Entries from February 2009
So this morning I was in my office arranging a new rug I bought the day before when my phone rings. I could already tell from the commotion in the background when I answered and said hello that something was wrong. Kate had been involved in an accident while taking the kids to school this morning.
I can't say that for the other guys car. He was not injured but his vehicle was badly damaged on the passenger side where he hit the van.
Kate was about to make a right hand turn to drop the girls at school, when the other guy decided to pass her before she could turn. (Those of you reading this from the U.S.A. keep in mind that here in Kenya we drive on the other side of the road. So a right hand turn meant she had to cross the oncoming traffic lane for the turn.)
She signaled and everything. Kate is a good driver, just the guy who hit her was not paying attention. However he was not willing to admit responsibility, and there were no other witnesses. Plus it being a minor accident and everything Kate moved the van from the roadway, so as to avoid being hit by any other vehicle. Turns out that in Kenya you are not supposed to move the vehicles, even if there are no injuries.
She called me and I headed out to see what I could do. I spoke with the traffic police, and it became obvious that our "whiteness" was going to be a problem. I then called an advocate (lawyer) and just to take the case would cost me 40,000 KES (about 506 U.S. dollars.) Plus if I lost I had to pay my legal fees, the other guys legal fees, and still pay to have the car fixed.
So I decided to make nice and come to a compromise. We drove to a body shop to have an estimate drawn up, and started haggling. Since I was not willing to admit fault and he was not willing to admit fault, we were at a stalemate. The only solution was the courts, which I knew would end up costing me more than the total repair cost to his vehicle.
We talked and talked and talked some more. I began to think to myself how can I represent the Kingdom of God here. Not trying to make myself appear all holy, but that is what I was thinking, at least that is what I was thinking while the guy was going on and on about how to drive properly.
Eventually he realized that I was willing to help him out to avoid legal fees and compromised. In the end I helped him with less than half of his repair costs. I still have to repair the van, which I hope will not be much, but I feel I came out ahead in this bargain.
Put aside the hassle and expense of a court case (keep in mind that the system is corrupt here so we would have been put in bribe paying situations time and time again throughout the process.) I was able to represent the Kingdom of God to this man and his brother. They walked away marveling how this man, even though he did not have to, helped to pay for the repairs on their car. When we met again who knows what will happen?
So I feel good about the whole thing, would have preferred to have met these guys under different circumstances. Now I just pray that the dent on the van can be hammered out and painted without any hassle.
Johnny Brooks, who is glad everyone is o.k.
" My treasure has to be in heaven or else the moth, rust, rot and ruin will drive me to despair."
People Living With Aids
Not dying but living. Today we will be having a lunch meeting with a group of about 30 people who are HIV positive. We work with these folks on a regular basis, and so know most of them well. Ben, our team member who does most of the field work, knows them really well.
He knows what medicines they take. He knows where they live. He knows if the family has rejected them or not. He knows which mothers are worried about dying and leaving their children behind as orphans. He knows these people. He has relationship with them.
Which in my opinion is the best ministry there is. We don't need a building to meet them in. In fact today we are borrowing one. We don't need a man or woman to deliver a sermon to us. I will today, yet my goal is not conversion rather encouragement. We do not need some program that can be used on these people.
Yes they have needs, in fact most of them are really sick. However what they need more than anything else is love. Love and acceptance. So today there will be many embraces. Many hugs, a few kisses, and many greetings.
I will eat food that I really dislike just to be with my friends, and encourage them that they are not alone. I love them, and so does Jesus.
Johnny Brooks, though I really hate goat soup, it will be worth it to bring a smile to someone who usually never can smile.
Sometimes God does things that we don't understand. Ok, not just sometimes, MOST of the time, He does things we don't understand.
"His ways are not our ways." right?
Sometimes, it seems as if life scatters our plans like the demolition team does on Extreme Home Makeovers.
Blow after blow we take in life until we feel as if nothing is left. We feel demolished, useless, and as if everything we have strived to build has been destroyed, and so when those things are broken, we feel as if we are going backwards in this race of life.
But what we see and feel is 'backwards' actually is not.
See, our lives which we built over time suited us for a while, but God wants to do a new thing in us. I don't think God demolishes us, that's just life, but through LIFE, we can be remolded if we allow God to do the building.
"Unless the Lord build this house, we labor in vain." (Ok I know it's out of context, but you get the point.)
Going backwards is always the best way to go forward. So if life seems to be rough right now. If you feel as if things aren't going YOUR way, then maybe, just maybe they are actually going GOD's way.
Co-founder of A Future and a Hope
Providing families for Orphans in Kenya.
Tonight, my family and I made a fire out of hickory wood in our backyard fire pit. We put chairs all around it and then ate bowls of chili and drank sweet, iced tea. After the meal, we took out marshmellows and roasted them on sticks over the fire.
One thing led to another and we all started telling campfire jokes. Each of us told different jokes but the two most often told kinds of jokes were the typical "blonde" jokes and the "Genie in the lamp" jokes. I'll share with you the most popular joke in each catagory told tonight:
"Blonde" joke favorite:
Q: How do you drown a blonde?
A: Put a "scratch-and-sniff" sticker at the bottom of the pool. "
Genie in the Lamp" joke favorite:
Due to an unfortunate plane crash, three men were stranded atop a mountain. One man found a lamp up there and rubbed it. Out came a powerful Genie who told them "Because you have freed me from the lamp, I will turn you each into the first thing that you shout out as you jump off the side of this mountain." So, the first man ran and leaped off the side of the mountain and shouted "Eagle!!" and he turned into an Eagle and flew away. The next man ran and jumped off the mountain shouting "Falcon!!" and he turned into a Falcon and flew away. The third man thought of something clever to turn into and began to run towards the edge of cliff. Just as he came to the edge of the cliff, he stumped his foot on a rock and cried "oh crud!!" and turned into a ball of crud rolling down the mountainside.
Perhaps my family and I are easily amused but I'm happy to say that we are amused together. I'm thankful for an amusing family to live with.
-James Dan of Arizona
I have two pictures for you to consider:
There is something that is so important to us, that is missing from these two pictures. I was thinking about it the other day, while talking with Babu about the world economy. Just what the world needs, two fat guys without any economics education discussing how to best fix the economic mess we find ourselves in.
Economics. How has it become the most important part of our lives, or our national security, of our future? Why is our quality of life measured by how much stuff we can buy? Sure I understand the role money plays in our lives. As far as I can tell, there is no getting rid of it. It is here to stay. The question is, are we going to allow our self worth to be determined by how much money we have? Will we be measured by stacks of Benjamin's?
I believe that we need a new measuring stick. When you come over to our house, you will not find a brand new Jeep. (Though I admit that I really like them.) The fact that there is not a Jeep or Landrover parked in our driveway does not make me less of a man. You will not find the latest, biggest T.V. sitting in our living room. You will not find a lot of things, not because there is anything wrong with those things, but simply because we cannot afford them. However, despite the fact that we don't have a fat bank account, we don't feel poor.
Most days, I feel extraordinarily wealthy. I have a beautiful wife who loves me. I have an abundance of children, who all love me. I have great friends, and I am doing a job that I love. Plus on top of all that, I know that my God loves me. I am happy and blessed even though I don't have a new Jeep or even the option of borrowing money to buy one.
A new measuring stick. Families, relationships, love, these could be ways of measuring our prosperity. Somehow I don't think a stimulus package is ever going to buy us happiness. A bigger house is not going to do it. T.V.s, computers, Ipods, Iphones, and all the stuff that is so important to us, just will not make us better off than we were without them.
They have their places. In our hands, not our hearts.
I have exchanged my measuring stick. I refuse to be defined or contained with a consumer spending index or anything else of that nature. I am measuring my quality of life through my family, friends, and faith.
A new born baby and Adam in the Garden of Eden. What's missing from the pictures? What they don't have are pockets.
We were created without pockets. We are born without pockets. When we enter the next life, we go without any pockets no matter how our bodies are buried.
Why then are pockets so important to us now? It is as if we live for our pockets. We spend a majority of our time working somewhere to be given money to put in our pockets. We are constantly thinking about our pockets and how long the money there will last. Will it be enough for the house payment? College tuition? Cable bill? Car repairs? Insurance? And on and on.
To survive in this messed up world we need pockets, but that does not mean we have to live for those pockets.
"The distinct kingdom question is not, How do you vote? The distinct kingdom question is, How do you bleed?"
Gregory Boyd, from The Myth of a Christian Nation
Mixing cement by hand on the ground. I tried to explain to the guys that in Texas you could rent a small mixer, but they just didn't seem to get it. They actually do a great job of hand mixing the cement. Maybe even better than the mixer could do?
Johnny Brooks, who is glad that he is not the one mixing the cement by hand. Though I am paying for it, which is almost just as painful. Ha. Just kidding. The labor costs on this project are actually very low.