Kilonzo Shamba

Last Saturday we went to the shamba (farm/property) of one of the guys who has worked for me in the auto repair shop, Joel Kilonzo Mutie.  His father passed away when he was young (he is still young).  He is the oldest boy in the family so there are quite a few people who depend on him for their sustenance.  His older sister has two children and her husband was killed not too long ago, so even they are in need of support.  Her kids live with Kilonzo’s mother along with his younger brother and sister.

We got to go see the school where his sister is in class 8.  It was a Saturday so only grades 6-8 were in session.  We got to greet each class and tell them about ourselves.  Andrej was quite shy.  We were invited over to the secondary school to greet the classes there.  Then we headed to the head teacher’s office to sign in the visitors book.  It was quite the school visit!

I had asked where they got water for use in the home and Kilonzo said he would show me.  The place is way up in the hills (over 6,500 ft) just west of Machakos. So off we went on a hike to a spring that was about 3/4 of a mile away and down.  On the way back I lamented the fact that we had not taken any jerry cans to carry water.  He told me, “You wont make it back.”  I did feel the burn even not carrying 20 liters of water.  He said mornings are best before it gets hot.

We had a very nice lunch (it is hard to beat fresh chapati in Ukambani).  The boys played a bit.  It is a real relief to get out of the city and all the walls and just be able to run around… even for the boys!  Then we took Kilonzo, his mother, and his niece back to Nairobi.

Ushirika ya Kabete

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Ushirika is a noun that means the concept of sharing. It is the word used to translate fellowship.
We were at Kabete this Sunday. I had wanted to go there for a while to show them how grateful we are for their fellowship. I preached through most of Philippians and it seemed well received. (You will have to ask Cammy how her long it seemed…)  I finished with a contrast of mataki (wants) and mahitaji (needs).  I am enjoying being able to correct and help the translator.
I mentioned that when we want to communicate how we love someone we are limited to the languages we know. If you know me well you know one of my “love languages” is barbeque. So after church I unloaded our grill and I roasted about 18 pounds of beef fillet. The ladies sang together as I cooked and the pastor had arranged so mukimo and kachumbari. We ate a great meal together.  It felt awesome and there we quite a few mentions of the church in Acts 2. 
Right as we finished eating, the rain came. We moved inside the church and talked for a while waiting out the rain. All the kids were playing. It was great.
When the rain broke we prayed, received their thanks and headed out. I had a lot of help loading up the grill. On the drive home the rain came back heavier than I can remember here. Then it started hailing! It even got to be pretty big hail too. (We are less than 80 miles from the equator.)

Tools

Working for the last three years in an aircraft hangar and managing a help desk and auto repair shop has given me a lot of contact with tools and the people who use them.

What is a tool?

tool (noun)
1. A device, such as a saw, used to perform or facilitate manual or mechanical work.
2. Something regarded as necessary to the carrying out of one’s occupation or profession.
3. Something used in the performance of an operation; an instrument.

Tools are to be used to help accomplish a task.  Tools can be necessary, as some jobs cannot be done without them.

God gives us a lot of tools to perform the tasks He has given us to do. Money is a tool, as is our social standing.  Maybe you have a house or a car, these are tools.  They are meant to help you to get His work done.

When the tool becomes the focus and not the task at hand, we are lost.  Seeking money as a tool is good, seeking money for money is bad. Whenever we take our eyes off the goal and focus on the tools God has given us to get there, we are going the wrong way.

It is not about what you have, but why you have it.

What is my motivation?

It is not about what I do, by why I do it.

Unified field theory

Why are you making the decisions you are making?  Each and every decision is based on priorities.

And you shall  love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. – Mark 12:30

Why are you doing it?

Is everything you do motivated by your love for God?  Is all your life, everything you have, committed to Him?

What are you doing right now?  Is that in line with loving God with all that is in you?

I do not actually know how many times I have linked to Matt 6:33, but it applies here as well.  I feel like I am being beat like a drum, so if I sound like one, the same tone over and over, you know why.

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Tulishinda

Tulishinda – “We won.”

Yesterday Santiago had another match.  We won 2-0.

Before the match they let me be the one to pray this time.

Baba wetu katika mbiguni, tunashukuru.  Tuko pamoja mbele zako kucheza mpira.  Unajua tunataka kushinda, lakini hata kama tungepoteza, tunataka zaidi kukuleta heshima na sifa. Tunaomba katika jina la Yesu Kristo. Amina.

“Our Father in heaven, we give you thanks.  We are together before you to play ball.  You know we want to win, but even if we would lose, we want more to bring you honor and praise.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”

It was a fairly clean match, a lot of professional fouls but not many dirty ones.  Every time I touched the ball I heard people yell “Rooney.”  I look nothing like Wayne Rooney, but, oh well.

Standing in the community

I have struggled understanding how certain things work here.  At times I am unable to figure out why people do certain things.  “What motivates them to do that?” I ask myself.

Over my time here I have often explained to Kenyans how life is very different in USA.  I continue to tell them that, while often confusing at first, there is an easy way to figure it out.  Follow the money.  It is a sad commentary on my culture, but fairly plain most of the time.  If you want to figure something out, follow the money.  This actually makes laws and regulations easier.  There is a common currency for motivating people, and the currency is currency.

Not so here.  Money is often a motivator, but not nearly the root cause as it commonly is in USA.  Why is that?  What is different?

The conclusion I have come to after 3 years here is that it is not really about money anywhere.  It is, just about always, about standing in the community.  It is just that in USA, one’s standing in their community is most often expressed in dollars.

We require social interaction.  This is why the author of Hebrews wanted to make sure people continued doing it in the church (Heb 10:25).  Fellowship is often mentioned in the New Testament. God made us social creatures.  It is a fact of our nature that we have to belong to a community.  It is from that starting point that the fallen man takes hold.  Pride enters the equation and it no longer becomes about fellowship, but our place in that community.

“How do I raise my standing in the community?”  The majority of man’s actions can be accounted for by that simple question.  (The other big one is man seeking comfort for himself.)  Agape love should be a motivator, but that happens in far too rare circumstances.

If you want to understand a culture, you must first understand how it determines the standing of its members.  The outward appearance is the first thing that usually places someone, physical traits, clothing, hair etc..  Here, shoes are a huge factor.  What kind of shoes is he wearing?  How old are they?  Are they clean?  Many times I have greeted someone to find them taking a quick glance at my feet.  My skin color here also has a lot of meaning, which, fortunately for me, makes up for my lack of “taste” in shoes (I am motivated by that other thing, comfort, when it comes to shoes.) In some groups tattoos raise their standing while in others it lowers it.  How you behave is also has a lot to do with it.  Look around sometime, you can identify many different communities that measure people in different ways.

This becomes really important when it comes to sharing the gospel with someone.  You need to identify what community they come from and know how that community measures people.  Of course the gospel is good and necessary for everyone regardless from where they come.  However, if you are going to bring the gospel to them you have to do it in such a way (culturally translate it) that it is presented as superior to what they have now.  Otherwise you are just going to inoculate them against the gospel.  This can be very difficult if someone’s community is completely based in something antithetical to the gospel.

The gospel is superior, but that is a difficult sell to the guy down the street with the forehead callus.  His standing in the community will be severely affected.  You can make similar observations with people of most faiths as their standing in their community is often tied to their beliefs.

What is your standing in your community?  How much time and effort do you spend on trying to raise that position?  Would that time and resources be better spent another way?  I know it would… but we all do it.  We can be different.  In fact, we are commanded to be:

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. Romans 12:2 NKJV