Friday, September 18, 2009


Solitude is "the furnace of transformation". - Henri Nouwen

"As soon as you are really alone you are with God." - Thomas Merton

"It is easier to read about solitude than to practice it". - David Douglas

I wish I was good at solitude, but the fact is just hard. Sometimes the thought of becoming a hermit (an "eremites": an inhabiter of an uninhabited land - slight paradox) seems so appealing because many of the distractions of society are removed.

But Jesus found solitude in the midst of his disciples and ministry (friends and work) and so should I.

Thats all.

Monday, September 14, 2009


O unchanged image of the One who Is,
O Seal that cannot be removed or altered,
Son and Word, Wisdom and Arm,
Right Hand and Strength of the Most High,
Thee do we sing with the Father and the Spirit

Thou hast taken me captive with longing for thee, O Christ
And hast transformed me with Thy divine love.
Burn up my sins with the fire of the Spirit
And count me worthy to take my fill of delight in thee
That dancing with joy I may magnify both Thy Comings,
O Lord who art good.

-The Eastern Orthodox Transfiguration liturgy

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Music, Oceans, and Alligator kabobs

hello my everyone,
I am sorry that it has taken me so long to write an update, but I promise I have some decent excuses. I am doing well, and have been here now for 6 months. In some ways it feels a lot longer and in others it feels a lot shorter. I am completely in the swing of things, I feel totally comfortable, and I don't even think about the fact that I am being stared at all the time or that i have different skin. The first few months were very difficult, but God has been faithful to me.

In the middle of August I took my leave/furlough/vacation for two weeks and had a chance to see a little bit of the country. For the first few days of my leave I was able to rest, read, and run errands, just being able to do a lot of things that I often don't have time to do. I then got on a bus and took a 14 hour bus ride across the entire country to the City of Mombasa. Mombasa is a really old town that is about half Muslim and has a lot of arab landmarks, architecture, people, and history. While I was in Mombasa I stayed at a Salvation Army Childrens' Home and had a chance to meet many youth and many Salvationists (who were so welcoming to me even though I was from a different Territory). I had a chance to play soccer, pray, and watch Alvin and the Chipmunks with the children.
While in Mombasa I went to a really old fort called Fort Jesus which (apparently) is built to look like Jesus stretched out on the cross. The Fort is in a really great area called Old Town that has dozens of Mosques, tiny roads, and thousands of people. I also had a chance to see most of the city, take a ferry across the river, and travel up to the beaches. At the beaches I swam in the Indian Ocean, saw monkeys, held a huge snake, and ate a crocodile (not very delicious).
After I left Mombasa I had a chance to travel Nairobi which (even though it is the capitol) I had spent no time in. I was able to go around and see the downtown, many Salvation Army corps and compounds, and had a chance to worship and play in the band of the largest Salvation Army corps in the world (Nairobi Central, with over 3,000 Senior Soldiers). I then traveled with an officer friend to the area around Machakos, which is a very dry and dusty place. It was the driest place i have ever been, and yet it wasn't overly hot. Right now in Kenya, we have a water crisis. Much of the country does not have enough water, rivers are drying up and wells are very low. Because of the water crisis, crops are failing and cattle are dying which is causing food shortages. We also are going through a power crisis, which means that we are going through a lot of power rationing (so there are some days when we just sit around the office and chat). But God is good and is really helping his people.
After Machakos, I went to Nairobi and picked up Mike Steinsland from the Airport. Mike is the coolest and decided to come and spent 10 days with me. He was here for my birthday, he brought me many gifts from many different people at home (thanks everyone), and we had a really good time together. I had a chance to show Mike a little bit of my life and he was able to meet my friends, coworkers, and officers. Mike even had a chance to slaughter his first chicken. He had never even touched a live chicken before (we are so proud of him). However, we forgot to tell him to hold the chicken for about a minute after the head was off. So he let go of the chicken and blood got everywhere; all over himself, me, the walls, plants, our friend Kerry's shirt, everywhere.

Mike and I then had a chance to be facilitators at the territorial music school. We were able to teach the guitar class. We were worried that we would not have enough instruments, but God was so gracious to us. We taught the men in the class how to play Amazing Grace and we spiced it up to be in a kind of African style. We were really proud of the guys and they really progressed a lot in one week. In fact, there are two that have come to my office every day since the Music school in order to be taught more.
At the music school I was able to be in the brass band, the staff band, and the united chorus. Mike and I both had the chance to give devotions and we were both greatly blessed by the music, bible studies, and people we met through the week. During the talent show, we were able to see 30 presentations (there were only 100 people) of people's talents. We were also able to take part in a Cultural Night where we saw a traditional Turkana War dance, a circumsion ceremony (minus the actual curcumsion), a Kekuyu presentation of a woman's responsibilities, and the cleansing of a house after a death in the family. it was really fascinating. I even talked about the Corn Palace and Mike said he likes loud music. it was great.
The final concert of the Music School was held on Sunday morning and we were able to do a very loud and wonderful crusade with all of the bandsmen, singers, and timbrels (tambourines).
I am now back in the office and am trying to catch up on all of the work that I missed because of being away for 3 weeks. I am almost there, but as soon as I catch up I know more will come, its just the way it is, and its ok.

Please pray for:
-My Family back home
-Visa issues
-Territorial finances
-The students as they go back to school
-The youth of the territory
-Me to quickly understand more kiswahili
Thanks everyone
much love,