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Entries from May 2008

Our Kids, The Challenge

Our kids have no clue about being 'American.' It's actually a good thing, but the down side is there as well. Butterfly asks me if her grandparents are white or brown. Now she's seen them (a year ago) and has a better understanding; however, Emma Caite will probably have the same questions in the future as well.

Our kids don't know what life is like having consistent running water and hot water heaters. Dishwashers are foreign to them as well as clothes dryers. Gas pipes in a house are never heard of so when they grow up, will they know what to do if they live in a house with gas and there is a leak? What about air conditioning? They've never adjusted a thermostat nor used a heater. (Not even in the car since neither the van nor the Camry has AC).

They have no idea what it's like to have a broadband Internet connection and unlimited cartoons. (I don't mind, honestly, though they may not be able to play Trivia Pursuit very well and I hope they can catch up technologically.)

Also, they have no idea what it's like to live in a place where no one notices them because in Kenya they are treated like movie stars. Every where we go, flocks of children crowd around touching, greeting, and even pinching my kiddos. In America, no one will even turn their heads to see 'the white kids.' Obviously.

Let me end with a funny story:  While visiting the US, a wonderful lady named Tanya Goldbeck was assessing my children to see their strengths and weaknesses to help me better educate them. When we walked up to her office, she jokingly said, "Hey! I've seen you before! Are you famous?"

Andrew looked up with all seriousness and replied, "Well, kind of."

When I questioned him about it he said, "Well, we are!"

I cracked up!

 

kate's-head ~Kate Brooks

Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya, East Africa

Co-founder of A Future and a Hope


Quote of the Week

"Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it."

Erwin McManus


The Challenge of Money

We are continuing our mini-series on the hurdles we face living in Kenya. Kate spoke yesterday about how it is hard to live so far away from loved ones and friends, and now I want to talk to you about money.

One of the biggest issues I have with money is how do I speak to you about it? I risked a lot by titling this post "The Challenge of Money." Many people see a missionary, preacher, or someone involved in the type of work we do talking about money and automatically tune them out. "Oh my God not another appeal for money! Who do these guys think we are? Rockefellers?

Despite the fact that it is a touchy subject with many, but not all thankfully, it is still an issue that we face as missionaries. We decided before we came to Kenya to not focus our attention on fundraising, but instead to pour our energies into the project and the people who need our help. God, using many of you, has been faithful to provide for all our needs, and even a few of our wants.

Fundraising from Kenya is a pain. I can tell you story after story of people who are in desperate need of help, but after 3 days of this you may start to get overwhelmed. That would be when you learn just how easy it is not to read this blog! You may even suspect me of exaggerating, because let me tell you the level of suffering I encounter on a day to day basis is just hard to process. So communicating the needs to you is difficult, at least for me. Also I do not want our relationship to be about money, yes I need money, but I need you more. Striking that balance is not something I do easily.

This year we have been able to assist hundreds, perhaps thousands now, because people see what we are doing and want to help out. Thank you so much.

Money is not just hard to solicit for, it is also a stumbling block in relationships here in Kenya. Most of my friends, colleagues, and well just about every stranger I meet thinks I have as much money as Bill Gates. No kidding. It is like I am seen as an ATM machine, and can just spit out cash whenever there is a need for it.

I am not even talking about greedy folks here, these are everyday guys, some of whom are close friends. It is just hard for them to understand our position when it comes to money. They see us living in a big house, driving a car, eating good food, and paying the school fees of our children. Unfortunately they just do not see the struggles we face getting the money to pay for those things.

I find it hard to explain to a mother whose child has been kicked out of school for not paying, that I just cannot send her kid back to school and fuel my vehicle at the same time. Maybe I need to get rid of the car? Actually I spent 2 years without it, and I definitely know that with the car I can do more than without it. Each and everyday I have to decide who to assist and who we cannot, and each and every one of them has a genuine need to be helped.

Money is a challenge, both getting it and getting rid of it.

 

johnny's-head     Johnny Brooks

Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya. Co-founder of A Future and a Hope, a home for girls.


In a Land Far Far Far Away

Johnny mentioned in our previous post that I would kick off this series of articles concerning the difficulties of living here in Kenya.

Since my brother passed away last week, and I was unable to attend his funeral nor see him while in the hospital, it has sparked these next few days  of articles on this topic.

First, let me say (and you will hear us repeat this again and again, I think): We love living in Kenya and doing the work we do. In fact, it is my dream job. Helping people is so fulfilling. The rewards are part of the work.

Now concerning living far away from our families. That in itself is one of the largest 'pains' we have. Our parents miss out on interaction with their grandchildren and vise versa. They miss celebrating their birthdays (though they send packages), milestones, and getting the chance to see them grow.

For example, Butterfly was only 1 year old when we moved here. Now she is almost 5 (June 28th). She is tall, beautiful, and talkative. She's grown up, and if it weren't for modern technology, our parents wouldn't recognize her!

The biggest 'growth' missed is little Emma Caite. I went through 9 months of pregnancy, child birth, and a full 5 months of her growing before our friends and family got to meet her. They got to see her learn to crawl during our short visit to the USA, but now she is walking and talking!

Being far from our friends and relatives also means that when we have an emergency, we don't have them around to help. For example when Andrew was hospitalized with Malaria, I couldn't ask my parents to baby-sit the other 11 children for me while we tended to him. Which also means no vacations or holidays for us, but that can be addressed perhaps an upcoming article...

kate's-head ~Kate Brooks

Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya, East Africa

Co-founder of A Future and a Hope


Challenges

More often then not we speak of living in Kenya in positive terms, which to be honest is how we think most of the time. However there are some challenges to being a white American living in Nakuru, Kenya.

So for the next few articles Kate and I will share some of those difficulties we face, sometimes daily, here in East Africa.

Being a missionary is not rosy all the time, granted the life we live does have it's advantages, but there are times when we feel down, times when we have no money, times when no one understands or cares about our feelings, times when we feel too far away from our families, and times when we wonder will our kids ever fit in when they return to the USA.

I promise that these articles will not be depressing, and trust me when I say the advantages of following God outweigh the disadvantages. I know my God in ways that I never even imagined before coming to Kenya, so I will suffer through a trial here and there for him.

I think I will let Kate start, by tackling the challenge of being so far away from family.


johnny's-head     Johnny Brooks

Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya. Co-founder of A Future and a Hope, a home for girls.


Geocaching

There's a craze in America and perhaps in other parts of the world that is as much fun for kids as it is for parents.  All you need is internet access and a GPS device.  You go to this website:


http://www.geocaching.com/


And from there you can find the location of nearby treasures that others have buried.  Once you dig up the treasure container and it's good manners to take something from the treasure container and then leave something else that you brought.  You can also hide treasures whereever you want and mark them on the web site, challenging others to find it. 


Have you tried this adventure before?


James and family


A Tribute to Brian Thomas Baxter

brianKate here. My brother, Brian Thomas Baxter  born June 18, 1970, was hit by a truck while riding his motorcycle on Mother's Day. He passed away May 15th at Breckenrige Hospital in Austin, TX. I can't express how I feel being so far away in Kenya and unable to have been there for him and for my family. He is known for his amazing musical gifts. Music was his life and his passion. I morn the loss of my brother...

Today they are having a memorial service for him. For our picture of the week, I wanted to share some pictures of his life:


 brian as baby brian dirtybrian and bassbrian and Mom brian singing


Inspiration?

I cannot seem to write anything today. I start, only to scrap my thoughts with that all powerful button, delete.

I have begun articles on The Village People, Gas Prices, Love, Hell, Money, and well I think that is it.

So all you get today is this. I blame Kate since she has nothing sitting in the drafts folder.


johnny's-head    Johnny Brooks

Missionary to Nakuru, Kenya. Co-founder of A Future and a Hope, a home for girls.