Half A Year

The first half of the year has been hard. We have faced a number of big challenges in the ministry lately, but the hardest part has just been the demand on my time. I have felt like one person doing the work of ten.

New leadership was taking over one of our orphanages. The Bible Institute was going through a major overhaul. The school was facing a budget crunch and in need of new vision. The Daniels were moving their things out of our house leaving us to settle in more. All the while I was trying to continue my normal duties, fix a vehicle that has been a disaster, start more discipleship and evangelism locally, manage our finances and paperwork, and keep moving forward with church planting in Northern Kenya. Oh and we had a baby.

There were days where if I am honest, I woke up asking myself why am I here. At points there was so much tension and misunderstanding that it was hard to bear. I have seen that disunity is one of the major tools of the enemy. At times, all I could see was the perfect storm coming together and it felt like everything was going to go up in a big ball of flames and then sink to the bottom in a glorious display of failure.

Then there were times when I had nothing to do but look to God. He reminded me why He brought me to Kenya. He brought people in my life at just the right time with just the right message. One evening I collapsed in our recliner exhausted. I pulled out my phone to browse Facebook since it was too early to go to bed and I was desperate to pass the time. Our youth director had just posted about how sometimes we are too busy doing stuff for God that we forget to spend time with Him and enjoy Him. I went back to the bedroom and prayed and worshiped and instantly felt revived.

I am so thankful for the Daniels and the support and freedom they gave me to make changes and push things forward. I appreciate the pastors and leaders who showed me my faults and taught me how to work in a very different culture. My love will always be with the Brown family who walked together with us through these things for 7 months and became our family. I wouldn’t have made it without the senior staff members at the school who showed unbelievable faith and commitment when their leader had none. And most of all I could not have made it without Abby who has been there every step of the way.

Faith is what saved the day. I had to come to a point where I would let go. I had to realize that all these ministries are for God and in His hands and it is not my job to worry about them. I was like the disciples in the boat on the Sea of Galilee. All I could see was the storm and I thought disaster was the only outcome. I needed to learn that Jesus, and not me, is in control.

I remember so clearly sitting in the office of our assistant principle. He wanted to quit. His reason, people had become so consumed by the problems and had lost their faith in God. I am so glad he listened to my pleas to stay and that he gave me the strength that day to declare that no matter how big the storm Jesus would deliver his people if we trust Him.

The last couple weeks have been pure joy. The new leaders at the orphanage are showing more maturity and people from the community have started donating to help lift up the home. They just brought some new blankets and painted the dormitories.

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We decentralized the Bible Institute and created a number of branches. This helped lower expenses so that it can be more locally funded while giving local churches more control over their church planting efforts. It also creates more room to train more pastors, and we are looking at adding a seminary level training course for our senior men.

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We are having to run a tight ship, but we have the school budget crunch under control. We have made a lot of improvements and have a vision for the coming years. Staff members have banded together and we have seen God’s faithfulness.

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All the little things are coming together. This week my dad has been helping us build a dining room table and plan out closets. Every day our house feels more like a home. My mom has been working with the teachers and providing fresh ideas. She has worked tirelessly on teaching aids.

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I have learned more to keep my focus on Jesus and not just doing things. Even though my wife will tell you how messy my office is right now, I feel more organized in what I do and more confident about how I lead. There even appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel with the whole vehicle situation.

For this half a year, I have been light on the communication and updates. Part of it has been because I did not feel right airing all of the problems. Part of it has been that I have just been exhausted at the end of the day. This blog serves as both a thank you to all of you who have supported and prayed for us during this time and as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to deliver us from any storm or trial if we trust in Him.

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Defender

Buying a car in Kenya is no small commitment. It can take months to find the right vehicle. People here are notorious for forgoing maintenance and even more known for covering up the abuse with temporary fixes. Then there is the price. The import taxes can increase the cost of a vehicle by 50% to 100%, and people do not like to admit depreciation. Especially when it comes to 4X4s. The 80 series land cruiser is a tough vehicle. The newer versions tend to be more designed toward comfort on developed roads and fall apart quicker in the bush, making the older 80 series still desirable. A friend of mine is looking at a 1996 with 385,000 km on it and the owner still wants $25,000 US. Yikes!

When Abby and I returned in May, we had sold our other vehicle, and it was time to do the vehicle search all over again. I was hoping it would be easier having already bought one car here, but I was sure wrong. I wanted a land rover defender. They are phenomenal off-road, but also easy to fix. I spent months looking and everything was either too beat up, too expensive, or both. I was feeling the squeeze as August approached knowing that a team was coming to build a church up north, and I needed to go up ahead of time to prepare things.

The beginning of August I found a car online that looked promising. It was old, but the owner was claiming good things. I asked a friend in Nairobi to go check it out with his mechanic before I made the trip and he said things looked good. Timing was perfect as another missionary who is also a mechanic and owns multiple defenders was on his way to Nairobi too. We went down together and he helped me look over the car. He gave me a thumbs up and I made an offer. After a bit of negotiating, we were signing papers and I was handing over money. It wasn’t my dream car, but I needed something and it seemed reasonable.

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I knew that in a few years it would need an overhaul, but it seemed ready to run for a while, while I saved up money to rebuild it. I was wrong. It overheated on a big climb on the way home. Actually, this is known to happen on this hill so it wasn’t too big of a deal. The problem was all the silicon melted out from the owner’s cheap fix and the oil leaks began. They were small and as long as you keep the oil topped up you can go for a ways like this. I wasn’t worried.

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Then I took the vehicle up north to test it and prepare for the team. The first trip I blew 2 cooling hoses. Luckily I had planned ahead and had plenty of water in the car and some tools. The second hose was fixed only because a friend had showed me just the week before how to bypass the line to the heater with a small piece of hose and a stick as a plug. God is good.

I did some work on the car and was ready to head up with the team. The power steering went so I just disconnected it. The muffler fell off on a rough area. I had to wait for it to cool and bolt it back in place. Then, halfway through the trip I got a call from Abby. She had a scare in the pregnancy and I decided to go home a day early. The baby would turn out to be fine but my trip home was an adventure.

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I was driving slowly since I was by myself in a remote area. I had just reached the end of the dirt where the good road begins when I realized I had a problem. Something was banging around. I pulled over to learn that the 4 bolts that hold the alternator in place were gone. 2 had sheared off completely and the other 2 had stripped the threads in the engine block. Some boys on a motorbike stopped to help, but with the sheared ends stuck and the other threads gone there was no way to attach another bolt.

I thought about just removing the alternator and continue driving. The battery was new and could have made the trip, but the assembly also tensioned the belt for the water pump, which I still needed to cool the engine. I was able to secure it with a few zip ties (I think these little wonders may have just passed duct tape in usefulness). The whole thing was wobbly, but I was hoping it would get me home or at least back to cellphone range and a proper mechanic.

I was on good roads but driving slower than ever. To keep a long story short, I did make it home, but the 4 hour trip took over 8 hours and my prayer life had increased tremendously. When I reached home the belt had worn down to a thread. I couldn’t believe I made it. The good thing about a defender is that they just keep going. The bad thing, my truck was done until I could fix it.

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Besides the alternator mount and power steering being broken, the front end was extremely wobbly, the gearbox was showing its age, and the engine smoke was increasing. I grounded the car till I could get the money to overhaul it completely. The need came years before I was planning.

I got the alternator ghetto rigged to make the drive to Nairobi and set off to find a good mechanic to rebuild everything. I wish I could have sold it and moved on, but I had paid double what it was really worth now knowing all the problems. The cheap fixes had fooled 2 mechanics. You just can’t know what a car is made of until you drive it.

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By the time I reached Nairobi, 5th gear had stopped working, and somewhere in the adventures the transfer case imploded and locked the car in permanent differential lock which should only be engaged when off-road. Things were a mess.

I need a reliable car so I was looking for a reliable mechanic. The first guy wanted money down before he would give me a quotation. I wanted to know at least a ballpark before I forked over $100, so I walked away. I had another guy one time quote me $13,000 just to rebuild an engine, which should cost $2,500, so I wasn’t going to risk the money and then get an outrageous quote. The second guy, who I know does excellent work wanted 800,000 shillings (just under $10,000) for all the big things and the small things would have likely run a couple thousand dollars more. I liked him but he was too much.

I was feeling a bit depressed so I joined a friend to go play volleyball and clear my mind. What I didn’t know was that after volleyball they had a prayer meeting and Bible study. I shared my discouragement and felt revived as people prayed for my need. One young couple even gave $500 toward the repair. Another person recommended a good mechanic for me to visit the next day.

I arrived at Tej’s place the next morning unsure what to expect. After going over the car, he said 600,000 (a little over $7,000) and I can sort everything out, big and small things. Normally this would make me nervous being so vague, but the price was reasonable, not too high and not too low, and the recommendations were very strong. He would completely rebuild the engine, gearbox, and transfer case. Then there was the wiring to fix so that all the gauges and lights worked and a dozen other small things.

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We were now into November, which gave him a little over a month before things shut down for Christmas and New Years. I was supposed to have the car for the holidays, but the problems kept on coming. The transfer case was so bad it was completely replaced by one imported from England. The gearbox had to be taken apart half a dozen times and parts were hard to find. The holidays came and gone and the car wasn’t ready until mid January.

A couple weeks ago some friends were heading to Nairobi, so I tagged along to get the car. They were not quite finished at the mechanics, but I was so hopeful to get it back. I had been wanting to visit our church in Baragoi and had to cancel the trip 3 times because of the delays. It kept seeming like it was ready and then another problem would come up. I just couldn’t keep waiting. I went to drive home Wednesday but there were a few small things to sort so I pushed back to Thursday.

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Finally, mid-day Thursday I was on my way. It felt like a completely different car. The gear changes were tight and crisp. The engine was running smoothly, and the front end was tracking perfect on the highway. My only concern was the smoke, but they told me it should go down as the engine wore in.

Then while climbing the hill halfway home the engine started to overheat. It was heartbreaking, but I decided to turn around. I wanted to get the car perfect, but was hopeful that it might be an easy fix.

When I got back, I learned that it was actually the temperature gauge reading off. The “steam” that I saw was actually oil leaking from the turbo (the one the old owner swore was new) onto the hot muffler and burning. This was causing the smoke. I could see there were still more problems to sort.

Friday we replaced the temperature gauge. It was still reading hot. The turbo would go eventually but it was still running. Then we noticed a slight leak at the head gasket. I decided to leave the car to be fine-tuned even though it would mean cancelling a fourth Baragoi trip.

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It is currently getting a new head put on and the turbo replaced. I can’t imagine anything else that could possibly go wrong. We have decided to go to Baragoi by public transport. We will be more limited on ministry opportunities because we can’t get to the far villages and we’ll have to walk to the closer ones. Also, we wanted to survey some new areas, but there are no public routes so we will wait on these.   

I want to say thank you to all those who have supported us in this time. At the start, Abby and I had been saving up money for another need, but we decided the car was a bigger priority. Since then, people have given so generously that everything is covered. The repairs will run about $9,000 after the turbo, new head, and a few other extras, but we should have a great reliable vehicle to work with. I wish I could have just had the extra money to buy a newer car in the first place, but I have learned so much along the way and I know the car inside and out.
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Update: It is now mid March and I am finally back in Nanyuki with the vehicle. They put the new cylinder head and the engine is running very smooth. We haven’t been able to find a new turbo yet, but I am meeting with someone after the weekend who says he can import one for a reasonable price. The clutch went out on me because the new release bearing was defective. The only brand readily available is brit parts and I have read mixed reviews on their quality. It is back up and going but another $100 down the drain. The power steering was fixed but has stopped again. May need a new pump but they run $500.  Overall, I am just happy to have something to drive. It has been a long road, but I can’t help but be optimistic. There is not much more that can go wrong.

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Esther

When I first met Esther, she was one the happiest girls in the orphanage. She loved to jump rope and play games. I always looked forward to seeing her smile. She was a normal, happy, healthy child.

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But there was something inside her that couldn’t be seen with the eye. Esther is HIV positive. For years she was strong and her life seemed so normal. Then as the end of 2012 approached, it was time to say goodbye to Esther and the other kids for 6 months while Abby and I returned home to the States for a furlough.

When we returned to Kenya in May, we were greeted by a different girl. Esther was weak and thin. She no longer smiled. In fact, she would barely look at anyone. There was still a glimpse of the old Esther if you pulled out a jump rope. She was in there somewhere but rarely came out.

You see, during the 6 months while we were away, someone decided that it was better to put a few dollars in their pockets than to buy Esther the fruits and other supplemental foods that had given her body strength to fight. It makes me so angry to think about it.

Esther had dwindled to nothing in a few short months. This healthy girl was now so weak and fragile. The terrible disease inside her had been set free. At this point my anger turns to tears. We put her on ARVs to help her body fight and made major changes in the leadership of the orphanage. Most of all we prayed.

I was so hopeful for Esther, but then she got sick. What first seemed like a simple cold quickly turned to full blown tuberculosis in this tiny 11 year old. She was so weak that when I arrived at the hospital, Sophia, one of the new caretakers, had to carry her on her back. She was admitted to the children’s ward and slowly recovered, but after a couple weeks she relapsed. This time it was bad.

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The doctors gave her 2 months to live and sent her home to die. Again the emotions flowed. Anger at those who neglected her, how flippantly they treated a precious life for personal gain. Tears at watching such a sweet child suffer. Hopelessness knowing how pointless her death would be.

In the eyes of many people here, it was time to just leave Esther alone and let her go, but that was not good enough. My thoughts tuned to the Make a Wish Foundation. Sure we were never going to be able give her a private vacation to Disney World, but there had to be something to bring joy to her remaining days.

It was also time to get in touch with her remaining extended family. I am so thankful to those who helped. We sat outside Esther’s family home with her older siblings and other family explaining that they needed to go visit Esther before she dies. They were all very gracious and one believed in Jesus for hope and salvation.

I wrote a couple people who knew Esther about my idea to make do whatever we could to make her life happy during her remaining time. Our friends at the Tin Roof Society reached out. They had just spent time with her the month before while they were over here building a church. They told us to do whatever it takes and they will figure out how to raise the money. They also encouraged me to get a second consult on Esther’s health.

Through asking around, I found the the best place to take Esther was a Catholic medical center just next to us called Huruma. The main part of their facility is a hospice care center, but they also have an outpatient wing for HIV/AIDS testing, dental, and physiotherapy. This may sound like a weird combination but they basically focus on areas where there is the most need, either people aren’t doing it or aren’t doing it well.

At Huruma, the hospice care is primarily for the elderly. They do not admit children, but since they have an orphanage just next door, they have made exceptions in the past for a few orphans. After meeting with Sister Lucia, the head of the hospital, they agreed to take Esther in.

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Esther really thrived at Huruma. She was very popular among patients and nurses alike. One of the nurses, who lives on the property, took Esther in to her own home to live instead of her having to stay in the ward. They brought her fruits and toys, and Esther loved to draw pictures for them. They even bought her an umbrella with their own money when they heard that Esther had always wanted one. I really could not be more impressed with Huruma.

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Esther was also gaining back her strength. Every day she was a little stronger, and she was coming out of her shell and communicating better. She would greet people and answer questions. At the beginning she couldn’t even say if she wanted something. It was so encouraging to see her open up to some of the nurses and make friends.

After 2 months there was such a remarkable improvement. The signs of her trauma were still very real, but she had improved enough to tell us what she really wanted. Esther told us that she wanted to go home and be with the other orphans, especially Evon. The doctors at the government hospital gave her 2 months to live, and now after 2 months at Huruma, she is ready to live a normal life again.

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Esther Leaving The Hospital

 

Only God knows how much time Esther has left, but with proper care and a little luck avoiding other infections, she could easily live to be an adult. She goes back to Huruma every month for a checkup. We have looked into different options for Esther. We approached another orphanage that only takes in HIV positive children about accepting her in, but they have been slow to respond. Plus I would hate to pull her away from the other kids in the home who are like brothers and sisters.

The big problem she faces now is the long walk to school. It is easy for a healthy kid, but Esther is still very weak. School just started back up and we have already had to talk with the principal because they punished her for showing up late. We are are considering moving her to our other orphanage. It is a boys only home, but there is someone there who could give her one on one attention, and the church has a school on the compound.

Please join us in prayer as Esther continues to recover and gain back her strength. Also, that we could make the best decisions for her future. A huge thank you to the Tin Roof Society for their support in covering all of Esther’s medical expenses.

(I want to make one disclaimer. It is easy as an American to judge the District Hospital. I have also been angered by the seemingly flippant way they wrongly dismissed a precious life, but I have also been reminded about the challenges there are. The government hospitals here are overcrowded, understaffed, and under-resourced. Americans grow up with the ideal that no one should decide about the life of another. The answer and expectation is always to fight till the last minute. Here that is impossible for these doctors. Medical resources are limited-medicine, equipment, and staff-and daily they have to make the choice of who gets treatment because there isn’t enough to treat everyone. The government has also been working to expand capacity, but I was just talking to another missionary who said in the 40 years he has been here the population has grown from around 8 million to over 53 million. That is more than 6.5 times the number of people. It is difficult to keep up with the growth, but this statistic also serves as a testimony of the impact of modern culture, especially the effectiveness of medical care and food distribution in keeping people alive. So please don’t judge. Be thankful for the great care that really does exist in the USA and be encouraged that other countries like Kenya are developing quickly and raising their standards every day.)

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Thanksgiving 2013

Holidays are an interesting time for many missionaries. As I lay in bed having just read a blog by another missionary who is “shattered” this Thanksgiving missing family, it is all so real that many struggle this time of year. For Abby and I we are thankful to fall on the other end of the spectrum.

Today in many ways felt more like Thanksgiving than any other last Thursday of November in my life. Yes I missed being with family. Last year Abby and I got to spend a week on the beach with our families for Thanksgiving, but I got to spend this year with my family, Abby and our daughter Adalyn.

It really is indescribable what it is like to be a young man starting the next generation of a family, and what a great reason to give thanks. Adalyn is getting to that fun stage where she is understanding more and interacting so much. Abby is great at creating meaningful holiday traditions while still keeping the beauty behind the day.

We also weren’t alone this Thanksgiving. Having welcomed the Brown family to join in the ministry a little over a week ago, we had someone to celebrate with. Abby and Jodi worked so hard to prepare the perfect meal. I enjoyed throwing the football with Steve and his 3 boys. We watched Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving Special and also a street version of the newest Hunger Games.

Our meal was typical Thanksgiving affair. We had turkey, green bean casserole, cornbread, stuffing, rolls, and a sweet jello dish. For desert we had pumpkin pie as well as banana cream and cinnamon rolls. Everything was cooked from scratch and it was absolutely delicious!

I am not big on the month long Thanksgiving countdowns and such that come this time of year. If they have meaning to you then great, but personally I find them more of a chore than a significant way to thank God. Still without thinking of Thanksgiving I have been so thankful this month. I just feel like the Lord has blessed me so much, so I have spent the month being thankful without thinking about the connection.

I think 2 Corinthians 4:15 sums up Thanksgiving perfectly. Thanks Jeff Jackson for pointing it out. Salvation is the greatest reason to be thankful, so the best way to increase thanksgiving is to share Jesus with others. This leads to God being glorified which should be the result of everything that we do.

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”        -2 Corinthians 4:15

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving too. Here are a few pictures from the day:

 

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Gripping my Green Thumb

I am surrounded by family that loves to garden and plant! My father-in-law is an awesome gardener; if you know anything about him you know that! You name it, he’s got it! My mom too, she loves plants! When I was younger she had a vegetable garden, but now she is more into plants and flowers. Her yard is beautiful.

I’ve been trying to grip this green thumb for years now. When Andrew and I first got married I bought a tomato plant (that was already big with one tomato on it). It was dead within a month. When we first moved to Kenya, I planted a very small herb garden. It was also dead within a few months.

But….this time I’m determined! I have recently planted a HUGE vegetable garden. I planted 21 different things. From lettuce to cucumbers to onions to melons. I planted all the seeds almost 2 months ago. And now things are starting to grow!

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But I’ll let you in on my little secret. Its not at all that my green thumb is present. Its that Kenyans are awesome gardeners! And I have help! A teacher at our school lives on our compound with us and she has been my lifesaver. She helped me plant, she goes out in the evening and waters it for me (I do too, but she beats me to it sometimes!), basically she helps hold me accountable.  A friend of ours who does our yard work has also been a huge help. And my biggest problem is weeds. I can’t tell what’s weeds and what’s not. So they have been a great help with that too.  There have already been times I’ve wanted to give up (it’s a big project!), but I’m too embarrassed with all these friends helping me. Is that a good reason?    

Hoping to eat from it soon! Come on over and I’ll share. Smile

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An “Average” Day

People always asked me while we were in the States, “What does an average day look like?” Here is yesterday:

Woke up, did my quiet time, checked the rat poison, got ready for my day, and helped Abby with Adalyn. Then I met with a potential employee before heading over to the church offices. At the office I dealt with internet problems, opened up excel to sort finances, and signed checks for our Pastors’ support, orphan school fees reimbursements, and a contractor who is working on one of our churches. I skipped morning tea to hear the days problems, talk with the pastors coming to collect their support, and write another check for the Timau orphanage monthly needs. I also got to enjoy talking over some issues, discussing strategy going forward, and praying with some of the other key leaders. Lunch ended with a call saying the contractor who is doing the final touches (landscaping, clothes lines, outside drainage, etc.) on the school dorm had arrived. We (the head teacher and I) looked over his adjusted quotation drew up a contract and signed it. Work should be done in 3 weeks. The orphan money had been withdrawn so I organized the cash into budget categories to pass on to the caretakers. Time to follow up with people to make sure things planned yesterday were finished, collect receipts, and plan for the next couple days. Orphan girls glasses fixed, “check,” cook to get his health certificate, “check,” depart 6:30am on Friday for Meru for school visit and meeting with youth officer, “check.” Last matter for the day is to finalize a tentative schedule for a team coming in August. I was thinking that I might get the email out to them at home that night, but never got to it. On the way home to get dressed to unwind playing soccer with the boarding students, it started to rain so no soccer. Arrived home to hear about Abby’s day and play with Adalyn,my sweet baby girl. It’s 5 pm and as dinner is going in the oven, Abby remembers that it is Wednesday so out the door I run to prayer meeting. Dinner, play time, Adalyn’s bedtime, and then a couple hours for Abby and I to enjoy before bedtime.

Not every day is this crazy, but the variety represents well the life of a missionary. One day I am in the office, the next I am sleeping on the ground in the wild sharing the gospel with those who have never heard the name of Christ. Sometimes I am an auto mechanic, a plumber, or a builder. This afternoon I am teaching drama to a group of our students and tomorrow I am acting as a parent to an orphan. Last week I was doing a needs assessment for someone wanting to dig a water borehole in a remote village. All of this is while learning Swahili and trying to be more Kenyan. The best part of it all is that the more I find my strength and satisfaction in Jesus the more I love what I do. My average day is helping people glimpse the Kingdom of Heaven so that God may be glorified.

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Living Water

In the book of John there is a popular account of a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well. In it Jesus makes introduces himself as the one who provides living water, water that can quench ones thirst forever.

Last week I was given a new perspective on water. You see, growing up in America getting a glass of water was as simple as a short walk to the tap. Sure I have felt thirsty, but that was only because I was too preoccupied with other things to remember to drink a little water. As far as water quality, my biggest concern was whether or not it had a funny taste. I never worried about getting sick. I grew up in the minority.

For many people all over the world, finding water and food for the day is their biggest concern. You have probably heard the stories, seen the pictures, and read the statistics, but have you ever let the reality change you?

On Wednesday, I traveled to the town of Laisamis with a couple friends to survey a site for drilling a borehole. I am helping a friend in the U.S. with the fieldwork. Laisamis is in the middle of the desert, and from the town we drove out to the village of Trikamo (tree-ka-moe) to a site designated by a local pastor and the town water engineer.

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We listened to how there had only been 2 rain storms so far this year and both were back in February (It is now August). The first rainy season is just wrapping up for the rest of the country and here they can show you on one hand how many times it has rained. They said maybe they will get a little more in November.

Let that sink in for a moment. 2 tiny rains all year, temperatures are constantly over a hundred degrees, and you have a family who needs water every day with no exceptions. Where are you going to get it? In modern times we are digging more and more wells, but from reports, many of the wells in the area are too high in salt content for human consumption.

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If you are not near one of the good wells, like the people of Trikamo, you have to walk to the dry riverbed and look for a certain plant that shows the presence of underground moisture. Then you dig. How long do you dig for? It doesn’t really matter. You have no choice but to find water or your family dies. During good times water may only be a few feet below the surface, but when times are dry you may have to dig down 5, 6, even more than 10 feet just for a few cups of filthy water.

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You will do this every day for the rest of your life. When the water is exhausted in one area you move on to the next. As more and more areas dry up, you have to travel farther and dig deeper and deeper. You also start praying harder and harder that the rains will come. It is hard but it is the only life you know and what you know is that water is everything. IMG_5369

So let’s go back to the Samaritan woman and Jesus. Imagine being that woman, walking who knows how far to that well every day to collect water. I am sure she is unimaginably grateful for the well, because she knows how difficult water would be to get without it. Even with the well, water is heavy and backbreaking work to carry home. I can imagine that the well would have gone dry at times during periods of drought and I am sure she has experienced great struggles to find water on long journeys, just as Jesus needed water that day from his journey.

So here you are, the Samaritan woman, struggling every day for water and a stranger walks up to you and asks for help with a drink. Then he tells you that he can give you living water where you will never be thirsty ever again. It may sound as mythical as the fountain of youth but you have to know more. If he is telling the truth then he knows one of the greatest secrets ever known.

Jesus’s words were like telling the woman she will never have to work another second again. One of her greatest sources of worry would be eliminated in a moment. Think about how these get rich quick schemes tug out our thoughts. Think about how much the idea of freedom from work persists in modern society in advertisements, movie plots, the lottery. It is everywhere, and this is what Jesus is claiming in his statement.

The amazing thing is that Jesus can actually provide what he promised. Not some magical elixir, but eternal, spiritual satisfaction. You see if we are truly honest with ourselves, everyone longs for something more than this life. Our souls groan within us for the truth and purpose in life.

Just like the people of Trikamo and their never ending quest for water, we all are on a journey to satisfy our souls. Some turn to relationships. Others seek adrenaline. Many today are leaning on science for purpose, but in these things there is always heartache, always a need for the next high, or always an unanswered question. They  leave you digging deeper and deeper in search of just a little relief.

God as our creator is the only one with all the answers, and as a solution to our thirsty souls he gave his son, Jesus. Jesus will never let us down, he always satisfies, and he teaches us what we need to know. Jesus, the provider of living water, is the only one who can provide a lasting solution, and he offers salvation freely to anyone who will believe.

 

Check out this video from our trip.

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