29 April 2016

Nairobi's Railway Museum; a great place to learn about the "Lunatic Line"

Jim, Jeremy, and Derrick in front of a wall painting

Jim, Jeremy, Derrick, Linet, and I had a great time exploring the Nairobi Railway Museum recently. It's a little-known museum but has great artifacts and many train engines on display. We spent a few hours there absorbing all the interesting history.

Linet is sitting on a 'wheeled trolley' used in the streets of Mombasa from 1890-1926. Because there was no other means of transport those days, many people had one of these. The town had a comprehensive network of tracks linking the port to all the important places, including offices, clubs, banks, and the cemetery.

Jeremy is on a bicycle fitted to roll along on the tracks. A railway employee would use it to inspect the track and make repairs. It didn't work well when it was wet, though, making its use short-lived.

This engine is called 'Bavuma'

Linet is inside one of the engine cabs, while the boys explore in the background

The Uganda Railway (colloquially known as the Lunatic Line) strategically linked the Indian Ocean port at Mombasa with the interiors of Kenya and Uganda. It was built between 1896-1901 by 32,000 Indians who were brought to Kenya. Covering 660 miles, it was a difficult and tortuous ordeal. During those five years 2,498 workers died.

Due to the many wooden trestle bridges, enormous chasms, prohibitive cost, hostile tribes, men infected by the hundreds by diseases, and man-eating lions, the name "Lunatic Line" certainly seemed to fit. The name was coined by Charles Miller in his 1971 book by the same name.

The railway was a huge logistical achievement and became economically vital for both Kenya and Uganda. It helped to suppress slavery by removing the need for humans in the transport of goods.

Born in India in 1874, Charles Ryall was the Superintendent of the Railway Police based in Mombasa and also a big-game hunter. He had heard of the two man-eating lions of Tsavo and devised a plan to kill it. His inspection car, number 12 (pictured above), was detached from the Mombasa train on the night of June 6, 1900 and left at Kima Station (70 miles from Nairobi).

Leaving the doors and windows wide open to attract the lions, he settled down in the sleeping compartment of the carriage - gun in hand - to watch. Unfortunately he fell asleep before one of the lions arrived. When it grabbed Ryall by the throat and dragged him out through a window, his companions were so petrified that no one fired a shot. The lion disappeared into the darkness and Ryall's body was eventually found and buried in Nairobi; he was only 25-years old.

There are two art studios next to the Railway Museum that provide an environment for many local artists. These wall paintings are an example of their talent.

26 April 2016

Annual Ladies' Breakfast, hosted by Kingdom Light Ministries

Kingdom Light Ministries (pastored by Jeremiah and Carol Kibisu) held another Ladies' Breakfast on Easter weekend. Both times I attended were because my friend, Margaret Wanjala, was the featured speaker. Carol estimates there were 150 ladies in attendance this year, ready for a good meal and spiritual teaching.

Jim cooked delicious made-to-order omelets

Jeremiah helped the ladies wash their hands

The men of the church were ready, willing, and able to serve the ladies

The worship team of the church opened the event by leading us in worship

The choir from Spiritual Life Center performed two rousing numbers for us.

The pastors' wives who were in attendance came forward to introduce themselves

Margaret (on the right) was the main speaker, with Ruth interpreting for her

Zipporah, Margaret, Ruth, and Linet

Our fabulous hosts, Carol and Jeremiah

Click here to see my blog post from the 2012 Ladies' Breakfast

21 April 2016

Solitude: a reprieve from the noise of doing, by Katrina Kenison

A Reprieve from the Noise of Doing
by Katrina Kenison

“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”

You love your life and the precious people in it. Yet, suddenly, the very intimacy you cherish feels like a burden you can no longer carry. You want to see yourself as a person who is competent and sturdy and kind. But today you are able to be none of these things.

You can’t anticipate or meet one more need. You long for a conversation in which the only one you have to listen to is the small quiet voice inside, the voice that speaks without words.

You imagine what a relief it would be to spend a whole day without talking. You wonder if anyone else hits this wall of too much.

The hard, unforgiving place of feeling crowded and tired and overwhelmed. Of knowing you simply cannot accomplish all that needs to be done or live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself.

You find yourself imagining solitude, craving it. And you think about where you might go, just for a little while, to privately fall apart and put yourself back together again, without causing anyone you love too much fuss or inconvenience.

The cabin door is sticky but unlocked, like a magic place in a fairy tale. The rain has washed away some outer layer you were ready to shed anyway. Solitude has always been your home territory. As darkness falls you feel lighter. Peaceful. Better.

In the morning, without any sort of plan, you walk up the road, going nowhere. The sun is shining and you are sweating and your legs are moving. Everything has its wonders. You are here to pay attention.

Alone, your life begins to feel like a choice again. You find yourself drawn into harmony with the sweet, easy flow of the day, unfolding according to its own rhythm. Slowly, something that was stuck deep inside begins to move. Surprised by tears, you lift your face to the sky and allow the sun to dry them.

There is the necessary, satisfying work of serving others in all the places where you are loved and needed. But there is also this: the soul’s work, which you ignore at your peril.

For today, you commit yourself fully to the journey of finding your own truth. The stillness of your mind behind the noise of your doing. The willingness to see the beauty inside yourself, and to honor that.

You are a little rusty and awkward in your quest. The privilege of solitude is a skill that requires practice.

At the far end of a field, a bench awaits under the shade of a tree. You sit and take in the view.

This, too, is a kind of compassion - - resting, listening, waiting in the silence of your heart to feel the next step. There is a new energy moving in you. A reverence.

You can do this. You can learn to be at ease here. To be grateful for these hidden treasures. In this secret, spacious place, you remember something beyond the moment.

The grace of God means something like:
Here is your life.
You might never have been, but you are.
Because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.
Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
I am with you.

~ Frederick Buechner

- - - - -
To see the full article, click here.

19 April 2016

Generosity in giving of oneself; some quite interesting math at a wedding

Generosity in Giving of Oneself
by Scott E. Shaum, Barnabas International

When Jesus, his disciples, and his mother were at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, he found out there wasn't enough wine.

Six stoneware water pots were there, each able to hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants to fill the pots with water; they did so all the way to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said. When the host tasted the water that had become wine, he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

- - - - -
This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave and the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

What was it that the disciples saw when Jesus manifested his glory? Is “glory” referring to a display of Jesus’ power? Is that what so impressed the disciples to the point of belief?

The math
John says the six jars were 20 to 30 gallons each. So how much is 120-130 gallons of wine? 

Today, bottles of wine are typically 700ml. I did the math. It's impressive! 

That feast became one big party when Jesus provided what was the equivalent of between 650 and 970 bottles

That is a lot of wine. 

What is John getting at with these details?
This absurd amount of wine at a small village wedding feast was but a glimpse into the reality that would be fully displayed on the cross. 

Our God’s glory is his love. First, the love between the Father and the Son by the Spirit throughout all eternity. And then that same love poured out to us in Christ. 

Our God is a generous God, ever lavishing himself toward us. 

Generosity is relational
Generosity is the giving of oneself to another. It's not a determination I muster up within myself. I don’t get pumped up by a sermon or a book to give more of myself, then go out and try harder. 

As in everything, generosity is relational. My God ever pours himself into me. Then he overflows in my life towards others. This can come through in many ways, like listening to another’s heart.

The principle
In order for me to be a generous giver of myself to others, I must be taught by God how to be a practical receiver of himself. 

As he pours into me, he then overflows through me to others.

- - - - -
The above is an excerpt from the blog Tending Scattered Wool; Reflections on Shepherding Cross-Cultural Workers.
You can see Scott's full article here

13 April 2016

Samburuland; capping off our trip with a game drive at Samburu National Reserve

The two impulses in travel are to get away from home and pursue something - 
a landscape, people, an exotic place.  
~ Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist

Beauty was created by God for a purpose: to give us the experience of wonder. 
Wonder, in turn, is intended to lead us to the ultimate human expression and privilege: worship.  
~ Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything

The greatest wonder is not the creation but the Creator. He is beautiful. 
~ Steve DeWitt, Eyes Wide Open: Enjoying God in Everything

Vince and Julia's vehicle had a mechanical problem in the middle of the reserve... with dangerous animals all around us - lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and hippo! At just the right time, there was actually phone network allowing Vince to call and get advice from a mechanic friend. The two guys succeeded in making the repair with what was on hand.

Believe it or not - - it was 98 degrees while we were there. Whew, that's hot!

I don't get into Kenya's game parks and reserves very often, but whenever the opportunity comes my way, I enjoy it immensely! The wonder of it all does indeed lead me to worship the Creator!

These signs are posted on the nearby highway quite often, warning motorists of the possibility of wildlife on the road. 

11 April 2016

Samburu-land; my third early-morning hike in a span of three days

Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.
~ Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American artist and poet

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing. 
~Aldous Huxley

Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. 
~Raymond Inmon

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks. 
~John Muir

It was another fabulous hike! 

Breathing the fresh air, stretching my legs on the hills, thinking my own thoughts, and enjoying the vast and varied beauty of God's great-out-of-doors! 

However, because there was not even a whiff of a breeze, the flies and mosquitoes relentlessly annoyed me. 

Upon hearing yet another leopard, and again not so terribly far away... I thought it best to head back.

Towards the end of my hike, I encountered this mzee (old man) and a few children. I shared my bag of mixed nuts with them and we communicated in non-verbal ways... most especially with many smiles. 

Talking to strangers is one of the most important things we can do. 
They help us understand how we relate to each other and have so much to offer. 
I think we should go out of our way to talk to more of them. 
~Tyler Tervooren

07 April 2016

Samburu-land; responding to God's call to rest and 'wait a bit'

Be still and know that I am God.
~ Psalm 46:10

Attention, all! See the marvels of God! 
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth. 
Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God.
~ Psalm 46: 8, 10, Message

As I climbed up the hill, my hat got snagged by a thorn of a Wait-a-Bit tree

I first learned about the Wait-a-Bit tree several years ago, while on a bird-watching hike at Lake Baringo. The tree was given that name because of its numerous hooked thorns. When they hook onto passers-by, one must literally stop and wait a bit to remove them carefully. Otherwise you could tear your skin or clothes.

What a vivid illustration of taking the time to be still in God's presence! He calls to us and says, "Rest for just a while and stop what you're doing. Sit down and wait a bit beside me."

I learned what is obvious to a child. That each day should be spent finding beauty in flowers and poetry and talking to animals. That a day spent with dreaming and sunsets and refreshing breezes cannot be bettered.
~ Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
~ Matthew 6:31

He makes me lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
~ Psalm 23:2

05 April 2016

Samburu-land; hiking in God's great-out-of-doors, where dangerous wild animals roam

Earth is drenched in God’s affectionate satisfaction.
~ Psalm 33:5, Message

Lutheran hospital and dispensary at Arsim

Vince and I headed out at 7am for what ended up being a five-hour hike. Fortunately the tree cover kept the hot sun off of us as mid-day arrived.

Seems this structure has seen better days

The sun peaks over the eastern horizon 

Greeting some of the team that's working on the water line for the village

Chatting with some of Vince's buddies, Samburu warriors

When we left in the morning, the guard at the gate where we stayed said we had just missed a group of elephants strolling by. In fact, we saw many recent footprints and fresh dung!

At one point on our outing we heard a not-so-far-away leopard growling. Listen to what it sounded like by clicking here.

"Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!" One thing is for sure, life in Kenya is never boring... ha!

Samburu raise goats, cattle, and camels