Living a life of faith

A life of faith is a journey.
This journey is long, and never easy.
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kenya 2013 | kibera

Kibera.

This is the post I was both anticipating and dreading.

The two days we spent here were simultaneously a highlight of our time in Kenya, as well as the most difficult and heartbreaking.

Kibera is an informal settlement in Nairobi, located approximately 3 miles from the city center.

Covering an area of about 1.5 square miles and home to an estimated 250,000 people, Kibera is the third largest slum in the world.

HEART operates a WEEP center in Kibera, and we would be spending two days here, meeting with the women and doing home visits, joining their weekly Bible study, and doing some painting.  This was the group of women I had heard so much about from my dad, the women who were praying for my mom and I to come to Kenya.  Monday night during our debrief for the day, we spent some time talking about what to expect.  The team members who were returning for their second year spoke about how their time in Kibera was a highlight of their trip, and that they were excited to return.  Our team leader (my dad) warned those of us who were going for the first time that nothing could prepare us to walk into that slum.

He was right. continue reading…

kenya 2013 | fruits

It’s such a blessing when you get to see the fruits of your labor.

Our first Tuesday in Kenya (June 25) we had the opportunity to break ground on the house for Mercy’s children.

We left this behind at the end of that day:

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The Wednesday before we left (July 3), we had the opportunity to return to the city of Ngong, to see the progress that had been made and to dedicate the home.

Most of our ministry so far had been single day events, and we hadn’t had the chance yet to go back to be with some of the incredible people we had met.  So naturally, we were excited.  The women of the Ngong WEEP center had made such an impact on us, and I know the the other guys and I were looking forward to seeing Moses, Paul, and James.  We were also excited to see how far they had gotten in a week.

When we arrived, we saw they had certainly made some progress. continue reading…

kenya 2013 | on safari

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. - Psalms 19:1-6

This country just continues to amaze me.

After our time working in Kisii, we headed out to the Maasai Mara for a short break.

It was safari time.

Shortly after Vickie Winkler started HEART, she was asked why she brought people to Kenya to show them only the poverty and the dirt and orphans. Why not also show them the beauty this country has to offer?

While I might argue we’ve seen the beauty of this country, especially in its people, I am very glad we were able to have this time wondering in awe at God’s creation. After a week so full of ministry and people, it was great to have a short time to unwind and begin to process what we’ve experienced so far. continue reading…

kenya 2013 | in the mud

Wednesday was a long day of driving as we headed “up country,” as they call it here, to a more rural area in Kenya. The drive from Nairobi to the town of Kisii where we would be working the next two days took a little over six hours.

At this point, we have spent a lot of time traveling over the course of this trip.

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We arrived early in the evening to Dr. Meshach’s home were we would be staying, thankful the rain was light that day, so as to avoid making the treacherous dirt road up the mountain that much worse.

We were shown in to a home well above the average living conditions of the surrounding community, where we would be well taken care of during our stay.

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While waiting for dinner to be prepared we had the opportunity to go and see some of the continued impact previous teams we had made, including the greenhouse HEART has provided the community, where they are currently growing tomatoes! continue reading…

kenya 2013 | joy in the midst of suffering

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It amazes me the joy I find in people who have been through such incredible suffering.

But before we get to today, lets talk about yesterday.

Yesterday was a relatively easy day. After breakfast and devotions in the morning, we had our orientation to HEART and our time in Kenya (even though we’d already spent two nights here!).

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After getting tips and language lessons for our time here, we had the opportunity to visit Rift Valley Academy. Rift Valley Academy is the premier international boarding school in the world, located in Kijabe, Kenya. The school is a part of the missionary organization Africa Inland Mission, and is staffed by teachers and administrators who are not paid, but raise their own support, so as to keep tuition reasonable for missionary kids.

While there we had the opportunity to speak with the principle of the high school, talking to him about his experience bringing his family to Kenya, and all the wonderfully students and staff they have. Since my dad came and stayed at RVA on previous trips to Kenya, he and my mom have talked bat a sabbatical to go teach there. Now, as I go home to start a credential program in the all, I think about doing the same…

continue reading…

kenya 2013 | day two

It’s been a beautiful morning in Kenya as we get ready for our second full day in country.

Yesterday was a wonderful beginning to our time in Kenya.

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After breakfast we traveled out to Namuncha, a Maasai tribal village in the Great Rift Valley to join them for their Sunday worship service. When we arrived, we were amazed by the warmth and friendliness of these people, as the children crowded around us, smiles on their faces.

continue reading…

kenya 2013 | greetings!

It’s been an incredibly long day.

But we made it.

Our journey began at 2:00 AM PST, heading to SFO to begin the first leg of our journey.

We landed in New York where we met up with the rest of our team, many meeting for the first time.

From there the next leg of out journey took us across the Pacific to land for a brief layover in Paris. Sadly, we weren’t able to leave the airport, and so had to view the city from afar.

After a nearly 4 hour layover we boarded Kenya Air for our 8 hour flight to Nairobi.

Landing in Nairobi, and after a short bus ride on the wrong side of the road, we arrived at the HEART compound at 10:45 PM local time, or 12:45 PM PST.

That makes our total travel time nearly 35 hours. Suffice it to say, we’re all a little tired, and hoping the jet lag doesn’t keep us from sleep tonight.

Tomorrow we kick off our time in Kenya with a church service with a Masai tribe.

I truly think we are starting this trip of right, worshipping together with some of the people we will be serving. The first thing we do being a reminder that we all serve the same God; the Jesus I know in America is the same as the Jesus they know in Kenya.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12 ESV)

As I’m sitting here in my room at the HEART lodge, I think of everything, and everyone, it took to get us here. To those that have supported us in this endeavor, I want to say thank you. We co ill not be here without you, and I cannot wait to share with you all the amazing things God does through us, because you are a part of it.

Asante sana!


Prayer
I just ask that you continue to be praying for us, that we are able to transition easily into being in this foreign country. Pray that our team continues to bind together in unity. Pray that we are open and attentive to the voice of God.

a much needed break

So, the last few weeks have been rather insanely busy, if you couldn’t tell from the lack of posting going on here. Between working my 15 jobs (exaggeration), going through the job search/application process, fundraising for my Kenya mission trip, and turning 25 (yikes!), I’ve had little time for anything else. And while I’m happy to say I’ve managed to stay on track with my reading, I haven’t had the time to write about it or process much of anything.

I needed a break.

So I’ve taken one.

I took five days off this week, and have used them to make the trip down to southern California and spend some time at my alma mater connecting with friends and professors. I was looking for a break, but it’s actually been rather busy, trying to make time to connect with everyone I want to see. Even in the midst of that however, I’ve found time to sit by myself, catching up on my reading, and just processing everything that’s been going on in my head and heart. Because there’s a lot.

For a while now I’ve had a sense of discontent, the feeling that I’m no longer where I need to be.

I think God is telling me it’s time to move on.

It’s been difficult being back here, at the place where I developed such a distinct view of my future. I’m connecting with all these people who were a part of that time in my life, and they all ask, “so what are you doing now?”

What am I doing now?

Certainly not what I want to be doing.

I’ve known that for a while, but it’s difficult when you have to admit it over and over again. Because they know it’s not where I want to be. And the reactions show it.

“So, do you still want to…”

That’s a difficult question, because I do. And I don’t. And it’s complicated.

I’ve gone from having such a clear vision of direction, to not being sure of much of anything, and it sucks.

It’s hard knowing it’s time to leave. It’s even harder when you don’t know where you’re supposed to go.

As I was reading through the Exodus story, I found myself jealous of the clarity of direction the Israelites received.

God was with them, visibly, wherever they went. They were led by a cloud of smoke in the day, and by a pillar of fire at night. Talk about crystal clear direction.

Why can’t I have that kind of direction?

But as I’ve thought about it further, I think the Israelites were feeling a lot like I am.

It’s true God gave them clear direction, but he didn’t provide a roadmap. Rather, he took them step by step, and the Israelites had to follow in faith, not knowing exactly where they were being led. God had told the Israelites he was taking them to a Promised Land, but not how they would be getting there.

In the same way God has given us the hope of a Promised Land.  He has sworn to us an inheritance with Christ (Gal. 3:29, Eph.1:11), giving us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).  However, he doesn’t say how we’ll get there, exactly what the path will hold.

We can never know exactly where God will direct our paths, what stops there may be on our journey.  I just had this conversation with my friend Andrew, as neither of us are where we hoped to be three years after graduation.

God can take our paths though some interesting and unexpected terrain.  But that’s what this journey is about.  It’s not solely about getting to the destination  but about the journey along the way.  After all, it’s the things that happen to us along the journey that shape us and prepare us for the destination.

And like the Israelites, God often illuminates just the next steps on our path.

I may be simply experiencing my quarter-life crisis, and I may be beating a dead horse with this topic (having already written something similar).

However, this is what I find on my heart throughout this week, needing to get my thoughts into writing and share them with others.

So, while I may not have a clear sense of ultimate direction, I know the step I need to be taking now.

One foot in front of the other.

One step at a time.

Stepping out in faith, that God will be there, ready to point out the next step.

I want to know it all, to see everything ahead of me.

Where’s the adventure in that?

How boring that predictable life would be.

So God, bring on the adventure.  Help me let go of my OCD tendencies to control and plan and want to know everything.  Lead me step by step, and I’ll trust in your plan for my life, even if I don’t know exactly what it is.

How has your journey so far differed from what you expected or planned?  In what ways has your journey led you into unexpected territory, and how has that helped you grow?  How do you follow God’s lead when you can’t see where you’re going?

[bible:365 2013] Numbers 5-24

How often have you prayed this prayer?

Lord Jesus, please take (insert circumstance here) from me…

Or:

Lord Jesus, please fix (insert problem here)…

I know this prayer well; I’ve said it all too frequently.  I’m sure most of you have as well.

When we find ourselves in a situation – often of our own creation – our response is to ask God to fix it, to take it away.

See the thing is, we don’t like pain.  Shocker, I know, but we don’t like experiencing those difficult times; we just want them to go away.

We are not alone in this: the Israelites prayed the same prayer.  When they sin by speaking against God, they are not happy with the consequences, and they ask God to take those consequences away. continue reading…

[bible:365 2013] Numbers 1-4

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Center – Charlie Hall

You’re the center of the universe
Everything was made in You Jesus
Breath of every living thing
Everyone was made for You

You hold everything together
You hold everything together

Christ be the center of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the center of our lives

We lift our eyes to heaven
We wrap our lives around your life
We lift our eyes to heaven, to You

As I’m sitting here thinking of the second chapter of Numbers, this is the song that pops into my head.

continue reading…

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