14 May 2007

Aaliyah and Tony

WHAT a couple of pills!

Please note: On the right-hand column, you'll notice a hotlink called "Video of Aaliyah". If you click on it, you'll be able to view a fun 27-second video of her.

This was a "test" of sorts. I hope to do more such videos when I'm in Kenya, so you'll be able to view the sights and sounds of that foreign land!

A Special Prayer Request

You may recall that my mud house in Matunda was broken into last December (just before I came back to the States). At that time, my bicycle, solar panels, and radio were stolen.

I've just been informed by Collins that it was broken into again :(

He says the culprit may have come in through the roof, but isn't sure. In looking around, he could only see that a few small items were taken. Things were also in disarray.

While disheartening and discouraging, I remain convinced that the Lord desires for me to live in this remote village area!

Nathan tells me often, "Deb, just by you living here... you're teaching all of us so many things! No one else like you - a "mzungu" (a white person) has ever lived here with us! It's a miracle!"

Please pray with me for divine protection over my possessions! Ask the Lord to grant me wisdom to know what other steps of security I may need to take.

Thank you so much for standing in agreement with me!


Kakuma Town

I still have some remaining photos from Kim's and my trip to Turkana land that I haven't yet posted. I hope you'll enjoy these from Kakuma town!

These men and women are buying kerosene to use for cooking fuel.
They use the yellow plastic "jerry cans" to store it.

Typical sights:
Trash and puddles on the side of the road, numerous bicycles,
Turkana men dressed in blankets,
and a matatu carrying piles of luggage on top

(in this case, it's more yellow plastic "jerry cans").

My friend, Kim, who (like me) is also plagued with wanderlust!
Notice the ladies carrying charcoal on their heads.

More women carrying charcoal on their heads.
I once purchased such a bag for use with my "jiko" in my mud hut.
Let me assure you, those bags are extremely heavy!

The barrier is used when "bandits" are active and security becomes an issue.

Another very, very common sight in Turkana land:
Men spending the entire day sitting in the shade of trees.
You can see a number of them in the background.
I'd love to know what they're discussing!

I tried my best to be fast and discreet.
However, this gentleman in the foreground noticed that I took a picture.
He yelled something to some of them in a very angry tone.
Kim is quite certain that if I'd tried to take one more photo,
we could likely have been attacked
(or at minimum, approached by an angry mob of men).
You may recall that in earlier posts,
I described this people group as being "bellicose" (warlike).

Miscellaneous Items of Interest at Kakuma Town

These young boys, unlike their elders, didn't mind getting photographed!
The one fellow is selling "groundnuts" (peanuts)
in the cones of recycled paper.
Kim and I bought some from him.

The above 2 photos are of dung beetles.
Dung beetles feed partly or exclusively on feces.
Many, known as rollers, are noted for rolling dung into spherical balls (with their hind legs), which are used as a food source or brooding chambers.

These young lads are selling hard-boiled eggs.
We bought some from them on two occasions.
Many children in Kenya do not attend school, because of child-labor.

An interesting contrast of construction styles.
The structure in the foreground is someone's home
and is made out of sticks and odd pieces of cardboard, plastic, etc.
The other building is some sort of church, still under construction.

More from Kakuma Town and Vicinity

I loved the view of the small mountain ranges all along the horizon!

After arriving at Kakuma town,
Kim and I enjoyed a cup of Somali tea in a small cafe.
This woman sat outside the door for the entire time we were there.
The owner of the cafe tried to get her to move away from the door,
but she remained in the same exact place.
Eventually her husband came and they went on their way.

Yet more women carrying heavy bags of charcoal!
They'll walk and carry it in this fashion all the way to their homes,
which could be miles away!

After I took this picture
(discretely and from the safety of a vehicle),
one of the women hollered, "Camera!"
They all got angry and some dropped their bags of charcoal.
I was glad we were in a vehicle and could just drive away!

While I certainly never want to offend anyone,
my main motivation in taking such photos
is for those of you back in the States.
I simply want to share with you (as much as is possible)
what I'm experiencing in this most fascinating place called Kenya!

This man is carrying firewood.

6 Questions I’m Often Asked:

1) "How did you end up in Kenya?"
Well, the short answer is, "The Holy Spirit compelled me there."
The longer answer is - About the same time my kids were becoming adults and getting established on their own, during a period of about 3 years:
  • I did much self-discovery re: my spiritual gifts, personality, etc
  • I wrote a mission statement for my life and annual "assignments" from the Lord
  • I put goals down on paper
  • I spent serious time in the Word, in prayer, in fasting
  • I got my passport after a sermon by my pastor and I told the Lord I was available to go
  • I got my affairs in order; I sold my house and got rid of stuff
By then, I sensed the Lord was leading me specifically to Kenya
My 1st trip to Kenya was for one month in 2001. I went with two other ladies from my church. When I went, I thought it was just for that one month and then I'd go back to my normal life.
But... while there, I distinctly heard the Lord telling me to come back. I then sold my truck and a piece of land I owned and made preparations to go.

2) "What do you do in Kenya?"
First of all, let me say this: Effective ministry flows out of who we are and our relationship with the Lord. I am a human be-ing, not a human do-ing! My doing must flow out of my being first and foremost!
Mark 3:14 says, "And He ordained twelve, that they should BE with Him.... and that He might send them out to preach."
To answer the question more specifically... I actually do the same thing in Kenya that I did when I lived in the States.
  • I lend a helping hand.
  • I strengthen weak knees.
  • I give a listening ear.
  • I come alongside.
  • I mentor, counsel, and advise.
  • I awaken forgotten dreams.
  • I break stereotypes and demonstrate thinking (and living) outside the box.
  • I give a word that sustains folks in their weariness.
  • I blow bubbles.
  • I fly kites.
  • I bake birthday cakes.
God sends me to the confused, the depressed, the hurting, the lonely, and the forgotten.
My motivating passion is to affect change in individual’s lives.
God has equipped me to do this effectively through one-on-one relationships with an intentional goal of mentoring in tangible and practical ways.
God has used the pain of my divorce as I especially come alongside and encourage single parents and their children.
By investing my time and energy with key people, I am leaving a lasting impact on my generation.
Currently I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to eat, sleep, and play in close proximity with Kenyans.
A second way I impact others is through the gift of writing my stories. I foresee publishing more books as God leads.
As I continue to obey God’s leading, He will reveal more and more of the jigsaw puzzle of His calling on my life. I will know I have been effective in fulfilling my calling when I observe those I’ve impacted embracing what I’ve modeled and taught and then in turn passing it on to others. My aim in life is to fulfill my purpose in my generation.
Mother Teresa said, "It is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not so fashionable to talk to the poor."
Well… I not only talk to the poor, I listen to the poor. I eat with and play with the poor. God has cleverly engineered circumstances to connect me to a handful of individuals to whom he wants me to minister. They live in the urban slums and in the rural villages.
They’ve become my close friends.
Let me tell you very briefly about just a few of them:
  • Karo and Jeremiah – Together, they pastor a small church in an urban slum. They receive no salary. They walk through the mud to reach the crudely constructed church building.
  • Collins, Masudi, Deng Deng – Through myself and other friends and supporters, these 3 boys are able to attend high school because we pay their school fees. Deng Deng is an orphaned Sudanese refugee. Collins and Masudi, both Kenyans only have a mother.
  • Charles and Agnes - I had the incredible experience of helping to deliver Duane (named for my dad). On a cold, rainy night, this little baby was born on the ground; I tied and cut his umbilical cord and had the privilege of holding him for the first hour of his life. It will likely remain a highlight of my time in Kenya
  • Siaya well - One of my supporters sent money for this poor, rural family to have a well. Before that, they walked a mile to get water from a stream that was unfit for human consumption! It was also used to water livestock and for laundry and bathing.
  • Martin – He is the son of a poor and landless rural family that struggles just to eat each day.

3) "What’s it like to live in a foreign country?"
One of Myles Munroe’s definitions for the word PASSION is: "Something you’re willing to do at the expense of your own comfort".
Living in a different culture is not easy. Coming to visit for a couple of weeks is easy for most people. But living there long term isn’t always easy. It takes the grace of God.
Some areas that are difficult for me:
  • Food is something that is very much a part of all of us. Well, in Kenya, the food can be rather bland and monotonous, as well as rather strange:

  1. Ugali – staple food: tasteless, made of boiled corn flour and water
  2. Tilapia – a fish served whole (eyes and all)
  3. chicken – served as a stew or soup, often with the head and the feet
  4. live termites – eaten raw, right out of the ground (wings and all)
  5. roasted grasshoppers
But… I've learned to eat whatever is prepared for me. I love chai (tea brewed with milk). In fact, I've adopted their motto - "anytime is tea time")

  • Diseases: malaria, typhoid, typhus, amoebic dysentery, parasites under my skin – I’ve had them all! I was once hospitalized for 10 days with malaria.
  • Worship music and flow of church services – The music in most churches doesn’t sit well with me; it's hard to enter into worship. It's hard to follow the preaching. In many rural churches, the men and women sit on different sides.
  • Social interactions – Kenyans are very formal in their greetings; shaking hands is almost mandatory. One should ask permission before leaving someone’s house.
  • Thought process – Kenyans’ reasons and ways of doing things can be very different than mine. I often ask God to help me understand how Kenyans think!
  • Colonial mindset - Unfortunately there is a prevailing mindset that whites are superior. I actually fight this stereotype every day I'm in Kenya.
  • Language barriers - Although Kenyans do speak English, often we can struggle to be on the "same page".
  • People constantly starring at me simply because I have white skin

In many ways, I live like the Kenyans I minister to:
I ride public transportation (matatus). I ride a bike. I walk in the mud and slosh through the puddles.
These facts alone help me relate better to those God has connected me with.
At my house in Matunda (made of mud with a grass thatch roof):
  • I get water out of a well
  • I squat to use a pit latrine
  • I use a kerosene cooker and lantern
  • The closest electricity is 3 miles away
  • I take “splash” baths out of a basin of cold water
When I spend the night at friends' houses, I'm not above sleeping on the floor (even with cockroaches) or sleeping on an extremely uncomfortable homemade grass mattress.

4) "Is it safe to be in Kenya?"
I firmly believe the “safest” place to be in the whole wide world is in the center of God’s will.
John Piper, in Don’t Waste Your Life, says, “Paul never knew where the next blow would come from. Every day he risked his life for the cause of God. The roads weren’t safe. The rivers weren’t safe. The cities weren’t safe. The wilderness wasn’t safe. The sea wasn’t safe. Safety was a mirage. It didn’t exist for the apostle Paul. He had two choices: waste his life or live with risk. He never knew what the day would hold. But the Calvary road beckoned. And he risked his life every day."

5) "Do I miss my kids and grandkids?"
The answer is “YES, I do miss them!” I miss my family and my friends. But, in spite of that, I strongly believe Kenya is where the Lord wants me.

Oswald Chambers says,
"Where does Jesus Christ figure in when we have a concern about our natural relationships? Most of us will desert Him with this excuse – 'Yes, Lord, I heard You call me, but my family needs me and I have my own interests. I just can’t go any further' (Luke 9:57-62). 'Then,' Jesus says, 'you cannot be My disciple.' (Luke 14:26-33). True surrender will always go beyond natural devotion. If we will only give up, God will surrender Himself to embrace all those around us and will meet their needs, which were created by our surrender. Beware of stopping anywhere short of total surrender to God."

6) "How long will I be in Kenya?"
I can't say for sure.
This I do know: God created me for His purposes and He prepared me in so many little ways to live in Kenya. I’m actually more comfortable in Kenya than I am in the States! I believe that I’ll continue to spend the majority of my time in Kenya for many years to come.