Sunday, December 2, 2007

Matteos, the Campus Pastor, and I being silly

swinging the kiddos

The kids going crazy over the camera and trying to do Michael Jackson

December 2, 2007: LEARNING TO LET GO.

I Love Matteos!

The kids strangling me!

I love these kiddos.
I am home, safe and sound. And it’s been a whirlwind. I spent about 5 hours on the way home reflecting, looking out the window of the plane, moved to tears over the incredibleness of our God -- that He would bless me with such an experience and bless me with your love and support to be able to have this very experience in the first place.

An excerpt from my journal:

Dear Lord, it is finished, it is done, You are finished and done. Africa. I didn’t realize the impact at all this past month has had on me. I was leaving to go home yesterday for my flight and as I was hugging Hannah and Kidist goodbye, I just started crying…just holding them, being held by them. Completely caught me by surprise, snuck up on me…And it suddenly dawned on me: “I’m leaving this place. This place of love and grace, of humble people with so much to give…I’m actually leaving, and this place is so incredibly special.” I just sat in quietly on my way to the airport.

Africa, thank you. Thank you for your gentle grace, your loving people, for your children who smile with so little, for teaching me humility, grace, and the joy and power in feeling small, for teaching me that everything matters in life big and small, for your wonderfully endearing children at the feeding center who somehow broke through to my heart and taught me the graces of being able to love with nothing just for the sake of loving, for your amazing and vast Kenyan sky and hills that left me speechless, for Kidist and Hannah and how they touched my heart in a very gentle subtle way, for the wonders of what Hope Enterprise is doing, for being a land to go and serve, for giving me the chance to experience what it’s like to love fully, pure and unadorned love, on needy children, and for the hope and love you gave me by just being there.

Lord, I’m crystal clear, crystal clear. My life is made for making a difference. Your beautiful land of Africa spoke to me -- I am made for making a difference. Sure I’ve always wanted to serve before Africa, doing my bible study for my 6th graders, but it was almost out of duty -- something I “should” do as a Christian. When I get it now. I’m clear. I’m here to take part in your mystery of living for others. My journey in soccer trained me not necessarily in discipline for the Olympics but really for the Olympics FOR PEOPLE…All those monotonous silly sprints trained me for making a difference. And I am so thankful for this.

So grateful I am that God would teach me a gentleness and the art of letting go. You must know my fellow blog readers, and I think most of you know this about me, but I have been a master at holding on, at using my drive and ambition to create my life --doing my sprints behind the scenes as an athlete, eating the right foods with a hard-core discipline to make it all happen. And this whole past month was really, honestly, one of the first few times I was present to each day as it came and went, meeting each day as it came, listening for the wisdom in each moment. Little things too I noticed: I would sometimes wear my hair down (I’ve always worn my hair back), I gave Juice the big bed (oh this is something I’d never do), I ate whatever food we had to eat at the time (in the past I had to eat the “right” food) -- these are small things yes, but definitely symbolic of an inner letting go on my part. I remember one of my mentors once said to me “Callie you are an incredibly powerful woman, but you hold on so much. Just surrender Callie, surrender to what God has for you.” Africa has taught me and I’m still learning the art of letting go and truly surrendering to the current God has for me.

Thank you again for this experience. I love you and I bless you. May you know the difference you are, may you understand the difference you have made in Africa through your support of one small human being Callie. May God forever shine on you and bless you all the days of your life.

In the love of Christ,
Callie Withers

The 3rd graders singing "Read Your bible everyday, pray everyday, so you can grow."

Monday, November 26, 2007