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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Update on Keyser, Kenya

Well we recently sent out our "thank you" letters for supporting our mission trip to Kenya (and blogged it here as well as a Thank You) So in case 1 or 11 would check out this site since it was listed on the letter I thought we would update a little as well. We were talking to a friend yesterday about our trip and I realized we didnt share about our visit to a "boys home" Over 100 young men sent here due to being labeled a "trouble youth" and/or just nowhere else to be placed. We taught classes to these boys, shared in song and Bible teaching then played games. And as we were playing games Adriane pointed out to me how several of the young men were actually freezing( yes below 70 there is winter to them) so she talked to a team leader and asked could we purchase shoes for them. She was told anything can be purchased for the kids here but it must be for all of them or none. So after discussing it with others a few us decided and were determined to pay the estimated $150 to get sandals. By the following week we had purchased 110 pairs of sandals for less than $50. And more importantly this will help towards fighting off young men getting jiggers. Jiggers, or sand fleas, make a home in your skin. The impregnated female jigger burrows under your finger or toe nails creating pus infected sores and feeds, laying her eggs before dying in your skin and creating further infection. So for less than 50.00 we were able to take care of over 100 youth. The director at this school was speechless and told our group this was a great need for them and wasnt sure how they would be able to get shoes for all of the youth.

Anyway as I have mentioned in the past we talked to I C Y Director Peter about how we could be more of help in sending needed items to them. And with that my wife suggested last week that this Christmas we would send gifts,money to the ministry for Kibera. Truthfully it sounded really good to me but Im one of those that love to buy gifts, cant wait to surprise others with gifts (and sure open a few as well) But to say the least there is a need, much greater need all around us. Not just in Kibera, but places like Darfur and Rwanda to name a few. And according Jesus these people are our neighbors as well. Now I know there are people who are next door to us and in need, so help them as well. But Im not sure helping them excuses us from helping those in dire need of basics such as food, water, and shelter. I see quite a few spend so much in gifts for Christmas and all along saying "lets not forget the true meaning of Christmas" But I believe most of us (including me) have expressed in our ways we have forgotten. We are told to simply that we are bless to bless others and to bless those who cannot bless us back (ah no gift for me, but the gift is in the giving, right?) And may whoever and whatever we choose to give to become a lifestyle for us. Im still in the baby steps of learning that only the things we do with eternal value is worthwhile. By the way we thought of naming a program something like "Keyser to Kibera" but we want others who live away from here to feel part of this as well. If any of you would like to be involved let us know. Meanwhile we will be following up contact to see what Kibera school/children need the most. In closing thanks for reading, and as someone said ministry is seeing a need and meeting it, that is ministry. No matter who we are, where we go a need is right before us.

Friday, August 22, 2008

In The Same Boat

An interesting point was brought up in one of the posts the other day. Fish said his wife was dealing with some health issues. Let's make this real for everyone.

As a community, we are instructed to bear one another's burdens. I know some of you may be struggling with family issues. Some may be dealing with health issues. Some may be struggling with their faith.

How about everyone who reads this, post something that you would like this community to pray for? Maybe even offer a word of encouragement or scripture.

Let me start it out...for those who know me well, they know that I have dealt with kidney stones for the last 20 years. I believe that God can heal me, but nothing so far. He has given me great grace through it. There have been times when I should've been in the hospital but God turned it around. I could use some prayer in that area...even now.
This is part of the beautiful ache. We are all living in a fallen state. Our bodies are crying out for redemption.

Just post how we can help each other. This is a great way for this community to touch each other's lives.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Biggest Beautiful Ache

OK, folks. First of all, for those who read yesterday's version of this post, let me apologize and explain.

Yesterday I posted a video that I had picked up last week and believed it was something inspiring and touching. Unfortunately, I didn't know the full story.

The video was of a man who wrote a song called Healer. While I still believe in the truth of the song, I found out that the man's testimony was a lie. He said he had terminal cancer for 2 years and that God gave him this song. He even went so far as to say that the doctor told him he couldn't perform the song on stage without having oxygen tubes on. To make a long story short, the man didn't have cancer. It was all a big lie.

So, what have I learned from this?

1. Man is fallible. The writer of this song lied about something. Why? Maybe to gain a greater spotlight. This aches me. I have been crushed by this story. Believe it or not, when I heard, I stepped away, fell to my knees and asked God to help this man. You see, something deep inside him was aching too and it came out. I don't believe in throw-away people. This man needs help and hopefully his church and family will stand with him to get the help that he needs. And unfortunately, he is not the only one. We all have our problems. We all have an ache deep inside us. For some, it comes out in ways that hurts others. I do not excuse his sin, for his sin penalty has already been paid for by Christ.

That's the power of the cross. Look at Peter. He lied about Christ 3 times. And Jesus even told him that he would. Christ still offered the forgiveness that he needed. He even went on to tell him that when he was restored, strengthen the others.

2. The Truth is still the Truth! Even though he lied about his circumstances, the point remains that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. I guess this man didn't ask for the right healing. He needed a healing in his heart. I have personally seen people healed. I know God can do it. I don't understand all of the reason for why He doesn't, but I know He still does.

3. My faith must be in Christ alone! Others will fail me. I've failed others. To quote the old hymn, "My faith is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' Name. This will undoubtedly happen again in the church. It's been happening. There is nothing we can do to stop it. However, when it does happen, we must look to Jesus.

So, I do apologize for posting it. Please pray for this man. And while you're at it, pray for and encourage each other. It bugs me that this happens. And while I'm at it, it's bugging me that certain places aren't even pulling it or at least giving an explanation.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This Just in..The Worlds A Mess

...And we are the ones making the mess. At least for the most part it seems. Front page of USA TODAY has an article "Ticking Time Bomb" about the Hunger in Ethiopia. You can read about a 4 yr old weighing 20 lbs. Most seem not to be able to afford the national staple food Injera casue the price has doubled. Food price inflation is more than 75% (Zimbabwe's is worst!) and at least 14 Million are in need of food aid. So after this full page story of how 75,000 kids are severly malnourished you can glanced to the next page and see a photo of Joey Chestnut and friends chowing down over 6 pounds of ribs for yet another record. Thats America, Thats the world, thats us. Side by side we have a world that is starving and then a world that not only competes on chowing down but you can even catch it on ESPN (thank God for DVR's dont wanna miss the chowing down or better yet the coming up?) I recall reading C.S. Lewis comment about the obsession of sex. He asked could you imagine people who would slowly raise the lid off a food plate and the crowd would oooohh and ahhh as the food was revealed to them. He said this is how we have acted towards sex and if we did so towards food you would say we are "crazy." Prophecy at hand and he didnt know it. We are obsess in this western world with things that matter least and for the most part apathatic to things that matter most. Africa has 80 million Orphans. Thats just Africa. And yet it will usually cost 20-25,000 to adopt a child. Well unless they are handicapped then theres a discount (not sure how to take that except its sad!). Of course black market and such is a concern but seems to me that is more prevalanet when one has to pay 20 grand to take in a child and provide for them, seems that 20,000 could come in handy during the child's lifetime. And while the act of caring and loving a child is 25,000 one can abort a child for 500 or less. Kind of like the newspaper article with the extremes of food on each side of the paper. In a hospital you could have a child being brought into the world and in another room a child being taken out of the world, granted he/she would be coming into a mess to say the least and some worst than others. But when we visited Kibera we met quite a few families and children living day to day in bad conditions but I am sure of one thing from the smiles on their faces and conversations with them they would choose to live, choose life. In closing for those of us who are Pro Life we must also be providing for others in need. Way beyond prayers and protesting but help meet the needs that we see before us. Im just saying all of this to remind us that this world is a mess, a beautiful ache.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mission Mishaps aka Insomnarrhea

Okay back to the beauty of randomness. Since we just returned from missions lets explore the mishaps on mission trips. Usually these are quite unpleasant and painful at the time but they make for some great "no way" stories when we get home and well some of us can laugh about it as well.
For me it was on a trip in Morocco when the group was on their 100th glass of hot spearmint tea. And I asked kindly, "ah being it has cool down to 126 outside (no lie, it was 140) could I please have ANYTHING besides Hot they gave me a glass of Pepsi. Ah yes I gulped it down in a few seconds then I took notice to the jingling of ice in my glass. I was like Ohhhhhh No!
So I called my team leader over and said ah I think Im in trouble I just consumed this drink which has ice in it. She replied dont worry it was frozen(okay so she's not a doctor or nurse). So that night about 3am it felt like somebody took a machete to my stomach. So I ran to the bathroom(okay it was 3 feet away but I ran anyway) and well okay eventually went back to bed only to return again in a few minutes thats when I realize man shall not live by bread alone, but Imodium! I took 2 or 3 right away. Return to bed and Again back to the "throne room" and decided to see if it was possible to OD on Imodium. Because I am now thinking about in a few hours our team will be on a six hour train ride in 120 degree heat so I consumed a total of 7 Imodiums. The next morning the nurse on our team said it wasnt possible to do such. I reassured her it was and well I didnt need the restroom on the train. I did still come down with a fever for 24 hours and the first thing I ate coming off this sickness was a delicious lunch by my host which was a bowl of Chili Con Carne. (I couldnt even make this one up). Read On...
A team member of ours in Canada was telling about her outreach in India. And while traveling through town sightseeing a young man on her team came down with diahrea (rather it came down) and it hit instantly and out of nowhere so now this mess is running down his leg and coming out on top of his shoes. So this guy is running towards the base and just when he thinks it cant get any worse, dogs start chasing after him nipping at his shoes. The team members do their best to fight off the dogs and they eventually arrived safe and not so sound at the base.
The lady who shared this story informed me that she got sick as well on the same trip and eventually her body shut down and after severe problems with diahrea she collapsed and was out of it. Team members had to carry her back to base and clean her off and put her to bed. The next morning the team had to tell her what took place in her "adventure"....and last but not least..
Another team in India (hmmm what is it about India?) had to use a squat toliet (just imagine a hole in the floor and ah sharing that hole with the movements of the world) So in the middle of the night this man on the team goes out to use the squat and since the squat was on the hill, one actually had to work at keeping his balance. So as he steps in to use the squat he has his flashlight in his mouth and as he squats he loses his balance and well the flashlight falls in the mess and without thinking he grabs the flashlight and puts it back in his mouth (Arrgh!! and so much more). The team then heard a scream into the night. And Im thinking of the unnamed diseases taking place and how could he ever share this story. And as for his wife ah I dont think toothpaste or any amount of Scope would take it away.
Oh well if you have any not funny at the time stories but now they could bring laughter, even tears to your eyes, post them. Thanks. Oh and Imodiuim, dont leave home without it

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kenya, Nairobi & Kibera "The Natives Are Friendly"

Jambo. (Hello in Swahili) First of all we want to thank you for your support in your giving and in your thoughts and prayers for us while we were away in Kenya. We left on July 11th and returned on August 5th. We were picked up at the airport by the leader of ICY (International Christian Youthworks) Peter Abungu. We were taken to the house of Judah and Salma, our host for our stay in Kenya. This couple made our stay enjoyable more than we could have imagined and hoped for while in Nairobi. Their cousin Wendy had just arrived before us so they were actually hosting 3 guests at the same time, which was a great time to say the least in getting to know one another.
Upon our arrival they had prayer for us and our family back home and gave thanks for our safe travel then they fed us and we were ready for sleep. Our first day started out downtown with Peter to get money exchange and then to the office of ICY and get more information on how ICY works and some details on what we would be doing while in Nairobi. Our team consisted of Patrick (Germany), Ricky (California), Liz (North Carolina), Aimee (Indiana), Virginia (Vancouver) and Victor (Kenya) That afternoon we were taken to Kibera. This is a huge slum area with at least 1 million people living in some horrendous conditions. Kibera is heavily polluted by soot, dust, and other wastes. Open sewage routes also contribute to contamination of the slum with human and animal feces. The combination of poor nutrition and lack of sanitation accounts for many illnesses. Not only are death by disease and conflict common inside this slum, but it is estimated that 1/5 of the 2.2 million Kenyans living with HIV live in Kibera. But in this mess the people we met were beautiful in their friendliness and the children’s constant greeting of “how are you?” still echo in our mind as we are on the other side of the world. Our teams’ ministry was focused on the “blue house”. This house is used for daily school teachings and Sunday services as well. The pastor and team actually have to pay a high rental cost just to use this building. When we arrived the classes were over so we ended up hanging with the kids, talking and playing games. We met with the head teacher who informed us that they care for at least 500 youth in this area. We were excited to meet the children but at the same time it’s hard to imagine why any human would have to live in such conditions.
Sunday we traveled 40 minutes by Matatu (van) to get to a church service. Service lasted several hours and included a message by a preacher from North Carolina. He had been coming to Kenya for over 10 years and he said were the first missionary team he had seen in a church service. After morning service we split up into teams and walked the streets asking the locals could we pray for them, talk to them about Jesus and what they believed. Several of those that we met knew the Gospel and some asked us to pray with them to rededicate their life to Jesus Christ. Afterwards we returned for an evening service.
The following week we would return to Kibera three times. We would help teach classes grade 6 through 8. I helped Liz teach 6th graders and Adriane and Patrick taught 8th graders. Classes were always threefold in teaching the Bible, Math and English. Also in Kibera is a kindergarten class called Sarah Jr. A few years ago a university student from the UK helped start this school in Kibera the funding comes from those living in England. This class serves at least 50 kids. They learn to read, write, and are taught the Bible as well as children songs. Also they are each given a daily lunch of beans and rice which for many of them may be their only meal of the day.
One Tuesday we helped a young mother of 3 take her Cerebral Palsy daughter to the hospital for therapy. We took a coloring book and crayons for her and actually after therapy she was so content in coloring that she told her mother she could stay longer but she was excited when she was told the book and crayons were hers to keep.
Our last Sunday in Kibera, our team helped do the church service. Roger was asked to give a teaching. He shared on Mephibosheth who was asked to eat at King David table. Although a cripple he was the same at the table of the King. And all of us in life are crippled by something but Jesus wants us at His table and desires for us to be his sons and daughters. We then met with Pastor Timothy and distributed pencils, pens, and other items and promised to send more upon our return home. They were so thankful for just what little we bought them.
After service we spent a few hours with Peter and we talked how people and churches tend to do nothing because the problem seems so big but if we would just focus on part of the problem and work towards that then much would be done especially for those we are helping at that very moment. Victor is an assistant of ICY. He is from Kibera. His mom died then his dad, then his grandparents. So he had nowhere to go and Peter and his wife took him in as part of their family. Victor was our leader and tour guide in almost everything we did in Nairobi. Dominique was another assistant for this ministry and he lives in Kibera with his family. It’s awesome to see these young men coming out of some of the worst conditions and making the best of it and serving God in this ministry.
We also got to help at an orphanage a few times while were there. This was actually just 2 blocks from our home. This was a pleasant surprise to us as the building was very nice, and the kids were getting great care at this facility. The ages consist of infants to 2 year olds. Some of these babies have been abandoned from hospitals to dumps. A couple from England came to Nairobi several years ago and saw a need for orphans and they started a make shift orphanage at the bottom of their flat apartment taking in 7 kids. They now have 7 full time ministries running in Kenya to take in the orphans. We got to feed the infants and play with many kids. For those of you that have read our blog you know that Jimmy became our favorite kid there. On our last visit he came to me as soon as I entered through the gate and didn’t want me to put him down so we spent hours talking about birds and big birds.
We were fortunate in getting to go on a 2 night safari in Maasai Mara. It was very beautiful and believe it or not the nights got very cold. Adriane was unfortunately able to pick up a cold as well. We got to see a variety of animals including Zebras, Buffaloes, Hyenas, Hippos, Crocodiles and Lions to name a few. We were also privileged to see the migration of the wildebeest which is actually a rare thing for visitors to see. On our last Sunday we were guest at Judah’s church and then did some last minute shopping. Monday, the night before our departure we treated our host family to a dinner at the Carnivore. This restaurant is the most famous one in Nairobi and they offer a buffet of meats which are brought to your table one at a time and the menu includes Crocodile and Ostrich. There is so much more that could be written but we hope this letter gives a glimpse of our adventure in Kenya. We could have never imagined the people and places we experienced and we told Peter and our host family we do plan to come back as soon as possible. Again for those reading this thank you so much for being part of this trip with us, it would have never been possible without your support. For those who have been praying for us please continue to do so that we may know what our next step with Kenya (Africa) is suppose to be.

"First go at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you”-Oswald Chambers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well we made it back home. So hopefully by Monday I can post a somewhat detail blog about our trip. We enjoyed it which I know was greatly helped by our host Judah & Salma. I told my wife you do realize we are receiving comfort on a trip that we thought would be much harder. Everyone we worked with was smiling and very friendly. The Ministry ICY has been at work for 5 years in Nairobi and we were actually the first married couple they have had on their missions team. Anyway for those reading thanks for doing such and continue to do so. It seems though we have gained a few we have lost a few "bloggers" as well. By the way I am adding a picture of Jimmy in reference to an earlier blog, please check it out. I believe you will all agree he is quite a handsome young man. And the title is easy, no matter where you go its nice to be home, the bed and showers , everything just seems nicer. As my wife said even on vacation theres no place like home to which I added unless you're in Canaan (right, Donnie? :) ) Okay, well in 2 days of traveling (and the first flight Kenya to London was quite shaky to say the least) on the plane I had less than 3 hours of sleep so I think a nap sounds good right now. Thanks keep posting. Blessings.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Still in Kenya....

This is most likely our last blog from Kenya,..and this one will be short due to time and the process of high speed sundial computers. Anyway we have enjoyed it overall and surprised by the people, weather and even bugs (lack of)....thanks for those that have been reading esp. replying back. We are planning to eat at a restaurant on monday that is famous here for you Bebo Norman fans he played here now that is messed up and cool at the same time. We were in Kibera today and will return Monday then hopefully back to see Jimmy and his friends on Tuesday. Blogging has been interesting in that its a bit like an open journal. So if you have any questions about Kenya and/or our trip send me an email. Donny thanks for blogging as well. Randy, WOW thanks for overcoming and replying as well :) and rufus, oh well,,,as you would say yadda yadda,,,,and just so you know its far from hot here which has been a blessing well except for my better half she managed to catch a cold in Kenya, perhaps she is Kenyan. :) ..okay I will blog more later when I have more time about our trip and Safari experience as well. Blessings...