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May 2007

Entries from April 2007

Mosquitos

There was a time in my life when a mosquito would have bitten me and I would not have even noticed. Having lived in Southeast Texas for a good part of my life created a kind of immunity in my mind to mosquito bites. I just did not even think of the little insects.

However that has all changed now. Kate was bitten by one of the little pests and it transferred an even smaller pest to her; malaria. I saw how sick she was, and would have been had we not had access to the malaria medicine.

I notice the littler buggers now. In fact since the rains have arrived here in Kenya, there are mosquitoes everywhere. I was just helping out with hanging the laundry a few minutes ago and found myself actually swatting the insects buzzing me. I kept one eye working on clipping up wet clothes and the other was scanning the air for any sign of an ambush.

Amazing how one event in your life can change your behavior.



I suppose now every time I get bit by a mosquito I am going to be checking my vital signs for 2 weeks trying to detect malaria. Damn Darn (for my more sensitive readers) you mosquitoes!


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How Is Mercy Atieno?

I have had several people ask me how Mercy is doing now, so I figured I could answer everyone at once with this post.

She went to the hospital where she was prescribed medication to try and remedy her problem. We purchased about 2 weeks worth of medicines and her parents started to feed her more fruits and vegetables. Her health started to improve almost immediately.

After the medicines were finished she had no more problem with using the toilet. In fact she is potty training now and enjoys the little toilet her parents bought for her.

Thank you for everyone who prayed for her and thank you to everyone who gives to our project, because of you guys we were able to help her avoid a costly and painful surgery.

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Back Home from Nairobi

We arrived today in Nakuru around 1 p.m. We left Nairobi around 10 in the morning and after a couple of hours of smooth road we were bounced, lurched, and otherwise battered on the last hour to Nakuru. The main road is being rebuilt and let me just say that the detour is really bad.

Emma Caite was successfully declared before the U.S. consul and we made application for her passport. I will head back to Nairobi in a couple of weeks to pick it up.

We took the time to have fun together as a family while we were in Nairobi. Took the kids to see a movie, Meet the Robinsons, and we ate at all our favorite restaurants.

Good to be back home in Nakuru. The congestion of Nairobi can really wear on you if you are not accustomed to it.


When the Church Leaves the Building

"A story of a people who followed their passion where they least expected it to take them"

Bob from over at Family Room Media sent this book to me a week or so ago, thank you Bob for thinking of me. I was reading it at the same time that I was reading Outflow. Reading two books at once is unusual for me, but when I received the book I just couldn't help but dive into it. I also cannot stand not finishing a book, which is why even though it was horrible I could not stop reading Annacondia's book Listen To Me, Satan! Reading is just one of my favorite things to do. I have the latest Newsweek sitting on my desk and it is all I can do to not stop typing this and read through it.

David Fredrickson in his book, When the Church Leaves the Building, takes us through the process by which his congregation stopped meeting together on Sunday morning. Now let me be fair and say that the book is about much more then that journey, but that is the context.

I have listened to David on his podcast and heard him interviewed over at The God Journey Podcast so I was not surprised by the contents of this book. If I would have read it 2 or 5 years ago I would have been stunned.

Chapter 1 is aptly named, Stop the Revival and Give Me the Real Thing. That statement sums up the book very well. The cry heard in this book is; We do not need more religion! We need more God! He writes about how the church institution very often gets in the way of a real relationship with God.

There is a particular place that I really related to. David writes about how he had made plans to move to the outback to get away from people. He just wanted to be alone. This got messed up when he got married and God began to put all kinds of people into his life, and all kinds of people in large numbers. I was the same way. One time in my life I seriously considered abandoning society to live in the wilderness, but then God gave me a wife. Not just any wife, but one who loves the company of people. Now we are surrounded by large numbers of folks, and I would have it no other way.

I do wish that David would have discussed more details about what happened when his congregation ceased to function like other congregations. I would like to have explored the affect on the people more, both good and bad. Perhaps he will write a sequel?

If you are having problems with your "church" or feel that there is simply more then a Sunday Christianity, then this book is for you.


Not Good Enough

There is a song by this guy called Jon McLaughlin called Beautiful Disaster. Today while I was doing some work on the computer some of the lyrics jumped out at me.

                    And every magazine tells her she's not good enough,
                        The pictures that she sees make her cry.

There are days when I feel like this line describes me perfectly. Not the "she" part but the not good enough part. I especially feel inadequate when comparing myself to other missionaries or other ministers. I know, I know you should not do that, but I am only human. Besides I have been taught all my life that you should look up to someone and emulate them, so not doing that is hard.

This past Sunday I felt like my preaching was not good enough. We were discussing the scripture that says "where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty or freedom." I encouraged the people by telling them that Jesus was not a no God but instead gave us freedom, which is yes. I just felt like I had no good stories, jokes, or even was making the point well. Funny thing afterward a couple of people told me that the message was really good and encouraged them. I suppose that is an example of God being strong in my weakness.

Sometimes when I look at our project I feel like nothing is going right. Most of the time there are delays because of finances or just because everything goes slow in this country. I feel like I should help more and more people, but I just do not know how.

The song goes on;

               And she would change everything, everything just ask her.
                    Caught in the in between of beautiful disaster,
                    And she just needs someone to take her home.

I would change everything if I could. I would make sure all the children of the world had food, clothes, and happiness. I would give myself the power to heal AIDS victims just by touching them. I would change everything, and I feel like I am caught in the middle of a disaster.

Jesus I need you to take me home. Show me the way. How can I help your people? Give me the right words to say. I just need someone to take my home.


Nairobi

We will be spending a few days this week in Nairobi. This is the first time that we have been in the capital as a family in well over a year. We are taking this opportunity to chill out. Actually we are here for official business, but we will relax in-between.

I finally got Emma Caite's birth certificate and we are heading to the U.S. embassy to get a passport for her.

I hope we can snap some photos (not of the embassy of course) during our trip to share with you.

  • We will be leaving Nakuru today at 9 am or as close as possible (our time of course).
  • We will be taking a shuttle called Mololine Prestige Shuttle. It is a 10 seat van that provides the most comfortable and safest possible way to get to Nairobi. I decided not to drive as I still do not know my way around Nairobi, which can be a dangerous city.
  • Our plan is to stay at the Ambassadeur Hotel in Nairobi.
  • We should return to Nakuru on Wednesday.

Picture of the Week (5) Finally

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After days of trying here is the picture of the week. This is a chicken coup that we recently constructed for a poor family in Nakuru. It is not 100 percent complete yet, and does not yet have chickens but that will soon be remedied. There are a few ducks being kept there right now.


Outflow

Outflow is a book by Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping that is about outward-focused living in a self-focused world. It is supposed to be a book that teaches about outreach, which seems to be a word that they use to replace evangelism.

There is a line on the back of the book that got me excited. It goes like this: "So forget memorizing the formulas and sales pitches. Throw away the tracts you left under windshields and in phone booths." I read that line and thought to myself that this free book might just be worth reading after all. (They sent this pre-release book to me to convince me to buy the program for my church.)

So I started to read the book, and even tried to follow the program. About 2 days into it I gave up on the program and just read the book whenever I was in the restroom. Programs are not the answer to anything.

I have written about the book in a post before so I am trying to keep this short. While I certainly think their program is better then scaring people into heaven by asking them about dying today, I still think that conversion is inherently violent. Forcing someone to your point of view is just wrong, it is wrong it this occurs through fear or even through being nice. Though certainly the nice route is the better one.

It is time that we realize conversion is not the answer to the worlds problems. We have had over 2000 years of conversions the world is not a better place. I am always hearing about meetings where a million, a few thousand, or some other huge number of people are being converted, but where is the change? Where are the people emulating Jesus?

It is too easy to just say a sinners prayer, there must be another way. Jesus told us to go and make disciples of the world, not converts.

Faith in Jesus should equal a change in the way you live your life. Sorry Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping this change is not going to come through a program that I practice in a small group. I just do not buy it.