-Ashley Mennel

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thess 2:19-20

There I was standing in an incredibly remote Maasai village in Kenya. The only person in the village who spoke English was the young girl we were there to visit. She had attended a local primary school a mile or so down the road. As in all Kenyan schools she was taught Swahili and English as part of her primary education. But within a few sentences it was clear that she had not received the same opportunity to learn and practice her English as some of the children we met in other schools.  It was there, in this village, where words meant nothing, but smiles, handshakes, and blessings over the children’s heads were like gold, that I felt the Joy of the Lord wash over me.


We brought gifts for the village, gifts most people in western society would consider necessities like bar soap, kitchen knives, and flashlights for the adults. We also brought a few toys along for the children; soccer balls, jump ropes, and hula hoops, staples in every American home and classroom. But here, here in the village, these were foreign objects. Without words in a unified language to explain them, we were left to demonstrate how to use the items we had brought along.



So there I stood on a hilltop near a cow pasture, which contained no cattle due to last year’s devastating drought, with a hula hoop slipped over my waist as I motioned to the children to look at my foot position and then slowly rocked from side to side to spin the hula hoop around my waist. My skills were rusty and the hoop hit the ground as many times as it successfully orbited my waist but with every fall the hesitant onlookers began to erupt with laughter– a language we share with all of our brothers and sisters.




Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18