Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Prayer on Global AIDS Awareness Day

What are you doing on December 1st? Wednesday is "World AIDS Day." It is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done to help people affected by HIV.  For us, on this day we continue to pray for our friends in Kenya and are further reminded of our call to go and serve.
According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.3 million people living with HIV, including 2.5 million children. During 2009 some 2.6 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 1.8 million people died from AIDS. The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.
If you are not sure of how you can participate on this day, an appropriate step would be to pray for the people affected by HIV living in the slums of Nairobi and for the workers on the front lines impacting women, children and families for Christ.  Perhaps it will inspire you to take a greater step and get more involved in reaching out to people affected by HIV.

Luke 9:2 (ESV)

2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.

Isaiah 1:17 (ESV)

17learn to do good;seek justice,
   correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
   plead the widow’s cause.

 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Life in the Slums: Part II "The History"

Slums are characterized by the serious lack of basic services, by substandard housing or illegal and inadequate structures, overcrowding, unhealthy living conditions and hazardous locations,  insecurity of tenure leading to irregular or informal settlements, poverty and social exclusion.  Almost 60% of the 4 million residents in Nairobi live in a slum.
Kenya is a former British colony and gained it's independence in 1963.  After independence, Nairobi grew rapidly and the growth put pressure on the city's infrastructure. Power cuts and water shortages were a common occurrence.  Most residents came from rural areas due to underdevelopment, where people lived off of their ancestral land and were not necessarily earning an income. They migrated from all over East Africa looking for opportunity, work and stability.  The numbers of people migrating to the city and the natural growth became too much for the infrastructure; therefore, officials had no choice but to allow informal settlements to crop up on unused land around the city.  Kibera, the larges slum, was once a forest.
Between 1971 and 1995, the number of slums within Nairobi rose from 50 to 134, while the estimated total population of these settlements increased from 167,000 to less than 2 million individuals living on 5% of the land.  Today Nairobi has a 4.1% growth rate and is expected to grow by another million in 5 years.  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tekla's Artwork

Tekla is a dear friend in Kenya and love her very much. We have told her story many times before.  She lives in the Kiambiu slum with her teenage boys.  She has been HIV + for many years.  We believe that she has miraculously  endured the virus for so long because of her faith and hope in Jesus.  She is a light and encouragement to many widows in the slum and continues to be an inspiration to us.  A few years ago she won an award for her artwork, a new sewing machine. 
Her art is currently on display on the Summit Church wall supporting the Africa Week theme.  She probably never imagined that she would have such an impact.  Tekla is the true servant on the front lines, encouraging and helping others with HIV.  We look forward to serving along side of Tekla again soon.
Please pray for Tekla, the people on the front lines serving the LORD in the slums of Nairobi and the millions of lost people who live there.

More pictures of her artwork on our facebook page.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Life in the Slums: Part I "How did I get here?"

This is the first in a series telling stories of "Life in the Slums."

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” - Mother Teresa

"How did I get here?"

My name is Dorine and I am from Bungoma, Kenya (a rural area far outside the city of Nairobi).
I finished 6th grade but could not proceed for lack of school fees.  I was married at a young age and was my husband's first of two wives.  Life was always difficult but we managed to make ends meet living off the land and helping each other out.  My husband died on the 13th of April 2005 after a prolonged illness from HIV/AIDS complications. That same day his family cast my boys and I off of our land which left us homeless for some time.  My in-laws have disowned me and blamed me for his death.  Without any choices we were eventually forced to move to the city to find some work and a new way of life.

I live with my boys in a rented room in the Kiambiu slum.  "Kiambiu" is a Swahili word meaning "on-the-run."  I am HIV+ and have lived with this condition for over 5 years now.  I am still afraid to tell others of my status for fear of being shunned.  I am currently taking medication (ARVs) to help monitor the virus.  In order to survive and to keep my boys accepted I must keep it secret.  I always feel like I am running away fearing something.

My greatest struggle is to provide for my boys.  They do not have HIV.  For income I do some casual labor like washing clothes or beadwork for which I get very little (Kshs. 1000/ approx $12 per month).  I really can not afford to send them to school.  I have to make choices between the necessities like food and giving my boys an opportunity through education.  I do not feel safe.  There are always numbers of thieves trying to take advantage.  We just survive and look out for each other.  I worry about my boys and their future.  This life along with my poor health leaves me hopeless and forgotten.  I don't think I will make it out of here alive.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Please go with me on this safari via #constantcontact

Please go with me on this safari via #constantcontact
Currently in Nairobi, Kenya planning for next year.
Please keep in touch with trip updates on our fb page.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's Going To Take A Miracle

"It's going to take a miracle."  I often used this phrase when faced with the reality of overcoming a daunting, impossible task.  I moved forward to face the 'big giant'. Full-steam ahead I would work to finish the job under my own power and strength all the while saying half-heartedly, "It's going to take a miracle."

But, am I really believing that?  Do I in those moments rely on a celestial being to intervene for us? Am I really acknowledging that we can not do it under our own strength?  Shouldn't I really be saying, "LORD I can not do this on my own. Please intervene and guide me through the process. I have faith that if I am available to you, you will do it!"

As a family, we are learning to understand this "miracle" approach. The reality is that it is going to take miracles for us to be in Nairobi.  Along with our normal life schedules of work, school, kid's lessons, etc., the plans to move to Kenya are falling into place.  We have packed up and sold most of our possessions, planned out a time-line and have begun looking at the practical things such as passports and vaccine shot records. Sound exciting?  Honestly, it's hard work and there are often times when all we can do is pray, "LORD, we know it's going to take a miracle..." So, we make ourselves available, spiritually, emotionally and physically to be used by God. And that is when it gets exciting!
Over the last few months God has provided and has worked out his specialty countless times.  It has most often been manifested in the relationships and open doors that he continues to provide.  The greatest encouragement and confidence has been in the introduction to key relationships that we trust will guide us to specific ways we can be of assistance to the local church in Nairobi:
  • We consistently are being introduced to people that have a Kenya connection.  Relationships encourage us to stay focused on the path and our desire to serve the people in Kenya.
  • On October 1st we will be meeting with a gentleman visiting from Kenya who directs a ministry for widows and orphans in Nairobi.
  • After 9 months of being on the market (BTW selling a house is almost as daunting as the anticipation of birth) our house did not sell. God provided a family interested in renting from us.
  • Daily we are provided with opportunities to share God's plan with friends and strangers.  The Holy Spirit speaks more clearly and often than we could ever imagine.
  • We are blessed with a deep, solid foundation in both our sending agency, MVI and our home, Summit Church.  We are receiving God honoring direction and counsel in this process.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blind

Do you ever feel like you are floundering trying to find answers?  Do you ever go through life blindly taking steps? Faith means taking steps even if I cannot see the path in front of me.  Today I am feeling blind and having trouble articulating exactly what we will be doing in Nairobi.


"Jesus, thanks for your example. Father, I am available. Holy Spirit, make me like Jesus."
We are praying for more clarity. God has a plan. It is assured through these words below.



10-16Sing to God a brand-new song,
   sing his praises all over the world!
Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
   with all the far-flung islands joining in.
Let the desert and its camps raise a tune,
   calling the Kedar nomads to join in.
Let the villagers in Sela round up a choir
   and perform from the tops of the mountains.
Make God's glory resound;
   echo his praises from coast to coast.
God steps out like he means business.
   You can see he's primed for action.
He shouts, announcing his arrival;
   he takes charge and his enemies fall into line:
   "I've been quiet long enough.
   I've held back, biting my tongue.
But now I'm letting loose, letting go,
   like a woman who's having a baby—
Stripping the hills bare,
   withering the wildflowers,
Drying up the rivers,
   turning lakes into mudflats.
But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way,
   who can't see where they're going.
I'll be a personal guide to them,
   directing them through unknown country.
I'll be right there to show them what roads to take,
   make sure they don't fall into the ditch.
These are the things I'll be doing for them—
   sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute." (Isaiah 42:16, The Message)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I never made a sacrifice.

David Livingston said:
People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.
I John 3:16  By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
 For time in Africa we have already spent and including all the time we have yet to spend I will agree with D.L.  To find a perfect example of sacrifice read  Philippians 2:6-11.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stones at Gilgal and Ebenezer

Joshua 4:20-24 (ESV)

20And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21And he said to the people of Israel, "When your children ask their fathers in times to come, 'What do these stones mean?' 22then you shall let your children know,  'Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.' 23For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever."

1 Samuel 7:12 (ESV)

 12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the LORD has helped us."

As we look back over the last year and especially the last few months, we clearly feel the mighty hand of the LORD in the process.  Metaphorically speaking, we are collecting mile stones along the way and setting up a monument so that when our children ask, when people wonder and even when we may have times of doubt, we will be reminded of his presence and provision.

Most of the 'stones' are unique people and specific relationships that God has been placing before us.  At times it is circumstances that unfold in supernatural ways. There are several marks or tokens that God has deposited into our lives, some that we have been carrying over our lifetimes that only now we can look back and see how he has been preparing the way.  The people of Israel carried the 12 stones from the river Jordan to about another ten miles to Gilgal so that they would have them close to where they would end their journey.  They did not want to forget God's faithfulness.  Samuel's Ebenezer stone was a symbol for Israel of God's protection and how he subdued their enemies.

We carry these 'stones' in our hearts as monuments of his faithfulness.

John 20:21 (ESV)

21Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you."

The world will hear God speak and see God act.  It is for us to be - it is for Him to do.


*We have a growing list of 'stones' on the left column of this blog page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

VIA ...I am the Way



I am on my 12th year working for Starbucks Coffee. As I finish up my last few months at Starbucks and prepare to enter this new season, I have been doing a lot of reflection about the path that the LORD has had me on. I know that God will bless my Starbucks experience and apply it to the road ahead.
Speaking of roads, I have recently had a fun realization about a Starbucks product that launched last year: VIA - "Starbucks VIA Ready Brew." Perhaps you have had some. (I promise this is not a promotional add for Starbucks. Please humor me for a moment.) VIA is only available in two origin coffees, two flavors, if you will: Colombia and Italian Roast. Colombia, where a lot of coffee is grown, is Camie's birthplace and Italy, where coffee is perfected, is my birthplace. How random is that!
Anyhow, to continue on this stream of thought, "via" translated from Italian, means "street" or "way". If you were to walk down any road in Italy and look for a street name, you would be looking for an engraved cement street sign up on a wall or building. For example, it would say "VIA ITALIA" or you may have heard of the song "VIA DOLOROSA" (the way of suffering).
So, although I love my Starbucks Coffee and now feel even more connected to the brand and hope you do as well, Starbucks VIA is a daily reminder of my favorite connection. Referenced from the Bible in John 14:6 - "Jesus said to him, I am the way [the via], and the truth, and the life." (Italian) "Gesú gli disse: Io sono la via, la verità e la vita."
To sum up this long thought, the next time you see or have a Starbucks VIA, would you consider "the Way?" When you see Starbucks Coffee would you also please remember our family in prayer?
We are encouraged and excited about the journey or "via" ahead.
To keep in closer touch please friend us on fb or even better, sign up on our e-mail list.

p.s. If you ever come to visit us in Kenya, feel free to bring Starbucks Coffee.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Asking God to fix us

As we continue to talk about and think through the mission for Kenya it sometimes comes across a bit general and broad. You may have heard us say that we just simply want to go to Kenya and do life along side of our brothers and sisters in Kenya. I have been reading "When Helping Hurts" (Corbett & Fikkert). They share several great thoughts about helping the poor particularly in the Majority World and a perspective that we are in agreement with. While we do have a plan, here is the bigger perspective of why we are going and what we will be doing.
Poverty alleviation is the ministry of reconciliation: moving people closer to glorifying God by living in right relationship with God, with self, with others, and with the rest of creation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
The mission is to pursue a process of walking with the materially poor so that they are better stewards of their lives and communities, so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work.
Our perspective should be less about how we are going to fix the materially poor and more about how we can walk together, asking God to fix us both.

We do not have the answers but certainly with God's help we can work together and be reconciled to Him. In this sense, we are all missionaries. At times you might think that you are not fit to be a missionary, to minister to others. Don't believe it! Don't subscribe to this lie any longer! The truth is, we are all unfit without the saving life of Christ. We all ought to be doing life together (not alone) and asking God to fix us. I find that I need to ask God to fix me everyday. 1 Timothy 1:14 "and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." Thank God for His grace.

When is the last time you though of yourself as a missionary?

-SDG

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Road to Kilimanjaro


I just finished a book, "Road to Kilimanjaro" (1986, Ruth T. Shaffer), an autobiography about a missionary family who first went to Kenya in 1923. It took them an incredible several weeks of traveling on 3 ships, map this route in your head... (New York-U.K.-Gibraltar Straits-Mediterranean Sea-Suez Canal-Red Sea-Indian Ocean) all this with two small children and having no idea what they were going to experience. The book is about their 35 years of ministry to the Maasai tribe. They were some of the pioneers to Kenya. Back then Nairobi was just a small town with dirt roads.
There were several references that brought the story home for me. Having been an MK I relate to the adventure, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, relying on our God who always provides, falling in love with another culture, being present and available to be used by God however he saw fit. There were many references in the book to Dr. and Mrs. E. L. Davis who started Kijabe Hospital, which is still one of the best hospitals in East Africa. We are distantly related to them by marriage on Camie's side of the family. Dr. Davis is the grandfather to one of Camie's uncles. I am humbled to think that generations later God would allow us to continue and somehow be a part of what He began in our families four generations ago.
I feel strengthened and encouraged by the Shaffer's legacy. They had a deep relationship with the Maasai which led many of them to Christ and ministry continues amongst them today 3 or 4 generations later. The Shaffers had an unwavering faith in the midst of tragedy and joy . They were relying on financial support during the Great Depression and also during WWII. The economy, the war and geography never were mountains too big for them to climb. Isn't it amazing how almost 100 years later we have the same issues that put doubt in our minds? We trust in the LORD's promises as they are just as real today.
One hundred years later, Kenya is a very different place yet the same LORD is still sending missionaries there and we get to be a part of it. We get excited about our road to Kenya because we know that God is with us every step of the way. I am grateful for the example of people such as the Shaffers whose stories still impact us today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Follow You

You lived among the least of these
The weary and the weak
And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away.

All my needs you have supplied.
When I was dead you gave me life.
How could I not give it away so freely?

And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World.

Use my hands, use my feet
To make your kingdom come
Through the corners of the earth
Until your work is done
'Cause Faith without works is dead
And on the cross your blood was she'd
So how could I not give it away so freely?

And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken.
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World.

I give all myself.
I give all myself
I give all myself... to you.

And I give all myself.
Yes, I give all myself.
And I give all myself... to you.

And I'll follow you into the homes that are broken
Follow you into the world.
Meet the needs for the poor and the needy God.
Follow you into the World.