24 May 2009

A Great Quote

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do.

- Hellen Keller

Zachary Caleb (son of Charles and Agnes), August 2007

near Kakuma Refugee Camp, in northern Kenya, August 2007

Nairobi, October 2007

Diani beach on the Indian Ocean, south of Mombasa
December 2007

Ngong Hills, December 2007

June Prayer Letter

Matunda, March 2008 (both above photos)

June 2009 Prayer Letter

I left Kenya on May 1st. I had a wonderful 11 days with my daughter - Jess, her husband - Jason, and my youngest grandchild - 10-month old Cadence! I arrived in my hometown, Omaha, on the 13th.

I’ve been feeling better than I was during the past few months in Kenya. I’m not 100% yet, but am so excited to be able to bike around on Omaha’s hills!

Somehow - this time around - my re-entry into the US culture has seemed more normal. I’m quite pleased about that.

I met with my newly-formed accountability group. I believe their increased and intentional involvement and investment in my life will reap many noticeable improvements.

On May 26th I go to Colorado. I’ll spend five days with a friend, likely hiking often in the magnificent Rocky Mountains.

I’ll also attend a 5-day missionary retreat. It focuses on:

  • Rest and relaxation
  • Debriefing, after living in a foreign land and ministering cross-culturally
  • Refocusing on ones missionary assignment and vision

As always, I appreciate your prayers for me! Please don’t stop while I’m away from Kenya.

And, perhaps it goes without saying, but I also need your continued financial support while I’m in the US.

On the rim of Mt. Longonot, June 2008

Flying a kite on my birthday, near Ngong town
June 2008

Bike ride to Denys Finch-Hattan's grave, near Ngong Hills
July 2008

Furlough Focus

During a bike ride behind Ngong Hills, July 2008

Focus for this Furlough

Besides the obvious things such as seeing my friends and family, I have two intended goals for this time back home in the states. They are:

Rest – I need to focus on resting and restoring my health.

“Unlike Jesus, we attempt to live life in our own energy. We think we can keep giving without getting replenished. Then, wearied and weakened by the demands of life and ministry, we become impatient and annoyed with the very ones God has sent us to serve.”

-Nancy Leigh DeMoss, A Place of Quiet Rest

Writing – I want to write another book, with a compilation of more stories of my life in Kenya. In order to do this, it will require much solitude. In other words, I won’t be available for very much socializing.

“True solitude is the rest of the mind, and is to the spirit what sleep is to the body – nourishment and refreshment.”

-William Penn

“One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude.”

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

-Albert Einstein

Painting at my new house, August 2008

Bike ride to Kiserian, August 2008

Bike ride to Endeset (with Sam, Kim, and Sammy)
August 2008

Touring a tea factory, Kisii (with Linet and her boys)
August 2008

Answers to 5 Questions I'm Commonly Asked

Boat ride on Lake Victoria, August 2008

On top of Menengai Crater, near Nakuru, with Jim
August 2008

Camping on Mt. Kenya, with Treena (pictured) and others
October 2008

Start of bike event on Mt. Kenya, October 2008

Church retreat, Lukenya, near Athi River, October 2008

Five Questions I’m Often Asked

1) "How did you end up in Kenya?"

The short answer is, "The Holy Spirit compelled me there." The long answer is – During a period of three years (which was also roughly the same time my kids were becoming adults and getting established on their own):

  • 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

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. While back in the states, I sold my truck and some land I owned and made preparations to go.

2) "What do you do in Kenya?"

  • 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 word that sustains folks in their weariness.
  • I offer a listening ear.
  • I come alongside.
  • I mentor, counsel, and advise.
  • I awaken forgotten dreams.
  • I challenge and provoke.
  • I break stereotypes
  • I demonstrate thinking (and living) outside the box.
  • I blow bubbles.
  • I fly kites.
  • I bake birthday cakes.

God sends me to the confused, the depressed, the hurting, the lonely, the downcast, 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.

By investing my time and energy with certain people, I’m leaving a lasting impact.

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.

Remaining Answers

Uhuru Park, Nairobi, October 2008

Bridge near my house at Matunda, on way to Soy Sambu
November 2008

Tailoring/sewing class graduation, Soy Sambu
with the area assistant chief and Alice (one of the students)
November 2008

With Charles, Agnes, Popino (Pope), Anderson (Adu), Duane, Zach
Matunda, November 2008

Above Menengai Crater, December 2008

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. It takes the grace of God.

Some areas that are difficult for me:

Food in Kenya can be rather bland and monotonous, as well as rather strange:

  • Ugali – staple food: tasteless, made of boiled corn flour and water
  • Tilapia – a fish served whole (eyes and all)
  • chicken – served as a stew or soup… often with the head and the feet
  • live termites – eaten raw, right out of the ground (wings and all)

Diseases: malaria, typhoid, typhus, amoebic dysentery, worms, shigella food poisoning – I’ve had them all!

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 really understand one another.

People constantly stare 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.

I’ve slept on the floor (with cockroaches crawling all over me) and on an uncomfortable, homemade grass mattress.

4) "Is it safe to be in Kenya?"

I believe the “safest” place to be in the whole wide world is in the center of God’s will.

“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."

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life

5) "Do I miss my kids and grandkids?"

The answer is “YES, I do miss them!” I miss my family and my friends very much when I'm in Kenya. In spite of that, I strongly believe Kenya is where the Lord wants me.

"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."

-Oswald Chambers

My "Personal Calling Statement"

Nairobi, at the gate of the compound where I live,
with our watchman - Tom (behind my left shoulder)- and his Maasai friends
December 2008

Mt. Longonot peak, December 2008

Shimba Hills, a village on the south coast of Kenya
December 2008

Shimba Hills, with a boda boda driver, December 2008

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, December 2008

Purpose Statement

God created me unique and loves me! I exist to know, love, and please Him!

My Mission Statement

My mission is to meet the needs of those around me in practical and pragmatic ways – to serve, build, counsel, and support.

My Core Values

  • God’s Presence – Walking moment-by-moment in God’s presence along with spontaneous worship is crucial.
  • Uniqueness – Joyfully embracing and exhaling my God-given personality encourages others to do the same and brings God pleasure.
  • Purpose Driven – By pro-actively focusing on my God-given assignment I will have an in-built compass for all my decisions.
  • Reckless Abandon – In viewing my life as an adventure with the Lord, I am always ready to go where He sends me, learn something new, and risk stepping out of my comfort zone.
  • Iron-Sharpening Friendships – I intentionally seek out, maintain, and value long-term relationships that go deep and are fun-loving.
  • Servant Leadership – The times I esteem others as better than myself are when I am most like Jesus.
  • Reflective Contemplation – Frequent times of quiet solitude energize me and enable me to adequately hear God’s still small voice.
  • Reliable Integrity – My actions must match my words and people must find me reliable. I desire integrity of my soul and God expects nothing less.

Remainder of My "Personal Calling Statement"

Narok, with Sudanese guys from my church, January 2009

Matunda, with Agnes, Charles, Agnes' sewing teacher, and my friend Emily
January 2009

Kayole (Nairobi) with George and Linet and family, and friends from the US
March 2009

Nairobi, with others at an Easter outreach event sponsored by my church
April 2009

Matunda, with Wycliff (my boda boda driver)
April 2009

My Vision Statement

My aim in life is to fulfill my purpose to my generation (Acts 13:36).

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. By investing my time and energy with certain 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 in both rural and urban settings.
  • A second way I impact others is through the gift of writing. Anecdotal story-telling, intertwined with thought-provoking reflections, broadens my influence even further.

As a result of people sharing my life and reading my stories, they will be:

  • Challenged to think “outside the box”
  • Inspired to chase their own God-given destiny
  • Encouraged to celebrate their uniqueness

Likewise their weak knees will be strengthened (Isaiah 35:3)

They will receive a word that sustains them in their weariness (Isaiah 50:4)

Ultimately this will have a ripple effect to thousands of others.

Finishing Well

Effective ministry flows out of who we are and our relationship with the Lord. I am a human being, not a human doing! 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."

Focused leaders:

· Are intentional about their personal growth and development

· Live in alignment with God’s calling on their life

· Have the courage to live before an audience of One rather than seek the approval of many

· Are committed to expanding the Kingdom

Statistics show that only 30% of leaders finish their lives well. Finishing well is defined as: still in love with the Lord, still in love with Scripture, legacy is still intact, they are still growing and learning, and they are increasing in ministry effectiveness.

I aim to finish well.

11 May 2009

Fun Days with Cadence

Mothers' Day, on the way home from church

having fun at home

May 3rd, Cadence was publically dedicated to the Lord

Mothers' Day at Central Park

Some More of Cadence

at the playground of the (huge, but very nice)
apartment complex where they live

the next two were taken on Mothers' Day,
on our way home from church

The last two were taken on the subway,
on our way to "Little Italy"