Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every day is the Lord's day!

August 30, 2010

Sunday was a very full day for all of us. We went to church to find only a few people inside the tent waiting. This is pretty typical. They usually sing and pray long enough for everyone to arrive. The singing was lead by Morris who is a very sincere man but full of charismatic practices. He was yelling so loud I had to plug my ears. Crying and taking deep breaths in preparation for the next long sentence he was about to speak. This went on for, well I’m not sure how long, but it was too long. We all wanted to get up and walk out but at the same time, wondered what God wanted to do about it. George went to the back of the tent to try to catch his eye and put a stop to all the theatrics. As I said in the beginning Morris is a sincere man and probably just needs help to see that what he was doing was fruitless. When it came time for Noah to speak he very carefully but clearly said things to help everyone see that God wanted to do a new thing in them. When they started to collect the tithes and offerings he suggested they give the money they intended to put in the offering to a neighbor in need instead. They wondered how they would pay the rent on the building if they did that. That amounted to 3000 shillings. Noah said he would cover it so they all agreed to do what he suggested. I hope to hear stories about people in their neighborhoods.

We went home to refresh ourselves before the ladies meeting, then headed out again to Carolines house. It was already packed out in the two small rooms she has for a house. Ladies were singing and dancing and enjoying each other. They took turns singing tribal songs but didn’t ask us to sing this time. I think they wanted to spare us the embarrassment. As they were singing I realized our problem is our songs are so different it just didn’t work. I started thinking about African Americans and the songs peculiar to that culture like “ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down”. As I was thinking that song they sang a song about what it will be like when they go to heaven. I tried to fool myself into thinking I really didn’t have to sing that song for them but it didn’t work. So I stood up and told them I was going to sing them a song. No turning back now. Thankfully Amy helped me sing it. They loved it and all joined in. I want to learn some more spiritual African American songs to bring back next trip. We had tea, donuts and ground nuts (roasted peanuts)…..talked and then left to walk over to the hotel conference room we had reserved for the meeting with ladies and Kingdom Hiker girls.
The purpose of this meeting was to open their eyes to see the need of the young people and guide them in how to work towards bridging the gap between them. The older women will teach the younger women as they have been taught of the Lord. They all seemed surprised to know it really didn’t have to be the way it is. They have watched the relationship Joy and I have with Amy and have never seen such a thing. Joy, Amy and I gave them a new vision. I gave each of the girls a pretty handkerchief (like the ones at Dassi and Nicoles passage) to remind them to work together with sweat and to share life’s tears of pain and joy together. 

We gave the women scripture cards to remind them to seek God’s wisdom as they walk together with the young ladies. Nelly, Helen, Mary, Petranilla and Christine also shared. They all seemed to be excited about the future and how they can help each other keep the youth on the right path with God. The young people were encouraged to know they would have somewhere to go with their struggles. Everyone had tea, sausage and cole slaw and visited with each other. It was nice to see them enjoying each other and being in a hotel restaurant. Most of them have never eaten out.
Noah, George and Bob Miller showed up at about that time to pay the bill and pick us up. We got Helen and Petranilla and went to a local restaurant for dinner. It was a good day. We were all very tired and slept well. Which was a good thing because Monday was another very busy day.

We did 5 home visits. We videotaped all of them telling their stories. Abba was the director, Amy the camera woman, I did the interviews with George interpreting, Bob Miller calculated the shillings to dollars when they told their stories and Joy kept us light and helped everyone including the Kenyans. Abba’s blog gives a very good report so I’ll refer you to the tab – Abba’s blog – at the top of this page. I couldn’t do a better job of describing these visits.

I realize I haven’t written a blog in a week. Last week was rough for me with 4 bad days of side effects from the malaria pill so I wasn’t up to writing. Today is Tuesday and George went to apply for his visa. They turned him down again saying essentially he doesn’t make enough money. Although it was a disappointment to all of us we are sure God is in it. We’ll just have to wait.

Reflecting on the events of the first half of our mission I’ve been asking myself, “why we are here?” There are so many humanitarian efforts helping people all over the world. There is so much need. We seem to be doing something a bit different than most missionaries we know of. Our focus is to build the church indigenously - to help them learn to help themselves and each other, to teach them the scriptures that they might learn to live their lives for Him alone, to worship God not only on Sunday but with everything they do and say. God has gathered together the very finest of the wheat to pour out His spirit upon here in Nakuru. May we do all that He asks us to do. Please do not cease to pray for us. 
We need your prayers every minute of every day. Our time is short and we don’t want to waste it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We are His family…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

We had a busy day! Since we take our malaria prevention pill on Monday I’m not feeling my best. It makes me dizzy and a little nauseated not to mention the constant ringing in the ears. Better than having malaria though… or is it?  We started the day with oatmeal pancakes with honey and bananas made by Joy. Have you ever noticed when we pray for a meal we often say something like “bless the hands that made it”? You know we actually know who made it, so we can bless them, so we do that now when we pray. It’s kinda nice and more personal. After all, we are His family.

We did three home visits today. First we went to Sycilias house. She is such a wonderful person. She always has a really big smile beaming across her face. She tells everyone in her neighborhood about the gospel of Christ and the Lakeview church. Many have come because of her and her daughter Janet.

Walking through the neighborhood from house to house is quite an experience. Children run up to us saying, “howwaaru?”  Cows and goats grazing and wandering around, people staring out their doorways. When they stare at you they look mad until you speak to them and then they light up. They are shocked that mzungus would come into their neighborhood. The ones we are visiting are so proud to show us off.

We went to Seline’s house. She told us what happened last year when her 2 year old son died. He had been playing outside when she called him in to get ready for bed. She tells the story with great detail, especially the dialog between her and her son, which was the last time she spoke with him. She found in the bed the next morning, dead for no apparent reason. I asked her why she didn’t get mad at God. She said her faith had grown because of the love and support she got from the church during this time. We recorded the story and asked other questions too. I wanted to know how often the family gets to eat. She said once or twice a day they have ugali and vegetables. I don’t think they are starving but they are hungry. We pray that God will show us how to help.
Although it’s very emotionally taxing, home visits are my favorite thing to do here. We really get to touch their lives and it changes us inside in ways I can’t even describe.

Tonight Abba taught the clan about being the family of God. He started out talking to them about how we need to love God first and then each other. We had just finished recording a video interview with a few of the clan members. Kennedy told how his father left him when he was a young boy and Violet told how her husband left her with 4 children, one of them cripple. Abba tied that into his talk, encouraging them to be the family of God and to never leave each other as they had been left. It seemed to have a real impact on them. It’s really hard to tell if they are understanding or not, but as I watched their faces they slowly began to change. Where there was sadness, hope appeared!

We gave them a kerosene lantern because they have no electricity and have to use candles for light. I noticed Dorris had red and weeping eyes, symptoms of a severe eye infection. So we went to the Chemist and got her some eye drops for just 300 shillings. That’s about $3.50 .

When we give money, medicine and food it is a good thing, but it will soon be gone. When we give them the love of the One who first loved us, it is eternal.

There is no greater gift.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Comic relief…

August 21

One of my favorite proverbs is …. a merry heart is a good medicine. God gave George a great sense of humor. Sometimes he makes me laugh until I cry.

He’s been telling us for a year what a good cook he is. We never believed him because he never did cook. We challenged him to make good on his word so he decided to cook on Friday. This little video shows the fun we had with it. Actually, it was a great meal. As you can see he had help with the prep work but the cooking was his.

Sorry the video didn't upload. Go to my web album to view video.

Now a little story about Morelle. She cooks for us every night except Sunday. She decided to play a little practical joke on me. That was her first mistake
Here’s the rerun of the August 19th blog in case you didn’t read it:
When we got home Morelle had dinner prepared for us. She greeted me with a concerned look on her face and said, “Amma, I am sorry. I dropped the chicken on the floor.” I said, “OK….” And went to see what had happened. Then she broke out laughing to end the practical joke she wanted to play on us. I let her have her laugh and then warned her that there will be payback. Amy told her I am a brownie. When you least expect it. Anyone have any ideas? Now she's worriedJ

Saturday night she made curry chicken. I taught her how to make it so she was following my recipe. We decided to tell her the food didn’t taste good. Noah Pavao would start it so she wouldn’t suspect anything. He began with, “I don’t want to be rude…but….this doesn’t taste good.” I chimed in with, “What did you do? This just isn’t right”. Morelle was shocked, we always praise her cooking. She didn’t know what to say so she just said, “I did what you told me.” Amy started laughing, Joy didn’t know what to say. Abba said something like, “There’s something wrong with this chicken.” George and Nelly watched the whole exchange. I could see Morelle was getting upset so we ended it pretty quick. It took her a while to recover. She said she was turning red. (we couldn’t tell) and her face was hot. We all laughed. Finally she said, “Amma, you got me good!” After all that there were many reassuring comments. We wanted to make sure she came back.

Sunday’s gathering
Teresa went to church with us so we brought her home for lunch. Nelly stayed home and cooked lunch for us so it was ready when we got there. After we ate we went over to Teresa’s to look at some paintings by a man named Peter. His paintings will be in an art show in New York. He gives 10% of the profit to a Kenyan ministry of the buyer’s choice. They were really good paintings. Joy bought 4 in hopes that we can sell them and raise money for our work in Africa.

Now on our way to Teresa’s this is what we saw…

 Janam Funeral Services

                                                                                      Can I help you?

Don't worry. We arrived safe and sound.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It’s a rainy day…

August 19, 2010

The rains in Nakuru are refreshing. When it’s dry here the dust is abundant. They don’t have lawns to keep the dirt under cover so it gets pretty thick. You breathe it, it gets in your eyes and everything you touch is dusty. Enough about the dust, I’m supposed to be telling you about the rain.

Tuesday is clan day so we were planning to go visit the newest clan with  Lawerence the Masai, Kennedy and Dorris, William and his wife Violet and baby, and Simon,  Before we left the house there was a major down pour. We debated whether to go or not. After George called them he felt we should just go. So we got our umbrellas and literally waded to the van. Once in the van we started down the road with rivers flowing beside us and even over the road in places. With water splashing up in the engine it waasnt long before we stalled out. We just happened to be on the corner of several Kiosks (food stands) with people staring at us wondering why we would be so foolish to try to drive these roads. George managed to dry out the distributor and we started down the road again. I wanted to dispel the serious looks on the faces of our observers so as we restarted I made praying hands signs asking them to pray for us. They all laughed.  
We got a little further down the road before we stalled out again. George suggested we walk the rest of the way (about a mile). In unison we all said, “no way!” Who knows what microorganisms might be lurking in that muddy ditch water washed over the roads and it was still raining. So he kept working on the engine until it started up again. All the while there was much debate as to whether we should turn around and go home or not but something kept drawing us on. 
We finally made it to Lawerence’s one room house. We had a wonderful time of fellowship with them that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. The rain had stopped so we got back in the van to go home. I realized how easily I get anxious about circumstances, forgetting to consider God. When we ask He is always faithful to answer our call. In the end, no matter how foolish we were it was we all agreed it was His will for us to be at that Clan meeting.    Who is that strong man holding the rock????

When we got home Morelle had dinner prepared for us. She greeted me with a concerned look on her face and said, “Amma, I am sorry. I dropped the chicken on the floor.” I said, “OK….” And went to see what had happened. Then she broke out laughing to end the practical joke she wanted to play on us. I let her have her laugh and then warned her that there will be payback. Amy told her I am a brownie. When you least expect it. Anyone have any ideas? Now she is worriedJ


I got up early this morning to make breakfast. Nelly came in the kitchen and started asking a lot of questions about what I was doing. I was wondering why she was asking so many questions when I realized it was her day to cookJ We had made up a schedule for cook / clean breakfast since Morelle only comes for dinner cook. We had a good laugh. She cut up a pineapple and I finished the fried rice. My mistake so I will cook again tomorrow on my cook day.

Today Joy and I went to town with Petranilla to buy fabric for dresses and aprons while Amy went to Nelly's salon to get her hair done. George dropped us off so when we were done shopping we caught a Matatu home. That would be a 15 passenger van, crowded with people going places. We sat all the way in the back by our own choice. We are the minority here and although we are not treated as such, it made me think about the African Americans during the civil liberties movement and how they were forced to sit in the back of the bus. We got home  Lawerence, Kennedy and Dorris were there to talk to Abba. It was lunch time so we started warming up leftovers. We weren’t sure what to do as far as hosting our visitors so I asked Petranilla. She told us if we are going to serve them lunch we do not have to serve tea unless we want to and then it would be served after eating. If we weren’t going to serve lunch we should serve them tea. We decided to go all out and serve lunch and tea. They were grateful and enjoyed the time with us. We asked questions and made plans to video tape their stories.

Joy and I walked to Petranillas, escorted by Lloyd, to spend time with her in her shop. We met Martha who is from Sudan. Women are not allowed to work in Sudan so she is learning to sew from Petranilla. She wants to change the way things are done when she returns to Sudan. Then a customer walked in to try on an outfit Petranilla was working on. As they talked in Swahili even though I couldn’t understand what they were saying, I could tell the young lady was not satisfied with the sleeves. I asked if I could help. They said yes so I shortened and pinned a pleat at the hem of the sleeves. The lady was delighted and told Petranilla she wanted my design. She hurriedly left the shop. Petranilla said she was embarrassed because she didn’t know English and couldn’t tell us good bye. She had not been fortunate enough to go to school.
I think this trip will be about entering into their lifestyle a little more. I can see how our cultures will compliment each other. We are always reminded it’s not the African way or the American way but the  way of  God’s people living in His Kingdom, learning to love each other and become His light in the darkness of this world.
Please keep praying. We feel your prayers (and also the lack thereof).  We need you everyday.


After breakfast I called Teresa June. I immediately liked her and hoped she was all she seemed to be on the phone. We met her in town at the Kokeb restaurant where you get those wonderful fruit punches. She is a very dear lady. Steve James had given me her email address here in Nakuru. She’s from Huntsville, Alabama and has been in Nakuru by herself for 2 years. She has friends here and works with various ministries, teaching  the bible and helping people in need. Her main focus is a ministry to Masai girls who have left their homes because of the abuse they received when refusing to submit to the custom of female circumcision and marriage to 60 -70 year old men. Many come having been beaten close to death and some die. They are a place of refuge for these girls age 15 and 16. They are given a safe place to live and an opportunity to go to school. Teresa will be going into the mountains with back packing group to reach the people there who would not even know who you’re talking about if you say the name of Jesus. Then she will hopefully be able to go to the Kenya relief clinic with us. She will be coming stateside in November and wants to visit the village. We felt an instant bond with her and look forward to being with her in the work here.

Teresa just called and wants to spend time with us so I will close. We’re going to meet her in town and go to her house. She also asked, “if it wouldn’t be too much trouble can I come to church with you Sunday?”

Of course!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sunday gathering and more....

August 15, 2010

Today is Sunday. We got up early, had breakfast and got ready for the gathering. I was really excited, anticipating reunion with our family here at Lakeside Village Community Church. The Kingdom Hikers led the singing with Noah Pavao and Amy  joining right in. They sang wholeheartedly. It was very refreshing to see how they love to sing praises to our God.  Abba gave an amazing teaching encouraging and exhorting all to seek the face of God.  There were fewer people than I expected. Some have left, others had mandatory meetings having to do with government housing.
After the gathering the men met with Abba. There are so many more men than before. They seem to be sincere and wanting to build together for God’s glory. The ladies have started meeting every other week in each other’s home. They asked us to come and it was so much fun. They decided to meet because they wanted to become closer to each other and not just see each other once a week on Sunday. This was only their second time. George, Abba and Noah P dropped us off and waited in the van. It was supposed to be a short time and we were only having tea. We began with singing. 

We were all crammed into a small room with no floor space to speak of at all. They sang songs from their tribes and told us to be ready to sing one from RCV. It was really hard to think of a song because I just wanted to listen to them.  It came to be our turn so we sang One Life. Then they broke out in more singing so we just joined in as best we could, dancing and singing for about an hour. It was fun! We all sat down and the ladies went around the room giving testimony to what God has done for them:
                 This is Sylvia. 

Ann Wango told her story first. I remember my first visit here we met her in her home. She was very distressed that her 17 year old daughter had to work taking care of children because her husband had left her and was not supporting her even though he had the means to do so. 

God touched our hearts and we decided at that time to help her send her daughter, Elizabeth, to school. We gave enough to pay tuition and took her shopping for a uniform and shoes. I remember bargaining with the seller of shoes to get a fair price. He was pushing for more money so I started to walk away. He called us back and gave us the shoes for the price we offered. My first lesson in bargaining with the local sellersJ So Elizabeth got to go to school. This story makes me want to remind our children what a privilege it is to be able to go to school. The kids here have to work hard and hope they will get an education. At the time we also encouraged Ann to seek legal help for financial support from her husband. When we came last time in November Ann and Elizabeth were active in the church and happy. But she still had not been able to get support from her husband. So that brings us up to date. Since then she was going to take him to court. He didn’t want to go so they made arrangements to settle out of court and he has been supporting the family since. Ann was so delighted to tell how God has taken care of her family. She is happy and full of the spirit of God. Her faithfulness has been rewarded.
We met Dorris. She is 18 years old and has a 4 year old daughter that lives with the grandmother. She’s , married to a man who works giving rides of the back of a bicycle to people.  She told the story of how, a few days ago he was giving a ride. The man guided him to a secluded area and beat him and took his money. She was not complaining that the money was lost but was praising God that he was not killed by the theif. Today, (Monday), we went for home visits and were at her house. Her husband, Kennedy, was there. His struggles began at age 5 when his parents separated and he was in the middle of the problems between his mom and dad. Both Dorris and Kennedy are good members of the church and will be baptized while we are here. They both have struggled a lot in life and want to put the past behind them.

All of the ladies testimonies were full of heartfelt gratefulness to God who has never forsaken them. Then ladies started to bring food to the table at our knees. Our hands were washed in the traditional African way with a pitcher of warm water and a basin. We were serving our plates when it started to rain. Suddenly in comes Abba, George and Noah P. They were tired of waiting, or maybe the smelled the aroma of the feast before us. Any way they crashed our ladies meeting. Every one had a good laugh. We ate and left to go home.

Soon after we got home the Kingdom Hikers came for a meeting at George’s. Abba is encouraging them to do whatever they can to be a light in the city of Nakuru. They don’t talk much yet but that is typical of the age group. I was there but I could hardly stay awake so I slipped out for a cat nap and joined back in about the time Abba started showing slideshows.

After our feast at Sylvia’s no one was really hungry…. Except George that is. We had pork chops in the frige so I was going to cook them for him. When I opened the bag I smelled an odor I didn’t like. After having several people check and not be sure we decided to rinse them. Sure enough the 2 chops on the bottom were bad. Now remembering Abba’s last experience here with pork chops (he was very sick for days) we mzungus didn’t want to take a chance. So I cooked the ‘good’ ones for everyone else. 

That means squatting down over a charcoal cooker in the ally off the kitchen. It was nice outside so I didn’t mind at all. It did make me a little sad though because I miss Joel (Hall). He always did our grilling last time we were here. We miss him and keep calling Noah Pavao ‘Joel’- even George does. Noah is gracious and patient to wait for us to remember that HE’S NOT JOEL!’ We’re getting to know him better now. Every morning I step out of my room, brushing my teeth, heading toward the open community sink, and there is Noah, brushing his teeth. I told him today, “ we have to stop meeting like this.”

We chatted a bit and then we all went to bed. This was my first good night’s sleep since we left Tennessee last Tuesday. I think we are getting adjusted now.

Until next time,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's not the destination, but the journey, that matters....

August 13, 2010

We started our journey to Kenya on Tuesday, August 10, at 9:30 am. Our plan was to leave at 9:30 but we decided, since we were ready, we would leave early. Problem is we forgot to tell Joy. She was very gracious and just made the adjustment quickly. Shammah, Hannah, Gideon and Faith were our escorts to the airport. We all piled into Asher’s 15 passenger van and away we went. First stop, the bank in Selmer to get newer bills and a walk across the street to the Village Coffee Shop. We got to say good bye to Paul and Dassie and had one more coffee shop drink for the road.

We got to Nashville in plenty of time for a great lunch at an authentic Greek restaurant called ‘Istanbul’. Then to the airport we go with our total of 10 bags, each one of us with two carry on bags, ready to check in. That all went smoothly so we sat and waited at our gate. Apparently our plane was delayed so we got a late start. Finally we boarded with plenty of time to make our connection in Newark, NJ. As the plane began to taxi a screeching noise was blasting right above my seat in my ears. I was obviously annoyed. Joy looked over at me and smiled, “So that’s why they say you’re a lot like Nathanael”. We were reassured the noise would go away so I just put on my iphone ipod music to drown out the noise. That worked. We then realized we weren’t going anywhere. The pilot came on the PA to let us know there was a technical problem that would only take a short time to fix. We taxied back to the gate and waited. I was getting concerned about making our connection. We were already informed that we would have to take a shuttle to our next flight. Finally we were in the air and the noise ceased. When we arrived in Newark we had to wait for the shuttle with only 30 minutes before take off. I was surprised that Abba wasn’t concerned as he usually is even when there are no difficulties. I was anxious but I couldn’t get him to be anxious with me. I discovered later that he had determined not to be over concerned. As it was we barely made it onto the plane before the doors closed. We got to our reserved seats to find a man and lady stretched out across them, ready to sleep. We had to ask them to give us our seats which didn’t make either of them very happy. Ok we made it….. to Paris we go.

                                  Ah Paris! What a delightful interlude! 
We didn’t have any trouble connecting with our tour guide, Christian. He gave us a relaxed tour, helped us find a restaurant for lunch and got us back to the airport in plenty of time. It had been raining when we arrived but stopped long enough for us to have a good 4 hours in the city. When we got to our gate it started raining again. God delights in taking care of us. We asked for good weather and it couldn’t have been better. I loved the architecture of the old buildings and gates to the city. There were statues everywhere you turned. So much history reaching out to say don’t forget what happened here. It causes me to want to tell stories of our history to our children and grand kids, not to live in the past but to enable them to go forward and make their own new history.

                                      Why is everyone holding their arms?  >

We boarded Kenya Airlines airplane totally exhausted lacking sleep. Sitting for hours on end, not able to even stretch your legs or recline pushes us to our limits. This was a newer plane and the seats were about as comfortable as you get on an airplane. We had a great flight attendant who brought us warm cloths to freshen up followed by a really great meal. We tried to sleep, watch movies, read books as best we could ever longing for our home in Nakuru. Finally we are in Nairobi airport. We got through customs and recovered all 10 bags without a glitch. There was our smiling George to greet us with African hugs and another seat to occupy for the next two hour drive from Nairobi to Nakuru. But first we must get our “jabs” –( immunizations). We endured rush hour traffic as we caught up on how everyone is doing  and exchanged stories with George. We took time for tea and mushroom cheese omelet breakfast before going to the familiar Lynton’s Pharmacee. Our brains were tired but we finally figured out who needed what shots with the ever patient man behind the counter who would administer the shots. They always see us when we are this tired but are so friendly and helpful. George went next door to get a card reader for Amy’s camera. Now we are ready for the last leg of our journey. Everyone kept knodding off, waking up, knodding off.

When we got to the house we were greeted by Nellie and Michelle and a houseful of our favorite people in Kenya. They were preparing a feast for us so we chatted and got a little organized. After we ate we all just wanted to go to bed til morning. George came to me and said we should go to see people at the church. That was a stretch…… He gave us time to get a short nap then we were back in the van for the bumpy, but short, drive to the church. There were not many people still there by the time we got there but it was more that worth the effort to see their smiling faces. God’s love is strong in His people. It is the food we eat, the sleep we need that comes from heaven to us on earth and gives us life and breath.
We came back home and ate again, took showers and went to bed. Not to worry the rooster made sure we didn’t oversleep and called to us at about 3am. We were pretty tired and went back to sleep - after about an hour. We are still waking up at night trying to get our bodies to realize we’re not in Tennessee now.
I’m starting not to make sense so I’ll save the rest of the story for tomorrow.
Love to all. Miss you so much already.