Christmas at Morning Star Children’s Home

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I have been encouraged by the thoughtfulness of people in the States who get involved in reaching out to those in need here in Africa.  Our sister-in-law, Melanie, is an elementary school teacher.  She had an idea to have her students choose a child from Morning Star Children’s Home and put together a personalized Christmas box for that child.  Each student participated by writing a letter, sending a picture and filling the box with all kinds of things kids like, and they committed to pray.  Our church in the States, Calvary Chapel of El Cajon, joined in by taking on the extra children, as there are more children in the home than in the class, and also by paying for the shipping.  Some of our dear friends who heard about the idea joined in too!  Each child was going to have a Christmas box from someone in the States.  We were thrilled to hear of this generous act!  They even included our two boys because they knew that they were going to be with us when we delivered the boxes.

dsc01465Christmas was approaching fast and it looked as if the boxes weren’t going to make it to Africa in time.  But God is a Big God and He answers prayer!  The boxes came at the last possible moment, just in time for Christmas on December 23rd.   There they were, thirty two boxes, beautifully wrapped, sent with so much thoughtfulness and love – I felt like St. Nick with our car filled to the brim with gifts for girls and boys!!!  We took them to Morning Star on Christmas Eve day and I was reminded of one of the joys of being a missionary – to personally see the faces of the ones who are receiving love from another human being.  There are no words to describe the emotions of handing over a gift of this magnitude, a gift that has so much love behind it, to a child who feels so special to be receiving it.  God must feel this way each time one of His children accepts His perfect gift of His Son.  Oh, to see the faces of each believer when they are at the receiving end, but that is God’s view!  I think I just got a little “peak” at what He sees.

God wants us to grow up

This last Sunday we went up to Kabete and I spoke in a small Harvester’s Church there.  It is always a great experience to get out of the city and to sit down with people who are not so affected by the “haraka haraka” (rush rush) of Nairobi.

I spoke on Phillipians 2.  There are some really biting passages in there and I have written about a bunch of them here before.

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.

Nothing.  Do you have any idea how hard that is?  Think through your day.  I would be willing to bet that 99% of every choice you made was out of self interest.  That is how every one of my days goes.  That is how we are wired.

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… taking the form of a bondservant.

Jesus is our example.  Bondservant can be translated as slave.  You will never be as high as He was, you will never go as low as He did.

Paul, Peter, James and Jude all describe themselves as bondservants of God.  Peter gives an exhortation to everyone, not just slaves.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God.

1 Peter 2:15-16

And that gets to where I was thinking.  No one wants to hear it, but we are destined to be slaves.  Either to our sinful flesh, or to God.  We were made to have a Master, and if you do not give Him His place in your life, you put something else there.

That bondage to sin that we live in is a very interesting one.  You see, selfishness, rebellion against God has one aim.  It is to please self.  However, it does it in the most immature way.  When we serve the flesh, we serve the “now me.”  We are not doing what is good for our selves, but what is destructive.  We destroy the “future me” in order to feed the “now me.”  I wrote some of this back in the “Hard work isn’t easy” post.  But I wanted to go deeper.  I think every sin, every choice outside God’s will, is short sighted.  It does not fully take into account the big picture.  Sin is the great destroyer, of course it ultimately leads to the destruction of our soul.

God loves us.  He is the greatest master, because He has our best interest in mind.  His will for us is the best way, taking into account the big picture, that only He can see.

We have to teach children to mature in making decisions that affect the future.  We started giving Petr and Andrej and allowance, and guess what they did the first week they got their 50 shillings?  They spent it all on candy and gum.  I want them to learn to save their money, to get things that will mean more to them, things that have more value, and more longevitiy.  I want them to grow up.

God wants us, as His children, to grow up as well.  He wants us to learn to trust Him, to look further down the road and see that whatever He has for us, is better in the long run.  Can we do it?  Can we grow up?  Can we make decisions that are not motivated by pleasing the “now me” and get to looking out for His will, and for others above ourselves?

Room at the inn

There is something I enjoy very much.  It is when someone who has power, and every right to use it, and yet they hold back.  When a basketball player on a fast break jumps up with all his force toward the basket… and does a simple finger roll instead of a dunk.  When a band who can play the loudest hardest, music, sings a gentle ballad.  When a president serves turkey to a bunch of enlisted soldiers in a dangerous land.  When a king pardons a criminal who should die.  Power withheld can be more powerful than when it is expressed.

dsc01539The day after Christmas we drove up to a shamba (farm) near a small town called Kasuku, Kenya.  It was the home of Pastor Stephen’s parents and now one of his brothers is living there.  They had killed 3 goats on Christmas day and slept 3 to a bed that night, but they killed another one for us that day.

We had a wonderful time talking and the boys played with all the kids there.  We took a soccer ball and a baseball.  They had a great time with the soccer ball, and we even hacked off a branch of a tree for a bat and tried to teach some young guys how to play baseball.  It really is a hard sport but they were determined.  Their base running was a bit suspect and the concept of actually having to touch each base was a bit hard to get through.  My Swahili still is not what it needs to be, and their English was no better.  Never the less, it was great fun.

We enjoyed eating as some of the goat and maize as it was cooked and then had a real full meal later, with mochimo, rice, chapati, and goat.  After eating, Regina, one of Stephen’s daughters, took Andrej over to the head of the goat, and asked if he was scared.  He said, “No, its not real, its already dead.”

dsc01521We were sitting not far from the cows who were also enjoying a feast of maize stalks and shuckings out of a feeding trough, a manger.  I started thinking about sleeping there, 3 people to a bed.  We were supposed to be staying at Thompson Fall’s Lodge, just 20 minutes up the road with Stephen and his immediate family.  At that point, Stephen came over to tell me he had called the Lodge and talked to the manager.  They were full up, all the rooms were booked.  I started thinking about the feeding trough again.  Then he told me he was going to be going back to Nairobi with his family that night, and that he had somehow arranged with the Lodge manager a room for us to stay in.  I was very relieved to have a nice place for my family to stay, a bed for my wife, and one for each of my kids..  It was very nice to have a friend who knew the right people to talk to, and what to say.  Some one to pull some strings, cash in some chips.

Then I saw that feeding trough in a new light.  I know just a man, who helped me out.  The Creator of the Universe did not pull any strings, He did not cash in any favors for His own Son.  He sent Him as a simple baby, to no fanfare, to be born in a stable.  It would have been no trouble for God to have reserved a room, and yet He did not.  He was born in a stable.  I was worried about having flush toilets, and my savior rested in a feeding trough.

That is something I enjoy very much.  Although, it is a bit convicting as well.  Jesus came as a baby, grew as a boy, and lived as a man.   He was born in a stable, to a carpenter’s family, and He stayed that humble all His life.  God made flesh.  I wrote about Phillipians 2:5-8 before.  But now, going through our Christmas time, I know that He is my example.  And it only started with a manger, it ended with a cross.

Dec 5th : Our Little One Turns Four

dsc02148Andrej had a safari party for his fourth birthday. I made a jeep out of cardboard from boxes we used to pack when we moved. Petr and Andrej worked hard at painting “safari jeep number four”, as Andrej called it. (Thanks for the paint Grandma!) The kids also made binoculars out of toilet paper rolls. But the most exciting thing was the safari tent that I made in the living room – using sheets, of course! Lunch consisted of Andrej’s favorite, Mac-n-Cheese from the States. (Thanks Nonni!) We had a nice time celebrating with our new friends!