Auto repair

A while back I mentioned that I was responsible for auto repair here at AIM-IS.  One of the things we want to do is get out and help missionaries where they are, and not make them drag their broken carcass of a vehicle back to Nairobi.  This is the kind of thing I mean.

Try to imagine the kind of engine that would use a part like this… Can you?  The engine it was in couldn’t.

Decompression Ride

I went out on a ride Saturday with Alan and John.  We intended to head toward the Rift, to see if we could get down this area that looked really nasty on Google Earth.  We ended up finding this really nice road, to no where.  Not actually no where, but a really wide, recently paved road that just ended in dirt.  It was still a wide dirt road, and fairly nice, but the rains has beat it up a bit.  There was no junction near where the pavement ended.  I theorized that an MP lived just behind the end of the pavement.  They usually have very nice roads to their homes.

Not wanting to bite of more than we could chew, none of us having ridden much in the last few months, we chose the easy route.  We went through Limuru and ended up very near Karuri, so I took them by the church.  We took a back way to Ndenderu (near the Kianjogu church).

Regarding the title, sometimes it is good to just let the Kenyan roads beat the snot out of you.  It feels great.

Mostly I wanted to post this so I could try out putting a track on the blog.  I also have some video of the last part of the ride.  I will try to post it later.

Manual Labor

Living here has really changed my perspective on a lot of things.  One of them is labor (or labour).

We employ quite a few people in and around our home.  That may come as sort of a surprise to you, but let me try to explain it with a story from this weekend.

dsc01161Across from our house is an empty lot.  It was a designated common area when the houses were built.  Not quite like the common areas around our condo in La Mesa, but the same idea.  I have sort of made it a project of mine, slowly making it a better field to play soccer on for the neighborhood boys, including ours.

There is a home owners association where we live.  They sprung up all over Nairobi as public streets were gated off for security reasons.  Once the gates were in, they needed gate guards to watch and open them.  Then some way to pay the guards and maintain the gates.  I happen to be on the committee of our association, as the vice-treasurer.  (Be careful what meetings you attend…)  Even the committee has recognized my part time hobby/project of the field and asked how we can do a better job of taking care of it.

(Interesting side note, the word in Swahili for field is “kiwanja.”  “Njaa” means hunger.   “Wa” puts it in the plural noun class for people, and “Ki” is a place or thing.  So kiwanja is literally “the place of the hungry people”.  Most Bantu peoples are farmers, so the field is the place to go for food.)

I have been looking for a way to trim the grass effectively, and using our 10″ shears (scissors) is quite a job to cut so much grass.  So this weekend, I went down the the corner Home Depot (well it is a 20′ shipping container, but they have almost everything… really) and bought a “slasher.”  Picture a golf club, but much cheaper, and where the “club” would be is a flat blade.  Blade in the sheet of metal sense, not the sharp like a knife sense.  The sharpening part is the responsibility of the new owner, and that would be me.  I took it home and began sharpening it with a stone my father had bought when he was here.  About an hour, many sore muscles and a nice blister later, I “slashed” for about 15 minutes.  Then I wished I was using the shears…

The next day, I went to a pub to watch the Manchester United-Liverpool match with my friend, Ken Wanyama.  On the way home, I was greeted by one of the car wash boys.   In East Africa, greeting requires a hand shake.  He noticed the “plaster” (aka band-aid) on my hand and asked what happened.  I told him and he was really sad.  He said, “Mr. Paul, why did you not hire me to cut the grass?”

That little episode explains a lot about labor here.   I could hire him to cut the grass, and clean the whole lot.  It would probably take 4 or 5 hours.  He would be really happy with 400 shillings (~$5.33)

I was raised with a very good work ethic.  Those of you who know my father know that he is a hard worker.  He is also very resourceful and rarely pays anyone to do anything he can figure out or manage himself.  I grew to see the value of hard labor.

However, here, everything is upside down.  I am doing more for society by employing these guys who are usually begging me for money.  I often hear, “Mr. Paul, how about some chai today?”  Or I just get the hand held out, following me for 400 yards or more.  There is actually one guy that has 6 fingers on his right hand.  I must admit, on more than one occasion I have given him 5 shillings, just so he will put his hand in his pocket. (Yes, I often think of Iñigo Montoya.)

Banana Hill

Last Sunday we went to Harvester’s Christian Church in Karuri.  Pastor Stephen had put me on the schedule to preach there.  I do not think he realized at the time, but that was almost exactly 3 years to the week that I was there, my first preaching experience at a church in Africa.  Karuri is Pastor Stephen’s first Harvester’s church.  It has a special place in his heart, and is where he and his family lived for about 10 years before they started the church in Umoja II.

The people are always so welcoming when we get up country.  After church we had chai and bread in the parsonage we partially funded with proceeds from the house we sold in La Mesa.  Then we were off to Muchatha for lunch and fellowship with people from all the area churches.  Churches here are a lot closer together, especially outside of Nairobi.  Almost no one has a car, so walking distance is an important feature when looking for a church.  This generally keeps church sizes smaller and so it is a good idea from time to time to get churches together for fellowship.

OSM

One of my hobbies has been working on the mapping of East Africa.  It is sort of like searching for treasure, but when I find it, others can use it.

The area below was almost completely done by me.  I added a new plugin that allows me to embed the maps here.

Emptying my phone

I had a few pictures in my phone I thought I would share.

Car in the ditch

Bystanders said driver was drunk

The day we left for California for Christmas, we heard a lot of comotion right behind our wall.  Somehow the driver managed to get the car in the ditch directly perpendicular to the flow of traffic.  I talked to some calmer people outside the “mob” who said the car was from a nearby “garage” where they fix vehicles, and the mechanic was doing a test drive… drunk.  I doubt there is any insurance to cover that one.

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The Battlefield

In this post, I would like to further my ideas on “What is Evil?” as a part of this longer series.

Love requires a choice. Someone cannot be forced to love, they must choose it of their own will. Otherwise, it is not love.

God is omnipotent, the creator of everything.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  He is invincible.  What is there that He did not speak into being, and cannot speak out of being?  The idea that God is at war is ridiculous.

God desires that all men would choose to love Him (1 Tim 2:4), but He cannot force them, because of the nature of love.

That means that the battle for a soul takes place inside a man’s own heart, the only place that God has willfully restricted His omnipotence.  A man’s heart, therefore, is the only place evil can exist, because it is outside the presence of God, by His own choice.  It is the evil we choose in our hearts that forces our separation from God.  But God is sovereign, and when that evil leaves our heart and enters the world, we see that evil cannot be in God’s presence (Gen 50:20, Rom 8:28).  There are some good connections with my posts on “Free Will and Special Relativity” that I would like to explore at later time.

God has made the effort to orchestrate all of history to influence men in their hearts.  He knew man would fall, He designed it so that He would have to make the ultimate sacrifice of His Son, to demonstrate His love for us.  He even manages the minutia of your life, so that you can see Him for who He is, a loving Father, interested in only the best for His children, even when it hurts.

The battle is in your heart, and it is you that is fighting, not God (Eph 6:12).  He desires to see us fight, win, and return the love He has so generously poured on us. He desires you to invite His Spirit into your heart to free you from your own evil.

God is working for you, right now.  He has given you all the tools you need.  Are you fighting for Him? Are you returning His love? Are you becoming His child, by being made into the image of His Son (Rom 8:29)? Or have you continued to choose to have a heart full of evil, absent from God?

We Have Water!

During our time here our water has been turned off Tues thru Thurs. It has never been a big problem because we have storage tanks. However, there are times when it gets frustrating. Well, for the first time in a year and a half our water wasn’t turned off! Oh the blessings of flowing water! Especially because our pump to our front tank is broken so we have to bucket water into our back pump which can then pump water up to the tank in the house. It has been nice this week to not have to do it. However, it always gives you perspective. Many people have to walk miles to get their water, I just have to walk to the front of my house (and only once a week).

If He is able, and He loves us…

I have been sitting on this post for a long time, in the back of my mind, knowing I was going to write it.  It is probably the toughest one of this series, so I have been putting it off.

If you read the previous posts, you should no doubt believe God is able, and God loves you.  Those are simple but profound statements.  Putting them together brings a very difficult to accept conclusion.  It goes to the root of “what is evil,” but I want to leave most of that to the following post in this series.

God is not delinquent in bringing about His will.  He is not surprised.  He does not forget to act, He does not forget about you.  He is a purposeful God, with intentions that run the full length of history.  God is in control, He is able to take care of everything.  He loves us, beyond what we can comprehend.  He directs our lives in such a way as to get us to grow and to change into the men He wants us to be.  All the while we have a freewill, yet are unable to surprise Him by our choices.  He knows what lies before us.  He knows how hard it will be, and yet, He wants us to go through it.  I know there is a lot of nasty stuff going on in the world, I live close to a lot of it.  But that does not negate the reality of those two answers.  Doubting that takes us down the road of Job, and I do not want to have the “smack” brought down on me like that.

I started out the series by using the phrase “heart know.”  Living like we know that God is able, and that God loves us completely changes the way we approach life. God is not concerned with the same things you or I are.  We are motivated by self, He is love.  God is concerned about us, not our stuff, not our bodies, not our health.  He cares about the eternal you, not the now you. God wants us to grow up.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10 NKJV

God is not afraid to do what it takes to bring Himself glory through us.  More often than not that means tough stuff.  The stripping of the desires of the flesh is a difficult process, and one that is not done completely before death.

So why does a loving God do it?  Why would He allow such atrocities, even to His own children?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NKJV

Atrocities are a human measure of what is happening. We are looking at temporary things.  This is but for a moment.  God is concerned about the “eternal weight of glory” and so should we.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  Romans 8:18 NKJV

What are the worst thing believers go through?  Because even those cannot be compared to the glory God is working for eternity.

That is a story worth writing about, and He did.  He wrote it all for us, because of His love.

Edit: The next in the series is “The Battlefield.”