Archive for August, 2011
Having spent a day and a half in Nakuru (and having visited Cafe Guava 3 times already), we had a great opportunity to spend time with a group of people who have dedicated their lives to serving the people of Kenya. Tonight, we joined the local Missionary Fellowship and met people from the UK, U.S., Germany, Denmark, India, Ethiopia and other places I forgot about.
These folks are the real deal. Some of them have been here for 15-20 years, working with churches, children and humanitarian relief. Make no mistake, missionary work is tough and these people have the battle scars to prove it. Groups like the one we visited tonight are vital to the longevity of these missionaries. These groups provide an opportunity for missionaries to share their stories with each other, pray together and just hang out and relax.
It is also an opportunity for them to receive something after spending most of their time giving to others. The gift they received tonight was a word from one of their own – a pastor and restaurant owner who read from Psalm 37. His encouragement to these road-weary servants: Do not fret. Instead, trust.
Now, that may seem like a simple message, but for a group who are surrounded every day with disease, injustice, poverty and death, learning not to fret is a key to survival. We had a great time of worship and prayer, good food, lots of laughs and some incredible conversation. In short, I’m glad we got to spend time with these folks, but more importantly, I’m glad they had an opportunity to spend time with each other – and to be reminded not to fret, but instead to trust.
Today is a travel day for us as we head up to Nakuru for the week. We’ll be taking in the scenic beauty of the Rift Valley and hopefully catching a glimpse of some zebras along the way. So, as we make our journey northward, I thought I could share just a few of the photos of our trip thus far.
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher
Day 5 in Kenya began with a great church service at the Karen Vineyard Church. The church, pastored by Doug Brown, is an international church – meaning, in this context, that it is an English-speaking, westernized church that appeals primarily to those from other countries who are here as missionaries, aid workers and the like (although, this particular church has also attracted a large number of young Kenyan families.)
As we pulled into the parking lot of the school where the church meets on Sundays, things were typically Kenyan. All of the gates and security were there that you find almost everywhere here, the parking lot was filled with LandCruisers and Land Rovers (the vehicles of choice in this part of the world), and the air had that smell that only someone who has been here would recognize.
Once we parked and got out of the car though, it became obvious that we had left “normal” Kenya. We had now entered “The Mzungu Zone.” Mzungu is what Kenyan’s call Caucasian people, and, in most of Kenya, a mzungu sighting is rare. In fact, light skin is so rare here that I find myself wanting to shout “Mzungu!” along with all of the kids on the street when I see one. But in this church, there are a lot of mzungu sightings.
Over the course of a few hours, we met families from the U.S, UK, South Africa, Australia, Canada and all parts in between. They come here not because of the color of their skin, but because of the familiarity of the culture. As cross-cultural workers living in Kenya, this church provides a little taste of home. The songs are familiar. The preaching style makes sense. And the people in the community have a lot of common ground and stories to share. In short, they come to this church for the same reason most of you go to your church – because they fit there.
All over the world, other churches like this provide a refreshing local church community for those who, for whatever reason, have been displaced from their home church. These churches are dedicated to serving those who are serving others. Churches like these help to keep long-term cross-cultural workers in the field longer by giving them a strong local church community. In the process, the Karen Vineyard Church has also proven to be a spiritual oasis for native Kenyans looking for an alternative to the very complex church landscape of this country. Please join us as we continue to pray for this growing, vibrant and critically important church community.
They say that in the U.S., we drive on the right side, in the UK, they drive on the left side and in Kenya, they drive on the good side. That is true so very often in this country. The roads are quite an adventure. In addition to bumps and potholes that can swallow a whole car, there is an infinite variety of obstacles to impede the flow of traffic. Dude on a bike carrying a ladder…sure! Three ladies with corn stalks on their head trying to cross the road…you betcha! Herd of cows…of course! (Goats, by the way, will simply stare down your vehicle, daring you to move another inch.)
All of those things are fine and you quickly get used to them as you travel the roads of this country. However, there is one thing that may take a little more getting used to: the 80 MPH game of chicken. We returned to Nairobi today after spending several days in Thika. The journey is probably about 100 miles, which sometimes takes a couple of hours. Today it took 4.
However, before we hit the massive traffic jam that is Nairobi, we had fairly open roads in front of us. And, as if he knew what was waiting for us down the road, our driver, Joshua, was doing his best to make good time. Taking advantage of a long stretch of smooth, freshly paved road, Joshua got our Nissan pickup roaring up to 80 MPH (I had to look twice to be sure that the speedometer measured in miles and not kilometers per hour). He was passing everything in sight.
And that was where we encountered a problem. You see, coming the other direction, there was Joshua’s northern-bound counterpart – also trying to make good time by driving 80 MPH on a two lane road. Since we were in the process of passing several trucks at the time, we found ourselves in a precarious game of chicken. As the two cars approached each other, I began to wonder if either was going to back down.
Now, perhaps your life isn’t really complete until you’ve contemplated the idea of a combined 160 MPH collision. But one thing’s for sure…if you actually experience that collision, your life will certainly be as complete as it can get. Luckily for us, the truck we were passing wasn’t 10 feet longer. As Joshua swerved back into the correct (in this case, left) lane, I took a deep breath and pulled my seat belt a little tighter. I was glad to be alive and, more than anything, I would have gladly welcomed the site of a herd of goats to help slow down my lead-footed friend Joshua.