Sunday, November 9, 2008


Last Thursday I had the pleasure of speaking at Calvin College about an internship I did with Engineering Ministries International (eMi) the summer after I graduated college. eMi is a missions organization set up to mobilize architecture and engineering professionals to use their skills for design projects in developing countries. When I discovered this organization I was thrilled because it really combines my heart for the poor and my education. I've always felt very blessed to live the life I live and to have the opportunity to receive an excellent education. Out of gratitude, I really feel pulled to share those blessings to others.

My internship was in Colorado Springs for most of the summer with a 2 week trip to Kenya to assist in the design of a girls' secondary school. When I usually think of my time with eMi I remember all of the fun times I had in Colorado with all of the other interns. However, while reflecting on my whole internship in preparation for my presentation, I was really reminded of how life changing my trip to Kenya was.

The school was to be part of a ministry that was established to take care of orphans and widows. They even had a group of widows from the community who were their local "prayer warriors". They'd pray day and night for all kinds of things. We got a late start on our travels from Niarobi to the village where our ministry was located and didn't arrive until well after dark. However, several hundred feet outside the compound we were greeted with what had to be every member of the church and all of their family. There were so many that our van stopped and we eventually got out and walked with them into the village as they sang praising God for our safe arrival. That evening we were each paired with one of the orphans who sacrificed their bed for us to sleep in, waited for us to get up each morning so they could sweep the bedroom and make the our beds- they even washed our dirty laundry. Daily.

Lillian, the orphan who took care of me

While I can't say I was always thrilled to see my underwear hanging on the fence post, it was completely mind boggling and at times made me feel uncomfortable. Not just because of the underwear situation. I had come to serve them and bless them and they were serving me even more. The Sunday after we arrived we attended the church service on the compound. The service was several hours long and a large portion of it was spent just praising God. One of the most moving parts is when the pastor read a list of items that were donated to accomodate us. It seems to go on and on with items like goats, eggs, pop, produce, money, and sugar. Lots of sugar. And then after he finished, as if they hadn't given enough already, he took a final offering where a couple dozen more people came and donated money or food for us. I think the most moving part was when a woman who I can only assume was one of the praying widows came up to the front of the line and from a piece of fabric gave one egg.

One of the widows during the offering

It was truly beautiful. It reminded me in the Gospels where a window gave two copper pennys and Jesus had noted that she had given more than anyone else because she had given all that she had. These stories are still amazing and moving to me because they helped me realize that having a lot of money or material possessions doesn't make you "rich". Seeing this community serve us made me reconsider that what made you rich was the depth of your heart and your williness to serve and love those around you. A spiritual richness that I had never seen before shined throughout our week there.

In addition to being able to speak about a great time in my life, I also had a lot of down time in the car during the 2+ hour drive each way. This was a great time to work on this long forgotten quilt. Way back when I first started quilting I decided to take up hand quilting. Since then I have discovered the joys of instant gratification from machine quilting. Unfortuantely for this quilt it means the quilting is quite neglected. Fortunately, I have another big road trip coming up. For Thanksgiving when Shawn and I make the 6.5 hour drive to the UP to spend it with his parents.

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