Poverty and Joy

Posted on September 7, 2010

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By Clarissa

I am occasionally caught with that far off look of longing when I see someone with the latest apple gadget (read here iPad or iPhone 4). Though I know it cognitively, I must continually repeat to myself that getting said item will not bring me lasting happiness and technological paradise on earth.

When we were in Kenya this summer, I had the opportunity to meet someone who John and spent much time with on his previous trip to Kenya.


Joyce is full of life, but most of us would not say that her life is full. At least not by the standard that we often use. She has never been to the beach. She eats almost the same thing every day. There is no running water in her home. She doesn’t go to concerts, or shop for new clothes, or google things whenever she has a question. And she definitely does not have an iPhone.

And yet her smile is constantly be spilling out. Joy seems to eek out of her. Even when talking about her concerns for where money will come from to send her kids to school, there is a radiance about her that can only be described as the aroma of Christ.

She invited us to spend a day with her at her home in Kibera and we felt like royalty as she proudly welcomed us into her humble dwelling.

She asked us about our families, what hardships we had endured in life and listened compassionately as we shared some of our own struggles. Struggles, that while very real to us, seemed somehow a lot less important as we sat in the middle of the largest slum in Africa.

Joyce and her family are a constant reminder to me. A reminder that true joy is found in knowing that God’s goodness does not hinge on my circumstances. And certainly a reminder that having the newest and coolest apple thing will not bring all the happiness that the commercials promise.

Joyce’s Kitchen
Joyce’s oldest and youngest.
Some of the wonderful meal prepared for us!

She showed us her neighbor’s Sakuma Wiki Garden. It seems miraculous that anything green can grow in Kibera. The kale-like greens are grown in sacks so that in the event of an emergency they can take them with them.

These three beautiful girls were sitting on a pile of garbage just outside Joyce’s home.

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