Kenya Mission, Day 4

December 30, 2005

Goodness, can it be Friday already?  We left Houston Tuesday afternoon and we’re still not at our final destination.  It’s like Africa is on the other side of the world or something.  😛

We woke up in the Methodist Guest House in Nairobi, and in the light we could see how quaint this place is.  We me in the breakfast room for fruit and toast and coffee.  Something I had never seen before, the cream for the coffee is heated, very hot.  Makes sense; why pour cold milk into hot coffee?  Then we had a short prayer and discussed our plans for the day.

Piling back into the van was an interesting exercise. The van seats 10 and counting the driver, we had 9 people. In our case, though, the van also had to seat all that luggage. There were 13 very large bags plus 1 or 2 carry-on items per person. It looked like we were building little forts inside the van. I took the far side window behind the driver which gave me some leg room (I have really long legs), but getting in and out was like a combination of Yoga and the game Twister.

The roads out of Nairobi was gentle at first, but then turned into terrain almost indistinguishable from the terrain. A good driver is mandatory because staying on your own side of the road isn’t part of the culture. Kenyans drive where the potholes are not, so there is significant weaving from one side to the other. There were several times I thought a head-on collision was imminent, but at the last moment both cars would swerve to their side of the road.

Road from Nairobi to Kitale

Out the window of the van, far off in the distance, we saw wild zebra. And once we stopped to let a baboon family (unrelated to me) cross the road. And far off in the distance we saw pink flamingos covering a lake so that it looked pink. No pictures of any of these; most were too far away, except for the baboons which were too quick.

Our morning break after about 2 hours of driving was at a scenic overlook above the Rift Valley, looking toward the Chogoria mountains. The scenery was just spectacular.

Rift Valley Kenya overlooking Chogoria mountains

We stopped for lunch in Nakuru. I eat adventurously when traveling so I had irio for lunch. It was mashed potatoes blended with spinach and then maize stirred in. The maize was sort of like corn, only bigger kernels and not nearly as sweet as our yellow corn. Anyway, it sort of looked like this big green mush with yellow lumps and tasted about the same, too. I have no idea why this is a Kenyan favorite, I won’t order it again on purpose.

Back on the road after lunch, we were stopped several times by armed policemen. They stop cars by laying down a strip of 6″ spikes across the road that you have to drive figure-S style through them. We asked the driver what the police were looking for; he said, “money.” The general consensus was that they do not have enough money to buy the bullets to go into their guns, but I don’t know of anybody that would ever test that hypothesis.

We finally arrived at Kitale, our destination, and checked out our surroundings. We were staying in a nice compound (we wouldn’t know until later how nice it really was), with a couple of buildings with a variety of bunk beds and multiple showers and bathrooms. We dropped off the gear and headed to town to buy breakfast for the morning. The grocery store for some reason was called “Trans-Mattresses,” complete with a picture of a mattress on the billboard. Most of the signs for businesses were in mostly-English, I’ll call it, with a mix of Swahili thrown in.

Buying groceries in a strange country is an interesting experience. You wander the aisles trying to figure out what the ingredients are and what you can combine to make something edible. They had eggs, fruit, and bread, so we mostly settled for items we recognized.

Outside Tran-Mattresses we came into one of Kitale’s developing problems. Boys outside the grocery store, living off of handouts, sniffing glue in broad daylight. Even though Kenya adults discourage this among the street children, the street children get enough handouts and a sympathetic adult somewhere to buy them glue. Shopkeepers told us that these children live to maybe 20 or 25 years old before dying of violence or their brain rotting. One of the hard lessons for missionaries to learn is that giving money directly to those in need can have devastating consequences; it’s far better to contribute to an organization that will provide food, shelter, or medical care. Even if you give these street children something that they need, like shoes, they are likely to sell them for glue money.

We took our breakfast groceries, our bottled water, and mosquito netting back to the compound where we probably spent 3 hours trying to hang them. We were handicapped by a lack of tools, but the bunk beds were handmade and oversized and the netting wouldn’t stretch properly. Some nets were cut with scissors (ok, it was tiny nail file scissors) and then duct taped back into a larger net. I hadn’t seen a mosquito all day, and it was the dry season and very likely to see one. I was also taking malarone to prevent malaria, so given all that I went without netting.

Tomorrow’s a busy day; the plan is bathe street children and orphans at a local church.

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Kenya Mission Trip

Kenya Mission Trip - December 2005God has been begun preparing me to be a part of an upcoming mission trip; I want to experience first-hand the needs of another culture and to help evangelize our lost world.

Our mission group is scheduled to depart for Africa by the end of this year 2005. We have been preparing and planning for this trip since February, and I’m very excited about this opportunity God has placed in my path.

Some of our work will be focused on addressing the medical needs of the people of the villages of Kijabe and Kitale in Kenya. Kijabe people suffer from malaria, typhoid, AIDS, and malnutrition. Out team will provide both medical care and community health education in Kijabe. In addition to medical care, we will have a number of chances to share our faith, both individually and in larger groups.

My role on the team will be one of helping in community education and evangelization. I’m not a doctor – nor do I play one on TV – but on a trip like this, everyone has a role to play.

I will need both prayer and financial support. The cost of the trip is approximately $3,000 each for both me and Diane. We’re contributing $1,000 each from our own savings, and the mission team has asked that we raise the rest as we enlist others on our prayer team. Even if you are not able to contribute financially, I would really appreciate your prayers as part of my prayer and support team.

E.M. Bounds in his work “My Utmost for His Highest” wrote, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle.” I am asking for a commitment from you to pray for me and the team as we head out, minister there, and return.

The cost of this trip is substantial, but I believe this is God’s will. If He has placed this need on your heart, please consider joining me in proclaiming Christ in Kenya. I’ve added a Paypal donation link on the sidebar; if you’d like to make your contribution tax deductable, just respond in the comments and I’ll contact you by email for mailing instructions.

Thanks for praying about this.

In Him,

Michael
P.S. Of course you can forward this to all your friends. Please email and pray.

A Faith Vacuum

A faith vacuum haunts Europe

There was a time when Europe would justly refer to itself as “Christendom.” Europeans built the Continent’s loveliest edifices to accommodate their acts of worship. They quarreled bitterly over the distinction between transubstantiation and consubstantiation. As pilgrims, missionaries and conquistadors, they sailed to the four corners of the Earth, intent on converting the heathen to the true faith.

Now it is Europeans who are the heathens. According to the Gallup Millennium Survey of religious attitudes, barely 20% of West Europeans attend church services at least once a week, compared with 47% of North Americans and 82% of West Africans. Fewer than half of West Europeans say God is a “very important” part of their lives, as against 83% of Americans and virtually all West Africans. And fully 15% of West Europeans deny that there is any kind of “spirit, God or life force” — seven times the American figure and 15 times the West African.

The exceptionally low level of British religiosity was perhaps the most striking revelation of a recent ICM poll. One in five Britons claim to “attend an organized religious service regularly,” less than half the American figure. Little more than a quarter say that they pray regularly, compared with two thirds of Americans and 95% of Nigerians. And barely one in 10 Britons would be willing to die for our God or our beliefs, compared with 71% of Americans.

The de-christianization of Britain is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon. Prior to 1960, most marriages in England and Wales were solemnized in a church; then the slide began, down to around 40% in the late 1990s. Especially striking is the decline in confirmations as a percentage of children baptized. Fewer than a fifth of those baptized are now confirmed, about half the figure for the period from 1900 to 1960. For the Church of Scotland, the decline has been even more precipitous.

* via JesusPolitics.

Posts are Coming, I Promise

Been busy lately; posting has been slim. You know, what with that wedding thang and all.

Today’s not going to slow down enough to post anything; I want to tell you about the KSBJ Summerfest and the Newsboys and last night’s ImagiNations dinner at the church hearing about African missionaries and listening to Christian African A Capella music by the Zambian Vocal Group and today is stock trading day and and and…

But I’m busy with work stuff, so it’ll have to wait.

Christianity Today Book Awards 2005

Looking for Christian reading material? There are so many titles out there, it’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Christianity Today has listed the top Christian books for 2005, divided into several catagories:

Apologetics / Evangelism:
The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God

Christian Living:
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others

Biblical Studies:
Africa and the Bible

History / Biography:
The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield, and the Wesleys

Christianity and Culture:
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design

Missions and Global Affairs:
Encountering New Religious Movements: A Holistic Evangelical Approach

The Church / Pastoral Leadership (Tie):
Christ, Baptism, and the Lord's Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches

Fiction:
Gilead: A Novel

Spirituality:
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence

Theology / Ethics:
Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition

There are more titles that have won an “Award of Merit” so visit Christianity Today for the full list.

True Love Waits

Uganda is under criticism for a policy of abstinence to combat HIV/AIDS. Uganda pushes the ABC method (“A”bstinence, “B”e faithful, “C”ondoms). Critics don’t like that order, but Uganda president Yoweri Museveni and his wife Janet insist “there is no safe sex outside of faithfulness in marriage.” Even though this “True Love Waits” program has been credited for cutting the HIV rate in Uganda in half over the last 10 years.

Dang Christian conservatives. Critics hate it when their programs work. Cuts into their condom sales, ya know.