Tuesday, July 29, 2008

End of my time in Kenya

Coming very soon. I leave in a little less than a week. Last Sunday was good - I finished my church history class. We spent 6 sessions, 1 per week, 3 hours at a time and covered 1,938 years of events in Christian history. Of course it was not at all comprehensive, but I think these pastors now have a broad understanding of where the church came from, where it has gone, and how it is the way it is today. We were able to see the patterns of decline and reform, of Christendom and the kingdom of God, and of doctrinal orthodoxy and departure. I have learned so much during this time and I am very very excited to now take John Brown's Church History class starting in August. Yes, it is a little backwards that I taught Church History before I took the class, but now I am extremely prepared and excited to build on the knowledge I have learned. Church History opens my eyes and brings me a lot of understanding of how God has worked in the past and how the church ought to function. I'm excited to continue learning.

Yesterday I got to visit a friend of mine that I made in the Glory Guest House. Juma changes my sheets and cleans the bathroom occasionally and he is a very kind, hospitable guy. He is married and has 5 kids living in Ngombeni which is close to where I was teaching Church History in Ujamaa. I took a Matatu out there and he met me beside the road. We walked to his house, sat down for a little while and talked. He then climbed a 40 foot palm tree and picked off 6 green coconuts. Watching him climb the tree was a highlight. I'd love to learn but will need to start small! The way to do it is to take a piece of strong cloth, tie a knot to make a circle, twist the circle in order to make an infinity symbol (mathematics, not the car symbol). Then you put your feet in the holes like stirrups. Grasp the palm tree with the bottom of your feet on the sides of the tree and the cloth supporting you on the front of the tree. Good, now you are stable, but you have to climb to get the coconut water! Take your right hand placing it in front of you with your fingers pointing to the ground and your palm against the front of the trunk of the tree, this is for more support. Then, take your left hand and use it to pull yourself up a few feet. Repeat until you can reach coconuts.

We drank the coconut water which is very tasty, then we had a cup of chai (tea made with milk), and talked some more. It was a short visit, but I hope to continue to get to know Juma whenever I return to Kenya.

See you soon. I return to America on Aug. 5th.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Crazy Kenya.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post.

Man, Mombasa is nuts. For example, just the other day I was walking along and bam, What I thought was a rock turned out to be a giant Tortoise! So crazy. He was a nice old fellow. One thing Dennis showed me was that if you pat him on his armpit he slowly rises up and fully stands. Once you stop, he goes down. So funny.

Well, the truth is. We went to a small park called "Haller Park" or as we like to call it "Holla Park" - holla, holla, holla. It was a great way to spend the 4th of July with tortoises, giraffes, monkeys, snakes, lizards, hippos (who were shy), and a few other various wildlife. Mombasa, really is a bustling city. You do find monkeys and lizards in various places, but really more people and trash in the city. Why is it that you go to a wildlife reserve and everything just takes care of itself, but when you go to a city there is trash everywhere? Aren't humans also a part of nature, shouldn't we act naturally too? Guess not. FALL. SIN. DEATH. SEPARATION FROM GOD. EVIL. and on and on. Wow, that was a tangent. Guess I am a little pessimistic at times, but for good reason.

Joshua Smith

My friend Joshua came out to Mombasa for 2 weeks. I had a great time with him and I always enjoy our talks. He was a great encouragement to me just being around. He's in Nairobi now where he is working with AIM doing mechanical work on planes. I didn't realize how encouraging it really was to have someone else around for 2 weeks until he left. It's difficult to relate to people from a different culture and so it's nice to have someone that you easily connect with. Thanks Joshua! Please pray for Josh's safety in the city that is nicknamed Nairobbery of which Joshua has already experienced.

I'm a Preacher, I like to preach.

Things have been busy here. For example, last week I preached a sermon on Discipleship on Friday night, a sermon on Sunday morning at the Word of Life Fellowship Church, and 3 hours of Church History that afternoon. Yikes, that was intense. I was very tired and rested all day Monday last week finishing Season 3 of Prison Break - bought off the street by Joshua Smith, made in the Middle East somewhere, and claiming to be Season 4 but really is just the second half of season 3.

Life has begun to be a little bit challenging as of late. Definitely not culture shock, but what I like to call culture 'funk' - the desire for normalcy, that which I am used to. Often times it is just the little things that I miss. Cold 2% milk. Driving my car on the right side of the road. The ability to blend in without being stared at.

But other little things about Kenya have now started to feel normal - which is kind of freaky. Matatus (Nissan minivans doubling as Kenyan taxis) and Tuk-Tuks (3 wheeled motorcycles that can carry 3 passengers) all over the roads, thousands of people always walking around, kids in school uniforms all over the place - bright colors: purple, pink, and yellow, women carrying heavier things that I can pick up ON THEIR HEADS. These things have become normal now. Strange to feel normal in such abnormal surroundings (from a foreigner's perspective).

And then being really frustrated over other little things - the way you can hear half of almost every conversation because of the amount of English, Swahili, and Sheng (the slang combination of Swahili and English - their version of Spanglish) constantly being interspersed in everything. Another thing that has started to frustrate the stink out of me is how they all love to have every single electronic device as loud as it can possibly be. Microphones are turned up so high that you really can't even hear what they are saying past the feedback and the rattling of the speakers. Oh yeah, and music. Ah, music. There is such a rich heritage of beautiful, percussive African music that is being exchanged for electronic, cheezy, Western music. It's sad for a music snob like me.

But for the most part the last couple of days I've felt very good. The bottom line is that life in another country is difficult, but hey, life is difficult and we all have to seek God's grace in some area of our lives no matter what. Mombasa's good, Mombasa's bad, Mombasa's weird, Mombasa's beautiful, Mombasa's ugly. It's just life juxtaposed between that which is phenomenal and that which is horrendous and all those things in between.