Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Somali marketplace in the Kakuma, Kenya refugee camp

While visiting San Antonio for a couple of speaking engagements, I had the privilege of spending part of a day with Larry and Terry Singletary and their family. It was a blessing to visit with them. We spent time at several places. They took me to the Alamo, to the Riverwalk, and to a popular restaurant downtown where we sat outside under a portico.

While I enjoyed their company and getting to know them better, what had the deepest impact on me, was going with them later that afternoon to minister the needs of the nations.

As I stated yesterday, I visited with Iraqi's, Bhutanese people, and Somali's.

When we knocked on the door of the Somali household, it looked like every other apartment door. One could not tell what nation they might be entering until the door opened, to reveal the heart and beauty of each land.

Behind this door, on this day, were walls adorned with materials from their homeland, Somalia.

No walls could be seen. This mother had taken material from her country and covered every square inch of wall space. Some were brightly colored, others a bit more muted. All served to transport you to a new land.

Children ran everywhere. The apartment was small. There was no furniture in the living area, save a small love seat over in the corner. The floor was covered with the same rugs I had seen in Kakuma while visiting the Somali people there.

This mother, who wore an ear to ear grin, had made this tiny apartment, home to her seven children. They ranged in age from a few months to around 14 years old. She insisted that Larry and Terry sit on the loveseat. She disappeared for a moment and then returned with a chair from the other room, for me to sit in.

Her children circled me with laughter. I felt as though I was in the vortex of their joy. I sat and quickly had my lap filled with little ones. Three of them discovered the light on my watch and were occupied for many minutes, illuminating the face over and over again.

I asked each their name, and the response I was given every time was a name I could not repeat without practice. The newest born was only a few months old and had been named "Larry" because of the affection this mother has for this precious couple who tends to her needs.

Her needs are significant. Her husband has another wife. He moved here with both of them, and lives several apartments away with the other...she has a smaller family.

Seven children in a small apartment can be chaotic. Two small tv's were playing simultaneously, situated, side by side on different channels. A third was off, but not usually, I'm told. Many children, and many interests only increases distraction.

I cannot begin to tell you how precious and trusting these little ones were. They wanted to know my name, to touch the contours of my head, to look at my watch, and all at the same time. I was thrilled to have them love on me so.

My skin was the wrong color, my nationality from the wrong side of the pond, my belief in Christ, still foreign to them, but they loved on me...and they didn't even know me. I received unconditional love from my new friends, and I gave it in return.

My heart began to break for their dire circumstances. The husband only comes around when he has a little money for his family. She has no other source of income. She has too many young children to be able to work. My friends did not know how she was able to survive.

Her concern at this moment, was a dirty floor and an unexpected visit. She and her oldest daughter, swept the food and other debris out of the way, while her younger ones romped with glee at visitors.

The energy level of the little ones could have generated light in the darkness of that room. No lights were on and even the sliding glass door was hidden behind African jute.

The Singletary's are very open with their faith with this Muslim family.

The oldest son arrived home from school, and it caused an eruption from his siblings. Waves of motion rushed his direction.

Larry went over to him and explained the English test/class to be offered the next morning, and encouraged him to get his family there for assistance.

As we arose to leave, the tops of our heads were once again tickled by creations of this mother which hung down throughout. Balls of material and fringe displayed color and made the room brighter without natural light.

These children are the ones Christ compels the disciples to allow to come to Him. He is not put off by their origin, their skin color or their social status. He loves them because that is who He is. It is who He desires that we be.

In the midst of all we seek to do, that we would reach out to these and meet needs, would create a platform and a relationship from which Truth can be spoken...or we can retreat behind busy lives and blaring televisions, being confident of our own security in His Kingdom and deciding that it is enough...someone else will take care of them...or not.



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