I sit amongst the boxes and bags and rubbermaids which have in their entirety the collection of the Callaghan chronicles. The story of us. I have packed, repacked, moved, transitioned often, becoming fine tuned to the process of sifting through the tokens of one’s life journey. In our world it seems to be a random collection of items. Crates which bear the dust of the Chalbi dessert still tucked into corners with offerings of a world away… Baby pictures and school prizes packed amongst crocodile heads and Samburu milk guords, porcupine quills and a few termites that we have likely imported which have made homes inside the wood of a few trinkets.
We are on the brink of another epic family move. It is epic, in it’s own way, because the place is not a place we had expected to be “sent” to: Home… if we can define a place as such anymore. Our move this time will not involve ½ a suitcase of koolaid and shreddies, 4 years worth of chocolate chips (which inevitably only last a few months) a pair of new birkenstocks and jolly ranchers. We are not moving continents or surviving the outback this time (although we do hear varied reports of our new place) .We will move away from our adventures of LandRovers and mambas, Samburu outreaches and nyama choma to embrace another path.
This past year has been met with many searching moments of where we would serve if we couldn’t return to Kenya. We tried in various ways to return seeking out assignments that would bring about a return to the land, people and work we love, to the way of life that fits and is familiar. But He has chosen to open up a different path and I am still working through the resolution of change. I embrace it with the knowledge that as Elisabeth Elliot put it, “Your ways are past finding out, Your love too high, O hold me still”. That statement sums it up. I don’t understand, I trust, but I need You to move me forward.
It is easy to hold onto things too tightly, and life in Africa, in Kenya, sharing life and Jesus with nomads through healing and helps is something I fear to let go of. It defines me, more than I would like to admit, and it is a fearful thing to let go, even if it is into the hand of a faithful God. Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open. (Corrie Ten Boom). Jonah puts in in a different way, but talks of holding on too tightly… of clinging to worthless idols that forfeit the Grace that God intends to give. And ministry put in front of God is just as much as a worthless idol as anything else. I serve where He leads, go where He goes, stay where He stays, minister to who He has for me. That is ministry of service. And for us, that means, for this Season, a new ministry.
And I don’t think my fingers need prying, but it is a vulnerable thing to stand with your hands and heart open. Open to God, open to others, open to love and loss and new adventures, open to blessing. I am learning to venture in with both feet, and I realize that the longer I journey, the more “Ok” I am to be willing to be present in the unknown, needing less to have preconceptions of what God is doing and able to rest with a better understanding of Who God is.
We are called to minister to Africans and refugees in the “diaspora region”, in our “home country”. And given our missionary resume, we are likely to feel just a little out of place, and perhaps not totally unlike the population that we serve. People that are new to Canada. Those who are struggling to fit in, to find ways, to learn to live life after unexpected transitions and changes. Those who are isolated, who fear, who remember devastation and loss, who have, perhaps, little hope, who struggle to know what it means to be who they are apart from the land and the traditions they have known.
Suess writes: Oh the place’s you’ll go… I couldn’t have imagined Canada would be the place of calling. And the East Coast,- I don’t even like seafood! I’d never would have anticipated that God would call us to work in Canada with Africans. And yet I reflect that the best things that God does are often, if not always, unexpected.
Our hearts are full, as we head into the summer. Full of excitement, full of thanksgiving, full of ideas of how we can be of blessing and help in this new work, full of sadness as we say some farewells to our friends and family in Ontario and to our Samburu brothers and sisters and missionary colleagues in Africa. We are filled with expectation and wonder about what He will do, who He will lead us to, and how we can be faithful and willing vessels, allowing for His Spirit to work in and through these humble and flawed hearts of ours.
We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
-Rom 5:2 (The Message)
We (I) will keep you posted. We will need a lot of prayer and some Divine Mercy. There is a lot up ahead. I can only anticipate what it will be like to drive with a UHAUL, towed car, 5 children, mini van (and I with highway narcolepsy) for 20 hours cross country, and of course the return month long trip to Kenya (did I mention the report of the 2 meter (yes meter) snake in our house!), the rescue mission to bring back buster (our cat) who I believe does not feel the need for rescue… and of course the sweet reunion with our Samburu friends. Stay…tuned…. the adventure…only …. beginning… again.