Two hundred people gathered in a building made of stone. Water pooled at our feet, a cold reminder of what would be drenching us if we were outside. When the rain falls this hard, everyone is welcome to crowd indoors.
The children had prepared songs. They sang and their voices mingled with the falling rain. "Jesus my Redeemer, oh, Jesus my Redeemer, Jesus my Redeemer in my soul..."
Little fingers twisted in my hair, turning my curls into braids. Questions whispered around me. "Who is your president? How many years are you? Do you have a mother, a father? Do you like to sing songs too?"
There seemed to be no end in sight to the rain, so we sang some more, bodies swaying with the rhythm of rainfall and music and worship.
When we had first come to Metkei and seen the churning gray of the storm clouds, we felt frustration. I was here to see a CRF program for the first time, as well as the progress of a new, beautiful school that was under construction. To be confined into a room for the duration of the day seemed an unwanted twist in our plans.
But here we were. A little one named Damaris whose hydrocephalus surgery I had helped coordinate sat in my lap, clapping and smiling. Braids in my hair, a piece of paper in my hands written by a child with the words: "Still keep faith. God wants to see if you can trust Him."
Whether I'm on one side of the world or the other, I like to put my own plans first. I prioritize what I believe is most important. This might be having a formal assembly or touring a new building from top to bottom. I have meetings and plans and training sessions. I want to observe and manage and do my work; and sometimes, God wants me still. Sometimes it takes a rainstorm to get me to that place.
For over an hour we were trapped in this building with rain crashing above us. We couldn't speak in normal voices. We couldn't fully hear the words to the songs the children sang. But we held hands. I cuddled Damaris. We crowded together and we were one people in Christ, despite our colors or languages or social position or nationality. Damaris was a child of God. I was a child of God.
Jesus my Redeemer, oh, Jesus my Redeemer...
That day in the church, brought together by ice-cold African rain in the highest elevation of East Africa, we sang. And amidst the clamor of voices and rain against a tin roof, we were still.