22 October 2013

12 Years in Kenya; A Fun Review of Past Octobers, Year-by-Year

October is a very pleasant month in Kenya. 
The sun shines so warmly and the lovely lavender blossoms 
of the Jacaranda trees grace the countryside, towns, and cities.
- my words

“One should just forget about fear; otherwise there is no point in living in Africa.”
- Francesca Marciano (Rules of the Wild)

A missionary is someone in whom the Holy Spirit has brought about this realization: “You are not your own” (I Corinthians 6:19). The desire that comes into a disciple is not one of doing anything for Jesus, but of being a perfect delight to Him. The missionary’s secret is truly being able to say, “I am His, and He is accomplishing His work and His purposes through me.” Be entirely His!
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

The three excerpts above are from blog posts during past Octobers. Besides the Jacaranda trees being in bloom during this month, another significant detail is that it marks the anniversaries of my living and working in Kenya.

This year - 2013 - marks 12 anniversaries since I first arrived in 2001.

As I reflect on this landmark, I thought I would share a few glimpses from previous Octobers. The first two quotes are from my second book – Created for Relationship; Compelled to Love My Neighbor – and the others are from my blog.

I hope you enjoy the montage... and please do take a minute to leave me a comment at the end. 

11-year Mashujaa Day picnic celebration

Three years, 2004
“When we met the other day I felt like I should come here and see you. I’ve never even known this place - Mtoni. I had to ask a friend for directions. Thank you for welcoming me into your home and for the chai. I’ve enjoyed talking to you very much. I want to ask permission to go now, but let me just leave you with a word of encouragement.” He stopped walking and very intentionally looked straight at me. “What you’re doing here in Kenya - for people like Rose and Martin - is so important. You just keep doing this good work!” Even though I know I’m in the center of God’s will, I often get frustrated with many aspects of living in this foreign land. Kisiangani’s unexpected visit deeply touched my heart. Those simple comments, from a total stranger, really encouraged me.
- my words, and quoting Kisiangani

Four years, 2005
“True bonding of an expatriate missionary and another people and their culture doesn’t take place at first sight. Becoming bi-cultural takes years… Jesus envisioned discipleship as a lifetime of building into the lives of others. The work of missions takes weeks, months, and years - an entire lifetime.” 
- Forget the Pith Helmet, various authors

I’m far, far away from my family – my parents, my children, and my grandchildren. I miss my friends and I miss my church. At times, I miss the familiar culture of home. I miss the comfortable, free, and easy way we Americans interact with one another. I miss the ability to unreservedly be myself, and in turn to be accepted for who I am.
- my words

Photo accompanying my five-year, October prayer letter

Learning the ways and thought patterns of an unknown and alien people group is quite challenging. Virtually every aspect of this foreign culture is at the opposite extreme of my American upbringing. I’m not proud to admit that I have succumbed to the sense of having been offended. Likewise, I’m ashamed to admit that I have likely caused more than my share of offenses.
- my words

“You have taught me to slow down and to prop up my feet. It’s the fine art of being who I am."              
- Sara Groves, lyrics from Every Minute (“All Right Here”)

“Interpersonal relations between Africans and Westerners in Africa may be friendly and cordial, and typically are, but developing significant friendships on a personal level requires considerable effort...[The most significant reason for this difficulty is] the important place that material resources are given in African friendships.”
- David Maranz, African Friends and Money Matters

Crossing a bridge, near my mud hut - 2007

Our work as God’s servants gets validated - or not - in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly…
  • in hard times, tough times, bad times
  • when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed
  • working hard, working late, working without eating
  • with pure heart, clear head, steady hand
  • in gentleness, holiness, and honest love
  • when we’re telling the truth and when God’s showing his power
  • when we’re doing our best setting things right
  • when we’re praised and when we’re blamed
  • slandered and honored
  • true to our word, though distrusted
  • ignored by the world, but recognized by God
  • terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead
  • beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die
  • immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy
  • living on handouts, yet enriching many
  • having nothing, having it all

- 2 Corinthians 6:4-9 (The Message)

YUM! Fresh-picked coconut at Masudi's mom's house, Shimba Hills village (interior from the South Coast) - 2008

Jesus is called a friend of tax collectors and sinners… He seems to have enjoyed being with them… Jesus gladly shared meals with these friends and brought them love, hope, and healing… In a particular and protective way God loves those who are most vulnerable: widows, orphaned children, strangers, and those pushed to the margins of a community.

Friendship puts the focus on relationships and offers an alternative to models of mission that are more formal, professional, or bureaucratic… The greater the distance and the more complex the work, the harder it can be to assume that local relationships matter, that they might be interesting or satisfying, or that they are important to one’s relationship to God. Such distancing also makes it harder to resist turning people into projects.

One of the most powerful expressions of mutuality and friendship is sharing a meal together. We tend to eat with people we like and with people who are like us. But shared meals break down social boundaries. All of us need to eat, and when we break bread together we embody our solidarity and common humanity.
- Previous 3 quotes from - “Friendship at the Margins”, Heuertz and Pohl

“One great reason why the rich, in general, have so little sympathy for the poor is because they so seldom visit them. Hence it is that one part of the world does not know what the other suffers. Many of them do not know, because they do not care to know: they keep out of the way of knowing it; and then plead their voluntary ignorance as an excuse for their hardness of heart.”
-John Wesley, “On Visiting the Sick”

“We are here to offer our hands as Jesus did when He was on the earth, to touch people with acts of kindness and compassion. We are the feet of Jesus to walk where people are hurting and to offer them the hope that is in God. We are the ears of Jesus to listen to those who suffer and to be a friend to them. We are the eyes of Jesus, always looking for the despised and rejected, that we might go and encourage them.”
- Joel Vestal, Dangerous Faith

Ten Years, 2011
To celebrate 10 years of being in Kenya, I hosted a picnic for many of my friends. We met at Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi on Mashujaa (Heroes) Day, a national holiday in Kenya. Whether or not you've seen it before, I hope you'll enjoy this slide-and-video show! Make sure your volume is up, so you can hear the audio on the video portions.

Eleven Years, 2012
Last year, I once again, hosted a picnic for some of my friends. Here are two photos, but you can see lots more by clicking here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this was very interesting to see how your quotes changed through the years. almost a sense of maturity could be seen as you advanced... not that you were immature in the first several years-- but i enjoyed the progression.

"happy [12] years in Kenya, deb"