will you sacrifice your income to live below your means so that you can be present with your wife and kids?  Ultimately, will you sacrifice your life to save your child's?

Up until a few years ago the thought of having my own kids scared me half to death.  I was filled with fear that I would turn out like my biological father.  But after taking the time to heal those wounds in my heart, I now know that my kids will grow up with a dad who is there.  Not just financially or physically there.  A father who is there emotionally and spiritually too.  I know that I won't be a perfect dad; I'll make my share of mistakes, but I'll be a great dad when that time comes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's next?

Two weeks from tomorrow I go back "home".  Home...not really sure where that is anymore.  I've certainly come to realize that home is not as simple as a physical location.  In two weeks this 6 month adventure comes to an end.  I had some plans worked out for when I got home; those plans fell apart.  While it's definitely a scary thought of going back to the USA without a job waiting for me, it's also very exciting.  My future is now as blank as this blog page was before I started typing.  Right now, I can go anywhere.  I can do anything.  That's what excites me.  I know without a doubt that this was the right time to come to Kenya for 6 months.  I also know that the same God that led me here for this time will continue to lead me in two weeks.

In Wild at Heart John Eldridge quotes that "the glory of God is man fully alive".  I love this!  I'm sad to say that I somewhat ignored it for a while before coming to Kenya.  I held a job that my heart wasn't really in.  I'm not trying to badmouth that company in anyway.  But it just wasn't my passion.  My biggest fear about going back to the US is finding myself in the same position:  taking a job to make ends meet and waking up three years later to realize that I'm not happy; I'm not alive in that job.

So what does this mean for the next step?  I'm not sure.  I have been offered a position with another ministry in Kenya (one that I can really get behind).  The position would allow me to really pursue my passions.  I'd be working with youth and I'd be able to do some prayer ministry with them - helping these young boys find healing from wounds of their past.

I haven't accepted that offer, but I know that it's there.  I've been job searching a bit too.  I know that something will come up.  I'm eager to see what direction appears on my blank slate!  Does that mean coming back to Kenya?  Does that mean a different country?  Does it mean a job that allows me to pursue my passions in the US?  I don't know.  But I do know that I'll be taken care of.

While this transition time is frightening because of the unknowns, it's going to be a great period of growth.  I will miss so many things about Kenya when I go back home.  I will miss so many people here.  But I'm also looking forward to seeing my family and friends in the US too.  I look forward to sharing stories.  I look forward to hearing more about how they are doing and what is going on in their lives.

So, what's next?  Good question...

Friday, February 3, 2012

It brings tears to my eyes

Just before Christmas I wrote about my friend Peter Lojore.  You can read his story here:  Peter's story

In December I didn't realize that there would be this kind of a follow up story; one that brought me to tears yesterday.

Peter spent about 10 days in the hospital.  He had broken his right leg which was casted.  Thanks to a Christmas check from a grandmother at home, I was able to pay for all of Peter's medical expenses.  As I went to find Peter a pair of crutches I met a hospital administrator that recognized me from when I brought Peter in.  Normally, a pair of crutches would have cost about 5000 Shillings with at the exchange rate then would have been about $50.  This admin offered me a pair that was in great shape and used once for 1000 shillings (about $10).  Peter left the hospital that day with a cast on his leg, fed and with a pairs of crutches. Unfortunately, because of his injuries Peter was unable to go back to his job and has been forced to beg for money and/or food in the streets.  The more I talked to Peter over the past couple of weeks the more it became clear that Peter really wants to work and get off of the street.  Here's where it gets good!

On Wednesday of this week I sat down with my friend Daniel Juma.  Juma runs a children's home just a few minutes away from here.  He specializes in working with street boys.  In fact, many years ago Peter actually lived in Juma's home.  There were some issues with the missionary sponsoring Peter at the time and eventually, Peter went to live with a local pastor.  The pastor ended up not taking care of Peter and that's when he took to the streets not knowing where else to go.  I talked to Juma about taking Peter in if I could find him a sponsor.  The organization that I am partnering with in Kitale, Transformed International, agreed to handle the sponsorship funds that came in for Peter.  Juma was very excited about the idea but asked me to first talk to Peter and make sure he would be willing.

Yesterday I met with Peter in the afternoon and asked if there was a family he would want to live with.  He mentioned Juma and that he would like to go back there.  When I told him that I would make that happen for him his smile was so bright!  He was so happy that he was forcing back tears.  I left town that day in tears with how happy I was that this was becoming a reality.  All I was left with was the task of finding a sponsor.

After putting something up on Facebook, I am pleased to say that Peter's sponsorship is now set!  Soon, Peter will can move into Juma's home - a 5 acre farm.  There, Peter will have a job of helping regulate the water supply to a greenhouse that Juma is building, something that he can do while sitting down and finally resting his broken leg.  As his leg heals, Juma said he will give Peter a section of the farm to grown a crop to sell and begin to support himself.  During the first month Peter will be given a bed, a mattress and a blanket.  More importantly, Peter is being given a chance to LIVE.  He is being given a family that will love him and care for him.  A family that will not judge him for being a street boy.  He's being given the life he was meant to have back.  Three days ago Peter was a 23 year old street boy with a very bleak future ahead of him.  Today, Peter has hope of a bright and happy future.

I think of the life that Peter will now have and it brings tears of great joy to my eyes.