Perhaps Jet Lag Would Have Been Preferable

The first night Alex and I were home from Kenya, I slept for 12 hours and woke up feeling like a champion. Granted, I had a case of the sniffles that I chalked up to too much time on airplanes, but I unpacked suitcases, washed clothes, and basically spent most of Saturday patting myself on the back for re-acclimating like a boss.

“THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN WHEN I CAME HOME FROM UGANDA,” I enthusiastically proclaimed to my husband. “I’M SO GLAD THAT I SLEPT ON THE FLIGHT BACK TO CHICAGO!”

You may be picking up on the fact that I felt like I’d figured out a lot of travel-related things.

But then there was Sunday.

Because on Sunday, you see, I woke up feeling decidedly less chipper. I wasn’t tired, really, but I just felt off. We went to church and lunch, but over the course of the morning I bet I said, “I don’t think I feel so great” about 78 times. When we got home, I put on pajamas, stretched out on the guest room bed, and stayed right there for the next 12 hours.

Monday morning I started running fever and wondered how it was possible for every part of my body to hurt at the same time. This trend continued until I finally realized that Tylenol was clearly not going to cure whatever was ailing me, so I dragged myself to the doctor and found out that I had the flu.

THE FLU. IN JUNE. AS YOU WOULD EXPECT.

Long story endless, I spent the rest of the week taking my Tamiflu and laying across the aforementioned guest room bed and watching more HGTV programming than I have seen in several years. By Friday I was feeling better – I did crazy things like 1) sitting up in a chair and 2) answering emails – and by Saturday I was running actual errands in actual public places. Even still, it was probably Tuesday of this past week before I felt like a 100% version of myself, so I think it’s safe to say that the flu did a number on me.

I also think it’s safe to say that I’ll be getting a flu shot later this year.

ANYWAY, I still owe y’all Alex’s Kenya post, so be on the lookout for that. And since it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve checked in via the blog, here are a few things I want to be sure to mention.

– If you ever find yourself in Birmingham, you need to go to Slice and order yourself a Soul Pie. I am such a fan. I mean, I would never say that a pizza could change your life or anything like that, but this particular pizza could vastly improve the quality of your day. There’s no red sauce (which is such a plus as far as I’m concerned); instead there is Conecuh sausage and field peas and turnip greens and bacon and cheese – and the combo is all manner of yummy (there’s even a gluten-free crust option if you so desire). I also highly recommend the cheese plate. Amen.

– My friend (and editor) Heather posted this video on Facebook, and it is FASCINATING. My word at the creativity. I’ve listened to Ben Folds for a long time, and this confirms my suspicion that he is in fact a genius.

All in All, my devotional book for teenage girls (and college-aged girls, too), releases on August 1st, and I think it is SO. PURTY.

A post shared by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

The reason the book is called a “journaling devotional” is because there are 100 days of daily devotions – and each day’s devotion is followed by Scripture reading, a few questions for pondering / answering / responding, and a place to write out prayers and praises.

It’s all very fancy and interactive.

I promise I grinned when I typed that.

You probably won’t be surprised that this afternoon I spent a considerable amount of time thinking about what kind of pen I’d like to use if I were writing in the actual book. You’d better believe that when I get my first copy, I’m going to test out several different pen options and make a conclusive decision about which one works best on the book’s pages.

PRIORITIES, PEOPLE.

And last thing: if you’d like to take a look at the format of All in All, you can download a sample (it’s Day 10, to be specific) and PERUSE AWAY.

I am so excited about this book, y’all, so stay tuned for more news and info.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

The Nature, The Wildlife, and The Image Bearers of God

I’ve mentioned several times that Compassion always tricks you into a hike. Yesterday was no exception. Our group made our way down the hillside adjacent to the church we visited, and when we reached the lookout, there was just a smidge of a drop off.

I’ve never been more prayerful that I left all my clumsy back in Alabama.

But the view, y’all. My goodness. It was – it is – absolutely stunning. And as much as I kid about being tricked into hikes and preferring to see nature from the air conditioned comfort of my home, I really do love and enjoy God’s creation. I don’t know if you’ve seen my Instagram feed or not, but I sort of have a thing about sunsets. I lose my fool mind every spring when baby leaves sprout from the trees because I think they’re so beautiful. I stand next to pretty much any body of water and feel overcome by the goodness of God. I absolutely believe that our Creator shows us more of who He is through the world around us; like Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”

God made it. And it is good.

*****

Today our group went to a local elephant orphanage with some Compassion folks. Jamie and Patricia had sponsor children with them (I wished several times that little Joseph could have been there, but at eight months old, I think the appeal of the elephants would have been lost on him). Some Kenyan Compassion staff members joined us as well – along with Eliud, a former Compassion kid who is now in his 20s (and one fantastic daddy); Mildred, a university student (at 17!) who has been enrolled in her local church’s Compassion center since she was 10; and Jaiden, Eliud’s three year-old son who gives the word “cute” a whole new meaning.

I MEAN.

I didn’t know anything about an elephant orphanage in Kenya, so I was surprised when we arrived there and found ourselves in quite a line. Apparently the orphaned elephants garner quite a bit of interest.

This is understandable because they are in fact adorable.

There were hundreds of people lined around the elephant area (corral? pen? I do not know the appropriate elephant care terminology). The gentleman who narrates the presentation at the orphanage is actually a former Compassion child, and he did such a good job of telling us the animals’ stories and letting us know how the orphanage prepares the elephants to return to their natural habitat. He even gave us the scoop on which elephants are a little naughty. And about midway through his talk, he asked the audience to consider sponsoring one of those orphaned elephants, to invest in their care and rehabilitation.

People were all in with the elephants, y’all. At least half of them were taking pictures or filming videos, and they asked lots of questions. When our time with the elephants was over, people were standing three-deep at the adoption information bulletin board. I smiled as I walked past the crowd, because people really do have so much compassion, don’t they? We all want to care for something; plus we have an innate desire to make a difference on this earth – whether it’s for the environment or wildlife or the local church or whatever makes our heart beat a little faster.

We long to be a part of something with purpose.

God made us that way.

*****

Earlier this week Shaun, Alex, and I visited a Compassion child’s home in the Rift Valley. The boy’s mom was delighted to have visitors and quickly invited us inside.

There were about seven of us who squeezed into the home’s one bedroom; some of us were standing, some were sitting. The mom asked Shaun and me about our families, and as I explained that I have one son (the tall guy sitting beside me), a husband of 20 years, and a dog named Hazel, the Kenyans in the room immediately wanted to know if the dog lives in the house with us. When I told them that she does, they couldn’t get over it, and we all got sort of tickled, to be honest. Alex even pulled out his phone to show them her picture.

You know, the one where she was laying on the ottoman in our bedroom. Like a princess.

I certainly didn’t tell them that, you know, SHE GOES TO THE BEACH WITH US.

And I’ve thought about that conversation all week.

It’s certainly not that I’ve decided that we no longer need to care for our dog. Oh my goodness, no. We love her. We’re responsible for her. God made Hazel just like he made you and me. God created every animal, every insect, EVERY LIVING THING with intention and with purpose. In God’s economy, every creature in His kingdom is valuable. Every creature in His kingdom should be treated with care. After all, He made the world and everything in it (Acts 17:24).

However. Here’s what’s really been challenging me today.

As gorgeous as nature can be – and keep in mind that I have shed many a tear while beholding a summer sunset – I’m all too aware that we can get pretty sideways about its importance.

As wonderful as our animals can be – and keep in mind that there have been times when I have attempted to talk to one of our dogs ON THE TELEPHONE – I’m all too aware that we can worry more about the fate of, say, the Alaskan goldfinch (which I’m sure is a lovely bird – I hear wonderful things about it) (I’ve never really heard anything about it) (but yay for levity!) than we do about people.

It’s so easy to forget, but Scripture is clear about how we order our priorities:

“‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31

God first. People second.

Yes, we want to be good stewards of God’s creation. Yes, we want to take care of what He has entrusted to us – whether it’s the Rift Valley or orphaned elephants or a neurotic mutt named Hazel who really prefers her dog food with a little bit of scrambled egg on top. All of these things are wonderful – such good gifts from our Heavenly Father.

But they aren’t made in His image.

Creation deserves our care, absolutely. But image bearers deserve our honor (Romans 12:10).

So if I find myself more protective of a certain variety of tree than I am of, you know, people, it might be time for a gut check. It might be time for some perspective.

Because when people are our biggest priority second only to God, you can bet that we’ll look out for one another, y’all. We’ll step up for one another. We’ll love one another well.

“It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.” — Proverbs 14:21

“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” — Proverbs 14:31

I never, ever want to lose sight of the good gifts God has given us. I want to soak up all the sunsets and snuggle with the aforementioned neurotic dog and maybe even get to know the Alaskan goldfinch a little better.

But here’s the thing, y’all. We bear the image of God. And He deserves all the glory. I can’t think of anything that would honor Him more and honor His people more than taking care of each other. We have the privilege of being able to step up and speak up and fight for children who don’t have a say in their circumstances, children who are so precious in His sight.

You can be a part of honoring God’s image bearers by sponsoring a child through Compassion for only $38 a month and releasing that child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

God made every one of them.

And it was very good.

This Right Here Is A Real-Live Giddy Up

Okay. Before I tell you about the biggest parts of today, there are two things I need to mention.

1) Yesterday, right before we left the Rift Valley, I met a little girl.

Her name is Eunice. And I was just a little bit beside myself when I found out her name because A) I don’t think I’ve ever met a child named Eunice and B) I’ve spent a minute or nine thinking and writing and talking about Eunice (the one from the Bible) over the last couple of years.

Meeting Eunice basically helped me muster the will to get back in the truck and endure the dirt road once again. And after meeting Eunice yesterday, today I met Lois, Mary, Elizabeth, Naomi, and Ruth. So if you’ve read Giddy Up, Eunice, please join me in pondering WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

2) Today when we were touring the church we visited, Alex wandered off from our group. Here is where I found him.

He didn’t win, but he said he made a pretty good comeback towards the end of the match.

So. Anyway.

Today was amazing, y’all.

This morning our Compassion group traveled to a rural part of Nairobi. We drove about thirty minutes down a dirt road (it wasn’t nearly as bumpy as yesterday’s travel situation, so feel free to pause for a moment of praise) to visit a church that overlooks the Rift Valley. Our vans stopped right outside the church’s gates, and as soon as we hopped out, we could hear the ladies from the church singing to welcome us. Then we saw them.

They walked in our direction, grabbed our hands, and literally danced us into the sanctuary. It was the most joy-filled welcome I’ve ever experienced.

(Listen. Alex was all about it.)

The women participate in a Compassion initiative that teaches and cares for moms of young children. Because of Compassion, those moms and their kids receive regular medical screenings and nutritional supplements. They learn how to take the kale and spinach seeds that Compassion provides them and grow crops that will feed their families. They have the opportunity to receive training in several different fields – cosmetology, rug making, beading, and computer skills – so that they can learn trades that will enable them find work in their community.

Those women and their babies – all between 1 and 3 years old – gather regularly at the church, and y’all, their sense of community was palpable. They know each other, they know each other’s children, and they live real life together. In an area of Nairobi where they could easily feel isolated and alone, those women have real, genuine community.

They also have some incredibly adorable children.

And as I watched the mothers and their children today, I thought about my “mama friends” back in Birmingham. Motherhood brings so many opportunities to worry and stress and doubt and second guess, and if you add impoverished living conditions to that list of concerns, you can imagine how overwhelmed those moms must sometimes feel.

But they have each other. They’re learning together, growing together, and raising their babies together. And as someone who is *slightly* passionate about the church esteeming and investing in women – equipping them to love each other really well across generations – seeing how that local church partners with Compassion to serve those families pretty much fired me ALL THE WAY UP. I was tempted to break out my praise dance, but I didn’t want to frighten the children.

(I don’t really have a praise dance.)

(I’d be happy to learn one, though.)

Another thing I couldn’t help but notice? The women who participate in the Compassion initiative have FUN together. At one point this morning Bri and I went with the Compassion center director to visit with some of the women in their training classes, and as we were walking out of one of the classrooms, we heard women laughing hysterically several yards away. We walked in their direction and discovered that the women in the kitchen were having all manner of fun as they prepared lunch for everyone. Their babies were in the nursery area, so the mamas? The mamas LET LOOSE.

I loved them instantly.

We talked for several minutes about cooking and butter and friends and fried chicken, and their affection for each other was so evident. Their joy was contagious. Their comfort in each other’s company was flat-out encouraging. As women, we crave that kind of connection, you know? And thanks to Compassion, these women have it.

Their children’s lives will be all the better for it.

Which brings me, finally, to this.

This afternoon Alex and I visited the home of one of the moms, Ruth, and her son, Joseph. Joseph is only eight months old, so technically he isn’t eligible for sponsorship yet, but in four months, when he turns one, he will be. The Compassion workers at the church have already identified this particular family as having great need, and his mother, Ruth, is part of the community I’ve been talking about.

We were so honored to get to spend some time with them.

(I KNOW.)

Alex and I felt an instant connection with them. First of all, there’s the shared family name (my uncle Joe and Alex’s cousin, Joseph). Second of all, you can imagine that I felt some kinship with a mama named Ruth – my Giddy Up radar was strong. And third of all, we were a mama and a son visiting a mama and a son. Two women and their babies. It’s just that one of those babies is more of a man at this point.

The time, y’all. It flies.

Ruth showed us her chickens, her garden (oh my goodness at her garden – she actually sells some of her produce to neighbors), and her kitchen. She showed us how she starts a fire when she needs to boil water or cook rice or fry some ciabati bread on the griddle.

And she showed us – through her kindness, her gentleness, and her commitment to caring for her people – how deeply she loves her family. How much she hopes and dreams for her son.

At the end of our visit, we were standing in Ruth’s garden, watching her with Joseph, when Alex looked over and caught my eye. We stared at each other for a few seconds – and I knew exactly what he was thinking.

“Do you think,” I asked, “that, when Joseph turns one, maybe we should be his sponsors?”

Alex practically interrupted me to answer: “YES.”

We weren’t planning to sponsor a child today. When we got to the church this morning, we had no idea that we’d be at Ruth and Joseph’s home this afternoon. But I was in absolute agreement with Alex’s “YES.” And I’ll tell you something else: it was the sweetest thing to say good-bye and know that our families will be connected for years to come.

Lord willing, our family will be Joseph’s far-away family when he learns to sing along at church, when he starts first grade, when he learns to ride a bike, when he starts middle school and gets a little awkward and gangly, and when he goes to high school – all the while growing into the man the Lord is calling him to be.

Lord willing, Joseph’s sponsorship will encourage his mama to stay connected to the local church and to her community there.

I’m so grateful for today’s up-close look at a church that’s fiercely committed to the physical and spiritual well-being of women and children. The church’s partnership with Compassion enables them to meet the physical needs of the women in their community effectively and with great integrity. It enables them to offer mothers consistent, loving, supportive fellowship.

I am ALL ABOUT IT, y’all. And I’m convinced that many of you are, too.

Right now there are 17 unsponsored children in Kenya between the ages of 1 and 3. I’m convinced that this community – the people who read this blog – can sponsor those children and partner with Compassion to release them from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Let’s step up for those children. Let’s step for those families. Let’s step up for the church.

Giddy up.

When The Rocky Road Is More Than Worth It

It was late last night when Patricia gave us an overview of what we’d be doing today in Kenya.

“So tomorrow we’ll be riding in safari vehicles,” she said. “We have to travel down a dirt road that can be a bit bumpy, and it’s safer for us to be in the bigger vehicles in case the road washes out.”

I didn’t think too much about the details Patricia mentioned; maybe the emotions of the day had clouded my reason, or maybe I’ve just come to expect some outside-of-my-ordinary travel conditions when I’m with Compassion. So instead of thinking through what Patricia said, I kind of mentally acknowledged Safari vehicles, dirt road, check before I continued working on my blog post.

Let me tell you something: hindsight is a killer, y’all. Because knowing what I know now, MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE ASKED MORE QUESTIONS.

On top of that, maybe I shouldn’t have jumped on the very back row of the truck with Alex this morning because “Oh I’ll be so fine – I never get car sick.” Or maybe I should have heeded the warning when my knees felt a little quivery as we were riding along the edge of the road that overlooks the (stunningly beautiful) Rift Valley.

(True story: It’s a view that will make you ponder the value of some guardrails.)

I can say without hesitation, though, that I definitely should have gathered a little more info on what exactly riding on that dirt road would entail. We needed to travel it so that we could spend the day with a Maasai tribe that lives in the Rift Valley. The church in their community is also a Compassion partner, so we were super excited about getting to meet and worship with some of the families that Compassion serves. The only thing standing between us and them, really, was that dirt road that leads to their village. So after we wound around the Rift Valley overlook and turned off the highway, that dirt road officially made itself known to our group.

I will say that for the first fifteen-ish minutes, traveling down the dirt road was kind of fun in that same way amusement park rides can be. It was bumpy, and it was curvy, and the ride was super bouncy, but the kids were enjoying it, and there were lots of laughs. I was feeling pretty good about my off-road adaptability.

You may be thinking that the road looks relatively harmless, but DO NOT BE FOOLED, MY FRIENDS. There was so much bouncing – more bouncing than any woman in her 40s could be expected to handle with any degree of dignity. So around the twenty-minute mark, I tried to make my voice super cheerful when I said, “So! How much longer?”

When our driver, Maurice, responded with, “Well, we do have a good bit farther to travel,” I knew I was in trouble. Because our four-wheel drive Tilt-A-Wheel was, in my estimation, quickly losing its adventurous charm. By the 40-minute mark, I had abandoned all pretense of pleasantries and had stopped talking. By the 60-minute mark, I was holding on to the seat in front of me for what felt like dear life, and by the 80-minute mark, I was wiping tears off my cheeks and telling the Lord that I would clearly have to spend the rest of my days in the Rift Valley because there was no way I would be repeating that dirt road ride ever again. Not to mention that I had reached a whole new level of understanding about what happens to paint cans when they spend some time in the paint shaker machine at the hardware store.

Finally, though – and I’d even go so far as to say mercifully – we reached the village. And as soon as I stepped onto more solid ground, I felt so much better. Sure, my legs and arms were a little shaky, but I felt adequately removed from being the person who had been considering all the variables that might be involved while throwing up inside a moving vehicle.

And no kidding: when the Maasai people greeted us, I knew that the rocky road had been worth it. They were gracious, hospitable, beautiful…so welcoming, so warm.

And here’s what I can’t stop thinking about.

It’s no secret this past year hasn’t been my favorite. I miss my mama. I miss her presence in our family, I miss her wisdom, I miss her pound cake, I miss the sound of her voice, I miss her cornbread dressing, and more than anything, I think, I miss being known the way a mama knows her child. No matter what was going on in her children’s or grandchildren’s lives, Mama intuitively knew how to take care of us. She always seemed to know exactly what to do or say.

And I know it sounds crazy or maybe even out of context, but this morning when I stepped out of the truck, I knew way deep down that I was among family. I felt it in my bones. We’d never met, but they were my people. They even offered us hot tea and delicious, slightly sweet biscuits – the perfect thing to settle my rebellious stomach. They adorned us with their jewelry. They led us into their place of worship.

In a political climate where we hear so much about who gets in and who needs to leave and where we draw the line and where we build walls, it’s easy to lose sight of such a simple truth: we belong to each other. And today, as we left the church where we had been welcomed and loved so lavishly and unconditionally, we felt such a sense of belonging with the Maasai. We walked to a neighboring building for what my family would call “dinner on the grounds,” and it was a Sunday meal that would have made my mama smile: rice, homemade stew (with the most delicious, comforting broth), homemade bread, and cabbage. The food and the company felt like home – so much so that when one of the women from the church told everyone to please go back for seconds, Alex Hudson was one of the first people out of his chair. We were an ocean away from our physical address, but we were at home.

We were with family.

And don’t miss this.

For the most part the Maasai live in poverty. They’re people who struggle to find work and support their families, but today they shared what they had with us. And as someone who has been walking in a little bit of sadness this last year – not to mention as someone who had spent the morning reaching exciting new heights of queasy – their physical and spiritual generosity ministered to me like crazy.

Honestly, it felt like a glimpse of what heaven will be.

And I think today, for me at least, begs a few questions: if an impoverished tribe of Maasai people in the Rift Valley can offer up such sacrificial care for strangers, then what’s stopping us? Why are we so content to hold tightly to our abundance? What makes us reluctant to share? When is our “enough” actually enough?

After lunch Shaun, Alex, and I traveled a couple of miles down the road to visit the home of a six year-old boy, Tirike, who was recently sponsored through Compassion. The photo of the folks that sponsored him was ever-present in his hand; he showed it to us and passed it around to his neighbors. His mother beamed when she talked about his sponsors, people who are committed to helping and loving her son, who are empowering him to prosper and make a difference in his country.

Tirike’s sponsors are over 8,000 miles away, but they’re committed to sharing $38 with him and his family every single month so that he can go to school, he can attend the Compassion center at the church we visited, and Lord willing, he can continue to grow “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Because of Compassion’s one-to-one model, the people in that photograph won’t just be symbolic sponsors; they’ll be invested in relationship with Tirike. They may never meet in person, but they’ll be family.

In so many ways, today reminded me what a gift it is to find unexpected family in unexpected places.

I’m confident that Tirike would agree.

Be someone’s unexpected family today by sponsoring a child through Compassion. By sharing $38 a month, you can make a dramatic difference in a child’s life – and you’ll be empowering the local church in the process. Release a child from poverty in Jesus’ name.

Also, be sure to read the latest Kenya posts from Jamie, Shaun, and Bri.

The Darkness Has Not Overcome It

I’ve never sat down and tried to figure out how much time I’ve spent in classrooms over the course of my life, but between elementary school and junior high and high school and college and then, you know, teaching for approximately 472 years, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve logged some hours. In fact, I recently told a friend that I feel more at home in a classroom full of high school kids than I do almost anywhere else. The only place that tops it, really, would be the house where I get to live with my family and roam around in pajama pants and try to convince Hazel the dog that the leaves falling from the trees do not in fact intend to destroy us all.

So given all of that, it seemed fitting that today, in Nairobi, Kenya, I got to sit in a classroom with about 20 kids – all between 6 and 8 years old – and listen to the Bible lesson their teacher had prepared for them.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

“There was darkness,” the teacher said, as a hush fell over the room.

And then, for emphasis, he walked slowly over to the doorway and turned off the light.

“There was darkness!”

The kids repeated his words: “There was darkness!”

“But then what did God do?” the teacher asked.

“GOD MADE LIGHT!” the kids exclaimed.

And as the teacher’s face lit up from the kids’ enthusiastic response, he flipped the switch again.

“What did God do?”

“GOD MADE LIGHT!”

There was darkness.

And God made light.

*****

It was early this morning when our group from Compassion hopped in a couple of vans so that we could travel to the Mathare slum in Nairobi. I knew in my head that we were going to witness heartbreaking conditions – poverty on a level that most of us can’t conceive enduring or even seeing on a daily basis – so I reminded myself over and over again that we were also going to witness hope. I reminded myself that we were visiting a local church that partners with Compassion and specializes in hope. It specializes in Hope.

The church sits on the edge of the Mathare slum, an area where it’s nearly impossible to take in the scale and the scope of the overwhelming need. Just imagine standing at the top of a valley with a view that’s dominated by three square miles of shacks and mud and smoke and tin roofs and livestock and sewage and, according to some estimates, 800,000 people.

Eight. Hundred. Thousand. People.

But inside that church? Well, it’s a much different story.

In fact, it’s a radically different story.

There was darkness.

And God made light.

*****

Early this afternoon Alex, our friend Patricia, and I went with one of the church’s ministers to visit a family that lives in the Mathare slum. We started at the top of a hill and walked down a dirt roadway that was alternately muddy or littered with trash. Drainage ditches ran in front of the seemingly endless rows of shacks made of cardboard or tin or boards, and as we crossed the bridge that leads over the Mathare River, we saw women washing their clothes, pigs feasting on riverbank refuse, and children running through the alleys with their friends.

About ten minutes into our walk, we stopped in front of a doorway.

There were five or six rooms inside the doorway, and each room housed a different family. After a few feet the front entryway hit a dead end, and we were supposed to turn left to walk down the hall to the room that the family we were visiting calls home. There was no light inside the hallway, however, so as soon as we turned, we were standing in pitch black dark. I couldn’t have told you how long the hallway was, where the doors were, or how far we needed to walk. We were just a few feet from the road, but it felt like we were standing in the middle of an unexpected abyss; Alex and I both stood frozen still until the minister turned on his flashlight to show us where to go.

He led us to a room about fifteen yards down the hallway (this distance is an estimate; please keep in mind that math and I are not on friendly terms) and introduced us to a family – a mama and her three children – who live there. The mother’s husband passed away a couple of years ago, and since the housekeeping work she does isn’t always reliable in terms of providing a steady income, she moved her family to the slum so that she could live somewhere affordable. Her affection for her children was obvious; like most mamas, she absolutely beamed when she talked about her kids. They love school. Her oldest is great at math. Her youngest wants to be a doctor. And her middle child, Maryvinta, wants to be a pilot.

Maryvinta attends the Compassion center at the local church we visited. Even though she doesn’t currently have a sponsor, she was invited to attend the Compassion programs when someone in the church realized how much she and her family would benefit from Compassion’s support. So even though Maryvinta is the only child in her family who is currently participating at the Mathare center, Compassion is able to serve her whole family. They can offer Maryvinta, her mom, and her siblings preventive medical care. They can support the children in their education. The Compassion folks provide stability, they disciple, they love, they protect, and they honor the children they serve.

And today, as we sat in Maryvinta’s home – a home with no electricity – it would have been so easy to be preoccupied with the darkness. But there was no denying the power of the light.

It’s so tempting to see poverty up close and just settle for being overwhelmed. It’s easy to think the problem’s too big, or the problem’s not actually the problem, or the problem needs to be handled by somebody else.

But throughout our day – as we sat in the classroom with those young children, as we watched the kids worship, as we visited with Maryvinta’s family, and as we heard story after story of God’s faithfulness to His children through Compassion – there was no denying the Truth of the teacher’s lesson.

There was darkness.

And God made light.

Through Compassion, you can help shine a light in dark places. You can sponsor a child and bring light to the darkness for only $38 a month. I can tell you from firsthand experience that it is such a privilege. Because no matter where that child lives, no matter what they’ve experienced, your sponsorship is a promise that the way their life is now isn’t the way it always has to be. And more than anything else, you can be a constant reminder in that child’s life that the Light of the world sees them, loves them, values them, and fights for them.

You can change a child’s life by helping to release him or her from poverty in Jesus’ name.

There was darkness.

And God made light.

Don’t miss the posts by my travel buddies Bri, Jamie, and Shaun.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 76

bigboographic

On this episode we discuss my almost-here trip to Kenya, what I refer to as Melanie’s enthusiastic opposition to khaki, and recent events at the SEC Baseball Tournament.

Recent events may or may not have involved me approaching someone I believed to be a This Is Us cast member.

Basically there’s a lot of talk about sports – college baseball in particular – a lot of laughs, and a lot of theories about why I might have felt so compelled to approach the alleged celebrity.

Good times, people. We hope you enjoy.

You can click here to listen. Or here. You can even listen right here on the blog.

You can also listen on Stitcher.

Or, as always, you can subscribe on iTunes if you’re feeling particularly fancy. We’d be honored if you’d leave us a review.

And if you’re on the Facebook, well, we are, too.

Here’s where you can get more info on the stuff / products / places we mention:

Magellan zip-off outdoor pants

Skechers GoWalk slip-on shoes

Hidden Figures

The Intern

Lion

Jackie

Fantastic Beasts

– Sophie’s conversation with “Gerald McRaney”

– The real Gerald McRaney

Image: http://www.eonline.com/news/822189/this-is-us-is-about-to-make-you-cry-again-thanks-to-dr-k

NCAA Men’s Baseball Regional Bracket

NCAA Women’s College World Series Bracket

Closing Songs