From Love, Life Abounds

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| This is the 124th story of Our Life Logs |


September 1, 2017. To many this was just another day; but for me, it was my last day as a “Ms.” The next day, I was going to say “I do” to my knight in shining armor. Months of planning have all come to this moment. I felt the rush, the anticipation, the stress, the anxiety, and the joy all at once. I wouldn’t have gotten to this moment of bliss without the love and support of family and friends along the way. How amazing it was to step out of the old world and embrace a new life-long adventure!

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In August of 1991, my parents, young and in love, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. At only 6 pounds and a few ounces, my dad would carry me around like a football. My head fit nicely in his hand and my feet would just rest at his elbow. My mom loved to dress me in cute holiday clothes and take pictures of every occasion. From my infancy, I had something special that not everyone gets to experience; I had love.

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Me at age 2.

My sister, Justine, was introduced to our family system when I was four years old. She was quiet and cautious. I, on the other side, was the complete opposite. I began speaking my mind with confidence at a very early age. When something smelled fishy, I would turn to the closest person and loudly suspect something was wrong. I was so excited about my first trip to Disney World and therefore, everyone knew about it! If there was something new I never had done before, I was the first to sign up. I loved to play, explore, and seek adventure. I think my family learned quickly that any ideas they had for me to live a quiet, normal, Lancaster life weren’t going to stick. I was going to forge my own unique path. I had built such a close relationship with my family during my childhood that they always supported me through my crazy ventures.

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During my transition into middle school, an unexpected storm hit my family. I remember coming home and finding my dad sitting on the couch. It was 3:15 in the afternoon. He was silent, staring off into space, unable to notice that we had just got home. After 12 years of working as a plant manager, he was let go. Just like that. No unemployment compensation, no benefits, no warning. He couldn’t even understand what he was going through and yet was expected to give an answer to us.

My family was suddenly without a source of income. Over the next few years, I watched my parents struggle to make ends meet. My dad would work temporary jobs painting, doing electrical work, and helping out with anything and everything he could. My mom started cleaning homes. Justine and I would even try to pitch in by setting up summer lemonade stands and selling our toys at community yard sales. Church members would drop off groceries to help out and friends would have us over.

Despite various challenges, I could see the love my parents had for each other, and for us. We stuck together. Eventually, dad got a steady job and we all stepped into stability again, stronger than ever and with a new understanding of familial love.

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My senior year of high school proved to be quite adventurous. I applied for early graduation and took a mission trip to Kenya during the second half of the year. My grandfather had earlier taken up the task to fulfill a vision for a children’s home, and a few years later in 2007, Harvest Blessings Center was opened in Ngoliba, Kenya and became home to around 15 orphaned children.

Grandpa Gene and Grandpa Leon at HBC Kenya
Grandpa Gene and Grandpa Leon at HBC Kenya, 2018.

And here I was, to serve. The months I spent in Kenya with the children were truly life changing. I learned how to wash clothes by hand. I learned to live without running water and electricity. At 17, this was a pretty big deal!

My heart was moved by the kids. I remember one particular night, the house-dad was sharing how we needed to pray for the country. For about 30 minutes, these young kids poured out their hearts in prayer. They walked around, sat on chairs, laid on the floor, and stood on tables thanking God for their country and asking Him to lead it and take care of it. I remember feeling hands on my head and arms and hearing voices asking God to be with Auntie Jordan (my name) and to keep her safe. I found myself broken and in tears as I felt their genuine cries. Many of these children had been abandoned and seriously abused. They had no earthly example of love, but they had encountered the love of Christ. Not only had they encountered it, they allowed it to change them from the inside out.

I was reminded of Matthew 19:14 where Jesus tells us that we should come to him like the little children, for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them. It was here I decided that I was going to be serious about my faith. I was born into love; I experienced loved around almost every corner I turned, yet I had been resistant in allowing the love of Christ to transform me. I wanted to make my faith my own; to see God and to know Christ like never before.

HBC Kids
“Auntie Jordan” with the children at the Harvest Blessings Center in Ngoliba, Kenya.

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Back in high school, my relationship with my mom was somehow strained. I felt she was always against my ideas. Since her and my sister were close, I also didn’t appreciate my sister the way I wish I would have. After I came back from Kenya, however, I was able to let the love of Christ shine by mending relationships with my mom and sister. Today, we are great friends and I cannot imagine life without them. Mending these relationships reminded me, once again, of the love that my family supplied. This love also gave me the boost I needed to attend Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania and complete my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

In 2013, my academic passions brought me back to Kenya to pursue a Master’s in Counseling Psychology. This move was a real leap of faith. I found myself moving halfway across the world at only 22 years old. While it was hard leaving home, I knew I was going with the love and support of family and friends. In a few years, I was going to find that it was all what it was meant to be.

Once settled into campus, I met the university rugby team and began training with them. I had always been passionate about rugby. I soon became their team manager and we traveled all over Kenya for matches. I became a skilled player while working with the men, and with their support, raised up a women’s team at the university. It was the first collegiate women’s team in the city, and I felt proud.

Kenya Team Elgon Cup Winners 2015
Kenya Team Elgon Cup Winners 2015.

In 2015, I finished my graduation thesis, and hosted my parents for their first trip to East Africa! God’s faithfulness and love couldn’t have been more present. I decided to stay and continue my passion in Kenya after graduation. I was very active in the rugby community: playing, coaching, and managing. Unbeknownst to me, while I was chasing my dreams, my future husband, Marcus, was admiring me from a distance.

This man of God was brought into my life, attracted by my commitment to faith and my love for rugby. When we met in 2016, it was an epiphany moment. Here was the man I had trusted God for; the man I had prayed for; the man I never imagined could come out of the Kenyan rugby community. After only 3 months of dating, all we heard were wedding bells!

We were so in love and both had a binding conviction that we were on the right path. God’s love and provisions were evident to us as we prepared passports, visas, and plans for a Pennsylvania wedding while based in Nairobi. Family and friends had embraced the idea, showing Marcus the same love and support I had from childhood.

September 2, 2017, I became a Mrs! It was the best day of my life. We were surrounded by love from all over the world. Marcus and I stood before Christ and committed ourselves to each other; to loving one another and to letting that love mark a union set apart for God’s Kingdom.

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Feet washing ceremony at our wedding, 2017.

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Each adventure I have experienced growing up has given me the confidence to take another step forward. Underneath that confidence is a solid foundation of love. From my parents and the generations before them, I saw a sacrificial and binding love; a kind of love that protects against the strongest of winds. Seeing that love opened me to giving love. I realize now that it was the love of Christ that allowed me to connect with my family in such an amazing way. Love may be a small word, but its meaning is so big. Love is patient, and love is kind. As God teaches me more and more how to love my husband and family, his people, the community, and the world, I know, without a doubt, that from love life abounds.

Section Break

This is the story of Jordan Weaver       

Jordan, born in Pennsylvania, nurtured by love, has always been a girl of passion and confidence. She had a mission trip to Kenya in 2009, and in 2013, her academic pursuit brought her back to Kenya for a Master’s in Counselling Psychology. There she found the love of her life. Jordan loves rugby and had an opportunity to play for Kenya Fifteens National Team in 2015. She currently works at a non-profit organization based in Nairobi, Kenya that works with children and youth from five major informal settlements. She is using her knowledge to develop programs and curriculum that fuse rugby and life skills education. Her and her husband, Marcus, are still active in the rugby community and will celebrate one year of marriage this September (2018).

Jordan Wedding Day
Jordan, 2017.

 

 

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This story first touched our hearts on July 26, 2018.

| Writer: Jordan Weaver | Editors: Kristen Petronio, MJ |

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