Things under the sun…

Rand Kari Naivasha drive

So Randy and I have walked with The Lord for nearly 30 years. We’ve sought Him, we’ve served Him, we’ve studied His Word, we’ve prayed and we’ve seen His faithfulness first hand! We’ve prayed many countless times through the years together, interceding for our children, our marriage, one another. I’ve watched Randy grow in Christ sometimes pole pole (slowly) and sometimes right before my eyes.

Last week, after some challenges, disappointments, set backs, several very long months of language study, after feeling defeated and inept in our studies… We made a decision to go away… to set apart… With purpose. We realized our need and had a great desire to seek our God, to hear from Him, to wait on Him, to rest in Him and to expect that in His faithfulness He would reveal, speak, meet, refresh and totally pour Himself out!

We had an amazing weekend! Randy felt we should go though the book of Ecclesiastes together????? Ahhhh okay? We first read straight through it and still, I thought, ahhhh hmmmm okay?? Then we began to dig in a bit deeper.

Written by Solomon… The wisest man, the richest man… It is thought provoking as he writes of so much… “Under the sun”. That phrase is used 29 times! Constantly he wrote of the things “under the sun” with no real eternal perception throughout most his writing. While we are not finished going through this book, Gods purpose for us to take a look, at a book I must confess I’ve never spent much time at all in, His purpose is certainly to remind me I can NOT be looking at my life, this mission, Kenya, Kisii, Randy, my children, my grandchildren, my “pain”, my upsets…. I cannot be looking at these things… “under the sun”… but rather… through and in the SON!!!

It is clear that apart from Christ and an eternal perspective… There is very little… actually… there is nothing left!

524799_10151727335030130_1175530025_n

As God is refining me, refining us… I am more and more in awe that He would invite me to be apart of HIS plan.

We had such a sweet time together, enjoying His creation, taking advantage of our Kenya resident status, and prices, setting ourselves apart and with purpose, seeking Him, as I must also confess…. We’ve really never done

    together like this before in prayer and fasting. And I can say it WILL happen regularly!

    As a result of our time we have made some plans subject only to His Hand. We will remain here in language school through May. We then will spend a couple weeks gathering supplies, packing and finalizing some things here. Then we will take another week to do as we just did… Set apart and sit before Him. After that we will head to Kisii, move in and spend that last week of June settling in. Also during this time, Randy will be preparing for his first session.

    He will teach 2 ten week sessions this year. Each session will have seats for 8 men and will meet three days a week for 6 hours a day.

    I will be going back to the states mid October so as not to miss a very special wedding! Randy will fly out Dec 5 or so after his second session and we will break for the holidays, returning early January to begin again.

    We have a number of specific prayer requests…

    1. Pray for a continued drawing to Him. Pray for our walk, our commitment, our prayer time, our time in the Word, pray for our abiding in Him…. Apart from which… Is only under the sun.

    2. Pray for our language learning. We are actually making sentences and can carry on a simple, albeit, broken conversation!

    3. Pray for Kisii. Pray for those men God is already preparing to take through His Word.

    4. Pray for the orphanage and school. Pray that God will direct the next steps there and that He would be glorified through the outreach to young people who have no one. This arm of the ministry is on the alter for Gods direction. Pray for wisdom, discernment and for specific leading as a we move forward.

    5. Pray for those God has called to teach His Word.. That they will guard the treasure, study to show themselves approved, rightly dividing the Truth. Pray for them as they minister to their flocks.

    6. These people know the stories of the Bible probably better than you or I. But I am finding that few are actually walking with Christ, abiding in Him and actually understand the Gospel. Pray for hearts like our teacher Peter… Who pastors a church down the road. Pray for those God wants to put that heart in!

    426070_10151693353285130_1558441202_n

    7. Pray for Gods provision. We have a few expenses not budgeted for or not budgeted enough for. God has been amazing to provide and we know He will continue.

    8. Pray for the next phase of adjustments and cultural shock as we move up to the village.

    9. Join us in thanking and praising God for some very encouraging brothers and sisters… Both in the states and in Kenya! We are blessed beyond measure. I was pretty humbled by the outreach of encouragement after my blog about my Jericho wall. Our family back home shot through the miles to embrace me. And we have been blessed by amazing missionary friends here — most with years of experience — and each one opening wide their arms and their hearts. Oh God is so so good!

    10. Finally, please pray for protection from the enemy. Please seriously intercede for us. Know we have a prayer journal we are faithful to go through… We welcome opportunities to pray specifically for you.

    Tu basi… That is all!

    We love you and thank you and praise our God for you as well!
    In Him!
    Randy & Kari

Grammy, I promise….

As I am dying….

….May my expectant and hopeful heart say “take me”

I remember a few years back when my grandmother died.  She was 94 years old, still drove, lived alone and went every Thursday morning.. For as long as I can remember… To minister to the “old people” at the nursing home.

She fell sick and was diagnosed with bone cancer in April or May.  I remember being over there one day as she was dressing and I could hear her in her room “Jesus, You are going to have to help me with this or I won’t be able to do it….  speaking of the daily shot of B12 she had given herself for decades.  That was common place, she prayed for and about everything.

She declined quickly.  She remained home with my mom, dad & my aunt caring for her.  The grand kids that lived locally all made regular visits.

I remember the August day she died.  I went over there on my lunch break as I had been doing.  My mom and aunt were there.  I went in to see Grammy and she had grown restless that day.  She saw me and her eyes opened wide and she pulled me down, “Kari, you need to pray!  You need to pray for Kris, pray that she would see the Truth and that she would know Jesus!”  Kris is my cousin who does not believe Jesus is THE WAY or the authority of God’s Word.

“I will Grammy, I promise, I will.”  She immediately relaxed.  It was as though that was her only struggle, her only undone thing left. She fell completely at rest as she passed that baton.  You see, my Grammy was a serious pray-er.  Praying hours a day.  She loved The Lord with a depth I am only now appreciating.

I don’t think Grammy said another thing that really made sense to those of us surrounding her.  She spent the next several hours drifting.  At one point, there was NO doubt she saw someone none of the rest of us saw.  She seemed to be fixed with her vision and her attention.  She spoke but not to us and we could not make out what she said.  But, she smiled and with her frail thin arms she reached out as to say, take me, come get me and take me with you!

I know The Lord ministered to my grandmother that day… And not too many moments later, my Grammy was lifted up into the arms of her Savior.  And it was beautiful and an amazing blessing to witness.

It was so – because my 94 year old grandmother had been dying for some 45 years, ever since she had given her life to Christ.  Romans and Galatians talk about our dying to this life, dying to sin, dying to ourselves.  That process, for those of us who believe, will carry on until the day He takes us home.

Grammy had some quirks, like us all, that didn’t always align with her profession, but no one could deny her heart’s total and complete commitment.  As I have struggled with my own dying, the “death to self” we are called to surrender to, I’ve come face to face with facets far more painful than quirks….  The pain of letting go.  The pain of trusting when I haven’t seen the plan.  The pain of the unknown.  The pain of desperate dependence from one who has always been independent.  The pain of realizing my sin and then knowing what it is responsible for.  I am seeing more and more of myself that God needs to transform. And having a mirror lifted before my eyes —  I am moved to my face before Him.

You see, somewhere along the line, Grammy became convinced that her Savior was worth it…  worth whatever He asked, wherever He led.  In the depth of my heart I am convinced of that as well!

Last week I cried out in the pain of death.  And with the faithful love that never fails, with the mercies that are new everyday, through the very Bride He’s preparing me to be a part…. God lifted my eyes.  I am filled with thanksgiving for all those who encouraged and prayed.  Please don’t stop!

I still don’t know how God does or will use the likes of me, and I am trying NOT to resist the death I can literally feel taking place in my heart, but one things for sure….  I will rejoice if, when that day comes, I have submitted to this spiritual death of my old self and in His transformation of my heart…. Oh I will rejoice… if I have only the burden of a persistent prayer to hesitate me from lifting my arms and saying, take me!!

I’ve smacked my face into the wall of Jericho…

582194_10151036442779502_871010554_n

So… There is this idea that as missionaries, as missionaries supported by others, I need to portray all the victories of God with joy and enthusiasm that assures you that your participation in these efforts are yielding fruit and prospering well.

In one of our missions classes or maybe a book we had to read before coming, it spoke of the different “levels” at which you share of what is going on, taking place, weighing upon and stirring in.  Not that it was directing this, but that it was a common screening groove many missionaries get into, often finding themselves isolated.

I’ve been told I’m a very private person, although I don’t feel that way.  I really do feel I bring people in… Maybe not as much as I enjoy entering into the hearts of others, but I have certainly become one thing out here… And THAT is… a much more open book.

That all being said… We need prayer.  I need prayer.  Without going into details, our trip to Kisii last week was extremely difficult, discouraging and despairing.  I have struggled with how God can possible use my bitter and ugly heart.  I have struggled with the deep lack of power and a homesickness that is physically painful.  I’m struggling with the questions of who, what, when, where, how…  And….. Why?

My back is hurting.  My eyes are hurting.  My brain is hurting. My tooth is hurting. And, my heart is hurting.

I’ve run smack face into my “Jericho Wall“.

As I am reading the book of Joshua I found myself like the spies… Oh not these two…. Rather… One of the ten from 30-40 years earlier that we see in Numbers.  The ones that came back and reported to Moses… It’s too dangerous, the giants are too big, we will be overtaken!  I even went on just as the Israelites in chapter 14 and I’ve wept all night, crying out with my voice to The Lord… Why have you brought me here?  Why did I leave everything for this?  I can’t do this!  I CAN”T BREATHE!!!!!

I am left tonight with a decision.  Will I now turn back?  Will I now be content to wander?  Will I book the ticket I found online?  Will I pull out the bags from under the bed?  Will I succumb to the defeat of the unknown…  Or…. Am I going to be strong and of good courage?  Am I going to trust my God?  Am I going to obey despite the craziness of the plan?  I mean, come on….  Silently march around the city wall once a day for 6 days?  Ahhh what?  This all AFTER….  Right after…. the entire army had been circumcised???

First, I need to go back.  I need to re-read…  I need to slip away and be just like that young man… Knowing he had heard a voice… Going back again and again…  “You called, Eli?”  Finally after being awakened the third time… Eli realized young Samuel is hearing GOD!!!!

I need to go back… And say like Samuel… “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening”. I need to go back and see that The Lord told Joshua not once… Not twice… But in this chapter alone… FOUR times… “Only be strong and of good courage”.

I need to go and remember…

Come here and hear the words of Your God (Joshua 3:9)  

By this you WILL know that the Living God is among you (Joshua 3:10)

He will…without fail…. Drive out your enemies (Joshua 3:10 )

And… As HE so clearly spoke to me a few weeks back… 

Sanctify yourself… For tomorrow… The Lord will do wonders among you! (Joshua 3:5) 

This battle is not mine!  This battle will be fought by the Commander of the army just as He assured Joshua before the crazy plan was put into action and they marched around silently SIX times on that 7th day and then… The 7th time around… After the trumpet sounded… “SHOUT, for The Lord has given the city!”

I don’t know the plan.  What little I know is a bit crazy.  I know there may be giants in the land.  But I WILL ABIDE IN YOU!!!! Because… this one thing I know… With YOU… I can do anything!  (Sung in my heart with the voice of Gen Falleur)

So… I share all this not to complain, not to whine, not for sympathy or even permission to bail…. I share this because with all my heart… Honestly with all that is inside me… I want to obey… I want to be a part of HIS plan… I want to be strong and courageous… I want to be sanctified… And…. I want see the Living God give the city!!!!

So… I again ask your prayers.  

I will give a couple praises…

Our work permit/dependent pass is IN HAND… Record 2 months!

And God is truly teaching me the gift I have in Randy who has been so incredibly loving, patient, gentle, encouraging and showering me with prayer.  I am opening my heart more now… To this man of mine for 32 years… Than ever before.  It really has never been just us… So… It is good… It’s SAULGOOD!

 

Gotta love Saturdays!!!!

What a wonderful day!

Thank you Lord!  Your mercies are new, Your blessings flow and Your faithfulness amazes me!  Your work and Your touch, Your Spirit moving before my eyes… YES, YES, YES!  I want to be a part of everything I can!

Rainy season in Kenya is beginning.  We woke to the gentle rain that lulled us to sleep all night.  A leisure morning, sweet time in God’s Word, devotional blessing and my Saturday prayer list which is all about missions and missionaries. My list is growing each week as God crosses our path with others serving Him far from home.

We headed out early with our first stop… Java House!  Ahhhh I needed that!  Didn’t even bother to see if it’s on the list of foods I can eat or not!

We then stopped by the home of a couple we go to language school with.  They have been serving in Senegal for 7 or so years and have recently been sent here to Kenya.  We sat and chatted for a short while and, well, you would have to meet them.  Jason and Dorothea Lee.  They have been great encouragers these last few months.  And Jason… He just reminds me of my boys… A combination of the two… Hilarious, sincere, crazy, class clown, smart and just a great guy who loves his family.  Dorothea, the perfect, hold-her-own help mate!  They have a beautiful family and it was fun to meet the kids today.

After a few errands we headed to Ed’s.  He was hosting a get together to welcome the Pottingers back from a furlough in the states.  Kelli is still in the states but will be headed back in a few weeks!

As we drove up we saw a little one run through the house!  We were greeted at the door with hugs and introductions. Just my style!

I first met Matt Pottinger when he came to teach at the conference in Kisii our team hosted in 2011.  Months before leaving the states, I met his wife, Peggy, via email when she responded to a post I did on the CCMW site. http://ccmissionarywomen.wordpress.com/ Her sweet encouragement had hinted that I would very much like to know her better.  Today totally confirmed that.

They have two girls… Almost 6-year-old, confident and talkative Kenya Grace.  Oh my she made me smile as she told me how she had been “making good choices” after I complimented her on helping her sister, 2-year-old Joelle.  Of course I had to spend a little time with them… Just to catch a grandma breath.  Check em out…  http://www.thep3inkisumu.blogspot.com/

It’s pretty sweet to meet people you have prayed for by name, prayed for their ministry and requests you know.  It really is a gift to see God stir a little “history” through those prayers and bind hearts through His Love!

THEN…. we met Ramsey & Vicky Vule and their very tall handsome 4-year-old Elhanan.  They are missionaries in Sudan, where Ramsey is from.  I spent maybe an hour in a conversation of 7, and while I’ve learned more about them since coming back and reading their blog… I just felt that sweet connection in Christ!  You can read more about them too…    http://vules.blogspot.com/

There is this unspoken bond, this comradery, this unity that I have observed among the missionaries here.  And when I just looked up that word for the spelling… It’s definition…  the special comradery that exists between soldiers that have experienced the crucible of combat together.  Well, that runs even deeper as I sit and listen to them talk and share and discuss… Well… The battle field.

So… In the last few weeks… I’ve met some sisters… Camille, Sissy, Vicky and Peggy, along with a few I am afraid I can’t remember their names… So… I’ll just call them Sweetie.   Anyways… As just this morning I found myself missing friends with whom I have long history… I still prayed through my list of missionaries, stopping on each one and asking God to fill them, anoint them, comfort them, assure them, remind them….  Praying for them as I am learning their needs suggested through my own.

And… Today… God showed me His faithfulness as I see Him building a family like He has blessed us with over the last 8, 10, 15, 20 even 25 years.

A different branch in the family tree, a different part of the battle field, but indeed, the same family and the same purpose!

OHHHH. To top it off…. I came back home to meet with Elizabeth.  We sat on the front porch. Read a couple of chapters in Joshua and she shared a little of her battle…. When she left she was encouraged by Gods Word and she was expectant of His promises.  All I can say is our God is so amazing and He is moving in ways so that the Word of The Lord can be fulfilled!  AND… He is letting me sit in another front row seat!!   Oh yeah… Let me be a part, Lord, I wanna be a part!

It’s a ride….

Well the last couple weeks…. A roller coaster….

Ed_Kelli

A week in Nairobi at the Compean Safe House was restful and refreshing.  A washing machine to do laundry among other amenities made our stay even better!  Top that with a great host, a new friend from Cali and an opportunity to meet several other seasoned missionaries.  It was really a blessing of a week on so many levels.  It was Ed, Tom, Randy and myself.  Please keep Kelli, Ed’s wife in prayer as she cares for her mama back in California who was diagnosed with progressive cancer.  I was sorry she was not there to just have some time with her but the guys were fun and we monitored things from more of a GI Joe/Boy Scout/super hero angle.  We had much time in prayer, some devotions and just time of hearing of God’s story in one another’s lives.

The wait was long and much like hurricanes in Florida that show Tampa in the cone of the projected path of a cat 4 or 5.  We had supplies of water, batteries, food and gas-filled cars.  We had the crackle of a transistor radio going much of the time.  At one point I could hear the crackle but knew the one in the living room was off… I looked out the window and Manasa, who works on the compound, was sweeping and watering plants with a small one sounding from his pant pocket.

All of Kenya was leaning in and the sense of uncertainty was strong.  So many praying for peace after the tragedy of the last election when tribal tensions rose to violence that took over 1000 lives and over 600,000 people displaced.

This violence is not who or what Kenya is.  I’ve sat with them.  I’ve sung praises with them.  I’ve gathered spinach in their shambas and chatted with them in their dukas as I select fruit for dinner.  I have ridden with them on matatus and I have refereed badminton games… And, I have sat together as we open the Word of God and cried out for His Spirit to fall and cover this nation, her people and the president-elect.  And yet – the same enemy that plagues us in America, plagues us here and the stir of evil is no different.

So far, so good, as the saying goes.  Aside of some isolated incidences that were quickly diffused by authorities… All has been calm.  Oh sure, armed solders on the bench outside the grocery store or walking down your street, or checking your car in every parking lot you enter is a bit unnerving, it has actually become routine in a very short time.  THAT in itself reveals just how quickly our senses can be numbed… huh? 

Please keep praying.  The election is being strongly challenged and the reports Randy reads each night stirs just a bit of anxiousness, which we are very very quick to make our requests know to God and indeed, HIS perfect peace guards our heart!

Now, on Some other notes…

We are filled with thanksgiving for our new car! 
Traffic Jam Wow wow wow what a blessing and a constant reminder of God’s provision!  But if I may ask you to keep this in prayer as you praise….  After all of maybe 2 hours on the roads Randy has announced he drives just like a Kenyan.  Just so you know… This is not good on two levels…. He now thinks he can drive like they drive…. AND…. Driving like Kenyans is not so good.  To help you understand, one evening as we walked into Pastor Ed’s home, I did request that we just go head and schedule marriage counseling.  

First Randy says I am to navigate and be his second pair of eyes keeping watch for the unmarked speed bumps on the highway, people, often children, darting across the roads, round abouts, piki pikis, roaming herds, 

2323254090_073ede4f94_z
 pot holes that would alert sink hole monitors back home, all while watching the map and giving directions. 
Now, understand, there are ZERO traffic lights which means ZERO composure opportunities….  You know, I’ve said enough, you get the picture, right?

When we came back Sunday I saw my new friend Elizabeth down the lane.  She waved with both hands and came running.  “God is good” she told me!  She explained how she had read the verses I had written down on a card I had left for her.  I had left it with another woman the day we left, disappointed I had missed her.  She told me she had read all the verses and honestly, talked so fast and excited that I missed lots of it.  We are meeting Saturday to study the “Word of God”.  She is the most excited I’ve ever seen anyone and I walked away after a big hug from her filled with such joy and yet convicted for taking the idea of sitting with His Word for granted.  Oh God, deepen my love for You and Your Word!

OH OH OH…. We’ve been approved for our Work Permits!  This is huge and nothing short of God!  We have school mates that are still waiting after four, six and eight months!  Keep praying as we wait “to receive instruction on the collection” but do join us as we thank Jesus!

God is teaching much!  We become more aware each day of our increasing need for Him.  We are so aware of the need to be in His Word and on our knees.  And over the last couple of weeks we have heard more and more of the darkness in the Kisii region with witchcraft and tribal traditions that I definitely am sensing God both preparing us as well as emphasizing our need for prayer.  PLEASE KEEP us, Kenya and the people of Kisii in prayer!

Ah, yea, keep the language in prayer… Nuff said there!

That’s about it for now.  Please know we love, appreciate and pray for you all constantly.  Be blessed and press in, our Lord is Great!

Kari

Answered Prayer…

Well, can you believe Monday will be TWO months since we arrived in Kenya?  At moments I feel I just left, at so many more, it seems like NINE months.

So much has happened… Both here and there.  So much emotion has stirred my heart… if emotion was gauged by time… I have aged 5 years.

I will confess, I’ve struggled with much, not least of which has been writing.  Short quips on Facebook is one thing.. but blogging… quite another.  I’ve had much on my mind and much swirling in my heart…

TOP OF THE LIST….  Meet Naomi Grace Saul.

NAOMI

Yes, if you even need to ask, it has been harder than hard, more painful than imagined to be so far from the welcoming event of Naomi.  My girls have been amazing with constant pictures and videos.  And, just as she did with Levi when he was born in Canada, my sweet grandma partner, Barbara (Rachel’s mama) blessed me with a beautifully written detailed description of our precious little girl with the eyes, ears and heart that only her grandmother could do.

I know I’ve share with many and have blogged the details… But the certainty I have known of God’s call on our lives to come to Kenya has sustained me more than I can express.  Many tear filled nights, a few breath gasping moments, concentrating hard… Making myself fix my eyes…. And taking captive my thoughts… I have clung to my Hope, I have been reminded of His Faithfulness and I have and continue to TRUST HIM!  I have and continue to KNOW — He is worth it!  My God is worth it!!

This week God blessed me so deeply.  I wandered down the lane and saw a young woman I met a few weeks ago.  Elizabeth.  I have only ever seen her with her 7 month old little girl bundled on her back and this day was no different.

“Oh Elizabeth, Habari za mchana?”  She smiled at me such a sweet sincere smile.  I tried some more Swahili with her, she giggled and strained to see my “mwakenya”, Shang or slang for “cheat sheet”.  Yep, I have one, I admit it, AND I am laminating it this weekend!!

We talked for a few minutes, me trying my Swahili  Elizabeth correcting me with sweet grace.  She suddenly began to look around a bit nervously and said she had to finish her work. She bent over at the waste, with her precious load hugging her back, and picked up some twine and a large white clothe bag, similar to the ones I see daily strapped to backs, to donkeys and even motorcycles, stuffed full of one crop or another.

She started into the field beside the road.  I asked her if I could go with her, and she looked back at me a bit bewildered, “sawa sawa” she said and I promptly stepped unto the muddy trail and followed her through the corn, cabbage, beans… Each patch she would pause for me to give her the Swahili name.  She paused at one I didn’t know, she bent over and pulled out a carrot…. “karoti”. She giggled because it was a borrowed word as she wiped it off on her apron and took a bite.

Towards the other edge of the shamba we stopped, she dropped the bag and the handful of twine.  Without missing a beat in our conversation she bent over and in a few short moments having swung around to several plants, grabbing a string, she stood up with a bundle of spinach and tied it up.  The next one she came up with I took from her and somehow managed to have it tied before she straightened up with the third bundle.  I followed her around, she, gathering the bundle of goods, and me, wrapping the piece of twine, tying the last little bit in a knot.

After a dozen or so, we could continue our conversation while working.  We talked of several things and at some point I must have said something about having been praying for something.  I don’t even remember what.  But without straightening up, she turned to me and said, “I use to pray to God, but” and with her arm just above her head “they only go to here”.

Wow… Out of no where…. In a field of mud and well harvested vegetables, God had swung open a door… A door I had cried for in my prayers.  Honestly, I prayed more than I responded.  I did tell her, when she said she wanted to know God more, that He wanted that more than she did.

She wasn’t out there today… I worried I might have gotten her in trouble or something. Her son, Chris said she was at the shamba on the other side, too far to walk, he said.

So I prayed for her and for her friend that had come at the end, Grace.  Grace dropped her wall of reservation quickly as I “practiced” my Swahili and oohed at her name and told her that it was one of the names of my new “moja wiki wajaku!”.  And, in case you are wondering, I had pictures with me, yep, even in the shamba!

We are leaving tomorrow to camp out at our friends for the Monday Presidential election.  I hope to see Elizabeth before I leave.  I want to remind her that when I get back, we will start that Bible Study I am working on and she can help me to get it down in Swahili.  She seemed excited about that.  I know I am.

Please… Be praying… Pray for the elections… Pray for Kenya… Pray for peace…. Pray for protection of the sweet and precious people of this beautiful country.  And… Pray for Elizabeth.  Pray for Grace.  Pray for time together and that Elizabeth will come to know God well, His deep love for her, His faithfulness, His grace and His kindness.