Eat to live or live to eat? Which one is it? Kate believes we should eat to sustain ourselves. Eat the correct combination of nutrients to keep the body going. Enjoyment while eating is not necessary. I on the other hand love food. The art in creating something flavorful and lovely. Food is beautiful. (Kate enjoys the art of creating food as well, she just doesn't want us to think she likes eating it.)
Why can't it be both?
We buy food to sustain the children we live with. Flour, beans, vegetables, and we aim for meat once or twice a week. We take what could be just plain old rice and beans and apply cooking magic to it. Presto! Burritos and spanish rice. Fiesta! I grill the meat, which somehow I don't understand why, transforms plain smelly sheep into something otherworldly and delicious.
One of our goals when we started off with orphan-care was to give the children food that was worthy of eating. Meals that I, Johnny, would want to eat. Food that cost more than a dollar.
Food is the great equalizer. When we sit with our children to eat, we all sit together. One family. Visitors even have to squeeze in with us. We use food to help replace some dignity that was stolen from our girls by a culture that does not value them properly.
Unfortunately too often orphans are made to serve the "family" and have to eat in the kitchen or after all the rest have eaten. Orphaned girls living with an aunt would not expect to share in any meat or special meal. Harsh, but it is a reality for too many.
Thankfully for our girls they are orphans no more. Last time I chowed down on a pork chop while sitting next to Edith (our youngest Kenyan,) who was also enjoying some pork fat. (Albeit I did add jalapenos to mine. Which she bravely tried at one point, and promptly downed a glass of water.)
Live to eat, eat to live with someone who needs love.
This is what is going on at The Shire at the moment. Our momentum has slowed down since we have done all of the things with the campaign money, so we are actually back to $0. Ha ha, but progress still goes on. Michael is plastering the walls that we had to repair. And the good news is that... (see next photo)
June, our cow has converted the sun's energy into beautiful fertilizer and wall paint! It's fantastic, and basically, it's free. Which is nice for us.
Here you can see a finished wall behind Makena and Butterfly. It's still drying. Notice there are no cracks? That's because we did the repairs with Cob (sand, straw, clay) instead of using the local method of just clay. It doesn't shrink as much and comes out nicely.
Peaceful. Gone are the noises of living in a busy neighborhood. Also being further away from Nakuru equals less trips into the bustling city.
More Economical. No more rent, water bills, nor electricity bills.
More Space. 11 and a 1/2 acres means more room for stretching your legs. We have the space to dream big and experiment with those dreams.
The View. We do have a spectacular view of Lake Elementaita.
Good Neighbors. Farmers are nice to live next to.
Kate Is Happy! Which goes a long way for keeping the rest of us happy.
Farm. We will be able to grow much of our own food.
Model. The Shire is our model for the future, and so far it is working well.
Sketchy Water Supply. The spring which feeds our new community is not all that reliable.
Dependent on Weather. Since the water supply is not so great we depend on rain more now. Before rain was just something we looked out for to avoid getting wet. Now we need it not only to water the farm, but to keep us watered as well.
Far From Nakuru. I know I mentioned this as a good thing up above, but we still have to visit town. Now it takes longer to get there.
Lack of Refrigeration. I miss ice cold soda.
Ticks. These little pests are everywhere!
More Labor. Farm life requires more brawn than town life.
Bathing. Bathing requires more effort. Hauling water, building a fire to heat water, and stooping over a bucket to splash yourself. All this extra effort turns into us not doing it as often. Which can get ugly.
I am happy that the future looks bright for being able to help more orphaned/abandoned children. All of these good, bad, and ugly aspects of our lives is to bring them a future and a hope.
When I started this journey I never imagined it would bring me to rural Kenya. My thoughts tended to sway towards me teaching the masses theology and preaching inspiring sermons which brought people to change. Building a hip, relevant, and smooth running church seemed like a grand place for my life to end up. Digging in the dirt, not what I had in mind. Living with fourteen children certainly had not occurred as a logical path for Johnny's life.
I made a mistake one day. I chose to believe Matthew 25:45 as true.
45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’
Since this story conveyed truth to me then the pursuit of religion and my dreams of teaching and inspiring crowds of people were no longer relevant for my life.
Upto that moment I had belonged to a religion, Christianity, that had a vague resemblance to Jesus. From time to time my Christianity and Jesus walked the same road.
From time to time was not enough anymore. If I was to follow Jesus, I had to forsake all. Sounds easy, but the path has not always been so smooth.
Now, today, I have no religious practice as part of my faith. My faith is not orgainized around a meeting on Sunday, nor a man standing behind a lectern with a tiny mic stuck to the side of his face, nor a holy book. If you examine my life you will find no regularly scheduled prayers, rites, nor any other religious practice. Instead I am walking with Him. Trying to keep it fresh each and every day. I walked out of the building and into a slum. Out of the Book and onto a farm.
I am trying to follow Jesus. Feels good right now, tomorrow might be more of a struggle. I have committed to myself to keep walking.
This can look different for all of us. You might thrive with Him in a religious setting. Cool. Just do not spend too much time sitting in a pew. I did.
There's this guy we met some few months back, Adam Mosley, who is moving to Nakuru to plant a Vineyard church. I know I know, do we really need another church in Nakuru? That's beside the point, he wrote an insightful blog post, and I thought I could respond to his 10 Things Missionaries Won't Tell You.
1. THEY DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR ENERGY TO WRITE…BUT THEY DO IT FOR YOU.
I can relate to this one. As someone who is not a trained writer it can sometimes be difficult to get the idea or thought from my head to the paper/screen.
Also I tend to to be honest with my feelings while writing, which can get me into trouble. Especially with Kate.
I/we do tend to write from a point of view to inform and relate rather than fundraise. Not that we do not want you to give, we need you to. We just do not want every message you see here to be about getting money from you.
As for the tech aspect he mentions we outsource all that stuff. Our blog is hosted by Typepad, which means we just type and they do all the coding. We send our mass email out through MailChimp, which means the same thing. We just type and they do all the work. (I pay for Typepad but do not yet have a large enough mailing list to have to pay for MailChimp.)
2. FACEBOOK “LIKES” DON’T PAY THE BILLS.
Oh man this is right on. It's great for our egos (go ahead and like our page) and for spreading the word, but one has to take another step beyond the like button and actually donate for it to financially benefit us.
Something that Adam doesn't mention is the lack of privacy on social networks. Anyone can monitor your page, unscrupulous folks and government officials. Which means we have to be careful what we actually post.
3. THEY ASK FOR MONEY BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO CHOICE.
Here is where I diverge from Adam a bit. I don't mind asking for money, nor do I mind having to do so. What I don't like is having to craft a fundraising strategy. I hate censoring myself to keep from losing you as a donor or potential donor. Sometimes I fear being myself. (To which my father in law says keep on fearing.)
I am also a bit crazy and believe that God brings us the right people at the right time. Folks who are ready or looking for a place to donate.
I don't end every post with a plea for funds. Come on, we are missionaries. We need donations, and I think everyone is aware of that. I will let you all know if we win the lottery.
4. YOU’LL NEVER HEAR ABOUT THEIR WORST DAYS.
This one is pretty much true for me. Kate and I do try and be open and "real", but some struggles are hard to share in such an open forum.
Though I am tempted to write about aging. I'm sure you all want to hear about a 40 year old fat man's changing body.
5. THEY NEED A VACATION…BUT WON’T TELL YOU IF THEY TAKE ONE.
Partly true for us. We need a vacation. Really we could use one this August. Not likely, but if it happens I promise you will hear and see all about it.
The beach sounds nice. Just imagine all the cute ~Eowyn pictures we could get, you could see me, Johnny, enjoying a frozen drink while lounging in the sand, and all the pics of Kate in her bikini I can covertly take and post! See lots of Facebook potential in a vacation.
6. HOSTING TEAMS IS A NIGHTMARE.
Sounds about right. We have never hosted a large group before, so no experience here for us.
However we are willing to get our feet wet. So if you like traveling in a group, welcome.
7. “GOING HOME” IS A LOT OF WORK.
So true. We do not even consider a trip to the U.S., mostly because of the expense. $12,000 for all 7 of us Americans last time I checked! We could build another house for that, even buy more acreage or a newer vehicle. Then there is the logistics of being in the U.S. Transportation, housing, food, and staying fresh for speaking engagements.
8. IT’S EASY FOR GOD TO TAKE A BACK SEAT IN THEIR LIFE.
I am on the other side of Adam here, meaning I disagree. I feel closer to God because of what I am doing. It does help if you eliminate all religious obligation from your life. If I don't read the Bible today (haven't), no guilt. If the first thing I think of when waking up in the morning is bathing, no guilt. God dosen't care about the tricks we do to try and stay close to Him. He is always close no matter what.
I do not feel called to this life. This life is the only logical way for me to live out my faith. That takes off so much pressure to perform. I just live and do good while living.
9. IT’S HARD TO TRUST PEOPLE.
True. We have been lied to, promised funds which never materialized, stolen from, and physically assaulted. In fact I have to work hard to not become too cynical. I say too, because I'm a cynic at heart.
10. THEY ARE LONELY.
Personally I love being alone. Seriously. Love it. Kate on the other hand has been lonely here in Kenya. Looking different than everyone else only compounds the loneliness. However we have pushed through and now have a network of friends and acquaintances.
Fantastic list Adam. I'm a bit jealous. I have yet to write a blog post that was so popular that my bandwidth was exceeded. I hope you guys find much success here in Kenya.
Now that we are on The Shire, there has been a shift in how our financial dynamic works.
We no longer have utility bills nor rent. This is a huge blessing!
However, some things have happened that we did not expect:
First, our girls' new school does not feed them lunch, which means we are making a lot more meals each day. The good news: They eat healthier lunches from home. The bad news: Our grocery expenses are higher.
Some more good news is that our nine Kenyan daughters have many more extra-curricular activities at their new schools. It is awesome! The bad news is: they require us to provide uniforms, costumes, transport to functions, which is tough enough with just one daughter... we have nine in local schools.
Another unexpected issue at the moment is that our car died two months ago. We had to sell it and are completely car-less. The good news: We get our excercise walking, bonding, and don't have to worry about vehicle maintenance. In fact, I am loving it so much, I almost hate to share... The bad news: It is difficult to get around while living in the middle of nowhere. When our son was recently injured in a moterbike accident, we had no means to get to him to get him to hospital. It was a scary time. When our dog got ill, I had to rely on a visitor to take me to get some meds to try to save him. It was too late. Getting to town and back is quite difficult. We walk a LOT and it is slow goin. We ride in public vans, and hire taxis to come back because our groceries are far too heavy to carry in a backpack. We pay about $35 a town trip just on getting around, but we have no other place to buy food and supplies.
So now that we are on The Shire, we are so grateful to be here. We are doing our best to live simply and effiiciently, but we still have expenses and projects going on.
If you know folks who would like to support us monthly, please feel free to share about what we do!