Warning: this is a long story! But I think it's worth your time :-). So grab some coffee... Or sweet tea (just don't tell me if its chickfila :-) )
Sometimes I have to pinch myself in moments like the one I'm going to share with you today. I ask Papa how is it I get to see these incredible stories of restoration. And he whispers back "Everyone has a chance at not only being part of people's stories but you yourself have a story of redemption in Me. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God". Sometimes for us to be in awe of God and be so overwhlemed by other's stories of redemption, we must let him purify our hearts. And then we see Him, but not always like we think we will. He makes our hearts beat with His until we are walking to the beat of His heart and His ways. It has nothing to do with us. Nothing we can do in and of ourself. We simply say yes and have a willing heart. It's all for His glory. His goodness. His testimony.
On this journey we walk, one step at a time, every beat in tune with God, you suddenly find yourself asking questions like this one: How do I get to see these incredible stories of redemption? Because then you see people's stories from His perspective. They're beautiful.
"...for they will see God"
Sometimes on this earth, the way we see God is through other peoples stories. He manifest His presence through people that are restored. This story I share is one of lives being resued, restored, healed, delivered and then this beautiful time of restoration with the family we originally rescued them from. So may you be blessed and encouraged with us too!
It has been our mission and mandate since establishing Mattaw Children's Village in 2007.
RESCUE a life
REDEEM a soul.
RELEASE the Kingdom.
He just keeps bringing it to new depths.
If you haven't yet met two of our girls, let me introduce you. They are our oldest set of twin girls, Mercy and Jennifer. Since we have many Mercy's, she goes by Ebei (pronounced: EBay), her Turkana name. Yes, these girls are originally from Turkana. When their mom passed away when they were young, the girls were separated. Jenifer went to live with an aunt who is about 10 minutes from Mattaw. The aunt was the only option for Jenifer at the time and when we met them, it was a very difficult situation that Jenifer was living in. Ebei was sent back up to Turkana to a remote village. She took care of her grandmother, cleaned house and looked after animals. When our social worker, Humphrey, introduced us to Jenifer in 2009, we found out about her twin. They started to call the relatives in the village where Ebei was, to tell them the opportunity was there for Ebei to be back with her sister and they would be able to go to school. The grandmother wasn't too trustworthy of us. Which is understandable and we were glad she cared for Ebei enough to want to know who we are. So the uncle visited and saw what a great opportunity it was. Thankful God brought justice for Ebei. Soon the girls were reunited at 8 years old in 2010 and we welcomed them into Raha (Joy) house. At the time, it was the second house to open at Mattaw Children's Village. When Ebei came to Mattaw, she told us that she was never go back to Turkana. The living conditions were harsh, especially for a 9 year old girl. Since coming into a family at Mattaw, we've seen both girls radically changed by God's love. They've been raised up in a godly family. They both have also become leaders. They're now 14 and full of life, love and pursuing talents. Jenifer loves to lead worship and Ebei loves to dance. We are so thankful for this past year of having the organization Joshua Blueprint come in and train up our teenagers in their talents such as dance, drama, singing and instruments. (That was a nice little side note of testimony)
Last year we took a group of Mattaw children and a few house parents to Turkana for our first mission trip with Mattaw Family. It was the first time we felt our older kids and house parents were well equipped to now be the missionaries. So much fire and power in this mission of raising missionaries from within this country! Ebei was at the point in her life where she was ready to go. We didn't feel this was the trip to see family yet. And we also weren't sure where their village was or if we were even welcomed to come.
This year, when talking to the kids about coming for another mission, this time being a different place and doing the M4 Kids Camp, Jenifer and Ebei were more than excited to come. One call after another and we had the invite from their family to visit. Turns out, it's about an hour and a half drive from where we now base out of in Turkana. We weren't really sure what to expect but we showed up and saw God beautifully restore the family and these girls.
This is the grandmother. We gathered in a circle under a big tree and the uncle gave introductions. They shared many stories and went through who each family member was. It was so healing for our girls. The grandmother gave a speech and had us all laughing. She's a funny lady! And no language barrier could keep us from knowing that. They were translating from the turkana language to swahili and then swahili to English. At one point, one of our Mattaw house moms that was with us suggested to me to have the girls present the grandmother with their lesso. A lesso is a piece of cloth used for MANY purposes. It can be a skirt, an apron when cleaning or cooking, it can tie up a baby on your back, it can be a blanket to sit on the ground on, you can carry stuff like firewood in it like a sack or it can cover your items you are storing in your house. I'm sure the uses are endless. Kenyans can be so resourceful, I love to learn. So I whisper to Jenifer to go grab her lesso from the vehicle. She does and the family proceeds to finish speeches. Everyone finishes and it's the girl's turn to talk last. They bring the lesso to the grandmother. The relatives are explaining to grandma that the girls are gifting her with a lesso. The girls helped grandma stand up and we all were in tears as we watched grandma cry because of the love the girls showed her.
God's heart is all about family and restoration. We could feel His tangible presence in that open desert field. The girls talked and testified of God's goodness. They shared how they've been raised in a good and loving place. How they get to go to school and want to study hard so they can come back to this village and help them. Bud and I look at each other wide eyed and almost in tears again as we were just so proud of them and their hearts. I could cry again just typing this!
We prayed for the family and shared Jesus.
Then we left and started dreaming up how we will come back next time with the projector, the Jesus film and a lot of love. Because any sort of true restoration you see on earth is just an overflow from what Jesus did on the cross. May we never forget that!
It was a heaven invading earth kind of day.