We arrived in Nairobi around 9:30 PM EAT (East African Time).  Pastor Stephen and his wife Beatrice and their youngest son John were there to greet us.  Peter from his church was also there and met us just off the jetway to make sure everything with immigration and customs went smoothly.  All is well.

Raw Emotions

We bought 4 one-way tickets to Africa resulting in raw emotions.  This last week we have said good-bye to our home, family, and friends.  We have left all that is known.  As I am going through emotions of excitement and sorrow, my life is being blessed.  The time spent with loved ones has been of the highest quality.  I have hugged more people in one week than ever before!  Words that are spoken are with a purpose.  There have been things said that should have been said long ago.  In all, I am convicted of relationships taken for granted producing more raw emotions.

The love that has been expressed to us during this time is humbling.  Hugs have been the greeting, the welcomed interrupter, the unspoken feeling, and the seal to the departure.  Every last hug is painful.  I am flooded with emotions as each hug is as unique as the person giving it.  Some of the hugs are long, some are short and sweet, some are tight, some are casual, and some are long.  They are all the same in the fact that they are full of memories, love, support, and the hope of a reunion.  The most beautiful part of the hug is the mutual agreement that the longer the embrace, the shorter the time of the separation.  I wish I could hold on forever!  Yet, I know that I must let go.  Thankfully, it is only a release in the physical.  I rest in the peace that relationships will continue to be cultivated in my heart through prayer and communication.  I have never been so glad that technology is available to make it possible to stay in touch.  The Lord has answered  our prayer for having internet in our home in Africa – the answer was YES!!!  We are very thankful.

Pearl River, NY

AIM’s US office is in a town called Pearl River, NY.  It is just across the northern New Jersey border.  We arrived there tonight.  Today gave me a really good feeling of what it is like for our boy’s teachers.  They always tell us how good they are.  And on the 2 flights we just took, I cannot imagine better behaved boys.  They slept some and played quietly the whole time.

We arrived at the office and being couped up for so many hours had taken its toll.  The boys were bouncing off the walls.  It doesn’t help matters with a 3 hour time difference and us telling them, “Go to bed, it is dark out.”

But they are good boys, and we love them.

More to come… we should be in Nairobi on Saturday night.

Kenya Slideshow

My dad put together a slideshow from our trip to Kenya in March. The captions are from his perspective (you will know what I mean after you watch it :)).

Click on “Kenya Trip” to play it.

Last Day of Work

I just finished my last day of work.  There have been a lot of things that have transpired in the last year that have cause me to reflect.  This is one of them.  For the first time in over 16 years, I am without a job or income.  In addition our home is a wreck, and we have so much to do.

I was a bit overwhelmed.  I have been preparing myself to live and function in Kenya, and I did not want to have to do all the stuff it was going to take to get there.  That, too, is a learning process.  The journey that God has laid out before us.  I must be obedient in the little things as well as the large.  I am surrendering, slowly.

It also helps to have an awesome wife who does all the hard work that I dread. 😉   But then I do get to kill bugs and lift heavy stuff.  I do realize I am a truely blessed man.

Cultural Translation

Another thing that hits me when I travel is how different culture is.  We just took a trip to Texas and it is amazing how different life is there from California.  I guess I assumed there were less differences than there are, and that is the point of this post.

There are many things that go into making culture the way it is.  Geography is one.  We went to Norway in 2002 and the impact of geography is amazing.  Even the Norwegian language is fractured along rivers, lakes, mountains and fjords.  Weather is another.   People make few new acquaintances during the heat of a Texas summer, and in Norway some places are easier in the winter, others in the summer.  The list goes on: types of available food, clothing, individual and collective history…

Of course every culture is different.  I am sure none of this comes as a surprise to anyone.  The important part is that you learn a lot about your surroundings and people by just being around them.  However, almost everything you pick up is based off of assumptions.  Sure, there is some verbal communication, maybe even in a language you understand.  However, consciously or unconsciously, you fill in all the gaps with assumptions.

When meeting new people this is very helpful.  You can learn a lot about them without having to ask every little detail.  You fill in the gaps.  We grow up learning this ability and use it a lot.  Think about driving down the road.  You come across a car, you take into account its make, model, age, cleanliness, and any stickers it might have.  In your mind you might already have a picture of what the driver looks like, and I bet you are often very close.

There is a problem with this when you go outside of your culture, you keep making those assumptions.  And they are all wrong.  Like a child, you have to relearn everything you think you already know.

Why is this important?  Because when we talk about God and His plan it needs to be translated.  Not just in language, but in culture.   Just as Hebrew and Greek need to be translated, so does the culture.  Just as we cannot water down or adulterate the language we also must translate it culturally in a way that is not changing the meaning.

This means that to be effective in ministry, one needs to understand the culture.  Wherever that might be, be it Texas, or Kenya.

God is Awesome

Language is really about turning thoughts into something that can be communicated.  So, for obvious reasons, few languages have ways of expressing things that are unexpressable.

When looked at this way, “Awesome” has evolved into a special word in English.  It has different uses, and different meanings, but when put together with God, it communicates something that cannot be comprehended.

God is Awesome.

A Kenyan Pastor I know who speaks 3 languages fluently, plus bits of a few others, always reverts to English to say that phrase.  He tells me there is not anything like it in any language he knows.

Whenever I travel I am awestruck.  It is one thing to try to comprehend what God is doing in your life, and the lives of those around you.  But the level of detail is overwhelming.  The way God orchestrates the tiniest bits of your day, to bring about His will in your life (if you let Him).  It is a completely other thing to look at that detail and know that it applies all over the world.  I have sat (and walked and slept) quite a few hours in Heathrow airport in the last year.  There are so many people there from all over the world and they are all going somewhere, living lives with just as much complexity as mine.  And God is in control.

God is awesome.