[bl]I[/bl] got a taste of Africa in America. And it was good! Lydia Jane and I traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to visit dear friends that lived near us in Jinja. They arrived to Uganda ten months before we moved away — a parting gift from God. Neighbors, playmates, dinner partners and friends. The Palmers brought companionship to our last months. And though our time together was short, the heart connection was strong.
Michelle with her poetic, pensive spirit. Me with my creative energy. We are harmonious together. Our chord is genuine, our melody joyful, our song truthful.
She’s my apron wearing, fresh bread baking, organic eating, soul singing, homeschooling, earth loving, life giving friend.
And she’s broken….believe me my heart should know.
In poetry, song and honest narrative, Michelle shares her story in this virtual place, among friends and strangers. And it’s a story that points to Jesus. Michelle and her family have weathered a painful journey, and they have fallen to their knees asking hard questions. Crying out to their Father. Whispering some prayers that are better left unspoken. And in the midst of their brokenness, they have been faithful to praise God, thanking him for his steadfast love.
Michelle is one of my favorite people. And until Thursday, I had not seen her since the day we said goodbye to Jinja and all we loved there. Two weeks after I moved back to America, Michelle’s One Roof Africa caved in all around her. In the rubble, it gets so hard to lift yourself off the ground. The Palmer family sought shelter in Oklahoma, and slowly by slowly they are rebuilding a covering made of grace.
It’s been hard to be absent from their Long Surrender of a dream. It’s times like this that a friend longs to be near. And so I went. To see her. Her!
We laughed so much this weekend. We embraced long, talked until wee hours, ate ice cream at 2am, cried some tears, admired the newest member of her family, and watched our daughters happily reunite.
And we grieved that our other children couldn’t be together — their adventures in the African soil stained our memories sweet.
This weekend was a blessed time spent together. Time spent with her whole family. We realize we won’t see one another often. The miles are much too long. And the money is never enough. But we are confident that God will sustain our friendship and make a way for our families to reunite on our journeys.
Truly, all my favorite people are broken. Aren’t yours? This lyric sung by one of Michelle’s favorite musicians, Over the Rhine, rings true in this tender heart of mine. We are all broken in our own ways. Creations of a perfect and holy God. Transformed into awful believers and skeptical dreamers by our pain and suffering.
But there is hope for us!
The sins that have been passed down through generations of brokenness will not define us. We are part saint and part sinner. And the saint in us is deeply connected to the One who will take our broken pieces and restore them, making us whole.
Our broken journeys aren’t pretty, but we’re not alone. We have each other to lean on, to try to rise above. Together, we can heal from our pasts, find joy in the present and hope for our future.
Michelle and Adam, I just want to hold you and let the rest go. Thank you for not being afraid to admit. For stepping out in faith and making difficult choices. For your story that points to His. And thank you for your hospitality, your environment of grace, and this song that has sung sweet to my soul.
All My Favorite People, by Over the Rhine