Yesterday was my forty second birthday. I spent the day hanging out with the kids and climbing up the hillside. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.
The life we are currently living is not the life I imagined for myself as a young man gazing into the future. Not at all. About the only part I got right was Kate.
I had not imagined having children. There are now fourteen, and one on the way, in my life.
I had not imagined living in Kenya. It has now been almost eleven years here.
I had not imagined a life without religion. I am so glad that Jesus led me to a religionless life. What freedom!
I had not imagined building a farm. There are now pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, chickens, and rabbits outside my door.
This moment, right now, it is not perfect. There are things, resources, people, and skills missing from my life. No, perfection is not a part of my life. Yet happiness is. I am happy. Happy with how things worked out. I tried out some of my imaginings on the way to forty two, none of them brought me happiness nor contentment.
Living out my faith, my ideas, my commitments to family; these are the things that have made me happy to see birthday number forty two.
What will the future hold? Hard to say. I can imagine a future with:
More children rescued and given a hopeful future.
Our children living their lives faithful to their beliefs and convictions.
A farm producing enough food for us and the hungry in this world.
I can imagine a better future, and hopefully just like that younger man gazing forward in time, this slightly older one will find that his future dreaming fell far short of what actually has come to be.
Shot this with my cheap smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy J1 (at least I'm pretty sure that is what the phone is called.) Testing the video quality. I mean looks good enough for the internet to me, what do you think?
Today, October 20, is Mashujaa Day here in Kenya. Also known as Heroes Day, it is a national holiday where Kenyans remember those who fought for independence and those who have contributed positively to post independent Kenya. No speeches here on The Shire, instead if I can convince myself to go and look for mutton, we will grill this evening and celebrate our heroes.
I am not even sure who my heroes are anymore. See there is a problem with growing up, you realize your heroes were human after all. Frail, immoral, and otherwise just like you. How can a mere human be heroic?
Another heroic lesson one learns upon growing a bit older and wiser, heroes need not be superman. In fact super powers are not necessary. Sainthood is not a prerequisite. All that is needed is a willing heart, and the occasional heroic deed.
So who is my hero I will celebrate on Mashujaa Day? Kate is definitely my hero, and for sure my favorite person. This evening I'll toast her.
We do not normally post much about the wildlife surrounding us here on the blog, but who can resist a baby giraffe?
I took this from Rothschild's Giraffe Project's Facebook page. A cursory glance at their website indicates they are involved in conservation, which is something we care about as well. A world without giraffes is less a world than before.
(This baby was born in Soysambu Conservancy, which you would pass by or through to get to our place.)
Water fell from the sky today. Commonly known as rain. Not too much, but enough to actually get the ground wet. Mud actually stuck to the bottom of my shoes, and we slipped in the car on the road. Good times.
One of the big lessons that living in Kenya has taught me is; to try and live life more in tune with nature's cycles. You know, the seasons. We do not have winter, summer, fall, and spring here in Kenya. Just the wet and dry seasons. The fact of if it's raining or not raining has just as big an impact on life as the four seasons I grew up with.
There is no washing of the car during the dry season.
Bathing is not a daily occurrence during the dry season. (Once every three or four days.)
Water has to be rationed. First drinking water, then cooking, then hand washing, teeth brushing, and so on.
Dust becomes a part of you during the dry season.
Just try running down to the village during the dry season on the motorcycle without any eye protection.
You remember all those times when you were a kid spraying ant hills with the hose, and wonder why your parents did not scold you for wasting water.
If it is yellow let it mellow.
This particular dry season felt drier to me. Maybe it is the change of scenery. Now that we are living on The Shire the lack of rain is more pronounced. We have to feed the animals more since most of the grazing is gone. There is no green grass left. The place is really brown. Trees are looking worse for the wear, and there are no flowers. Water is harder to find. Thankfully a neighbor down the road drilled a well this year, and so we plus our neighbors have been able to get water via 20 liter buckets carried on a donkey's back.
It has been hot.
When it rained today it felt fresh, almost like the first flowers of spring. Not that we have any flowers yet, but still the dust was washed away. It cooled down a bit.
Now let us hope that the weatherman is wrong, like he normally is, and this is really the beginning the rainy season.
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.
Check out this visual story of Kenya's informal public transportation system. Really great representation, and has a few spectacular photos in it. It was done by Sam Wolson.
The Pajero, known as Montero in the U.S., had the transmission replaced a couple of weeks ago. So far so good. We were unable to find a brand new one for our 1994 vehicle, and would have likely been unwilling to pay the amount a new one would have cost ( close to how much we paid for the Pajero.) We were blessed to have someone donate $2,500 towards the repair and the day the money arrived a used transmission became available. In fact when it was all said and done and the last bolt was in place we spent exactly that amount of money on the job.
Unfortunately someone forgot to put in said last bolt. Which then caused an oil leak, which then led to fuel injector problems, and so forth. I am sitting at the garage right now as I type this having a fuel line pipe replaced. Sigh.
If it isn't human error it's the rough roads. It is hard to win car wise in Kenya.
I am not sure if I found 2013 to be a likable year or not. Up and down, left then right, the year seemed out to get me one day, and ready to bless me the next. Unfortunately most of the "negatives" of the year cannot be posted on the Internet, but that will not stop me from creating a bullet list of mostly positive happenings:
- 4 of our girls began class 8 in January, the final year of primary school. I remember buying a few text books for them and attending several parent/teacher meetings at the school.
- Mercy wrote out her story, and we posted it on the blog.
- In February we posted a typical list of food we buy at the market.
- A camp out in February on The Shire was somewhat disatrous. We did see a hot air ballon when we woke in the morning.
- We started delivering building materials to The Shire in March!
- Kenya elected a new president.
- Kate continued to post videos to her YouTube channel in 2013.
- Beatrice had a fun miracle on her 13th birthday.
- Kate recapped one of her days for us in April.
- We built a hut on The Shire, and started the barn (where we will live while the house is being built.)
- Several times throughout the year we asked for financial help. Follow this link to donate and help us continue bringing A Future and a Hope to orphaned children here in Kenya.
- `Eowyn had an infection in June.
- Kate built the roof in the Hut.
- In July Kate and I went away for 2 nights without any children for the first time in 15 years.
- We are o.k. with not being a big ministry.
- In September we were on the Let's Talk It's Relationship podcast.
- We raised money to build a barn/house and finish the fence on The Shire in September.
- In October I left one of the kids behind at the school. I think it was more traumitzing for me than her.
- I turned 40 in November.
- I started a new ongoing series for the blog, Learning to Grow. The point being to chronicle the learning process for the farm.
- December decided to give us a problem with our water supply. (Still not solved yet.)
There you have it my summary for 2013. Sometime in the next few days I will post a financial summary for the year, and we will talk about our plans for 2014.