15 October 2008

Hanging Out on Our Compound

This is Oliver. Isn't he adorable? Trena (one of the gals on our compound) and I found him in the middle of Ngong Road about a week ago. We rescued him from inevitable death and brought him to Liz and Stuart. Everyone loves him! In this photo, he's resting on my handlebar, as I did some work on the bike.

This is Liz and Kijani ("green" in Swahili). One day, I heard frightened screams. It turned out to be Violet (one of the residents on our compound). "I've seen a chameleon!" She was petrified! Much to her relief, Stu and I came to her rescue.

Stuart, with his friend

Rose and I recently celebrated her birthday
with pizza and ice cream. Yummy!

Zeke's Prayers

Zeke Hunter

The following is from Trish, the mother to Zeke. I met her and her daughter, Katie, in Kenya a number of years ago. I've also stayed in their home in Illinois. Zeke and Katie pray for me faithfully.

This morning Zeke came to breakfast with a long face and said, "Mom I think God is dragging me to Africa." I asked him why he thought that. He said that everytime he prays God gives him someone in Africa to pray for.

I asked him if God had told him to go to Africa. He said no. So I told him not to worry that if God wanted him to go to Africa he would let him know.

And that maybe our missionary friends in Africa need alot of prayer right now.

Such heavy thoughts for a 10-year old.

Another Thrilling and Adventurous Bike Ride

You've likely noticed that I've posted photos from a few bike rides. I've long loved to bike (or "cycle", as it's usually referred to in Kenya). I think one of my most favorite places to be is on the seat of a bike!

I strongly believe it gives God pleasure to see me expressing this aspect of my personality.

In the past few months, Kim and I have done 19- and 31-mile rides. Sam joined us on a 22-miler.

All along, we've been building up to this one - a 42-mile ride. It was so much fun! We packed at least a week's worth of fun into just two days!

On our way, we met a new friend - Sammy.
He's the one in the middle of the two bikes.
He's also an avid cyclist.

Sammy joined us for a soda at Kona Baridi (windy corner).

"The Middle of Nowhere"

The first part of our ride was on paved roads. But a ways after "Kona Baridi", after a steep descent down into the Great Rift Valley, we turned onto a dirt road. Soon, we were seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were no cars, very few people, very few houses, and little cell phone network.

We were thrilled to see a couple of giraffes!

We started to worry that we would get soaked.
Fortunately it didn't come our way!

Our ride even included a bit of Kenyan history. This is a memorial marker for JM Kariuki, a former Member of Parliament in Kenya. This marks the site where his murdered body was found.

Wambui, Peter, Sarah

The young man on the left is Peter, son to Wambui. Kim and I met Wambui on another bike ride when we stopped at her small kiosk for a soda. She invited us to come to her home sometime. So... we took her up on her offer.

It was in the middle of nowhere!

We had to push our bikes down this huge hill covered with equally huge stones!

Finally, we could park our bikes and rest.

Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of Wambui. She had to leave early in the morning, before I was even out of bed. She'd gotten a call that one of her daughters was ill. This photo is of Peter, his sister Serah, and some other kids in the family.

Peter leading us back to the road in the morning

Hitching a Ride

One of these cubicles is Wambui's shop. We stopped here in the morning for ndazi (similar to donuts) and tea before we got on our way.

On our first day out, Sam got daring and tried to tackle two really steep hills... just for the thrill of it. He succeeded on the first one. But on the 2nd one, he crashed! He messed up the back wheel of his bike pretty badly. We were able to repair it enough for him to limp along the rest of the ride. However, on the second day his inner tube blew!

Remember, we're in the middle of nowhere!

The 3rd "lorry" (large truck) that we summoned was able to give him and his bike a lift. He hoisted his bike up to the top and the other guys (that were also getting a free lift) placed it on the load of manure. Sam joined the top of the cab for his ride.

One of the passengers eagerly asked me if he could trade places with me and ride my bike, while I got on top of the cab. I agreed and climbed on board.

It marked another first for me in Kenya. Well, actually it was a first for me anywhere in the world for that matter.

You can see Kim and the other guy riding behind us...
in the dust of the lorry.

Here I am on the cab.

The lorry

A Fruit and Juice Shop in Ngong Town

On each one of our bike rides, we've stopped at this fruit shop for some fresh fruit juice. It's absolutely delicious and extremely cheap!

Sam is taking a picture of us - with his phone - in the mirror. You may notice our juice is a bit greenish. This particular time we got a mixture including avocado juice. Yummy!

01 October 2008

A Rather Large Spider... in My House

Sorry this photo is so blurry, but I think you get the picture (ha, no pun intended!). I held the toothbrush up next to the spider so you could see how big it was!

Now, those of you that know me know that generally speaking I enjoy God's creepy-crawlly creatures. But, I don't especially like sharing my house with them! So, I got my trusty can of Supakill! By the way, "supa" is Kenyan English for super.

Shoe store, Kenyan style

Be grateful you have a sink (or two or three)
with water in the taps,
conveniently located right inside your house!
Many Kenyans spend many hours each and every week
hauling water for their family's consumption.

This is Mary Atieno, an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen for a long time. She was walking by the church last week when I was at Joe's house. Linet hollered at her and she stopped by to say hello to all of us.

October Prayer Letter – Seven Years in Kenya (and Still Learning)

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.

I first came to Kenya in October of 2001. This month’s prayer letter affords me a good opportunity to reflect on these past seven years.

2 Corinthians 6:4-9 (The Message)
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

As I read about Paul and his missionary journeys, I often can relate to him. I obviously have not had all of these same experiences as him. However, when I look back over the past seven years, indeed there have been some hard times. There have been some tough times and some bad times:
  • I’ve never been beaten to within an inch of my life… but I was hospitalized with a bad case of malaria
  • I’ve never been jailed or mobbed… but I’ve been pick-pocketed several times
  • I’ve never been shipwrecked, but I was hit by a car
  • I’ve never been bitten by a snake… but I’ve experienced many tropical diseases, as well as amoeba, worms, flea bites, etc. – all of them, numerous times
  • my first house in Nairobi was broken into twice; my Matunda house has been broken into repeatedly
  • I’ve been grossly misunderstood
  • I’ve been judged by my marital status
  • I’ve been lied to
  • people often make wrong assumptions about me, which then leads to incorrect expectations
  • many want to be my friend or my hero, simply because of the color of my skin
  • many aspects of the culture still confuse and frustrate me

In spite of all the hardships, my desire is always to:
  • work with a pure heart, a clear head, and a steady hand
  • serve in gentleness, holiness, and honest love
  • tell the truth and be true to my word
  • allow God to show his power through my weaknesses
  • do my best setting things right

The experiences of Paul’s that I can especially relate to are:
  • being ignored by the world, but recognized by God
  • being immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy
  • living on handouts, yet enriching many
  • having nothing, having it all

Some of My Favorite People in Kenya

Margaret, Karo, and Joy came to my house recently for lunch. We had lasagna, potato salad, and chocolate chip cookies. Plus... lots of tea! We all enjoyed being together once again!

Prayer Letter, Part 2 - Forty-One Years

After 41 years as a disciple of Christ, I am still learning how to follow Him. I am still learning how to be still before Him and listen for His gentle whispers of guidance and conviction. I’m still learning how to submit to Him in total and unconditional obedience. I am still learning how to surrender my will to His will.

“The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful… he is useful, but that is not his aim. His aim is to do the will of his Lord.” (Oswald Chambers)

I’m learning how to be faithful to my Master – not useful and not successful – just faithful.

“I heard God’s still small voice in my soul, ‘I want you to be faithful. You are not called to be successful, only faithful. Be faithful.’” (Joel Vestal, Dangerous Faith)

God is teaching me how to unlearn, learn, and re-learn. As He continues to mold and shape me into His image, He gently reminds me that I’m wet clay in His hands.

I’m discovering how to be a servant and how to bring God the glory He so richly deserves.

“I am created for God, He made me… The purpose for which the missionary is created is that he may be God’s servant, one in whom God is glorified… Beware lest you forget God’s purpose for your life.” (Oswald Chambers)

Joe Continues to Settle Into His House

When Linet and I did the initial shopping for Joe, we neglected to get him a skillet and spatula. He told me one day that he really likes eggs. So, last week I surprised him!

Joe likes to draw. One night recently, he was suddenly inspired to draw...
directly onto his not-quite-all-the-way-painted wall!

When I got there, he asked me to paint around it. The same day, Jeroboam (the electrician) was there. If you look at the top of the top photo, you'll see electrical wire going right across Joe's drawing. He was not so happy when he saw that. Jero apologized, saying he didn't really have any choice.

I'll be eager to see what eventually becomes of the drawing. Joe wants some paint to complete it.

Prayer Letter, Part 3 - Seven Years

After seven years of living in this foreign land, I’m still finding out how to be culturally sensitive. Amazingly, I still find many thought processes and ways of doing things rather strange here. However, I am constantly renewing my mind along the lines of an axiom I saw at an international airport,

“Never underestimate the wisdom of local knowledge.”

“The first thing that happens after we have realized our election to God in Christ Jesus is the destruction of our prejudices and our parochial notions and our patriotisms; we are turned into servants of God’s own purpose.” (Oswald Chambers)

I have recently stepped up my efforts to renew my mind regarding the fact that I am, after all, an alien in a foreign land and living in a foreign culture. I must never forget that. I have so much to learn.

“It is dangerous to get into a settled state of experience.” (Oswald Chambers)

I am a student regarding how to effectively interact with Kenyans. God is showing me more and more that He wants me to simply love them.

“To be a disciple means that we deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people.” (Oswald Chambers)

In respect to the Kenyans I meet on my path, I’m gaining knowledge about how to better be the hands, feet, ears, and eyes of Jesus.

“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)

I so appreciate your continued and fervent prayers on my behalf!

terrifically alive and ever mindful that I am ever learning,

Kiserian Bike Ride

Here are some photos of the 3rd bike trip that Kim and I did. Sam also joined us on this one. It was a total of 35 kilometers, or about 22 miles.


Kim and I

Our destination on this particular trip was to see Moses (another of the guys in our homegroup). He was working at a week-long camp put on by the NGO that he works for. (Non-Governmental Organizations are like non-profit organizations in the States.)