Friday, March 30, 2007


Found this Gaelic blessing on a blog of a friend of a friend. Perhaps I like it even more because I have some Scottish blood. Not that I'd know how to pronounce this, though.

Gun cumadh Dia an Glaic a Laimh a-chaoidh thu

...May you always be in the palm of God's hand...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

To Ponder

“I who said I would never do any work but ‘preach the gospel.’ It takes some of us years to learn what preaching the gospel means.”

From Amy Carmichael's A Chance to Die

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wrapping Up

I have just a week and a half left in the US, and suddenly it feels like a TON still needs to get done. I thought I had gotten most things done ahead of time. But there's still some shopping to do, gifts to be bought, stuff to be sorted through, work projects to be completed, people to be met, trees to be cut down. And updates to be written. Back to work...

Monday, March 26, 2007

Up a Limb

I should've taken pictures yesterday... It was a beautiful spring day, so Danette convinced me to join her in the yard to do some spring cleaning. (It didn't take much convincing, mind you.) After the expected raking and pruning, Danette thought it would be a good thing to trim back her huge apple tree. It might sound wonderful to have an apple tree in your back yard. This tree wasn't pruned well as a young tree, however, so the branches are wild and the fruit inedible. (I'm sure we can all think of some great spiritual analogy to that!)

Anyway, since the tree drops apples all summer that just make a mess in the yard and the neighbors' driveway, we decided to do some pruning. Armed with a saw and a great pair of pruning shears, Danette scaled the tree first. She got rid of a few branches, and then we switched places and I crawled higher into the tree... While hanging onto one branch and sawing off another, I decided to quit before an accident occurs.

Just as I got out the tree, the neighbor's little boys came over to help. It seemed like a lot of fun to them! They helped us fill both Danette's "yardie" (garden waste bin) and theirs! (We wouldn't let them play with the saws.)

Completing the task warrented a trip to Dairy Queen. And since it was such a gorgeous day, many others made their way to DQ. I think we looked the scruffiest of everyone in line...

I spent some time outside this morning, appreciating the wonderful weather as well as the results from yesterday's yard work. I love being able to physically see results of hard work!

On a different note: I just got an e-mail from Alex, our travel agent in Kenya. Last week, while I was trying to finalize flight arrangements, Alex informed me that if I flew home on Easter Sunday, I'd have to have a layover in London. He suggested I take the Monday night flight from LA instead, saying that there were still many seats available on this flight. This worked great for me, since it would give me the chance to celebrate Easter with friends at church rather than be on a plane. I went ahead and booked my domestic ticket to Los Angeles (since Alex said there were many seats left on the international flight) and asked Alex to make the connecting reservations.

The next day, however, he got back to me saying, "Sorry, a group must've made a reservation. You don't have a seat on that flight. You have to take an earlier flight." Umm, that's bad news, since my ticket on Travelocity was not changeable. If I'd change to the next flight out of LA, I would have to spend a night in LA and a night in London, stretching my 50-hour commute to almost 4 days!

I did the most logical thing: prayed for God to open up a seat, and asked others to pray for the same. This morning, I got a message from Alex saying that I have a seat on the original flight! God's a great travel agent, among many, many other things!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hanging out with friends

Mary and Weir
Originally uploaded by Boyznberry.
My friends Weir and Mary took me for an outing today. Weir knows more about birds than any person I've ever met, and I had been sending him and Mary news from Kenya about birds I had seen there.

Today, we finally got around to me hanging out with them for a day. We were going to go to the raptor center, but it was a rainy day, so we headed away from the rain, to North-East Iowa. Here we stopped at a swing in Bellevue, next to the Mississippi. Click on the photo to see more photos from today and earlier times with friends.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Flight Plan

Today, I got my flight home confirmed. I'll be leaving Cedar Rapids first thing on Easter Monday. It will be around 49 hours from when I leave home here till I get home in Kenya on Wednesday afternoon, Kenyan time.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Final Countdown

I've been playing e-mail tag with my travel agent in Nairobi, trying to figure out flight connections so I can make my reservation from Cedar Rapids to LA. The verdict: I'll be heading home to Kenya on Easter weekend. Right now, I'm looking at heading out of Iowa bright and early on Easter Sunday, making a connection at LAX, then on to London and Nairobi. It would be more than 48 hours from start to finish till I'm in Eldoret. Ouch.

Now starts the good-byes. The unpack-and-repack-again. (Much of my stuff is packed already.) And repacking again, trying to fit in more. Weighing bags and taking stuff out. It's the painful journey of sorting and figuring out what has to stay. Of making space for (and purchasing) little gifts for colleagues. Making sure everyone that should get something is on the list...

But the fact is, I'm heading back. And I'm excited to do so. Thrilled, in fact. There's so much lying ahead. Many changes. Good changes. Challenging changes. One thing I know for sure: I won't be able to do all this on my own. I have become more and more aware of my need of God. I know that with him, the changes ahead are manageable.

Things I'm looking forward to in Kenya:
* Reconnecting with colleagues
* Hanging out with the kids - seeing their gardens, hearing their stories, reading to them
* Being in my own house again
* Setting up a second house in Kipkaren
* Taking photos of people and places
* Writing the stories of people's journeys with God
* Spending time with God on prayer rock and by the river in Kipkaren
* Bouncing around the Kenyan roads in the Land Rover
* Learning Swahili (and some Kalinjin)
* Seeing what God has in store...
* Drinking chai
* Taking colleagues to the forest to spend time with God in nature
* Hosting teams
* Seeing how God works in Kenyans' and visitors' lives
* Representing a host of people from around the world in God's work among the poor

But that's in 3 weeks' time. Today, I get to go to a Beth Moore simulcast. It was supposed to be held 2 weeks ago, but due to the ice storm in this area, it was canceled and we get to see a video of the simulcast today. Then, head to Nan's house for an evening of fun (and card making) with friends.

Tomorrow, I get to share at a kids' Sunday school class as well as at a meeting of a bunch of ladies who'll be going to Kenya later this year.

I feel like a squirrel gathering acorns for the winter lying ahead.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

So, what's new?

Nothing really exciting's been happening, hence the silence. Here's the skinny for the past 2 weeks (other than the newest interaction with the Cedar Rapids Police Department.)
  1. As of today, my committed support is at 97%. YEAH! Thank God for that! And thank each and every individual and group who's part of this support network.
  2. We had one day of gorgeous, summer weather this week! But just one day. It seems like summer fell on a Tuesday this year. It's winter again. If you'd like to see some amazing photos of some of the Iowa blizzard of 07, check this out.
  3. Today, I find out for sure if I'm allowed to leave at the end of this month. I've been telling people that's when I'm leaving, but I still need the final OK from my counselor. And then I have to buy my ticket to LA, which is usually way more expensive if you make the reservation in less than 2 weeks from departure, so I might (might!) just leave Easter weekend. I am really, really looking forward to being back in Kenya.
  4. Tediously editing thousands of photos for ELI is taking a lot of time. It's also playing some bad tricks on my back. Fortunately, I'm still in a land where there are chiropracters... And I am thankful that my health insurance covers me in the US.
  5. I've been trying to figure out functions on my camera that I don't usually use so I can try and take better photos. Doing the figuring out Stateside is smarter since I have access here to people who I can ask my many questions.
  6. I've been updating the ELI blogs a bit. Be sure to check them out. (The links are in the margin under the heading WORK STUFF.)
That's pretty much it. Soon, I'll be able to upload news from Kenya again!

The back seat of a police car is hard.

I know, I know. I've been having bizarre experiences. First, there was the gun incident. If that wasn't crazy enough, I had a brush with the police again last Friday.

Here's the deal: While spending time at a local coffee shop waiting to meet with a family from church, I heard an announcement over the PA system. "Would the owner of a red Chevy Cavalier please step up to the counter." That'd be me. The clerk informed me that someone had just hit the rear bumper of my car. They got out, looked at their bumper for damage, and took off. The eye witness took down their plate number.

I couldn't reach the owner of the car, so I finally did what you're supposed to do with a hit and run. I called the police.

When they came to take the report, it started raining, so the officer told me to get into the back of the car. That's why I now know that the back seat of a cop car is hard. As in fiberglass hard. I guess it's for easy cleanup. Or so angry people can't destroy the upholstery. I'm not sure. I didn't hang around to visit with the officer.

I couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of what people in the coffee shop were thinking. "Check it out! The missionary's being arrested!" What makes it worse is that I've not blogged since then, so anyone that saw the "arrest" and may have checked my blog must think for sure that I've been in jail. :) Not really, but it's a funny thought.

I wasn't going to blog about the experience until I could reach the owner of the car, which took a while. He says there was already a dent in the bumper, so he's not worried about it. Phew!

So, that's it. Nothing drastic. No run-in with the law.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Are we done yet?

I had the joy of doing a presentation at a local Presbyterian Church today. There was a family sitting behind me with a 3-year-old and a baby. The toddler was SO cute! After the very first worship song, and after every single subsequent item on the program, he'd ask, "Are we done yet?" He made me chuckle! It reminded me of when I was little, and church sometimes felt very, very long...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Disaster Area, and more

Turns out I live in a disaster area. The entire state of Iowa has been declared a disaster area due to the weather. Where I live in Cedar Rapids, we've had it easy. No power outages. No real challenges other than being stuck in the house. But all around us there's terrible effects of last week's ice storm. I drove down a rural road this week en route to a meeting. There were at least 50 power poles, snapped, toppled by the weight of the ice. Some other poles and trees had a sheet of ice around them perhaps 3 to 5 inches thick! It was bizarre to see! Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me.

Danette had to fly to South Dakota for work and got stranded. When flights got canceled, she decided to rent a big SUV and ride out the storm. Fortunately, she decided to do the right thing and pull into a hotel in a litte town in South Dakota when visibility got too poor. (A lot of highways have been closed due to the strong winds causing white-outs. Apparantly, lots of cars are in the ditches on the side of the road. With travel nearly impossible even to rescue vehicles, volunteers have been taking to the highways on snow mobiles to rescue stranded motorists.)

I'm thankful Danette was smart enough to pull over. It's a bummer that she's stuck in a hotel out in SD, though.

I miss my friend. It has been such an incredible blessing to spend this "recompression time" at her house. She travels a lot due to work, so though I stay at her home right now, she's actually gone more than she's home. In fact, she was stranded in Atlanta, Georgia, just this past weekend due to weather.

It's rare to meet a friend like her, someone with whom your heart connects instantly, who makes you laugh and who challenges you. She's been a huge blessing to me. I've realized that I don't write much about her. For those of you here in Cedar Rapids who know her, you'll agree with some of the things I love about my friend: Her love for God. Her love of life. Her passion. Her smile. Her laughter. Her heart. Her guts. Her giftedness in working with people.

I've been blessed with several amazing friends in my life. Danette stands out as one of the best, a Proverbs 27:17 friend.

Speaking of friends: Pam and I were able to go and see Amazing Grace this evening. (We were supposed to go last Friday but got snowed in.) I absolutely loved the movie! It's truly inspirational. I wholeheartedly agree what Pastor Kim says about the movie!

I found this clip from the movie on (Click on the link for more clips from the movie.)

The movie truly makes you wonder: What would it take to change the world?

Latest Numbers...

As of this afternoon, my support is at 91%! Yeah God! And yeah to every person who's part of the support team.

I had mentioned the other day how at times, I "get" what a joy and privilege it is to represent so many individuals and families in Africa. (Other times I forget this little detail and get frustrated with having to raise support...)

Today, I had another one of those "I get it" moments. I went to The Bookmark Cafe in Marion today to sit there and work. It's a cozy coffee shop, and I wanted to be someplace outside the house so I could focus on the project I'm working on, designing a new book for ELI. Anyway, I was sitting with earphones in, clicking away at my computer screen when a stranger walked by and smiled. I took out my earphones and visited with this lady named Cathryn. She had questions about the pictures on my computer, and I we visited about the work I do in Africa. "How can we support you?" she asked. It turns out that she's really interested in what's happening in Africa and desiring to be involved, but cannot go right now. "Maybe your work is a way for me to be connected..."

The greatest majority of my supporters will never go to Africa. But through their support, they are directly involved in making a difference in the lives of orphans, of the poor in rural Kenya, of refugees in Sudan. For me, it is a tremendous privilege to represent them--to represent YOU.

So, to each one of you that's part of the 91% to date, thank you. It's my honor to represent you in the Kingdom of God.

Friday, March 02, 2007


As of this morning, my support level is at 89%! Bit by bit, we're getting closer to me being able to leave the US. :)

Speaking of leaving... I have officially booked my ticket back to Kenya for March 31. That's this month! In fact, much of my stuff is packed and ready to go. I'm just waiting for the final OK from my doctor that I'm ready to head back. Plus it would be really nice to know that 100% of my budget has been committed. (In the meantime, I'm waiting for USCIS to let me know that it's OK for me to stay till the end of this month! If they decline my application, I'd have to get on the soonest flight out of this country since my visa for this stay has officially expired two days ago.)

I got an e-mail from my friends at Ilula this morning. Apparantly, the kids miss me. They have NO idea how much I miss them. And my chameleon's still alive, which is good news to me. I don't think he misses me, though. Chameleons aren't the most affectionate pets. But they're great at keeping the house free of flies.

Things I look forward to in Kenya:
  • Spending time with the children
  • Getting to know some of the staff better
  • Seeing the African sky
  • Taking photos
  • Getting to know the language
  • Spending time with God by the river in Kipkaren, and on prayer rock
  • Moving to Kipkaren half the week, every week
  • Being involved in teacher training at ELI's Brook of Faith Academy
That's a new change, yes. Once I go back, I'll be splitting my time between our base in Ilula (where my house is) and the base in Kipkaren (a 90-minute drive from Ilula). I'll share more about what I'll be doing in Kipkaren once I'm back in Kenya.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


This evening, I happened to see the ad for Taco Bell's new Steak Grilled Taquitos. I think these ads are hilarious. But I feel compelled to point out to all of you who have not yet been to Africa that we don't have Taco Bell on the Dark Continent. Regardless of what the lions say about being able to eat the carne asada steak taquitos anywhere, even on the Serengeti. In Kenya, we make our own version of tacos by using chapati, one of my favorite Kenyan dishes. I'll have to remember to post a photo of our version of Mexican food when I'm back home in Kenya...

Wait for the intro to the site to finish, then click on the link at the bottom left to watch the commercials. Check out the one called TEETH.