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Entries from October 2005

Fashion Trend

Yesterday the kids and I spent the entire day at a baby orphanage! It is run by an Australian family who I recently met. It is called Mission in Action. They have 14 orphans/abandoned babies starting at one week old up to 2 or 3 yrs.

My kids had a GREAT time playing with the toddlers and holding babies. What is really neat is that they have the EXACT same swing set that my dad bought for Andrew, Makena and Butterfly when we were in the US so they felt right at home! The Aussies bought it from an American family who brought all their belongings to Kenya in a container.

Well, while at the orphanage, Makena came running from the nursery saying with delight, “Mommy, we can bring home a baby!”

“Who told you that?” I asked.

She pointed to a worker and said, “She did. I’m going to pay her one shilling, and she’ll give us a baby!” It was too cute! One shilling is 1.3 cents but it was everything Makena had to offer. Of course I wanted to bring every one of the babies home with me, but since I can’t do that right now, I’ll just have to visit them as often as I can.

After lunch at the orphanage, I left Makena and Andrew there to play while Butterfly and I visited the building site of the new, bigger ‘home’ these Australian’s are building for their kiddos, and then we went to a hospital to check on an orphaned baby that weighs less than 1.8 kg. The hospital won’t release him to the home until he is at least 1.8 kg which is just less than 4 lbs. I think he is 2 months already and is still only 3lbs!

When we walked in to the hospital, I couldn’t believe the number of underweight babies! At least 10 (maybe many more- I didn’t count) of them were able to fit in the palm of my hand! There were at least 4 abandoned/orphaned babies there that were so tiny. That means that within the last few days, FOUR children were left parentless in that hospital alone.

It’s becoming a fashion trend for mothers to give birth and run away leaving baby behind. Some give birth at home and dump the baby somewhere, while others give birth at the hospital and run away leaving baby in the room. It is tragic how often this happens. Almost daily we read in the paper of mothers abandoning their children. One baby was carried by a dog across a major highway to safety where she was then found and taken to a hospital and treated for dehydration and infection. One of the babies in the orphanage we visited was found in a plastic bag left for dead. The abandonment problem is so severe here that even my friend across the street found a newborn left at her school recently, and the stories could go on and on.

In this government hospital, I watched as they used syringes to give the abandoned/orphaned newborns COW’s milk! They don’t use formula because they can’t afford it, and they don’t use bottles because they think they are not sanitary! And they wonder why these babies aren’t gaining weight properly!

Well that is how our day was yesterday. When I came home, I found my chicken house halfway built. Just a few more days, and we’ll have chickens! We hope to go to the orphanage on a weekly basis if it is beneficial to them. This past time, I brought my parachute and the orphans (the toddler ones) had a BLAST!

I’ll try and snap some pictures for you next time we visit. I left my camera at home so Johnny could document the chicken coop progress while I was out.

~Kate


What Is the Bible?

This question has been haunting me for some time now. I was raised to think that the Bible was the sole source of God’s voice for us today. I have been taught to look to the Bible for everything. I have learned to find scriptures and pray them and shout them at the sky or floor to try and fix my problems. Somehow there just seems to be something wrong with that picture. When you make a study of the history of the Bible it brings to mind all kinds of questions. The biggest question is how the Bible can be inerrant. How can this be? The Bible is a collection of books written by many different men for many different reasons many thousands of years ago. It is inconceivable that they could not have made a mistake or interjected their own opinions or feelings into the text. I know many evangelicals say that the Bible is inerrant in its original manuscripts, but who has an original? The Bible I use was first copyrighted in 1993, a few years after the original text was penned. Let us suppose that they did not make any mistakes at all. Just for the moment, suppose that these men heard from God and added nothing to what they heard. Today we are not reading their words, instead we are reading translations or interpretations of their words. To suppose that the translators made no mistakes or had no personal agenda is not sane thinking. I have no doubt that God is able to do what ever He wants. If He were to want to preserve the Bible through the ages, then He could do it, but how would we know He did that?

I think God inspired these writers, and then the writers wrote down what they felt. The key words there being what they felt. I feel the Bible is a collection of stories about God and His interactions with mankind. We cannot place too much emphasis on the Bible, and we cannot disregard it either. The Bible is still our clearest depiction of whom or what God is. It is an invaluable source for the Word of God, but it is not the Word of God. I read it and preach from it, but I also do not ignore what I learn of God outside of the Bible. The Bible does not contain all the answers. I guess then to answer the question, what is the Bible, well it is a guide to the path to find God.

I am not trying to destroy the Bible, rather I would like for us to change how we treat the Bible. When you boil it all down, the Bible is a book not God.


A Sunday with the Brooks'

We’ve been making a lot of new contacts lately. Picture_014_2This week, we met a pastor in town who invited us to speak at his church. We exchanged information and scheduled to come this Sunday morning. We decided to document it for you with photos so you can see our family in action, but this Sunday has a little unexpected twist!...

Sunday October the 9th begins like most any other Sunday for us in the Brooks household. We  wake up early, get the children ‘clean looking’ and dressed. (We usually sponge ‘em down because the water takes 2 hours to heat up for a bath.)

The kids eventually find their way to the table and wait for breakfast to appear before them.

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Butterfly is enjoying her cereal in her local, hand-made highchair. We are able to acquire a few familiar cereals here in Kenya, but imported foods are very expensive. Most of the time, we end up eating some local cereals in order to save on the grocery bill. They are not as tasty, but the kids seem to enjoy them. (Treva, notice the duck you gave her is right by her side as always, and bunny is on the table next to Makena!) The milk, by the way, is fresh from our neighbor’s cows. It must be boiled then cooled for    eating with cereal.

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This Sunday we pause to pose for the camera and then head off to town to look for the church. (There are no directories to look up addresses, and even if there were, we have seen a total of three road signs in Nakuru so we would still not know the name of the streets. The pastor failed to give us his phone number, and apparently we did so also. So this morning we leave extra early to go on a ‘church hunt’.)

After walking for about 20 minutes, we reach the matatu stage. We hop on a matatu and start Picture_026

moving to town. Yes, the vehicle is crowded. Notice that Andrew and Makena are in Johnny’s lap, and Butterfly is in Kate’s. Our family of five is allowed 2 seats! The vehicle is designed and outfitted for 14 passengers, and this morning they had loaded 22 of us on there. Normally we do not use vehicles if they are over filled, but we were in a hurry.

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We end up at the stage area in Nakuru,Kenya. This is Sunday so the crowd is considerably smaller than normal . Usually it is PACKED with people. It is a short walk to the next vehicle we must take.

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This is called a Tuk Tuk. This is essentially a motorcycle with a body attached to it. We like using them because they are cheaper than taking a traditional car taxi and more fun to ride around in for the kids.

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This is the view out of the front window of the Tuk Tuk. The picture was taken while we were stopped asking a local for directions. Notice that there are no street signs and the area is vast! We drove around bumpy dirt road after bumpy dirt road….

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We were hoping to get some really nice photos of the church we were ministering in for you, but.... after riding in the Tuk Tuk for hours and searching all around the area the pastor told us his church was in, we couldn’t find the church! We searched and searched hoping the pastor would call us because we did not have his number. So we finally gave up looking around lunch time and took the children to a restaurant in town. (Andrew is not in the photo because he’s washing his hands).

It turns out that we have the pastor’s post box number, his email address, his church name and info, but NO phone number. We will find that pastor this week and make him show us where his church is! We hope he was ‘ready in season’ since his main speaker didn’t make it!

It is funny that the one Sunday we want to document everything, we end up getting lost. Next Sunday, we’ll be in a church we’ve gone to before so we’ll get some photos for ya!

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Butterfly enjoyed her lunch of chicken, fries, and carrots. After eating she ran around the table singing, “I feel good….!” She reminded us that even though we failed to reach our goal we could still have some fun.


Time

What makes things in Kenya run so slowly? Most people reading this article are probably from the west and are very TIME conscious. Here in Kenya, we’ve gone to countless numbers of meetings that were scheduled to start at a specific time and ended up starting HOURS later and without much consequence. It is strange how time works here in East Africa. When someone tells you, “I’ll be there in a minute,” it could mean 10 possibly 20 minutes even an hour later. Time is of no concern here. Doing work in Kenya goes slowly not because we ourselves as God’s laborers are taking it easy, but because that is how things work here. It’s like being a fast moving bumble bee stuck in molasses. It is very frustrating at times, but the longer we stay in Kenya, the easier it is to ‘go with the flow’ even at molasses speed, at least we are going somewhere.

I have several theories as to why there are major time issues here in East Africa.

• First of all, communication is a problem. Although recently cell phones have been introduced to the people here and a great number of them have cell phones, the majority of people do NOT have phones. Contacting someone takes a long time. If you want a bed made for your home, you cannot just call up the carpenters in the area and shop for prices; you must walk or ride a bike, or take a car to each one and ask how much they’d charge you for what you want. This introduces another problem that causes time issues.

• People in Kenya do not all have vehicles. Most people walk or ride bikes thus taking a great deal of time to do ANYTHING. If someone wants to meet you in town at 10:AM, then they must leave very early to insure they get there in time. If they take public transport as we do, they have to wait for the right vehicle going where they are going to pass by when they need it, thus wasting time. Another problem here that wastes time is the lack of telephone directories. Not only do most people not have phones, but there are no lists of business or people with phone numbers. Let’s use the bed example again. If I need a bed made, how do I find the people who make furniture? I first must ask around and find someone who knows someone who knows someone who makes furniture. It’s a frustrating process. This past Sunday, we spent the entire day looking for the church we were going to minister in. Johnny met the pastor in town a few days before, but they both forgot to exchange phone numbers. We road in a Tuktuk around bumpy roads for hours Had we had a phone directory, we would have been able to look up the church name and call for assistance.

• Currently, I am working on building a chicken coup, but what is taking so long is that I don’t know the people who actually build these things. I am waiting for someone who knows someone to contact me. It is a frustrating thing, but I am learning that IN TIME all things get done---eventually.

Doing work in Kenya is like living in a constant traffic jam.

~kate


Rita and Katrina

I am writing this while sitting in Lanet, Kenya, which is in East Africa. Lanet is many many miles from the Gulf Coast of the United States of America, but the affects of hurricanes Rita and Katrina have been felt here. My family and I are missionaries living in Kenya working towards inspiring local churches to reach out to their suffering communities. We hail from Port Arthur, Texas. Most of the people we know come from that area of the USA, and we have spent a greater part of our lives living, schooling, working, and raising our family there. When we were making plans for this mission last year, hurricanes never entered into the equation as factors to consider; however, as we have learned, they will not be left out. I did some calculations, and 77% of our supporters were directly affected by the two hurricanes. Seventy-seven percent is a huge number. Many of them we have yet to hear from, and we hope that they and their property are all right. When I heard of what happened after Rita I was tempted to despair. I mean come on 77% of our people affected; it would seem natural to start to worry about how I am going to complete the project God gave me. Then my wife, Kate, reminded me of a sermon I preached shortly after coming to Kenya in January. The main text came from Proverbs chapter three. Here is an excerpt from The Message Bible: Trust God from the bottom of your heart, don’t try to figure out everything on your own. It is one of those easy to read passages, but hard to apply. Trust God and do not try to work everything out on your own. I am trusting God, and in fact we have already begun to see His hand moving. All of us affected by hurricane Rita should read Proverbs chapter three and attempt to put our hope in God, for no matter what it may seem like on the outside, He is still there.