“How are you Loving your Neighbor?”

2014-07-31 10.44.18
Peter’s recent baptism

During our Sunday morning fellowship, all the men are free to share  as the Holy Spirit leads.The interactive service is usually encouraging, often interesting, and sometimes just l-o-n-g. In African culture, wazee (old men) are respected, and since our church boasts many of them, it’s not uncommon for all of them to feel compelled to say “something.” This week, one of our newly-baptized wazee, Peter (I think he is about 80 years old), sang us a worship song, which brought a smile to my face.

However, mostly I am still thinking about what Nashon shared…wish I had a picture of him to show you, but the fact that we don’t might tell you something about how shy he is. Marc sometimes takes him along for assistance with translation, and if he’s struggling with words or if something strikes him as humorous, he often gets a hard-to-control case of the giggles. Nashon is (I think) 23 years old, which here in Kenya is still considered a “youth.” (A youth can actually be as old as 30!) But his challenge to all of us during this week’s fellowship showed a wisdom that perhaps even the wazee would envy (though I’m sure they would never say so).

Many spoke about loving one another this week (must have been a Holy Spirit theme) and I don’t think I could even summarize all of what Nashon had to say, but really, it was only one statement/question which made me think, and perhaps even challenged me:

People find it easy to love someone who is far away. But you, how are you loving your neighbor?

And isn’t it true? When we lived in America, it was “easy” to send money to this cause, that person…all good, and certainly something we should all do. I’m not knocking financial giving. But at the same time, I could be challenged to love those closest to me in practical ways (even my family members) when I had to see all the attitudes and behaviors in them that I didn’t like, deal with situations that weren’t easy or comfortable, and see in myself all the areas needing improvement as a result.

How often do we all willingly give or do things for others who are “far away” (i.e., perhaps not intimately involved in our lives), but neglect to really love (in word and deed) those closest to us? Why is it that others so often see our good sides, while we “let it all hang out” at home and let those we’re supposed to love the most see us at our very worst?

As a fellowship, we got back together at 6 PM for our communion meal. Our brother  Sam opened up the fellowship by sharing a bit, and I don’t know if he meant to continue on the morning’s theme, but he also talked about loving others and wondered,

If someone went and talked to your neighbor, what would he say? Would he say that you are a Christian?

It’s true that we all will only stand before God in judgment and that no man can know another’s heart…but at the same time, a tree is known by its fruit. The people we are closest to are the ones who should be witness to our “fruit.” And they are, whether it be good or bad.

You, how are you loving your “neighbor”? If someone went and talked to your neighbor, what would he say?

On Feeling Like an “Outsider”

Recently we got a chance to visit with a fellow missionary family here in the Kitale area, which was a great blessing. During the course of our  conversation, I was asked if (now that we have been here in Kenya for almost two years), we feel like we have really “integrated” into the community here. My answer was mostly no, but I’ve been thinking about the subject off and on ever since.

In one sense, I think we have integrated as much as we possibly can. Local children no longer chase after us yelling, “Mzungu, Mzungu, how are you?” everywhere we go. Our children are no longer harassed by constant attention (stares, poking, prodding, and pushing) when they are out and about in the neighborhood. I am blessed to see our yard full of smiling and laughing brown faces in addition to the eight white faces of our children on most afternoons. Even better, I like to hear the back-and-forth conversation in Swahili as the children play. Even Enoch (age 2) has picked up an impressive little vocabulary. I laugh when he asks his friend Nila, “Taco nini?“. What he really means is, “Unataka nini?” or, “What do you want?” but of course he’s only two…and he doesn’t understand that everyone is giggling at him not just because he’s adorable, but because taco is a bit of a crude word in Swahili.

Crowds of kids no longer line up along our fence and stare for hours on end; it’s only during school vacations when children visit from farther-away places that we can’t name each and every one of our little guests.  And we no longer welcome a seemingly unending stream of adult visitors who are trying to figure us out. Most people know who we are and why we are here.

Hosting a home fellowship is a small part of our “mission” here, and it’s really just a means of showing people how it’s done so that more local home fellowships will be birthed; we have little interest in spear-heading a mzungu-centric “church.” Our first attempt at house-churching attracted way too much attention–too many people, all committed to other local churches and not coming out of much beyond curiosity–or a desire to garner the favor of the wazungu. But even that has changed; now the majority of folks come for the purposes of fellowship and discipleship and we rarely have visitors  who don’t sincerely want to know more about the Gospel of the Kingdom and what it means to live as a follower of Christ. So even in that regard, I feel a much greater sense of acceptance and effectiveness.

We have different ways of doing things, all oddities to our neighbors and the subject of much conversation at first: we don’t really like ugali; we homeschool; we don’t really believe (as most people here seem to) that it takes a village to raise a child and children should be seen and not heard; we are certainly more technologically advanced than most folks around here; and of course, we have a larger house and more possessions than almost everyone we know. All these differences have, for the most part, been slowly accepted as a part of who we are and, though we are obviously different, we’re no longer viewed as “outsiders,” as much as we were at first. We’ve been welcomed, accepted, and, as much as is possible, integrated into our community.

On the other hand, there are ways in which I don’t think we can ever really integrate. Learning Swahili has been a struggle and, though most of us can follow a simple conversation and make small talk, it will be a long time before we’re fluent enough to hold a meaningful conversation. This is particularly difficult when it comes to ministry and fellowship/discipleship. Relying on translation is a necessary discomfort for me; I know I am missing out on so much in the development of relationships and greatly wish that there was better integration in that regard. We would be much more effective for the Kingdom if circumstances were different but I trust that God can work through us even with our limitations.

As well, there is  much that we cannot culturally comprehend, as we have a very Western mind-set and and ingrained lifestyle that is very different from what is normal here. We’ve learned, and continue to learn, much about communication, realities of life here, and ways of doing things; but without first-hand experience we often find ourselves, by default, on the “outside.” I don’t know if we can ever really overcome these differences, any more than we will cease to be an oddity simply because of the whiteness of our skin.

But in spite of the awkwardness and the discomfort that are the inevitable outcome of so many meetings and conversations, I have hope. I know that God can use us in spite of our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). I trust that it is His work that is being done and that there is much more being accomplished than what I can see with my own eyes. And I understand more and more what it means to be “in the world but not of the world” (for example, John 15:19).  Hebrews 11 speaks of those who walk in faith as people who confess to being “strangers and exiles on the earth,” and the Apostle Peter urges us to live as examples to those around us, because we are “aliens and strangers” here. Feeling, in some ways, not totally integrated into our community here, just reminds me of how God wants me to view my citizenship here on earth. In many ways, a certain level of discomfort is good. The seemingly unending self-assessment that we go through as a result of the many cultural differences is equally beneficial.

Truthfully, sometimes I feel like it would be easier to go back to America–where we fit in better, and where relationships would be more natural and more effective for discipleship. I don’t think we will ever totally “integrate” here, but maybe we aren’t meant to. We’re being stretched, we’re growing, and we will accomplish whatever is God’s will for us to accomplish while we are here.  As with everything, we trust that God is working all things for good and for His glory.

“You Eat What You Carry”

Marc was in Bidii today, visiting the church there. Sam led our fellowship and taught on God’s provision, which comes because of His faithfulness but depends on our right-standing with Him and our diligence in labor. I can’t do justice to the teaching, but he ended by sharing a story that his own mother had often told him:

Once there was a family of many children; I don’t know how many. But all the children were obedient to their father–all except one. This son, when his father said,” Let us go here,” would say, “Oh, I feel like going there.” When told it was time to sleep, he would say, “I am just feeling like doing some work!”

It came time for the family to have to move away from their home and take a long journey. Each child was given a bundle to carry as they walked. Partway through the trip, they entered a valley. Father instructed each child to pick up a rock “of a good size” and bring it with them to their destination. All the children did so, except for the complaining son. He chose a small stone and, when his father reminded him of the instruction, replied, “Am I not carrying a stone, Father?” And so they went on their way.

As night fell, they stopped to rest. Father told the children to set their stones by their sleeping places. Each one turned into bread of the same size as the stone! The children all ate their fill, though the complaining son went to bed with a rather empty belly. The father told his children, “You eat what you carry.”

They resumed their trip the next day. The father, wishing to test his complaining son, again gave the children the same command as the previous day. Again, they all picked up stones. The complaining son deliberately looked for the largest stone he could find, and carried it without murmuring. The father, who actually had no purpose for the stones, several hours later instructed them to leave the rocks behind and press on in their journey. Though the children did not understand the father’s intent, they obeyed.

This was one of two stories that Sam told, which all the children loved and were eager to re-tell to Marc when he arrived home from Bidii. Stories are a powerful means of illustrating Biblical truths, and I particularly enjoyed this one! It is interesting to hear different men in our fellowship teach, sharing what God puts on their hearts.

When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.

1 Corinthians 14:26

More than “church”

Being part of the Body of Christ means more than just meeting Sunday-to-Sunday. We’ve long known that, experienced it in our home fellowship in America, and have only prayed for it here. It has been greatly encouraging to see our little fellowship flourish during our Sunday meetings…but this past week, we’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work, enabling all of the brothers and sisters here to function as a true body of believers. Unfortunately, it took some trials and struggles for everyone to see it, but God is just that good–even when bad things happen.

For example, it came to Silas’s attention that Patrice has been going to stay at a neighbor’s house every time it rains (and that’s a lot during our current “rainy season!”) But Patrice has had health issues and lack of work which made it financially impossible for him to repair the thatch. He finally came into some work and Silas took charge with some “tough love” (because apparently he knows that Patrice isn’t always wise with his money).  He commandeered Patrice’s earnings, put his punda (donkeys) and cart to work, and went to town with Patrice to buy some iron sheets. Henry, our neighbor, got involved, and eventually a plan was made to not only re-roof but re-build Patrice’s house. Of course, Marc got involved, buying nails and bringing his tools so that the convening group (which included Patrice’s unbelieving family members) could all pitch in and help. (You can see some of the photos on Marc’s Facebook.)

Sam lives in the center of our village, where the road is going to be widened and many shops are threatened with extinction, including his. The day came this week when action was forced; Sam needed to demolish his shop and so did many of his neighbors. Isaiah got his schoolwork done in record time early one morning so that he could bring all of our tools to town and help out as many people as possible. (Of course, doesn’t every young man long for the opportunity to demolish stuff?) He and Sam worked together on his shop and one other before illness got to Isaiah. He’d been feeling a little under-the-weather in the morning and by noon couldn’t do any more, so he unfortunately had to come home. But, according to Sam’s testimony at church this week, not before a surprised crowd of piki drivers and other bystanders and all noted that the mzungu had come to help, free of charge. Apparently, it caused quite a stir. We pray it would be a testimony to God’s glory!

On Friday afternoon, Isaiah had just crossed the road to go visit Silas at his shop when he heard that Charles and Ester’s son, Benja, had been hit by a piki. (Benja is only 6 and a frequent playmate of our kids.) The driver immediately brought Benja to the hospital and came back for Charles, who was working right next door. Isaiah called me and asked if he could follow with Silas, so they came and got Marc’s motorbike and some money (just in case it was needed). I convened the children and we all sat down to pray. Amazingly, the piki driver stayed until treatment was finished and paid the bill himself (this is highly unusual for Kenya). We praised God for that provision, and for the unity of the body in response to the emergency. We also are thankful for answered prayer, as Benja lost a tooth or two (which are still baby teeth, anyway) and suffered no more than a very fat lip and a couple of other bumps and bruises.

Not more than hours later, Ester herself fell ill in the middle of the night. She asked her oldest daughter and a neighbor to get Pastor Masika (Henry) because Charles was at work (he is a night watchman). In her testimony today, she related that she was shivering violently and unable to walk. She had severe shortness of breath such that she could barely talk. Henry spent quite some time with her praying, and Ester reports that she felt a great relief of burden as a result. After he left, she was able to sleep in peace. However, the next morning, the symptoms returned. Getting her to the hospital was a cooperative effort, as there isn’t much available at 6:30 AM and when Charles and Silas tried to put her on a piki they found it impossible, since she had no motor ability whatsoever. To get from her bed to the door, she had crawled on hands and knees. Marc called a contact in town who had a car, but due to the road-widening it was unable to be moved. He then called Sam and asked him to go to the stage (where cars and bikes convene, waiting for passengers), and ask one of the cars to come pick up Ester. He was on his way, but before he completed the errand Silas ended up hailing a car that was driving by and was willing to bring them to the hospital. Funding was provided to meet the emergency, Marc put out a prayer request on FB (to which many international brothers and sisters responded), and we prayed as a family. When they arrived at the hospital, Ester was given an injection (not sure of what) and she says after a very short time she began feeling healed. The doctors could find no physical explanation for her serious illness, so they simply sent her home. And she came to church praising God this morning! We trust that her “mysterious” healing was the work of God, and give Him thanks!

Seeing the unity of the brothers and sisters here is just awesome. Each person is contributing to the needs according to their gifts and abilities, anxious to take part in the Body of Christ in love and service. One day this week, for example, Silas and Patrice came to cut and stack the remainder of our maize harvest, since Marc’s schedule was pretty full with travel and teaching. Patrice also happily stopped over here a couple of times to fix some maize stands that had fallen. It has been a great joy to see, and participate in, what God is doing through Kingdom community in Kenya.

Sunday: Home Fellowship and Baby Dedication

On Sunday a small group met at our home for fellowship. We’re “supposed to” convene at 8 AM, since some folks still go to other church services later in the day but of course, THIS IS AFRICA. We finally got started at almost 9:00. Even so, our time together was a blessing.

We’ve tried to open our home for fellowship before, but at the time we were still the new wazungu in the community, so it was far from being true ekklesia–we attracted lots of folks interested in seeing us and our home, and having chai and something to eat. It didn’t take long before we abandoned that and started building relationships and focusing on disicpleship. We then began to meet with a very small group for a meal and mutual encouragement on Saturday evenings. That morphed into a more “open” service on Sunday morning, which includes committed followers of Christ as well as serious seekers (one of whom was baptized after meeting with Marc for most of last Sunday after our fellowship time).

This group, meeting now for a couple of months, has really been a blessing to us. Far from being the wazungu-centered gathering that it was initially, there is lots of interaction and participation. Our neighbor, Henry, pastor at a local church, usually opens us in prayer and filled in with a teaching a couple of weeks ago when Marc was away.  Sam and Patrice offer a welcome, encourage testimonies and praise reports, and ask for prayer requests. They also share short teachings or encouragement from the Scriptures. One will share in Swahili, and the other translate into English. They do this pretty seamlessly now, whereas at first there was a lot of whispered communication and fumbling for “what next.” Florence is a gifted singer and almost always leads us in a song of worship at just the right times. All the children who come are learning to listen quietly and be respectful of our time together.

Our time of testimonies is a special blessing to me, as I love to hear what God is doing in folks’ lives. Last week, Ester, a relatively young believer who had been very sick over the previous week, shared a testimony that still makes me smile when I think of it. (You may remember that Charles and Ester were recently married at our house.)  She said something like, “Last week satan was trying to push me down. I was sick and discouraged and I knew I needed to pray. Nobody taught me how to pray, but I learned! And now God has delivered me, and I feel like singing!” And she proceeded to lead us in a very exuberant song, with a beautiful smile and an absolute glow about her face. God is good!

After our fellowship time this week, Marc and I were slated to attend a baby dedication ceremony at the home of a neighbor, one I met through the Department of Public Health during our recent children’s clinic. We were told it would begin at 1:00, but then Rose (who was going with us) said it wasn’t “really” until 2:00. She was supposed to pick us up but by the start-time still hadn’t arrived and wasn’t answering her phone. We knew the location wasn’t far but weren’t exactly sure where we were going. Hating to be late, we decided to wing it and ask around. Fortunately, Silas was coming in just as we were going out and he commandeered a child escort to take us to our destination. (Silas has been drying his maize on our lawn and wanted to get it re-bagged before the afternoon rain, otherwise I’m sure he would have gone with us himself.)

So we arrived at the dedication on “African time,” which was great because we got to slip into some unobtrusive seats in the back row. (There were rows of narrow benches set under a tarp, which was just a bunch of burlap sacks sewed together.) But not for long. Once the organizers realized we had arrived, we got escorted  right to the VIP seating in front. I understood about 1/4 of what the Master of Ceremonies was saying, which I thought was pretty good. The speeches were all peppered with a whole lot of Bwana asifiwe (“Praise the Lord”). About midway through the celebration, just as the baby (Simon Peter) made his appearance at the front (though “appearance” is a relative term, since he was abundantly swaddled in about three blankets), it started to rain. Hard. We were at the edge of the tent and needed to push our chairs in a little to avoid getting wet. However, there were holes in the burlap sacks and, though we tried to maneuver around them, there was no safe location. Eventually a big gusts of wind threatened the stability of the tent at various locations, so men scurried around with sticks and tried to prop it up. Others got more burlap sacks and tried to cover the audio equipment, as it was large enough of a gathering to require microphone and speaker.

It wasn’t long before everyone realized that we’d need to move indoors. Transporting a group that size, plus equipment and seating, in driving rain, was very interesting.  About 120 of us stood crammed into a room approximately 14’x16′ feet, with a small path through which the benches were brought in and re-arranged. Somehow we fit enough in that everyone could sit down. Everyone was amazingly adaptable to the change in plans, the slight discomfort, and the fact that nearly all the guests were wet. There was even good humor about the few times that the host’s pigeons (also flying around inside due to the rain) perched atop some of the guests’ heads.

The dedication included prayers, gift-giving, lots of wimbo (song), and the interesting tradition of passing the little baby around, to be held by every guest in attendance. Marc tried to get a picture/video of this, as it was a very happy event with lots of singing, but unfortunately there was no lighting in the house (save what came in through the open door), so photo ops were limited.

Most were excused after the formalities, but the “VIPs” stayed behind in the house. With just a bit more re-arranging of furniture, we were served chai, rice (from a 5-gallon pail) and beans, mandazi and chapati.

The walk home was fun, as many locations in our narrow path had been flooded out, but we were just in time for dinner. Thankfully, I had made a small batch of granola earlier in the day (intended for the next day’s breakfast), but it and some bananas made a good supper, since I didn’t really have time to prepare much else.

After a day like this Sunday, we can’t help but be thankful for the continually developing relationships within our community, and for what God is doing. Bwana asifiwe!

Clinic Wrap-Up

At our scheduled Children’s Clinic yesterday, I ended up working with Christine, the pastor’s wife of the local PEFA church, to administer the de-worming medicine.

Our kids were all there: pouring water, handing out tablets, and (the favored task) distributing sweets when the medicine had been taken. Of course, after a while they all wanted to play and were disappointed that I wouldn’t let them. Around lunch time, they went across the street home, got themselves lunch, and made sure the littles took their naps. That coincided with a lull in the traffic of the clinic, so Christine and I spent a pleasant quarter-hour chatting and enjoying the peace and quiet.

The morning was full of little ones, then the school age children started coming in just after lunch time. I had the great honor of being the one to make the littles take their liquid medicine. Let me just say, many of these children don’t like taking medicine and most of these Mamas just make it go down. No amount of screaming or writhing will convince them otherwise (and there were plenty of both of those). Next time I’ll volunteer myself to hand out the tablets!

I suppose I should have expected a few “hiccups” in our first big effort in community outreach. And there were some. But in the end, about 180 children  received de-worming medicine yesterday. I’ve met several people in the local Public Health Department who offered positive feedback and also asked us to continue this work. They felt that this particular clinic was small compared to the need in our area, and expressed interest in holding another at a school not too far away, where more children can be served. I am sure we will be in communication, and we’re looking forward to interacting more with our community and meeting some of the needs that are here.

Family Game Plan: Clinic Day

Up until now, my de-worming clinic effort has been conducted fairly quietly. (I wasn’t even sure that the majority of the children knew that there was something going on.) So today we finally had a “family meeting,” and I explained that I was going to be working at the church tomorrow to provide assistance to children and families in our community. I asked the kids if they thought they could do anything to help, and if they would be interested in serving. I was pleasantly surprised with the response, as they all agreed that they would like to be involved.

Of course, Isaiah and Jonah have already been of help, going to town to pick up supplies for me. They went on Tuesday to get the medicine and some rubber gloves. Today I realized that the older kids taking  tablets might want some water to drink, and we all agreed that a candy upon leaving would be a nice treat for the kids. So, the boys went back to town today to get a new pitcher (ours having lost its cover long ago and recently sprung a crack anyway), some paper cups, and bags of candy. Unfortunately, our neighborhood chemist was unable to procure the cups and there’s no where else in our village that has them, so I texted Marc a request to pick some up in town on his way home–he’s visiting a house church pretty far away in West Pokot today. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to get them, but if we have to resort to washing and re-using regular cups that’s okay, too; only a minor inconvenience.

So here’s the game plan we agreed upon: as people come into the clinic tomorrow, the younger children will act as “greeters” (all the African Mamas love greeting the little wazungu!). I’m sure blond, chubby little Enoch (age 2) will be a favorite. The trick will be keeping him out of trouble, so Rebekah is the designated greeter and “baby watcher.” Isaiah is going to staff the table and determine ages of children and the necessary doses of medicine. (Children under two take only half of the “single dose” bottle of liquid. If tablets, ages up to 4 take one, ages 5-12 take two, and 13+ take three). Rose and I will oversee and assist with medicine distribution. Deborah and Hannah will serve water to those who want it, and Jonah is the self-appointed “candy man.” If the littles start getting into too much trouble, they’ll either go outside to play or go home with one of the older kids (it’s particularly convenient being right across the street!)

Today I need to make up some sort of sign to announce the clinic. Publicizing an event like this is one of the challenges, as it really only happens through word-of-mouth, and I don’t know how effective we have been/will be with that aspect of it. However, from what I gather, things like this end up like Field of Dreams (“If you build it, they will come.”) I’m hoping that as a small number come in, it will attract others and the word will quickly get around. We’ll see…

The kids are already asking if they can come help with the larger clinic in the village center. That would be a logistical challenge, considering our family dynamics and the fact that the only method of transport is piki piki (motorbike). So that remains to be seen. But as to tomorrow, everyone is excited and ready to go!

Help us Host De-Worming Clinics for Kids Here in Our Village!

If you’ve read our blog for any length of time, you may know my (Cindy’s) desire to do more to serve the folks in need here in our community. We had a family car for few weeks, during which time we went out together once, but otherwise it has been very difficult (and/or costly) to get us all out and about. I don’t go out much personally, either, as there are many household and  homeschooling responsibilities demanding my consistent attention. I don’t mind it, as I do believe that a woman should be busy at home and committed to discipling her own children. However, I not only want to serve others, but want to give my children opportunities to do the same. It would seem sad, indeed, if we were here in Africa where there are so many needs and we did not do our best to meet them.

Another impediment to “doing more” here has been the language barrier. We continue our Swahili study but don’t practice enough and aren’t learning at a very great speed. Unfortunately, we’re surrounded by just enough English-speakers that they are gracious enough to speak it with us and so we aren’t forced to use the Swahili we do know. Equally unfortunately, most folks here don’t speak English. So even when I make an acquaintance, “want” to go further in a discipleship context, or want to implement projects of various kinds, there is this very real limitation. When Marc goes on missions, he brings along a very gifted translator; day-to-day here in the village, I of course don’t have that luxury.

I’ve made this a matter of continued prayer and have been very glad to see the Lord bring me many opportunities to give and help others in small ways. And last week, I was percolating a few larger-scale ideas that I’m excited about and might actually be able to execute. One is a series of medical clinics for the local children. Quite a few of my neighboring Mamas have visited over the months, asking for medical assistance for their children. The most common problems are intestinal worms or amoeba,and ringworm. These are easily treated but the unfortunate reality for most of these families is that they can treat these conditions or the family can eat supper. I’m able to help one-on-one, but doing anything bigger has seemed an impossibility (due to my home constraints and language inabilities, see above).

It occurred to me that I might collaborate with one of the woman in our local fellowship, who is a social worker. Her role has specifically been to facilitate medical clinics and help meet the needs of the disadvantaged in our community. When I approached her with the idea of doing a de-worming clinic, she was very excited and more than willing to help. Apparently, at one time these had been fairly common but have recently been less so, due to lack of funding. Only one such clinic has been offered recently, at a local school about a month ago.

I asked her if she could coordinate with the village elders and help me find a suitable location. She was ready to do weekly clinics at multiple locations and offer a range of treatments for all kinds of basic illnesses, but I had to slow her down and explain that right now I’m not sure what our funding can support, and I wanted to first do a “test” clinic, starting with just de-worming, to see what the response would be and how much more we could continue to do. She assured me she understood and would get to work on it right away.

Today, after our morning home fellowship, she told me she is organizing three “test clinics”–one right across the street at a local church, one in the village center, and one at a nearby market. I had to keep from reminding her that “test case” meant one clinic, as I’m not sure we can financially do more right now. I know the need is there, and I guess we’ll just have to step up to meet it.

045In our very immediate neighborhood I can count at least 40 children who regularly come over to play. Many more mill around outside our gate. There are many children in our area, and this is a very basic medical service that would meet a very real need. We’re starting with the de-worming because it is also the cheapest to treat. 50 shillings per dose is all it takes–about 60 cents. We have to buy the medicine in advance of the clinic, and neither I nor Rose (who is coordinating for me) know how many children to expect; however, we both estimate at least 200 here. In town and at the larger market across the way, we’ll probably need more–300 to 400 doses. For a round number, let’s say 1,000 bottles of de-worming medicine will be sufficient for the need; that will cost $600. (Marc also wants to make copies of The Two Kingdoms tract available, which cost about 8 shillings each to print.) That’s a lot more than I expected when I talked to Rose about hosting a clinic to serve the kids in our neighborhood. Will you help? If assisting with this project interests you, please visit www.KingdomDrivenMinistries.org/donate to make a tax-deductible donation. Just earmark it at checkout for “Children’s Clinic.”

I’m not much of a fund-raiser, but if God is in this project, I trust that HE will provide. I have lots of great ideas for service projects I’d like to implement in the future and if this is a big disaster (knowing me) I’ll probably get discouraged…so more than anything I do appreciate your prayers! I’ll keep you posted with dates and other details as we get more organized. God bless you!

Farming God’s Way and Kingdom Driven Ministries

We have a solid first-tier of disciples here in Kenya (small in number but mighty) and a handful of others who are coming along, slow but sure. It is time to help them run with the vision for expanding the Kingdom of God. But just as we wazungu utilize the Two Kingdoms tract and the pamphlet of the teachings of Jesus to simplify the process,  they want to, too. That costs money, of course. We receive donations that fund this, and we also are able to offer  financial gifts to kick-start or expand businesses, provide food and medical care, subsidize funeral expenses, and whatever else seems needed at the moment. These folks are so hand-to-mouth that to be able to engage in Kingdom living and giving on this scale seems like an impossibility, and Kingdom Driven ministries (in the form of missionaries living here, anyway) isn’t going to be here forever. What then?

And so it begins: we’re taking what we’ve done here on the ground in terms of “making disciples who make disciples” and trying to make it self-propagating (i.e., not reliant on a constant influx of Western money). Marc is, of course, primarily the one involved in making this happen and he’s trying to begin with projects that will be successful, will replicate, and are not too difficult to implement. He’s looking at all of the strengths of the current discipleship here, determining what level of involvement they want in a project, what their giftings are, what the various returns on investment will be, and so on. (God is really utilizing the project management skills that Marc honed as a professional in the US!)

First up: buying large bags of dry beans. Right now they sell for about 100 KSH per kilo, but in a few month’s time they’ll be up to about 140, and in just shy of a year they might go as high as 200 KSH, if past performance is a reliable indicator. I don’t know how many kilos we’ve bought so far (I’m a blogger, not really involved in the operations!) but currently it’s stored in our office. Kingdom Driven Ministries has purchased a very small plot of land locally to build a storage building, but that can’t be completed until after the maize is harvested, in a couple of months’ time. Here’s what it looks like:


Also, Marc has had a vision for teaching and equipping locals with the Farming God’s Way agricultural method, but he also wants to utilize it to profit the ministry so that the funds can be used to support Kingdom expansion and meet practical needs within the community. Project Number Two: KDM has leased a plot of approximately a half-acre, which will be farmed for maize and beans beginning early in 2014. An immediate need is to prepare the land by gathering large amounts of appropriate mulch. In a place where you very rarely get something for nothing (and where wazungu generally get charged double the usual going rate), Marc was thrilled a few days ago to get offered a free supply of non-flowering grasses from the property of a local muindi (person from India). He immediately mobilized several workers–one volunteer manager, a couple of Kingdom Christians who were in need of work, and several others from the community. The first day, we paid from our personal funds to gather some more mulch for our own garden (which this year functioned as a Farming God’s Way test plot). Today and tomorrow is earmarked to collect for the KDM field. For about $15 per day, we can gather as much as we want (mulch is free, only a daily wage is paid to the workers, at the rate of about $3 per person per day). Since the field we leased is currently home to someone else’s maize, we’re storing the mulch in our front yard.

mulch on bike
Isaiah is providing labor (50 KSH per day, 1/4 the adult wage) and assisting by running loads of mulch from the field to our yard on his Suzuki. Silas is using Marc’s Yamaha. Together, they keep things moving pretty quickly.
mulch pile
Jubliee (age 4) is not much help, but she feels very big standing on top of the growing mulch pile.

The kids are having a blast tumbling on it, throwing it around, building things with it, and whatever else they can think of. We’re excited about what it will do for funding future missions, not to mention how it is currently profiting our local community by providing several days’ labor for quite a few people. We are thankful that the Lord has provided a free source for this necessary ingredient for successful farming, which could have potentially been very costly.

We trust you are rejoicing with us in seeing how God is moving in East Africa for Kingdom expansion! We appreciate your prayers, and if you wish to donate to this or other work, you can do so here: www.kingdomdriven.org/donate. To give specifically to this project, you can give a general donation and earmark it with a note upon checkout, such as “Farming God’s Way project.”

Hosting our first African Wedding!

Yesterday was a big day for the Carriers as we hosted our first African wedding. Charles, the groom, was a widower whose wife died several years ago, and he recently lost the youngest of his three children to TB. Due to his wife’s death (and his need to work outside the home) and the prolonged medical care needed for his little one, his older two children were being cared for at a local children’s home. Ester is a widow of just a few months, with nine children (the youngest born just weeks before her husband passed away). Both Charles and Ester (and Ester’s husband) had been baptized by Marc earlier last year, and they are part of a solid local house church where they have been discipled and have been growing in their faith. Charles had been Ester’s husband’s best friend for several years, so they have known each other well. Both saw the possibility of their marriage as a way to honor God and bring their children together in a strong family unit, also enabling Charles to bring his own children home. It was an honor for us to assist them in making their commitment official.

Set up and ready for the big event!

We spent the day Monday cleaning the house and the kids greatly blessed me by going the extra mile. I wanted to make sure our plastic stacking chairs were all wiped down, and the chalkboard wall and dry erase board needed to be cleaned off as well. I figured after they finished the bigger jobs like floor-washing, I’d get someone to take care of the little things. But lo and behold, while I cleaned carpets and washed the kitchen floor, the kids  jumped right in to get them done on their own. Not only that, Jonah noticed many of the spots on the walls (which have not escaped my attention, but time does not usually allow me to address them), and he got a wash basin and cleaner and went to work to make the walls sparkle!

After all the work was done, the kids decided to bless Charles and Ester’s kids with some gifts–treats like cookies, lollipops, and gum from a local shop, AND some of the toys from their small box of toys in the living room. Jonah has two Beanie Baby bears that they all like to play games with, and it seems that all their games involve both bears for maximum fun. He thought aloud that maybe they should put one of the bears in the bag for Charles and Ester’s children. One of our littles said, “But then we won’t have two!” And Jonah replied, “Well, right now they don’t have any, and we’ll still have one!” So into the bag it went. Not every moment here is a “proud mama” moment, but once in a while it is nice to see that God is working something in our children’s hearts. I was blessed to see their excitement in giving and to experience the unusual camaraderie over housecleaning.

Also on Monday, I made a wedding cake (my first attempt), and I hoped it wouldn’t be too “un-professional” for the big day. Isaiah did the writing with some colored frosting and a syringe, having had some experience with that when the boys made me a special birthday cake back in December. Marc and Isaiah went shopping for some of the food, including a HUGE amount of beef (8 kg, the largest amount of beef I’ve ever prepared). When they got home, Marc diced tomatoes, onions, and peppers and tried to add that and the diced beef to my 8-qt. pressure cooker–the only way to prepare really good beef here! But alas, my pressure cooker was much too small. Rather than do it in two batches, we decided to use my large pressure cooker/canner, which I’ve only used as a canner and never as a pressure cooker. It worked perfectly and the beef turned out delicious!

On Monday night, the officiating Bishop unexpectedly wanted to change the time of the wedding from 10 AM to 1 PM. This posed a scheduling problem, as we would have to notify everyone, and some were already traveling from some distance away. Not only that, but being on “African time,” we were pretty sure that 1 PM would probably end up being dinner time and we weren’t really sure how to “entertain” everyone until the Bishop made his entrance. Even so, we tried to work everything out and hoped for the best.

We wanted very little to do with directing the actual wedding, as we weren’t sure what the local customs would dictate. It was surprisingly similar to an American Christian wedding, except that the couple didn’t hold hands or enjoy a celebratory kiss after the vows were official. When the vows were taken, they actually held up their right hand rather than holding hands with each other, as is our custom. The cutting of the cake was part of the ceremony, and the bride and groom served bite-sized pieces to all the guests. I was called upon to assist with the cutting of the cake, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. The instructions I received weren’t very clear (and the tradition not familiar) so I fumbled a bit and was a little embarrassed, but everyone seemed gracious enough about my misunderstandings.Unusually, filling out of the official paperwork was done during the ceremony as well.

Here’s the happy couple when it was all over, including a parting shot with some of their children:


We praise God for allowing us to be a part of this blessed event. Kingdom Driven Ministries was not only able to fund the wedding through donations, but Charles and Ester should also have assistance in purchasing some property. This will go a long way in helping them to provide for their new, large family. Please join us in praying for Charles and Ester as they begin their new life together!