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Retreat Reflections

This morning we returned from our 2nd annual GORP Retreat.  To say that the workshop, kids program, and football team programs are busy is an understatement, and some time away to bond, reflect, and rejuvenate was definitely necessary.  We’ve added four new people to our team in the past 6 months, and we wanted to also warmly welcome them to our team.  We rented a huge house on Airbnb–so big in fact, that I had to go back and recount the number of floors in the house because I lost count.  I think there were 5, complete with an open roof top that looked out across open plains with Nairobi in the distance.

Earlier in

the week, Leah, one of our artisans commented that one thing she was learning from us is that in the U.S., even the men help and that she was so impressed the way Edwin’s been helping repair the house and wash clothes and clean.  Typically in Kenya, women have primary responsibility for all household chores–they clean, cook, care for children, handwash clothes, visit the schools, and more.  Honestly, I don’t know when they sleep.  So when it came time for the retreat, Edwin was again helping prepare the stew and clean the dishes.  I guess this example really started to rub off, because the football coach and one of the other guys came up after we’d eaten and said, “We’d really like to help do the dishes.”

 

I almost fainted because it’s so uncommon.

And perhaps dishes are just a small thing, but I believe it’s a huge victory in showing that there is equality in the kingdom of God and that teamwork is really important.

As our group explored the house, you could see their eyes lighting up in excitement over the comfortable beds, warm showers, and clean space.  The women in our group, especially, rarely get a time to rest, so it was pure delight to hear them snoring as they napped.

Over dinner, we had everyone share something they were thankful for.  What I thought might be a 10 minute ice breaker, turned into an hour and a half of delightful storytelling.  We listened to story after story of outpouring of love and gratefulness for the ways that the lives of people were being changed through Grain of Rice Project and God’s love.  Gomez, one of the newest people on our team, said that when he first met us Americans, he thought we were “high class” with our fancy iPhones.  That statement was the kick in the gut, reality check of how my material possessions appear…that in fact the first impression people may have of me here has more to do with my “stuff” than my relationship with God.  But Gomez continued to say that he started to realize we were just humble, real people.  Teresia, another new artisan, said she remembers coming to GORP her first week, and it was the time that everyone was being paid their salary for the month and that she had nothing to provide for her family.  But 2 of the ladies gave her 150 shillings ($1.50) and she could buy kale for the week for her family, and she was so happy.  Tall talked about the way that GORP started really as nothing more than him running around checking to see if people had made products, and trying to send them to the U.S.  We were reminiscing at some of the reject products that originated the first few years and how much things had changed.  Loice told us that when we arrived here in June, she was so sad that we hadn’t brought them any t-shirts like we’d given them at the retreat last year.  She said she thought the kids were the first priority because we’d taken them on the field trip.  She thought we’d all but forgotten about them until we took them to this giant house for the retreat that was almost too good to be true.  We all laughed at her realization that the nice place to stay was much better than the t-shirt.  Many people said, for the first time, they are able to pay school fees for their kids and have a consistent, reliable income.

By the end, I think we all had a greater appreciation for where God has taken us and how we’ve grown.  We are thankful for God’s provision of GORP and for the growth and for the impact on people’s lives.  Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of everything, it is hard to see where we’ve come from and all that has happened, but last night we were all counting our blessings and remembering.

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