Monthly Archives: January 2011

This isn’t a short-term missions trip…

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This isn’t a short-term trip. I’ve been having to come to the grips with this over the past month. I’ve been involved with missions pretty much all of my Christian life. I know the joy and excitement of spending a focused week or two with good friends overseas faithfully serving God. It is wonderful to escape the busyness of life and seek wholeheartedly the will and purpose of God the creator. Short-term missions is fast paced.

Being a long-term missionary is very different, as I expected, but expecting something and actually being there are two very different experiences. Life has been slow…

Reality is that life has probably been normal paced, but it has felt slow, because I am used to the turbo charged tempo of short trips. I have felt unsettled the past week or two, and am just now starting to realize why.

Abby and I are here by the grace of God and the generosity of others. This is something we both take very seriously! I have been feeling like the pace of our life should match that of a short-term trip to provide a proper return on investment (as my business mind puts it). People are investing in the Kingdom through us and we should be doing the work.

My unsettled feeling has come because I have been listening to the lie that if our results are not as instantaneous as many short-term trips, then we are not doing a good job. I’ve lost sight of both all the wonderful things God has already done, and also of the foundation that is being built.

Abby and I have made many wonderful relationships and learned a lot about the culture here. We have been getting to know the students, and have been teaching them the Word of God. I have been working with the worship team, teaching them new songs, and also working with people on how to use business to create job opportunities. Abby is preparing scripture for a series of lessons on purity that we will teach the 8th grade students and has been doing an  incredible job adjusting to life in Africa.

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Probably the most importantly, tunajifunza kiswahili (we are learning Swahili). The significance of language really sunk in this past week. I had the blessing of leading a friend’s mother to the Lord I didn’t do much as others had already planted the seed of the gospel and watered it. God made it grow and I simply came to harvest.

She was in the hospital with a broken femur from a motorcycle accident. Her brother (our neighbor) is a pastor, so she knew about Jesus. I simply asked “if you would have died in the accident, would you have gone to heaven?” She responded that she was ready to accept Jesus, so I wanted to do some follow-up to make sure she fully understood the decision she was making. I quickly realized that although she understood a good amount of English, our communication was going poorly as she had a hard time comprehending the concepts.

Fortunately there was another pastor’s wife there to follow up with her in Swahili. God has perfect timing! Even though God can overcome any difficulty, it is still my responsibility to focus on learning Swahili. Even if it makes things feel slow and tedious, this is not a short-term missions trip…

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This is a picture of my friend, Jackson, his grandmother, and his mom. Please pray for Jackson’s mother that her leg will heal quickly and that the power of the gospel will grow in her life!

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More-with-less

That’s the name of my new favorite cookbook. Seriously, it’s great!

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When getting ready to move to Kenya, I knew I would have to leave my cookbooks behind. First of all, they were HUGE and would never fit with the weight limit I had. But mostly, I didn’t know what kind of food I would be able to buy here, so I figured they would be a waste of space if I couldn’t even purchase the ingredients they called for.

We had lunch with some missionaries up in New York in November, and the wife recommended this cookbook for me. They lived in Kenya for some time, and she said that it was perfect for living here.

And it is!

Have you ever seen the movie ‘Julie & Julia’? It is one of my favorites. I feel like Julie right now, cooking through my cookbook. But for different reasons. Smile I am not aspiring to be like someone, or to make something of myself. I have simply found a cookbook that is amazing, and I want to cook my way through it.

Let me tell you a little about this cookbook. Its recipes and suggestions come from several Mennonite families that call for low-cost, low-fat, low-sugar, and less expensive protein ingredients. As it says on the cover, ‘how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.’ And since it is created by a Christian group, the pages are filled with encouraging quotes and Bible verses. I even like to just sit and read what people have to say inside.

Andrew and I decided to put stars by each recipe that we try. 1 star is the worst, 5 is the best. This way, when we go back to make it again, we will remember how much we liked it. We also like to make notes.

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I have documented most of my favorite recipes that I have made. That’s how good they are! Now, don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been some recipes that have not turned out so good. Since it is a cookbook focused on using simpler ingredients, there have been some bland meals, and some flat-out gross meals. But about 93.28% have been successful.

Here have been some of my favorites…

Delicious pizza.  Completely from scratch.

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Chicken turnovers with broccoli.  Inside is chicken, green onions, mayo, onion, and CHEESE!

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Wheat thins with guacamole.

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Tortillas.

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Granola.  My personal fave so far. 

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English muffins.

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I LOVE buying produce here. This entire pile of veggies was only $2.84!! 

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And the last picture is important.  My mom was very worried that I would not find any shortening here.  Don’t worry Mom…I have plenty!!

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Bon Appetite! 

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Getting Started

 P1060826 The kids are back and school is in session (actually it has been 3 weeks already, I am just late writing this entry ). Since we live on the school compound we hear kids at all hours of the day now, and I love it! Here is what a typical day at Mt. Kenya Baptist School looks like for us…

At 8am we join the teachers for devotions in the staff room. This goes until classes start at 8:30. Now, let me add that during this half hour, the students are in their classrooms already working on assignments for the day, without a teacher! There is one teacher during the devotion time that is “on duty” to make sure that students are behaving. But that is about 250 students with 1 teacher! I am seriously impressed by these students behavior and motivation.

Normally after devotions, Andrew and I go back to our house and study for Swahili. We have our Kiswahili class every day somewhere between 9am and 12 (It changes every day). I’m in Standard 1, and Andrew is Standard 2. I typically study from devotion time until class. We both have great teachers who are also working with us individually outside the classroom. I am so thankful for this!

Every day at 10:30 is tea time. I have come to really look forward to this time each day! All the students and teachers cross the street to the dining hall and get a cup of tea and a snack. The teachers then go back to sit in their favorite spot in the grass to enjoy their snack together. This time of fellowship is fun as we are getting to know the teachers.

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Now, let me tell you about the tea. The Swahili word for tea is “chai.” I have never enjoyed chai tea in the states, so when we first came I was very hesitant. But it is incredible!! (It makes Starbucks look really bad!) They serve it really hot, which is always nice because mornings are VERY cold here, so we are normally just thawing out at this time. My favorite snack is called mandazi. It is basically a baked pastry, with a slightly-sweet taste. It is simple, but so delicious!

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The kids eat lunch at 1pm. A typical meal is rice with beans or lentils. We ate with the kids one day during the first week, but realized we were a huge distraction to them! Their lunch time is about 45 minutes, and all 250 kids have to get in and out of the dining hall in that time. Which means that each rotation of kids have to eat quickly. About 10 minutes after we sat down with them, one of the cooks came out saying “Eat quicker, eat quicker” (in Swahili). So we decided that we should not eat with them during lunch because we seem to slow them down. J Now we eat with the teachers across the street. But we do eat dinner with the kids every Sunday, which is more relaxed.

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After lunch varies every day. Sometimes we have meetings set up with teachers, or we go into town, or we study Swahili, etc. I normally come back to cook and clean. I have been experimenting in the kitchen a lot! But that will be another blog all to itself! 🙂

Wednesday and Sunday nights the boarders have a bible study time, kind of like youth group. We have been able to attend those times, and it is so much fun! The kids LOVE to sing and act. We spend a while singing songs (which many are in Swahili, so we just clap and try to follow along), and then the kids act out skits for bible stories. They are very creative in what they do, I have been impressed! It is also incredible to see how much these kids know of the Bible. It is obvious that they are being brought up in the Word of God, and you can see it in how they act and talk. It has been very encouraging!

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Passage to Manhood

When does a boy become a man? This question is played out in every males life, but it has new meaning through my time spent in Africa. To many tribes the answer is around age 13, when they are circumcised.

To most Americans the idea of a boy being circumcised at 13 years old sounds crazy and even cruel, but it is a day that many boys look forward to; it is a time of deep tradition and celebration.

The proceedings can vary by tribe. For the Maasai, the boys begin with a period where they parade through the village. Circumcision marks the time where they become a Morani (warrior). During the circumcision, the boy can show no sign of pain. If his face cringes, he may be viewed as weak for the rest of his life. For the Ndorobo man doing the circumcision, his goal is not to make the procedure as quick and painless as possible… He has a reputation to keep as well.

Other tribes follow different proceedings but one thing seems to be universal, it takes about 3 weeks to a month for the boys to recover and during that time the boys are taught by the community elders what it means to be a man. Another aspect that seems to be generally universal is that the teaching is not very biblical.

Often times the boys are taught that they do not have to respect women. Being a “man” means they can do what they want and they are in charge of their own lives. Understandably this can lead to a lot of problems. In modern society, it is common for circumcision to take place when a boy graduates 8th grade. In high school, many female teachers have a difficult time because some of the boys believe they no longer have to listen to any woman.

Imagine what it would be like to have teenage boys going around thinking they are in charge (I know it sometimes seems like boys in the U.S. act this way too). It leads to a lot of problems, but churches are coming up with a unique way to utilize this transition period for the Kingdom.

Many from the church outside African culture have wanted to eliminate the tradition of circumcising boys so late in life all together. They see the ritual as pagan, which it often is, but some African pastors have embraced the culture and now use it for the good. Churches are starting to host “passage to manhood” ceremonies, where the church hosts the transitioning boys, providing a clean safe environment for procedure and then using the three week downtime to teach what the Bible says about being a man.

The boys do not leave thinking they are independent men. They leave knowing that the power of a man is not gained through strength and dominance, but that it is in respect earned through respecting others. Their graduation day marks the beginning of their passage into manhood as they desire to be godly men, following the humble example of our Jesus Christ.

I was able to visit the passage to manhood camp at Timau Baptist Church. They hosted over 120 boys this year. They had so many that they had to knock down a wall and extend the room just to fit all the boys! 102 of the boys professed Christ as their savior for the first time during the camp!!! This is not a service just for the church members, but for the community, and it grows each year.

I was able to speak at the camp on two occasions. One Sunday I visited the boys and encouraged them from 1 Timothy 1:5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” I taught them that being a man means serving God and others in love from pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith, just as Paul charged the young Timothy.

The second time I spoke was as the guest speaker for the graduation. It was an honor and a privilege. I spoke to the boys from the end of Ecclesiastes where King Solomon encourages young men to enjoy the fullness of life, but to always remember that they must answer to God for their actions. Solomon says to remember God before your youthfulness and strength start to fade.

Then, I was able to challenge around 500 parents and relatives from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which talks of the responsibility of parents to teach their children about God. At the end I shared about Jesus Christ and gave an invitation for salvation finishing with Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

View Graduation Ceremony

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