Shukrani Joy

Shukrani Joy


“Shukrani Joy” is a 24" x 30" oil painting depicting a special joy of the Kenya people whom we had the privilege to serve. Please see the full description below the image.

Paintings are shipped in special made wood crates for maximum safety against damage. They are shipped via FedEx Ground. Shipping costs include both FedEx charges and the cost of the wood crate materials.

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It's in every person's nature to desire joy. I pursue it myself. But a new perspective about it arose after our mission trip to Kenya Africa. We encountered all kinds of poor, from urban slums to rural tribes. Traveling four hours into the country to this Maasai tribe created a great mystery about joy in my mind. The mystery continued at every location we served. Christian Mission Aid in Nairobi took us on a journey to deliver a truck load of food to Maasai Land's very drought stricken area. For the first time, the photos and stories we previously saw and heard came alive as we saw their hut homes, huge dirt devil winds swirling the parched land, no roads during the final portion of the journey, and little or no vegetation for livestock let alone humans. How could they possibly survive out here? On top of that, we knew these tribes still practiced marrying off their daughters to old men at very early ages in exchange for livestock as well as practicing female genital mutilation. So even with a truck load of food to help alleviate some of their struggling... how could these women possibly have this kind of joy as they sang and danced in colorful traditional song? There was just something about their shukrani (Swahili for thankful) joy that captured my heart. It was a form of joy we don't see at home in the states. 

How can this be? Was it just temporary and for show? No. This joy was not fake. This joy got my attention, as was the case at each of the locations we briefly served. But how? How could someone struggling to survive have such a joy? It's hard to say what I expected. Maybe more of a tired and weary response? Some understandably showed that as well, but most surprised us with a form of joy we hadn't seen before. It's hard to even explain. 

After our return home, I struck up a conversation with a missionary who spent years in the same area. I was curious if having stayed there far longer than us received the same impression. He too agreed that they have a special kind of joy. It wasn't just my imagination in the moment. It was a shukrani joy that ran deep and was expressed generously with no reservation. It was all they had. It was special and true. It wasn't forced gratitude. It came from their heart and twinkled in their eyes.

It needs to be emphasized to not throw this experience into the old cliche' "poor but happy". Certainly, if given the choice, they would rather not be dealing with poverty and all of its struggles. The missionary went on to explain that if we look at a life of simplicity as an answer, it has far less to do with the simplicity of fewer things than the simplicity of a less stressful pace and schedule. Their daily routines are not jam packed with everything they can possibly fit in like we do here in the states; running one more unplanned errand, going to one more event or activity, finishing one more task at home or at work, always in a stressful race against time. Their pace is far more casual. They have more time for each other and relationships. They make time to express their gratitude with sincerity. 

This particular tribe and the Kenyans we served do attend a Christian church. The Holy Spirit's fruit of joy as part of the answer cannot be overlooked. In fact, it is key. They understood our time and CMA's gifts as coming first from God not from us. Sure they were expressing their gratitude to us but they were first expressing it to God. It was a truly beautiful expression. The Holy Spirit who drew us to them was also inside them. The Holy Spirit opened our eyes to see the full picture of the immense spiritual family all believers are part of. Oceans, continents and cultures may separate us, but we are all one family; God's family. In serving, we too received a very unexpected gift; an example of pure heavenly joy.
Shukrani Joy. It is a gift we will forever cherish.