Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dancing, Matatus, and Youth Seminars

Hello dears,

I am currently greeting you from behind my desk in beautiful Kakamega, where the Lord has decided to make my home. I am here and am doing well. I have had the opportunity to travel to see Salvation Army work around the territory, to meet new friends and strengthen relationships with those around me, and I have even been taught how to do some Kenyan dancing (but its not quite tolerable yet, give me a few months).
Since my last post I have been keeping busy, but not too busy. I have been enjoying the company of those around me, have been getting more involved in my corps (church), and have really enjoyed working on our farm. We could start a salad company, since we have more lettuce and cucumbers than we know what to do with.
On the 10th of July I had the opportunity to go visit a friend named Mike in his hometown of Moi's Bridge. It is a small town, but with a lot of Salvation Army ministry occuring within it. Mike is an active PSS member (as defined in earlier entries) and is the leader of 4 PSS groups within that area. I had the opportunity to lead a meeting where we discussed the Way Forward for the PSS program and discussed ways of how we can work together. I was then taken to see the PSS ministries that are occuring within the Kaptien Outpost (a church plant by the Moi's Bridge corps). When I arrived in Kaptien I was greeted by the community who was excited to have a visitor, since I was the first person from THQ to ever visit the outpost. They showed me the income generating projects that they are doing to raise funds for the youth and then allowed me to be a part of their Kids and Youth (KAY) Club.
During the KAY Club we played games, sang songs, had a Bible lesson, and had a lot of fun. After a small group time, the youth went inside the church building to have a time of displaying their talents. There was singing, dancing, reciting poems, dramas, a fashion show, and others. There was even a three year old boy who recited a long poem complete with hand motions, dramatic actions and pauses, and a very professional bow. I picked him up out of joy, but he was a little bit scared. I am happy to see that God is moving within the PSS program and is doing something good in the midst of his children.
This past weekend, I had an opportunity to lead a youth seminar in Kapsabet District. We arrived on friday to see all of the officers (pastors) and youth workers waiting for us. The place where we were told to arrive was called "Dangerous Forrest" so we were a little bit sacred of what was before us. But they were anxious to have us come and teach them so that they can grow in youth work. Kapsabet is a brand new district (only one year old) and they are facing a lot of financial problems, yet their leaders felt it was important for a youth seminar to take place and the corps were able to fund the whole weekend. I am very happy to see a District within the Army that is so dedicated to youth work. On friday, we led the youth workers through several seminars and tried to encourage them to work tirelessly for the youth in their corps.
On Saturday, the youth arrived and we have a day full of seminars and teachings. The youth were so excited to be together and praise God. They listened intently to every word the TYS (the man in charge of all youth in Kenya West) and I said and were eager to put it into practice. On Saturday afternoon we held a very wonderful crusade, where the youth marched proudly and sang loudly. One child held my hand, and when the others realized I would allow them they all grabbed on. I had one child on each finger and several on each arm. During the open air, which was filled with dramas and dancing, i was pulled onto the "stage" and was told to dance. I tried my best.

The youth were very excited to have us there. For many of them, I was the first white person that they ever talked to, so they kept me up late asking me questions, which i was happy to do.
When we travel to other cities we use a vehicle called a Matatu (which means "for three" but I'm not exactly sure why). They vehicles are kind of like Hippy Vans and are used as buses. They are only supposed to hold 14 people, but they will not leave a city with less than 20. So it is common to be sitting in the aisle on a piece of wood or to have someone leaning on you or sitting on your lap. I have several interesting matatu stories, including oddities with breastfeeding mothers and vomiting grandmothers, but perhaps another time.
Thank you all for continually praying for me and reading this blog. I really feel your love more than you can know.

Please pray for:
-Music Camp
-Territorial Finances
-The Divisional Youth Officers (DYS')
-Our crops
-For me to continue to adapt to the new language and culture
-My family in the US
-My corps (in Kenya and the US)

Much love,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Living on a Pillar

I've been thinking a lot about a Desert Father named Saint Simeon Stylites. He lived out in the desert and was trying to withdraw from the world, but pilgrims kept coming to him for advice, miracles, and prayer. It got so bad that he could spend no time alone in prayer and reflection. One day he stumbled upon some old ruins and decided to make his new dwelling on top of one of the pillars (it was about 9 feet high). He decided that living on top of a pillar was what God wanted him to do. He tried escaping into quiet reflection and prayer horizontally, now he would try vertically. So he made his dwelling on top of a 45 foot pillar (the greek word for pillar is styloi, thus he received the name stylite).

His disciples would send him food up in a basket and every afternoon he would allow the pilgrims to come up to him via ladder in order to receive prayer and counseling.

He said that he was "called to give up movement" and he would always be on his feet. He stood on top of the pillar and fastened himself to a pole so that he could sleep standing up. His only excercise was to bend at the waist, which he did after every prayer. the point was to symbolize that he was constantly pointing heavenward and that he would not stray from the Word and Will of God.

He lived on top of his pillar for 37 years all the while giving counsel to kings and political figures, discipling many followers, counseling, writing letters, and spending countless hours in prayer.

From his example, a series of Stylites started to spot the wilderness as his followers sought to escape into quiet reflection.

I find it interesting that we use the term "up on a pedestal" to say that people are highly respected or looked up to, and yet here is a man who is using a very high pedestal as a form of escape from the sinful world and invited others to come up to him by a ladder to meet with him in his sanctuary of solitude.

Hagiology is so cool.

Monday, July 13, 2009


The other day I was in the city of Kitale and a man came up to me and took my hand and said, "Oh you look exactly like someone. Oh, who is it? Oh yes, Tupac Shakur!"

So, if anyone has any questions that they would like to ask here is the place for you to ask them and I will gladly answer them.

I was asked a whole bunch of questions by a day camp that my friend works at, and the questions were really good. My faorite question, which I chose not to answer, was "why do birds have baby birds?"

if you want to watch the video of their questions it is here.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sunday School, handshakes, and Muzungu-ness

Dearest ones,

I hope that this blog entry finds you well. I am doing fine, I have been very tired for the last few days, but mostly because I have decided to stay up really late and watch movies for the last two nights. So it was a bad decision. But otherwise, Kakamega is good. The climate is good, cool in the mornings and evening and hot during the day. My farm is starting to look wow! The corn is tall, the beans are red, the spinach is like spinach, and the cucumbers are many. Soon we will be harvesting peanuts, something that i am very excited about.

Since my last post many things have happened. i have attempted to learn several popular Kenyan dances, all of which have failed horribly. I have been attempting to learn the dance moves of Rose Muhando (a popular Christian artist - youtube it, parts of it are crazy) but they are impossible.

I had the opportunity to travel to the Musudzuu Division two weekends ago in order to lead a Divisional Youth Seminar and Youth Leaders' Workshop for all of the youth of the division. This was a really good weekend, but was very tiring. It started on Friday with about 100 youth leaders coming in order to learn about Sunday School leadership and program. The TYS (my boss) and I have decided that Sunday School is a major need in our Territory. Most Sunday Schools are boring and formal, so we are attempting to revive the Sunday Schools in our Territory, which is proving to be more difficult then expected. These youth leaders were very receptive and said that they learned a lot and are planning to make great changes.
We visited a Salvation Army school and I am quite certain that I have never been stared at more in my life then I did by those children; it made me feel very awkward. The place where we were was very rural, and most of these young children had never seen a muzungu (whitey) face to face before, let alone touch one. So every single child wanted to greet me. They wanted to shake my hand and say "how are you?" which they repeat over and over again. So i created a mass handshaking system where i shook about 40 hands at a time, in order to make it through the 300 students of the school in a relatively short period of time. On Saturday, we were with all of the youth. There were about 600 youth there to worship and learn from us. We sang, danced, and taught them and then went on a huge crusade. We marched for 10 kilometers, 5 miles, each way and then held a very wonderful open air, and then returned. At the end of the 10 mile trek of dancing, i was quite tired, but the youth were all very happy. They even stayed up until midnight singing and dancing. All they need is a Yamaha keyboard that plays drum beats and they go on for hours.

On Saturday, the 4th of July, I marched in two parades. But sadly, neither was for American Independence. One was for a Union Organization and one was for a mass group of police and army personel. Luckily this gave me the chance to learn the difference between the uniforms of police, APs, MPs, Forest Department, Prison Guards, and others, but of course I have forgotten most of them. After the two parades, the band went and played in a memorial service and then did home visitations. It was a very long but very good day, i learned a lot of Kiluhya Traditional songs.
The following day I led Sunday School at my corps and tried to make all of the youth act like lions (simba), but they wouldnt. There was only one boy who tried to act like a scary lion and the face he made literally scared me a little bit. I then went to a soccer game which was the district championship for High School teams. There is a Salvation Army school near my office which I often visit and both the girls team and the boys team made it into the finals. This was an amazing thing for them because they are small and new. The teams that they played were big and old. But our team (called Kakamega Township) did very well, but sadly lost. However, the next day on the National News they interviewed the principal of the team that one and he made a reference to a "Salvation Army Muzungu" who was in Army uniform and was rooting for Township. Then the people on TV made fun of me. I was quite proud to be known as "the white man in all white" (which is our sunday uniform, which is quite schnazy).

We have been planning many things for next year; including the calendar, budget, youth events, trainings, and a Youth Congress.

I have been struggling with certain things and could really use prayer. I have been lonely and have been feeling homesick. Also, many of our programs have been changed by the leadership, which is frustrating and difficult.

Also, I taught the TYS the word "finna" and hopefully he will continue to use it.

Please pray for:
-Territorial Finances
-For me to work well with my leadership

Much love y'all,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Juniors

The Salvation Army was started by William and Catherine Booth. William was both really cool but also really crazy (in a good way). But let me just focus in on one of the reasons why he was really cool: he knew the importance of children in the church.

He wrote a book called "Sergeant Major Do-Your-Best of Darkington No. 1" in which he writes about the work of the Army and the role of the Sergeant Major, who is kind of like a deacon and is second to the pastor within the church. He writes from the Sergeant Major's point of view.

In one of the chapters Sergeant Major Do-Your-Best discusses how his corps (church) had a horrible youth ministry, but once they started their new initiative to the youth it brought new life to the church.

I think everyone should read this if they have the time. If you are not in the Salvation Army you may not be interested but it is a good read. It will take betwen 10 and 20 minutes to read. It has really made quite an impression on me. Its real good.