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Entries from April 2009

Cute Girl?

I almost always have a good time talking to my Kenyan male friends about women. It is one of the times when our differences are bared for all to see. Clearly we cannot lump all Africans in the same category as the guys I know, but still I never had these type of conversations till I moved to Kenya.

Generally speaking the Kenyan guys I know do not find the physical attributes that I find attractive as appealing. In fact generally speaking it is almost always the opposite. If I happen to mention someone is good looking they just look at me like I am blind or something, and most of the time the same is true for me. (Though I have learned to be careful commenting on anyone. Once I was in Kisumu with a friend and remarked that the hotel clerk where we were staying was attractive. He took it to mean I wanted to sleep with her, which is not at all what I was saying. Needless to say I am more careful with my language now.)

It is not just about the physical attraction, which is after all only skin deep, what we expect from woman is entirely different. I do not expect Kate, my wife, to do anything she does not want to do for me. She does not fetch me a drink when I am thirsty, she does not iron my clothes when they are wrinkled, she does not cook only food I enjoy to eat, she is not subordinate to me (which may upset all you “women must submit to the man” people. But I don’t mind upsetting you,) she has equal say in all decisions we need to make as a family. For most of my African friends the opposite is true. Women are there for the pleasure of the man.

I constantly consider Kate and communicate with her when I am not home. My Kenyan male friends do not even consider it necessary to tell their wives anything at all. It is not that they don’t love them, they simply do not know any other way.

Admittedly I am sometimes jealous. Especially when Kate is expressing an opinion different than my own, or asking me to run 500 errands in 5 minutes. Sure would be nice to tell her to be quite and bring me another beer. Ha. Just kidding. I enjoy our equal footing, and believe it works best for us. Plus I love her and want her to be free and happy.

I am seeing some changes in my African friends. They are considering their wives more and bringing them onboard with the decision making.

Now if we can get rid of the dowry system, we will have made some real progress.

johnny's head new 

Johnny Brooks, I know it sounds like I want to change the African culture, but that is not entirely true. In as both husband and wife are happy, fulfilled, and free to make decisions that affect their lives, I think the culture is great, and should be preserved in the face of the Americanizing of the world. However when the woman is oppressed, changes need to be made.


Something Ben told me...

I know that I keep talking about our newest orphan, Jeff, but something I just learned really pierced my heart.UnmarkedGrave3

When Ben went to pick up Jeff from his Uncle's house to bring him to 'Christopher's House,' the Uncle's biological children told Ben that at meal time, their dad refuses to feed him. He feeds all of his bio-kids and then tells Jeff, "Walk to your mother's grave and ask for food there."

Jeff's 'cousins' complained about their father's behavior telling Ben that they can't believe how rude and mean he is to Jeff all of the time. He hasn't been fed his own plate in years, but his cousins would share their food with him when Uncle wasn't looking. After the other boys ate, it was JEFF who had to wash all of the dishes from his cousins' and Uncle's plates.

This sounds dramatic, but in Kenya it happens ALL of the time. I was shocked that the Uncle would insist Jeff look for food at his mother's grave, but the these things are things we know happen to orphans everywhere.

Now I know why Jeff is BEAMING now that he's a part of A Future and a Hope! He's got FOOD. He's got LOVE! He's got HOPE! Hope that today, he will eat. Little Jeff is 10, but his body looks 7. He hasn't grown due to negligence from his own remaining relatives.

I'm so glad we have him at Christopher's House! Thanks for helping us make these life changes possible.

kate pigtails Medium Web view ~Kate Brooks

Co-founder of A Future and a Hope.


Let’s Go Fly a Kite

This morning while heading to the shower I heard someone, Beatrice I think, singing a song from Mary Poppins. “Lets go fly a kite.” The African girls in our home love all things musical and remember songs quite well.

Anyway I can see them flying a kite right now from where I sit in my office. Running with the kite, and the new dog is dutifully chasing them. No one has yet figured out that they are bigger than the puppy, and the puppy is quite happy to exert her control over the “pack.”

Johnny Brooks


Good Riddance

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

James 1:27 NKJV

In light of this passage is it really such a negative thing to see the decline of so called Christian America? I mean what makes religious America religious? Attending meetings on Sundays, and for the truly devout Wednesdays as well? Of course, for those of us who are not quite so devout, these meetings are little more than social clubs. With the exception that in most social clubs you actually want to know the other members, yet in most congregations we try to know as few people as possible. Paying a tenth of our incomes to our pastors, um I mean our local church bodies? Praying? Singing cute songs in a group setting with people we barely know?

If this is the extent of religious America then I say good riddance.

Thankfully we see that Christians in the U.S. are beginning to see that simply believing or acknowledging a tenet or doctrine as true is not enough. Saying a creed, rather in a human language or heavenly language is not what Jesus had in mind when he said, “Follow me.” We must live out our faith. Live it out in our everyday lives. At home, work, school, supermarket, with our neighbors, with our environment, with the authorities.

If we truly are followers of Jesus, shouldn’t we be going somewhere?

The kingdom of God has no boundaries. It cannot be contained in a building somewhere and visited once a week. It is within.

If America is really concerned about her faith, let her reach out to the needy. Let her actually visit them and love them. Embrace them and accept them. Then we would see true religion.

johnny's head new

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Brooks


The End of Christian America

Jon Meacham wrote an article for Newsweek called The End of Christian America, that received a bit of attention in the part of the blog world I frequent. Thought I might add a few thoughts of my own.

Essentially he quotes some stats that seem to indicate folks are no longer calling themselves Christian and more accepting of actions that were once thought to be sinful. (i.e. drinking alcohol.) The article is decent and worth reading. Includes some good historical background information, and plenty of quotes from R. Albert Mohler Jr., who is the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Apparently these southern Baptist folks are a big group or something another.

Greg Boyd has recently voiced his thoughts about the end of Christianity in America as well. I particularly enjoyed this blog post about the end of white Christianity in America.

Personally I feel that the end of the Christian religion can only be a good thing. It will enable those that truly believe and want to follow Jesus to do so unencumbered by tradition and rules. It would free up tons of resources currently tied up in buildings, programs, and professional clergy to be used for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick, in other words preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Unfortunately I believe that religion has too strong a grip on Americans. Even if we exchange one God for another, religion is in our blood. It will take more than a tiny drop in statistics to root out the sin of religion.

Perhaps nothing short of another revolution is needed.

Johnny Brooks


Hope

Yesterday, I took all of our kids out for 'Nyama Choma' aka roasted meat. We ate 11 pounds of sheep plus lots of ugali and salsa. It was finger-licking good. The meat hangs in the butcher window. Pieces get hacked off with a panga (machete) and then weighed. Then they throw it on the fire and roast it up. Sometimes you can even see bits of hair if you are eating goat meat. The intestines are a delicacy here as well.

The meat is then put on cutting boards and cut into smaller sizes. Everyone grabs the pieces s/he wants and eats with his/her fingers. Seeing the kids stuff their faces was a blast. They always eat well, but it just seemed extra fun yesterday since we were out eating 'Kenyan Style.'

The butchery we ate at is near "Christopher's House" so we swung by there to see how little Jeff is doing.

When I talked with him, he was BEAMING. I asked him if he likes living with Ali and Virginia. He loves it. I then asked if he has a lot of work/chores to do, and he smiled and said, "Nope." Then he left to go watch TV in the other room.

See, Jeff was forced to do all of the household chores where he was staying before. He didn't just 'help,' he WAS the HELP. That's what happens to orphans who are taken in by 'caring distant relatives.' They become little 'workers' so that they EARN their keep. Little Jeff hasn't had a chance to PLAY since his mother got ill 4 years ago. It hasn't taken him long to adjust, though. Kids are so adaptable. He's spending his time riding a bike outside, watching television, wrestling his new brother Gregory, or kicking a ball around.

Jeff is finally able to just be a kid. I am so happy to be able to give him that chance.

When I look in his big brown eyes, I see HOPE. Hope for a better TODAY.

~Kate Brookskate cropped Medium Web view


Dropping Babu at Airport

I’m in Nairobi today, dropping Babu Lonnie off at the airport. Will be heading back to Nakuru in the morning. Ali is with me, just hanging out and getting some rest. We plan on eating pizza for dinner and watching an episode or two from House season 2.

In the meantime just a reminder you can follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/JohnnyBrooks

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