Today I was able to see God in three forms - Nature, A Priest, and Worship.
We were able to learn about and see 8 young orphaned elephants, an animal that is very smart and is actually a pretty playful animal. God was made real through the elephant. We were also able to go to a giraffe house where we got to pet, feed, and even kiss (a little wierd I know) a giraffe. This is an amazing animal, possibly one of my personal favorites (and one that God put a lot of thought and detail into). The ones we interacted with were one of three types in Kenya and were distinguished by their white stockings- not having patches or color below their knees. It was also funny that two of them (with whom I got my picture with) were named Betty and Laura. Again, an amazing animal, and one in which God was made real through. Finally, we went to a colonial style home (Karen Blixen home - author of Out of Africa) and there saw one of the most amazing flowers I have ever seen. It had three different flowers in one and looked like a boquet of flowers that God beautifully placed together. God was made real through these flowers.
The second way I saw God today was through the priest who started Shalom House, a man originally from Italy of great faith and Godly character, having been in Africa for the last 30 years. His expertise and knowledge of wholistic community development, and I mean development rather than betterment, was unmatched and spectacular. And what's more is that I could see Jesus' face in his, hear Jesus' voice in his, and sense Jesus' love for the people here in his. I'm not sure anything else in the world could compel him to do what he has done except the grace, power, and love of God himself. He was a great example of Christ and a saint with a humble heart (and white beard). God, and his Son Jesus, were made real through this man.
Finally, I saw God and sensed his Spirit through our worship tonight. The songs (7-8 of them) were a delight I'm sure to God's ears due to great guitarists (Rick and Dan Guzman), young voices, and hearts seeking God's face. The conversation and scripture reading was very representative of our La Spiaza group at Wheaton First Baptist and drew out many revelations of Christ from Romans 12. The prayer was also God honnoring and I'm excited to see where our devotions go in the next three weeks (and pray they may bring God glory, transform our hearts, renew our minds, change our lives, and spur us on to good works in Christ Jesus - as well as bring salvation to Josh (a non-Christian on our trip).
Before closing with the priest's story, I want to mention the connection I made while driving thorugh the rich gated communities of Karen today (and our projected plans tomorrow) to the parable in the gospels of Lazarus and the rich man in his own gated house - though realizing I will probably come back to this later in the week I must note Dan's comment that we live at home on the side of the rich man.
Let me now tell what I remember of the Priest's story. Growing up in Italy, he moved to Kenya 30 years ago, initially working with two other priests in a rural community in Kenya. He told how important the first 3 years were because most city and slum dwellers relate to or find identity in their rural tribal roots and families.
He then found himself in a very poor area (again in a smaller town) that was beyond the semitary at the edge of town where he was alone. Here he opened his home (not done when with the two priests) which provided a great connection to the community and outlet for ministry to the poor (calling his project Koinonia Project and inviting 8-10 Africans to live in community with him like Mother Teresa did).
Some time after that he was called, agaist his will, to the slums of Nairobi. Since then he has helped found 5 homes for street children (Koinonia Projects) housing 260 children, two schools in central Sudan, the Shalom House, and other social entrepreneurship initiatives. He was again a true disciple of Jesus Christ and living example of Jesus himself (definitely offering his body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord - Rom 12:1).