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Entries from August 2005

The Lessons of the Leaves

Yesterday evening, a man by the name of Frances was helping us in our garden. I was pulling weeds from the carrot bed while he was digging up potatoes. I turned and said to him with a little pride, “This is my first garden. I’ve never planted one before.” He asked about America and if we have gardens there. I told him how the average American doesn’t plant ‘kitchen gardens’ but that we have colossal farms that supply food for the entire country.

He then said, “Gardening isn’t my specialty.”

            “What is your specialty?” I replied.

            “I’m a politician.”

     “Really? I don’t understand what you mean by politician?” He just smiled a gappy smile and kept digging up potatoes. “Do you mean you want to be President of Kenya someday?”

     He said, “Yes…” then he bowed his head and stared at his dirty feet (he wasn’t wearing any shoes) as if he was a little embarrassed, then he continued “…but I am uneducated.”

                I asked him, “Where would you go to school if you could?”

               He looked up at me, “I can’t read or write.”

              “I can teach you!” I said overjoyed with the idea of being the one to give this man the keys     to knowledge. And that is how it all started...

Every evening around 6 pm, Frances comes to the house, delivers our fresh cow’s milk from our neighbors cows (he’s the neighbor’s farmer), and sits down for a 15 minute reading lesson. He has 99 days left of lessons before he’ll be released from classes, but I can’t wait to tell the tale of how well he does and who he becomes in the future…

I can walk through the forest of the trees of knowledge and listen to the lessons of the leaves…Yentle

~Kate


Why I am not an Evangelical

My church developed an evangelism model a few years back in order to teach us how to share our faith with others. In this model, there are a few questions you ask and Biblical references you point out to bring someone to a decision. The goal is to not let that person get away without making a choice between heaven and hell. You present life on one hand and death on the other and ask if there is any reason to not choose life.

 At first, I thought it was a wonderful method of sharing my faith. I am not good at approaching someone cold and just talking about Jesus, but then I made an interesting discovery. I was out shopping one day for a new computer, and every salesman that I spoke with used the exact same method on me. They were trying to force me to make a decision on the spot. I thought to myself, “Have we reduced the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a mere sales pitch?”

 Can someone in a moment make a decision to follow Christ? I am not sure whether I can really answer that or not, but I feel it is wrong to sell Christ. We are in the world but not of the world. Our methods should be different.

 Jesus told the early believers to go into all the world and make disciples. Disciples are not equal to converts. Although salvation is free, it requires a payment to follow Christ, and the matter cannot be approached lightly. How can a genuine decision be made in a matter of moments based on an emotional sales pitch?

 It is possible salvation can occur in a moment. Look at the criminal crucified next to Christ. Jesus told him “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” However, Jesus did not pull out a little card and go through the ‘Romans road’ with the condemned man. Instead, the man saw Jesus and knew who He was because of what He was doing.

 The book of Acts says that when the Holy Spirit comes on us, we will have power to be witnesses. Why? To show people the way. When someone sees the life you are living, then they will become interested. When they see us feeding the hungry, the questions will start. The cold person we give a jacket to will almost certainly ask why. The woman dieing of AIDS whom you take into your home to care for in her last days will ask why. There is our moment to evangelize. That is when we offer up the reason why. That is where we share Jesus; not when a random person is passing by on the street.

 

There are many reasons why I reject the common evangelical philosophies and methods; this was just one that I choose to write about. Life for me is not black and white there are many shades of grey in my life. I can believe in the possibility of two opposing viewpoints as both being correct. So in other words I am not necessarily saying this method is wrong. I just want you to think.


My Funny Little Butterfly

Although Butterfly just recently celebrated her second birthday, to hear her speak, you’d think she was at least four years old. She is a ‘big girl’ in a two year old shell. Butterfly has been talking since she was 6 months old and using the toilet without accidents since 11 months (although she didn’t walk until she was 17 months). She’s an amazing girl with spunk, a jovial spirit, a brilliant mind, and a wonderful sense of humor.

It is easy to make Butterfly laugh. She is the type of person who always sees the silver lining, and she seems to be the type to embrace life and live it to the fullest. Let me give you an example of that life embracing spirit by telling you something she said recently.

Here in Kenya, there is a credit card commercial that comes on TV quite often. It starts off with a young lady sitting in an airplane looking a bit nervous. She jumps out, her parachute opens, and she lands safely on the ground. EVERYTIME this commercial airs, Butterfly looks up and says with great delight, “I want to do that, Mommy!! I want to jump out of an airplane with an… an umbrella on my back and fly!”

Although Butterfly is just 25 months old, she already has dreams of skydiving! She is a very adventurous and independent girl. I suppose that when she is old enough to ‘fly’ she won’t be a caterpillar any more but will truly be a butterfly.

~Kate


Commotion in the Place Proviced for Worship

There is a passage in the Bible from the book of Isaiah speaking of commotion in the place of worship. Verses eleven through seventeen make for some interesting reading, especially in the Message Bible version. When I read that phrase ‘commotion in the place provided for worship,’ I could not help but think of our churches today. It seems like there is so much going on in today’s churches that I cannot just stop and worship God for a moment. Christianity is such a simple religion. You just believe and presto you are converted, and God writes your name in His book. Just like salvation, our worship experience should be simple and pure. “Meetings, meetings, meetings—I can’t stand one more!” says God.

 Just for once, I would like to walk into a church and be able to just worship God. If you have found such a place, do not let it go. Church is more than our formula today. Used to be, people came together in church to eat, fellowship, and distribute the offerings to the needy. What do we have today? We have foyers for shaking hands and getting information on the myriad of programs offered by the church. When moving from the foyer, we sit and wait for the band to start the service. Sing, clap, dance, and whatever other new thing your church is into nowadays comes next. Pastor then offers us insight into the Word of God. Take up an offering somewhere in there, and finally run out the door to get a table at the local hot spot.

 If you look at the first church, what we have now is in stark contrast. I mean, when do we get to distribute the offerings to the needy? When do we get to eat? Where is the true fellowship? I wrote an article titled “Forget about the church” awhile back; however, I never posted it because I still think the church is worth saving. I was in a rural church here in Kenya a few months ago and prophesied about the next move of God for the church. In short He said the church was going to evolve into something other than what it is now. When we (the church) finish evolving, we will not be able to recognize it anymore. There will be strange people, strange rituals, and true worship. I look forward to that day. Until then I have not given up. In fact, we are here in Kenya working towards that goal. I pray that you find true fellowship and a place to worship God in spirit and in truth.


Public Transportation In Kenya

You may think that the topic for this week’s blog is of no interest to you; however, let me inform you that the public transportation here in Kenya is far from boring. Let’s begin with a brief description of the vehicles used to transport human lives across this country. Imagine a regular sized family van that has the seating capacity for eight. Sounds luxurious, right? Well, imagine it crammed with seven more seats making a total of 15 tiny seats squished together in unimaginably small rows. I am 5’6” at about 50 kg or 110 lbs, and my buttocks barely fits in the seat-- so you can imagine any one bigger than I will definitely have a difficult time getting in, fitting in, and staying in a matatu. These ‘matatu’ as they are called here in Kenya are everywhere! Each one is privately owned and fighting for passengers. The drivers are at war with each other to see who can get to and from their locations the fastest. Catching a Matatu is not all that difficult; however, when they see you need a lift, immediately three or more vans will be pushing and shoving on the road fighting for your business-- often times knocking pedestrians and bicyclists along the way. (Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way in Kenya.) As an American family in East Africa with 3 small children and no vehicle of our own, I have learned that children do not get their own seats on matatus. This means that though this 8 passenger van has 15 adult passengers in it, it is not full. In fact, just this weekend, we managed to pack an astounding TEN people in just three small seats! Three of us ‘mothers’ were in the very back row each with two children (I had 3) in our laps. Andrew was forced to ride half standing as Makena and Butterfly sat on top of each other. The whole trip home, Butterfly was yelling, “I’m squiiiiished, Mommy! I’m squiiiiished!!!” I think all in all, this matatu made for 8 passengers had at least 25 passengers on it (including the driver)! Why ride these dangerous, crowded vehicles on insanely bumpy chaotic roads? Well, we don’t really have any other options. Although there are tuktuks available, they don’t travel fast enough on the highways so we opt to only take them around the town center. (Our three children LOVE riding on the small Tuktuks.) Taxis on the other hand are extremely expensive so we can’t afford them every time we need to go to town; however if we go grocery shopping, we have to pay for a taxi so that we can get our stuff home. So traveling in a matatu is our way of getting around Kenya… Have a comfy ride, will you?