Tuesday, December 3, 2013


            It feels like it was so long ago that I was in Kenya. It’s only been two weeks. Being outside my Fremont bubble has given me an outlook on relationships within a culture. One thing I have observed is that relationships are so important. It doesn’t matter where you are from. A hearty slap of the hands handshake and a huge smile from 70 yr old women in rural Kenya. A kiss on either side of the cheek here in Italy. Grown men holding hands walking down the crowded streets of Nakuru is a way to show those around that this is my buddy and he’s with me. Afghan young men playing cards for hours with a cup of tea. Young Kenyan men and women playing with their friends hands and ears as if this is my brother or sister. Paul tells his Christian friends to greet each other with a holy kiss. Not just any kiss, but a HOLY kiss. The longing of having relationships within the same sex and with the opposite sex is part of human DNA. It’s as if we were made to have relationship. Like the Maker of humans has relationship in his DNA as well. Like we were made to have relationship with each other. Like we were made to have relationship with the Maker. The relationship with the Maker calls us to have holy relationships that cross cultural barriers. Kisses, handshakes, hugs, winks, good games, pounds, smiles. These are all very special. And when the Maker is involved they become holy, and suddenly a kiss that would normally make a person in a Fremont bubble feel uncomfortable suddenly makes him feel that this is the most natural thing created and know that divine relationship transcends space and time.


Friday, November 29, 2013

One of the last posts


            Went to the train station a couple nights ago and handed out tea to the refugees and any other homeless people. There was another group there handing out meals. It was cold. It’s been getting down to the low 40s, upper 30s at night. Went to the Pantheon last night. Wow wow!!! That thing is amazing. Went for a run this morning. Had no idea where I was. Good things about getting lost on runs: 1) You often go farther than you originally planned. 2) You get to see some cool stuff. 3) You learn your way around a bit better.
            Now Khalid, a refugee who has been here for 10 months, is at Danielle’s cooking some food for lunch.
            I was riding the bus but didn’t get a ticket. I had an expired one from a few hours before in my pocket. Periodically an officer in regular clothes would come on and check people’s tickets. I had not experienced this until tonight when I did not have a ticket. I was sitting there near the back of a bus when all of a sudden a man pulls out a badge and hangs it around his neck. I see people pulling out their tickets. I suddenly felt really hot and went to the back of a bus. We were 25 seconds away from departing. After a few seconds he got to me. I stood for a moment then reached into my pocket and pulled out the ticket that I forgot was in there and attempted to show him only the front of it without the date and time side. He took it from me. We were 10 seconds from the doors opening up at our stop. He looked at it. I was deciding in my mind at that point what I was going to do. Danielle was at the other door ready to get off. Would I stall and then make a run for it when the doors opened? Would I try to pretend like I gave him the wrong ticket? Would I stand there looking at him like I was dumb (which wouldn’t be terribly hard)? He finally gave it back to me, the doors opened and I walked away without looking back. It was a miracle from God. I don’t know if he only saw the date and not the time. Was pretending to look. Or was he just merciful. Either way I was relieved and bought a ticket for the ride back. Hahaha.
            Went to the English class tonight. It was fun trying to communicate with some of the older ladies.


            Saw the Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Tiber River, walked a bunch, ran a little when I didn’t want to stuff myself into the bus (I arrived 3 miles later faster than the bus), had good conversations with some of the refugee guys, bought a hat and scarf, had Thanksgiving last night at one of the missionary’s house (that was nice), painted Danielle’s new apartment. Excited to be getting home soon. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013



            I am now in Rome, Italy. It’s been raining. I think I took the rain from Nakuru with me. My plane landed a little late in Rome. Then it took 30 min or more for luggage to come out. Fortunately my bag was one of the first. It was THE first to come out from Kenya to Amsterdam. I gave a little cheer. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. By the time I got to the train station at the airport there were no more trains going to Roma Tuscolana where Danielle would come get me. So I had to get on a van shuttle where it would take me to the Central train station. At the station (now 11 pm) I waited in customer service line, which was not moving. There was a man there wearing a little badge. I don’t know how official it was. But he asked where I was going, looked at the schedule, and said there were no more trains going that way. He said, “I will call my guy.” Ummm…ok. I went to the taxis to see how much it would cost to get me there, and they just said it depends on the meter. I forgot that this was not Kenya, and there are such things as meters. So I went back to the guy and his guy showed up. I was being watchful the whole time, getting ready to bust out my kung fu if need be. Judo chop some folks. But the guy got me to my destination and even let me use his phone to call Danielle. It was expensive but whatever. So after 1 hr of sleep in 23 hrs I hit the hay in the comforts of an Italian apartment but only slept for 6 hrs. Ran a couple errands with Danielle the next day. Met some missionary friends during Chinese dinner. Good people. Went with Danielle to a class where she teaches English for free to about 30-40 people. Most of them are a bit older. That was fun helping them with some grammar and trying to hold a bit of a conversation. I think the percentage of people who speak English in Kenya is higher than Italy. Interesting. I slept at a man named Brian’s house last night. He has been in Italy for 4 or 5 years doing some good stuff here. His wife is out of town and let me stay. I’m about to go to the Colosseum. Hopefully it won’t start raining again. And I don’t get lost. It’s a few miles away. Cheerio.
            Wow! Ancient Rome is amazing. Italy has been the number one place I have always wanted to visit since I was a kid. Now that I’m here, it’s a bit surreal. It is beautiful in a totally different way than Kenya. The architecture and art are amazing. I walked into some gigantic church, and there was this sense of reverence. It’s strange for me though. This building is extraordinary with all its marble statues, floors, walls, pillars. The walls are painted wonderfully. The amount of detail is baffling. Knowing that there were probably thousands of workers that put their time and energy into that thing is amazing. But at the same time, here is this church in all its beauty and glory giving praise to popes, the disciples, angels, and whoever else I don’t even know without much of a mention to Jesus, the Son of God. I bet if the disciples saw that they are immortalized in marble, they would be disgusted. Plus on top of that, the pope at the time (just an assumption) commissioned this to be made. Whose money was used to build this? All those men, women, and children who were probably misled into believing that giving more of their money will get them into heaven as they were struggling to make ends meat. Giving money to a church shouldn’t be about making huge monuments. So here I was sitting in this place in awe and wondering, “Where is Jesus?”
            I think pretty much all the men are good looking here with their nice clothes, quality, model haircut, and well-trimmed beards. WHATEVER!!! And I think all the women are beautiful. I’m learning that women (young and old) are captivating. It doesn’t matter where you are from either. Kenya, America, Italy. Doesn’t matter.


            Went to the place last night where the refugees come and have tea, play cards, learn English or Italian, and whatever else. Danielle organizes it and some of the local missionaries and some locals come to help. I sat at a table and watched these guys play cards then talked to a few guys. One is from Ghana. He left for more opportunity. One is from Pakistan and is a computer engineer by way of Moscow. Another is from Afghanistan and learned English in just a few months when he came to Italy. I’m learning more and more that a lot of the world knows more than one language. Not so much me. A couple of the guys met my mom and step-dad when they were here in July. That’s pretty cool.
            This morning Brian, the guy I’ve been staying with for the last few days while his wife is at a human trafficking conference, took me on a 45 min run that went along the ancient Appian Way. That was cool. Seeing the ancient houses and ruins on a run is spectacular. There’s a part of the road that has the original paver stones. That’s just amazing to me.
            Got my first gelato in Italy. Stracciatella. It was raining, a slight drizzle. I walked out of that little place with a smile on my face. God has given me so much. So much that I don’t deserve. Walking home I could only think, “Here I am in Italy. This is one of the biggest most unexpected journeys I have been on. I’m eating some great ice cream, rain falling down on me (I didn’t bother opening my umbrella). I just didn’t care if I was getting wet. God has given me so much. Thank you.” I walked back eating my gelato with my little spoon. I’m inside now with some pizza from around the corner looking out the 3rd story window watching the rain fall down in front of the dim of the yellow street light. I feel like God is saying, “Enjoy this. Enjoy me.” So instead of me thinking about how much I’m not doing. I will focus on what God is doing and what he has done. Aaah…Blessed be the name of the Lord.


            Yesterday I went with Danielle and several other Christians to package and hand out food to the refugees. They meet every Saturday under a super old archway. Then went to the center where many of the same guys go and have tea, some snacks, play cards and the other stuff I mentioned before. They showed me how to play a couple games, so I joined in. Had good conversation with a couple guys. One lived in London for 4 years before he was deported. He had a job, graduated college, and seemed to be doing fine. But he had fake papers to say he was there legally. Rome seems to be the hub for where people go. It’s from here that they get their initial papers then try going elsewhere for more opportunity. One guy was in Norway for a couple years before being sent back to Italy where he has legal documents. There are 300 guys who stay at the camp, a building I haven’t seen yet). They are only allowed to be in there from evening to morning. Then they have to go. So they often end up just wondering around or sitting in parks. They can’t get a job. They have very little money. Some of them take Italian at places for free. I was talking to this one guy who is married but hasn’t seen his wife since last year. She lives in Lithuania. He doesn’t want to live there cuz he says there is little opportunity and they discriminate against Muslims, and her parents don’t like him. So we got on the subject of religion and talked about Islam and Christianity. It was nice talking to him. Hopefully I’ll see him tonight at the train station when we hand out tea or on Thursday at the center. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Roman Holiday


            I am now in Rome, Italy. It’s been raining. I think I took the rain from Nakuru with me. My plane landed a little late in Rome. Then it took 30 min or more for luggage to come out. Fortunately my bag was one of the first. It was THE first to come out from Kenya to Amsterdam. I gave a little cheer. It’s the little things in life that make me happy. By the time I got to the train station at the airport there were no more trains going to Roma Tuscolana where Danielle would come get me. So I had to get on a van shuttle where it would take me to the Central train station. At the station (now 11 pm) I waited in customer service line, which was not moving. There was a man there wearing a little badge. I don’t know how official it was. But he asked where I was going, looked at the schedule, and said there were no more trains going that way. He said, “I will call my guy.” Ummm…ok. I went to the taxis to see how much it would cost to get me there, and they just said it depends on the meter. I forgot that this was not Kenya, and there are such things as meters. So I went back to the guy and his guy showed up. I was being watchful the whole time, getting ready to bust out my kung fu if need be. Judo chop some folks. But the guy got me to my destination and even let me use his phone to call Danielle. It was expensive but whatever. So after 1 hr of sleep in 23 hrs I hit the hay in the comforts of an Italian apartment but only slept for 6 hrs. Ran a couple errands with Danielle the next day. Met some missionary friends during Chinese dinner. Good people. Went with Danielle to a class where she teaches English for free to about 30-40 people. Most of them are a bit older. That was fun helping them with some grammar and trying to hold a bit of a conversation. I think the percentage of people who speak English in Kenya is higher than Italy. Interesting. I slept at a man named Brian’s house last night. He has been in Italy for 4 or 5 years doing some good stuff here. His wife is out of town and let me stay. I’m about to go to the Colosseum. Hopefully it won’t start raining again. And I don’t get lost. It’s a few miles away. Cheerio.
            Wow! Ancient Rome is amazing. Italy has been the number one place I have always wanted to visit since I was a kid. Now that I’m here, it’s a bit surreal. It is beautiful in a totally different way than Kenya. The architecture and art are amazing. I walked into some gigantic church, and there was this sense of reverence. It’s strange for me though. This building is extraordinary with all its marble statues, floors, walls, pillars. The walls are painted wonderfully. The amount of detail is baffling. Knowing that there were probably thousands of workers that put their time and energy into that thing is amazing. But at the same time, here is this church in all its beauty and glory giving praise to popes, the disciples, angels, and whoever else I don’t even know without much of a mention to Jesus, the Son of God. I bet if the disciples saw that they are immortalized in marble, they would be disgusted. Plus on top of that, the pope at the time (just an assumption) commissioned this to be made. Whose money was used to build this? All those men, women, and children who were probably misled into believing that giving more of their money will get them into heaven as they were struggling to make ends meat. Giving money to a church shouldn’t be about making huge monuments. So here I was sitting in this place in awe and wondering, “Where is Jesus?”
            I think pretty much all the men are good looking here with their nice clothes, quality, model haircut, and well-trimmed beards. WHATEVER!!! And I think all the women are beautiful. I’m learning that women (young and old) are captivating. It doesn’t matter where you are from either. Kenya, America, Italy. Doesn’t matter.

Sunday, November 17, 2013



            I don’t see myself very often. The last seven weeks being here at Blesco I have not really looked in a mirror. I would catch glimpses of my reflection walking by windows or partially in a rear view mirror of a matatu. There have been a few pictures of me with some the guys here. But I haven’t had a good look. This is good for my ego. When you have no idea what you’re lookin like you don’t have to be overly concerned. But the few pictures I have seen I am not the person who I used to be (looks wise). Just a year ago I had hair, some beard, a bit of color on my skin, eyebrows. Not so much anymore. Some of those pictures I look downright sickly. And when I’m tired I get bags under my eyes, which make it worse. And honestly there’s nothing I can do about any of it. When I was just getting into high school I realized I had a big nose. I forget if somebody told me or I saw a picture. I didn’t know. I only saw myself from the front. So there was a short time that I tried just looking straight on at people. Haha. Quite ridiculous. And I was going bald the first time. You can imagine the affect that had on an already shy 14 yr old. I think I handled it quite well at the time though. So now that I am in this new state of looks with a strong identity in Christ, I’m not overly concerned about it. Clearly it’s on my mind enough for me to write about it though. But I’m realizing that people aren’t necessarily dis-attracted to the way I look. Maybe they are. But people are far more attracted to character above anything else. In particular Godly character. A bit of rambling.


            Said most of my goodbyes yesterday. It was my last day in town and last night was my last night here at Blesco. Three of the high school guys, Noel, Ngatia, and Michael, stayed behind and are doing work at the school. Almost every night this week they have come inside and have watched a movie on my computer. Goodbyes are a strange thing, especially when you know that you will never see some of these people ever again. Some you hope to see, some will just fade away into the depths of your memory. Here are some people I have met/ seen along the way. The old man wearing suit coat that is too big, wearing his wide brimmed hat, sitting there watching his goats near the school. The young lady who had a slash down the left side of her face causing one eye to be destroyed. The multiple matatu drivers and conductors. George who collected the money from the passengers at the stage who just started telling me hi this week. The cute little girl at the stage who learned my name and would say, “Ben” from a distance but would get scared when up close. But yesterday I bought a lollipop for her and one for myself, and we shared a sugary bond. She waved and enjoyed. The many disabled people sitting on the side asking for money. Job, who I was reacquainted with from last time, still living on the streets. I told him a month ago that I would buy him some food if he went and got his birth certificate so he can start going through the process of getting his id. I thought he wouldn’t do it, but he showed it to me a couple days ago. I gave him money for food. He told me there is a guy who was going to help him get into trade school. The mzee, older guy, who I would see in the matatu all the time. The good looking young mom with her baby son Maxfield who lived in Mbaruk. Peter the cook and his strong grip and beanie he always wore. Susan the other cook. Maryann, Caleb, Joyce, Kotuk, Louise, Faith, the teachers. Mr. Maina the principal. Mariam the quiet secretary who probably wasn’t thanked very often. Troy and Becca and their daughters, Dakota, Kate, and Hope. And their newly adopted son, Thomas Azariah. Lucy, the young woman who sold me movies and chatted while we waited for it to be copied. Karen, the waitress who always served us at our restaurant. The two ladies at the front desk who Kamotho and Waititu always tried hooking me up with. All the students who would come through the office in town. John the short buff worker. Francis the Chairman and his wife Catherine the school Director who let me stay in their house. Kariuki who rides a motorcycle rides for a job in Mbaruk. He constantly says how I need to find a wife, how I’m not generous cuz I’ve never made him food, and is always talking. Not sure if he’s trying to be funny. Annoying… yes. Sorry Kariuki, it’s true. The boy I saw on two occasions pushing his bike loaded with tanks of something up a hill as I ran by. Sammy and David, my street craft guys. The man next to the town office who sold me my bananas. The guard at Woolmatt who just gave me in nod of acknowledgement with a smirk knowing I had no weapons so stopped checking my bag. And of course Harun Waititu, Daniel Kamotho, and Stephen Gitau.
            Troy and the family took me to the hotel in Nairobi. We stopped off at Munga(?). This is the orphanage where they got their 14 month old son. He, along with the other babies were abandoned. There was a two week old premature baby there. If you’re not sure if there is evil in the world, just come listen to a couple stories of these kids. Then if you want to know if there is good in the universe, come spend a couple minutes with one of these kids. I want a kid. Perhaps one day.


            Quite a difference between Nakuru and Nairobi. Nairobi is very modern. Nakuru… not so much. Walked to the city from my hotel. Hecka long. I didn’t really know where I was going. I just walked toward the tall buildings. When I got to the first set of tall buildings I decided to walk around the edge before going through the center looking for lunch. Nothing much there. So went to the next set, crossing a highway in between. An 1 hr 45min later walking at a brisk pace I found place. Chapati was really good. Then went to Tuskys, the grocery chain, and got my croissant, tropical juice, banana, mango, and strawberry yogurt for dinner. Then walked back. On the way a guy about 50+ yrs old with a few of his teeth missing and receding gums said, “Habari?” (How are you?) I said, “Mzuri.” (I am fine). Then we started talking as we walked, but he liked to stop and talk at times. He asked what I was doing here, and then he asked me about this magazine he was given. It was a Christian Science propaganda/ information thing. And then a flier about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I told him what I knew about it and the difference to Christianity. I asked him about himself. He’s from Eldoret (one of the many places affected by the tribal warfare a few years ago). He lost a lot of his property and saw gruesome crimes. He was in Nairobi for an interview for a teaching position at the university cuz he teaches veterinary science. He said he got the job but that he had to got back to Eldoret (several hour drive) to get some papers. We then talked about some interactions he’s had with some American Christians some American non-Christians. I was gonna give him 50 shillings to help him on his way before he asked for some financial help. I gave him the 50 plus the other 18 I had. This is not a lot of money so no round of applause needed. Today is my last day in Kenya. 5:15am taxi arrives to take me to the airport. And it’s so long Kenya. Hello Italy, via Amsterdam. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



            There will eventually be a day when I will be forgotten. Somebody will look in their family tree, see my name, and probably pass over it without thinking twice. It’s a strange feeling and thought. Tim Keller mentioned in a sermon about how we (humans) have this idea that we shouldn’t die. Death shouldn’t exist. Stories have been written about it. People have searched for this fountain of youth to escape it. We should live on forever. I just got done watching a movie called “50/50” with Joseph Gordon Levitt. It’s a young guy who gets cancer. People die. Every day. There was a horrible storm that killed hundreds, maybe thousands, in the Philippines last week. Death is tragic. And it sucks. Sometimes it’s sudden and you get the dreaded phone call. Sometimes it drags on to the inevitable. Either way it sucks. There will be a day when the inevitable will call my name. And the inevitable of being forgotten will occur. I think of my dad. It’s been over seven years since he died suddenly and it’s still a strange thought. I have to be honest right now. I’m afraid I am going to forget about him. I’ve already forgotten about things we have done, the name of that cave that we swam through with bat guano on the sides, the places in Africa he went to, the silly comments he would make. I’ve forgotten. I was at his grave last year looking around at the other graves with dates and names on them dating back 100 or more years. There was one that said, “Gone but not Forgotten.” That was from like 60 years ago. I’m afraid to say that he will be soon forgotten. And this all seems depressing. And I get down about thinking about it. But then I’m reminded of a promise. Jesus was laid down his life. He was murdered for so that we, so that I, would not just die and be forgotten. So that my dad would not be forgotten. He died so that I may “have life and have it to the full.” And not just in this life, but in the life to come. Jesus didn’t stay dead. He raised himself and gives life to those who believe and follow him. Because of that I may be forgotten. But I will live on with my God. And the things I do in this life will be forgotten, but at the same time they will live on. In the movie “The Gladiator,” Russel Crowe says something that I can’t help but remember. He says, “What you do in this life echoes into eternity.” So even though I will be forgotten, the legacy that I leave will impact many more to come when I’m long gone. I think of all the people who have impacted my life in following Christ. My mom and dad first, and many others after them. Then who impacted theirs and those who introduced Jesus to them. You can go back to when Jesus walked the earth, tracing your spiritual lineage. All those people have been forgotten. Who are they? No idea. But they have left an echo that will resound into eternity. And ultimately that is the only thing that will continue to echo. Everything will be long gone and there won’t even be anybody who will care. But God is good. He takes care of his flock and welcomes them into his fold. Oh how I look forward to meeting all those forgotten. What a mighty day that will be.
            In the movie “50/50” Gordon Levitt’s character is bald and he says how he looks like Voldermort. I laughed because I can closely identify with that statement. I am thankful that I can’t identify with almost all his other experiences in the movie. Give thanks.


            Internet is sucking and it’s important that I get on so I can figure out how I’m getting around Europe. I guess I can just do whatever since I don’t have much of an agenda. But that usually costs a bit more money than planning ahead.
            I was getting a bit upset (I’ve been having to fight this the last couple weeks on a couple occasions-being in a bad mood). I think because I have next to nothing to do, I’m getting anxious to get doing something productive. I’m itching for movement. As I was walking around town trying to find a place where I could get on the internet, I thought to myself, “Well at least nobody has asked you for money today.” Then I got back to the office and got a text from one of the graduates who I was just talking to earlier in the day at the office. He asked me for a 2000 shillings, about $22. He couldn’t ask me to my face though. I kindly said no and laughed at the perfect timing of the text. Oh boy. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Creative Title


            Went to town today. On the way I slipped into puddle after muddy puddle. My socks and feet were soaked all day. However, the day was good. On the way back from lunch at the same janky looking place (but hecka good food) a couple ten-year old street boys came to Haron and me asking for money. Their names were both John. One was breathing on a bottle of glue getting high off the fumes. We started asking them questions and talking to them. Usually when you ask them why they aren’t in school and talking about the importance of it they just walk away. These boys stayed with us. They usually come up with lies about why they are on the street. They’re usually about how their mom is sick and can’t pay school fees and their dad is dead. After a while I took out three shillings (this is very, very little and can’t buy anything). But it was all I had with me. I told the one boy with the glue that I’d give it to him if he gave me the glue. He did reluctantly, then later said that it was nothing. I told him to give me the money back if he didn’t want it, but I wasn’t going to give him the glue back. Haron went into the bank for something, and I waited with the boys outside. We were talking about stuff. Then Glue Boy said he wanted the glue back. I told him no. After a bit he started to threaten to throw a rock at my head. I told him that he wouldn’t do it. The other kid quickly grabbed the bottle out of my hand and tried to get away. But I grabbed Glue Boy and held him under my arm and told the other one to give me the glue if he truly cared about his friend (this was not a threat that I would crush him. Although looking back it may have sounded that way haha. It was supposed to be, “If you care about your friend’s health and life, then give it to me.) After a few moments he gave it back and I set him down. Haron finally came out and we ran a quick errand a few blocks away. The boys came with, and Haron was talking to them. He’s good with these types of boys. I thought that it was better that they started to pay attention to only him rather than me. I after all would be leaving soon. He needed to be trusted in the long run. Thank you God for humbling me in that. At the end of it all he bought them a meal. When they see him again, they will see a man they can trust. That leads to more good stuff.
            On the way to the matatu stage, I came across Job, the now 20-year old who is living on the streets. I told him I’d be leaving soon, bought him a small loaf the lemon cake, and talked with him briefly about life. He’s probably heard it a million times. But God knows, maybe the millionth and one time will get through. It is not my or anyone else’s job to save him though. That’s between him and the life giver.
            The little three-year old girl at the matatu station is getting a bit more friendly with me. However she came close and didn’t see me. When she turned and saw me standing right there she ran scared, crying to her mom. I fully understand. If I saw me, heck ya I’d run. But then I gave her a few smiles and sad faces, and she was back to her old self. I vow by the time I leave, she will be coming up to me giving high fives. She is adorable.
            Tried getting all the guys here at Blesco to take a picture. When I finally got them all together, I tried to get somebody to take a picture for us. I wanted to be in the picture so I could print one out for each of them. I asked three people to take the picture at different times. Each one misunderstood and went to get IN the picture. I just chuckled to myself and took the picture. Oh well. I wanted to leave them something to help them remember me. Guess they’ll only have their memory. I’ll have thousands of pictures that they have taken of themselves in weird poses.


            The boys left yesterday. They have finished the first year at Blesco Boys HS. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to see them off. I said my goodbyes on Thursday. It was kinda sad saying bye. Fortunately they were eating when I left, so they were a bit preoccupied. I will see some of them in town though. Slept over at Troy’s and his family’s house Thursday night cuz Haron wanted to pick me up at 4am to go to Kisumu, a 5 hr drive. We got on the rode at 4:30 after picking up Gitau. We finally got there at about 9:30. We had to stop in Kisumu town cuz there was something wrong with the car wheels. That’s what happens when you drive 100 miles over potholes. We then went to the prayer meeting for one of the 8th grade boys. We got there late, and it still lasted over 3 hrs. We didn’t come back to Nakuru yesterday. We stopped in Kericho on the way back and stayed in a small hotel. Haron and Gitau slept in the same bed (not a big bed). I found that a bit humorous. The drive was beautiful. One of those things I wish I could explain.
            If you want to know what it’s like to constantly be hassled for not being married, introduced to random women, and have scripture taken out of context to prove that you SHOULD be married, then be me.


            There has been a change of plans. When I originally decided on staying til December I thought the student were getting out of school a few days before I was leaving. Now that the students are gone, that means I would be here for a month with not much to do. And there is definitely value in just being where you are whether busy or not. However, I have done that before and was reminded of another great opportunity I can have if I take it. So I am leaving in a week and going to Europe for a few weeks. I have a friend in Rome who is a Christian working with refugees mostly from Afghanistan. So I’ll bee going there and seeing if I can be of some assistance and hopefully give her some encouragement. Then if possible I will go to Ukraine where I have another friend in the Peace Corps. I have never been to Europe and really don’t know what’s happening, but I have become an expert at knowing and going with the flow. But I truly believe God will be present and working and has already started long before I even had a thought. Wow, imagine that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

And More


            I see a man crawling on his hands and knees with sandals on his hands to protect him from the nastiness over which he crawls. I see a man on most days in town sitting on the sidewalk, face, legs, arms disfigured with a cup jingling money between his feet. At the end of the day he is wheeled off in a wheelchair by some guy. A woman with disfigured legs crawls across the street. Her hair is nicely done. I’m afraid a car won’t see her and run her over. I heard on the radio that some Tanzanians are promising cripples a better life in Kenya. They then put them on a Kenyan street to beg for money then take the money they received. Slavery. Eight year old boys come to me asking me for money in their tattered clothes. What do I do?


            You know, there’s an awful lot of bad stuff in this world. But there’s a whole lot of good stuff. And that good stuff comes from God. Here are a few. Watching high school guys happily iron their friends’ pants and shirts. Having little three year old girl be terrified of the white man at the matatu station, but her getting over her fear and coming closer each day and waving hi then running back to her mom. Sitting and talking about whatever for two hours with a bunch of curious young guys. Being entertained by ten little kids sing and dance with toothless smiles. Talking to your loving family. Looking up at the stars, realizing how small you are, but knowing that you are not insignificant because there is more to it than just bright lights spread out over billions of miles of darkness.


            The chairman and the school director, Francis and Catherine, took the top two students and the most improved in each class from primary on up to Lake Elementaita for lunch and fun. It rained, so the outdoor stuff didn’t quite happen. But the lunch was really good. It’s good that the students got a chance to get out and see some nice stuff. It’s beautiful at the lodge too. We got dropped off at the highway and it began to rain. Sprinkles at first then the downpour. That’s not even the bad part. Maneuvering around the mud without slipping is a challenge. I nearly fell on my butt but caught myself with my hand in the mud. Next thing you know we are all running, jumping over big mud puddles, sloshing through the road. Good times.
            Yesterday was a celebration for the students graduating from kindergarten and prayer for the class eight students about to take the KCPE. These are important exams. The thing lasted 4.5 hours, complete with singing and dancing, cutting and feeding students cake, preaching in Swahili with the sound system too loud coupled with rain hammering down on the tin roof, and many other speakers. I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to getting called upon to either pray or introduce myself and say a word of some sort. I used to be terrified. Now I’m only a bit scared. I try to tell myself to be ready. If I sound stupid, then oh well. Life is good.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some more


            It was Kamotho’s birthday a couple days ago. So I got him a cake at the bakery a few blocks away. I brought it to the office. He was super thankful and said, “This is the first party I have had.” I was happy to do that for him. Also made me a little sad that nobody has ever done that for him. Maybe it’s a cultural thing that many don’t have lil parties. He brought the remaining cake home to his family.
            There was a time (and I still fight this urge) when I would always think, “Am I making a difference in this person’s life/ making a difference for God/ making a difference in the world?” That sort of thinking, at least for me, is like wearing chains. It binds you to a standard that is not for you set. (Hold on! Fatty spider on the wall. Too big to let that thing live in my bedroom. Dang! It escaped under the door. Hopefully it won’t attack me and suck my blood.) And it limits you. And it makes you focus on something that is not supposed to be focused on. In my somewhat humble opinion, which I believe to be true, we are supposed to focus on God. By focusing on God and pursuing him, he puts things in our path that will be handled by us properly (making a difference) because God is working through us. And we make a difference in that person’s life and our life is changed and our relationship with God becomes stronger. When the goal is making a difference in someone’s life and we fail, which is not uncommon, we fail, and our life revolves around our success or failure. But if our focus is on God, and we inevitably believe that it is God who ultimately makes the difference, then the pressure is taken off of us and we can then pursue people with a heart that is truly free. None of that probably makes sense. But I don’t really care at this point. Just getting stuff out of my head. What made me think of this was that I was reading what somebody wrote to me. They said they saw how I interact with other people (I’m being vague) and how they look up to me. When I see this I kinda laugh because I don’t feel like I do anything to try to get people to look at me. I just try to pursue God. God is constantly changing me to be who he wants me to be. Looking back at my college and before days and even after, I always felt like nobody (as in most, other than my mom. Love my mom) saw me. It was like I was working in the shadows.
            As an introvert by nature I don’t crave the spotlight. It’s ironic cuz I have been placed in a leadership role that is in front more often than my skin wants to be. It’s a funny thing how God works. I long to see what he sees.
             I ate my first apple in over a month, and by golly, that was the best apple I’ve had in a long time.


            On top of the little mountain behind the school is a decently large cornfield. We went up this morning and harvested. For someone who doesn’t grow his own food, it’s pretty cool to shuck the corn and be amazed at how food grows out of the ground. You mean it doesn’t grow out of grocery stores? No mam it does not. How reliable on God are we? More so than I could even imagine. I can’t make that stuff grow. It is purely by God’s grace. Walking through the field doing this with the dozens of students, getting stickers all over my clothes and socks from the weeds, I realized that this was good. After getting through it all and piling up the maize in piles throughout, we got big bags and filled them up to be carried down the mountain. And it gets pretty steep. So I loaded my bag almost completely full and heaved that thing over my shoulder. That sandbag training I did with Kevin paid off. I might have been a bit ambitious on the first load. Probably 70 lbs worth, and it was awkward. I adjusted it so that it was as balanced as possible on my neck and both shoulders and headed down. I realized as I was going that if I tripped and fell forward, that would be the end of me. From top to bottom is maybe a little less than a ¼ mile, if I had to guess. Dump the bag where we have church and head back up. I made a total of three trips. Going up was the hard part. The bags were probably about 6o lbs each. The students didn’t complain at all, at least not in English.


            Not much to write home about. When it rains it pours… literally. Coming home from town today it began pouring. The short walk was quite slippery. Mud and a lot of it. My pants and shoes that the guys happily washed are now not so clean. Sorry fellas. It seems like whenever the front little walkway in front of this house gets washed, it rains the same day resulting in, you guessed it, mud. I finished my 920 page book yesterday. I think that’s the most I have ever read in 12 days. Three books down. Got to find something else or I’m gonna be writing on this thing a lot which will lead to jabbering on.
            There appears to be some changes on the horizon. Pretty excited about them. I don’t get terribly, heart excited very often. But this time I kinda am. We will see if they come to fruition. One of the things is that I am going to be teaching a two week class on social justice in January to some students at Fremont Christian HS. Have I ever done this before? No. Do I know what I’m doing? Not really. But it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Kirstin told the lady organizing it about me and said that I was all about it. So if it doesn’t go well, I will blame her. If it’s great, I will take all the credit J. I’ve realized that when things have been super great in my life, it has not been because of my greatness… at all. This is very humbling, and it’s important that I remind myself of this often or I’ll get a big head. And there is nothing worse than a big, bald head.
            Dinner time. What’s for dinner? Funny you should ask. I’ll give you two guesses. Umm, guthiri! Nice guess but no. Ugali and beans!!! Ding ding ding! You got it. Tell him what he’s won. More ugali and beans!!!!


            Washing machines are amazing. Washed my clothes by myself this morning. And it did not take a short minute. The advent of the machine that washes clothes saves an amazing amount of time. I’m certain that if every Kenyan had a washing machine, Kenya could have one of the most powerful nations in the world. They would have so much more time to solve problems like poverty, cancer, and understand that using butter in their baking delights is so much better than margarine.
            I just attempted making spaghetti. It was horrendous. There’s no sauce in the stores, but they had tomato paste. I watered it down, added some salt, and was going to add some beans that they were serving with the ugali tonight. But they had cabbage instead. First time not having beans. Haha. So I threw some of the cabbage in. No bueno.  I would have been better off eating the ugali and cabbage. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

5 1/2 weeks in


            The students finally got all the facts straight. The school director, who is located at the girls’ high school, made sure that they have all the information. Now that wasn’t so hard. All of the boys decided to stay except one. I’ll tell you something, people want to be listened to, they want to know the facts, and they want to know that they are cared for. When those things are taken care of, so much more can be accomplished. I still think I’m right with the entire issue. And I won’t comment further even though I kinda want to say a few things about people. I’ll just say this, I don’t think the students “complain” as much as is let on by some people.
            Went with Haron and Gitau for over 5 hrs looking at different schools for some students who might be leaving Rohi. At a high school I saw a few kids doing triple jump 40 yds away, my coaching specialty, while I was waiting for the other two in the office. I decided to go over to see them and maybe give them some advice. But as soon as they saw me they stopped. I attempted talking to them but they were just looking at me like I was crazy. Then it was time to go. I guess I am a bit crazy. Then at our last stop we went to a primary school where about 100 5-7 yr olds were leaving school. So cute in their light purple uniforms.


            This whole thing with the Form 3 students and the principal is becoming tiresome. Communication with the principal and students is horrendous. The students are telling me one thing and the principal is telling me something slightly different. The two boys’ families were called this morning for them to be picked up. The boys said that Mr. Maina had sent them away because they thought about staying for next year an extra hour. If this is the case, it is extremely ridiculous. Today, the families came to pick them up. I finally asked Mr. Maina what was happening, and he said, “About what?” even though 5 seconds before he was talking to the family. I said, “About this whole thing.” The students were convinced that they were getting kicked out. But Mr. Maina just told me that they have one week to decide. He said that the two students didn’t make up their own mind for themselves. It wasn’t until the other students made their decisions that they decided to stay. During this process of waiting to see what was happening, I let Kamotho talk to one of the students. So clearly the student wasn’t trying to “pull a fast one.” Still, Mr. Maina sent the two boys home with their family, even though they had already decided to stay. I told them as they were walking out the gate that they have one week to decide. They didn’t know this. Whether Mr. Maina told the families, I don’t know. Either way I think this whole thing is sketchy and I’m rather frustrated with how it is being dealt with. Just another thing to add to the list.


            So, it turns out there was a former teacher at Blesco who was feeding the students with this wrong information. The students were not making it up as some had assumed. I’m glad it is cleared up. I still think much of this strife could have been avoided if proper communication had occurred.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013



            Went to town yesterday. It wasn’t nearly as busy as it usually is. Then I remembered it was a holiday. I think it was their independence day. I got to the town office and only Haron was there. And he was only staying for a few minutes. He apologized for not telling me that they wouldn’t be in for the day. So I made my way over to Java House. This is a restaurant where all the foreigners and richer Kenyans go for food. The place serves good food, but they are more expensive than the other places. And they have wifi. I ate my fruit with yogurt and did my usual internet searching. Good to just sit and rest with nothing pressing to do.
            I got back and took a few of the guys on a run, Peter, Noel, Ngatia, and Lupui. I thought it was going to be an easy run, a little less than 4 miles, but Lupui decides to start running. He is 20 yrs old from northern Kenya, 6’3”, soccer guy. I was surprised he was able to run that well. If he had proper training, I think he would be a pretty good runner. Then we did some pushups after, which they are horrible at haha. Last night Mr. Maina called me into his office, I thought he was going to reprimand me cuz I was asking a couple of the teachers about the what they thought about some of the comments he made during the meeting yesterday morning. But he told me that the students were not appreciative of what he and the other teachers were doing for them, which is probably true for the most part. But at the same time they are next exactly heart warming. So I suggested a couple students that we could have a meeting with so that we can get it all out in the open. The students have their concerns and Mr. Maina has his. I have my own as well. So I’m gonna be a bit of a mediator. Hopefully it goes well and they both see their shortcomings.
            Gitau, Kamotho, and Waititu came to Blesco today. We all discussed some of the issues and I suggested that we bring in a couple of the guys so they can understand and help communicate with everybody else. It was supposed to be a discussion, but it turned into a lecture, even though they said it was a discussion. When people feel like they are getting lectured, especially high schoolers, they tend to shut down. So after a long while we ended and went to the Form 3 and explained one of the issues about changing registration for next year. Kamotho said he was only going to talk for 10-15 min. It turned into 40 minutes. Then Waititu said something, then Gitau, then Maina, and the next thing you know it’s nearly two hours later. The students asked a few questions and responded but eventually began to shut down. I wanted to leave. I guess it’s a cultural thing that if you lecture and talk more you will get your point across and the audience will inevitably agree with you. It happens in churches too. By the end all but two of the 12 students who were there wanted to still register at another school next year for exams. I consider this a failure. I would do things so much different if I was in charge. They say that this place is only a school, not your home. So you should focus on studying, education, and all that. But at the same time, these students are here 24/7. How can they say that this is only a school? They are not cattle to be driven to a watering hole where they will survive. I don’t know if this is my battle to fight. Maybe I’m wrong. The students confide in me. I’m told by those in charge that this is the “Kenyan way.” Maybe the Kenyan way is wrong. And just because all the other Kenyan schools are doing it doesn’t make it ok. Could this be a part of why Kenya is not doing well on so many levels? Am I being judgmental? I don’t know. Maybe. The American way is by no means perfect. Neither is any other institution. But some seem to be doing a bit better than others. I was watching a Morgan Spurlock documentary show. He was looking at the education system and went to Finland where they consistently are at the top of the world rankings for testing. They are in school about 5 hrs a day with maybe one or two hours of homework. And have fatty recess time. Oh how that differs from Blesco’s 11.5 hr days of being in the classroom. I just don’t know.
            …Just talked to the guys. The information they received from other people on the outside is different from the information given to them by the people here. Therefore they want to be registered at another school for exams next year. I asked that if what the people in authority here says is indeed fact, would they stay. They said yes. It’s funny, I talk to the students and they have no problem telling me what’s on their mind. But when an authority figure comes, they don’t say much. Listening goes a long way.
            On a side not, I bought a couple small pineapples, about the size of a grapefruit for about 55 cents on the way back from MCF on Sunday. And that was hecka good. Good way to finish the day.

Monday, October 21, 2013

First Shower in a Week


            Just over 6hrs of sleep every night… I don’t know how these students do it. I know I sleep more than the average person (I value my sleep), but 6.5hrs of sleep on a good day is cra cra. They are in class either being taught or studying over 11 hrs M-F. Saturdays for about 3 or 4 hrs. Sundays for about an hour or two.
            Tried watching one of the bootleg movies to no avail. It did not work. Haha what should I have expected? I’ll bring it back tomorrow when I’m in town. I bought a new book called Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. His other book that I read, Pillars of Earth is a good one. Read 100 pages today. I had to supervise students in their exams, so I had plenty of time.


            Day started of early. Once I got to town, it was still slow. After a while a student came in who was expelled from the school he was at. He was causing trouble over a period of time. It was deserved. After a couple weeks of being out he finally came to the town office wanting to go back to school, any school. I’m not entirely sure if he’s genuinely sorry. We will see what happens.
            That whole thing with people coming into the house a couple weeks ago, turns out the principal owes on his dowry. So people came together to negotiate. On Saturday I’ll be going along to see what this whole thing is about, although I’m sure I will have no idea about the negotiations that are occurring. Should be interesting.
            Went to one of the former student’s grandmother’s home. She lives only a couple miles away from the town office up the hill that overlooks the town and Lake Nakuru. We rode on the back of a motorcycle. I thought for a moment I was gonna fall off on a few of the bumps. I was making a plan on how I would properly fall. It’s beautiful up there. And twisted in an awful way. The road/path leads through an area with several dirt houses (pretty much one room). As we are walking up the path to where she was, kids starting coming out of the woodwork yelling, “How are you?” This is typical of Kenyan kids who see a mzungu (white person). We find where she is and say hello (she doesn’t speak English). Haron does all the talking. Meanwhile all thedirty kids are gathering around. A few start holding my hands. A girl smacks a boy younger than her on the top of his head decently hard for some reason. He starts crying. A couple 4 or 5 yr old girls are pushing and hitting each other while trying to do somersaults. One kid is picking his nose, and I realize this is probably what the kids were doing who are holding my hands. Sometimes hand holding is more important than germs. A boy with one piece of junk rollerblade is rolling down the dirt hill. On the left side looking toward the town about 100 meters away is a golf course. Also about the same distance down the hill are a bunch of well-built houses. Haron said they are building them closer and closer to where these people are living, trying to push them off their land. It’s just weird/wrong/problem with our world that there’s this line that is so thick that separates two different peoples.
            I was getting into the front seat of the matatu on the way back and hit my knee on a piece of metal that was sticking out a bit. Tore my pants and cut my knee. I was almost angry, and then I thought, “Why am I getting angry.” I watched as the hanging piece of material start to soak with blood. Not much though. Glad I got my tetanus updated before I left.


            The last couple nights I have been on duty. The students are supposed to study until 10pm. They tell me, and observation, that many of them go to sleep with their heads on their desks. They start studying directly after dinner at 6:30. The last few nights I have let them go to bed at 9:30. They get really happy and go directly to sleep. The second night I let them go at 9:30, and Principal Maina, who stays on campus, calls me and says, “They are going to sleep? They have to stay until 10.” I said they were leaving because they were done studying. That was the end of the conversation. He wasn’t here the following night. Then tonight I just got a text saying that the students must stay in preps until 10pm. Five minutes later he sends a teacher who stays here at the school. She said she was sent by the principal to make sure they stayed until 10. That got me boiling a bit. I called him and asked why he sent Madam (that’s what they call the female teachers here) to stay until 10 when I was here. He said he sent her to tell me that they need to stay until 10. I told her that she doesn’t need to stay. She went back to sleep a few minutes later.
            On a separate note, but not really, why do some people in authority feel they need to have 100% control and lord it over people. No bending the rules! You must do as I say! They think they can tell people what to do, and they don’t say please or thank you. That bothers me. Maybe more than it should. Sometimes, it’s part of the culture. Honestly, I don’t like when cultures have that. Children speak when spoken to. That sort of thing. It makes people feel like they are entitled to their position, and makes other people worth less, a superiority complex. I don’t think that reflects who God is or how he created it. There is submission involved, but not like there is one person better than the other.


Anyways, I’m going to the principal’s dowry thing tomorrow. If I’m sitting near him on the way I will ask why it’s so important to stay up and get up so early to “study.” I will use some research of the importance of sleep to back me up. I will do this with gentleness and respect of course.


            I just took my sock off after stubbing my toe this morning. Looks like I bent the nail back enough to make it bleed. Didn’t think it was that bad. On another note, it has been a full last couple days. Yesterday I went to Mr. Maina’s dowry negotiation thing. We stuffed a matatu full of people along the way and drove about 45 min to a little restaurant/bar (although we originally left at 8:30 and didn’t arrive until about 11). Then there was a discussion in Swahili or Kikuyu or something else. Then the men and women split up and discussed more. Then got together again and had another quick discussion. Then we were back in the cars again and headed to the highlands where a bunch of Masai live. It was pretty cold up there. The landscape was beautiful. We got to the top and there were no more mountains around us, so I figured we were pretty high up. The initial meeting was just with the principal’s side of the family. After another 45 min of driving that finished on a dirt road, we arrived at his wife’s family’s home. They have been married for I’m guessing 10 yrs but did not go through the dowry process to begin with for some reason. The women went to the fence and started singing. This was the attempt to allow them to be let in. Then after a couple minutes the wife’s side of the family start to sing, as if to recognize that they are and they can come in. It’s a neat custom seeing this happen. I wonder what family has ever not let the other group in. The we all (about 40 of us) sat in this mud room with cardboard lined walls. They had chairs for everybody. There were introductions then they served the food. OH MY SWEETNESS! The plate was so full. At least a couple pounds of chapatti, mukimo, peas, carrots, cabbage, potato, rice, meat, and a mix of onions, tomato, garnish stuff. It was around 2:00 at this time, so I was starving. I thanked God for the food and asked him to not let me have any problems (if you know what I mean) before I got home. God delivered yet again. The food was so good. Then the main people from the families went to another room and negotiated the terms. After about an hour they came out singing. Apparently it was successful because the women were carrying crates of soda into the room singing as if it was the ark of the covenant. Everybody knows it’s tradition, so there was an air of laughter and fun. It was pretty fun to watch.
            Then today I got a call from Haron at 4:10am saying that we were going to Mulli Children’s Family (about 3-4 hrs drive). I knew I might be going but thought he was going to tell me last night. I was supposed to meet him at the center in Mbaruk at 5:30am. I gave myself 10 minutes to get there. At this time in the morning it is very much dark. I ran part of the way partially out of fear of getting my head chopped off with a machete and not wanting to be late. I had my flashlight so it wasn’t bad. Jogging by the cornfields is interesting in the dark, but some of them have begun to be harvested. I waited about 10 minutes and got a call from Haron saying they were running late and if I could meet them on the highway. So I started walking, another 10+ minutes. The sun was turning the sky grey at point. I got to the highway and waited until almost 6:30. It was ok cuz the sky and everything around, except the truck spewing out smoke, was beautiful. It’s really cool seeing the landscape change so dramatically. Half way through, we are driving through mountains that are carpeted with amazing green tea plants. Entire hills covered. There are banana trees, mud houses, people standing around on the side of the road. It’s pretty amazing. God made Kenya, and it was good. MCF, like many high schools, had a prayer day where families are invited to encourage the Form 4 (12the grade) students on their exams. These exams are pretty much the sole thing that will say if they are going to college and which one, and how much they will have to pay. If they do amazingly well, the government will pay for them. If not, well, the options are limited. Long stinkin day.
            And my week of waking up stupid early has come to an end.
Mr. Maina is not a bad guy. We just looking at teaching and youth very differently. I think I’m right though J

Monday, October 14, 2013

So much Guthiri!!!!!


            Bought a couple bootleg movies, Man of Steel and Star Trek. The students get Saturday evenings free, so I figure they could watch something other than High School Musical and the show Nikita. And the great part is that they only cost 50 shillings (55 cents)! I could handle the sound getting off timing a few times.

            Spoke at church today. Then just hung out on my doorstep with everybody with the radio inside turned up. Sat there until lunch. Ate rice and beans. The meals are not diverse at all! I’m surprised the students don’t revolt against everything. They complain to me once in a while about the food, lack of free time, always in class, nothing to do. And for the most part, all that is true. But they are very respectful. For example, yesterday I was walking through a bunch of weeds and got tons of stickers on my socks and shoes. When I got back I sat down and started pulling them off. Then three boys came around and started helping me. That’s pretty cool.
            A black and white bird flew into my window. I grabbed it with a bed sheet as it was trying to get away as it was trapped against the window and the bars. It relaxed when I grabbed it I have that calming affect :). Then I let it out the window. I saved a life.

            Woke up at 4:15 this morning cuz I’m “on duty” at the high school. That means I supervise the students. Even though I don’t really think they need it. Hecka dark! Stars shining bright. Pretty stinking cold. I had to do some running in place to not freeze. Students got up at 4:30. Too early. Then 5am for 15min of “devotions” although they’re half asleep. Then study til 6:30. Clean til 7. A cup of tea and a chunk of bread for breakfast. Assembly at 7:40. School starts. What a sucky way to start your morning. I read my Bible, wrote a bit, sat, walked around, listened to some Mumford and Sons. Not a horrible way to spend my morning. Then walked to the matatu then hit the bustling town, trying not to get hit by a car. Gonna be a long week. God is good. I’m happy.

Thursday, October 10, 2013



            Went for an exploratory run. Rain started coming down the last five minutes. And then it came down hard. Complete with thunder and lightning. A lot of thunder. The deep rumbles that last up to 10 seconds or more is amazing.
            I love my Grandma.
‘God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already. Beware of becoming "wise and prudent."’ –Oswald Chambers

I have my guilt and I have my shame
I did my best to shift the blame.
He had his party. He had his fun.
I am the brother of the prodigal son.

Doing good and working hard to earn my reward
I was not aware I was indeed my own Lord.
But day by day and night by night
I was drawn ever closer to the Light.

It was not me.
It was only He.
He was the One who called me by name.
He was the One who took away my shame.

As He drew near
It was a strange kind of fear.
My heart wanted to flee
But at the same time reached out to be free.

I was in awe of His majesty’s glory
And could do nothing but fall on my face and tell Him my story.
He said, “You’ve tried to make your own way,
But it is only my Son who could stand in the fray.”

“My Love for you is not something that can be earned,
Nor is it something that can be learned.
It is a gift from the great I Am
And only through the blood of the sacrificial Lamb.”

With head down low I cried out for this Love
That can only be sent from the Lord up above.
My good deeds and prideful thoughts were not enough.
For I needed the blood that was spilled by His Love.

“King, I’m sorry,” I said with a sorrowful heart.
“Be my all in all and may you never part!”
With a smile on His face, upon my head He set a crown
And around my shoulders he wrapped me with His gown.

Then He said with a breath,
“My child, you can start afresh.
For I have eaten your pride and your cold hearted chill
On that day upon calvary’s hill.”

“Now stand and breathe in my life to the full
And know that you have been made clean and whole.”
It was at that moment when a mighty wind came
And whispered in my ear a brand new name.

My body tingled with delight
To the point that I thought I’d set off and take flight.
But I did not move nor make a sound
As my feet stayed firmly upon the ground.

You see, the Reedemer was not quite done.
He had a path for me to run.
Spreading the Good News of that redeeming day;
The Lord was more than happy to stand in the fray.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


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       The guys had a pickup soccer game against some of the other high school boys and other guys from the community. A bunch of people came out and watched on the community soccer field. It was neat just chillin and watching the game and having kids out there (no parents there to supervise).            


        Lupui helped me wash my clothes yesterday. Several of them came to help but were called away to do something else. They kinda laughed when they saw me.
            I hate mosquitoes with a deep passion. I haven’t gotten good sleep in the last three nights cuz they keep buzzing and sucking my blood. I had a makeshift net using a bed sheet. But apparently that’s not working. I will buy a legit mosquito net when I go to town. I’m tired.
            Finished The Reason For God. Read it. My internet modem isn’t working. Did a nice workout that included running hills and a bit of rock lifting. Feels like my lungs have restrictions on them. Maybe if I’m running enough here I will enter in a half marathon and try to break my pr. Chomped down on a couple stones in my guthiri today. Thought I may have broken my tooth on the first one. They are still intact.


            It’s inevitable that money will come up in conversation when you’re talking and getting to know people. Things like where you live, how do you get around, and all that. It leads up to you having a house, owning a car, having a job, etc. I have never struggled financially fro a number of reasons. All the reasons boil down to God deciding to bless me in this way. When talking about money, possessions, and whatnot with the some of the people I am getting to know, I am careful about what I say. It’s so easy to say that I’m not rich. But in the grad scheme of the world, I am. And I have to be honest with myself about that fact. Trying to convince myself that I’m not rich so I don’t feel guilty or make other people feel bad (although I’m pretty sure they don’t) denies what God has given to me and his joy in doing so. As an American, I have ingrained in me that having wealth is better than being poor. But I truly don’t think this is truth at all. Neither is being poor better than being rich. I had no control of where I was born. It is through God’s decision that I was born in the Bay Area and my friend was born in a mud house in Kenya. Neither is better nor worse in and of itself. However, both can become evil and far from good. It depends on what you think the meaning of this life is. If you believe that (ready for this?) the meaning of life is to get to know God (which I do), then having more money than somebody else or less is no problem. I’m trying to figure out how I’m fleshing this thought out. God wants himself to be known to each and every person. If a person is born into poverty, then God will make himself known appropriately through that. If you are born into wealth, then God will make himself known through that. For example, I have more money than many of the people here. But with that money I am able to give it away or use it the right way. And in doing this I am able to get to know my God better. I feel his giving, generous heart in doing so. And am thankful for him giving me the opportunity to do so. It’s kinda like when you’re a kid and your dad gives you two dollars to put in that donation box for the charity. The money isn’t really yours. It’s your dad’s money. He just allows you to be a part of his giving. And in doing so you find joy (if you give happily) and your dad delights in having the appropriately placed joy. Now a person who is in poverty, they see God from a different angle than the wealthy man. The poor rely so heavily on his provision. When God provides (however that might be) when seemingly all is lost, those people thank God with every ounce of themselves. They find joy in him.  Now you can up with some “what about this.. statements. But I’m going to stop there for now. Except to say that I pray that I use my wealth to bring glory/honor/reverence/joy to God. I don’t want my possessions to be my center and security.

            Went to town again. Walking back to the office after lunch a boy named Job who used to go to Rohi and has been on the streets since the last time I was here came up to us. He asked for money for bread. Kamotho gave him enough for a bit of food. I’m trying to figure out when I/ a person is supposed to stop giving and let somebody suffer for his own decisions so that he can live and give his life instead of taking all the time. I suppose this is when wisdom takes over. I’d rather give him some work to do, then pay him. Kamotho knows this kid far better than me. I asked him about him, and he said there are times when he gives and times when he says no. He said Job will not figure this out until he finally gets arrested and hits bottom. All the organizations know who Job is from all the giving (financially, help) to him they have been doing.

            After a few days of no rain, the sky opened up with rumbles of thunder and lightning. It started coming down hard right when we (Brian, a new student from Rohi) were getting to the matatu. They we sat there for 45min waiting for it to get full. Fortunately the rain nearly stopped when we arrived at our stop and had to walk the 10 minutes to get to the school. And it wasn’t super muddy.

            Got a mosquito net and hung it up with tape. Gonna sleep well tonight.

            Best run I’ve had so far. Helped one of the workers do a bit of digging until I started getting blisters. That didn’t last too long. I thought my hands were a bit tougher than that. Went to teach computers but one was working. Issues with the power. It takes an awfully long time to make food when you only have one gas burner.
            Climbed an acacia tree. Got about 20 feet up and thought I’d better stop. I’m not terribly keen on heights. I got down and was walking through some tall grass and saw a couple kids about 30ft up. I giggled to myself.
            It’s 7:45pm and the power just went out. I have an awesome Black Diamond headlamp that I had to feel around for next to my bed. The students were still in class and you could hear them hooting and hollering. I went outside and it is sooooooo dark. With the corn fields… umm eerie. I gave a few of my candles and matches to a few of the teachers who stay here at the school. I will continue to read my book by candlelight for the next lil bit. Good book called The Last Sin Eater

Saturday, October 5, 2013



            There are so many misconceptions about pretty much everything under the sun. I think many people view Africa as a place full of poverty, AIDS, and lions. And those are certainly true, but only part of the truth, which ultimately is not true if that is ALL you think. It’s funny when some people I know think I’m a certain type of person because they have only known me for a period of time and in certain roles. And this is true for everybody. I have certainly had misconceptions about people as well.
            When it comes to the Gospel (the Good News, Christianity, saved by grace) I know for a fact that the majority of the world has a very large misconception of what the Gospel truly is. Much of this was spurned on by a Tim Keller sermon I was listening to last night. Here is a snippet of my misconception of Christianity. For the longest time I thought this God thing was about me, sort of. I kinda knew it wasn’t about me, but at the same time I was trying to be a good person, live right, and all that good stuff. By being a good person, I thought that I would earn favor with God. When a person on Oprah who was a drug addict then turned his life around and is now going to college (or whatever) I thought to myself, I have been doing what is right since the beginning and I don’t get this favor. What’s up with that God? As I began to grow in my relationship with God, this outlook began to change over time. The story of “the prodigal son” was a story that helped me to see things in a different perspective. To me the story was about the son who took his inheritance and wasted it away. He lived a “bad” life, but God’s mercy allowed him back in. I identified with the older son who stayed home and obeyed his Father and didn’t get the party thrown for him. It wasn’t until much later, and hearing this story many times that this story wasn’t only about the Father’s mercy to the bad son. But it was about the Father’s pleading with the “good” son to come in and celebrate.
            The Gospel in my mind was always about being “good.” But that couldn’t be further from the Truth. That is “religion.” Religion is about earning favor. When I do this or that, then I deserve the reward. If this is not pride, I don’t know what is. Tim Keller says this, “It’s not, ‘the good people who are in and the bad people who are out.’ It’s ‘the Humble people who are in and the proud who are out.’” This turns all human conceptions on its head. We want so bad to earn favor. But God is not a God who can be bought and coerced. It is his for the choosing. It is through a humble repentance that problems can be solved.
            The misconception that Jesus addresses the “bad” prostitutes, cheaters, and drunkards only is a common one. Jesus addresses the moral, upright, and nice people just as much if not more than the “prodigal son.”
            It is in this Gospel, as I become more and more familiar with it, that I become more and more in love with my God. And more and more thankful because it is nothing that I have done in myself. It is through the humility of Jesus that I can say this. What a beautiful reality.
            There is so much more than this. But I believe I will stop now. If you want to listen to Tim Keller’s sermon, youtube “Tim Keller The Sin Against the Holy Spirit.” Journey on friends.


            I wonder if my hair will ever grow back. It’s been nearly a year since it started falling out. Here are some benefits to not having any hair: don’t have to buy shampoo, wake up and not have morning hair, save money and time on haircuts, you can drive with your windows down and not have to look in the mirror to make sure your hair is set properly, don’t get eyelashes in your eyes (cuz you have none), good conversation starter,  don’t have to shave or trim anything, don’t have to worry about getting hair in your mouth and food. Downsides to having no hair: when you do get hair in your mouth or food you know it’s not yours (gross), you have to wear sunblock or a hat all the time when outside, have to wear a sweat headband when working out cuz sweat gets in your eyes from lack of eyebrows, you look even more pale than you already are. Things that are funny from having no hair: people feel they can just touch your head whenever they want, kids comment on how you look like Voldermort, people assume you’re a swimmer, when you look in the mirror you sometimes think how you need to watch the movie Powder again.

            People talk about first world problems, and they are usually true. Here are a few to add to the list that may continue throughout the next couple months. Scenario 1: The hot tub isn’t warm enough vs. the boy down by the river just got bit by a hippo (true story). Scenario 2: I don’t want peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana cookie, and juice again vs this is the 16th day in a row of eating guthiri (beans and corn stew stuff) for lunch and dinner and biting down on stones (running joke that is fairly accurate). Scenario 3: I don’t want to go to school anymore vs I can’t go to school for a while cuz my dad broke his leg and can’t work, and I have to get a job to help feed my five younger brothers and sisters (true story of a worker here at the school named Jefferson). Scenario 4: “Mom! I don’t want to wake up early to walk 6 minutes to school! Give me a ride!” vs. walking to school along the highway 30 min in the rain with no umbrella.

            Most evenings I look out west and am completely dumbfounded by the sheer beauty of the sunset. I don’ think in all history there has been an exact same looking sight. Tonight it looked like a painter took his paintbrush and left the strokes in the sky. The clouds, the silhouette of the trees, the colors. I can’t describe. It was so subtle, and at the same time brilliant. Just before I went in the clouds turned to look like a silhouette of an island in the distance with a couple boats out in the water. You might think I’m ridiculous at this point, but I just wish that you were here to see it for yourself.

            I knew Kamotho, Harun, and the principal were supposed to come over today and discuss some stuff. But this was different. Kamotho, Principal Maina, and his wife and 1 yr old son came in. Kamotho brought sweet potatoes to cook, and said to make tea. Kamotho helped. I only have one burner off a gas tank that took some coaxing to get working. I really had no idea why they were here… and in the house. After a little bit another person came over. Then a couple more. Then another. Then like three more. I felt like the Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit when all the dwarves kept coming in and he didn’t know why, but they wanted to eat. After a while of some logistical discussion in Swahili and Kikuyu, somebody else came in. With no place for her to sit I gave my seat to her and left to hang out with the boys outside who had just finished doing laundry, which was I was planning to do before I was bombarded. I still don’t know what the whole thing was about. I will find out soon.
            Because it’s Saturday, the students have free time after 2pm. Some of them sit in front of the stereo and blast it to the maximum and sit there and listen to American and Kenyan R&B and rap. Sometimes they dance. Sometimes just sit and veg as if they’re high for hours at a time. Most of the students turn on the small tv and watch some burned copy of a movie or show. Tonight it was Stomp the Yard, High School Musical (until they realized it was in French and subtitled French), Camp Rock, and Camp Rock 2. I didn’t know that was how Demi Lavato got famous. I got to the last movie and couldn’r stay any longer. It was too much for me. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oooh Da Lally!


            Well today was better than yesterday. I ate my peanut butter and banana sandwich for breakfast. The bananas are really good here. Typed up a thing for Nakuru Children’s Trust, that’s the organization that came out of the whole Rohi thing. Read and did some other stuff. Listening to Phil Collins “Sussudio.” What does that even mean? Anyways, ended up “teaching” the Form 2 guys some computer stuff. I was surprised to see how little they know about making a Word document. There’s a Rohi graduate in college now who is really good at typing and all that stuff, and I thought that these guys would sorta follow suit. Not so much. I think just showing them the basics will be just fine. The Form 1students actually get tested on stuff from the textbook, which there is only one of, and I have it. Makes it a bit difficult for them to learn.
            Watched them play soccer and talked with them a bunch. They are full of questions. It’s pretty great. I’m getting to the point when I could pick on them a bit and everybody laughs. They’re teaching me some Swahili. I’m a really slow learner. As I try to recall what they just taught me, I can’t think of anything. I’m lame.

            Went to town. 10 min walk next to corn fields, over train tracks, on a path next to mud houses. Jumped into a mutatu, a public transportation van, and waited 30 min for it to fill up. The drive from Mbaruk to Nakuru is about 30 min. But when we stop periodically to drop people off and pick people up, the time adds up. It’s quite humorous when we have so many people packed in that the “conductor” (the guy who opens the door, collects money, and says to the driver when to stop) has to straddle a woman cuz there’s no room to sit. Once we get to town at the “stage” chaos occurs. At least it’s chaos to the uninitiated. Over 100 matatus crammed into a dirt parking lot going every which way with people walking around trying to sell you everything from peanuts to large knives. Then I had to chase down the conductor for my change he owed me (the dude tried getting away without paying me!) HA! He didn’t get away with it. And he knew it too. Then from there it’s about another 10min walk through town to the office where I met with Kamotho, Harun, and Stephen. I helped with some stuff in the office and listened to a conversation, partially in English, partially in Swahili. Two graduates had their house broken into and their clothes, some important papers, and a dvd player were stolen. I thought it was kinda serious, but Kamotho has a different take on things. The whole thing was a bit humorous. Kamotho looks and deals with things from a non-worldly perspective, which is a very good thing. He ended up giving/loaning them some essential things. The interaction between Kamotho and Stephen with these guys and other students is refreshing (and a bit confusing). But Kamotho, along with Stephen and Harun, are so respected by these students. One former student bought a bike with loan money. He is now paying back 100 shillings ($1.11) a day. He’s using the bike as a botabota to give people rides for business.
            Went to lunch and had a beef stew/soup and chapati. That didn’t settle too well.
So after a day at the office I went back to the matatus, found the one that had a sign on top headed for Mbaruk and hopped in. Sat there for 25 min then got on the road. Then we stopped randomly to drop something off. Then stopped for gas. It was at this point that I thanked God for that bathroom at the office. Otherwise… well, it wouldn’t have been good.
            God is good.


            Mr Maina, the principal, took me up the hill/cliff/mountain behind the school. There’s a tiny trail that goes to the top through the trees/forest. I kept on thinking he’s leading me up here to kill me with a machete he’s got hidden in the bushes. Once we got to the top, the view was absolutely stunning. Beautiful. Just one clue that there is indeed a God. Mr. Maina continues to lead me through the corn fields, and I was thinking, “Hopefully my years of training has paid off to survive this.” A couple school girls saw us and they went running and laughing. Then as we got deeper, we saw three ladies bent over weeding. One lady had no shoes, and you could tell her feet were used to this type of work. Turns out Mr. Maina did’t want to kill me. He just wanted to show me some of the property.
            Mr. Francis, the owner of the school who is letting me stay in his house came by. He brought some groceries, cooking supplies (pots, utensils, a gas tank with a single stove on top), and other stuff. He really is a giving, generous man. I guess I won’t be doing this camping thing that I’m doing in this upstairs room anymore.
            I gave the talk for “Christian Union” tonight. The guys plan everything out. I love listening to them sing. It fills that tin sided room so beautifully. Where they are in their relationship to God, I don’t know, but their song is soothing to my soul.
            I’ve been reading the encouraging notes that were given to me. Just one every once in a while, so they will last. I am thankful for all those who wrote one. I’m thankful for those who didn’t write one too.