Tuesday, July 19, 2011

House Hunting

For the last seven weeks we have been temporarily renting a house from a missionary family that are on break back in the U.S. until the end of August. It has been a great provision for us as we have spent the last few weeks settling in and getting our feet wet.
We are currently praying about finding our own place where we hope to stay for the long-run.  Our hope is to find a home that is close to our daily routine, relative to Kenyan lifestyle and that also meets our expectations for safety and budget.
 I know that the LORD has a specific place in mind for us and desires that it is fitting for all five of us.  We have been praying on a list of wants, not necessarily needs, knowing that he cares about the details:
  • Walking distance to a grocery store
  • A yard for Sam to play in
  • A place where Nathan can play his drums
  • Abby to have her own room
  • Good internet access for Skype
One of the pastors on staff at Nairobi Chapel is helping us find the place.  I just sent him the list and he jokingly responded by saying he would look into the "presidential statehouse" for us.  Quite funny but I told him that even though I feel picky, I believe God has the perfect place for us.  He so agreed and told me that just this morning he was memorizing this verse: 

Acts 17:26-27 (ESV)

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
 God cares about our dwelling place.  We are feeling our way towards him to find him actually not far away.  It is so good to know he cares about every detail in our lives. Please pray with us specifically over the next few weeks while we look for a home.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It Takes Time to Grow

Baobob Tree
One of my personal challenges in coming to Africa is working with "Africa time."  I am not referring to the change in timezone but an actual change in mentality.  I am learning that most approaches to life in Africa are different than ours.  When you try to get something done, it takes two or three times longer than you would normally expect.  There seem to be so many factors working counter-productively:  traffic, slow internet, electricity.  I realize I am wearing my "western eyes."
I am not trying to be critical. Many of the ways of doing things are great and many also seem better and perhaps are more godly or more founded in scripture, i.e. practicing genuine hospitality or the value of family.  But when it comes to managing time and while there is beauty in the slow pace life, for a westerner such as myself, it can also become frustrating.
I was just noticing last week how slowly two women were walking down a path. Their pace was so slow that they were almost unnoticeable.  I was thinking how special it was that they were enjoying each other and their conversation.  They were not in a hurry to get anywhere.  Perhaps I am always too much in a hurry.  I have long legs and my children do let me know when my walking pace is too fast.  Somewhere along, I decided that getting from point A to point B fast and in a straight line is the best way.
The time issue becomes most frustrating for me in a group setting such as a meeting.  I am used to working with a clear  deadline and feeling the effects of being late.  People do set goals here and work with time-frames but not in the same manner. There are times when it seems like people are deciding to decide.  It seems like making a decision or goal setting is not often a personal thing, it is done together. 
When I feel myself getting frustrated or impatient, I often get the mental picture of the scene with the tree Ents in the movie "The Lord of the Rings."  Merry and Pippin are wondering why Treebeard and the other Ents are taking so long to decide if they should go to war.  Here is the conversation:
Treebeard: We have just agreed...
[Merry and Pippin lean in]
Merry: Yes?
Treebeard: I have told your names to the Entmoot, and we have agreed you are not orcs.
Pippin: Well, that's good news.
Treebeard: You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
Merry: It's been going for hours.
Pippin: They must have decided something by now.
Treebeard: Decided? No, we have just finished saying "Good Morning".
Merry: But it's night time already! You can't take forever!
Treebeard: Now, don't be hasty, master Merriadoc.
Merry: We're running out of time!
"Deciding what to do does not take Ents so long as going over all the facts and events that they have to make up their minds about. Still, it is no use denying, we shall be here a long time yet."
I can relate. Sometimes I feel like "we're running out of time!"
Maybe I am in too much of a hurry.
My Ligonier devotional for the last week has been focusing on time with titles such as:  "Using Your Time Productively", " Redeeming Your Time", "Beating the Clock".  So I definitely have a 'time' theme going through my life. I believe it is something that the LORD wants me to consider.  At this point it is my issue to work through and learn.  I am not expecting to change anyone but myself.  I am leaning in to listen to what God is saying. 
From what people are telling me, my feelings are normal and with time I will get used to it.  Perhaps I could learn from the the Ents and the huge old Baobob trees we find here. It takes time to grow.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Day in Malindi

On the last Saturday we had some free time so the two of us took a 45 minute trip North to the town of Malindi, well known for it’s large Italian population.  We were hoping for some good beach time and I was craving a good shot of espresso.  Both on the matatu (bus) ride up and back there was someone on it that we happened to know from Kilifi.  Guardian angels I guess.
We arrived to pouring rain so we changed our beach plans to looking for lunch.  We found a little Italian place that had below average pizza and sat listening to Italian conversations around us.  We met a fisherman Capt. Mohammed who offered to take us on a tour of Malindi.  Free tour-guide, we agreed. 
He was walking barefoot and I noticed early-on that he was walking with a limp.  I inquired and he showed us a big cut on the bottom of his foot infected by a splinter lodged inside.  He went to the hospital a few days before to have it looked at but could not afford the bill to have it taken care of and left without medical attention.  I felt sad for him and I prayed and asked the Lord for direction.  At the end of the tour I gave him a little money in Jesus’ name to pay for his hospital bill.  He was so grateful. I asked him to promise me he would get it taken care of that day and gave him my phone number to let me know his progress.  I prayed for him and we parted ways and he assured me he would go right to the hospital.  The next day, he borrowed someones phone and called me to let us know that he went to the hospital to receive care and was feeling much better.
In the end, since we did not go to the beach and did not find a good cup of coffee, we decided that God had us go to Malindi just to meet Capt. Mohammed.  That was a good enough reason for me.  Here we were, on the other side of the world, on the coast of Kenya, away from Nairobi, out for the day, having fun, living by the Spirit.  A good reminder that you never know the plans God might have for your day ahead. Please pray for Capt. Mohammed.

In God's hands

Throughout our week in Kilifi, we felt God’s hand of protection as he put specific people in our lives to guide and protect us.  I believe there were many people praying for us.  We really felt God's presence and direction throughout the entire week.

Our Tuk-Tuk driver, Joseph, was a born again believer.  There were times we would be walking around the town and we would run into him almost as if God appointed him as our guardian angel.  We called on him to dive us to ministry towards the wazungs (white folks, Europeans).  Before moving to Kenya one of my prayers was that if the Lord ever put me in a place to minister to Italian tourists I would be willing to be used by him.  This week I had a chance to do that.  So we looked for coffee shops and restaurants where they might hang out.  While breaking down these walls in another cultural setting has it’s own unique challenges and we did not see any muzungu conversions this week, we did make some interesting contacts that will lead to follow-up conversations.  Remaining available and letting God lead the way.  God hears our prayers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mission to Kilifi

Nathan and I (Brad) got a chance to spend 12 days in the coastal town of Kilifi.  We went on a mission with about 18 others from Nairobi Chapel.  We met a couple 100 other short term missionaries there coming from all over Kenya.  Our mission was to work with the local churches in the town of Kilifi and to do a major outreach to the entire town.
Kilifi is a beautiful, quiet, slow paced coastal town on the Indian Ocean.  The climate was beautiful and made us feel like we were back home in FL.  Despite the beauty and slow paced lifestyle, the town has many challenges.  Along with poverty and many of the common challenges in an African town, the town has been both economically and spiritually neglected for hundreds of years.  This lead to a strong presence of other beliefs, Muslim, animistic, black magic and complete spiritual darkness.
There is a strong Muslim presence that has many closed to accepting Jesus and confused as to who He really is.  As we could hear the calls to prayers all throughout the day, I would pray against the Muslim stronghold and that they would be receptive to the gospel.  Many people claim to be Muslim simply because they have never heard the truth about the Gospel and have been persuaded to practice the Muslim faith for monetary reasons.  "If you become Muslim, you get money or help." Very motivating when you struggle to make ends meat.
Nevertheless, we saw many people both Muslims and "nominal Christians" accept Jesus.  Over the week that we were doing outreach, over 2,000 people made a profession of faith and many more recommitted their lives to following Jesus.
I got a chance to preach a few times, prayed with many, and even dedicated a baby named "Wisdom."
Nate and I had a great bonding week.  He was a blessing and encouragement to many people.  As a father, I am most proud of my children when I see them grow in faith and wisdom of the LORD.  Nate turns 16 this week.  He had a big week .
I'll add more stories from our trip in detail this week.