26 November 2007

Quote of the Month

“God is using me for His purposes throughout the world. As long as I maintain my own personal interests and ambitions, I cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. I must give up all my personal plans once and for all and allow God to take me directly into His purpose for the world. My understanding of my ways must be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord. The purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him.”

- Oswald Chambers

December Prayer Letter


My injuries are well on their way to being 100% healed! I’m able to walk well and have been doing a fair amount of biking, too. I’m quite happy about these developments!

I’m reasonably settled into my new house. I’m enjoying it immensely and have had numerous guests for meals and/or overnight already. I’m especially enjoying the many birds outside my back door. (You’ll notice I’ve posted more about that below.)



I’m traveling to Mombasa on Thursday. (This is a much delayed trip to see Masudi; I had booked a ticket there three months ago, just prior to getting hit by the car.)

On the 5th, Karo, Jim, Joy, and I will go to see Karo’s parents in Siaya. From there, I’ll go to my place at Matunda.

That’s a LOT of miles to travel, as I crisscross much of the country. As you likely know from what I’ve said before, the roads in Kenya are atrocious, to put it mildly! By the time I reach my destination, I’m usually exhausted. Please pray for me in that regard, for safety on the road, and for good visits with those I’m traveling to see.


I’ve had recent bouts with ringworm plus intestinal bacteria, amoeba, and parasites.

Ever Present Cultural Differences

I came to Kenya just over six years ago, having received absolutely no training regarding cross-cultural ministry. The Holy Spirit compelled me to come; so I came. There are so very many cultural differences between the African (or Kenyan) view of life and that of the Western (or American) viewpoint. Some are subtle; others are very in-your-face.

I find some of these differences to be quite admirable and some even to be endearing. However, at various times in the past six years, I’ve been frustrated and confused as I encounter some of these different approaches to life. There have been occasional misunderstandings and moments of friction. Of course, neither the African or Western approach to life is superior to the other. They each have merit and each one works well in its own setting and context.

But… I cannot escape the fact that my entire being is saturated with being a Westerner. It’s how I lived for 45 years. It’s what I know. It’s what I passively absorbed as a child and what I now subconsciously exude as an adult.

I’m currently reading a book about cultural differences when it comes to money matters. The author (who has lived and worked in Africa for 25 years) lists and aptly illustrates 90(!) different approaches (between the two cultures) to this one subject. I’m finding the information to be so enlightening!

Let me share just one major difference: Africans readily share space and things, but are possessive of knowledge, whereas Westerners readily share their knowledge, but are possessive of things and space.

Here’s an interesting quote from this book – “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 author goes on to state that the most significant reason for this difficulty is “the important place that material resources are given in African friendships”.

I have another book that compares three cultures as related to tensions about time, judgment, handling crises, goals, self-worth, and vulnerability.

The assignment God has given to me in Kenya, has me primarily interacting with Africans (not Westerners). Additionally, this cross-cultural interaction is very up close and personal, primarily in either my home or in Kenyan homes. So… it’s inevitable that such tensions arise from time to time.

Romans 12: 1, 2 (The Message) says,
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking… the culture around you (ones culture of origin) drags you down to its level of immaturity…”

I don’t want to be an unthinking Westerner. I want to “fix my attention on God… (and) be changed from the inside out”. I want God to “develop well-formed maturity in me”. To put it another way, I desire to function as a Kingdom citizen, and not as an American citizen living amongst Kenyan citizens.

Would you please pray with me for increased sensitivity and decreased prejudice in this crucial area?

“Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead.
You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am.
Self-sacrifice is the way – My way – to finding yourself, your true self.”
Luke 9 (The Message)

Photos of Some of "My" Birds

Purple Sunbird
These birds are quite small and hover almost like a hummingbird.
Their feathers are iridescent.

Red-Cheeked Cordon Bleu
This was one of the first Kenyan birds I ever identified.
They are also quite beautiful and commonly seen.

Robin Chat
These are fairly common. They're smaller than an American robin.

African Pied Wagtail
These are quite common all through Kenya.
Their tails almost constantly “wag”, thus the name.

NOTE – I am blessed to have many beautiful birds visiting at the back door of my new house. Whenever I have bread crumbs or produce cuttings, I share with them. I thoroughly enjoy watching their antics! In order to attempt to share this joy with you, I’ve posted the following photos that I got from the internet. Most of them, however, do not do justice to the beauty of the birds at all.

Northern Olive Thrush
This bird is rather large, in comparison to the other ones.
He tends to rule the roost, so to speak, forcing the smaller ones to defer to him.

Purple Grenadier
The male of this species is absolutely beautiful, with purple and orange feathers! They aren’t the most frequent of my visitors, but I marvel at them each and every time I see them.
Speckled Mousebird
There are 6-8 of these interesting creatures that hang around. They behave and look almost more like a mammal than a bird, thus their name I guess. They are rather large (compared to my other visitors) and sit down on their rump when eating on the ground. My bird book describes them as “gregarious” and I would concur.

Beautiful Sunbird

Black-Necked Weaver (Similar in appearance to a Baglefecht Weaver)
Mr. and Mrs. Baglefecht are my most frequent visitors. They are bright yellow; the female has a predominantly black head, while the male has some orange mixed in with the yellow on top. They often tap their beaks on my window to say “hello”.
African Fire Finch
These tiny birds are also beautiful.
I never cease to marvel at God’s creation and all the variety!
Simply amazing!

Little Bee Eater
I don't actually see these at my place, but I do spot them now and then.
They were commonly seen when I stayed at Gaby's place.

Superb Starling
These are fairly commonly seen throughout Kenya.
They’re a bit bigger than a robin and are quite “superb” looking, with their iridescent plumage.

Bronze Sunbird

Odds and Ends

Christmas Cards

I'd love to receive Christmas cards from anyone that loves me! My address is:

PO Box 1534
Nairobi, Kenya 00502

However, please don't attempt to mail me any packages without checking with me first. They can become quite expensive for me to receive. And... sometimes they never even arrive.

Glimpses of Life in Kenya

Happy Donkeys
Sunday, while biking to church, I saw a van. On one side, in big block letters, it said, “Happy Owner, Happy Donkey”. On the other side, it said, “Donkey Ambulance”. Not exactly a sight one might spot in the States! The use of donkeys for beasts of burden is on the increase in Kenya. Unfortunately, there is a lot of ignorance about how to care for them. This then leads to much abuse of these quiet, humble animals. This ambulance is obviously used to come to their rescue. There are organizations in Kenya that educate people about donkeys and monitor reports of abuse.

Exchange Rate
When I first came to Kenya in 2001, the exchange rate for US dollars to Kenyan shillings was 78. Today, it’s only 64! While this is an indication of a good economy in Kenya, it means my US money is worth much less. For instance, six years ago, $100 US dollars would buy me 7,800 shillings. Today, that same amount will only buy me 6,400 shillings. This is a difference of roughly $20!

01 November 2007

November Prayer Letter

There are (or will be) six homes clustered in this grouping.
Mine is on the right of this photo.
The entrance is between the two spots that appear to be white (due to the sun).
Behind where I'm standing are six older homes.

The entrance to my house!

The corner window is in the living room.
The sort of "bay" window is in my bedroom.
The front door is between those two windows.
The small window is from the bathroom.

Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I've got –
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God's works are so great,

Worth a lifetime of study – endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial –
This God of Grace, this God of Love.

All his products are guaranteed to last –
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He's so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of God
Do that and you'll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!

Psalm 111

My New Home

During the time I was in the States, I often asked God to choose just the right place for me in Nairobi. I saw it as another adventure with the Lord; I was curious and eager to see where it would be and what it would look like.

For two reasons, the search wasn’t as easy as I might have hoped. First of all, there was the little matter of my accident and subsequent recuperation period. Secondly, after weeks of looking, I just couldn’t find anything!

Word-of-mouth (through my church and other sources) only led to places that weren’t suitable for one reason or another. Places I looked at from newspaper ads proved to be quite inadequate. An agent I hired was a conman. Legitimate rental agencies didn’t have anything in my price range.

While having my injury treated at Chunge’s clinic one day, I stopped in the lab to see his wife, Ruth. As we talked about my quest to find a house, she called a friend of theirs. Steve Kabii, who “happened” to be just nearby, came right over. As I chatted with him, I felt like his prices were too high for my support level. He told me plainly that meeting my expectations in my price range ($150-200) would be difficult. “That’s a tall order!”Later, in Chunge’s office, we also chatted about my search for a house. Chunge also called a friend, but I felt that rent was also too high. Chunge and I often talk about spiritual things and on this occasion, I pondered out loud that perhaps the Lord would have me stretch my faith a bit. I simply was not finding anything.

I mostly dismissed Steve and his units from my mind, because of their cost. But several days later (on a Thursday) Karo and I “happened” to meet him at Karen shops. On the spur of the moment, knowing that his units were just down the road, I asked him if he’d take us to see them. I thought it’d be good to see what a $250-350 house looked like. They were all nice, but I still felt like they were too high for my budget. I explained my needs and my current support level. Steve encouraged me to consider the two-bedroom unit (in order to host friends for meals and for overnight) and offered to reduce the rent by $50. Figuring it wouldn’t stay available for long, I told him I’d make a decision in a week.

I was frustrated and tired of bouncing from house to house. Additionally, I couldn’t continue presuming upon my current host’s hospitality. All this time looking and I’d found nothing. I felt I’d almost exhausted the possibilities.

Not knowing what to do, I sent out the “urgent matter of prayer” email that next morning (Friday). That same day, I also made two last attempts. I called an agency I was familiar with. They not only didn’t have anything in my price range, their cheapest current listing was $475! I also called Patrice, my laptop repair guy. While it was great to re-connect with him and his family, the place he knew of simply wouldn’t work for me.

I had only one more place I felt I should look. If nothing turned up there, I wasn’t sure what I would do. Kim and I had planned for some time to look around Langata on Saturday. But, it turned out that he had to postpone until Tuesday. That would bring me almost down to the wire with my deadline with Steve.

On Saturday, unable to get Steve’s units out of my mind, I checked my email. I was eager for some advice; I needed some direction. His compound was nice and his houses met every one of my priorities. I questioned if my target price range was too low. Several people emailed to say they would be in prayer for me. I was grateful for that! I also heard from three key people in my life. Two boldly said I should take Steve’s two-bedroom unit and trust God for the increase in support. The third person told me that God normally doesn’t go into action until He sees us take a step of faith. I saw each of these responses as definite direction from the Lord.

Sunday was church; Monday, I stayed home and rested. My feet were quite swollen and my legs – and brain – were tired. Besides, I didn’t see any need to engage in much ado about nothing. After all, I knew of nowhere else to look.

Finally, Tuesday came. Kim and I spent a solid two hours traipsing around Langata. We inquired at no less than a dozen “estates” (little neighborhood areas) and/or apartment buildings. At each place, the answer was the same – “hakuna vacancy”. On the one hand it was discouraging, but at the same time, it seemed to be confirmation that I should take one of Steve’s. The one and only place we found was a one or two-bedroom apartment (in a fairly congested neighborhood). The two-bedroom was only $20 less than Steve’s two-bedroom house. The building was still under construction, meaning there would likely be several more months of construction noise. Comparing that one with Steve’s two-bedroom, Steve’s house stood head and shoulders above.

After our marathon search, I took Kim to see Steve’s compound. There are twelve units, three of which are in the final stages of construction. Basically, in all my searching, his one-bedroom was the one and only house I’d seen that would suit my needs. The price he was asking was the only drawback. I’m a simple person and I didn’t feel like my priorities were too high, but I couldn’t find a thing in my price range.

Kim, who had stayed abreast of my entire search, fell in love with Steve’s two-bedroom house. To be honest, it appeared that it was the one God had reserved for me. I called Steve and told him I’d take it. The following day, I had another email (from a fourth key person) encouraging me to take that same house. I saw it as final confirmation to my decision!

The following day, I signed a two-year lease. That will lock in the price for 24 months. Paying that much rent is a big step in faith for me. Please pray with me as the Lord stretches me again in this area of trusting Him!

On Thursday, I spent five hours doing some touch-up painting. Kenyan painters don’t demonstrate much craftsmanship or pride in their work.

The move on Friday went fairly smoothly, gathering my things from three locations and from one end of town to another. Gaby surprised me by blessing me with several additional household items. Karo and Jeremiah, who came along to help move, joined me for a hodge-podge lunch. They both love the place. Karo is eager to see how I arrange my things and can’t wait to come and spend a night with me.

Kim and his sister, Julia, joined me for lunch on Sunday. Kim brought a backpack load of my books that he’s been keeping. He and I are praying about starting a Bible study group in my house.

God has blessed me above and beyond what I could have imagined! The house is ideal in so many ways; I love it! And… it has two bedrooms; I was only hoping for one. A gal from church has one of the other houses on the compound and a fellow from church is taking one of the almost-finished units in December. Chunge and his wife live just around the corner. I’m invited over for tea in their garden this Sunday.

I am alert with expectation to see what God has in store for ministry opportunities in this house. I believe it will be a place of physical refreshment (after tiring cross-country trips) and for spiritual renewal – not only for me, but for others as well.

I’m fairly settled in, although there’s still much to do. For instance, I need to borrow a sewing machine and make several curtains. I’ve had the plumber come twice, trying to iron out the kinks in a couple of leaky areas.

Steve’s compound is just down the road from Ngong Dairy – a huge expanse of land owned by the Kenyatta family (Jomo Kenyatta was Kenya’s first president and his son, Uhuru, is currently active in politics). The main house was used as Karen Blixen’s house in the filming of Out of Africa. Several noteworthy tenants have lived there in recent history. I find it interesting to live down the road from such a location, considering that my other rental place was across the road from the Nairobi National Park.

So far, I haven’t seen any Sykes monkeys or baboons at this new place (like were common at my other house), but I do hear noisy hyrax every evening. Several pairs of beautiful birds frolic and sing outside my kitchen window – red African Fire Finch, attractive Purple Grenadier, and brilliant yellow Baglafecht Weaver. As I watch them and marvel at their splendor, I’m reminded of two verses in Matthew, chapter six:

“Look at the birds of the air;
they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest entry the first morning in my new house:

“Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matthew 9:28). Our Lord unwaveringly asks us that question, and it confronts us in every individual situation we encounter. The one great challenge to me is – do I know my risen Lord? Do I know the power of His indwelling Spirit? Am I wise enough in God’s sight, but foolish enough according to the wisdom of the world, to trust what Jesus has said? Or am I abandoning the great supernatural position of limitless confidence in Christ Jesus, which is really God’s only call for a missionary? If I follow any other method, I depart altogether from the methods prescribed by our Lord – “All authority has been given to Me… Go therefore…” (Matthew 28:18-19).

I can relate to Abraham’s journey of faith. I, too, have been called to “go therefore” and live as an alien and a stranger in a foreign land. I don’t live in a tent, but I do desire to be distinguished by living above the crowd!

“The fundamental fact of existence is that trust in God – faith – is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents.”

Hebrews 11 (Message)

My soul resonates with Sara Groves’ lyrics in her song, He’s Always Been Faithful:

Morning by morning I wake up to find

The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine

Season by season, I watch Him amazed

In awe of the mystery of His perfect way

All I have need of, His hand will provide

He’s always been faithful to me

This is my anthem

This is my song

The theme of the story

I’ve heard for so long

God has been faithful

He will be again

His loving compassion

It knows no end

Two Kenyan Holidays, Both in the Month of October

Joy eating ice cream

Jim (on the right) and a neighbor boy, Dan

Statue of Dedan Kimathi, one of Kenya's heroes who fought for independence from the British.
The above three photos were taken on Kenyatta Day (named for Kenya's 1st president).
It is now being renamed "Heroes Day".

My friend, Vera, and I got together for lunch on Moi Day (named for Kenya's 2nd president)

Update on My Injuries

Your heart is revealed and your character is forged when life doesn’t turn out the way you planned. Sooner or later the storm strikes. It’s in the act of facing the storm that you discover what lies inside you and decide what lies before you.

John Ortberg (Pastor and author)

It is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. It’s for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually to welcome the pain of problems.

Scott Peck (Psychologist and author)

The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even in the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.

Victor Frankl (Nazi death camp survivor)

It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the bumps and bruises which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to be battered into the shape of the vision to be used by God? The beatings will always come in commonplace ways. There are times when we do know what God’s purpose is, whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not on God.

Oswald Chambers (Preacher and author)

And in Your hands, the pain and hurt

Look less like scars and more like character.

Sara Groves (song writer and singer)

Resilient people find meaning and purpose in the storm.

John Ortberg (Pastor and author)

Current update on my injuries

It’s been almost two and a half months since my accident. Let me be frank; it’s been a long ordeal. Besides the pain and discomfort, I was very immobile for the majority of that time. The nature of my injuries required that I sit or lie with my feet up throughout most of every day. When necessary, I could only hobble or walk with crutches. I also was forced to shift from house to house, which meant living out of suitcases. I spent a lot of money on taxi fare.

However, there are many things to give thanks for:

God provided four wonderful homes where I could recuperate. And in that process, I’ve made some new friends. As you can see from my collection of quotes, I was able to do a fair amount of reading.

The truly wonderful update is that, physically, I’ve made great “strides” (pun intended)! The week of October 14th (the 9th week) was especially pivotal and full of milestones. I celebrated each and every one of them!

  • During that week, I was able to finally wear shoes on both feet!
  • A few days later, I walked approximately three miles with Karo and Joy from Gaby’s house to Resurrection Garden (a very serene green space).
  • Thirdly, the first of three scabs came off! It was amazing to me to see healed skin underneath. At that moment, I cried tears of joy and thanked Jehovah Rapha. There was a point when I sincerely wondered if those three really deep wounds would ever heal.
  • The fourth milestone, and one I had also been concerned about, is that I rode a matatu. Climbing on and off of them can be a challenge… even with two strong and healthy feet.
  • The last milestone of that week is that I went to “town” (downtown Nairobi). I stayed in the relatively non-crowded and non-chaotic area, and since it was a holiday, there were less people. For those reasons, it was a good “test” for me mentally.

All three scabs are now off. The nasty bruise on my right foot is a pinkish-red, instead of purples and blues. It’s still numb and stiff and the range of motion isn’t all it should be. I’m confident that all those issues will improve with time. The shin on my left leg is still swollen, but it’s come down considerably. Because of that, my left foot is looking more normal now. And… I’m able to walk without too much of limp.

While I do see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, I still have some time before I’m back to 100%. Currently, I need to monitor how many hours I’m on my feet or sitting up in the normal position. By the end of such days, my feet are rather swollen and tired. For that reason, during the month of November, I intend to be pro-active about staying home and relaxing at least three days of every week. This will be much easier now, since my doctoring and house-hunting days are (finally) over.

I never cease to marvel at our body’s ability to heal. God not only created us with this capability, but He placed within our body’s make-up an inherent awareness of when to stop the healing process. Simply incredible!

Several of the quotes I’ve included in this post talk about character. In the future, when I look at the physical scars from this ordeal, I pray that I’ll also sense a new level of character within me! I hope I’ve matured through this whole process. It would be a shame, after all, to only look back and say that I endured the pain and suffering. Or, to only recall hours upon hours of playing Free Cell solitaire on my laptop.

Our speaker on Sunday defined “victorious Christian living” as any happening that causes us to grow closer to God – whether it’s a blessing or a trial. God’s ongoing interest in His children is to develop their relationship with Him and to draw them closer to Him. It is, indeed, my desire to ever increase my level of intimacy with my Lord.

Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home… we should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.

Henry David Thoreau (author)

Please pray with me, that I’ll have no fear of traffic in crowded, congested areas of downtown Nairobi, or any parts of Kenya for that matter. Pray that I’ll not lose any of my intrepidness and that I’ll be ever ready for the next adventure God has in store for me. As the following excerpts state, I want to STAND on my FEET!

Take your STAND against the devil’s schemes.

STAND your ground.

After you’ve done everything, STAND.

STAND firm then,

with your FEET fitted for readiness.

Ephesians 6:10-13 (NIV)

Quote of the Month

When looking back on the lives of men and women of God the tendency is to say - What wonderfully astute wisdom they had! How perfectly they understood all God wanted! The astute mind behind is the Mind of God, not human wisdom at all.

We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God's wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God.

Oswald Chambers

Typical Public Toilet

I took this picture in a modern fast food place in downtown Nairobi. It's typical of public toilets... that is, when you can actually fine one.

It's not flushed because there's no water currently in this part of Nairobi. There's no seat, for who knows what reason?! Perhaps the owners didn't want to spend the extra money. The tank is wired shut, apparently so plumbers won't steal the various parts inside. The flush handle doesn't work. One just pulls on the wire sticking up through the tank lid. Amazingly there is "tissue" provided. That's rare, indeed!

It all becomes relative, though. At least this one doesn't require wading through an inch of water on the floor and squatting!

01 October 2007

Prayer Letter, October 2007

It’s the first of the month and time, once again, for my monthly prayer letter. As I sit here at my laptop, about to convey my thoughts to you, let me admit to you that I share the following sentiments confessed by Oswald Chambers over one hundred years ago:

"Writing is, I fear, to take the proportion of a big undertaking. It is one thing to think; it is another thing to express your thought in writing. However, I shall undertake it."
-Oswald Chambers in an 1896 letter quoted in “Abandoned to God”, a biography by David McCasslan

The first time I traveled to Kenya was only one month after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. You’ll likely recall that, in the wake of that awful tragedy, the US government strongly urged its citizens to not travel by air. However, believing that the safest place to be - in all the world - is in the center of God’s will, my two traveling companions and I went ahead with our plans to fly to the other side of the world.

My life has never been the same since that decision. Six years later, I am still here.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of incredibly positive experiences over these past years. Indeed, I have a treasure chest of very fond memories. My life is rich in wonderful relationships with people from cultures and ethnic groups from all around the world. Indeed, I am wealthy in friendships!

What God has me doing here in Kenya is rewarding and satisfying, beyond imagination. I have an unwavering awareness that this is where God wants me. That knowledge and certainty brings a delightful sense of expectancy to each and every one of my days. Those of you that know me well have accepted the fact that Kenya has become – in essence – my home.

However… there have also been difficult times over the past six years; many, in fact. Some are due to the cultural differences encountered by living in a foreign land. Others are just simply a part of daily living on this fallen globe.

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’ve succumbed to the sense of having been offended. Likewise, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve likely caused more than my share of offenses.

I could go on and on about the multitude of expectations that arise simply based on the fact that I have white skin. I so often wish I could blend into this environment like a chameleon!

Physically speaking, I’ve had several tropical diseases. I’ve had numerous bouts of typhoid. I was hospitalized for ten days with a serious case of malaria. I’ve had amoebic dysentery and all its accompanying annoyances. I suffered with typhus (tick/flea bite fever) for six long months.

Even the seemingly simple task of worshiping my Lord with a measure of comfort, familiarity, and freedom in a different culture has been a difficult hurdle to cross.

Both my rental house in Nairobi and my house at Matunda have been broken into on more than one occasion.

Allow me to inform you of the latest difficulty I am overcoming. “A righteous man may have many troubles…”

“This has really grounded you for a long time. Someday, God will let you know why He allowed this to happen. And when He does, I think you’ll have another one of your stories to tell!”
– Chunge (my doctor)

Part 2, My Life is in His Hands

After stepping outside, Kim told me, “It’s a beautiful morning. The sun is shining bright.” The morning of Sunday, August 19th seemingly begged him and me to join the congregation in worship to our Lord. We’d just returned to Nairobi after our thrilling trip to Kakuma Refugee Camp.

After a simple breakfast of tea and bread - accompanied by Sara Groves’ and Fernando Ortega’s wonderful lyrics - we went to Karen Vineyard Church. The service was great, as was the fellowship afterwards. We chatted at length with our friends, Sam and Mike.

Around 2:30, Kim and I boarded a matatu. He dropped off for home at Langata and I continued on, carrying my duffle bag with me. As he alighted from the “mat”, I thought to myself, “He’s such a great friend!” We had spent the past week together; I was still on a high.

Arriving in town, I maneuvered the bustling, crowded streets with no problems, making my way to Coast Bus Lines booking office on Accra Road. After buying my ticket to Mombasa (for Wednesday), I returned the ticket agent’s kind smile and thanked him.

My next destination was to board a bus to Bishop and Margaret’s house. I was eager to see them and their family again. I always enjoy sharing stories with them and I was eager to tell them about finding our friend, Mark, at the refugee camp.

Throughout the day, it had repeatedly occurred to me that it was such a great day. Even as I left the booking office, I had the same thought. “This has been a great day!”

I was in one of the most congested areas of downtown Nairobi - an area, in fact, that many avoid. There are so many vehicles – town matatus, vehicles traveling upcountry, private cars, hand carts, bicycles, pedestrians, etc. One must be ever alert for potential pick-pockets. It cannot be overstated that the area is “chaotic” and “congested”.

Actually, there’s no way I can adequately describe the ever-present crowded conditions throughout much of Kenya. Whether it’s a home, a bed, a church, a small cafĂ©, a public service vehicle, or a downtown Nairobi street… there never seems to be ample space to live, sleep, worship, eat, travel, drive, or walk. There are crowds of people everywhere.

As I crossed Duruma Road, I passed in front of a Honda CRV, admiring it as I did so. At this intersection, a building was being remodeled. Corrugated iron sheets had been mounted alongside the curb to keep people away from the construction zone. This pushed pedestrians into the street, as the sidewalk was completely blocked. Those of us on foot were forced to occupy and fight for the same space as the vehicles.

I contemplated stopping at Baker’s Inn for a quick snack, maybe a chicken pie. It was now about 3:30 and I hadn’t had lunch. As I continued on my way, I remember going around a young gal that had been walking in front of me.

The very next realization I had was that of being on the ground. A tire of a vehicle was on my right foot!

“Jesus!” I cried out. I instinctively hit the vehicle repeatedly, yelling all the while, “Get off of my foot!”

Eventually the car did back up. It was then that I could see my foot was badly torn up and blood was flowing. A voice in the crowd said, “You need to get to a hospital.” I asked the faceless voice, “With who?”

Simultaneously, a hand reached down to help me up. “We’ll take you.” The man helped me into the Honda CRV. Esther, the driver, apologized; stating that she hadn’t even seen me. Her attention, instead, had been on the many vehicles at the intersection.

I was in so much pain. I saw that my Keens (the shoes I was wearing) had been badly ripped. As Esther drove me to Nairobi West Hospital, she put on some worship music. Focusing on the Lord calmed me down.

As the nurse cleaned my wound – about a five-inch triangle near the inside ankle – chunks of flesh fell off. Apparently, it had been pushed along and severely scraped on the pavement. I was given two injections, one for pain and one for tetanus. The doctor gave me five injections of local anesthetic as he did his best to stitch three particularly deep areas. Both legs, from the knees down, had much bruising and swelling. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic ointment, oral antibiotics, and pain reliever.

After paying the bill, Esther took me to Bishop’s and Margaret’s. I spent fifteen days at their place, where the whole family took incredibly great care of me. They have nursed me back to health in the past, and now they kindly did so again. In those early days, I did nothing but lie on the couch. I hobbled around solely to use the toilet and to go to bed. Kim and Karo both came to see me several times. They’re such a constant source of encouragement to me! Others also stopped in to see me.

Gradually, most of the bruises have disappeared. And slowly but surely, most of the swelling has gone down. The open wound got infected, though. That required lots of trips to see Dr. Chunge (you may remember he’s the one that treated me for typhus some time ago). He took a fairly aggressive approach in those initial days, giving me intravenous injections of double doses of antibiotics. He then shifted to oral antibiotics and additionally a course of steroids. The wound was soaked in hydrogen peroxide, the debris removed, and the wound dressed each time I went in. Chunge’s wife, Ruth, also loaned me a pair of crutches.

In the ensuing weeks, I spent nine days with Kim and his family. They took great care of me. It was wonderful to get to know each one of them better, including “sho sho” (Kim’s grandmother). Kim and I had lots and lots of time to chat about everything under the sun. An occasional Vervet or Sykes monkey would entertain us by scampering along their wall or stealing bananas from their backyard garden.

Then, I had fifteen days at a quiet guesthouse nestled in a secluded wooded area. It belongs to the McCloy’s - a family from my church. Amazingly, I didn’t even know them before this happened. But, isn’t it just like a loving God to always have little surprises in store for us? It was a delight to get to know their family. I joined them for lovely evening meals on a few occasions – including a scrumptious meal of thick pork chops one night, followed by homemade ice cream and peaches. I thoroughly enjoyed the serene surroundings. Butterflies, birds, and warthogs entertained me. Screaming hyraxes announced bedtime each night. An added bonus was Karo and Joy spending one night with me.

Just three days ago, I moved in with a gal, also from my church. Gaby (nickname of “Pip”) lives in a leafy suburb area near Karen. I look forward to getting to know her better, as well. There’s already ample evidence that she’s on a mission to thoroughly spoil me. She welcomed me that first night with a hot bubble bath. She’s prepared such meals as Red Snapper filets, with broccoli and beets. De-licious! Her compound is a virtual botanical garden. I know I will spend many hours soaking up its beauty!

The current status of the open wound is that the infection has cleared up and it’s almost closed up. Soon I’ll be able to return the crutches. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!

I’ve been playing solitaire (Free Cell) now and then; I’ve done Sudoku and Codeword puzzles. I even did a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. I’ve done lots of reading – both God’s Word and a few good books. I’ve had some great times of personal worship and have spent time in prayer.

Recently, I purposefully set aside an evening for an intimate time of worship. During that time, in the secret place with my God, He reassured me that He was with me on that fateful day. To be sure, His hand is ever on my life.

Oswald Chambers –
When we truly live in “the secret place,” it becomes impossible for us to doubt God. We become more sure of Him than of anyone or anything else. Enter into “the secret place,” and you will find that God was right in the middle of your everyday circumstances all the time.

Part 3, His Hand is on My Life

I know… I know… I know what you’re all thinking as you read this.


The answer to that question is multifaceted.

First of all, I did not want to worry all of you (or cause any undue panic) until the injuries were further along in the healing process. There was, after all, nothing you could’ve done from the other side of the world. You may object that you could have been praying. My hope is that you are always praying for me, regardless of whether you hear specifics from me! Rest assured, many were praying for me here, as well. Actually, in my defense, several key people concurred with my decision to keep quiet.

Secondly, I needed some time to take it all in myself. If I can be honest, I’ve struggled a bit with depression over the incident. I would subconsciously attempt to reconstruct exactly what had happened. I played the “what if” game. What if I hadn’t decided to go around that gal at that exact moment? What if I hadn’t paused to smile at the ticket agent? What if I had decided to use the train, instead of a bus? And, naturally I also struggled with “Why?” I guess we all want to ask God why He allows painful things into our lives.

The Lord lovingly showed me this Scripture:

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.”
-Isaiah 43:18 (Message)

And thirdly, when it was found that the wound was infected after three and a half weeks, I decided to further postpone telling you. I wanted to wait until I could give you a positive report.

The time has now come to ‘fess up. It seemed fitting to tell you in the context of my monthly prayer letter. It also seemed timely to associate it with my reflection on six years in Kenya.

Part 4, Praise Items

There are so many things to praise the Lord for in this accident:

  • Esther, not only stopped, but also took me to the hospital. It’s hard to guess – and a bit scary – what might have happened if it had been a hit-and-run!
  • No bones were broken. That is nothing short of a miracle! When Bishop came home that first day and found me in his house, he was frozen in his tracks in the doorway. After hearing my tale, he kept repeating, “Deb, it’s a miracle no bones were broken! It’s a miracle!” Dr. Chunge has also repeated that same sentiment numerous times.

“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” -Psalm 34:19, 20 (NIV)

  • The provision of four wonderful homes to recuperate in has been such a blessing! God is so good to me!
  • God’s advance provision of funds to pay for all my expenses is such a relief. I’ve spent a lot on taxi rides, in addition to all the medicine.
  • I’ve been able to make it to church the past four Sundays. It’s been fantastic to see my church family rally around me in support, concern, and prayer.

Part 5, I Put My Life into Your Hands

Some Scripture and quotes I’ve meditated on during the past 7 weeks:

“I can’t remember a trial or a pain God did not recycle to bring me gain.” -Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful (“Conversations” cd)

“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, Every Minute (“All Right Here” cd)

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

I believe the reason God says “fear not” so often is that fear will sink us faster than anything else. Fear disrupts faith and becomes the biggest obstacle to trusting and obeying God.-John Ortberg
(If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat)

“Have Your Way in Me”
-Carol Cymbala (sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)
I put my life into Your hands,
I rest in You alone
My only hope is in Your love,
Lord, I’m Yours, I’m not my own

Keep me safe, keep me true
All I want to live for is to live for You
My earnest prayer each day, is
Lord, please have Your way in me, in me

Through every storm along life’s way
And the valleys I go through
I’ll trust You, Lord, to keep me strong
So my life will honor You

Oswald Chambers:

September 4 -
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!

September 29 -
If a man or woman is called of God, it doesn’t matter how difficult the circumstances may be. God orchestrates every force at work for His purpose in the end. If you will agree with God’s purpose, He will bring not only your conscious level but also all the deeper levels of your life (which you cannot reach) into perfect harmony.

Thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
-1 Thessalonians 5:18 (Message)

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
-James 1:12 (Message)

Part 6, Prayer Requests

  • Pray that the healing process would be complete and whole, with no further setbacks.
  • Please pray with me that I will once again – and soon – be able to enjoy walking, hiking, and biking at 100% capacity.
  • Please join me in praying that I’ll be able to travel to Siaya with Karo, Jim, and Joy in early December.
  • Pray that I will be able to find a place of my own to rent. The accident has pre-empted that process. I’ve been basically living out of suitcases since I arrived in mid-July. However, I firmly believe God has a special place already chosen for me!
  • Please pray against any fear developing in me – fear of crowded downtown streets, fear of climbing onto matatus, fear of traveling around Kenya, etc.


At McCloy's guesthouse

  • It is not about me. I am not my own.

  • My desire is to be entirely His!

  • “I am His, and He is accomplishing His work and His purposes through me.”

  • I still firmly believe that the safest place to be – in all the world – is in the center of God’s will for my life.

  • Another thing I know - God loves me.

  • My life is in His hands.

15 September 2007


·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!