Friday, April 17, 2009

Recent Prayer Needs and Praises

Praise God with us, that Jerry and his carpooling co-workers are all safe and sound when our car was struck by a bus yesterday!!! We do have a sizable dent in the right back passenger door and panel and will need bodywork done on it, however.

Please pray our shipment coming on a cargo ship from New York to Mombasa, Kenya, carrying our homeschool materials for the next two years, Jerry's tools and toolboxes, our pots and pans and other household items (and those of lots of other missionaries!) will make it here safely and not be captured or delayed by pirates wreaking havoc off the Somali coast. this if you think pirates arrrgh only on the big screen these days!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thanks for the car!!

Thanks to all of you who gave to our vehicle project, pledged a monthly amount toward our vehicle project and gave over and above our monthly support target!!! Here it is, a very well-maintained, great driving Subaru Legacy!  (with us in Nairobi National Park today)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Our Home in Nairobi

Our living room with furniture we had a fundi (craftsman)make for us.Grace at work in our "classroom", which is a servant's quarters behind the house

Our "fierce" puppy, Kilimanjaro, standing guard while the kids work in the servant's quarter classroom. Utility sink and washing machine on the right.
View out our bedroom window at sunset
Front of the house
Looking out from front door to our gate and avocado tree
Backyard, kids playing boats in the gutter :) Those black circles at the back of the yard are underground tanks that hold water we can draw from when the city water is off (which it usually is!) See the banana tree?
Isaiah playing by the front door gate
Many keys to our "fortress"
In case of emergency, or funny noise in the night, we can turn on exterior lights and alarm or just lights

Happy Sixth, Grace!!

Grace just lost her two bottom front teeth, with one more loose!

I misspoke on one e-mail communique that Grace was turning 7!!! She is in fact, now 6!!
We're so grateful to have Grace in our lives. Her creativity, outgoing personality and things she says leave us ne'er a dull moment!

Eating pizza and listening on the cell phone to Birthday Greetings from Grandmaita, Grandpa & Tia in Indiana
Water park in Nairobi, where we went for her birthday day.
A new friend, Sammy, went with us to the water park
Baby Rhino at the elephant orphanage
We went to the Elephant Orphanage for her birthday party two Saturdays ago

Unwrapping gifts at birthday party

Church in Kurungu

3/15/09 Church in Kurungu
Tactical error on my part: Don’t read out loud at church. I was preaching yesterday, and in my western thinking, I thought the more I draw from the Bible the better supported the message is. What I forgot was that this is an oral society, and all things important and verbally passed on, not read. In fact, as soon as I started reading, attentions began to wander.
All week the thought of Jesus telling His disciples He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life was milling in my head. Now, I picked out Jesus’ illustration of being the Good Shepherd and leading His sheep and also being the gate. I thought this was relevant to a nomadic, hunter warrior tribe that keeps animals.
I ran it by Andrea, a man of many talents from this area, but fluent in English, Samburu and Swahili as well. He was going to be the interpreter. I was concerned about my airplane analogy I wanted to use. Andrea said it was clearly understandable and he told me “God has clearly shown you good things to share.”
Then on Sunday I realized the error of my ways. Grace and I were in church with our host family. Olivia was feeling sick, and Breanna stayed home with her and Isaiah, who was still very sick.
Church starts with rousing singing. The elder in the front, Isaiah, leads some of the songs and pounds the desk / pulpit as a drum. The drums and tambourine are the only instruments, and they have a tribal, 1/8th note rhythm going the whole song, usually. Most of the songs are lead by one of the women, who sings a high, but still melodic, line, and then the entire church repeats it. As the woman sings, Isaiah sings a counter bass melody. It seems very natural for them, but complex to me. It all comes together quite beautifully.
I felt I should read two passages. Now I did keep it to 15 minutes, because I had been told their attention spans for sermons were very short. But, as I read and paused for Andrea to translate, I could see their gazes wander.
I described this to Breanna, and she reminded me that our hosts avoid reading, at least obviously, in church. So, next time I will study first, and then tell it to them as a story... hmmm much to learn.

3/23/09 Church Part II
Monday night is story night here in Kurungu. That afternoon I sat on a bench swing trying to get a good cell signal so I could send an e-mail prayer request for Isaiah’s health. As I was struggling with the e-mail, three Samburu men, including Andrea, were meeting with our host, Rick. These are the storytellers, and they were preparing for a long week ahead. In the style of the disciples being sent out by Jesus, they were praying and preparing for a journey of sharing God’s story at several places and taking nothing with them. It was something they came up with after reading the scriptures and after much prayer.
The excitement was contagious. And the dreams were lofty! Hopefully soon they would be doing this again, but paired up with a new person to in essence mentor.
After they prayed, the three began walking towards their first stop.

Rick was going to support them by praying and fasting. But today, he and I would drive to their first stop after giving them a three hour head start. The route to find the huts impressed me. We were going round and under trees, down embankments until we stopped at the bomas. It was an outer fence made of thorn branches.
From there we walked past an inner fence, then up a hill to the center of this community. It was very large for a Samburu grouping. There used to be around 100 families here, but several had already moved on to their next location.
It was completely dark at this time. I was drawn into the brilliance of the stars above until I noticed Rick talking with some familiar voices. I never recognized their faces, but I could tell he was talking to the three guys.
Slowly people gathered. Then they began to sing. I was the childrens' section. No matter where I was, there seemed to be a small ring around me. I listened in awe as the one of the three elders led a song, with everybody echoing and clapping along. Some of the older kids added a rhythmic heavy breathing part at certain points in the song. Eventually a woman would take over leading. I don’t know how they knew when to switch, but it would happen.
Eventually it was time for a story. They were covering the plagues in Egypt from Exodus. I had no idea what was being said, but everyone sat still in the night air, listening. It was a very different kind of church. I felt a part of what was going on, even though I was the visitor who had had no idea what was being said. To bad there isn't an English equivalent for us to go to!
The whole time three kids sat around me, grabbing my hair on my head or on my legs. Eventually, they slowly turned into the sleeping lumps of clothes that were scattered all around.
We drove back late at night, tired, but I was really excited to see how God can speak to the Samburu. I would never have thought of this approach, but it makes sense, and it really works.

Kurungu-our up-country stay- in pictures

Isaiah pointing out common Kurungu scenery- camels!
The incredible house we were privileged to stay in, built by missionaries, Walter & Monica, who are Rick & Carrie's ministry partners and on home assignment right now. It was built as four mud huts connected by halls, with cooling thatch roof.
Samburu woman in Kurungu
Riding on top of the Land Rover to Andrea's house
Wild hair in the wind when riding on top of the Land Rover
Children tending goats
Grace & Stephanie (youngest daughter ofRick & Carrie, our hosts and missionaries working in Kurungu)
Isaiah and Breanna look at the kids (baby goats) in the pen designed to keep them safe from predators
at Andrea's Manyata for chai, looking up at Jerry on top of the Land Rover
Andrea, his wife, and their youngest son,
Isaiah thoroughly enjoying his chai made over a cook fire with camel's milk inside Andrea's home (on their sleeping mat)
One of Andrea's four sons
Our new friends and us (giants!!) in front of their home
View from Andrea's
Stephanie, Grace & Isaiah play outside at dusk
Married Samburu women wear their beads, accumulated their whole lives, constantly

Taking in the scenery from the Kurungu airstrip
Playing "airplane" on the airstrip in Kurungu


Kalacha, Kenya
10 March-
I am sitting on a borrowed oversize cot, under bright moonlight, plunking away on our macbook. It is 11pm and the temperature I am guessing is finally in the 80’s. Kalacha may not be a vacation destination for most people, but it is where the AIM missionaries from northern Kenya chose to have a prayer retreat. We are excited to be here, to hear firsthand what is happening in the far north. An added bonus: the station manager was my first roommate from LeTourneau.
Northern Kenya is not like the southern half. While Kenya is considered a Christian nation, missions is a relatively new thing here. Less than one percent of the people around are followers of Christ. In fact, the only reason there is a Christian outpost here at all was that thirty years ago a missionary was invited up to start a forestation project, on the edge of the salty Chalbi desert. Missionaries were not desired here, nor ever welcomed, but they wanted trees in hopes that rain would come to the hills again.
The people here are camel herders, nomadic, and almost by default, Muslim. The church is struggling, and made up mostly the outcast of the community around. This is to be expected, since when someone becomes a follower of Jesus instead of Muhammad, then they lose their family around them.
The missionaries who started the station here had foresight to know that they did not have the resources to chase down every nomadic group and share with them the wonder of God. They did realize that if they provided wells, it would become a place everyone would be drawn to.
So, here in the dry heat, we have oodles of water. It is incredible. There is a “swimming pool” even that holds excess water off the windmill pump. There are wells all around that were put in for the community. And people have come. The one or two houses that made up the village thirty years ago has grown to about thirty or forty.
The people are being drawn in. The church is struggling, however. Finding healthy leadership is a challenge, and takes time. This is not an assignment most pastors volunteer for.
Tomorrow we are taking the morning to pray just for Kalacha that church would do well and those from the community would be drawn in.
14 March-
Our farewell to Kalacha started the evening before when we all drove out to the desert together, stopping on the way to visit the little Catholic church and an artesian well that supplies the oasis and a group of farms just outside town.
The church had paintings done by an Ethiopian artist that were vivid scenes from the Bible. Everybody had an African look, and apparently many of the gestures were Ethiopian. They had been brought down one by one and arranged in the church in two rows wrapping around the whole interior of the church.
The artesian well had been modernized with cement around its head and then with a small canal system to carry the water off. The kids, both wazungu and Kenyan, loved playing with the water as it rippled by. A sick camel lay in the background, completely abandoned, but watching us with great interest. The shambas (gardens) that were started using the canals flowing with water would be a great way to supply fresh fruit to the northern region ... except for baboons. It is tough to keep them out.
One of the old timers in the group have been working with the Rendille people for decades. They said the Rendille don’t have any water flowing above ground like this. To them, this is how they picture heaven.
We loaded back up- I jumped on the roof with several kids, and we left a lush green farm area and were immediately in the great salty desert called Chalbi. The sun was setting, and it was remarkably cool. Andrea, our fantastic cook from Kurungu, had made a ton of pasta salad along with a fruit salad. It was like a feast. Of course the fruit went immediately. After eating, the stars came out and we could see almost all of them as well as a few satellites :)
The next morning we packed up the tents and cots we borrowed, and I took the kids walking into town to search out a duka to find some Cokes and other soft drinks. On the way back, Isaiah was fairly non-responsive. He acted tired.
A half hour later he felt hot and we noticed he had a fever of 104. So we cooled him off with wet washcloths and gave him some children’s motrin.
The car was loaded, complete with a goat and lamb on the roof rack, so we needed to leave before the animals became too angry.
In the car we kept a cold cloth on Isaiah, while I was praying silently for him as often as possible. He cooled a little bit, and was in and out of sleep.
We stopped at a salt flat to fill up some gunny sacks with the desert’s salt. It is quite a sought after commodity around the area.
After we crossed the Chalbi, we stopped at a small “hotel” and ate some lunch. Fresh goat with hot chapatis. It was better than I expected, and even more surprising, Grace finished off all the goat. She and Isaiah are in a dead heat for pickiest eater of the family, and here was she was eating grilled goat and wanting more. I was quite amazed.
20 minutes from Kurungu disaster struck. Isaiah let fly with all the water we coaxed him to drink plus crackers. It went all over Breanna’s skirt and my shirt.
“Should we stop?” our friends asked. We thought about it and realized we don’t have any options. We can’t just pull over and get water to wash with, there aren’t any bathrooms anywhere. So, our only option was to keep driving.
It was a long 20 minutes, but then I started to realize a little more what it takes to live upcountry here in Kenya. Some things you just deal with until you have opportunity to properly address the issue. We finally made it to the house and washed ourselves and Isaiah off.
He is still not able to keep anything down. We pray it is a short lived flu bug, and he will be healed soon.