03 September 2010

September 2010 Prayer Letter

Oftentimes I'm confused living in this foreign land.The culture (way of thinking and doing things) is so different than what I'm used to... even after almost 9 years of living here!

My ministry involves getting very close to folks in long-term and intimate relationships, as we share in one another's homes. Sometimes I feel like everything is a mystery or like I'm moving in a fog.

Am I truly on target with what God wants me to do?

Am I truly living in a Christ-like manner as I interact with the "neighbors" to whom God has connected me?

One day, during a visit with one of my friends in the Matunda area, I kept thinking of the word "mystery". It seemed to almost sum up my 6-year relationship with this person.

That evening I read the following excerpt. God's timing is so very amazing and accurate!
“God is trustworthy even when we can’t see, feel, or hear him. He guides us in decisions and promises never to leave us, even when his guidance takes us into the fog, mystery, and suffering. He is there in the fog, he is active, and he is fulfilling his glorious purposes. Our role is to trust - even if it takes 10 years.”

“Sooner or later, often later, the fog slowly lifts. Things begin to make sense. Understanding replaces confusion. Confidence replaces doubt. Belonging replaces a sense of abandonment. Hope returns. God was there all along, working actively, not only on your behalf but in ways that enrich the many other servants he loves. The fog obscures his presence and his purposes, but when it finally clears, we realize that God has kept all his promises to us (Joshua 21:45). And on those occasions when his people go to their graves with pieces of their past still shrouded in fog, he remains the loving, faithful God worthy of their trust even though the fog never lifted. While not desired, walking in mystery shouldn’t be feared; God, though not visible or audible, walks by our side, and the walk is always worthwhile for the patient, faithful servant.”

-    Duane Elmer (Cross-Cultural Servanthood)

“His legacy had been a few relationships and a lot of fog.”
-Elmer's summary of a missionary that lived in a fog for 10 years, as he closely related with people in a foreign culture. [Elmer goes into detail recounting this man's story in the book.]

Wow, could the same thing be said about me as I approach the 9-year mark in Kenya?

"Deb's legacy was a few close relationships and a lot of fog."

Two evenings later, as I stepped outside to brush my teeth, I happened to look up at the full moon. In front of it was sort of a haze (or a fog). But regardless of the fog, the moon shone so very brightly behind it. Immediately tears came to my eyes, as I contemplated that God is still shining brightly in all his glory - in spite of the mysterious fog that I sometimes feel like I’m surrounded by!

I believe that as I persevere in seeking God's face, His glory will in fact shine through my life!

‎"Please pray that I will do what the Lord wants me to do, not what I want to do. That could be two different things!"
-Chuck McKeag, my mom's neighbor (in rehab therapy for over two months after a massive heart attack)

I echo Chuck's sentiments entirely!

"God's purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child. Is the relationship between myself and God getting simpler than ever it has been?"
-Oswald Chambers

Thanks for praying for me in this regard!

My Mud Hut

I recently traveled to the Mtoni/Matunda area for 11 days. I was glad to once again be at my mud hut! I had it built almost exactly 8 years ago!

We had to do some repairs to my door. That's why it looks the way it does in this photo. The roof also leaked, but Nathan was able to add more grass. You may notice that some of it is lighter in color - that's the new grass. It will eventually darken in color to match the rest of the roof.

This flame tree has really struggled to survive since I planted it about 7 years ago. Two different times it almost died during periods of drought. I was very happy to see it so tall. I'm eager to see it finally bloom with large orange-red flowers!

Repairs around the compound

It had been about 16 months since I was last at my place (due to my long stay in the US). I was happy to see that generally-speaking everything looked fairly good. However, the fence is somewhat in a state of disrepair. Nathan at least got the gate strengthened for a starting point.

Additionally, the front door frame needed to be replaced. Termites had damaged it enough that one of the hinges had come off. Unfortunately my camera was uncooperative on the day Nathan actually removed the old frame and mounted the new one. This photo is from the next day, after I had painted the undercoat on the frame. He is now doing the finish work with cement. Needless to say, our work made the inside of my house a total mess! Ah... but it was at least a sign of progress!

Nathan's assistant

Visiting friends in the area

Collins finished secondary school last November.

He and I watched the promulgation of Kenya's new constitution
at a small café in Eldoret. It was an historic day!

The photo below shows our view.

I've shopped at George and Jen's small shop for 9 years now!

Six (of 38) of Ruth's grandkids. Ruth was Bishop's mom.
She died last April at the age of 76.

It wasn't very far from where these boys sit that the Lord
whispered to my spirit (in 2001), 
"I want you to come back to Kenya."

I was disappointed to have missed her burial (due to being in the States).
However, I did visit her grave and left these yellow flowers.

Two more of Ruth's grandchildren

A visit with Agnes and her sons at Misikhu

Agnes with Adu, Caleb Zachary (named for my two sons), 
and Duane (named for my Dad)

This was on a different day (I saw them twice).
Pope (short for Popino) is holding Zach.

The three older boys (left to right) -
Pope, Adu (short for Anderson), and Tony

Zach and Duane with neighbor kids

Zach, Duane, and a friend playing with toy cars I brought along

Tony (far right with work coat) likes to hang out with these
furniture carpenters so he can learn some of their techniques

Caleb Zach (usually called Zach for short)

A delightful afternoon with the Alu family

Mary is the mother of my friend, Robert. 
I always thoroughly enjoy visiting her and her family!

Robert's sons are the two on the ends -
Anaya (green shirt) and Avoga (gray and white shirt).
Many of the grandkids were around 
because of the August holiday from school.

Two 2-week old calves

3-year old Cedric, one of Edgar's sons (Edgar is one of Robert's brothers)
Like his older brother, Manu, Cedric is a very bright child
and can carry on quite the conversation!
He had all of us grinning many times!

One of Mary's daughters-in-law helping in the kitchen

Taking firewood to the kitchen

Edgar's latest project - raising 100 chicks

Ah... rural living!

My boda boda driver

Wycliff collecting me at my house
I've used him for 8 years, because I've always felt comfortable with him "in the driver's seat"!

Wycliff very proudly invited me to his house to meet his family.
This is his wife and newborn son, Arnell.

His mom also stopped by to meet me.
The young boy in front is Brian, Wycliff's first-born.

On our way back to my house after visiting Mary Alu

The area got pelted with rain two nights before I left.
That morning, the normal route was impassable,
so Wycliff took me via the Kona Mbaya route (which is longer).
However, it too was a mess!
At this point, he had me walk so he could attempt to maneuver the mud.
He almost slid off of the road!

Notice the bicyclist is forced to push his bike.
The guy ahead on the motorbike has to use his feet to keep himself upright.

It was a treacherous ride, but we finally did reach Matunda market in one piece!

Other sights around Mtoni

The path from Ruth's house back up the hill to my house

market day at Kona Mbaya

a few of the shops at Matunda market

new arrival of sugar cane at Matunda market

Muruli center, just up the hill from my house