25 November 2015

A Visit from RFH's Africa Field Directors; Visiting some of My Ministry Relationships

Lots of laughs with Linet, Derrick, Jeremy, and Masudi

Linet and I

Jeremiah and Carol

Carol leading worship at their church

Clare and Earl clapping along to the music

Lots of action during the praise time

Some of the Sunday School children dancing for the Lord (Joy is in the blue blouse)

As I greeted the congregation and introduced Earl and Clare, Jeremiah interpreted for me.

This video will give you a sense of being there with us. I hope you'll watch it!

Jeremiah interpreted Earl's preaching into Swahili

Earl and Jeremiah prayed for folks after the sermon

Squeezing everyone into one photo wasn't easy!

Jeremiah and Carol, plus Earl and Clare

Several of us got a lift to Jeremiah and Carol's house in this pick-up.
Good thing, as the entire area was very muddy and sloppy from all the recent rain.

Clare got acquainted with 6-month old Jaiden at the house.

24 November 2015

A Visit from RFH's Africa Field Directors; Squeezing in some Fun Activities

Earl and Clare Reifel are the Africa Field Directors for Ripe for Harvest, my missions sending agency. They recently paid me a visit, along with other RFH missionaries in Kenya and other parts of Africa. I was privileged to spend several day with these veteran missionaries who serve in Sierra Leone.

Along with the more official activities of their visit we also made time for fun,
including an early morning game drive at Nairobi National Park. 

Joanna, another RFH missionary in Kenya, also joined us for the day.

Joanna and I enjoyed a competitive race on the go-kart track!

We finished our day at Carnivore Restaurant.

On another day we strolled around downtown Nairobi, including Uhuru Park.

12 November 2015

Educate a Child

With the help of some of you reading this, I had the privilege of sponsoring seven young people for the academic year of 2015 - Tony, Derrick, Robai, Pope, Adu, Duane, and Zach.

Recently I visited four of the seven at each of their schools. While visiting Derrick (pictured above with one of his teachers), I took enough photos to give you a bit of a 'photographic tour', which I think you will enjoy. The following week, I visited Tony, Adu, and Robai at each of their schools.

Just click here to see all of these recent photos!

Educating a child empowers them for life!

10 November 2015

No Graven Image, by Elisabeth Elliot

First published in 1966, No Graven Image is the only novel of the best-selling author Elisabeth Elliot.

Margaret, an intrepid twenty-five-year-old missionary, travels to the Andes Mountains of Ecuador to start her ministry. She sees little progress at first, but eventually things seem to be going well.

She works on translating the Bible into the Indian language and befriends a native and his family.

Then tragedy strikes, shaking Margaret's entire way of thinking.

The following are excerpts that spoke to me. All but the first one were spoken by Margaret, the main character:

The results which can be called good are few. And they cannot be the criteria for whether or not what we do is worthwhile. It is hopeless to try to weigh up the good, the bad, the futile, and the merely harmless, and hope there will be enough of the good to justify all the rest. Jesus told us to do what is true. I think the truth needs no justification, no defense.
   - spoken by Dr. Lynn, one of the characters in the book

. . . . . .
There was a time when "in vain" to me had meant that there was no visible spiritual result. A study of the life of Jesus convinced me that he regarded things differently, since comparatively few of his encounters with individuals or groups resulted in manifestations of true faith.

. . . . . .
Why this need to find meaning at every turn? Why do I struggle to sort out the material and the spiritual, to separate the failures from the successes? Well, if you're going to write honest prayer letters... That was what tormented me.

. . . . . .
If my task was far smaller in terms of the effect it was to produce, it was far larger in terms of my own life involvement. If there were times when I must be willing to pay any price for what was called the "advancement of the Kingdom", there were also times when I must let such a price - climbing a mountain, for example, in rain and mud and darkness - be paid in vain. This, too, was a place to glorify God.

. . . . . .
I do not write prayer letters anymore, for I have nothing to say about my work. It seemed, on the night of Pedro's death, as though FINIS were written below all I had done. Now in the clear light of day, I see that I was in part correct. God, if he was merely my accomplice, had betrayed me. If, on the other hand, he was God, he had freed me. I find that I can no longer arrange my life in an orderly succession of projects with realizable goals and demonstrable effects. I cannot designate this activity as "useful" and that one as "useless", for often the categories are reversed and even more often I am at a loss to apply either label. The work, in the end, as well as the labeling, is God's.

. . . . . .
Who but God knew which were the victories, which the defeats?

. . . . . .
Once I had envisioned Pedro, highland Indian, Christian, translator of the Bible, soldier of the cross - because I, Margaret Sparhawk, had come. He was my project, he was the star in my crown... God had allowed Pedro to die or he had perhaps caused me to destroy him. And does He now, I asked myself there at the graveside, ask me to worship Him?

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)

Review by Eternity Magazine:
No gimmicks or artificial situations to over-dramatize the slow, painful job of Christian witness in a primitive and alien culture. A magnificent book.

Review from intothebook.net:
Life is not always full of victories. God’s ways are not our ways, and we should not fit God’s plan inside of ours. We may not understand it, but it’s not meant for us to understand. This book is a great example of many missionaries’ lives, their victories and their failures. And it is a great reminder that we need to be willing to serve God, and know that His plan is perfect, whether we see it at the moment or not.

05 November 2015

Hard winds of life, wisdom from Amy Carmichael and others

Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on the tree, the roots stretch and grow stronger.

Let it be so with us. Let us not be weaklings yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in the spirit to resist.

~ Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), missionary to India

There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world - the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share of that suffering. When I became a servant, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you. ~ Apostle Paul, Colossians 1:24-25 (Message)

Taking the gospel to people ordinarily requires sacrifice and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. This is the way Christ means for his saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of his people. Suffering is God's strategy for completing the Great Commission. The Calvary road is not a joyless road. It is a painful one, but it is a profoundly happy one. Those who follow Jesus are often sorrowful, and always rejoicing.
~ John Piper, desiringgod.org

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. ~African proverb

God's call has to do with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers he chooses to use to crush us.

When he uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. We must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom.

If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed - you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Always, by Steve Green
With the hard winds of life blowing out of control, it can feel like I'm all on my own.
But You've given me Your word and I know You'll never leave and I've never faced a single storm alone.
You are good always and in all ways. You are working all things together for our good.
You are good always in big and small ways, I know I can trust You in everything You do.

03 November 2015

The far side of somewhere I love (by Elizabeth Trotter)

As a Christian, I know home is with God himself.

The best part about finding home and belonging in him is that he goes with me wherever I go.

Psalm 139 is a gift to us global nomads in this regard:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. I cannot flee from His presence. Even on the far side of the sea, He holds me fast. And no matter how deep the depths of my life, I know He is with me. (vs 7-10)

From now on, wherever I go and no matter which side of the sea I settle on, I will always be on the far side of somewhere I love. There is just no getting around that.

How precious of God to include David’s words in His Word. David could not have known about jet propulsion when he penned Psalm 139, but thousands of years later, his words are a balm to the global nomad’s soul.

For we rise on the wings of the dawn, and we settle on the far side of the sea, and because God lives in us, we can find Home in every place He has made.

“With Christ as my city, I can traipse all over the globe and never once not be at home, because I dwell in His grace.”
      ~ Christine Hoover, who has crossed the deep cultural divide that makes one wonder where in the world you belong, and the author of From Good to Grace

~ Elizabeth Trotter, www.alifeoverseas.com/the-far-side-of-somewhere/

[Note: These thoughts truly resonate with me.]

22 October 2015

Therapeutic stops on my way back to Kenya: Reykjavik, Iceland and Buxton, England

My bags, Union Station, Washington DC

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
    ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Traveling across eight time zones is not easy and takes a toll on ones body. Jet lag occurs when people travel rapidly from east to west, or west to east on a jet plane. It is a physiological condition which upsets our body's circadian rhythms.

Just getting out of airports is wonderful and getting exposed to the sunshine helps to reset internal body clocks. I made two stops during my trip from the US back to Kenya; it was good for my body and brain.

First stop - Reykjavik, Iceland
I enjoyed a fun 8-hour excursion seeing some sights in this fascinating land. Iceland is full of volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, the rifting of tectonic plates, and occasional earthquakes. I toured on a small bus with a dozen other folks from various parts of the world and our fabulous guide, Asgeir.

The temperature was only in the mid-40's, the wind was gusty at times, and it rained off and on throughout the day. I was quite bundled up with a stocking cap and scarf under the hood, plus mittens! However, these conditions did not interfere with my enjoyment of the tour.

In quite a contradiction to the weather, at this stop our guide showed us bread being baked in the dirt. Icelandic rye bread is baked just under the surface of the ground using geothermal energy, where the magma and lava keep the soil warm enough (up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit). Taking up to 12 hours to bake, I can confirm that it's quite delicious as we got to have a taste.

Gullfoss, Golden Falls

Beautiful scenery everywhere.

We saw many rainbows, including a full one and a double.

The ground percolated and bubbled with activity in this area. 

Second stop - Buxton, England
I was privileged to spend a week with some friends I know from Nairobi, who are now living back in the UK. Besides some good times with their family, I also did a bit of exploring.

Solomon's Temple, also known as Grinlow Tower, is near the spa town of Buxton in the Derbyshire Peak District. It is said to have been built by Solomon Mycock in the 1890s, paid for by public donations to provide work for the locally unemployed with assistance of the seventh Duke of Devonshire. The tower was restored in 1998, also with public donations.

The 20-foot-high, two-story tower on top of a hill, contains nothing other than the staircase to the top. From the open top there are good views over the town and surrounding countryside.

Beautiful countryside, with sheep grazing on the hills.

I enjoyed the nooks and crannies in a quite fascinating used book store.

I drank a lot of tea, the British variety (not Kenyan chai).

I thoroughly enjoyed photographing flowers at Pavilion Garden. 

Slow down and enjoy life. It's not only the scenery you miss by going too fast - you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.
    ~ Eddie Cantor (1892-1964) American comedian, singer, dancer, and songwriter

20 October 2015

Home-assignment; spending time with family

A regular part of life for most missionaries is returning to their passport country for home-assignments. These visits help missionaries stay in touch with the people who enable them to do their mission and they provide a respite from the stresses and strains of everyday ministry in the field. It is still work, just a different kind. It's not a vacation, but a continuation of their work. ~ Dale Hawley, Missionary Care at Missions Resource Network

Celebrating my 60th birthday with a sailboat ride in New York Harbor

Jess, Jason, Zach, Cadence, Creighton, and Maxwell - New York

Rachel, Joyce, Aaliyah, Caleb, and my mom - Nebraska

Balloon launch

Tubing the Shenandoah River

Grandma, Great Grandma, and grandkids 

Daughters and sons-in-law and my mom - Virginia