His perfect time

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I am American.”Time is money”

Raised by the clock-punctuality is key!
I am in Kenya

“African time” – slower than island time

And likely my biggest cultural struggle. It brings out the worst in me for sure!
Today, I left a few minutes late. Ugh

Stopped to pick up the mandazi, they were not ready.

Went to pick up Levi – he was late.

Had a bit of trouble with the car, delaying us several minutes.

Went to pick up Dennis – he was late.

Feeling that flesh rising up… “Oh Lord please help me!”

As we sat on the side of the road awaiting Dennis, a woman came to the car – she wanted “something to eat”. So I reached around to the back seat and came out with some warm mandazi for her. “No! Ninataka pesa”. I want money. I responded with a forced and fake smile, “pole, hakuna pesa”. ( I’m sorry, I have no money.)

Watching from across the street, a young man began laughing. As the woman walked away, he came over. He wanted a job in my compound.

We were still waiting on Dennis, so we started a conversation. He asked what I do, where I lived. I asked, “do you know Jesus?” “No one knows Jesus”, he responded.

I have NEVER before gotten this response and my heart sank. “He is history”, he said.

I ALWAYS hear the answer yes, I know Jesus! Even if they don’t.

I told him that Jesus wants him to know HIM. He died so you can know Him!

“You cannot know someone you can’t talk to”. “Oh, but you CAN talk to Him, I talked with Him just this morning!!” With that he nervously stepped back, somewhat chuckling, “you must have a devil, saying you spoke to Jesus”. “Oh NO!” I proclaimed, “He is real, He is! And He desires a relationship with you!!!”

I invited him to church. He told me it is too far. Both Dennis and Levi spoke to him in Kiswahili a bit. I sat and prayed as they did. I then handed him a Kiswhaili tract.

He would not allow me to pray with him. But as we drove away, the guys and I prayed for Jonathan, asking that it might please The Lord to reveal Himself! Oh please, use this meeting which I KNOW you ordained, use the seeds of TRUTH that were spoken, use that tract and Your Holy Spirit, make Yourself known… That Jonathan might know that You are God and that You love him!!

Lord, help me, please, to rest in You and to trust Your clock. Your clock that keeps perfect time!

hospitality…

  • …the act of being hospitable. The friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers. The quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests.

This weekend I went to visit my sweet friend Loise. Loise is 109 years old. This week she will bury her 19th child or grandchild. When I walked up to her chair, sitting outside beneath a tree, she was sipping on her tea. She looked up at me with eyes that have seen more grief, more history book stories, more mistreatment and abuse, more changes in culture than I will ever know. With tear filled eyes she looked at me and smiled brightly as she extended her hand to greet me. We hugged and shared hello’s

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my sweet friend Loise


and made our way to another tree where benches were.
As we sat, her daughter walked over to the jikoni (her kitchen). Loise, Leah and I sat and talked. With a slow and unbelieving shake of her head, she moaned, “why? It’s just not right. I am an old woman, it should be me.” I found myself gasp with an emotion that swelled up from out of nowhere.

She told us how her daughter in law had come to visit just a month earlier. She had a tumor on her brain. She was a good daughter and “I love her so much and she loves me”. Then the tears resumed. This old old African woman, so sweetly holding my hand. It was a familiar feel. I used to hold my Nanny’s hand and her cool, soft and oh so loose skin reminded me of the loving grandma I miss so much.

Our contrasting hands caught her eye. She looked up at me and smiled, “this mzungu, you are my friend, my good friend.” She mentioned how her husband died long ago and God has given her a friend to hold her hand in this grief. My heart sank further.

As Leah would translate I would just look into Loise’s eyes. I began to ask her questions. When did she get married? Where was her home? What was it like? She went on to tell me how she came home from the river one day and there were many cows, more than a hundred. She knew instantly that her life was about to change. Those cows were the dowry, the bride price for her. She was given to this man she had never met, a bangle put on her ankle and she was taken away to a new home. She… was married.

She was not permitted to visit her parent’s home until after she had given birth. Someone would keep watch to ensure young brides did not flee. Once her new family felt confident she was settled, she was given more freedom.

She remembers when the British would come to the area; everyone would hide in fear of being captured. Sometimes I could tell her reminiscing was stirring some very deep emotion. As she would give in to it – we would come back to her grief.

I’ve been to several funerals these past two weeks. The grief is intense. Wailing, sobbing, a young girl collapsed into convulsions at the funeral in the village. I’ve wondered if the lack of emotion I see during everyday life, at least sad ones, and how very uncomfortable my friends here become if I show any anxiousness, sadness, or concern… if THIS has anything to do with the dramatic show of grief I see with funerals. Almost as though it’s acceptable then, but only then. So, all that ‘held in’ emotion pours out. I don’t know this but I’ve wondered.

As Loise continued to talk, sharing such book worthy history, I saw it over and over. Stories from decades ago taking her deep into thought and as if the flood gate of expression would threaten to crack… all was diverted to grief for her daughter.

Then, suddenly… “Jesus is coming soon”, she looked at me and said. “Yes, yes He is!” I replied in KiSwahili.

Just then Mariam came to welcome us to a sitting area outside the jikoni. “She hasn’t eaten”, she said, nodding to her grandma. Loise resisted but when I took her arm and she looked up at me, she complied. We walked over and Mariam helped her get into her seat. She spoke something in KiKisii and Mariam brought a chair right beside her. “She wants you to sit next to her”. I smiled and as Loise moved the chair so they were touching, I sat down beside this precious woman.

Now, I don’t eat much of the traditional foods. Actually, none of it. I am super cautious because of the preparation and the water and… well… I don’t much care for goat. But this meal began to be set before us. Goat, Ugali, Greens. Loise shook her head. I said, “You must eat with me”. And with that I filled her plate. I tried to make the 2 pieces of goat and the ugali stretch out over my plate but she wasn’t satisfied. She put more on my plate. As I encouraged her to eat she kept a close eye on my plate. She wanted to make sure her guest was fed well.

I always considered myself hospitable. I love to entertain. I’ve come to learn that I have LOTS to learn. I’m hospitable… on the outside AND… on a scheduled basis. If… I’ve invited you on a particular day at a specific time… I will roll out the red carpet. However, if you just show up unexpected… it just might throw me for a bit of a loop. Not in Africa. You just show up and they will have a meal before you in 30 minutes. Everything stops, work will cease, all will come to sit and visit and with the friendliest reception and the warmest of treatment… guests are made to feel like royalty and truly… hospitality is defined outside a mud hut with a wooden shack kitchen in a village in East Africa. 

Lord, ease the grief of my sweet old friend. May she know Your love and comfort this difficult week.

Lead me to the Rock!

When you are desiring with all your heart to be obedient to God… Even desiring… to desire that…  

I so pray that what I want communicated here is heard and that you join us in prayer and thanksgiving!


“Hear my cry, oh Lord… And lead me to the Rock that is higher than I”


The week has been emotional for me.  

First….Our team members who have been serving here with us are about to leave.  I can’t help but wonder if I represented Christ well, if I was an encouragement to them while they were here in this far away land. Have I spurred them on?  

Being far from family, missing yet another grandbaby’s birthday this week, I can tell you it has not gotten one margin easier, but having these guys here has certainly been a blessing in that respect.  Having some family a bit closer.       

Second….I’ve been dealing with many ‘business’ tasks.  Shopping for and ordering feed, getting material printed, tweaking our Auto Insurance to lower the price, even trying to buy something in the super market, but refused at the check out counter because the price hadn’t been entered into the system.  Things are done MUCH differently here than in the States.  The business mindset and procedures of the two different countries couldn’t be further apart.  Basically, however, the result of this has been a very clear demonstration of the condition of my heart.  I… am a very self centered person and I basically want what I want…when I want it.

Third….This is the time of the year we have many large expenses.  We tried budgeting but found that difficult as we tried to meet all the needs and expenses that would arise. The Hen Project is an easy 8 months from being self sustaining.  The church is just beginning and Pastor Rueben is in the process of relocating his family to Kebabe.   There are discipleship needs, there are plans to be made for next term, there are 600 more hens to be purchased.  There are men we will need to assist as they begin teaching in their villages.  

When it gets where I cannot pay the guys, I get anxious.  I confess.  Our insurance is due, we have a trip to Nairobi this weekend, our car is inching to make it to her mechanic in Nairobi for, at the least, definite shocks and suspensions.  My permit needs renewing, our drivers license and AA membership need renewing. We have 600 hens ordered and being nursed for delivery in the next 4 weeks.  We have two more hen houses to build. And I have a beautiful young girl I feel strongly about helping into nursing school.  A 4 year program at a mission hospital that will cost in total… Just under $6000.  Despite our regular support and recent unexpected blessings that has helped us to continue, we are still way short. 

These are just some of the things that roll around. Then I begin thinking we need to scale back.  Cancel the hens.  Limit the classes. Hold Reuben off. Scratch Mary going to school.  I get nervous and find it very challenging to rest on that Rock. I begin to question The Lord… What do You want us to do?  Are YOU leading all this or is it our thoughts.. Our plans?  We seek You constantly… If You are leading… Won’t You provide?  Maybe…. Maybe none of this is You…  Maybe we pushed this?  Did we? 

If given half a moment… My thoughts become an out of control spin.

And then… BUT GOD…. Who is rich in mercy…. Leads me out to the office at the hen house.  As I walk up… I hear these men… They’re worshipping!!!!  They have music playing on Moses’ phone and they are singing along… “How excellent is your name Oh Lord… How marvelous is your name Oh Lord…”

They’ve decided they are going to go through a chapter in Proverbs each day, like they did at UTurn.  Moses is leading this.

I literally gasped.  I had to leave immediately.  I was overcome with emotion. God, YOU are at work.  You are showing me every day.  Why… WHY do I get so anxious???  Why can’t I rest in You?

You made these men new creations! You have set their feet on solid ground and YOU have given them this opportunity to glorify You in their work.  You have established this church and YOU will add to it! You have sent us here to speak YOUR Truth and You will accomplish Your purpose through that.  You are faithful to complete the work YOU have started!!

My friends… Please join us in prayer for His continued provision… Pray for us to trust Him more and for wisdom to follow His lead.  But… Even more.. So much more….Join us in praising God for the very obvious work He is doing.  May we rest as HE leads us to a rock that is higher than I!

 

 

A Trophy named Grace!

I went to visit Grace this morning. I passed Otara, her husband, along the way. He was headed to the guys’ Saturday discipleship group.

Grace is unable to attend our ladies Thursday study so we want to spend time together somehow. Her little English and my kidogo Kiswahili makes that a challenge.

She is reading in Luke so we picked up from there. Her children gathered as we read first from English then from Kiswahili.

I love the evidence of God’s transforming Grace in this home… proclaimed in the smiles and laughter and an understanding that can come just from God Himself.

We talked about knowing Jesus, how He told the story of how those invited to a great supper were too busy to attend, how we must be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus and THEN…. the kids… talking with their cousin who was there… began touching their head and then their heart and THEY were telling him the difference between knowing Jesus and knowing ABOUT Jesus!!!! I could hear ‘kujua Yesu’ and “kweli, kujua Yesu, Kweli! I know what that means!

Oh how I wish you were there!! Oh how I wish all you who love us, pray for us, support us… Oh I wish you could see the fruit of our labor…. Yours AND mine!!

To God be the glory and honor here in Kebabe. May His Name be high and lifted up!!

Please keep praying that this village would be adding to the church through the Holy Spirit. Pray that the people would believe in Him who was sent. Pray that as God transform them, that they would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, that He would give to them a spirit of understanding, knowledge and wisdom. Pray they would be moved to share the gospel boldly!!

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Worth it all….

I suspect I sound like an emotional roller coaster some times. And to confess… I feel like it most of the time.

I know God has placed us here for this time. I know this wholeheartedly. And I am blessed with the honor and privilege to be here and to be a part of the work HE is doing. Sometimes I am in complete awe of all He is doing!

It’s hard then to explain the constant grief in my spirit. It’s always there. It’s always threatening to pull me into some kind of dark hole of depression. I have really learned what “take every thought captive unto the obedience of Christ” means.

Sometimes I get Embassy reports or hear of news in Kenya, terror attracts, attacks diverted at places we frequent, or attacks on churches… and a fear can rise. But that fear is easy for me to release to a courage I have in Christ.

Sometimes I look at the finances and I get anxious, not knowing how we will do what we feel certain is His leading. But I can usually find myself casting that into His always faithful hands of provision.

But the grief that is always there… Simmering… Steaming… This is my biggest challenge. I miss my life back home. Not so much my life… But relationships… Which were my life!

God had blessed me so much! I thought I realized it… But it is true… You don’t really know what have… Until it’s gone!

I miss those I worked with every day, ministering to a group of people I so deeply love. I miss the weekly appointments for coffee and the Word… Where God blessed me with iron sharpening iron relationships. I miss my home fellowship and my weekly prayer groups. I miss sisters who could look at me and just know… Those who would immediately come in closer to offer love and comfort and prayer. I miss special friends who would marvel together with me as God would reveal Himself and teach and give understanding in His Word! I miss my two mamas and my daddy, I miss my family, I miss my children… Being a part of their lives as they walk through struggles and victories. I miss Saturday morning breakfasts! I miss my best girl friend in the whole world (my baby girl) lying on the bed just sharing, laughing, loving, talking of The Lord and praying together. And… Maybe worse of all…. I miss the children who are growing up without their Nanny.

These relationships are all so important to me and honestly… I grieve them daily.

I wonder if Adam felt it? Surely he grieved for the daily relationship he had with the Father! I wonder how he must have pondered that bite.

For me… My separation, my grief, is a result of obedience to my God. And as I pray over and over, asking God to take away the pain… I have so definitely and specifically heard… “My grace is sufficient for you.” And, indeed it is.

I think it’s in this grief that I have known and tasted His grace in a way I might never have. I am constantly reminded that my Lord and Savior is worth every ache, every tear, every lonely moment.

I don’t share this looking for pity or anything really. I am sharing this because we all need to know… To remember…. that this is not our home. Any “suffering” any “grief” cannot compare with the glory that is before us! We all have something in our lives that is simply the opportunity for the grace of Jesus Christ to abound in our heart and lives.

For me, it is my heart of missing the ones I love so dearly. Yet the comfort I am promised is wrapped in an assurance that as we share a faith in The One Who has redeemed my soul, faith in the One and True Living God, that one day soon, we will be reunited and the joy that will ensue… the fellowship that will occur… and the togetherness we will have will be worth it all!!!

MY DAY OFF

A DAY OFF in the village…

I had fallen asleep with worries, concerns and a heaviness on my heart that I lifted up and casted onto my God.

So when I woke, I had slept well, was filled with peace and knew those new mercies of the morning!!

I started a load of laundry and just knowing how different that process was from what you just envisioned makes me laugh out loud. Let me paint that for you… I went outside to the rain barrel that had been filled with water from the river as it still isn’t raining. I filled the kettle and placed it on the gas flame. As it heated I placed the clothes, soap and bleach into the ‘tub’. After pouring the hot water in, I began the ‘wash cycle’ by taking a big wooden spoon and swishing the water, again, simulating that wonderful invention of the agitator.

Then Theresa came in with the morning delivery of Mandazi (donut holes), packed in a brown paper bag, soaked with the grease they were cooked in. (Ahh yep, I don’t eat these!). As she was leaving, I handed her a package of plastic bags she usually packs them in. She literally raised her arms and thanked God. A $1.50 offering and this woman knew from Whom it came!! I was moved.

Our plan was to load up and drive to Sengara at 9am. Peter, a former Muslim, had requested we come and share “the good news” with his father, a man steeped in the animistic traditions of spirits and witchcraft.

Just as we prepared to leave, a large truck pulled down our lane. After meeting them, Randy says, “this might take a while”. It was the Assistant Chief and another man. I immediately expected trouble. But these men had heard about the hen project and are wanting to start something similar on the next mountain. He was impressed with the project and the guys were more than happy to share all that they’ve learned.

After returning from Sengara, the guys were gathering in the hut for devotions with Denis. Just then a piki arrived and in came our Maasai friend, Paul and his friend, Moses.

Moses, Paul, Randy and I spent nearly 2 hours discussing Paul’s difficulty in leaving the Mormon church. He has encountered struggles and although God revealed to him through His Scriptures, the falsehood of the Mormons, over a year ago, he has remained associated with them.

Recently when he was visited by an elder in this cult, his people were found unable to answer questions about the book of Mormons, they only knew about the Bible. Paul was questioned and reprimanded.

Randy sternly – with so much love – warned Paul about delaying his obedience to God. He told him he needed to repent to God, confess before his flock and break away… Immediately. Please be praying as this could result in great difficulty for Paul.

Right after Paul and Moses left, Randy called for me to come and greet Nelson. I love Nelson. A wonderful mzee (old man) in the village. Nelson and his friend Enoch sat in the hut. Both with their hats and their canes in hand. These grey headed men, dressed in suits with hands that display a lifetime of hard work just seem to naturally demand a respect that I tried to express in our greeting.

After some catch up with Nelson, Enoch says, “let us make this long story somewhat short.” They went on to both share how they each have a son, both who are married, with children, employed.. One a teacher, one a soldier. “They take the drink and they smoke banga (pot). When they drink they can go days into disappearance. They are both about to be dismissed from their jobs. What can we do?” They pointed over to our guys working at the hen project, Meshack, Moses, Rogers and Otara… All who they say use to drink with their boys. “That one”, pointing to Otara, “he use to sell them their drink! Sincerely, what can you do?”

The pleading in these old African fathers’ eyes, as they politely held their hats and canes, broke my heart.

Randy explained how our guys had gotten to where they are today. “It started with Jesus! They can get sober many different ways. But for them to change, they need Jesus!”

“Truly that is so!” We prayed together and with tears I asked God to work! The men then got up from the little stools in the hut, place on their hats and proceeded to walk to the project. They were given a tour by Meshack and Rogers, both who 6 and 12 months ago they would have been staggering drunk by this noon hour.

I watched as Meshack and Rogers showed them their work. They spoke the mother tongue, Akeguisi. I know a few phrases and recognized several times as they would stop, turn to face their visitors, talk about Yesu – Jesus, the Bible and “Roho ya Mungu” – the Holy Spirit.

Tears filled my eyes and praise… Sincere praise… Filled my heart. Oh my God is so so amazing!!

Alafu… And then… I had another visitor. Aska. Aska came for prayer for her back. Aska is 96 years olds. She works in the shamba every day. She walks miles a day. Today, she quietly motioned to her back and in moans and broken Swahili – both hers and mine – we communicated and prayed.

Aska blesses me. With double language barriers, this woman warms my heart by her kindness, love and faith in Jesus to ease her pain of age and hard work!

Ahhhh… It’s dinner time!! Randy, Craig and Chase go out to the hut for evening devotions with our guys.

I put on some praise music and begin cutting potatoes and onions for dinner. Several times I would stop, overwhelmed with the evident, day filled proof of God’s goodness.

Going over the day, the visitor packed day, I could only give glory to the One Who orchestrates, Who woos and pursues the heart of man and Who is allowing me to sit in the very front row of His Amazing masterpiece and workmanship!!

Just then Chase comes into the kitchen. “That was amazing!” He shared about the devotions and how the guys went around, each sharing what God had shown them just this week. He told of how they eagerly shared and how sincere they were. He was moved as he saw the results of God revealing Himself.

After we ate dinner we had our prayer time. Tuesday nights are focused on the ministry we are doing here in Kenya. Our prayer requests include many needs but today…. Our prayers were all filled with praise, thanksgiving, and giving glory to a God who NEVER takes a day off!!!!

I don’t feel like it!!!

I don’t feel like it! IMG_2408 It started with a tickle in my throat. A few days later I have this heavy wheezing, awful cough, and basically feeling worse than bad.

I confess, I get a little panicked every time I have a respiratory thing. After all, just over one year ago, in a matter of seconds, I went from hearing to not. I held my nose and blew. I yawned. All in effort to pop my ear. Nothing. Then I was told that my hearing in that ear would not likely return. Gone. Completely.

So, after 4 bouts with something in as many months, I have allowed myself to get a little cranky. I curl up in bed, I doctor myself with every home remedy I can research, and I pray, “please, Father, don’t let me loose my other ear”. So… when time came for my Thursday night Bible Study, I snapped at Randy, “I don’t feel like it, tell them I am sick”. “You have to go, they are expecting you”.

With not an ounce of graciousness… completely void of any semblance of love… I dragged myself out of bed, threw on a wrapped and pouted out the house towards the church. I didn’t grab my Bible. I didn’t pray. I didn’t apologize to Randy. I didn’t feel like it.

Sure enough… Leah came in, then Mary. Just the three of us, good this should be short, I thought. The other 8 or so women didn’t come, my booklet of verses I had had printed and were to be delivered for them all hadn’t come… and… I didn’t feel like it. So I was totally expecting a quick prayer… a few back and forths… and… Kwaheri, tutaonan! Bye, see you!

First, Leah shared about a hyena that had been outside her house the night before. She shared about the fear that rose up because of the witchcraft that is thought to be associated with them. She told me of how she called Pastor Rueben and he had prayed with her and she sat there reading her Bible until she fell asleep.

I was quick to remind her – God says, be strong and of good courage, for the Lord your God is with you!!! He has NOT given us a spirit of fear – but of love, courage and a sound mind. We just submit to Jesus, resist the devil… and… HE WILL FLEE!!!

I had an answer for her. It was truth. And it came forth from my mouth with instinct. Heartless, loveless, but purposed truth none the less.

Then Mary, in Akeguisi, the mother tongue, began to share as she ruffled through the pages of her Bible. She was looking for something specifically. Then she started to read. Leah then read it in English. I Corinthians 13. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels… though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so to move mountains… Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor… though I give my body to be burned… …and have not LOVE Sounding brass, clanging cymbals, I am nothing, and it all profits me… NOTHING!

Mary was feeling condemned. Mary was feeling loveless. This sweet precious woman who earlier in the day I had asked to fix lunch for 10 extra men with no thought of her time, no thought of the effort and work necessary, this woman who said to me, “no problem” in her heavy African accented English…. was feeling unloving.

BETWEEN the eyes… the entire message… straight between the eyes!

First… fear. Honestly, I have battled this fear for over a year. The last thing the doctor said to me after several attempts to glean some hope… “take care of that other ear and don’t let things go untreated.” I actually hear his voice in my head. Fear. Curled up in my bed, fear. Pleading with God, fear.

And here I am telling Leah, you don’t have to fear the witchcraft or hyenas. Just trust God!! Submit to God, resist the devil…

Then… love… I just spent 3 months back home studying 1 John. What manner of love has the Father lavished on us… that we should be called… CHILDREN OF GOD!!! He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. In this the love of God was manifested towards ME…. That God sent Jesus, to die for me… that I might live through Him!!!

Based on His prayer in the garden… I’m pretty sure… Jesus didn’t feel like it.

One thing I have learned is that I can’t do it. I can’t even pretend to love… because lots of times… I just don’t feel like it.

But He has called me to love. He has set that as the highest command… love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and the second is like it… Love your neighbor as yourself.

THIS is my measuring stick. This is how I must judge myself, 1 Corinthians 13.

Oh Jesus… Forgive me! I have been selfish and unbelieving. I have taken my eye off You! Forgive me! Fill me with YOU, YOUR Spirit, YOUR Love! May I be kind and gentle, may I suffer long, not envy, not be prideful, may I not behave rudely or seek my own need or purpose, may I not be provoked or think evil, may I not rejoice in iniquity but may I rejoice, may I dance and may I live in TRUTH… May I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things and endure all things!!!!

I need YOU! I need Your grace! I need Your love! I need Your Holy Spirit! May I be obedient to You, may I be quick to love You by loving others… Even when I don’t feel like it!