Local Time in Korr, Kenya

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday Lunch Crew

Every Sunday afternoon we have a group of 3-4 of our favourite Tirrim Primary School guys and a couple of tag-alongs over for lunch at our place. We're not awesome cooks, and the menu rarely varies, but we add a ton of oil for the boys and they're totally happy (real warriors drink animal fat mixed with blood - the Rendille really like their oil...) There's no schedule for Sunday afternoons; sometimes we watch movies, play card games, read, or get all crafty and color our initials, which we did a couple weeks ago. Today someone even read the dictionary for a while. We ladies love hanging out with these kids and getting to know them outside of the classroom - it's a special thing to begin to learn what makes them tick. And what better way to do that than over greasy spaghetti and felt pens...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can I park my boat in your desert?

Don't even know the guy (a white guy living down country), but he asked Jim Propst if he could store his huge yacht on their compound for a while. This guy says he uses the boat up at Lake Turkana, but why he didn't just leave it at the lake is a mystery... Why store it 7 hours away in the desert in someone's yard?
The Rendille are really confused about this too. They keep asking whose truck it is.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tirrim Cultural Day 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

Chex-Mix Missions

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.