Sundays are generally filled with laughs, reflection, and planning for the week to come. This Sunday was much different, though. This Sunday I was invited to baby “Judith’s” Dedication at church. Why’d I put Judith in quotes? We’ll get there. If you haven’t read my last update Meet Sarah and Judy you should read it before reading this one because it’ll give a much more authentic look at why I’m crying at my computer. Well, the service was a Hausa service, which means that everything was in the local language, Hausa. Initially, I was a bit nervous about a 3-hour service in a language I do not yet understand or speak, but everything about it was beautiful. I loved hearing the children worship in their native tongue. I loved watching the women play their local instruments. I loved hearing the the people behind me singing to the Lord, even if I didn’t know exactly what was being said. When I studied for my Master’s, I wrote many papers on the learning process of bilingual children and often referred to their native language as their “Heart Language.” In the grand scheme of things, that’s exactly what it was for everyone in church today. Sure, most of them knew a good bit of English, but Hausa is the language of their lineage, community, family, and from what I could tell, their hearts. Sarah had been planning to dedicate “Judith” for about a month now, but the dates just weren’t working. The 28th is a special number for me. Not simply because of my birthday, but it was the day I learned that I can truly be loved. It seems silly, but I was ecstatic to spend the 28th of July dedicating this beautiful baby girl to the Lord.
Now for the name…
About a week ago, Sarah wrote me a letter asking me if I’d give her permission to change Judith’s name to Shakiyla. I was stunned. I’ve only known Sarah and her family for 8 months…EIGHT MONTHS, so the thought of her naming her daughter after me was beyond anything that made sense. I hadn’t told anyone but my family, and honestly, I didn’t think she was serious. We talked about it, and she said things that brought me to tears, things about my character in light of Christ, things about the gifts of God she sees in me, and things about my flaws. Yes, my flaws. Sarah is honest and whole-hearted so even reminding me of my imperfections are full of love. She has seen me at my worst and has loved and encouraged me through it. She said things that were a true reflection of who I am because she has taken the time and initiative to see me as more than her boss. She’s welcomed me into her country, her village, and more recently, her home. I’ve tried my hardest to reciprocate that love. I’ve prayed many nights asking God to just show me what I could do to serve her more intimately. I wasn’t sure if I’d done that, but in that moment, she solidified the fact that even in my brokenness, she saw Him, which was my greatest desire. God knows I see Christ in her.
I feel like I need to introduce her again. So, meet baby Shakiyla. She is the sweetest, quietest, and most cuddly little flower child. The kids call her “Shaki Shaki” and I think I may end up calling her “KiKi.” I’m still in awe of the fact that there is a child on this earth named after me. I’m so humbled that she and her husband saw it fitting.
Many days here I question whether or not I’m where I’m supposed to be. I question whether I’m with the people I’m supposed to be with. I question whether or not I heard God clearly when he gave me the specifics of this calling to Nigeria, but today I am confident. I’m confident that He’s building a family for me here. I know I have a long way to go in my personal growth with the Lord and remaining faithful while missing the people I love most gets exhausting. I know there are days when I just give up, but I’m encouraged in the truth that WE ALL WILL. We’re supposed to. We are nothing without the love, patience, provision, and strength of our Father.
Seeing pictures of myself holding a baby is overwhelming. Before coming to Nigeria, I was in a place in my life where I just knew I wouldn’t be a mother. Lately, I’m not so sure.
Thank you for reading. If you haven’t already, please go to my connect page and subscribe and follow. I love sharing this journey with you all. Send kisses to Ki Ki.
I love you.