15 September 2007

A CLARION CALL TO RESIST THE PULL

·Whenever I come back to the States, I struggle inwardly as I go through culture shock. I may not talk a lot about it, but the inner turmoil is there, just the same.

· The American and Kenyan lifestyles are so different – especially economically!

· After having lived in a foreign country for almost six years, I believe I can wholeheartedly agree with those who claim that Americans are rather self-absorbed. The average American only thinks of the good ol’ US of A – how wonderful it is, how mighty it is, and how booming the economy is. We ignore the fact that literally billions of people in the world don’t have the essentials of life: clean water, proper sanitation, and three meals a day.

· Unlike Americans, Kenyans don’t have kitchens full of food. Rather they ask God for their daily bread! Many of my Kenyan friends only eat two meals a day – that is, if you count tea as a meal!

· Unlike Americans who (relatively speaking) have huge homes, most Kenyan families live in one room that’s only 100 square feet (commonly called a 10x10). That’s most likely smaller than your bedroom!

· In urban areas, they share a community toilet and wash room with several other families.

· Americans typically have so much stuff that they fill their attics, garages, and basements. If there’s not enough room in those places, they rent storage space. Every time I come back to Omaha, new storage centers have been built. Why? In order to store more stuff! Stuff that’s rarely used!

· Americans seem (to me) to be in hot pursuit of more and more leisure, more and more luxury items, more and more comfort, and more and more pleasure.

· On the contrary, Kenyans struggle just to meet their most basic needs. They live with almost no luxury or leisure. Their days are consumed with survival.

· Come visit me in Kenya some time. I’ll show you these things.

But, enough of these comparisons. Let’s make a bit of a shift here. Let me move to a different comparison – that of the world and the church.

· Statistics tell us that the church doesn’t look that much different than the world (adultery, divorce, pre-marital sex, debt, depression, etc.)

· Would your neighbors say, “Those folks at the end of the block – in the blue house – they’re different. There’s something truly unique about them!”?

· Or have you (like so much of America) adopted the motto - “The one with the most toys wins!”

· Are you following Jesus? Or, are you following the world?

· If you flirt with the world, how will you influence it?

· Have you compromised in some areas of your life?


·

Living for Self vs. Self-Denial

· Lately, I’ve been reading through the New Testament in the Message Bible. That’s what I was doing as the Lord began to give me this "sermon". You’ll notice I quote many of the Scriptures in that version. I believe that will help your ears to perhaps hear Scripture in a new way.

I have 12 points, a few quotes, and over 40 Scriptures!


1) Introduction to “resisting the pull”

James 5:5 - You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.

Amplified - [Here] on earth you have abandoned yourselves to soft (prodigal) living and to [the pleasures of] self-indulgence and self-gratification.

James 5:20 – (James’ final comment to his book) - Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Message - Go after them. Get them back and you will have… prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.

This is what I see in the American church – an epidemic of wandering away from God. Sure there’s still the veneer of religiosity – church attendance, etc. But according to…

Titus 2:12we are to… say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Message - We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life… WOW!

Have you turned your back on a godless, indulgent lifestyle? Or, are you chasing worldly passions like everyone else?

Are you resisting the pull?

Do you remember when you studied Greek Mythology in school? Do you remember learning about the “call of the sirens”? Let me read a little bit of it to you:

“The Sirens, they say, had maidens' features, but from the thighs down they had the form of a bird. One of them played the lyre, another sang, and another played the flute. By these means, and by clever and deceitful words, they persuaded passing mariners to linger, thus causing their destruction. That is why the island where they lived was full of the bones of those who had perished.

When the Argonauts sailed past the Sirens, Orpheus chanted a counter melody to protect his companions, but Butes swam off to the Sirens, and would have perished had not Aphrodite carried him away.

Odysseus stopped the ears of his comrades with beeswax, and ordered that he should himself be bound to the mast, so that he could hear the lovely voices of the Sirens, who sang:

"Draw near ... illustrious Odysseus and bring your ship to rest that you may hear our voices. No seaman ever sailed his black ship past this place without listening to the sweet voices that flow from our lips, and none that listened has not been delighted and gone on a wiser man.”

When he heard their persuasive song, he strongly desired to linger and begged to be released, but his comrades bound him tighter, until they had sailed past them.”

These sailors struggled greatly to resist the pull of the Sirens. It sounded “sweet”. It made promises to its listeners: “None that listens has not been delighted and gone on a wiser man”. But, their words were “clever and deceitful”. The Siren’s “persuasive song” caused them to linger, causing their destruction. Their island was “full of the bones of those who had perished.”

To resist the pull, the sailors had to sing counter melodies, stop their ears with wax, and tie themselves to the mast.

The call of the sirens is a made-up story. But I believe it paints a very vivid picture of the culture that surrounds us and the lure it has on us.


2) Living for self vs. self-denial

Revelation 3:14-19 – (Message) Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God's Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God's creation, says: "I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You're not cold, you're not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, 'I'm rich, I've got it made, I need nothing from anyone,' oblivious that in fact you're a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

"The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!”

The Church of Laodicea was:

  • self-reliant (in great need, but thought they had it all together)
  • self-focused (not passionate about God)
  • self-led (living independent of God).

Sounds to me like the American culture. It’s all about me and self-fulfillment. I want it. I need it. I deserve it.

American culture is all about self! self-fulfillment, self-sufficiency, self-dependence, self-will, self-indulgence, and self-preservation

BUT God has called us to self-denial!

He has called us to surrender!

Mark 10:45 tells us why Jesus came. He came togive away his life

I John 2:15, 16 – (Message) Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.

Amplified (vs. 16) – For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things]--these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself].

I John 3:16, 17 – (Message) This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Are you living up to your best?

Or, are you – like the sailors – lingering somewhere that will cause your destruction?

Resist the pull!

Come Out of the World and Pleasing God

3) Come out of the world

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.

Amplified = fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs

We shouldn’t look like everyone else.

James 1:27 – Religion that God our 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.

Amplifed = spotted and contaminated

We are called to be different.

James 4: 4-10 (Message) You're cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn't care? The proverb has it that "he's a fiercely jealous lover." And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you'll find. It's common knowledge that "God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble." So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet.

Amplified = (vs. 4) You are like unfaithful wives having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vows to God.

Jesus said, in John 15:19, You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.

I John 5:4-5 - Message - Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God.

Does this describe you? Are you flirting with the world?

OR… Are you winning over the world’s ways?

Have you resisted the pull?

4) Pleasing God

Joshua 24:14 - "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away your gods and serve the LORD.

2 Corinthians 7:1 – (Message) Let's make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let's make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.

2 Timothy 2:15 - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.

2 Corinthians 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him.

Is He pleased with you?

Are you… resisting the pull?


Wake Up!

5) Tied down to the mundane

John 8:23 - (Message) Jesus said, "You're tied down to the mundane; I'm in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I'm living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You're at a dead end.

1 Corinthians 7:31 - (Message) Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you.

Luke 21:34-36 - "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life.

Dissipation = Wasteful expenditure or consumption; immoral or improper conduct; indulgence in sensual pleasure

Message – “Anxieties of life” = Don’t let the sharp edge get dulled by parties and drinking and… shopping.

Amplified = But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose.

Are you tied down to the mundane? Are you missing God?

What is the world thrusting on you with its glossy magazine ads, internet pop-up windows, highway billboards, and relentless TV commercials? Are you dealing as sparingly as possible with those things?

Say it with me - Resist … the pull.

6) Wake up!

Romans 13:11-14 – The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber.

Amplified = rouse to reality

Message - But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. Be up and awake to what God is doing! We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!

Luke 12:35 – "Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning.”

Say it with me - Resist … the pull.

7) Fix your eyes

2 Corinthians 4: 18 - So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. (NIV)

Fix = to direct steadily or to attract and hold one’s eyes or attention

Hebrews 11:27 - (Moses) persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Message - He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going.

Hebrews 12:2 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus (NIV)

Amplified = look away from all that will distract to Jesus

Average American watches TV over 4 hours per day! What are you allowing into your mind through TV, the internet, and movies?

Are your eyes “fixed” on Jesus? Or are they fixed on your new high-definition TV?

Are you getting a daily dose of God’s Word? OR… are you getting a daily dose of the latest new TV show?

Resist… the pull!


Finish - Don't Quit

8) Stay on course

Hebrews 2:1 - We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Hebrews 3:12, 13 – See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away (Amp = stands aloof) from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness (Amp = delusive glamor).

Message - So watch your step, friends. Make sure there's no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it's still God's Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn't slow down your reflexes.

Hebrews 4:1 - Message - For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God's goal for us, we need to be careful that we're not disqualified.

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.

Amp = seize and hold fast and retain without wavering

Hebrews 13:9 - (Message) Don't be lured away from him

2 Corinthians 11:3 – (Message) And now I'm afraid that exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter, you are being lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ.

Luke 9:62 – Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Message - Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day."

Did you spend time in God’s Word today? Did you listen to His still, small voice? Or, are you putting it off until that illusive day we call tomorrow?

Have you gotten off course?

Have you been diverted from the living God?

Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.

“If we do not learn with Paul the Christ-exalting paradoxes of life, we will squander our days pursuing bubbles that burst.” (John Piper)

Resist… the pull.

9) Finish – Don’t quit

Hebrews 3:14 - We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

Hebrews 6:10-12 – God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Message - God doesn't miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you've shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don't drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.

Amp = Do not become disinterested and become spiritual sluggards

Romans 12:11 – Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Message - Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.

Luke 21:19 – (Message) Staying with it—that's what is required. Stay with it to the end.

Have you burned out? Are you about to quit?

Say it to yourself - Resist… the pull.



Examples - Both Good and Bad

10) Examples

4 good examples:

1) Moses - Hebrews 11:26 – (Message) - By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God's people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah's camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff. By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king's blind rage.

2) Prophets - James 5:11 (Message) - Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course!

3) Joshua - Joshua 14:8, 9 – I followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. OR as the Message puts it, I stuck to my guns, totally with God, my God.

4) Paul - 2 Timothy 4:7 – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

3 bad examples:

1) Martha - Luke 10:39-40 – She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.

2) Lot’s wife - Genesis 19:26 – But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

What did she look back at? She looked back at the culture of her world and all its empty promises.

3) The Rich Fool - Luke 12:16-21 (Message) –

Let me just add here that I find this story to be a most profound one!

Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, and I'll say to myself, Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!'

"Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?' "That's what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God."

Isn’t that a description of the American dream?

Shane Claiborne (author of Irresistible Revolution), says, “The world cannot afford the American dream”.

Don’t be distracted. Like Joshua, stick to your guns! Don’t look back!

Resist… the pull.

11) Examine yourself

Oswald Chambers says, “At least once a week, examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you.”

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 – (Message) - Don't fool yourself. Don't think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God's fool—that's the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid.

Amp = examine and test and evaluate your own selves

2 Corinthians 13:5 – (Message) Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.

· Are you living for yourself?

· Inventory where you are right now regarding:

  • time in the Word
  • meaningful and quality time with your family
  • checkbook
  • calendar or daytimer
  • TV habits
  • eating habits


· Are you pleasing God with how you:

  • spend your time
  • spend your money
  • eat

· Does your calendar and your checkbook look like world’s? Or is it different?

· How many days last month did you intentionally reach out to someone that was hurting or depressed or lonely? Instead of going to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, would you give up an evening in order to put together a puzzle with the widow down the street?

· Is it time to evaluate where you are spiritually?

· Are you neglecting the spiritual disciplines: being in the Word daily and spending time in prayer?

· When’s the last time you fasted?

· Have you ever fasted?

· Judge yourself and bring your life into line with God’s standards.

· Is He the Lord of your life in all areas?

Are you pro-active about these things? Or are you lazy?

If you can spend 4 hours a day watching such nonsense as “I’m Smarter than a 5th Grader”, can’t you spend one hour a day in the book that teaches, “The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge”?

Is the pursuit of the “almighty” dollar pushing Almighty God to the side?

Besides paying your tithe, do you also give to the poor? Do you support any outreach ministries or missionaries?

Are you a “Sunday Christian”? Are you simply maintaining a religious veneer?

Do you passionately love/hate the things that God loves/hates?

Have you drifted away? Are you distracted? Have you grown complacent?

Can you, like Moses, turn your back on Egypt? Can you forsake self-indulgence?

What will your life count for? What legacy are you leaving?

Are you wasting your life?

I say again - Are you… resisting the pull?

Conclusion to "Resist the Pull"

12) Conclusion

There was a period in David’s life when he did not resist the pull. In Psalm 51, we read his prayer as he repented of his sin. Verse 12 says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”

Earlier, we looked at Revelation, chapter 3. Remember that passage of Scripture addressed a church (the one in Laodicea). It was written to people just like you and me – people that warm the pews every Sunday. This church was lukewarm towards God and focused entirely on themselves.

Just a few verses further down, Revelation 3:19, 20 - Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Let me challenge you:

Have you grown lukewarm?

Are you giving away your life, like Jesus did? OR, are you living for self?

Do you need to purify your inner life?

Is your entire life fit for the worship of God?

OR, do you have gods you need to throw away?

Do you deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts at you?

Have you become so absorbed and exhausted taking care of your day-to-day obligations, that you’ve dozed off and become oblivious to God?

Are you tied down to the mundane?

Have you been lured away from the simple purity of your love for Christ?

Have you chosen an opportunistic soft life of sin?

Has busyness pulled you away, like Martha?

Is your “barn” full of self, like the rich fool?

Is the song of the world, like the call of the sirens, calling you?

Be about your Father’s business.

Seize the day.

Be alert, stand firm.

Wake up from your slumber!

Resist… the pull!

02 September 2007

September 2007 Prayer Letter

Quote of the Month –

“Christians pretty much live like everybody else; they just sprinkle a little Jesus in along the way… ”

“Conversion means to change, to alter, after which something looks different than it did before – like conversion vans or converted currency. We need converts in the best sense of the word, people who are marked by the renewing of their minds and imaginations, who no longer conform to the pattern that is destroying our world. Otherwise, we have only believers, and believers are a dime-a-dozen nowadays. What the world needs is people who believe so much in another world that they cannot help but begin enacting it now.”

- Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution


Requests –

  • I’m still looking for a place to rent in Nairobi. Please continue to pray that I’ll be sensitive to the Lord’s leading as He grants me the desires of my heart (reasonable price, quiet setting, large enough to comfortably host friends for meals and overnight). I’m eager to find a place to call my own!
  • Please also pray for Karo and Jeremiah as they too look for a new place to live. They desire to move closer to their church and will need to find another place where they can open a milk business. They need to find a place before the end of the month.
  • Masudi, Collins, Jim, and Angela all return to school this week. They’ve had the month of August off between the 2nd and 3rd term. Please pray that they will continue to do well in their education and that they will each follow the Lord with all their heart.


Praise –

I praise my God for His faithfulness to me. He continually sends blessings my way and He is so dependable about forgiving me when I miss the mark. His love truly is unconditional!

Thank you for faithfully upholding me in prayer and bringing my name often to the throne of God! I don't take it for granted!

“God keeps an eye on His friends. His ears pick up every moan and groan. God is listening. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time. He's your bodyguard, shielding every bone; not even a finger gets broken.”

Psalm 34 (Message)

Collins and Rose


These are two of the good friends that God has connected me with in Kenya. We were together recently in Kitale. Rose finished her secondary school education last year. Collins is in his final term of Form 2 (sophomore year). I really enjoy hanging out with both of them!

GLIMPSES OF LIFE IN KENYA

Bag of Chips
August 1
My favorite place to eat in Eldoret is Freddy’s; I especially like their club sandwich. (Actually, sandwiches are a very rare menu item in Kenya.) Freddy’s sandwich comes with “chips” (fries) and coleslaw. On this particular evening, I ordered it “take away” so I could eat it in my hotel room. I realized I didn’t really need to finish the whole thing, so I saved some of the chips, “tomato sauce” (a strange Kenyan substitute for ketchup), and salt. I knew I’d be able to find a hungry, but grateful street boy.

The following morning, I carried the leftovers in a small black plastic bag as I walked to the post office. Failing to see any street boys on the way, I kept it with me while I mailed two packages. While in line, I assisted four Sudanese guys, mailing a letter to the US apparently for the first time ever. I enjoyed our brief interaction.

Upon completely that task, I noticed it looked like it was about to rain. Since I didn’t have an umbrella with me, I stopped to get one at Ukwala (a grocery store). I left my little black package with the guy manning the “luggage check”. Immediately after stepping outside with my newly purchased umbrella and collecting my package of leftovers, a downpour hit the city!

As I headed to my next destination – a cyber cafĂ© – I scanned the wet streets and sidewalks for a hungry child to bless. Apparently they had all sought shelter from the cold rain. Eventually, though, I did spot a kid that appeared to be about ten years old.

Barefooted and wearing tattered shorts, he held his sweater over his head in an attempt to keep dry. He waded in a culvert full of gushing rain water, very intently searching for something, although I’m not sure what.

I got his attention and handed him the bag of chips. “Thanks,” he said appreciatively, as he took the bag.

I continued on my way.


Dilapidated
August 6
Look up the word “dilapidated” in any reputable dictionary and you’re likely to find a photo of a matatu (“Nissan” van used for public transportation). Here are some synonyms: decrepit, rundown, ramshackle, on its last legs, the worse for wear, falling to pieces, falling apart, and wrecked. Each and every one of those words or phrases very aptly describes any given matatu currently on the road in Kenya!

These vehicles truly take a beating, partly due to the atrocious roads! Likewise, the conductors and drivers seem almost intent on prematurely wearing out the matatus. The windows rarely work. The dashboard components (crucial features such as the gas gauge, the temperature gauge, and the speedometer) are typically missing.

There are frequently holes in the floorboard. The seat belts normally don’t clasp properly or don’t adjust for size. It’s not unusual for the mirrors to be held in place with a piece of wire or duct tape. The rear door is typically held shut with a piece of rope, whether or not there’s an excess of luggage squished inside.

Perhaps the components that take the worst beating are the two passenger doors. They are constantly being opened and shut to let folks in and out. I’ve seen numerous matatus with doors that don’t properly shut or open. Often the conductor has to reach into the inside of the front passenger door to pull a dangling wire (where the handle once was) so the passenger can exit.

Similarly, the sliding door often has to be repeatedly slammed shut until it will stay closed. On more than one occasion, I’ve ridden in a matatu on which the sliding passenger door came off of its runners. Each time, the conductor nonchalantly and dexterously managed to get it properly re-engaged… while we continued to move down the road!

Such are the vehicles I use to travel around Kenya!

Recently, while returning from Kitale to Matunda, I sat in the seat behind the driver. I was squished next to a large, dirty bag of potatoes. In fact, my pants got soiled from them. As is the norm, the conductor squeezed in too many people and some were forced to stand, bending over.

In addition to many brief stops we also stopped at Moi’s Bridge, a fairly large market area. It’s normal for several people to vacate and board vehicles here. Of course, along with them, all of the appropriate and miscellaneous pieces of luggage must also be exchanged.

After about five minutes, we continued on the road for Matunda. As we did so, the conductor attempted to force the sliding door shut. Suddenly, it fell off – not off the runners, but completely off the vehicle!

Reacting to the absolute absurdity of what I’ve just seen, I laughed out loud. Since no one else even batted an eye, I somehow managed to stifle my laughter!

Fairly quickly, the driver stopped and simultaneously the conductor jumped out to retrieve the door. But instead of reattaching it, he immediately put it up on top of the vehicle and haphazardly tied it in place.

We continued merrily on our way – with no side door – business as usual! People (including a rather large woman) still stood bent over, with their back sides now getting a nice breeze. Fortunately, I was next to the dirty bag of potatoes and not standing next to the non-existent door! And fortunately, I only had about ten more minutes before reaching Matunda!

The driver said something about getting it fixed in “town”, which in this case would mean Eldoret. The vehicle still had a good hour to go before reaching Eldoret. Believe it or not, it’s likely that no new passenger would mind riding in such a dangerous vehicle.

Ha! Surely, this incident qualifies for my list of “only in Kenya”! I’ll tell you what… there’s rarely a dull moment here!


Another Hungry Child
August 16
Most likely you’ll recall reading about Kim, Collins, and I taking Mark Deng Deng to Franco’s at Kakuma Refugee Camp. As we entered the Ethiopian restaurant, just as was the case the two times we ate there last December, a young street boy stood strategically at the door. Silently holding out his hand, his eyes spoke volumes.

As we all thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, I noticed Kim stopped eating before finishing his platter of njera. When he said he didn’t have any more room, I suggested he give it to the boy at the entrance. I added my boiled egg and Kim asked our waiter to “pack” it. However, it turned out that the young boy was no longer standing at the door.

Kim continued to carry the bag of leftovers with him as we walked to Mark’s house. For some time, we didn’t pass by any other feasible prospects for the small lunch. Eventually Kim spotted a lone boy walking towards us. He appeared to be weak with hunger, almost to the point of fainting.

Kim held the bag out to the boy, but he didn’t even react. Instead he stared at Kim unemotionally.

Mark intervened. “Unasikia Dinka? Unasikia Swahili? (Do you understand Dinka? Do you hear Swahili?),” he asked gently and with compassion. The boy barely muttered, “Dinka”. Mark explained to him, in the Sudanese language Dinka, that food was inside and that he should take it.

Unenergetically the boy complied by taking the bag; he silently continued on his way.

Mark offered us some sobering commentary, “You can tell that boy is hungry by the way his mouth is so dry. You can see he hasn’t eaten in many days.”

I knew Mark spoke from personal experience.

A New Baby!

Allow me to introduce you to Caleb Zachary! He's the newborn son of my friend, Agnes. She asked me to name him. So, I chose the names of my own two sons. Agnes' friend, Helen, is in the background. They are currently living in a market area called Misikhu (about 3 hours from my place at Matunda).

Another son of Agnes' - Pope (Popino) - with Caleb.


Pope, Duane, and a neighbor boy


This is Duane, Agnes' fourth-born son. He's named for my Dad! You may recall the thrilling story of my assisting in his birth over two years ago.