Category Archives: Kenya

a return to familiar places…

It has been so long since I last sat down to write I think I might have forgotten how to go about it. I’ll just go with a stream of consciousness….

Where to start…how about nursing school. Yep, that’s right, folks…I’m applying for nursing school this semester. I was thinking of waiting until the Fall semester to apply (for admittance for Spring 2013), but I think I’ll just go for it now and see what happens. The program for which I am applying is not an easy program to weasel into these days, but I am confident I will eventually be accepted.

What about Kenya, you ask?!

For now it’s on hold. It could be on hold forever; I just don’t know. I know God is going to use me no matter where I reside, and He has already shown me many reasons why being back in the States right now is where I need to be. I had some adventures when I left Kenya, and they definitely changed my life for the good.

God is funny and definitely not easy to understand. Really…why would He be easy to understand?! I can’t wrap my mind around saran wrap let alone the creator of the Universe.

I left Kenya and traveled to Israel for a few weeks. It was an amazing time in my life! What a joy it was to explore such a controversial and historical land; to be able to connect to scripture in a new and deeper way was a treasure. I wandered the streets of Jerusalem (I might have gotten lost..but I’ll never admit to it), and experienced the Dead Sea. I explored several of King Herod’s palaces, and saw the sun set over the Sea of Galilee. I went hiking in the desert, and ate a lot of hummus and pita bread. I also had the pleasure of meeting the sweetest man I have ever had the privilege to know. I think we both had hoped for a long-term commitment to be the result of our knowing each other, but God has other plans for us. I never rule out what God can do in the future, but I know I can’t dwell on the unknown.

So where do I stand in the grand scheme of things called life?

  1. I am officially a college student…again.
  2. I am single…again.
  3. I am gainfully employed through more than one job…again.
  4. I am covered by God’s mercy and grace…again…although I never was not covered, and isn’t that something in which we can all rejoice?!

Life is hard at times, and at other times it doesn’t appear to be so hard. Right now, I can’t turn around without seeing suffering. My sweet friends, my family, are suffering, but the truly incredible reality is God is moving in each of their lives. He is moving in glorious ways! Long time prayers are being answered despite the chaos that seems to have taken over. God is working in the lives of those dearest to my heart! It is such a joy to see each one of them draw near to the Lord in ways they never have before, although it breaks my heart to see them suffer. Yet, what about me? Am I drawing near to the Lord? For a long while I have felt my prayer life had been stagnate. I pray. I pray all the time. I pray even when I don’t necessary set out to pray, yet I find myself talking to Him while I’m washing the dishes…or driving down the road…or when I should be studying. But it hasn’t been thoughtful prayer.

I like to write my prayers out; I find when I write them out they tend to be more focused AND I am able to look back at what God has done. I haven’t been doing that for a long while. I scrounged up a notebook not long ago and started back to keeping a prayer journal. So while my prayers seem to be more focused, and I know I’m realigning myself to be where I should be with God, I can’t say I understand any better what exactly He is up to right now.

I don’t want to look forward to this part of my life to be over. I want to savor it. I want to savor this time I’m back in school, and this time I have had to minister to those around me who have been suffering. I think all too often I dismiss the present and look forward to the next season God has in store for me. However, when I do that I miss out on the season He has me. He has me here for a specific reason: to bring glory to Himself. Whom am I to look forward to its end?

So, I shall leave you with the words of Job. From the midst of his suffering Job says, “For I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” 19:25

Our Redeemer lives. No matter the circumstance…our Redeemer lives, and at the last he WILL stand upon the earth! So, please pray with me and for me. I covet your prayers, and please let me know how I can be praying for you!

 

 

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brush of thorns…

Suffering. It’s universal. We all suffer. Even Christ suffered; I would say more than any human could ever imagine. How do we deal with suffering? How do we rationalize the very idea of suffering? What do you say to someone in pain? Someone so hurt by circumstances they would hurl themselves into brush full of thorns. Someone so hurt by loss they would wail to the point of nearly fainting. What do you do? How do you help? Where is the hope?

A family in our Masai community lost a loved one: a brother…a son. I am not a mother, and I can’t even begin to understand what it must feel like to lose your son. I am a sister, but I have been fortunate to have never experienced the loss of a brother. I’ve lost loved ones: my grandfathers…my grandmothers…cousins…other extended relatives. There has been intense grief, but I’ve never felt so compelled by grief to inflict physical pain upon myself. Is this just a cultural difference? Is this a result of knowing my loved one’s were eternally secure?  Is America so detached from truth we no longer feel real grief?

I’ve never seen friends and family rally together as I have seen this family and community come together. No sympathy cards. No covered dishes. No, “I’m sorry” and then just walk away. Here…they cook…they clean…they stay…they care. It may not all make sense. I’m boggled by it in many ways. Some of the things they say such as: “Stop crying.  No more tears.” I don’t understand…but then again…friends are washing the families clothes…friends are gathering massive amounts of firewood…friends are spending the night to care for the family…friends are donating to pay for services…

It’s community. It’s caring. It’s grieving in their own way. No detached cards to keep you from having to feel something…no casserole to send which will freeze beautifully…genuine caring for one another.

As followers of Christ, we have a hope. A hope for all eternity. This family…they have hope. Not many here do, but this family does. While they grieve, they know God is sovereign in all things…even in death. They hurt for the loss, but rejoice in the knowledge their loved one is no longer suffering from physical deterioration…no…their loved one is praising God…in His very presence praising our Heavenly King!

Suffering…

We can endure because we have a hope. No matter the suffering…we can endure because He endured. It is through our suffering and endurance that we become more and more like Him.

I grieve with my friends here, but I celebrate with them as well; for their son/brother is with our Lord and Savior! Won’t you grieve and rejoice with us?

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ch-ch-ch-changes…

I really LOVE it when I finally accept what God is doing in my life, I embrace it completely, and even begin to look forward to the future only to have God say….time for a change!

OK, so I really should have put that in the sarcasm font, but I don’t currently have that installed on my computer. Bummer.

My trip to Kenya has not been what I anticipated it to be, and through the unanticipated God has helped me to grow in areas I desperately needed to grow…and still need to grow. This process of sanctification is NOT easy, nor is it usually pleasant. Dying to yourself so you can live in Christ is never easy. It goes against our every fiber to not live for ourselves, but that is EXACTLY what God has called us to do: stop living for ourselves and live for Him…no matter how He may redirect our path.

There is much I would like to share, but it’s not time yet. Soon.

I ask for prayer. Please pray for me as I continue on this journey of joy in Christ Jesus. Please pray as I wait upon Him for guidance and clarification.

I am traveling to Israel in a little less than two weeks to serve with some missionaries there for a time. I have no idea what to expect, I don’t know what I will be doing, and this has been completely a surprise to me. Pray for an open heart and safety.

I look forward to being able to share more about what God is doing in my life, but it’s not time yet. So, be on the lookout for more in the months to come. I know I haven’t written much these days, but I’m still processing through things. Be patient with me, and please pray…I covet your prayers greatly!

Love to you all!

Hebrews 12:1-2

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On he contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne.”

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witch doctor comes for chai…

This has been quite an interesting week, and even as I type those words I realize just how inadequate they are to truly express just how “interesting” this week has been.

I met a witch doctor. I don’t think I ever thought I would meet a witch doctor. It’s one of those things that happens to other people in far off lands…you know? Well, hello Lori…you ARE in a “far off” land, right? I think I often forget I’m living this life that only happens in movies or novels. I mean…I go to bed listening to the sounds of hyenas, zebras, elephants, and sometimes “cats”. I wake up to the most amazing view I’ve ever seen that stretches for miles and miles and miles. I live amongst  a people who live in huts made of dung, mud, and sticks…a people who most individuals would only ever read about. I get to love a people who are hungry for pure love…and I get to love them! I get to teach sweet children the beauty of music. I get to teach some of the most amazing women I have ever met how to read! Women who are so strong…a quiet and meek strength that is humbling to encounter. I…I….I get to….

I don’t always appreciate it. I sometimes find myself bemoaning my circumstances. I throw a pity party that I invite myself to…and, unfortunately, I end up attending. I get caught up in the things that I left behind…longing after those things I don’t have instead of reveling in the most amazing things I have been blessed with currently.

God has been reminding me of something I seem to forget quite often: He is sovereign. The pages of Scripture are full of this truth. One passage in particular keeps “haunting” me: Daniel 4:29-37

“29At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.

34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,

for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

36At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”

Verse 35 really gets me:

35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”

How many times have I said to God, “What have you done?” “Why have you done this?” “I don’t understand, please tell me why?!?” But I can’t do that…I can’t ask Him those things. He is God. He is more majestic than I can even imagine, and “He does according to His will among the host of Heaven and among the inhabitants of the Earth..” So, I guess there are several reactions:

1. I could be angry? I mean, I could be so upset that I don’t have a choice in many ways..right?

or

2. I could be comforted. I can rest in the assurance of God’s complete control over all the things of Heaven and Earth. AND “None can stay His hand.” So, while so many may try to “foil” God’s plans…they cannot! And most especially when things don’t seem to be as I might like…when most precious things have been stripped away from me…I know it is not out of God’s will; He has NOT forgotten me. He has NOT forgotten YOU! Isn’t that wonderful!?

Nebucadnezzar had lost all reason..he was an animal..living amongst animals…eating as an animal. BUT God hadn’t forgotten him. God restored Him by His sovereign choice!

The sacrifices are worth it…they are so incredibly hard, but they are worth it. I also think of Christ who sacrificed the glories of Heaven to live here on Earth with us! That He must have been homesick is an understatement, no? But He knew the necessity of it all…He sacrificed it all with great joy in His heart…was it always easy? No. Did He ever ask for another way? Yes. But He also knew His Father’s will had to be done! He knew His Father was sovereign, so the pain could be endured because it was as His Father willed.

Is not our purpose in life, as Christians, to bring glory to the Father? Do we not bring glory to the Father as we become more and more like Christ? So shouldn’t we sacrifice it all for the sake of the Father?

I met a witch doctor this week, I attended a baby shower like no other this week, I spent time with some amazing women this week, I sang praises to our King with a lovely young girl in need of pure love, I fell asleep to the sounds of wild animals, I saw baboons run through the yard, and I reconnected with a friend in desperate need of salvation. All in a week…an amazing week full of encounters and experiences I would have never had if I gave into the notion that I am in control of my life; that I deserve something different than God has chosen for me. I deserve nothing. I am owed nothing. The Creator has given me a beautiful life to live for His glory!

Are you resting in the security of His sovereignty, or do you think God owes you something more, different than He has chosen for you? Whom do you serve?

Joshua 24:15

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

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not like any baby shower i’d ever been to before…

In many ways my “firsts” are declining as I’m here longer and longer…but today I experienced my first Maasai baby shower!

There were no balloons…no stork sign in the yard to distinguish the new mother’s home from the rest of the neighborhood. No diaper cake or fancy baby hors d’oeuvres. Nothing of the sort. Nasha had her sweet baby, Simon, two months ago, and today we, the ladies of the church, gathered at her home to celebrate the birth of Simon.

Nasha, like all the other Maasai in Masai Mara, lives in a hut made of sticks, mud, and cow dung. Just as her people have lived since they came to be here on earth. The floor is dirt, and there are no windows. It’s not large, and the ceiling is just tall enough for a person to stand…that’s it. There is usually a room connected to the boma (home) for the cows or goats to live in at night to protect them from being eaten by a wild animal, such as a lion. It’s dark and not spacious (thought that’s an understatement). If you lived in an efficiency apartment you would be living in a mansion compared to the homes here. Add 12 ladies and two children to an already teeny tiny home…well, you get the picture.

There we all were…crammed in together celebrating Nasha and Simon. Intimate is a good term to use! We sang…we sang of the wonders of the Lord. Praising Him for His grace and glory. We prayed together. We gave testimonies. It was beautiful. These ladies came together and the home was filled with love; filled with love for each other and filled with love for our King. God was with us today…His presence was indeed felt.

Gifts were given, but it’s not like what we would give here…a bag of sugar…a bar of soap…hand sanitizer. It was precious! We did have cupcakes and chai (tea with milk). There I am, sitting on the dirt floor in the dark my head darts back and forth as I listen to the ladies talk exuberantly to one another about…well, I have NO idea!! It was all in Maasai! I would hear my name every once in a while! I would answer…but I still had no idea what was being said. But, I didn’t need to know. There isn’t always a need to know what the words are that are being said, sometimes it’s enough to just know the person saying the words…and sometimes it’s enough to just hear they way it’s said. In many ways it’s all jibberish, but at the same time it’s crystal clear what is being exchanged: love, friendship, faith, fellowship.

It was a lovely time of fellowship and celebration! Just as lovely as if it were a baby shower given in the states. More and more I see how circumstances and luxury don’t make something good…it’s the people…it’s God. He is just as beautiful in a mud hut as He is in a lavish mansion! His love is just as all encompassing in a mud hut as in a lavish mansion…and isn’t it a good thing, too!? Isn’t it wonderful that the cross wasn’t just for one kind of people, but it was for all! God’s love and Jesus’ blood is for all! Praise God!

 

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cookies, cleaning, and cracking up…

Nearly a week ago I was able to reconnect with three of my sweet girls! It was a lovely way to spend a lazy afternoon…catching up with these lovely ones. I had made cookies just before they, K, K, & G, arrived. Masai don’t generally like sweet things, especially chocolate, but I offered the girls a half an integrated (white and semi-sweet chocolate – it’s what S calls my cookies) chocolate chip cookie just to see what they thought. As T and I suspected, the girls weren’t too crazy for the cookies, although it did allow for much laughter to ensue!

After giggling while looking at pictures from when I was in Kenya last, the girls wanted to go and clean the church before Sunday services. These girls must be about twelve years old, maybe eleven, and every Saturday afternoon they walk up the mountain to get to S & T’s house to get the cleaning supplies and then walk down the mountain to the church to clean it. Makes me muse at how difficult it seems to get church goers back home to a work day once every six months let alone every week….I digress…

It was raining as we went to church, but that didn’t stop us from cutting up and giggling all the way down the mountain! These girls are usually so stoic, so it is a real joy to see them just be little girls!

We arrived at the church and began the process of sweeping out the dusty sanctuary. Once it was fully swept a bucket was filled with soap and water. Next the girls used these large cloths they called “dustahs”; dusters for my Southern American friends! Bending over from the waist, the girls proceeded to scrub the floor with these rags! We have mops, but the girls prefer the dustahs for whatever reason. Let me tell you…I don’t know how they do it! Bent over for nearly an hour scrubbing the floor…it hurts my back just thinking of it. I couldn’t let the girls have all the fun, so I joined in with my own “dustah” to wash my Kenya church.  I had to get on my hands and knees, though…partly cause my jeans wouldn’t stay all the way up…I’m sure that’s a cultural snafu in some way or another…Speaking of snafus…well, that’s another blog post altogether!

Anywho, we scrubbed the floor, we slipped all over the place, we bumped bottoms as we couldn’t see for being bent over looking at the wet concrete we were concentrating on cleaning, and we giggled! OH did we giggle!!! It’s not often these girls can be silly, as they are riddled with responsibilities exceeding their young years, but that’s the way life is here.

After we finished cleaning we stood on the porch of the church watching the rain fall…the blessed rain fall! I went and stood next to G just to tease her a little bit, as it is my way. I scooched oh so close to her and glanced to my right peripheral vision to see her glancing at me with a big grin across her delightful face! We stood there for a moment and to my utter shock and delight she leaned her head on my shoulder. My heart stopped for a brief time to soak in this cherished moment with G! The Masai do not usually show emotion, as it is considered shameful…they certainly don’t usually show affection, unless it is a man holding hands with another man (not in a sexual way, but a respectful way)…so for G to do what she did….I cannot fully express the magnitude of those precious seconds…

I love these girls. I love them with all my heart. Two of these girls are orphans, and the other is essentially a slave in her sister’s house. It’s just they way life is here. It burdens my heart to love them as much as I can with the little time I have here. I don’t know if I’ll be back after these six months, but I know God has me here now to love them in whatever way I can.

Pray for these girls. This culture still practices female circumcision, and I know these girls are nearing the age to be circumcised. Please pray for the Lord to rescue them from this cultural rite of passage. Once circumcised they will most likely be married off to an older man as a second/third/fourth wife meant to bear more children to add to the quiver of the Masai husband. I grieve for these girls…grieve…

Please pray with me. Please pray for them. Please pray for the Lord to open windows and doors for rescue from the mutilation the deceiver has brought forth in this culture.

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porcupine quills and elephant thrills…

Nothing like it. There is just nothing like being here in Kenya; specifically the Masai Mara.

I journeyed back to Kenya this past Wednesday, August 3rd. The preparation was a bit crazy, but nothing like what I experienced a little less than a year ago. Making this trip this time around has been a blessing in that God has shown me how much I’ve grown…I’m not a little girl in a woman’s body anymore…I’m a woman in a woman’s body. Spiritually I’m still growing, nowhere near where I should be, however that is soon to change. Complacent…that’s the word…I’ve been complacent. No more.

Last October I wrote to you about luggage issues and not being able to do what God had clearly asked me to do because I believed the deceiver when he said I wasn’t good enough. This August I write to you to tell you God blessed me not with hardship but with smooth sailing. I’m here. No difficulties….I’m here hitting the ground running. Made it to Nairobi on Thursday, drove out to the Mara Saturday, unpacking today, and begin teaching tomorrow!

My friends and students are excited to get back to work, and I am excited to be right there with them every step of the way. If I wondered at any point if this was the right decision…to come to Kenya now instead of continuing to work towards TMM next September…God has reaffirmed I’m right where I am supposed to be. Trusting Him to provide and serving Him through the gift of music.

I walked to church with C this morning. As we left the house the guard told us to be careful for there were elephants by the house. We couldn’t see them, but we did hear them in the night. So we stayed near the stone wall as we walked down the hill, then took a different, more secluded, route (which could have been dangerous now that I think of it). I certainly enjoy living here. Every day is an adventure. Something new to behold.

On the way back up to the house, S, T, and I took the same alternate route C and I took earlier in the morning. T spotted some porcupine leavings and so we kept our eyes peeled for any quills that might be around. I found one! T and I enjoy collecting the quills. It isn’t a perfect one, but it’s still neat just the same. The simple things in life are the things that bring the most joy, no?

It’s going to be a hard four months in some respects. I left behind my family, whom I miss dearly and a sweet significant other (which was quite the surprise, thank you Lord). Many decisions to be made. Many things are up in the air. I know God will make all things clear in His time. I don’t need to fret about them. I just have to be careful to not allow my insecurities to draw me back to the dark place of worry and anxiety. The place where I no longer trust God to do what He has said He will do: care for me!

Please pray for God to make clear His desire for me here and beyond. Pray for the people here; so much to do and so little time! Pray for open hearts. Pray for endurance. No time can be wasted, and pray for wonderful health!

I’m excited about what God is doing. My disposition is completely different, and I must praise God for His graciousness! It is by His grace alone that I have high spirits. I know Satan will begin to attack me, I’m sure he already is, but I know my God is a BIG God who can take on anything and everything…and He DOES!

Be encourage, my fellow believers! Be encouraged. God is working even when it doesn’t seem as though He is. He is working indeed!

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