Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week Five in Nakuru

So many things have happened so quickly it is now becoming a task to keep them all in my mind. I’ve found that I have to rely on reading my wife’s posts to remember what has happened in the week. That seems to help jog my memory and then I can put words to paper, or electrons to images as it might be.

I am beginning with today as it is freshest in my mind, and thinking that the day was good because of the men. The men have begun a work as brothers and they are beginning to experience the great joy of doing things together. We know that joy because we live it every day. They are not used to being together like we are so it may take some time for them to fully understand or appreciate what we mostly take for granted.

We ate and worked together after the gathering here. Eating was Ugoli, Greens and Goat. This is best eaten with clean hands, since you do not use utensils to eat this food. Fingers are the utensils of choice and so we shared in the washing of hands together. Next there is the passing out of the food and eating together. This is very primitive and special as men eating with their fingers and digesting meat and veggies with ugoli balled up into the works. 

After eating and consuming some filtered water, there is another washing of the hands before embarking on the work at hand. This involved cutting grass, digging up stones, picking up garbage, burning it and then grooming the area with rakes and brooms. Now the picture you are forming in your mind is completely wrong. There are no powered tools involved in this process, hand sickles of sort, flat blade madix’s, machete’s, toy looking grooming rakes, brooms that look like a long tuff of stiff grass and a small fire to burn the rubbish we picked up. Everything done by manual hand and back labor.

Earlier in the week we made a few trips into town for shopping, eating, coffee, Stoney’s and such. Wednesday was the weekly pastors meeting at Kokeb and growing closer to those men who are caring for the people of God. They are such interesting men and very intent on hearing what God has for them. We are two weeks from the pastors conference that we have planned. I have the programs ready made so they will have an outline of the 4 sessions we will present to them. We have just to lock down the timing. That is a great undertaking here as hardly anyone is on time for anything. I heard a few guys here we actually late for their funeral.

I spent a couple days at home (Tue & Wed) training Kingdom hikers on computer skills and then again on Saturday for another group of Hikers. They love to learn. I don’t know how to say that with more emphasis but they actually like being trained to learn the computer skills I am showing them. It’s like I said, “Hey, who would like to eat banana splits and go to the amusement park?” It clamps my brain, as George would say.

Tara fell ill this week but has recuperated well. She was suffering from terrible stomach cramps and driving. (That’s Swahili for diarrhea) We believe it was brought on by a bacterial infection from the water or some food. Anyway, Dr. George brought medicine to help with the illness. She is doing much better today. She made it all the way through the gathering and then came home for a short nap.

Tomorrow we go to visit Georges Dad and Mom in the village George grew up in. It’s quite a trip there as it will take us 5-6 hours of driving to get there. George promises that it is well worth the trip and we are looking forward to being there, not so much the ride there. Along the way back we will stop and eat fresh fish from Lake Victoria for supper. It should prove to be quite the experience. But, that's a whole 'nother blog.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Week Four in Nakuru

Summer Camp Extreme

Summer Camp was always a time of the year I enjoyed as a young boy growing up. Maybe you had an experience like this as well? Maybe not, but it was a time that concentrated things I really enjoyed into a short amount of time, but left memories for a lifetime. Things like camping, cooking, making new friends, outdoor activities, campfires, singing, swimming, and hiking were all things that touched my soul. Add to that the time we spent centered around God in prayer, worship, scripture study, singing, crafts and activities and I felt like I was in heaven. I believe Heaven will be filled with those things we love so much and cherish in our hearts.

Compared to those years of summer camp, both as a camper and then as a counselor, our stay in Kenya is very much like that time. Yes, I am older and admittedly less in physical shape for strenuous activity, but many of those summer camp feelings have returned. I am feeling like this is a time God has set apart for us to get closer to Him and experience the things He has for us. But, this is not just an experience centered on me. It is a time for giving of myself. I love giving of myself to others in the many things God has enabled me to do. I love it because I know it pleases God and there is a blessing inside for everyone, every time.

The most special part of summer camp was meeting new people and making friends. Friends are the most important part of living this life of God, no matter where we are or how old we get. It is important to God as well, since he has a great investment in us, to be our friend and for us, to be his friends. Our friendship with others is a gage for us to see where our friendship with God is. How we make friends and treat friends is an indicator of our well being in relationship with God. John says, "If we don't love our brother or sister, we don't love God." So loving those who are walking in this life with us and loving those God brings into our lives is primary in our learning process of loving with God's love.

Once you met new people you start developing friendships through all the activities you do together. 

Guys bunked together in a cabin or tent while the girls bunked together in separate areas. There were several cabins or tents and we were all grouped together by group names. Sometimes we had tribal names, woodland names or names of elements, spiritual or earthly to define us. The week was divided into thematic chapters for Biblical study and the end of our stay was highlighted with the overall theme and a large celebration. There was never a boring moment as we were deeply involved in each others lives throughout the day and sometimes through the night. Slipping out of the cabin and raiding the girl’s area held a certain unique interest to boys. The girls enjoyed retaliating as well. Each person had a part of the cabin group and held a value as part of that group.

Games and activities were always filled with some competition, bravery, tests of strength and some level of foolishness. You had to show off until you were satisfied those you were trying to impress recognized you. Of course, that happens out of summer camp as well. Do we ever grow out of that?

Eating together was another enjoyable and memorable event. Not only did we get a chance to cook, wash dishes and server others, we got to learn how to slurp Jello squares in one swallow and blow milk out of our noses as we laughed and joked with each other. Memories like that are quite endearing. And there was the occasional bean sucked up the nose as well. It was a time for connecting with others outside of your cabin or tent group and aligning your self with everyone else. Daily schedules and event announcements were made and the whole of the summer camp staff and campers were together in one place.

There were talent show moments around the campfires at night. Most often a recap of the day and stories were told of events that transpired while the occasional “ghost story” slipped in from time to time. Sitting by the fire, singing songs, leaning against your friends and listening to people share brought closeness you felt designed by God. It had to be a special time for the disciples and Christ as they traveled and sat around the fire to eat and talk each night.

There were occasions where we got real serious and sad also. Like the time one of our friends might have been injured or even killed. Accidents of life don’t have a defined time in our daily schedules but when they occur they demand our attention.  There were moments like that, both as a camper and especially as a counselor, where you struggle to understand the purposes of God. A deep inspection of those spiritual matters inward and outward takes place. It causes us to get closer to each other and God.

When the time to leave grew close at hand, we were saddened at the thoughts of leaving our new friends and wondering if they would be there next year. An exchange of addresses and phone numbers transpired the morning of our departures. Plans to get together again were chatted about. Crying was the common sight. Hugs, kisses and handshakes were exchanged as we piled into our respective vehicles. The ride home was a long and reflective one. Hearts ached and thoughts whirled through our minds as our hearts were torn a little from the separation of those new friends we made during the week. It was a hard thing to do. It was a bitter-sweet experience that embedded memories for a lifetime.

As I write about summer camp there is the sound of kids playing outside, hammering of nails, sawing of wood and people entwining there lives together through the activities of daily life with one another. It’s the daily living together that I experienced at summer camp that propelled me into this way of living I now live. I have my best loved friends around me, all wanting the life of God and living it with me. I have new friends who are going to tear holes in my heart when we have to leave. I have memories built on the activities we have shared together and God has changed my life forever with the opportunities He has given us to blend our lives together inside of Christ.

Three more weeks and we will be crying, hugging and saying goodbye to one another. We will be piling into the vehicle, speeding off to the airport and spending hours riding back to our homes while we reminisce about our new friends and the time we have had together.

Our hearts will be thoroughly tenderized as we meet our life-friends at home and are welcomed back into the lives and homes of the village. Our children, friends and housemates will become the main emphasis of our lives again and God will have changed them as well. We will walk with God together and look towards the time where we will all be together in Heavenly places for all time. Until then, we will have to suffice with this summer camping experience to get us by.

And then there is next year . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Week Three - More Grace for New Birth's

The third week of this incredible journey has brought us closer and closer to the family of God here. We love the looks on their faces when they "see" what Abba is saying. Their lives are changing and there is new birth in the midst of the Church here. They have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ like this.

The nature of the people here has been a creation of Kenyan cultural traditions, evangelical missionaries and the worldly influences upon both. It's no wonder they are as confused as those who are in our country. The primary impulses of the religious realm here is Charismatic Evangelical behavior with a touch of the world peppering their music and talk.

The big difference here from where we are in the US is that there is rich fertile ground here to plant seeds. No, I'm not talking about physical agricultural considerations but spiritual considerations in respect of peoples hearts. Their faces are open and so are their minds. They are so tired of hearing the same things which are empty promises of things to come and watching the heads of those establishments fall into deceitful ways, grow rich and prance around on stages built to address their empires. They are not so easily moved by all that.

At least, this group of people the Lord is calling for his Church here is willing to listen and look to see the difference between the prideful demonstrations of the prominent prophets and bishops here against the truthful demonstration of power and life coming from us. Not that we ourselves are anything alone but rather a corporate demonstration of a life that God has given us to share with those who are here.

Today at the pastors meeting, when Noah told the pastors the story of how we became the church we are today, they were amazed that such a life could actually begin and continue for so long a time. They could hardly believe that there was something other than what they had been seeing for decades. They were glued to their seats and exclaimed afterwards that they are jealous for that kind of love and life here in Nakuru. They were given the answer of how that could happen and it was the same words that Jesus used when calling his disciples. You must be willing to give up everything that stands in the way of you having a relationship with the Author of Life and follow him everywhere He goes. Do not hesitate when He calls you to give up your traditions and religious ways. Be ready to do the hard things that God requires of you in obedience to His call.

Time will tell who will actually do it or not, but there are several men there who I believe will respond and do everything God is requiring for their own salvation and the salvation of the churches they are in care of. They are a great group of men, about 12-14 of them, who take every Wednesday morning to be with us and listen of testimonies, exhortations, teachings and ask questions about what God is doing in Nakuru. More specifically, what is God doing with them and the churches they are responsible for. September 8th will be a pastors conference where we will spend the whole day (6am to whenever the fun stops) hearing what God is saying to the church as a whole in Nakuru. Please pray for this and let others know we are asking for prayer for these men.

One amazing that has happened with George was the doors that God open for him after we had talked with him about being available for work during the week and letting us fend for ourselves with transportation. He was rather convinced that he would not be able to get work because he had previously told the people he normally works for that he would not be available until after we left. We asked him to just give them a call and find out, but he refused saying he was sure there wasn't anything. So, we back off and said "OK, we'll just trust God".

No more than 30 seconds after we said that, George's phone rang. Guess who it was? Right. It was the people he normally works for and they had work for him. And not just one job but several days of work. He also got a call from a car dealer to help with a new car that they could not figure out how to get started. He figured it out and they paid him handsomely. When the phone rang and he answered it, his eyes were as big as saucers. He realized that God was in control and not him. It was an awesome thing that God did. George's faith leaped 10 feet at that moment. He's learning that God can speak through his people.

This week we went to town a couple times, visited the monkeys at the park, climbed the crater in the safari van, went to a clan meeting, a gathering, men's meeting, pastors meeting, leaders meeting and spent some time resting and eating at home.

This next week we will be starting computer lessons for the Kingdom Hikers. Seven candidates will begin and learn how to teach others to do the same. Another leaders meeting, gathering, KH meeting, men's meeting, and we will start over again with the process. But you know, it is rather enjoyable knowing that what we are doing is taken seriously by our Kenyan brothers and sisters. They are in love with our Lord and wanting to walk in His ways. We are so much alike in all those things and more.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Week Two in Africa

The second week is coming to a close and the third week is in sight. God has blessed us in so many ways! It is always a blessing to me to get up in the morning and know that I am in a place where God wants me to be. No matter if I am here in Kenya or back home in Tennessee, Gods grace is always sufficient for the day. And best of all, I am right smack in the middle of it.

The experience of being here in Kenya is giving me a broader sense of who we are as the body of Christ. Seeing the faith of these lovely friendly people has increased my faith and given me an enlarged vision for what Keith Green had sung about years ago. Open Your Eyes was the title of the song I believe and it made me see that going to minister Gods word and give of my time was much more beneficial than giving a few dollars each month to an organization which may not direct those funds to those that need it.

Being here and being a part of this life here gives me the opportunity to touch people's lives and directly affect them in a positive way. Not necessarily with money but with a helping hand to physically construct a structure, pray with someone, share words of encouragement, teach new skills, and when required, donate money to a worthy cause which will benefit many people in the church. This, to me, is a better solution. More personal and more productive.
Our friend and fellow God follower, Steve Saint, says we should not just give a man a fish, not even just teach him how to fish, but we should teach him how to teach others how to fish.

What an awesome thought about provisioning those who are without. Yes, the short term provision needs to be supplying those who are hungry. But the longer term provision is to teach others how to do the things necessary to earn a living that will provide for themselves and their family. Then the final provision is for them to pass that knowledge along to others in their village or community.
We are here in Nakuru Kenya, where over 300,000 people live in currently the fourth largest urban centre in the country located about 6000 feet above sea level. Tourism and agriculture are the primary industries and there are many small business shops within the main streets of Nakuru. Many more small shops line the many streets of dirt roads within the numerous neighborhoods. These are a economically depressed people but very industrious and willing to learn how to better themselves.

Our purpose is not to better them or Americanize them, but to love them and share with them this wonderful and awesome life that God has given us. They are open and willing to hear and learn all that God has done and is doing right now. They are having to unlearn many things also. (Didn't we do likewise?) The Charismatic and Evangelical missionaries that originally helped to place a Christianized religious foundation here have trained the people here to work with soulish excitement to motivate people into an environment of audibly painful expression of song, shouting and preaching.

We have challenged many traditional way they are using to express themselves, not to squash them but to cause them to look honestly at the roots of their praise and worship before the Lord. We have challenged them to live out their profession of faith on a daily basis and not just on a Wednesday or Sunday service. We have asked them to consider why they act so radically different on Sunday at church than they do the rest of the week. Where is the consistency in their walk with the Lord?

So, I might ask the same question of us in America? Where is our consistency in our walk with the Lord? Maybe there isn't any consistency. Maybe we live like saints on Sunday morning and like heathens the rest of the week. If that is our testimony then can we really call ourselves Christians? I understand the term Christian to mean something more than just acknowledging there is a God, spending some time on Wednesday night and Sunday morning to sing Christian songs and talk about things that pertain to a watered down gospel of apathetically recited Bible stories.

Where are the real Christians? Are there any disciples around any more? Does anyone really care to give up their lives and follow God every day, all day long, seven days a week? Where are those Christians that pursue finding God in every place, person and thought they meet? Are there any of those who may be warriors or champions for the cause of God's life in us?

As we address the little church here in Nakuru, we find that they are not much different than those in America. They live different lives during the week than they do on Sunday.

How can we help these here and those back home see the difference between those who are caught up in the world and those who call themselves Christians?

I believe the best way is to show them how to live that life. We need to demonstrate how our lives are in consistent keeping with what God tells us to do if we want to name the name of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour. We need to get involved in the lives of those around us by giving up our personal lives of preference. We obtain our many splendored things, stuff that we collect around us, that makes our lives so much easier to enjoy OUR life. We spend our substance upon activities, outings, meals, movies, and anything that will entertain us or make OUR lives more comfortable. The same thought process is about doing it's work here in Nakuru, too.

It's not how much you own or want. It's not how often you visit the pew you sit in on Sunday. It's not how many times you curse or praise in the name of the Lord. It's where you live with God. Is He in you and you in Him? Is He your best friend? Does he come into consideration for every thought and word? Does He go everywhere you go and do everything with you? Are you following Him or expecting Him to keep up with you? Is your life His life or are you just finding a place to somehow fit Him into your life, when you feel like it?

You have the answer to these questions. But hear what the Psalmist David has to say.

 Psa 111:10The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all they that do his commandments:

Be wise. Get smart. Get Life. Get in line with what God requires of you. Seek and you will find. Find His Life and live it to the fullest. Live it every minute of the day and every day of the year. Set the pace for those around you. Demonstrate the full life of the Christian life and cause an effect in the lives of others. You don't have to come to Kenya to do that. You can start right where you are. Maybe one day we will see you in the midst of those who are in need of your testimony and consistency with the Life of God.

I hope so.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week One in Africa Comes to a Close

Here I am again.

I say that because I wrote a painfully slow processed blog on my I phone and was finishing it up when I got a Skype call. I answered the call and then went back to finish the blog and it was gone. Usually it would auto save but I am using a blog app that apparently does not save your blog to draft when interrupted. So, ...

Here I am again, trying to recap this last week,

I think I started to tell you that we arrived safely and after some weathering of our minds through jet lag, we fell into the household of George and Nellie, their daughter Michelle, BT and Mary who cooks for them on occasion. Abba, Amma and Yashanah had already taken up residency 5 weeks prior to us coming in.

You probably have a lot better details on that and the last week if you follow my wife's blog. She is much faster at it than I am. She is also more humorous than I. Here blog is located here if you want to skip mine and read hers, Then again, I'll make you wait till the bottom of the page to find her link.

My first project was to install a Sawyer water filtration system (see the picture} which is a necessary item for here since the tap water is not drinkable. This allows us to filter tap water into 5 gallon jugs and with a hand pump, fill our water bottles and pitcher for meals. Clean, unpolluted water for drinking. A gentleman's delight and a ladies friend for drinking and cooking. It saves money as well since it costs about $5 per bottle to buy about twice a week with the six of us all drinking it.

My next challenge has been acclimating to the Kenyan cultural lifestyle. There are many things to say about the Kenyan life and most of them are very good. The problem is when an Americanized couple drop in for a 7 week visit it is a cultural shock to the system. Mostly the huge change in activity.

I am used to going all the time from work to home, meetings, work days on Saturdays, kids, household, clan men's meetings and any other number of visits and activities throughout the week. It is pretty much go go go until you drop then sleep and get up to do it again. Here is is not the same. Actually it is far from that. I am going a little stir crazy at times as I feel like I am stuck in the twilight zone. Time here is based on a 48 hour day with hours between doing activities. A ride to town breaks the monotony of the week or day as we bump and swerve our way into the downtown section of the city. All the while avoiding the numerous species of livestock, people from many countries, bicycler, motorcycles, men pushing carts, took-tooks (three wheeled motorized taxi's), cars, buses, cans and people walking in the middle of the street. Never a dull ride as we bump our way there and back.

Today we took on another challenge of grand proportions in African Engineering. We constructed an addition to the tent we are using for meeting with the church here. I know that sounds funny but it is a definite reality here. The church is not wealthy enough to do such a thing so Noah and I put our thoughts together an constructing a wooden pole extension to the tent. (pictures are worth a million words.) it is actually a pretty well constructed extension and once finished will accommodate the musicians and choir along with a podium for a speaker. A few poles, nails, rope, tools and Shazam! A tent sun-room.
Hey, Nathanael, I found a new construction model we can adopt for expanding the building business.

Wednesday we met with a few of the pastors in the area for tea and discussion about their churches and living a different life that the traditional church model found around the world. It was interesting as the traditions of men have well rooted themselves in their lives and the lives of their church members.

We have been shopping several times and discovered a new exercise program. See my other blog for more details on the correct process but I can tell you it involves a lot of following and dodging.

This evening we met with the clan leaders of the church and studied Ephesians 1 thought 4. They meet every Thursday night. Saturday is the Kingdom Hikers talent show and Sunday Noah has graciously invited me to talk at the service. I have many things that I can say God has blessed me with and many things I own that I could speak about but for some reason I am at a blank, waiting on God to show me what to speak on. I have a couple drafts but not a solid plan yet.

I did find a new way to lose weight here. There is a way to do that while not even recognizing you are. I'll write more about that in my Diet blog soon. I can tell you that it involves George though. I call it the Eco Wappi George Diet. See link below.

Six more weeks of this visit and then we will have to go home. I wish it were such that we had a gatehouse of sorts here and had a more permanent place here to work from. But for now this will have to do until God shows us another way.

Don't forget to check out Tara;s blog and Brandon's blog and videos. Here are the links

Tara's Blog         Brandon's Blog          My Diet Blog.

Good night for now and lalla salama.