It's hard to believe I have been gone for almost a month now. The time has been passing extremely fast, and we haven't even had our first team come in yet. Allen made it safely, and it is good to have a familiar face around. He also brought along with him some baseball gloves, so it has been really nice to be able to enjoy America's favorite past time in the evenings now. We moved into our apartment today and spent the majority of the day cleaning it up. It looks a hundred times better than it did before we moved in, but it did require an abnormal amount of elbow grease. At one point we were still trying to get the smell out of the kitchen only to come to the realization the smell was coming from us!! I am relieved to finally be in our permanent place of residence, but am going to miss the fellowship I have been able to share with Alfred and Jon in the past weeks. Those are times I will cherish forever and an open invitation was offered to both to come and hang out with us at anytime.
This Easter was a different one for me as you can imagine. I was in a foreign country without my family and was with only one of my closest friends. You think something would be wrong with this picture, but it was the first time in my life I was able to fully appreciate the power of the resurrection and what Easter means to the Christian faith. I started to really think about my own faith and what this day means for me and my own salvation. I find it kind of funny how the "Christmas story" is only mentioned in two of the gospels while the resurrection is mentioned in all four and yet it seems we still celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle holiday for the Christian faith. This theology seems a little backwards to me, not that Jesus' birth and being born of a virgin aren't worthy to give God praise and all of our worship, but it was the resurrection that was the birth of my own salvation. That is what I am most thankful for and why this Easter meant more to me than any other I have celebrated. This Easter was the first time I celebrated for the right reason, and with a heart full of thankfulness for the cross and awe for the power my God has to bring the dead to life! He is risen!
The past few visits to the Mercy Home have been heartbreaking and humbling once again. Two Saturdays ago I started to get a little frustrated that Mercy would not call me by my name. I got David to come translate for me as I talked to her to get this situation figured out. He asked me what was wrong and I told him I just wanted her to call me by my name and not just "muzungu." He said it was typical for all children here to never call someone who is older than them by their first name because that would come across as disrespectful. I told David that since she wouldn't call me by my first name to find out what she wanted to call me. I heard the word come out of her mouth but had to double check with David to see if I had heard correctly. She had asked if she could call me Dad! If there was ever a moment in my life where I was left speechless, this was it. I had not the slightest clue what to say to this request. I am very thankful for the time I get to spend with Mercy. Each day at the Mercy Home is a new adventure and a new story is brought to life. As much as I have grown to truly love Mercy I couldn't let her call me dad. So for now I am Ancle (Uncle) Jay. It gave me great joy this past Saturday listening to Mercy call out Ancle Jay over and over again as she held my hand and guided me around the complex. I also have decided to become Mercy's official sponsor. I want to make sure she makes it all the way through school and has every opportunity to make something of her life. I've never had the appreciation for child sponsorship programs like I do now, and have even become very thankful for all of you who already do sponsor a child somewhere in the world. I believe it is a necessity and I am fortunate enough to be able to see the impact these sponsorships have on children. I thank you for your faithfulness and willingness to give to help save a life!
With the addition of Allen to the team I am pleased to announce that we are now able to feed the kids every Wednesday and Saturday. This still may not seem like much, but when we told them the news the expression of joy on their faces was enough to know that YOU are making a difference. It's in places like this where the Gospel is being brought to life. There's no talk of the hot theological debates that have Christians everywhere ranting and raging, only the promise of a Savior who came and died for all so we could live a life of freedom to serve one another in love.
"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15