All the Joy

This morning I received a message from a friend back home that went something like this: “I read your blog post yesterday and I hope that you’re doing ok.” [Concerned face]

Lol.

So something you should know about me: one of my gifts (curses?) is that I can hold sadness and grief alongside joy.  It's true and it's painful, but it's not all-surpassing.  In fact, I’m of the personality type (Enneagram 4) that feels the full range of human emotion sometimes within a fifteen minute period.  That is not to say that when I talk about grieving from what I’ve learned here, it is not authentic.  What I wrote in that blog is true, and I carry it still.  But it is to say that I am not broken by it.

So just to speak into that a bit and communicate the stupid wonderful amount of joy I feel in this place, I wanted to share with you a video of what happened today at the University.  

Today is Wednesday of finals week and our students are stressed.  They’ve been studying hard in preparation for a full five days of testing.  Our chaplain certificate program students are back as well to take their tests.  And you can feel the anxiety in the air around campus…which is to be expected.

It was decided a few weeks ago that we would still have chapel during finals week, which at first I thought might be just more stress on the students.  Who wants to hear a sermon when they’ve got a final in less than an hour?

Instead I walked into chapel today to find the students already singing and dancing.  It was loud and boisterous and the MOST joyful.  And I felt it with them.  There is something in the African spirit that knows how to celebrate in worship.  They kept looking at each other with these grins on their faces, and you couldn't help but smile along with them.  They let out their anxieties today in worship with an energy that was palpable.

After singing, we heard testimonies from the students.  Our student leader said he would allow three testimonies, but they just kept coming. And in the end, six men came forward to tell of God’s faithfulness to them.  Most often his faithfulness was demonstrated in God’s provision to be able to attend school and God’s sustaining grace to transform them in the process.

Friends, this work and this life are nothing but joy.  All. The. Joy.  And I feel it every day.

This video doesn’t quite capture the spirit in the room today, but it gives you and idea.  My heart is so full.

"Jesus never fails you."  (It's actually in Krio: Jesus neba fel yu-o)