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August 2005

Entries from July 2005

Broadband Where Are You?

I miss my cable connection. I had become so used to being able to almost instantly load web pages and download huge files in a matter of moments that I all but forgot about the dark ages of dial up. If you have a broadband connection, I beg you to please not take it for granted. If you do not have a broadband connection and one is available, what are you waiting for? When you wake up and the speed is gone, the alternative is a nightmare. Here in Kenya we went from our always on connection to a connection that is only on when I go to the internet café in Nakuru. I pack up the laptop into my trusty back pack, strap it on and start walking. When I make it to the main road I hitch a ride on a matatu (14 passenger van used for public transportation). These vans are not like the huge 15 passenger vans you see in the USA, but are like regular sized vans with more seats jammed into them. My legs are always crammed into the seat in front of me, and the person sitting next to you is almost sitting in your lap. Kenyans seem to think that when wind is blowing on you then it must be cold, so they always close the windows. I on the other hand am almost always hot and so end up sweating a few buckets before reaching town. It takes about twenty to thirty minutes to make the trip as we have to stop to unload passengers and pick up passengers. The matatu does not stop in the town center but rather has to stop in a staging area. When I disembark (being somewhat of a large person this is not always an easy task in the tight quarters of a matatu) I have to walk to the internet café. Now the internet café is not really all that far from the stage, but the sheer number of people walking around makes for difficult going. To make matters worse you must always be on the look out for vehicles as they do not place much value on the lives of pedestrians. When I have plenty of money I usually stop in a supermarket to grab a cold coke to cool off, then I head for the internet café. This particular café is using a DSL connection so it is not quite as bad as a dial up, but still nowhere near my old cable connection. The rest of the places in town use dial up connections. I made a deal with one café, and they let me bring my laptop and plug into their network. This system works for sending and receiving emails and updating this blog, but we sure do miss being able to go to the computer and access the internet. I feel so isolated without the internet. Back in the USA I used the internet for all kinds of things. I did all my banking on the internet, including paying my bills. I got my news from the internet. I printed stamps from the internet. I even rented movies off the internet. Now I feel so unconnected. Please, I am begging you; do not take your broadband connections for granted.




So often when we speak about grace it is all about the grace of God, and how he has given it to us freely. The Bible says that we are saved by grace through our faith. God makes no demands on us in order for us to receive salvation. When you kneel before him he is not thinking about how to change you into something other than who you are. All we have to do to be accepted by God is to accept his free gift of salvation. God’s grace is fantastic, and we would be nowhere without it. I recently preached a sermon where instead of focusing on God’s grace I focused on our own grace. If we are striving to be like Jesus, than it stands to reason that we will need to be people of grace. When I say people of grace I mean people who give grace away unconditionally. Often times when we share our faith with others we attach stipulations to it. You know what I mean. Once upon a time it was you can have Jesus if you cut your hair, wear longer skirts, or stop doing this or that. Now a days it seems to be you can be a Christian if you vote the right way. You can follow Jesus with us if you hate homosexuals. You can worship with us if you protest against abortion. I want to give grace away freely just like God gave it to me. Jesus did not ask me to change anything when I came to Him for salvation. Instead He said here you go life and more life with no strings attached. Did God require change in me after salvation? Yes he did, but those changes where not conditional to my salvation. In other words God would have saved me even if I never changed a thing. Please remember by grace you are saved; now go and give some grace away today.

When Pastors do not Listen!

Recently I ministered in a church here in Nakuru, Kenya. The title of my sermon was “Not a Person among Them Was Needy.” I take my main text from the book of Acts chapter four. The writer of Acts states that in that first group of believers there were no needs among them. They had no needs because they were meeting each others needs by selling excess property and distributing the proceeds among the needy. Paraphrasing my hour or so long sermon, I make the point that as a church we should be meeting each others needs. Here in Kenya I also add the point that they should not be looking to the West for salvation, but rather should allow God to use themselves to meet each others needs. I go on and talk about love and being a true follower of Christ. I define love as more than an emotion. Love is something you do not necessarily something you feel. I close with the statement that Christianity is more than just believing it is living something. This particular time the audience was very receptive of the message and seemed to want to take the challenge of reaching out to each other. When I finished I gave the floor back to the pastor, and he began with his comments. Most of the time pastors just do a little paraphrase and compliment me on a good job or something like that. However this was not one of those most of the time cases. The pastor took the stage and began to make excuses as to why his congregation was not able to meet each others needs. It was frustrating to me. I want to inspire people to make an effort. Sure I know that there will come a time when the resources may not be enough, but you will never know those times if you do not try in the first place. Arggg. Pastors are thick headed people who need to learn to listen.

Masai Blessings

Our entire family plus a guest (6 people) are sitting at a tiny, unstable, wooden table made for two. The smell of smoke mixed with the smell of blood coming from the five or six goats and sheep hanging from hooks in the corner permeate the room. It’s one of our favorite places to eat in Kenya—Nyama Choma Tyari. It means ready roasted meat. For those linguists out there it is literally translated meat roasted ready. The only place to get this barbaric meal is in the butcheries, so you get to eat with the company of flies and dead animals. And usually next to you is someone eating the hairy head of a goat or even the intestines. Sounds horrific? Well, it’s not that bad. One does get used to it. Today, however, our trip to eat Nyama Choma was quite different than usual.

Sitting at a small table in front of ours is an elderly man from the Masai tribe. As I look at him, I start humming Do Your Ears Hang Low because his ears are so long they nearly touch his shoulders. In fact, he took the lobe of one ear and ‘hung’ it on the top of that same ear (as one does with a neck tie over a shoulder) so as not to get it in the way of his eating. After finishing his pile of goat intestines, he rambles over to our table (everyone enjoys greeting us because of our skin color). Instead of shaking our hands and saying jambo, he begins doing something strange… He starts spitting on each of our heads! Pieces of leftover intestines and ugali are sprayed on each of us as we flinched in this odd display. It is quite a peculiar experience because I don’t know how to react. Do I thank him or gripe at him? Do I spit back or shake his hand? Do I politely ask him to leave us alone or ask the cook to usher him out so that he doesn’t spit on anyone else? Well, our Kenyan guest explains that this Masai is actually asking God to bless us and not trying to insult us. After his blessing he smiles a toothless grin and walks out of the building.

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I wiped food out of my children’s hair at the difference in cultures around the world. Next time you cringe at greeting someone who has a dirty hand, be thankful you are not in a culture where it is a blessing to get spat on! Have a blessed day, will you? ~Kate