Counting the Cost

The Daily Nation, is a local paper here.  I subscribe to their mobile service so that I get text messages of late-breaking news.  Usually headlines are of corruption in government, or yet another fatal traffic accident.  However, yesterday

morning during church service a message came that made me stop and think…

altar at Nairobi church attack

“ ONE WORSHIPER (sic) dead, ten others seriously injured in a grenade attack at God House of Miracle Church in Nairobi, Ngara area.” read more

The attack was credited to Al Shabaab, the Somali branch of Al Qaeda.  I know last week the American Embassy put out an alert that there was an increased danger and for Americans to be alert about their personal safety.  And yes, I appreciate the comments from several of you on that issue.

Foreign-field missionaries often talk about “counting the cost” and there are many – leaving family, the sacrifices of living in a country that is not your own, etc.  Yet, this brings things to a whole new level.  I remember just before leaving the USA having to make sure that I had all the legal paperwork in place.  At the somewhat  tender age of 34 (depends on your perspective) I’m having to contemplate my death.

Am I ready to face that?  Am I really in a place that I can say, “If I die tomorrow, I’ll be happy with the legacy I’ve left? Have I made an impact for His Kingdom instead of my own ambitions?”

So many questions that have no good answers.  All I know is this; Jesus has called me and His call is this: “Take up your cross and follow me.” *  Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart, for we are told unless we are willing to give up everything we cannot be called His disciples. Luke 14:26-33

Then why do it?  Because the eternal is greater than the temporal.  What is gained is impossible to measure against what is lost.  We are made for the eternal and this life is but a brief dot at the beginning.  I choose to invest in the eternal where I will spend the majority of my life, rather than making sure I’m comfortable in this short time I will be on the earth.  St. Paul puts it this way “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…”

Looking death in the face is not fun, but I have the hope of eternity with Him.  My goal is to “…have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by Life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.Philippians 1:20-21

*Matthew 16:24-27, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-26

Numbers and Values

50 collage

$50. What is that worth?  Its not a trick question.  The value of anything is what people are willing to do for it.  If you make $10/hour, $50 is pretty much a full-day of work.  If you make $100/hour, its only 30 minutes, and probably isn’t as valuable.  What if you make $2/day?  Then you’re looking at almost a full month of work.  $50 is very quickly worth a lot more.

13.  A number that is misunderstood.  There’s even a real phobia – triskaidekaphobia.  Elevators don’t have a number 13. Most high-rises skip from the 12th to the 14th floor. In Jewish culture it is the age of maturity when boys and girls demonstrate they are becoming men and women. 13 is just the between of 12 and 14.

I am at the intersection of 13 and $50.  I’m thirteen $50/month supporters away from being “fully funded” to return to Kenya.  For me that $50/month means being able to pay my health insurance bill, a third of my monthly grocery bill, a pair of glasses, a trip to the dentist, internet accessibility… Each $50 is very precious and appreciated.

Want to know more? Email me.  Want to partner? Click here.

Thanks!

Oh – if you’re into my brand of pondering, check the almost daily mini-musings at blipfoto.

Being grateful

Its raining again, I could complain about the mud, cold and inconvenience caused by the rain, but I won’t.  Instead I will be grateful and pray that it rains in areas other than Nairobi so that there will be abundant food crops and water to drink.

I’ve lost weight.  Instead of complaining about the fact that my clothes are too big, or that I have to deal with the hassle of taking them to the tailor to be reduced, I will appreciate the fact that I can afford to do it, and that I have clothes.

water bottle sandals

photo courtesy of Facebook

Take a look at social media and you’ll find many people counting down the days, or using the alphabet to share what they are thankful for.  Here in Kenya, there are reminders each and every time I walk out of my door. God’s grace and mercy have placed me where I can feast in the midst of famine, water in the wasteland, plenty amongst poverty.

Yes, we Americans take one day in November to remember to give thanks for the abundant blessings in our lives and this is good.  Yet in the midst of the feast on your table remember not everyone can enjoy what you do.  The news is reporting stories of people in New England still without power because of the early snow, one lady even saying she felt “abandoned.”  I’ll admit I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her, in fact my reaction was to comment “Stop being selfish & make your life about others.”

Those that are in lack are not just here in Kenya or Africa.  A friend posted a blog about comparing the lines for a homeless shelter vs. a gourmet donut shop.  So this November and the coming holiday season can I encourage you to make your life about others?  You can give your cash – that’s sometimes easier, but I encourage you to give of your time and talent too.  Because just maybe, those that seem to have nothing will give something back to you.

Thoughts on a year – part 2

“…five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

cupcake and cande

How do you measure

A year in the life?

~ Seasons of Love, Rent

How do you celebrate leaving everything familiar, paring down possessions to the essentials and must-haves to weigh no-more than a total of 150 lbs, and move it all 8000 miles away?  I’m not sure, I’ll let you know when I figure that out.  However, I do know how to thank God for bringing new friends and community into my life.

Highlight # 2 – Community

I’ve learned over the last few years that God has given me a different idea of home than most other people.  For me to feel at home depends upon whether or not I am part of a community instead of identifying with a particular geographical location.  Its about people not a place.

As the song from Rent says, you can measure a year

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights

In cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

Those sunsets and midnights are only special enough to be counted when they are shared with someone.  Cups of coffee and laughter are made even more noteworthy when they are enjoyed with a friend.

Precious & I

I despaired a bit of having real friendships when I came, because of the awesome community of friends and family I had worked so hard to develop back in the States.  I don’t know why I worried, because God has (as usual) proven Himself to be so faithful to provide me with what I need.  It has taken forever awhile, but in the last few months I’ve met some great new friends, and people who had been ‘just acquaintances’ have become very dear.

Living in my sweet spot, becoming part of a community.  Yes indeed, its been a very good year.

Famine Relief

child victim of famineIf you don’t know that there is a famine in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia) then you must be living under a rock and are not reading this blog.  Anyway, most of the news has been focused on Somalia and their refugees fleeing into Kenya.  The Dadaab refugee camp is now the third largest city in Kenya. Shocking statistics I know, yet this is not the full story.

There is a famine because of a drought and lack of food.  This lack of food is causing food prices around the country to escalate at alarming rates and people are having to make some very hard decisions.  Do I pay the school fees or

food delivery to family

buy food?  It is a decision that no parent should have to make and it is definitely a foreign one to most Westerners (school is free for most of us). It is not only those on the evening news who are being severely impacted by the famine.  Here’s a news article that can help you understand.

So, in order to help people in our spheres of influence, DOVE Africa has been doing some relief distributions into some of the areas that are not in the media spotlight.  Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to accompany one of those distributions into some of the slums and poverty

fixing the flat

stricken areas of Nairobi.  We were able to deliver over half a ton of food (10 kg beans, 10 kg maize, 10 kg maize flour plus cooking fat and salt) to sixteen homes around the city.

Though we suffered a puncture, heard “how are you” and “Mzungu!” too many times tocount, we were able to see 15 families benefitted by the generosity of people in the West.  Yes we can help relieve some of the immediate suffering, but there still remains the question, how do we prevent from having to go through this again 10 years? 5 years? 3 years?  What are the long-term solutions?  I admit I don’t have all the answers.  Tree planting projects to help increase rainfall, borehole (well) projects help with irrigation, training of better farming techniques all have their place… Yet unless there is a heart transformation among people and government leaders all the behavior modification we try will ultimately fail.

We must learn to truly live by the axiom – do more for others than we do for self – if we truly want to learn how to live in harmony with each other and steward the world that our Creator has given to us to rule.

my delivery