“Faith is a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.”
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings of peace, joy and hope to you this advent season. Thank you so much for your love, prayers and generous support which enables us to seek justice and practice mercy here in Sierra Leone.
Alan and I walked through Kroo Bay last Thursday morning. After months (maybe years) of a stoic hardened heart towards the suffering in the slum, my heart was wrenched anew. There is almost a physical tearing sensation in my chest, I feel even now, as I rawly lament the rickety leaking hovels; the children running barefoot through puddles littered with broken glass, feces, and rusty razor blades; and innocent young girls using their bodies to provide food for their families. Curious, I try to imagine what it feels like to sleep, play, and survive there, day after day. My anxious mind spins in problem-solving mode, desperate and futile.
Then Alan and Richard Rohr (a Franciscan Father we have been listening to on our iPod) gently remind me that Jesus didn’t primarily come to solve all the practical problems of the world. Rather, He started by listening in love to his Father, for his (our) identity, BELOVED, and counter-culture purpose, JUSTICE and MERCY. Shunning religiosity, Jesus came gently teaching and living a refreshing way of forgiveness, patience, generosity, righteousness, and welcome. Jesus was RESPONSE-ABLE, able and available to respond to the needs of the broken and depressed. Attentively, scandalously, He invites us to follow the example of the poor and outcast ( Mark 12:38-44, Luke 10:29-37). His way is so humble and beautiful. Jesus is my brilliant dawn in this inky suffering dark.
Please pray for Alan as he tries to find the best place to plug in and serve here. He has already been teaching science to Lighthouse youth, learning a bit of Krio language, and offering technical assistance to the WMFSL community. Please also pray for discerment as we seek to serve God together as a couple.
Most of the Lighthouse youth are doing well at the moment: stable at home, attending school regularly, and positively engaged and growing in their faith. A few, however, have returned to drugs and life on the streets. Please pray that they would know God’s love, and have the courage and strength to make right choices.
We are so grateful! Our Thursday morning Kroo Bay community prayer walks are growing. Today, there were more than 12 staff, interns and volunteers, including a British doctor, walking through the area, listening, offering encouragement, praying, and treating injury and illness. Our morning and afternoon tutoring sessions are also thriving under the leadership of our newest staff member, Ansumana Bangura. My favorite time of day is the first few minutes after lunch with the kids. We sit on the carpet, talk about our days, discuss our four pillars (respectful, responsible, trustworthy, and fun to be around), and then practice silent Centering Prayer together. It is so precious to see the little ones rest in God’s grace for a few minutes.
Thank you again for your prayers and support. If you would rather be taken off this mailing list, please let me know. I would love to hear what you are up to these days, please send me a quick email.
May the dawn-breaking hope of Jesus’ gentle, humble, pardoning presence shine in and through you, this advent and always.
P.S. Here are a few great pictures of Kroo Bay:
Here is another star in the dark for me, a story of one of our recent Lighthouse graduates serving now with Mercy Ships: