Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
I remember what Alicia Ressmann used to say about Cultural
Day at the Tirrim Schools: “I’m like such a proud momma! I am sorry if the other guests can’t see, but I will stand up in front and take pictures of MY kids! Oh, hi kids. Smile at my camera in your face!” In honor of Alicia I have taken on the new role of super excited “Mom” at the annual cultural song and dance preformance held with all schools in the Tirrim Project. And those secondary students did me proud this year! They performed a traditional Turkana dance and a Samburu/Rendille one also. I was even impressed with the primary school kids who did a dance performed with a ram’s horn trumpet! 551 photos later, and here are some of my favorites.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
So, I’m currently reading a very interesting book, the Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson, about following the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life. I’m on page 50 of 176, and as of now I would recommend it, but I’ve just come to a small piece of the author’s argument that I can
only be incredulous of after two years on the mission field.
In the passage I’ve just gone through, the author is talking about how the Lord sometimes calls us to a different physical location in order to change our perspective on his work and our calling, getting us out of dangerous comfort zones. He gives a clever little word formula akin to what I use in my English class (Helping Verb “Had” + Participle = Past Perfect Tense) saying, “a change of place + a change of
pace = a change of perspective.”
I agree with this.
But then he moves on to say this,
“If you’re in a spiritual slump, let me give you a prescription: go on a mission trip. There is no better or sure way of coming out of the cage of routine. It’s a cure-all.”
I don’t agree with this.
Missions is NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!
Of course, the Lord uses missions to drastically change our hearts and bring about his good will in our lives. I mean, honestly, God has
used my time in Rendille Land to vastly form “the Korr” of who I am in Him and I’m honored every day by the fact I was chosen to help in this ministry. There was always a significant plan for me, personally, in coming to Korr – this is what I was meant to do for this time. I was “allure[d]” and led “into the desert” for a chance at a more full understanding of redemption. Did God want this mission at this time for me? Absolutely. But that’s not the starting point in its entirety,
and that is definitely not where it all ends.
So, if we’re going to throw around equations for life and Jesus, then I think I’ve got one: God + Me + THE PEOPLE I’M MEANT TO BE SERVING
= Missions. Duh.
The sad thing is that I believe that there is a certain proportion of people out there, people who really do love Jesus, who just forget about the third factor. On accident? As a result of the American
Church? As a result of the incredibly “me first” mentality of Western society? I don’t know why, but it happens.
NGO’s have, unfortunately, had a monopoly on the business of throwing money at people without considering their real needs or the most
effective, efficient, and sustainable way of helping them. However, in the past couple of years in Kenya I’ve seen several short term missions in Africa (and large Christian charity organizations as well) where the people just show up, take a lot of pictures, hand out candy to children (or Tylenol), learn how to say “God bless you” in the local language, and then leave. And so, the short term missionaries go home with all these cool pictures and stories about the poor naked kids they saw and that one awesome lady who shared her testimony.
But what about those poor naked kids and that one awesome lady? What are they really left with? Hopefully they are truly left with an impression of the love of God, of course. I really do pray that if my students hear the name of Jesus just that one vital time and see Christianity as a verb (no English teacher joke intended), that the divine place inside them will suddenly make sense.
What if they don’t get this, though? Have any of their other needs really been served by you?
I think too many believers blithely sign up for missions trips hinking, “I want to be on the ‘Mountain Top’ with God, so that means I need to buy a $2500 plane ticket to a developing country. Yep, that’ll be a
good experience. New scenery, new people, new experiences, out of my comfort zone, learn way more about my faith…” Seeking the real life needs of the people; discipling high school students, feeding the starving, paying church worker’s salaries, or planning a focused ministry with a specific group of people seem to often be the parts of the equation that get filled in only after the “Me” part.
Missions begins, or should begin, with a calling; a prompting from the Holy Spirit to move into something. Believe me, I know the difference between just going on a missions trip and being called to missions.
I did trips to Mexico with my high school every year for four years and most of that had to do with my friends going/it was just what we did. Habit. I can’t say with conviction that I was “called” to Mexico. In fact, I don’t even remember really asking for God’s opinion on my choice to go. Now there’s a missionary-in-the-making for you! Missions shouldn’t begin with the thought, “My faith has stagnated. I’m moving to the Philippines.” It’s a temptation, to be sure, to think that God would work in bigger ways in your life if you could just move to a new or exotic place. Sometimes that is what it actually takes (“Go to a land I will show you…”), it’s true. But it would be a huge mistake to start planning your own party, then send God an invitation and tell him that you’d like to give the poor and oppressed the left over Chex-Mix.
So, I think it works like this: the Lord gives Believers specific skills that they might serve the Church. After receiving a calling, they should use those gifted skills to serve people who need what they’ve been entrusted with.
It is absolutely shameful to believe that mission work is the solution to a personal problem, unless, of course, that problem is that God has called you to missions and you are dragging your feet and trying to bury your dead.
I have a ton of thoughts on short term mission trips, and honestly, some of them are negative, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the basic components of missions. It’s not glamorous; I wear jean skirts. It’s doesn’t make you feel good all the time; I often cry and want to send my students to boot camp. It doesn’t make you feel more holy; I’ve often seen how nasty of a person I really am. If this all really was about only God and me, I would probably believe by this point that God was just playing some sick joke.
Then praise the Lord it’s not all about me! It’s about Him teaching Jonathan and Elias about forgiveness. It’s about Catherine knowing
she’s loved despite her huge mistakes in life. It’s about seeing Nick and Lynne laugh at my dumb jokes after their stressful day. It’s about dates with TSS girls and seeing the joy they derive from nail polish. It’s about conversations with Stephen about godly leadership. It’s about Moga realizing he had to do right by God and admit his cheating issue…
It’s about so many things to do with the people I’m serving that I honestly believe this is actually God’s party for the Rendille and TSS
students, and I just got super lucky in snagging an invitation. I also get a handful of Chex-Mix.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
In the third term of school in 2010 I ran into a whole bunch of nasty - bad attitudes from the kids, primarily. In fact, my experiences in the last bit of 2010 were enough to make me seriously reconsider my decision to return to Tirrim Secondary in 2011.
I'm glad I took a chance.
I'm starting to see that my return may, in fact, have the distinct purpose of being a time of healing because in the past 8 months God has really been fixing some serious wounds from last year. This past June I had a long talk with a boy called Jonathan who was one of my problem kids last year. He told me he realized that holding onto anger with circumstances and with me was eating a hole in his heart. He said he had decided to release his anger at me, and while he never really said he was sorry for the way he acted, I was so happy to see a proactive desire to set things right.
Then, just the other night my former student, Elias, showed up at my door.
It wasn't just me who had had issues with him last year, in fact I really was just on the fringe, but disciplining him fell to me and that's where the drama started. Long story short, he was expelled for failing to comply with his discipline and left behind him a sour taste in my mouth. Then suddenly he's on my doorstep telling me that he's realized he was very wrong for having such a terrible attitude, for saying such rude things, and for just generally carrying on the way he did. He said he had recently been to a sport camp where they had been talking about peacemaking (some boys had tried to start a fight on the soccer field), and he was suddenly convicted of how he had acted toward me and that he needed to do make peace. He was terrified out of his mind to come talk to me because, in Rendille culture, people generally don't let go of wrongs against them, and so coming to me was literally risking a beating (children are beaten for disrespecting elders.) It was quite brave what he did, really.
He adamantly offered me his apologies and asked for my forgiveness in return. It was very readily given. Not only am I happy to discard of bitterness, but it's a joy to see this once troubled boy growing up, recognizing his faults, taking responsibility for his actions and allowing God to soften his heart.
To be able to have conversations like this with my students and tell them that I really do love them despite their mistakes and that I believe God is changing their lives...
I'll take teenage angst any day.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
As much as I dislike Nairobi, I have really enjoyed this trip almost entirely due to Tana's hospitality.
"Good on ya Tana!" (An ism from Tana herself.)
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
(Michelle and I)
(Graffiti in the gorge - Evan must be desperate...)
The volcano, Hobley's Volcano, is, I believe, what must have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's just other-worldly enough, with its steaming vents and crumbling terrain, to lend itself to science fiction, but also real enough to invite speculations of, "What if I climbed down into this cave? I wonder if it would be like that Planet Earth episode..." We didn't actually climb down into the cave, on account of the fact that that would have been supremely dangerous, but we did slip and slide around the cliffs and threw feather light pumice stones to each other. (Caleb Middleton ponders the volcano.)
Other notable events on our vacation included Caleb chasing a giraffe and Michelle and I running into a jackal on the way to the toilet one night. And so, finally getting out of Nairobi and traveling to the gate of Hell has been, ironically, quite good for my city weary soul.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
(I'm also wearing my "rrimirrimo" which is the beaded headress - young, unmarried ladies put lots of sparklies on theirs, which is why mine is different from Momma's.)
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
What trip to Nairobi would be complete without a trip to the Nairobi National Game Park Animals Orphanage! Juevenile lions, buffalo, ostriches, dikdiks, and even a couple crocodiles provided plenty of entertainment for the afternoon! (This is the kids pointing out their favourite young lioness and playing chicken with an unstable looking ostrich. First to get bit, loses.)
One of the Members of Parliament from the north invited our students to come and observe Parliament in session one day, which was quite the fieldtrip! Everyone put on their uniforms and I got funny looks because I wasn't wearing heels, but they kids were very keen at being in the middle of "government" happening. Although no cameras were allowed inside the building, here's the students eating their lunch in the parliament garden and in front of Kenya's coat of arms.