The Full 90 Minutes

I spend a lot of time walking to Kenyatta Market.  I have a lot of friends there who I enjoy talking to.  Lately I have spent a lot of time talking to the shoe shine guys.  We mostly talk about football and life in America.  Cammy sees the guys to when she buys fruits and vegetables.  When I am not around for a couple of days they always tell her that I am lost.  The shoe shine guys are just off the parking lot for the market.  Many places in Nairobi where there is parking there are street boys who attempt to organize the parking and try to get work washing the car while the people do whatever it is they came to do.  Kenyatta Market is no different.

There is a group of guys who try to wash cars and sit near the trash heap.  There are a few different levels of “street boys.”  Some are really the bottom of the barrel, guys who have lived such a hard life they can barely function.  They pick through the trash for anything to eat and are almost completely unable to communicate.  They are usually drunk or high on glue or mirrah.  But not all street boys are that far gone.  Many of them just have nothing to do, and no way to get a stable job.  Unemployment is very high, so they have few productive things to do with their time.

A couple of months ago they told me they had a football team, Santiago Street Boys, and they wanted me to come watch.  I was never able to make it until a couple of weeks ago when I went to a practice they held at a nearby primary school ground.  I was really impressed at the organization.  They had a coach who took them through a complete warm up and stretching.  He even yelled at them when they cut corners running during warm up (I made sure I did not).  Then we played a game of two-touch.  This is great practice, but not nearly as much fun as regular football.  I was impressed at the level of commitment they have.  They invited me back for another practice.  So I practiced again.

Then they informed me that they would be playing a friendly match against another team the following Monday at the AMREF ground at Laini Saba in Kibera and they wanted me to play with them.  So Monday I got to play.  One of the things that really made me stand out was my age.  I was the oldest guy playing.  Oh, that, and I am also white.

The team actually has quite a following.  Some of them are the people who are too far gone to be able to compete.  They are living vicariously through the team who represents them on the field. Much like you might feel for a professional team from your town, but this is closer.  The guys on the pitch really do represent them.  They know them, they walk with them every day.  Watching a football match is probably high on the list of non-negative things they could be doing.

We started the match with a nice prayer from our coach.  My teammates were all really competitive, and at half we even went over the stats the coach was keeping.  He gave us some tactical instructions, most of which went over my head.  I guess it is a good thing, but my Swahili vocabulary is better for church than a football pitch.  We played well, but need some more work on playing our positions.  I was in the midfield the whole game, and had trouble organizing people mostly because of communication issues.  I would yell something out in English and nothing would happen.  I was never sure I was using the correct Swahili terms for what I wanted them to do.

The pitch was very slick.  It was almost like playing on ice.  It is hard packed dirt with a thin layer of loose sand and dust.  It made it very hard to change directions.  My indoor football boots actually worked better than the cleats some of them were using.

After the match four of the guys walked with me on my way home.  I thought they were returning to Kenyatta Market, but as soon as I headed toward the gate at our community they headed back to Kibera.

This is the pitch [mappress]

Choices

I mentioned before I would post my notes, here they are.

Who are you?  Not your name, not what you do, where you come from.
What makes you who you are? – You are the sum of choices, some made for you, but ultimately you are responsible for what you do with your life.

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

Your choices may seem mundane, meaningless.  What will you wear, what will you eat?

How do you make decisions?  An important question when you realize that it will define you.

Humanities: The study of what makes us human.  Specifically human, not an animal, not connected with race, gender etc.

What makes us different?  We were created in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

How are we in God’s image?  What do we have that no other creature has?  No other creature has a free will.  How do we use that will?  We make choices based on values.

What is important to you?  That is how you make decisions, whether conscious or not.
Decision tree: Does it affect priority #1? Move to #2, and so on.

You can look at your life, your decisions and determine what your priorities are.

What is  most important decision you will ever make?  Is that reflected in the priorities of your life?

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ

Who is in control of your life?  Are you being blown about or are you taking charge of the responsibility that God has given you?  You are the pilot, are you following the orders of the Captain, or just going with the flow?

How do we set our priorities straight?
Matthew 6:25-34
If we have priority #1 set, we do not need to worry about #2-#99.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We set our minds straight by realizing we must give it all up to God who knows better.  We must seek His way regardless of the apparent cost.

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

“He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.” Philip Henry (1631-1696)

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Scaffolding can be necessary, but it is temporary.  Do not invest in scaffolding.

Choose right.  Choose God’s Kingdom.  Tunajenga mfalme wa Mungu.

 

 

Who are you? Not your name, not what you do, where you come from.

What makes you who you are? – You are the sum of choices, some made for you, but ultimately you are responsible for what you do with your life.

 

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

 

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

 

Your choices may seem mundane, meaningless. What will you wear, what will you eat?

 

How do you make decisions? An important question when you realize that it will define you.

 

Humanities: The study of what makes us human. Specifically human, not an animal, not connected with race, gender etc.

 

What makes us different? We were created in the image of God.

 

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

 

How are we in God’s image? What do we have that no other creature has? No other creature has a free will. How do we use that will? We make choices based on values.

 

What is important to you? That is how you make decisions, whether conscious or not.

Decision tree: Does it affect priority #1? Move to #2, and so on.

 

You can look at your life, your decisions and determine what your priorities are.

 

What is most important decision you will ever make? Is that reflected in the priorities of your life?

 

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ

 

Who is in control of your life? Are you being blown about or are you taking charge of the responsibility that God has given you? You are the pilot, are you following the orders of the Captain, or just going with the flow?

 

How do we set our priorities straight?

Matthew 6:25-34

If we have priority #1 set, we do not need to worry about #2-#99.

 

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

We set our minds straight by realizing we must give it all up to God who knows better. We must seek His way regardless of the apparent cost.

 

Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

He is no fool who parts with that which he cannot keep, when he is sure to be recompensed with that which he cannot lose.” Philip Henry (1631-1696)

 

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

 

Scaffolding can be necessary, but it is temporary. Do not invest in scaffolding.

 

Choose right. Choose God’s Kingdom. Tunajenga ufalme ya Mungu.

The Other Wall

Quite a few years ago I built a wall in the backyard of the house we had in La Mesa.  It was a really long project and I did all the work with my dad and brother.

In September of 2009 when my parents were visiting the perimeter wall at the back of our house fell down.  The Sunday morning it fell down I went to Mathare with my dad.  Last Sunday I asked who remembered the man from Jericho.

About a month ago I started moving dirt from near the road onto the lot across from our house.  The dirt was just piled up from construction left over and was wasted space.  You could not play on it, you could not park on it.  That lead to the need for a retaining wall to keep the dirt on the field.  This lead to the need for a fence to keep soccer balls on the field.  I had some 4″ steel pipes made into 8’x4′ soccer goals.  Then Cammy and I talked it over and decided to move the play structure from our back yard to the lot so all the kids could play on it.  Then I had the guys build a nice bench to sit on while you watch the kids play.  With some work from me (which was very awkward at times with strange looks from the neighbors), and the help of some skilled and unskilled labor we pretty much finished it all up last week.  There are still a few things to be worked out like reinforcing the swing set (it may be one of the busiest swings in Kenya!), but all told it cost about $3000.  That is just about what we got back from our federal tax returns.  Since we are supported by all of you, and that was all withheld from our “income,” it was all God’s money anyway.

This Saturday we had an awesome time as we opened the field with a bar-b-que and potluck for the whole neighborhood.  I was really impressed by how many people showed up.  It was amazing to see some of the ladies organize a game of musical chairs for the kids.  Andrej came in second, but he seemed to be the crowd favorite, and I think he got the benefit of the doubt more than once.  Then they got the women to compete, and even the men took a turn. They presented Cammy and me with some nicely carved gourds as a sign of appreciation.

Maybe because it is so fresh in my memory, but that day has to be one of the best days of all our time in Kenya.  I really feel like we made an impact on our neighbors.

Choices in Mathare

We went back to Pastor Peter Kisia’s church in Mathare on Sunday.  Mathare is the second largest slum in Nairobi.  The church is right next to the river/open sewer where you can see them making changaa (moonshine) with fires under 50 gallon steel drums. We had a really nice time, although Cammy admitted she had trouble with the smell most of the time.  This picture is actually from a while back when we visited there.  We forgot to take a camera.  I spoke again on choices, which I am also sharing this morning at chai time here at the hangar.  I really will post the notes soon.

Vision

imageThis is Valentine.  He is our gardener.  He has worked for us for the whole 3 years that we have lived here.  He always comes on time, and completes the work he has been asked to do.  Today I had the joy of taking him to the optometrist.  He has had a lot of trouble with his eyesight, but I had no idea how bad it was until I spent the day with him.  He is unable to read his phone, so when he gets a text message (very common way of communicating here), he has to ask someone else to read it to him. He had attempted to get glasses himself, but had been quoted something close to $200, more than one months salary.

We spent the morning at Yaya Center, a mall.  There is an Indian optometrist shop there where I got the lenses I am currently using in my glasses.  They were very fast and got everything right for me and it was not too expensive, so I thought it would be a good place to take Valentine.  After about 10 minutes the tech told us he needed glasses for reading and working up close, but not bifocals or anything for seeing farther away.  He was pretty sure he had the lenses he needed in stock so said we should wait 2 hours.

So to avoid traffic on the beloved Ngong Road, we decided to push the time at the mall.  We walked through the hardware store and checked the hiking shop (picture an REI inside a 3 car garage and prices doubled).  Then we went to Java House to get something to drink.  I asked Valentine what he wanted and he said just coffee.  They have a bunch of different kinds of coffee so I turned to the coffee drinks page and asked what he wanted.  He told me he could not read the menu, and it is not a small font.  So he got a house coffee and I ordered him a chocolate croissant.  He said he was not hungry, but the croissant disappeared pretty fast.

We went back to the optometrist after about 90 minutes and the glasses were done.  You should have seen the look on Valentine’s face when he could read the time on his phone!  When we got back to the house he was looking over some paperwork he had brought regarding his employment at one of the AIM facilities as a gate guard.  He was unable to read them before.

It gave me so much joy to be a part of that.  All told, for about $125 with the frames he picked out, his life has been changed.  Thank you supporters so much for letting us do this for him.

Stumps

image

As part of my wall/field/social project there was an avocado tree that was in the way. I decided to remove it. As I started hacking away at the trunk with a panga (like a machete) two neighborhood guys came by to help. I was not sure if they were bored or wanted to help or what. But they got through the trunk pretty fast. I grabbed a pick and a shovel and started digging around the stump to remove it. They jumped in to digging also so I went to cleaning up the fallen tree. When I had finished that I saw they had gone down about two feet and had not hit any roots. I then realized that when the tree started growing the ground level was at least two feet lower. That meant we were going to need at least a four foot deep hole to remove it. So I suggested we cut off the stump below ground level. This is a picture of that process.

I could not help but to think of the stump I removed from our old yard. More than one person suggested I just grind it down but I really enjoyed the time I spent removing it. Most of the work I do requires so much of my brain I do not get time to think or talk to God. But when I swing a panga or shovel dirt I get to. I have talked to my friend Kevin about the “theology of stumps” before. He removed one too.
Just as we finished removing the trunk one the neighbors came over to tell me that he had planted that tree and it had the best avocados. It figures. I hope he is not too upset. Up until last Saturday he was the only person over fifteen years old to help on the project (besides hired labor). The two younger guys stayed and helped for about two more hours as we leveled a bunch of the dirt.