The following comes from a friend, Ann Fackler, who with her husband, Mark, often visits Nairobi, Kenya, for various aspects of mission work. I wanted to pass on her story for your Easter reflection.
“I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes. I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27
Some days here are just plain difficult because of what you either see or hear. A good friend from Bible study called this week with financial needs for her daughter heading to the States for university study. A mature single friend humbly approached me for help with school fees for her epileptic son who took three medications every day. Her salary as a “casual” made it impossible. Another missionary friend shared concerns about “being at the breaking point.”
Passages of Scripture about God’s eventual justice in this inequitable world of ours hold a special place in my heart living here. I hang on them reassuring myself that one day ” he will stand upon the earth.” Those who now live in squalor and hunger will one day walk the streets of gold with stomachs that don’t ache. My heart ” yearns within me” for that day–for them.
This afternoon our “hawker friends” (street vendors) of ten years asked Mark and me both to come to the market as they had something special to give us. “Be sure to bring your camera,” Chege pleaded. As we walked down the busy street in front of Daystar University, we passed the mama sitting next to the sidewalk with her two small children–dirty, torn clothes and the familiar extended hand with the cup. I never look at their faces–it’s too hard. I just walk by pushing the emotions in my heart down deep. Half way to Hurlingham we run into “the old man” Mark has often seen over the years. Stopping to talk he tells us, “Truly I am hungry today.” He’s always hungry. We have “important business” to do in Hurlingham, “but we’ll be back.” Mark echoes. We both knew he would be waiting no matter how long it took us. When you’re hungry, you will wait a long time.
As we reached the plaza, our friends came from various corners of the mall with their bags of assorted fruits, leather belts, suit coats, and car accessories. Standing under the overhang out of the sun, Mark and I waited for “something to happen.” Finally, the spokesman moved into the crowd with these words: “We just wanted to give you two a little something for Easter since you’ve been so nice to us over the years.” From behind his back, Chege extended toward Mark and me a large wicker basket full of assorted fruits wrapped crudely with Saran. Stunned, we accepted and thanked them for the gift then posed for pictures of course. All I could think of was what a loving gesture this was. Each contributed several of their fruit items for the day in order to make this large basket.
On our way back, there wasn’t a single person (in car or passing us on the sidewalk) who didn’t look at our basket, but we’re used to being stared at–but maybe not this much. Obviously not many people have huge fruit baskets here. At the petrol station sat the old man waiting. “I think we ought to share some fruit with him,” I said. Mark already had this in mind. Breaking into the plastic wrap, Mark hauled out several pieces of fruit and set them in the man’s hands. On we walked until we approached the woman with her two children. By now we had the same idea. This time I looked into her eyes seeing a very tired and weary person. A smile appeared as we passed out a banana to each child and an orange to her.
Rounding the corner of our flat, I heard Duncan watering the flowers in our garden. “Let’s give him some fruit too,” I said reaching into the basket. Handing him several passion fruits, I said, “Happy Easter Duncan. It’s the day of Hope.” Smiling, he accepted the gift. As I looked back over my shoulder as I entered our apartment, Duncan had not wasted any time getting into his fruit, but was enjoying the sweetness immediately.
I was thankful I had worn my sunglasses for this trip as it hid the emotion I was feeling. Now back home and cutting off the Saran, the tears started to flow. “Those who have nothing–giving to those who have everything,” I said to Mark. “Something is wrong with this picture.” Putting his arms around me he said, “You can’t always be the one giving. You have to learn how to receive too.”
I knew he was right. The hawkers truly enjoyed blessing us with their gift of love and we needed to let them do it–like so many others who do the same. Unlike any others, I knew this was one Easter basket I would never forget.
Thanks, Ann Fackler, and may God bless you, your ministry, and all the people mentioned in your story.