Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Yesterday, I sent Sunday's post out as my January update. I've gotten an overwhelming response from friends all over the world, many sharing how they themselves have dealt with depression.

One of the lessons I'm learning from this chapter in my life is how, when we're authentic about our challenges, it begets authenticity from others. In the process, we can encourage and support others better. We can pray with insight

And that, my friends, is true community.


I'm sitting at Java Creek, a local coffee shop, working on a photo project for ELI. There's a lady sitting nearby reading. The cover on her book says, "I've been put on this earth to read a certain number of books..."

Wow. Can't imagine how it is going through life like that. I'd always be asking, "Am I reading the right books? Have I read enough? How many more? If I read enough, what will happen?" And the list goes on.

I love having Purpose to my life!

Monday, January 29, 2007


Last weekend, Danette and I took a quick road trip to visit friends in Minnesota. On Saturday morning, little Sam came to crawl onto my lap.

Click on this picture to see more photos of the weekend.

Diving Deep

"You're still around?" This is probably the phrase I get greeted with most nowadays. I was supposed to have returned to California last week and to Kenya at the end of this month.

"I know," I respond every time. "I get to extend my stay a little. I'll go home in March."

The response is a slight frown, for the most part, as in, "Tell me more."

For one, there's more fundraising to be done. But more importantly, I need to "stay up for some air" right now. Let me explain.

I'm a scuba diver. When you dive, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind.
  • You dive with a buddy. You and your buddy check each others' dive gear before going under water. And while diving, you always keep your eye on your buddy so you know they're doing OK.
  • You also keep an eye on your gauges. You need to know how much air you have left, how deep you are, when you need to start your ascent to the surface since you can only stay under water for a certain period of time (depending on how deep you've dived, and how many consecutive dives you've done.)
If you don't stick to the basic rules of diving, you risk hurting yourself, even dying. In fact, when you don't pay attention and dive too deep, your mind gets so confused that it's easy to swim downward thinking you're heading to the surface. And the deeper you go, the faster you swim downward!

This past year in Kenya has, in some ways, been like a bad dive. Yes, I experienced amazing things, like you would on an amazing dive! But I broke some of the basic rules.
  • I didn't have a buddy. It doesn't mean I need to be married before I can return to Kenya. :) But I need community in Kenya. I need friends with whom I can share the journey. And so there will be some changes in the way I do life in Kenya. (I'll tell more about that when I return.)
  • I need to figure out ways to get away more often, to catch my breath, if you will. My reality in Kenya is that since I don't have friends, I don't get away and relax much. Typically, when I do get away, it's still very much work-related.
So that's why I'm still around. The extended time in Iowa is like being in a recompression chamber, if you will. Except, in my case, I don't have actual decompression sickness. It's emotional decompression sickness, if you will, or simply mild depression.

It's been a steep learning curve for me. I've not dealt with depression before. But as I've been sharing with others, I've been amazed how many people deal with this condition, including many, many missionaries. I've grown to appreciate the blessing of talking with a good, Christian counselor.

I am eager to go home to Kenya, but on recommendation of my counselor, I'll stay a while longer as to be sure that when I do return, I'd be well enough to stay on, that I don't burn out in just a few months.

Until then, I get to do work from Iowa. And in the meantime, I appreciate your prayers. And your support.

My time in the US has been eye-opening. Sobering. Humbling. Healing.

God only knows why he's allowing this season in my life. I won't brag about it. There's nothing glorious about it. But I also won't hide it. I'd rather be authentic about it and allow God to use it in whatever ways he desires. It's not been an easy journey. Nor a fun one. But, like I've said, it's been eye-opening. And I know that it's part of God's journey with my life.

I'm learning much about who He is, about who I am and who I'm not.

I'm looking forward to being able to look back on this season and seeing how it all worked out!

Sojourners dinner

Yesterday was a busy day. It started with a speaking commitment at a Watershed retreat. Next, I had the chance to have lunch with my Barnabas team, a group of ladies who regularly pray for me. I went home for a short while, then joined the Sojourners ABF for dinner at Osaka's. Visit Kim Pagel's blog and his Flickr page for photos of our fun dinner.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Bubble

I ran into someone from church the other day and had an interesting conversation. "Adele," she said, "I was thinking... Your life must be rather surreal."

It got me thinking about a quote I read yesterday on a missions Web site. The author talked about missionaries sometimes living in a bubble. "The mission field bubble is a term used to describe the detachment and disassociation of missionaries from the ‘real world’ when they live on the mission field, most often in a foreign country or different culture." As much as we (as missionaries) may try and fit into the host culture, we typically live in a bubble of sorts, a life that's not entirely like that of the nationals, yet not like that of our home culture, either. It's a third culture of sorts.

Coming home, we're still somewhat detached from life as everyone around us knows it. There's reverse culture shock, where even going to simply buy groceries is just different.

What's been tough for me, though, is how one is on display when you're in this missions bubble. Coming home, I both need to and want to tell people stories of what's happening in Africa. But I don't want to live in a self-absorbed bubble! I want to know about what people around me are going through! In that lies a challenge: sharing some of what's happening in Africa, yet being able to switch the focus back to my friends and have them know that I'm genuinely interested in their world!

Coming back from short-term mission trips, I always tell my teams, "Remember, life went on for your friends back home. Ask about their world, too. Don't just expect them to want to know about your trip..." As a visiting missionary, however, I want to make sure that people don't feel like I'm trying to avoid their questions when I turn the conversation back to what's happening in their world. And I don't want them to think my world revolves around my little bubble, that I only want to talk about me. Because it doesn't.

My point? Please bear with me as I try and figure out life outside the bubble.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We have a winner!

I was out running an errand late this afternoon, slightly ticked at myself for waiting till rush hour before heading out. Granted, Cedar Rapids rush hour is nothing like that which I never got used to in Taipei and Los Angeles. But the wait at the traffic light was longer than usual. So I turned on Life 101.9, one of the local Christian stations.

Just then, the announcer started talking about the daily Route 66 contest. Since traffic was slow, I pulled out my cell phone and typed in the phone number, thinking, "Well, I have nothing to lose. Let's see if I can guess where today's Bible verse is from."

It was unmistakenly a Proverb, so I hit call, thinking, "What's the chance that I'd actually be the third caller? Not big. But I'm sitting in traffic, so..."

"Life 101.9," came the voice on the phone. "What's your name?"

OK, so I won. Not a trip to Africa or anything flashy, but a DVD, Facing the Giants. Cool. What things have I won in my life? A mountain bike, a trip for two to Singapore, a trip to Vienna, Austria. Oh yes, and an iPod shuffle. It's been a while since I won anything. So the DVD was a fun win. Should be a good movie to show the older kids in Kenya!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I love the sound when you walk on good packing snow.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
I need to dig out my snow boots so I can go for a walk.
I'd also need my hat, coat and several layers of clothing.
It's cold out. I love that winter is finally here.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Great neighbor!

As I'm sitting here, there's a low buzz outside: Neighbor Lauren is out cleaning Danette's driveway with his snowblower. Wow! What a neighbor! Which makes me wonder, what do I do to bless my neighbors? Hmmm.

Simple math

Today, I had the chance to share at two ABFs (adult Bible fellowships) as well as with one family over lunch at their home. I really loved sharing with these groups about the work ELI is doing in Africa, to tell about life in Kenya and Sudan, and to invite them to be a part of it all. In fact, every time I tell about the work in Africa, I wish I could be back there! But not right now. For now, I still have a ways to go on support raising. I need another $1100pm to be at 100%. I truly have faith that God will bring it in, that more people will commit to support.

four more people commit to $100 per month
(or a one-time gift of $1,200)
eight people commit to $50 per month
(or a one-time gift of $600)
and fourteen people commit to $25 per month
(or a one-time gift of $300)
we'd be there!

Whoa! That seems simple! (Of course, the even simpler solution would be for 12 people to commit to $100/month, but I truly love that more people can be involved even through smaller amounts. In fact, I have a number of individuals who support me with $10/month, which I appreciate equally as much as the larger contributions.)

This week, the primary task on my to-do list is to send out a mass mailing to invite people to financial and prayer partnership. Please join me in praying for the remainder of the funding.

So it's snowing. I'm loving it! I asked Danette to drive me to church tonight, though, 'cause I don't feel as comfortable driving on icy roads with a little Chevy. A family at church has been graciously allowing me to use their extra vehicle, which has been a tremendous blessing. Anyway, point is, though, that I might be totally comfortable navigating muddy Kenyan roads in a Land Rover, but when it comes to ice, it's a different story, I think.

There's a good 3 to 6 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight. Even now, everything outside is white. Where it's typically dark out by early evening, it seems light out because of all the snow. Maybe I'll get out tomorrow and do some sledding. Or throw a snowball or two. One thing I'd love to do is to take some pictures in the snow and e-mail them to our orphanage office in Kenya. Our kids have never seen snow like this. They'd love it!

I miss the kids. A lot.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Snow White

I love the feeling of fresh snow,
the stillness of huge flakes falling
it's almost audible,
the plonk
and before my eyes
the dark road
turns white
until a car passes
and leaves a blemish behind
two tracks leading

"I'm going out to buy a sled,"
I hear a passerby declare.
And everywhere
where there's even just
a slight slant of a hill
children traipse uphill
and giggle their way down.

Winter has come
at last.

At a party for a friend
I meet a fellow blogger.
We had never met,
but for the past year
I have followed
his family's journey
after loosing a baby.

"You are a gifted writer,"
I tell him.

"It's strange," he says,
"how people who don't know me
think they know me
because they've read my blog."

I know.
It's strange.
I don't know what to make of it
this tool that invites people in
even when you don't necessarily
want them in your world.

Sounds harsh?
Perhaps that's why I've written so little lately.
I'm not ready to let everyone in.
I'm not ready to share
why being home is healing
why being away from Kenya is hard
and why I cannot go back just yet
but at the same time
am dying to be back there
surrounded by the children,
"my" children.

Putting all of that out here
is almost like a ruining the fresh white of the snow.
It's different when a kids slides down the hill, giggling
than when a car cuts a path through the snow.

Make sense?
Not sure.
Not everything makes sense right now.
It's just the way it is.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Secure Online Giving

For my friends in faraway places who have wanted to become financial partners but have not been able to do so due to logistical challenges, or to my friends who simply don't want to have to remember to send a check every month, follow these simple steps:
  1. Click here to log into a secure site.
  2. Register. Once you've registered, you'll receive an e-mail with a password. Use that to log in, after which you can change your password to one of your choice.
  3. Add a bank account or credit card to the system.
  4. Then choose my name from the ELI list of beneficiaries.
It's that simple. If you don't want to set it up to automatically submit support payments, you can even set up so that the system e-mails you every so often (you choose how often) to remind you to make a payment.

Without the financial support of people like you, it is challenging to do the work God has called me to. I never take any support for granted. I have some supporters who give $10 per month, and some who give much more. And every bit counts. Every bit helps me to be able to go back and share Christ with children and adults in East Africa.

If you'd like to join in the work God's doing in and through me in Kenya and have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thank you for considering financial partnership. I appreciate it immensely!

A New Year

Tonight, we had friends over for an evening of simply visiting, eating, laughing. Time and again, people ask me, "Do you miss the food here in America? I bet you're enjoying having all this great food."

My answer? "Yes and no." Thing is, I do enjoy having lots of food that I don't get to enjoy in Kenya. I love being able to run to the grocery store and pick up fresh ingredients and whip together fun dishes! I love having meals at people's homes, or having friends come over with fun new dishes, and to try and figure out if I can make the same dishes in Kenya.

But that's not what I enjoy most about being in the US.

Nor is it being able to hop in the car and be at the movies in less than 5 minutes (rather than the more than 5 hours it takes to get to a movie in Nairobi...). You bet I have been enjoying some great movies while home, of which Happy Feet (at the IMAX!) was probably my season favorite. I can't wait to show it to the kids in Kenya!

The best thing about being home? Spending time with friends.

I have realized in the past month just how hard it's been not having close friends in Kenya. I'm still trying to figure out what changes will need to be made in terms of how I spend my time in Kenya. More time with the kids? More time at our second base at Kipkaren where there are other missionary friends who I can connect with? Keep a calendar of events to make sure I get out often enough? Not sure. Like I said, I'm still trying to figure that part out.

But for now, I am savoring every single moment with good friends. Laughing hard at Pam's hilarious stories. Cooking with Danette. Hanging out with Nan. Spending time with the Ya-Yas. Just being with my Cedar Rapids friends.

I've taken very few pictures. I have, however, started with the gargantuan task of sorting through my collection of digital work photos in order to have a better system going. That, in and of itself, is enough of a task to curb my photo taking. But then again, it has me itching to get back to Africa to take better pictures...

But I'm not ready yet to return. For one: I have a long way yet to go in terms of support raising! I have gotten good news that we finally have an online-giving system set up! I'll post a separate post on how to set up secure online giving.

But for now, sleep well. And a very blessed 2007 to you.