Thursday, August 16, 2012

The adventure continues

I got back from Kenya just over 6 months ago now.  What a crazy 6 months it has been!  It's been almost exactly one year since I set off on my last Kenyan adventure.  So much has changed in the past year.  Relationships have changed.  Some for the best, others, not as much.  I've changed.  I feel different now than one year ago.  I've learned to trust even deeper in God's provision.  Since being home, I have been given rent free housing.  I got a part time job with the company I used to work for.  With it came the advantage of a free car.  I've had some awesome opportunities to speak about Kenya to some wonderful people.  I feel so much more alive.  St. Irenaues said that "The glory of God is man fully alive".  When I made the decision to leave my last job and chase my dream in Kenya, I've come far more alive than ever before.  It's as if I woke up one day and realized that I was killing myself going to work.  Nothing against that company, but it wasn't my passion anymore.  My passions were calling me elsewhere.

First coming back to the US was hard.  Jet lag aside, everything just felt... off.  I longed (and still do) to be back in Kenya.  Again, God was good.  I think that men especially long for a sense of purpose (maybe I'm the only one, but I don't think so?).  I found purpose in Kenya.  Sitting on the streets with kids that are typically ignored.  Playing games with those kids.  Standing up for them when no one else would.  I had purpose.  Being back in the US has shown me purpose here too.  I've continued to grow since being home.  I've had some great opportunities to meet, pray with and encourage people here in the US.  I remember the first time that someone stopped to write down what I said because it meant something to them.  I was blown away!  Not because I'm some great speaker or that I am full of wisdom.  I was blown away because it was awesome how God was still using me!    

Stil, I long for Kenya.  With every blog post of friends in Kenya, every picture uploaded, every message back and forth, my heart longs to be back home.  Right now I am looking at mid September for plane tickets back to Kenya.  The whole process over the last 6 months has been wild.  As I've been meeting with people and raising support, I've learned to truly depend on God to provide.  And that provision has come in amazing ways!  I remember looking at my numbers for monthly support as well as one time needs and thinking that I don't know how this is going to happen.  Not too long ago I was looking at my budget sheet and entering in different donations that came in.  My friend Kevin held a fundraiser for me the other weekend.  Over 1200 dollars was raised that night!  That was added to other one time gifts and I realized that all of the one-time needs were met and exceeded! 

Monthly support is also going well.  I need to have 1500 dollars a month raised before I buy my ticket.  As of right now, I am down to the last couple of hundred dollars left to raise!  Again, a number that used to frighten me as I wondered if it was ever going to happen has suddenly become much smaller and more attainable.  

So, as summer now comes to an end, it appears that so does my time in the US for a little while.  It's very bittersweet.  I hate goodbyes.  I'm a relational person and I so dearly miss my friends and my family when I am away.  Being away for Christmas last year was so difficult.  It was the first time that I can remember that I wasn't excited for Christmas.  But I thank God because technology has made staying in touch easier than ever before.  There's a joy that comes from being where I know I belong.  As hard as it is to leave so many people here, I have a deep joy for the work I am privileged to do in Kenya and I am very excited to go back and continue!  I can't wait to start working with In Step Foundation (http://www.rehemainstep.com).  The kids at In Step show how much hope there is in Kenya.  And I look forward to seeing how that is played out in their lives.  I look forward to seeing their lives transformed.  I look forward to watching as their deepest wounds begin to become their testimony of grace and God's sovereignty.    

If you are interested in learning more, I'd love to set up a time to meet with you.  Please email me at RayDSmith84@gmail.com and we'll set up a time to share.  Hopefully at a Starbucks because I've fallen in love with those Very Berry Hibiscus refreshers!  :) 

-Ray