01 July 2010

July 2010 Prayer Letter


For this month's prayer letter, I’d like to share several quotes that I’ve been embracing and meditating on.

“God calls new futures into being.”
study note on Genesis 22, from the Life With God Bible

“God wants me to be something I have never been.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

“So this is my prayer: that my love will flourish and that I will not only love much but well. Teach me, Lord, to love appropriately. May I use my head and test my feelings so that my love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. May I live a lover's life, careful, discreet, and exemplary - a life Jesus will be proud of. May my life be bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.”
- Philippians 1:9-11 (personalized from the Message Bible)

“Having loved his companions, Jesus loved them right down to the end… This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you…”
- John 13: 1, 15

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. According to the story of the Good Samaritan, instead of asking, 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?', we should ask, 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him.'
- Martin Luther King, Jr ("I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, 1968)

“Unless we connect deeply with the people of our host culture, we will neither see nor interpret their situation accurately: their pain, their values, their structures, their social limitations, their dreams, their ethos and pathos. Until we can interpret their situation accurately… our well-meaning help won’t fit their reality.”
- Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer

Thank you for praying for the following items along with me:

  1. That I will be sensitive to the new future God wants to call into being in my life
  2. That I will yield to being something I have never been before
  3. That I will love my friends in Kenya not only much, but well
  4. That Jesus will be proud of my life
  5. That I will follow his example and love the folks to whom God has connected me - right down to the end
  6. That I will be like the Good Samaritan and develop a “dangerous unselfishness” as I encounter people in need
  7. That I will continue to connect deeply with my friends in Kenya and that I will understand such things as their values, their pain, and their dreams
  8. That my well-meaning help will actually fit their reality

Familiar Sights, Sounds, Smells, Hassles, and Quirks of Kenya


“I felt that I was at home, that I was where I had been meant to be for a long time.”

- Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

This recent furlough (time back in the States) was my longest ever - almost 13 months. This is part of a very appropriate text message I received from my friend, Kim, on the day of my arrival -

“Hope that the old familiar sights, smells, and hassles can help welcome you back.”

I’ve now been back in Kenya for five weeks. After a brief period of adjustment, I feel like I am getting into a normal rhythm. My house is mostly in order and I’ve met with many of my friends.

Indeed… the sights, sounds, smells, hassles, irritations, and even - shall I say - the funny quirks of Kenya have welcomed me back. I hope you’ll enjoy this brief list.


Sunbirds, Robin Chat, Superb Starling, Firebird, African Pied Wagtail, and so many more beautiful and familiar birds.

So much new construction! Large office/shops buildings; apartment buildings; double-decker parking garage.

Broken piece of a mirror, glued and/or taped to the windshield of a bus.

Police and military guys with their ever-present AK-47’s.

Maasai guys, dressed in their typical red plaid shukas, carrying a walking stick, and wearing sandals made from old car tires.

The red soil of Kenya.

Beautiful flowers, like the Bird-of-Paradise above.

Beautiful butterflies, fluttering in front of me as I walk.

Trees: Acacia, Flame, Blue Gum, Jacaranda, Guivillea, Bougainvillea.

Lovely white billowing clouds that are so common in the blue skies of Kenya.

Women carrying firewood.

Extremely chaotic Railway bus park in downtown Nairobi.

Roadside nurseries.  


Hollering conductors, soliciting passengers.

Hooting matatus, soliciting passengers.

Croaking “lullaby” of one or two hyrax every evening.

Joyful cries of “Mzungu, mzungu!” from children (and sometimes adults).



Wonderful aroma of roasted maize by the side of the road. It’s one of my favorite smells in Kenya.

Nauseating stench of raw sewage wafting through the window during the service at Carol and Jeremiah’s church (see photo above).

Take-away-your-breath black clouds of diesel exhaust from lorries and buses. Gag!

Funny quirks

Oh, yeah… I must remember that pedestrians do not have the right-of-way!

Men unabashedly relieving themselves by side of road.

People staring at me (even after all these years, it grows wearisome)!

Street preachers. They’re loud and obnoxious and no one even listens to them.

Guy carrying a drive shaft as he walked down the side of the road.

Windows closed on bus, even though it’s warm outside.

Plot where Horseman once stood STILL has nothing new built on it after over a year! Very prime piece of real-estate! Hawker friends told me that the owner, Franz, and the new buyer are in court over the issue. Franz claims he only sold the building and not the plot! Hahaha, only in Kenya.

Hardly any cheese OR sauce on pizza. Rather boring.

In downtown Nairobi, there’s an increase of functioning traffic signals AND an increase in motorists actually honoring them. I’m amazed.

What I call “squeeze and weave” through the crowds in town. It’s difficult to maneuver the throngs of people!

Matatu drivers using the unimproved shoulders to drive on - instead of the actual road - in an attempt to avoid the potholes and or to “jump the queue” of the “jam”.

Charming pleasantries

Fruit vender remembers not only me, but that I often ride a bike (I used to on a rare occasion pass by his kiosk).

Conductors on various matatus still remember not only me, but what stage I use near my house.

Taxi guys I don’t even know welcoming me back, with - “long time!”

A bicycle fundi I’ve used only twice remembered me and asked, “Baiskeli wapi?” (Where is your bike?).

Running to catch a bus I nearly missed, I banged on the side of it with my fist; the driver stopped J

Fun responses wearing my “My name is not mzungu” shirt.

John (a flower-vendor friend, who I mentioned briefly in the “Rubbing Shoulders” story of my new book) gave me a free bouquet of stem roses!

Clare’s reaction (she’s quoted on the back cover of my new book) when I gave her a copy: “Deb, your stories really challenge me! The ones from your first book are still in my head. God bless you for what you’re doing in Kenya!”

Meeting David again (I didn’t remember him, but he did me). We last met in 2002 when he interpreted for me as I taught at a home cell meeting of Bishop’s church. He even remembers that I taught on Spiritual Gifts and that I gave a test afterward J

Being called “Njeri” by complete strangers. It’s a Kikuyu name meaning “traveler”.

Chai, at long last with Kenya tea leaves again. When I attempt to make chai in the States, it just doesn’t taste right. (Photo below was taken in Naivasha)

Mild hassles and irritations

Muddy shoes. It was still raining in the early days of my arrival (the tail-end of the “long rains”). It seemed proper and fitting to be jumping mud puddles and coming home with muddy shoes once again!

Typical to not find “tissue” in public restrooms, even in relatively fancy places.

No power at the cyber café.

Power outages and no water and/or no water pressure at my house.

Beggars. They range anywhere from almost drunk and staggering adult men (with hand outreached), to annoying “parking boys”, to people I’ve barely met asking me to sponsor their child at school, to one guy I’ve known for a while but only casually asking me to buy him a camera!

Gaping holes in downtown sidewalks.

Sidewalk hustlers, in downtown Nairobi, attempting to sell safaris into the game parks by waving brocures in the faces of any whites passing by.

Classic example of being back in Kenya

On my first day in Nairobi, I needed to do a few errands. After taking care of them, I hired a taxi (since I had several bags of groceries). After he “dropped” me, I got his name - Moses - and phone number. That way, I can call him in the future and won’t have to tell new guys how to get to my house.

On a subsequent day (after again getting several bags of groceries), I called Moses. He said he was at the Nakumatt gate and would come immediately to where I was. After I waited a bit, another gentleman eagerly approached, saying “Come, we go.”

I informed him I’d already called someone. “Ah, but Moses has run out of petrol. You can see him there, in the road. His car stopped. Come. I’ll take you.”

Sure enough, I saw Moses’ car sitting just off to the side of the road. I asked this guy if Moses knew he was taking me. “Yeah, yeah, just come.” So… I agreed to go with him and pushed my “trolley” (cart) through the busy parking lot. As I got into the guy’s car, I saw Moses frantically running back to his car with a small container of petrol. His haste indicated that he was still hoping to get to me without much delay, not knowing I was now in a different taxi.

Just as the substitute guy got me to my compound, sure enough… Moses called. “I’m not seeing you anywhere.” Alas, I had to tell him that his so-called “friend” had taken advantage of the opportunity and that we were just arriving at my house. I felt bad for Moses, but told him there would be another time.


My Birthday!

The 5 (homemade and delicious) brownies with 5 candles represent my new age - 55! Mike and I enjoyed them after a Sunday lunch recently.

The next photo is my friend, Sandra. She treated me to a lovely lunch - with some mutual friends - for my birthday.

It was purely coincidental - but also sort of cool - that I got my new bike on the actual day of my birthday!

All in all, it was a great day!


A New 23rd Psalm

The Lord is my warrior; I shall not fear.
He is mighty in battle.
He makes me lie down in peace and security.
He knows my coming and and he knows my going.

He keeps me safe and sheltered, as he stands at attention,
guarding the gate of my abode, my heart, and my life -
yeah, even of my very soul.
The Lord’s watchcare is constant. He is always at his post -
in spite of heat, rain, or cold wind.
Yes, He is there throughout the day and all through the long night.

My watchman is ever alert to outside intruders
And any destruction that may befall me.
He is cautious and wary on my behalf.
He prepares a place of wellbeing for me in the presence of my enemies.

Even though carjackings, pick-pocketing, armed robbery, rapes, lynching, murders,
and all manner of evil go on all around me -
still I have no fear.

My warrior, you are always with me.
You set me free from any harm that might ensnare me.

You, Lord, lead me in right paths, for your name’s sake.
You are my deliverer; I put my trust in you.

You are my Maasai moran - my warrior. You are ever with me.
Your reliable panga is tied at your waist;
Your spear steady in your right hand.
Your runga is ready to go into action.
Even your bow and arrow, they exist solely to protect me.
Your massive and impenetrable shield surrounds me on all sides.

Surely, a sense of calm follows me.
For you are my faithful guard and you are with me always.
I know you are there and I put my complete confidence in you.

I lie down and sleep in peace,
aware that you, Lord, are my personal warrior
and knowing that your hand of protection is on me all the days of my life.

[NOTE - A new study/devotional Bible that I'm using, challenges its readers to come up with a new metaphor for the Lord (instead of a shepherd) and rewrite the 23rd Psalm. They suggest using something that you can relate to (in case you're not often around shepherds). I chose the ever-present Maasai moran warrior for my metaphor. I hope you've enjoyed it!]


Seeing my Friends Again!

Joe, with his copy of my book

Carol and Jeremiah (on their anniversary)

Linet, Jeremy, and Derrick (at my house)

Ben, Veronica, and 7-month old David
(in Kijabe)

A Little Chapel on the Side of the Road

This week Sandra, Jennifer (and Jonathan), and I did a 2-day trip to Nakuru. We went to visit our mutual friend - Trena (who just relocated there, from Nairobi). Sandra says I get the prize for packing the lightest :)

We stopped to do some sight-seeing at this little chapel on the side of the road. I was thrilled with the opportunity, as I've passed by it too many times to count - without ever stopping. It was built by Italian POW's in 1942. They were interred in the Great Rift Valley during WWII. They also built the road we were traveling on - a road (I might add) that hugs a huge drop-off and descends down into the Rift Valley.

This interesting tree is on the small compound of the chapel.

The chapel is very small - but very attractive - as you can see from this stained-glass window.


More from our Trip to Nakuru

This is Jen's son, Jonathan. He is so adorable and such a little man!

Sandra and Jen are each holding a baby at Trena's "baby house". 
Sandra has David and Jen has Joseph.

"Two many cooks spoils the soup" was NOT the case for our dinner. 
Each of us had a hand in making potato soup 
and grilled cheese sandwiches. 
It was all delicious and the fellowship was great!

As we headed out of Nakuru for our 3-hour drive back to Nairobi, we encountered a huge traffic jam on the main highway. Mwai Kibaki - the president of Kenya - was in town for an official ceremony. This is one of his helicopters.

Here I am getting the scoop on what was going on :)