God called, He wants His stuff back

In another post I said I would work on this one, so here it is.  It is a tough one though, so be warned.

God gave you everything, without Him, you would have nothing.  I do not think that should be too hard to accept.

Living here has taught me that a lot of things I thought I needed, I do not really need.  Not that we have it hard at all, but life is not the same.

So, what I mean to say is, “You do not need it.”  Seriously.  Start listing some things in your head that you need…

If you get past water and food, only occasionally, you have gone too far.

So all that stuff you have, that you do not need, God wants you to use it for Him.

We are made in God’s image, His name is on us (sermon notes on the subject).  Render unto God what is God’s.

The whole purpose of life is serving God. I just finished a morning devotion here at AIM-IS on the subject, and it is amazing how woven through the bible the subject is, but it receives very little attention.

Genesis 2:15 God put man in the Garden to serve, the curse broke this relationship.

Exodus 8:1 The purpose for freeing the Israelites was so that they might serve God. The passover accomplished this.

We are supposed to “wait on” the Lord.

Wait on:  to perform the duties of an attendant or servant for.

Luke 1:74 The reason for God sending a savior was so that we would be restored to a right relationship with God, to serve Him.

Hebrews 9:14 The reason for Christ’s death was so that we could once again serve God.

Revelation 22:3 Once the curse is gone, we shall serve God for eternity.

If that is our purpose for being here, then everything we are, everything we have, is meant to serve Him.  If the stuff you have, the time you are spending, is not serving God, then it is a misappropriation of His resources.  You are stealing from God.  So get busy using it for Him, or get rid of it.

What is normal?

A while back I posted about some things regarding life here in Nairobi.  I have continued to think about such things.  Beware, I am in full ramble mode, if you do not have a lot of time, skip this post and come back later.

I was talking to a Kenyan coworker the other day and I said, “People are like fuel prices.”  He had no idea what I meant.  You probably do not either.  People can adjust to a different level.  As oil prices go up, we quickly see fuel prices at the pump go up.  When oil prices go down, eventually we see fuel prices also drop.  I think we are the same way when it comes to what is normal.

If you take someone from Kenya and put them in Richmond, VA for instance.  They will quickly adjust what they think is normal.  They will expect certain things to be a certain way.

Much in the same way, putting us here we are adjusting, albeit more slowly, to what is normal here.

Yesterday we were driving along Ngong Road (a main artery in western Nairobi, although not wide enough to be considered an artery, maybe more like a main, very important capillary, but I digress…).  They have been working on it since before we arrived (yes, back in June).  (For what it is worth, yes, I do realize I am over using parenthesis.) They first brought huge piles of dirt and dumped them on the “sidewalks.”  This made it very difficult for people to walk around them with all the traffic whizzing just centimeters away.  Eventually we saw them blading the dirt smooth.  This seemed like a great idea, a nice walkway for people along the road (maybe now is a good time to mention that the huge majority, at least 90%, of the people in Nairobi do not own a car, so they tend to walk or take matatus.)   Speaking of matatus (you have to read the parenthesis to keep up), another missionary told me a while back, “Any (near) horizontal place is a good place to drive.”  So guess what happens when they put in a nice sidewalk, you got it, Matatu Madness™.   In order to control this, you commonly see sidewalks strewn with huge rocks, with well worn foot paths meandering through them (and you though meandering walks were a more recent American city planning aesthetic technique).  Even this, I thought, was progress.  You had to pay attention, but a nice sidewalk for pedestrians.  However, you cannot stop progress (at least that is what I have been told, but I have a lot of anecdotal evidence to counter that).  Just recently we saw them jackhammering out every other 2 foot section of curb.  Odd, indeed, but it gave them more chunks of concrete to place on the sidewalk to keep the matatus off.  And just yesterday we saw what they were trying to accomplish.  They had put in these large blocks of concrete to fill in those gaps.  They are at least 10″ high, too high for matatus to cross, and too uneven for them to try to ride half on half off (do not think they would not try!).  Then they have paved the sidewalk!  Pavement… what a blessing.  (You know, it rains here, and since I grew up almost all my life in a desert, I was not that familiar with what happens to dirt when it gets wet.  You would not believe the mud around here…)  So where was I?  (This is one long paragraph…) So Cammy said to me, “This is so nice.”  And I replied, “It really is changing around here, things are getting better.”  (That reminded me of the joke about the first Marine recruited back on the morning of November 10, 1775.  In the afternoon, another recruit signed up.  Being greeted in the barracks by the first man who said, “You know, back in the old corps, we had to parade in 2 feet of snow…”)  A little later were driving down the road the other direction (I did mention it was a main road).  It occurred to me, “I guess we are still a long way from handicapped ramps…”

Wow, are you still reading?  I guess you are hoping for some kind of payoff for staying with me this long. But basically, if you were paying attention, you already know it.  We are adjusting as to what is normal.  We are adjusting down, slowly but surely.  And I think that is a good thing.  I have a post about expectations that is waiting… maybe I will get to it.  I also have one on things you do not need, but think you do.  Be patient, I am busy… Thank you for your time.  Oh, if you make it this far, send me an email.

God’s Grace

I have been officially initiated into Nairobi traffic life.  On Friday I was in a car accident.  I am praising God that the boys were not with me at the time.  A big school bus hit the side of my vehicle, impacting the door behind the driver seat – the place that our oldest boy, Petr sits.  The impact caused the window to shatter and glass covered both of the boys car seats.  Upon impact, the car started to spin in the opposite direction of traffic…but I was able to correct it and safely pull over.  You can imagine my relief when I realized that the car had been hit where my two precious boys are usually sitting.  I was perfectly fine, a little shaken up, but fine.  Then I noticed that the bus driver was approaching me with another guy, the bus monitor, saying the accident was my fault.  I clearly stated it wasn’t and that HE hit me.  However, it was two against one.  I started to get nervous I was going to be the one blamed. Not sure of how everything is handled here in Africa, I pictured myself being hauled to the police station.  I quickly called Paul but could’t get through because he was in a leadership conference.  Thankfully, I was able to contact someone who sent word out to missionaries nearby who could come and be with me.  Waldo, who just happens to be our mentor (along with his wife), showed up on his motorcycle moments before the police man walked up to the car.  His motorcycle enabled him to get through the heavy traffic and come to my rescue.  I was relieved to have a man present.  Waldo has been here for many years and knows how the law works in Africa. Paul arrived shortly after with his motorcycle (the only way to get to the scene of an accident quickly – I am very thankful for those motorcycles!).

I was not hauled to the police station that day.  The evidence was clear.  God showed me favor as the police man looked at the sight of the accident. The positioning of the broken glass in the lane, along with the point of contact, proved it was the bus driver’s fault.  Then the policeman told us to wait for another police man to come and take our statements.  He left before the other policeman came.  I was pleased to find that the next policeman agreed with the first.  The bus driver was hoping to make a deal with us instead of reporting the accident to the insurance companies.  We informed him that we had to go through insurance.  He went on to talk about how he was going to be fired and would be unable to feed his children.  It was a hard situation for us.  We knew that he was most likely going to be fired and it would be difficult to find another business that would employ him as a driver.  I told him that if the damage to the car was only cosmetic, we would be fine with driving a bad looking car.  But you can’t drive a car with a broken window and a door that won’t open or close.  It was hard to walk away from the man as he realized that there was no other way.  I continue to pray for him.  There are times in life when it is hard to see why a situation is the way it is.  I can only trust in the Lord and lean on His understanding.  I am glad I serve a God that is in control of every situation, One who knows best, has a plan and a purpose for it all.  I know that I learned things that day.

The entire incident was over in about an hour and a half.  I drove the car, nervously to say the least, to Paul’s work as he followed with his motorcycle.  We were greeted by guys who work with Paul.  They cleaned the glass and patched up the window with duck tape (got to love that stuff!).  We got home and hugged our sweet boys who were graciously sparred!

Oh, and the next day I had to drive through the same traffic circle…this time the boys were in the car.  I thank God for His protection!!!

Car accident

14-11-08_1623We went through what seems to be a rite of passage for missionaries here in Nairobi.  I have been at a conference all week, so Cammy was on the way to the hangar to pick up some packages that had just cleared customs.  At the one big roundabout near the hangar she was hit by a school bus. Thankfully she is well, and the boys were at home finishing their nap and were not in the car.  The accident threw glass all over the boys’ seat in the car. The damage was almost completely limited to a single door, so hopefully we will be able to replace that without too much hassle.

Cammy did not enjoy dealing with the bus driver and his assistant who were trying to convince her she was at fault.  Waldo Goosen, a 20+ year missionary fluent in Swahili, was able to meet her quickly from the hangar, and I was also able to arrive not much later, thanks to having a motorcycle. (That may be a whole different post, I have never, ever, seen traffic like what I had to go though to get there.)

We continued on to that hangar, picked up the packages and got lots of help cleaning out the glass from the car.  I do not think it has been that clean since we have owned it.  The AIM Air mechanics even got some great plastic to cover the window and some aviation duct tape to get it on there.

On Monday we will begin the fun process of going to the insurance company and the police station.  I think that should be a really interesting experience.  God has been so good in this so we trust we will see Him with us on Monday as well.

Change

I am at a leadership conference for AIM this week.  We have been talking about a lot of really great stuff, most of which I know I am not disciplined enough to write here.

One thing I found very useful was the time spent thinking about change. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.  Some of it reaches back to some of the stuff I wrote quite a while back.

You are not the man or woman God wants you to be.  You have to change.

How is God moving you now?  Are you resisting? Why?

What can you learn from the answers to those questions?

What do you have to do that you do not like?  Why do you not like it?  If God is moving you to do something you do not like, it is probably not because you are the best one to do it.  There is almost always someone better at something than you are.  That means that the purpose in having you do it is not to have it done the best, but to have you do it.  God knows you, He knows your gifts.  He also loves you, and He wants you to learn and to grow.

Uganda Pictures

dsc02122I took a trip quite a while ago to Uganda and I finally got around to posting the pictures.  Sorry it took so long.

Unfortunately I did not have my camera out at all the best times like when we were 3 men on a motorcycle (which did not seem odd at the time).  I also did not get any pictures in Kampala, but it is a very neat city, especially if you are not in a hurry.  The whole downtown is so impacted with motorcycle and minivan share taxis.

Most of the pictures are of the house I stayed in near Entebbe and the AIM Air office there.

Dr. Pepper Bday

dsc01346It was my birthday, and I had bought myself a Dr. Pepper.  They are only 79 Kenyan Shillings per can! (Ski resort prices…)  Cammy made pizza, but we are still searching for the right kind of cheese.  This stuff didn’t grate or melt… yet it almost tastes like cheese.  Go figure.