25 March 2014

True Fasting: Maintaining justice and doing what is right


Today marks the end of my 21-day Daniel fast, based on Daniel's life as recorded in the Bible:
Daniel determined that he would not defile himself by eating the king’s food or drinking his wine, so he asked the head of the palace staff to exempt him from the royal diet.  
“Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the young men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see.” 
The steward agreed to do it and fed them vegetables and water for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked better and more robust than all the others who had been eating from the royal menu. So the steward continued to exempt them from the royal menu of food and drink and served them only vegetables. (Daniel 1: 8-16)

Along with a few friends, I started my fast on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Basically I ate only things that come from plants - vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. I did not consume anything that comes from animals - meat, milk, eggs, cheese, etc. I also had no sweeteners, no caffeine, and no leavened bread.

We know from Matthew, chapter four, that Jesus fasted. Guess what? If we're a follower of his, then he also fully expects us to fast. This spiritual discipline is included in a list of three acts of righteousness in Matthew, chapter six: giving to the needy, prayer, and fasting. He said, 'When you give to the needy... when you pray... and when you fast.'

- - - - -

However, Isaiah chapter 58, speaks of a different type of fasting. God calls it a true fast.
This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
  •     to break the chains of injustice,
  •     get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
  •     free the oppressed,
  •     cancel debts. 
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
  •     sharing your food with the hungry,
  •     inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
  •     putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
  •     being available to your own families.




The book of Isaiah speaks a lot about justice:
  • The Lord is a God of justice. (30:18)
  • Maintain justice and do what is right. (56:1)
  • We look for justice but find none. The Lord was displeased that there was no justice. (59:11, 15)
  • I, the Lord, love justice. (61:9)

In fact, the theme of justice and doing what is right, is found throughout the entire scriptures:
  • Keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Genesis 18:19
  • David did what was right and just for all his people. 2 Samuel 8:15
  • The proverbs of Solomon are for... doing what is right and just and fair. Proverbs 1:1-3
  • To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3
  • Josiah did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy. Is that not what it means to know me? Jeremiah 22:15-16
  • Give up your violence and oppression and do what is just and right. Ezekiel 45:9
  • What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
  • I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against... those who oppress the widows and fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice. Malachi 3:5
  • Jesus: "You're hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God's love." Luke 11:42 (Message)

A few more related scriptures:
  • For I desire mercy. Hosea 6:6
  • Religion that God the father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
  • Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13

For the past sixteen years, I've been doing a variety of fasts as a spiritual discipline; I will likely continue to do so throughout my life. 

But I will also follow the true fast, as laid out by God. 

I will share my bread with the hungry and open my home to the homeless poor. My life will be characterized by removing the yolk of injustice and letting the oppressed go free.

Like Josiah, my aim is to do what is right and just. I shall defend the cause of the poor and needy. 

- - - - -

Do you fast? 

If so, what kind - a fast centered around food for the physical body? Or maybe you've chosen to give up something non-food related for Lent - such as TV, the internet, etc. Either of these types of fasts are excellent ideas.

However... the question I want to leave with you is - 

Do you regularly participate in what God calls a 'true fast' as described in Isaiah, chapter 58?

- - - - -
Note: both images taken from internet
.

19 March 2014

Gospel Lighthouse Churches honor Bishop Wanjala and his wife, Margaret

Bishop Justus Wanjala and his lovely wife, Margaret [Note: photo taken on a different day than the auspicious occasion]

Pastor Josiah Syanda with his wife, Josephine (in red), and Carol
Pastor Syanda and the Kayole branch of Gospel Lighthouse Church recently hosted a day to honor Bishop Wanjala and his wife for their many years of faithful service.

Many pastors from the ministry came from all over the country of Kenya to attend this special occasion.

Many of the faithful old-timers that served in the branch at Kayole were also in attendance. It was a great reunion seeing everyone and brought back so many good memories for me.

Bishop and Margaret's daughter, Esther, and Pastor Syanda's secretary, Linet

There was quite a time of celebration when they arrived in a caravan of cars!

There were joyous hugs all around when Bishop and Margaret arrived! 

I greatly admire Bishop and Margaret. They are incredible people and make a great team in the service of God's Kingdom. They've done so much for me and I truly count it a privilege to call them my dear friends.

Along with many others, I thoroughly enjoyed watching these four lift up praise and worship to God. They were an integral part of the  worship team when I first came to Kenya in 2001. Together, they were quite gifted ushering the congregation into the Lord's presence in praise and worship. I have so many great memories of the 'good old days' at GLHC kwa Chief's Camp.

Pastor Syanda, the host for the day's event

17 March 2014

Camping with Africa's [dangerous] wildlife


I belong to a great homegroup from my church! In late January, we had a weekend camping trip at Lake Naivasha. We had an absolutely splendid time! This group shot was taken just as we started our hike at Hell's Gate Gorge. [In addition to those in the photo, there was also one more adult and three children.]

Our campsite


We camped right on the lake and enjoyed the beautiful fog rising from the lake both mornings.


However, the close proximity to the lake also brought hippos to our campsite! On the first evening, one of them got quite uncomfortably close to a few of us that were up late enjoying the campfire. The caretaker of the campsite did a good job of subtly encouraging the beast to move to a different area.

Later on, while trying to sleep, one of them grazed on grass right next to the tent we four single ladies shared! Munch, munch, munch... all through the night! Just before dawn, I heard it plunge into the water with a mighty splash! ***

Information about hippopotamus -
  • The hippopotamus is one of the most aggressive creatures in the world and is the most dangerous toward humans. They kill more humans than lions, elephants, or buffalo. 
  • Hippos weigh between one-and-a-half and three tons! They leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to six miles, to graze on short grasses, their main source of food. They spend four to five hours grazing and can consume 150 pounds of grass each night.

In addition to the hippos, there were also a few quite active and noisy hyena near us. Their barking, yowling, growling, yelping, and laughing was not only annoying... it was a bit scary as well.

A herd of zebra, although peaceful and harmless, also disturbed my sleep. They have a funny squeaky-sounding bark. At one point, they left the area in a noisy stampede.



I thoroughly enjoyed tending the fires throughout the weekend. It was a challenge, though, as the caretaker provided us with wood that was either green or was a pulpy reed. Finally, we managed to buy a bundle of decent firewood from the nearby market. In the photo, I'm cooking sausages for breakfast. **




On Sunday morning, we had a lovely informal time of worship. A few pesky Vervet monkeys disturbed us, though! They first perched high in the acacia trees to scope out any potential loot. Then... down they swooped, snatching some of our bananas and leftover chapati! You can see a chapati in the hand of this one in the tree.


Our picnic site was a great spot to view Lake Naivasha.

Hiking at Hell's Gate Gorge was great fun. Here, the kids had climbed up high on some rocks.

Myself with Anna and Mandy, trekking through the gorge  It's known for flash floods, another danger-factor in our weekend. *

One can always see a nice variety of wildlife at Hell's Gate National Park.
In the foreground are Cape Buffalo, another dangerous animal. *

Waterbuck *

Another gang of pesky Vervet monkeys got into Mandy's car and blatantly stole some of our bananas!
And how do I put it nicely? Uh... one of them left behind a smelly mess of poo in the car!

Up on top of the gorge and done with our hike

Such getaways like this are so refreshing and healthy for me! And it's especially fun to enjoy them with great friends! It fits some of the criteria in my recent blog post on how to manage Missionary Stress:
  • Escape - I need daily, weekly, monthly, and annual respites. God made the Sabbath for people, so I must be sure to keep it. Reading, music, hikes, worship, and vacations are necessary.
  • Activity - Since stress prepares one for fight or flight - and as a missionary I can probably do neither - I must have some physical activity to use that energy. Sports, an exercise plan, and active games with family or friends can reduce stress.

- - - -
    * photos taken by Jabby 
  ** photo taken by Anna 
*** photo of hippo from the internet

17 February 2014

Meeting the desire of Jesus: offering mercy when we encounter the poor and needy - - Part One

Jigger-infested hands and feet of a young man called Jomba

Reading the first four books of the New Testament is so fascinating to me. The accounts of Jesus reveal that he was quite an amazing man. I’m continually intrigued by him and his behavior as he moved around the countryside.

I marvel at how often Jesus reached out to touch people, even the outcast and untouchable lepers.

He took time for people, no matter what was going on around him.

Jesus saw the villagers for who they truly are. He felt mercy and had compassion on them. But he didn’t stop with just sympathy. He took the next step and acted on those emotions by healing the needy.

Sometimes he intentionally went out of his way to encounter folks that were otherwise despised and rejected by society.

When Jesus came upon someone, he stopped and listened to them speak. He was not irritated with interruptions and was always aware of people’s deepest needs. He was willing to satisfy their requests.

In just a short section of the book of Matthew – chapters eight and nine – several such happenstance meetings stand out to me.


Learning from Jesus, as he encounters the poor and needy
A leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, ‘Master, if you want to, you can heal my body.’ Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, ‘I want to. Be clean.” Then and there, all signs of leprosy were gone. (Matthew 8: 1-3)

The compassion Jesus felt for this man obliterated the custom of the day – that touching an unclean person would bring defilement.

A Roman captain came up to Jesus in a panic and said, ‘Master, my servant is sick. He can’t walk and he’s in terrible pain.’ Jesus said, ‘I will come and heal him.’ (Matthew 8: 5-7)

Jesus was willing – ‘I will come’. He wasn’t too busy or too preoccupied to help this man’s servant.

Jesus found Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed, burning up with fever. He touched her hand and the fever was gone. (Matthew 8: 14, 15)

Yet another example of Jesus touching someone. The simple act of touching people can be such a powerful gesture.

Jesus and his disciples were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery. The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down that stretch of road anymore. (Matthew 8:28)

Jesus intentionally walked on this ‘stretch of road’. He potentially put himself into harm’s way in order to encounter these two men – men who had been rejected by society.

A local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, ‘My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.’ Jesus got up and went with him…. He took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet alive. (Matthew 9: 18, 19, 25)

Jesus ‘got up’ from what he was doing ‘and went with him’ to meet this need. It was his desire to offer mercy to someone who needed his touch.

A woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched Jesus’ robe. ‘If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.’ Jesus turned and saw her and then reassured her. ‘Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.’ The woman was well from then on. (Matthew 9: 20-22)

This woman interrupted Jesus, but he was sensitive to her touch and gave her the time she needed. He looked right at her and ‘saw her’; he was gentle and kind toward her.

Jesus touched the eyes of two blind men and said, ‘Become what you believe.’ It happened; they saw. (Matthew 9: 29-30)

Touching the blind men is yet another example of the transforming power of ‘touch’.

When Jesus looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

The heart of Jesus bled with compassion. Everyone he encountered moved his heart and he offered mercy to everyone.


Jesus also has a need, a need I can meet

Jesus, who is always concerned about the needs of others, also has a need of his own. His desire (or need) is to see his children respond and behave just like him – with mercy.

He strongly states this need to the ever-critical Pharisees when they accused him of a wrong.

“I desire mercy, not religion.” (Matthew 9:13)

He also added this instruction – that we should ‘go and learn what this means’. In other words, I should not just read it and forget it, taking it casually or glibly. He wants me to study this concept, to actually learn and figure out what he means by it.

A few chapters later, Jesus chastised the Pharisees because they again pointed fingers for a supposed offense – this time at the disciples. 

“If you had any idea what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not an inflexible ritual,’ you would not be nitpicking like this.” (Matthew 12:7)

The Pharisees had not yet learned what he meant. Am I ignorant like them as well?

Both of these times, Jesus quoted a verse from the Old Testament –

“For I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice; the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6
 “I’m after love that lasts, not more religion. I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.” (Message)

Another related and powerful verse is Micah 6:8, where God Almighty states his requirements –  

“The Lord has shown you, O mortal man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
 “God has already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love. Don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously!” (Message)

The easy reaction when I encounter the poor and needy might be to click my tongue or shake my head. I might turn away or walk a different route so I can avoid such people. I may even express criticism. Perhaps I do these things, all the while convincing myself that I really haven’t done anything wrong. 

After all, I’m busy… I'm busy being a missionary. I have things to do. I have a schedule to keep. And who knows... it might rain. I can't stop now.

But Jesus has called me to choose the better way... the way of mercy. Let me be the exception to the rule and demonstrate the love of Jesus to those I meet in my day-to-day activities. Let me follow in his footsteps and abide by the maxim that he expressed.

Have I learned what Jesus said? Let me determine to satisfy this desire of Jesus, by offering mercy to those I meet along the way.

- - - - -

Be sure to read the following post about Jomba and his bad case of Jiggers.



Meeting the desire of Jesus: offering mercy when we encounter the poor and needy - - Part Two

Jomba's hands and feet are badly infested with Jiggers. [Note: This story goes with the post above.]

I met Jomba last week. He's the fellow whose hands and feet are pictured here. The word 'jomba' means 'uncle' in Swahili. Kenyans often refer to men by the generic word, 'uncle'. Jomba's actual name is Musa (Swahili for Moses).

I had just gotten out of a taxi, after offering to walk the remaining distance to Agnes' house. The driver worried he was getting low on fuel. A few minutes later, I came upon Jomba as he entered the road from some trees. I noticed he walked with difficulty and assumed he might be an elderly man.

My pace was a bit quicker than his and when I caught up with him, we greeted one another. I was surprised to see that he was, in fact, relatively young. At the time, I didn't know his name and I hadn't noticed him in the neighborhood before. He seemed to be a gentle and unpretentious fellow, a bit in need of a haircut and shave. I liked his smile.


As we maneuvered around this small body of water, a fellow named Peter came up to us. He'd been working in his 'shamba' and wanted to alert me to the condition of Jomba's feet and hands. He explained to me about Jiggers* and the seriousness of the condition. 

I came to learn that Peter is an ambitious young man; he does a little farming so he can earn money for his college education. He had come to know Jomba recently and had given him a small room to sleep in; prior to that Jomba was exposed to rain and cold night temperatures. Peter had been trying to get a community initiative going to assist Jomba, but none of the other villagers were interested. 

Sadly there is much ignorance about medical issues. Some people believe that people with jiggers have been cursed and so they stay as far away from them as possible. Others believe the condition is contagious and refuse to shake hands with the victims or touch them in any manner.

When a rain storm arrived suddenly out of a blue sky, Peter, Jomba, and I joined three other people (including the woman below) who had already sought shelter in a small mud structure. They were all strangers to me, but by the time the rain stopped, I had become friends with two of them - Peter and Jomba. 



When the rain eventually stopped, we said 'good-bye' to Jomba and Peter joined me in reaching Agnes' house. Although they had seen each other now and then, Peter and Agnes were also strangers to each other. When we mentioned Jomba, she said she knows him very well and had been trying to help him - with a little work around her farm and an occasional meal.

Agnes now joined us in the conversation Peter and I had started. Together, we decided on a course of action to help this young man.


Another beautiful foggy morning at Agnes' farm, in the River Nzoia valley

The following day as Agnes and I walked to the house of our mutual friend, Mary Alu, we sought out Jomba. Agnes requested a lady to find him for us. After waiting a few minutes, Jomba humbly walked over to us from where he was tending the lady's cattle. I smiled at him and shook his hand. Agnes told him we wanted to help him. As we parted company, he said 'good-bye' with a smile on his face.


Edgar, Anaya, and Mary Alu with Agnes after we had lunch with them

After a nice visit with the Alu family, Agnes and I hopped on a 'boda boda' (motorbike taxi) and headed to the market at Kona Mbaya. I purchased the necessary medicine plus hydrogen peroxide and a bar of disinfectant soap. I also got a pair of 'slippers' (flip-flops) for Jomba to wear and a basin with which to bathe. Lastly, I got an antiseptic spray to be used in and around the small room where he sleeps. I also left one of my shirts with Agnes to give to Jomba.

Peter promised to make some simple improvements on Jomba's room, including spray the anticeptic. He will also buy him another pair of trousers and a blanket. Agnes' role is to administer the medicine and have a simple bed frame built for Jomba. Currently, he sleeps directly on the mud floor. When he comes for doses of medicine, she'll also give him a meal. Edgar informed us there's a community health group that can visit Jomba and assist him further.

- - - - -

This encounter is a vivid example of what the life of Jesus exemplified. As he met people, he stopped and looked at them. Jesus spoke to them and he touched them. He gave them the time and concern they needed and he healed them. 

Jesus demonstrated mercy to everyone he encountered.

I do not believe it was mere happenstance that Jomba and I met on the road. Nor do I believe it was coincidence that Peter was right there to bring us all together. 

Please join me in praying for Jomba's complete healing. 

I haven't shared this story in order to receive any accolades. Rather, I've shared it to spur you on to also follow the example of Jesus. Allow me to challenge you to also extend mercy to those you meet along the way.

By doing so, you will meet a need of Jesus himself!

Wow, what a thought!

Perhaps you can leave a comment sharing a recent example of offering mercy to the poor and needy in your own neighborhood and life.

- - - - - -

* Jiggers
A female flea burrows head-first into the host's skin feeding on blood vessels. They remain there for a period of two weeks while developing eggs and swelling greatly in size. If the flea is left within the skin, dangerous complications can occur including secondary infections, loss of nails, and toe deformation. These are relatively rare, but heavy infestations combined with unsanitary conditions greatly increases the likelihood of complications.

Many villages in Kenya have been completely infested with them, and mass infections have rendered people unable to walk. In more serious cases, people can die from jiggers.

More information can be found at -

10 February 2014

Missionary stress; living in a foreign culture















Missions has always been accompanied by danger,
     but the world has become an even more dangerous place. 

Missions has always been full of stress,
     but today's missionaries live with two to three times the stress
     of those who live in their home culture.

Missions has always been hard work,
     but today's missionaries are experiencing levels of exhaustion
     that leave them bone weary in body and soul.

All of these add up to profound needs which, left unmet,
     often end the careers and/or effectiveness of these dear people.
-George and Connie Blake, MTI missionary de-briefing leaders

- - - - - -

Stressed-Out Missionary
Laura Parker, missionary in Asia

When stress levels reach above a 200 (on the Holmes-Rahe scale), doctors will advise patients to make life changes– drink a glass of wine, exercise, sleep more, that kind of thing. The goal is to keep stress levels below 200, since anything over that can result in some incredibly negative effects, especially over the long term. In fact, 50% of the people scoring a 200 were hospitalized in the two years following the scoring with heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, or other severe illnesses. Apparently, the cumulative effect of stress on the body and mind can be an extremely damaging one.

Then, they used the same standards and scale to assess missionary stress levels. They found that the average missionary’s stress levels for the first year are typically around 800-900, and the sustained stress levels of a cross cultural worker stays around 600.

Sheesh. 600. And 200 might get you a heart attack or cancer.

So, yes, maybe there is a shred of evidence for our entire family needing to recover in an air-conditioned room watching a movie at 2:30 simply because we braved the grocery center on a Sunday afternoon.

Maybe there is something behind the fact that we “accomplish” less and are tired more each day, something true about the reality that depression, anger and miscommunication are dangerously a hairline fracture away, all the time.

Perhaps there’s a good reason why we gain weight. And have shorter fuses. And oftentimes resent the very culture and people we are trying to love. Maybe there’s a reason we burn-out faster.

Apparently, missionaries can be a stressed-out bunch.

And while I don’t offer many solutions, I will just say this to my fellow expats: You’re not crazy if you freak out after a simple trip to get bananas. You’re not an awful missionary if you can’t cross off anything from your to-do list because just surviving a day literally sucks every ounce of effort from your soul. You’re not broken if you sometimes - or even, oftentimes - hate this thing you've given up so much to pursue.

Make no mistake, long-term stress will produce fissures and cracks. And cracks, if left unattended, can end up shattering, spilling, and wrecking things.

And, yes, maybe God doesn't give us “more than we can handle.” And, yes, our weakness provides opportunities for his strength and love to show up, but, still - don’t be stupid. Or go all-superhero.

Get a massage. Take a vacation. Go eat at a Western restaurant, even if it is more expensive than the local food. Consider exercising a necessary to-do, and consider prayer an even more necessary one. Do whatever it takes to relieve some of the natural stress which comes from living in a different - and typically much more difficult - environment than the one you were born into.

Tightly-wound rubber bands typically end up snapping people, after all.
http://www.lauraleighparker.com/2012/03/stress-missionary/ 

- - - - - -

What Missionaries Ought to Know about Culture Stress
Ronald Koteskey, Member Care Consultant at GO International

What causes culture stress?
Many factors enter into the amount of culture stress one feels while living in another culture:
  • Involvement - The more you become personally involved in the culture, the more culture stress you may feel. The tourist, the business person or someone from the diplomatic corps not committed to being the incarnation of Christ in that culture, may feel little culture stress.
  • Values - The greater the differences in values between your home culture and your host culture, the greater the stress. Values of cleanliness, responsibility, and use of time may cause stress for years. Cultures may appear similar on the surface but have broad differences in deeper values.
  • Communication - Learning the meanings of words and rules of grammar are only a small part of being able to communicate effectively. The whole way of thinking, the common knowledge base, and the use of non-verbals are necessary and come only with great familiarity with the culture.
  • Temperament - The greater the difference in your personality and the average personality in the culture, the greater the stress. A reserved person may find it difficult to feel at home where most people are outgoing extroverts. An extrovert may never feel at ease in a reserved culture.
  • Entry and re-entry - Most missionaries, unlike immigrants, live in two cultures and may never feel fully at home in either. Every few years they change their place of residence, never fully adapting to the culture they are in at the time.

What are the results of culture stress?
Many of the results of culture stress are the same as those of any other stress:
  • Feelings of anxiety, confusion, disorientation, uncertainty, insecurity, or helplessness
  • Fatigue, tiredness, lack of motivation, lethargy, or lack of joy
  • Illness (stress suppresses the immune system), concern about germs, or fear of what might be in the food
  • Disappointment; lack of fulfillment; discouragement; feeling hurt, inadequate, or 'out of it'
  • Anger, irritability, contempt for the host culture, resentment (perhaps toward God), feelings of superiority or inferiority
  • Rejection of the host culture, the mission board, or even of God
  • Homesickness

What can be done about culture stress?
Much can be done to decrease culture stress and make it manageable:
  • Recognition - Realize that culture stress is inevitable for those attempting to become at home in a host culture, and look at what factors cause you the most stress.
  • Acceptance - Admit that the host culture is a valid way of life, a means of bringing Christ to the people who live in it.
  • Communication - Beware of isolating yourself from everyone in your home culture, those with whom you can relax and be yourself, those with whom you can talk.
  • Escape - You need daily, weekly, and annual respites. God made the Sabbath for people, so be sure you keep it. Reading, music, hikes, worship, and vacations are necessary.
  • Identity - Know who you are and what you will allow to be changed about you. Acculturation inherently involves changes in your personality, so determine the unchangeables.
  • Activity - Since stress prepares you for fight or flight - and as a missionary you can probably do neither - you must have some physical activity to use that energy. Sports, an exercise plan, and active games with family or friends can reduce stress.
  • Befriend a national family - Get close to a national family just for fun, not to learn or evangelize. Learn how to have fun in that culture.

Can culture stress be prevented?
The answer to this is simple and short. NO! 

Stress in general cannot be prevented; we all experience it in life. Trying to become at home in another culture is always a challenging venture. However, like other stress, it can be managed, decreased to a level with which you can live-stress without distress.

The factors that help you cope with stress are summarized in the three enduring things mentioned by Paul at the end of 1 Corinthians 13:
  • Faith - In addition to faith in God, faith in yourself as a person created in God's image and called into his service will help you cope.
  • Hope - Rather than feeling helpless, having not only the hope of eternity with God, but also hope in your future, knowing that he has good plans for you, will help you cope.
  • Love - Finally, having both God's love and the love of his people to give you support in the stressful situations you face daily, will help you cope.

Stress is a part of life. Everyone learns how to manage it or suffers the consequences.

Remember that not everyone can be at home in two cultures, and it typically takes a very long time for those who do it successfully.
http://www.missionarycare.com/brochures/br_culturestress.htm

- - - - - -

I will appreciate your prayers for me concerning this very real issue.
     - deb

Wedding in the village, a great time of celebration for everyone

Edgar and Eliza enjoy a dance after the ceremony

Mary Alu (in white), the mother to the groom, with some friends,
including Agnes on the right (shortly before the ceremony began).
We waited a long time for the registrar to arrive.
It turned out he was confused on the date of the wedding.


Some of the groom's family members and friends. (Sorry it's so blurry)

Eliza, the bride, arrives at the church venue with much with celebration

Some of the bride's attendants

The bride enters the church, with young girls leading the way

Edgar, the groom, awaits the arrival of his bride so the ceremony can get underway


A fun part of the wedding was when the veil was removed
so Edgar could confirm she was indeed the one he was to marry :)

There was much drama as each one placed the ring on the finger of their soon-to-be spouse.


The new husband and wife!

Two nieces of the groom

After a 15-minute walk, the wedding party begins to arrive at the home of the groom for lunch, dancing, and speeches.

The M.C. did a great job leading everyone in dancing and celebrating!

One of the rare days I wore a skirt :)

Mary Alu, a good friend of mine and the mother to the groom, joyfully celebrating with a friend.