Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a time of taking in

"In a way all of us at Oxford knew, knew as an undercurrent in our minds, that it wouldn't last for ever. Lew and Mary Ann expressed it one night by saying: 'This, you know, is a time of taking in-taking in friendship, conversation, gaiety, wisdom, knowledge, beauty, holiness-and later, well, there'll be a time of giving out.' Later, when we were scattered about the world. Now we must store up the strength, the riches, all that Oxford had given us, to sustain us after. She stood there, Oxford, like a mother to us all with her hands heaped with riches. We could take what we would. We, Davy and I, would, for one thing, take all who came to the Studio. Whoever came, whatever the hour, was always welcome."
-Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy

i read this today and was stopped dead in my tracts. i think i read it aloud to sarah before i had even finished the whole quote above.

for our whole group of friends "community" is such a buzzword. and rightfully so, its a big deal that is so fulfilling for everyone who takes part. this quote articulates more than anything i have ever seen the hope i have for me, and everyone else when i return to waco. if everybody understands and strives to meet this idealization which this passage describes, i cant imagine anything but good occuring. realizing that the setting for this quote is in oxford with a lot of graduate students who were between 25-30 for the most part gives me so much hope for the next few years as well as so much to look forward to.

just replace any oxford with baylor, and these are my feelings written down, i just didnt quite realize it this precisely till i read it.

the Studio is van and davy's home which was always bursting with life, friendships and conversation. reading this, my first thought jumped to my home last year- 5th and daughtrey. i love the sentiments expressed here for a way of life as symbolized and summed up by the perspective of home.

"This, you know, is a time of taking in-taking in friendship, conversation, gaiety, wisdom, knowledge, beauty, holiness-and later, well, there'll be a time of giving out."

Monday, October 26, 2009

american believe in God. kenyans trust God.

the most succinct way to sum up the difference between christians in america and christians in kenya is that americans believe in God while kenyans trust God.

aside from anything that i thought i might be able to help kenyans with when preparing for my trip here, i was hoping that in some way this trip would help me sort out some ideas i had about christianity, and what it means to be a christian. to say i had a fairly cyncical view on most things related to christianity is pretty accurate. also, the feeling of people acting a certain way because they think thats what christians do rather than because they are sincere gave me uncomfortable associations with even the most necessary and best things in christianity, prayer and reading the bible. i cant pinpoint where some of my feeling came from, but i have some idea as to parts.

the root of it comes to how i feel/felt fake or false doing much of the things which are expected acts of christianity. and there is nothing that i hate more than putting on a front of any kind, so i avoided the things that game me those feelings. and i also hate cliches which im using right now. cause sometimes there isnt any other way to say what you mean and be understood. what was odd about this spiritual "dry spell" was that i was doing many of the things that as far as i know a christian is supposed to do, and loving every bit of it. those things came from my involvement with after school programs, and planning my trip to kenya. it seemed odd to me that i was spiritually stagnant, yet never more sure of the decisions which i had made that allowed my involvement in these programs and my trip to kenya. also, the swiftness which the doors had opened for these respective activities was amazing.

so among other things, i hoped prior to the trip that i could gain some perspective of all that prayer and reading the bible stuff.

by getting immersed in the culture and getting to know the people here better it really becomes obvious how different christianity is in kenya and america. this difference, and how kenyan trust looks or might look in america are topics that sarah and i have spent a lot of time discussing. sarah was about 2 years ahead of me on all topics related to kenya and spirituality. as i have come to realizations about some things and mentioned them to sarah, her response has been along the lines of, "well yea, thats what iv been trying to figure out for two years!" its been good to be able to talk to sarah about things which she has thought about and struggled with for some time, while i am just arriving at the questions.

what we keep coming back to in all these conversations is what does this kenyan level of trust look like in america, especially as college age students. but that question really applies to any point in life. in america there isnt the issue (for me or anybody reading this blog probably) of where the next meal will come from. another issue, is how do we convey the difference we experienced over here to anybody who hasnt had the same experience? despite all my friends who have taken trips here, nothing really got to me just from hearing their stories in remotely the same way that spending 2 months here has. while that makes some sense, it is a story that american churches need to hear. and more importantly understand. but again, how? dont have an answer yet.

i have examples that i can remember from growing up of many times when our family didnt necessarily have the money to pay for things, but it would be provided from somewhere unexpected. so i have seen similar types of trust in God exhibited by my parents. but again, this still comes from a position of not having much money. and that is not the position that a majority of american christians are in. so how does it look especially when somebody does have enough money to live a comfortable life? trusting God becomes harder and harder the less reliant a person has to be on God in their basic needs of life. so not a lot of answers so far. but im very thankful to have learned enough thus far to be asking these questions.

im sure there will be more musings along these lines in the future

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


have spent a lot of time in kibera this week. kibera is africas second largest slum with about a million people living there. and we have walked allllll over that place.

nick is one of the guys who we went to pokot with last week, the one who did most of the planting. he is a carpenter who lives in and has his workshop in kibera. he is also very very good at kenyan time. between us and him, nobody is on time, or at least it hasnt worked out in the first 4 days of meeting with him. nick is also very interested in leadership, and he trusts God in everything he does.

this past week we have had a few long and very good conversations on love, marriage, and dating. part of the reason they are so long is because very little applies between our two cultures as to the problems that occur in relationships. and that takes a while to get through. nick is very good at talking, but gets on such a once track mindset when he is that it is hard to slow him down sometimes.

he left us the assignment one day of making cross joints at his workshop as he disappeared for about 4 hours. it was a good day. its kind of cool to have spent enough time in parts of kibera that we can navigate it alone.

also decided we need to get to mombasa somehow this week. not sure when, but it should happen

Friday, October 16, 2009


just got back from pokot. it was a good week. i was an invalid on tuesday cause i was still sick. im not used to being immobilized by sickness, didnt like it much. but wednesday morning i was feeling better and able to resume activities with everybody.

the pokot we visited this past week did not have too much in common with the pokot ben visited 2 years ago. sure it was in the middle of nowhere with by far the most primitive community culture that i had ever been around. but everything which we did, or were showed, was not there for ben's visit.

they have projects growing vegetables near all the bore holes. different groups are responsible for the gardens, and some of the groups have done amazing jobs. they school they have is nothing by american standards, but its a good start there. the classrooms are made from wood frames with mud stuck between the wood to form walls. they have a dorm built for the girls, however no beds. the boys sleep in a building that is currently unused. they just pack in there like sardines. while the progress is great, its crazy to think that these kids will sit for the same test as andrew and jean in high school.

nick planted some tomatoes and onions which will be transplanted next month when he goes back.

we had really good food too. julius, bill, and alex cooked lunch and dinner for us ever day. i knew they church had brought some food to cook, but i didnt realize how much it would be. we brought a lot of water, but after it was done, we still had good water from the bore holes (once treated of course). so this aspect of out trip was also much different than i expected.

and then there was the goat we ate last night. i was given the honor of killing it. i have never intentionally killed an animal before so i wasnt really sure what this would be like. it probably would have went a bit smoother if the blade i was using had been sharp. i knew it was a bad sign when my first swipe didnt break the skin...this may be getting more graphic than you would like. lets just say it wasnt quick.

after they skinned and gutted it, i helped a little with the butchering. before they started cutting and chopping i saw these huge chunks of good looking meat. but once they started cutting i soon realized there would be very few clean pieces of meat. every bone in the goat was hacked with its surrounding meat. this made getting an easy-to-chew piece quite the treasure hunt.

another thing i learned in a late night conversation around the fire with nick was the huge role corruption plays in keeping pokot illiterate and uneducated. the government minister for the pokot area has had the job for 15 years. he knows that nobody pays attention to pokot on a larger scale so he pockets any money that is earmarked for improvements in the area. he tells the people to only send one child to school because they will leave the family if they get educated. the illiterate people keep voting for him because they do not realize how he is holding them back, but anybody who goes to school for a few years does not vote for him.

each night we also had kenyan "coffee". trust me, it needs the quotations. it was a large pot of water, with a fraction of the necessary instant coffee, and lots and lots of sugar. pretty much sweet brown water

i enjoyed the week, but dont think that i got as much out of it as i could have because of being sick.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

hospital visit

it seems that it is absolutely impossible for somebody to take a trip over here for over a month without getting sick. ben went above and beyond in this respect. sarah made sure to add her name to the sick in kenya list after only a week. and i have now joined.

i woke up at 7 this morning coughing like crazy and with a pretty good headache. took some advil and throat lozenges and everything seemed all right. then i started getting cold in church, while remembering that andrew and jean had just gotten sick with the symptoms of- cough, headache, feeling cold.

beatrice had to leave early, and that meant that we were leaving a little early. but then we contacted beatrice, and she said to go to the hospital. by this time the advil had warn off i was feeling progressively worse.

5 hours at the hospital got everything sorted out, and i am able to go to pokot tomorrow, something that i thought would not happen mid afternoon. before getting paracetamol from the doc, i was feeling as bad as i can remember. might have been that sick senior year of high school.

but now i feel fine, so lots of drugs in the near future and i should be ok.

pokot should be pretty interesting

Saturday, October 10, 2009

chrisc saturdays

as another connection from sarahs trip over here a couple years ago, we spend our saturday afternoons working with chrisc for a leadership program for the street kids who hang out at their office. chrisc stands for christian sports contact, and sarah worked with them a lot last time. her friend joseph runs a lot of stuff in nairobi for them and has set us up with matthew and lynn to run this saturday program.

a couple weeks ago i had told matthew that i would bring a couple baseball gloves and we would play catch, and i finally remembered today. it was really fun, and funny playing catch with him, and then with alex (an incredibly bright and good kid who is always at the center). nobody knew how to put on the baseball glove, which makes sense if youve never seen one before, but funny none the less. it was good to throw a ball for the first time in ages

today was the third time we did a lesson, and by far the most fun. we talked about teamwork today, and had a lot of games to go along with the lesson. we played a teamwork land mine game, and tried to throw a ball back and forth between sheets(it required teamwork). we did trust falls (but i didnt go, nobody thought they could catch me),

the games were a ton of fun to play, and everybody got involved- sarah, me, matthew, and lynn. we took some pictures, but missed out on a ton of other good ones when we left the camera inside during the land mine game where one person is blindfolded and has to listen to his team to know where to go.

also, sarah and i managed to be complete twinkies today, from the top of our head to the bottom of our feet. and somehow neither of us noticed until just after we left the house.

Monday, October 5, 2009

poor time to experiment

i guess saturday was destined to be a bit adventurous given that we started off by trying to find a couple shops for craft material in the insanely busy maze of streets which make up the city center. so we accomplished that- found two shops far away from each other and sarah got all materials needed in more than enough time for us to get to chrisc.

i think as an explanation of our trip back that afternoon i will just go with what i posted as my facebook status upon our return...

Tried out a new bus route: √ ended up a mile from home: √ in the pouring rain: √ walked back in the mud while trying to protect a camera: √ gave lots of africans a solid laugh: √

our experimenting in bus routes took its first wrong turn. but since i was laughing right along with the africans the entire time, i cant say i wish it hadnt happened

Friday, October 2, 2009

outside of nairobi

i had been in kenya for 4 solid weeks before i was finally able to venture outside of nairobi. i have had a great time thus far, and met many amazing people. and i didnt realize this until after the internal change had occurred...but i had not quite reached the point were i knew i had to come back here. i mean, i figured that i would certainly have to come again, but there wasnt this concrete knowledge, a realization of how great this place was. i loved the people, no doubt, but there wasnt a connection the way scotland got me my first time in the highlands.

on wednesday, after going with boniface to the street kids we went out to his house with him to see the place, and plan a little for the future.

he lives about an hour outside the city when there is no traffic, but it is worlds away from the kenya i had seen so far. for anybody who knows me, i am not exactly a lover of cities. the traffic is what gets me most, but second most is probably the artificial light which kills the stars. while in nairobi there isnt much of that light, there is also no where outside really to go to look at them in the city. the reason i had failed to make that heartfelt connection with kenya thus far was the thick smog which obscured my vision.

just a few hours in the country, and i was hooked. all of the hustle and bustle of the city absolutely melted away at bonifaces. it almost seemed like just an annoying dream compared to the fresh air and sight lines of many miles from the hill where liberty house is located.

there were no sounds of the city. no cars honking, and revving. not the constant movement of hundreds of thousands of people which goes on all hours of the day. no matatu conductors yelling out slang swahili and sales pitches to possible customers.
there was just a gentle breeze which slightly rattled the tin roofing of the house, and some of the trees rustled. the sound of running water could be heard from the flower nursery across the street. (that is not a common sound in nairobi, especially if the water is remotely clean) the random sheep or cow might let out their respective communicative noise as they got herded by. there were houses spotted sporadically across the countryside.

that description is of how amazing of an experience it was, yet there has been no rain in months, and everything that can die, pretty much has. when we go out there after some rain has come, it might be beyond words to describe.

and all that has went without mentioning the numerous fruit trees, and large garden they have there, which is just waiting on water to get started.