We had arrived. Where were we? At a children’s home in Kenya, Africa. We were there to paint the schoolrooms and build desks for the abundance of skinny children playing in the dirt around the compound, which was surrounded with 8 Ft walls. We had come from America, the land of wealth, to bless the lowly, these poor orphans in need. We had come to bless them. I had no idea. The next week proved how wrong I was.
The next seven days we did our best mission impression, but the natives out-blessed us at every turn. In our honor they killed and cooked their best food for us, prized rare chicken meat. They also provided expensive soda in our honor. The volunteer workers and teachers at the children’s home were paid very little, they suffered a hard job, trying to parent and manage throngs of orphans coming and graduating from the orphanage. Yet they always looked after us. One woman even washed my cousin’s feet because they were dirty. Every afternoon the children would be released from class and come running to play with us ‘muzungus’ (white people). They would marvel at our white skin and thin hair. We played basketball with them or spun them around by their arms. They never stopped laughing and smiling.
In the evening we would gather inside and sing worship songs together. They would teach us African songs and we would teach them American songs. On Sunday many people gathered together to worship. Different groups got up to sing for us. They were very lively and energetic. They had our mission team get up and sing, admittedly less passionate and lively than they were. The service went on, astonishingly lasting four hours in the heat. They were not going to shortchange God!
We come to bless the Kenyans, but truly they blessed us far more. What struck me the most about them was the joy and peace they contained within their hearts, despite having very little and living a rough life. They did not go around complaining that Americans had much more than they had. They were just thankful that we came; they enjoyed our fellowship. They taught me so much. Joy does not come from possessions or even living a #blessed life. Joy comes from knowing and pursuing God. Joy comes from being thankful for the good things, not focusing on the bad things.
In a culture that has everything, Americans want more. With technology, we have never had life easier, yet we are never satisfied. We are always discontent. Our focus is often on ourselves and how others have more than we do. Whether it be money, fame, beauty, talent, privilege, etc. there is always someone with more and that’s just not fair. We could do with a bigger perspective. Let’s not forget what’s most important: loving God and loving each other. Let’s be thankful that we live in the top 3% of the wealth in the world and work to spread the blessing to others.