A New Year

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger coincide.” - Frederick Buechner

It has been a number of years since several of us journeyed to Kenya and started The Mama Ada Foundation. After spending time in Mama Ada’s beautiful green gazebo in her yard, we came back determined to open a nonprofit organization in the United States. Since, we have partnered with friends in Kenya to get kids to school and give seeds to farmers. Thousands of people have been served through our work, holding hands and working with friends across the globe.

At the start of our new year, I’ve reflected on what I’ve learned most during these years. Of course, there is love. The power of love - not only for those shiny moments when all seems clear - but when one’s dropped to the floor, one’s will is weak, one’s eyes are tired, one’s heart is hopeless. When fundraising feels really hard, when strategy is unclear. Love is paramount in those moments, because love carries us forward, on angel’s wings and the power of prayer.

I’ve also learned about the power of friendship. I’ve come to see that friends near to us and also around the globe make one’s life richer - not in money but in perspective, hope, wisdom, and shared experiences, including forgiveness. I’ve learned that friendships are very imperfect, and that is okay, for I am imperfect and dependent on God’s grace, which can take us from tears to laughter in a second. I’ve learned that when friends laugh and cry and pray and stay together, that good stuff happens. That we can trust it to happen over the long journey, if not the short haul.

And lastly, I’ve come to see that we affect people’s lives, each one of us. We cannot avoid it, for if we think that we can choose not to engage with one another or our world - that in itself is our effect. Every day, I make imperfect and perfect decisions, gestures, responses, expressions and on - that intersect with other’s lives, sometimes for good and sometimes not. There is great power in this realization, and also responsibility for each one of us. One of my mother’s favorite Bible verses from Luke, that she repeated often while I was growing up, is that to whom much is given, much is expected. But I’ve come to see that this responsibility includes each and every one of us, not a special few….that blessings are not always material possessions, for I have experienced and witnessed extreme love and pristine wisdom in small huts.

So if we cannot avoid intersecting with our world - how will we live into that fact? What will be our legacy? What is our response to others? Near and far, second to second, day to day. How will you engage with others and the world this year? Today? We will surely lurch our way toward our legacy, needing to make repeated course corrections, but if we wake up every day and first remember that we have blessings to be shared - that must be shared - our hearts will be fuller, hand in hand.

- Julie Keller