Archive for May, 2009

Heading home

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Concert at Crossroads Fellowship Church

Worship at Crossroads Fellowship Church

The view at lunch – camels and the Indian ocean.

Images from the train from Mombasa to Nairobi

At the IDP camp.

At the ID camp.

Giving clothes to kids at the IDP camp.

Some of the kids at one of Pastor Simon’s schools.

Pastor Simon and his mother in her home.

Our last night at Mama Chiku’s with our hosts, the Coots.

Well, unbelievably, we are heading home tonight. It will take 28.5 hours if everything goes as planned. 🙂 We are hoping for the best. We will try to post this one more time here, and when I get home and access is easier, I will add photos. It’s been killing me not to be able to get them up on the blog! I took 200 photos from the train alone.

A lot has happened since last week, and our heads are spinning a bit trying to take it all in.

On Saturday we had a sound check in the morning, and then lunch with the pastors at Crossroads. They are wonderful people – it was an absolute joy to get to know them. That afternoon I gave a concert at the church, and really felt the Lord was moving there. They have a beautiful building as well – all the building materials here are hard (tile, concrete, wood, etc.) so it makes the rooms very live. This is hard for understanding, but all that reverb sure makes you sound good when you sing!

Sunday morning we were back with them for worship. They do a great job. The worship band led off, and after announcements, etc., they gave me 20 minutes before the sermon. I did the offertory and benediction as well, and during the sermon I went out and sang scripture songs with the kids in children’s church. It was a very full morning, but so fun. God was really moving in the service, and 5 people met the Lord that day.

We went to lunch with Jim and Susie Horne (Jim is the senior pastor), the Bechtels and their kids (Bobby is the education pastor and they were our hosts in Mombasa) and a couple who were visiting who have been missionaries here for 35 years – they are good friends with the Hornes. We went to a place called Yul’s and it was very Mombasa – open air with a grass roof that they had built around the palm trees growing in the restaurant so they could stick out of the roof. It was literally about 15 feet to the ocean, and there were 3 camels laying on the beach outside the back door. I’m not sure there is a more incredible setting for lunch.

After lunch Jim asked me if I would come back and give a Christmas concert in December. I would love to come back! Since it takes at least two days to get here and to get home, though, and that is the busiest time of year, I told him I would pray about it. We will, and we’ll see what God does. 🙂

That night we headed back to Nairobi on the train. It was making us somewhat nervous that whenever we mentioned taking the train to missionaries, they said, “Are you sure you want to do that?” and every time we mentioned it to Kenyans, they just laughed. Hmmm. But we wanted to try it as an adventure, so we went ahead. Well, the train has not been updated in 40 years, there were many bugs, and a serious lack of toilets, and it took 17 hours (flight to Mombasa was 45 minutes), but I wouldn’t trade the view we had in the morning for anything. It was really incredible, and I spent literally hours with my daughter hanging out the window with the camera. Unbelievable.

The next day our driver Elisha picked us up and it was like coming home. He’s really dear. He stopped by his house with us to cut a sugar cane for the kids to try since they’d been wanting to do that the whole trip.

Tuesday was my daughter, Rachel’s, birthday. We made her a big sign and cards, and one of the girls here who is in a cake class made her a cake – it was beautiful. Thanks, Onna!

In the morning we went down to the IDP camp. It is for people who were displaced during the election violence here a year and a half ago. There was a lot of tribal warfare then, and the stories are really horrifying. They cannot go home, and they have nothing. I have really never seen such poverty. We brought clothing down for the kids, and they were filthy and many of them were sick, and they are all living in tents made of flour sacks in the middle of a field with no shade or water or food supply. It’s absolutely unsustainable.

These mothers broke my heart – they love their children, and they have no way to provide for them. We met one woman, Rachel, who showed us her home, an 8 foot square tent made from a tarp that she shared with her husband and 4 children. She was stunningly beautiful, and smiled as easily as she spoke. All the adults were smiling, and they sang for us. We know they are in a desperate situation, and yet they have joy. We are praying about what we might do that would have a lasting impact here.

Wednesday was equally compelling. Nathan and I headed down into the valley with Donna, our host, to visit their Maasai friend, Pastor Simon. He’s amazing. There were no Christians in Maasai land in the valley. His mother met the Lord through a chance meeting, and taught her children to love the Lord. Her sons became pastors, and now Pastor Simon oversees 10 churches in the valley. He told us amazing stories of what the Lord is doing there, including the fact that they recently had a meeting where 1500 Maasai people met the Lord! It’s truly outstanding work, and we were sitting there in his mother’s house, a dung hut with a grass roof and chickens walking in and out of the door, and we were thinking how honored we were to be in this woman’s house with this man of God. We are also praying about how we can help Pastor Simon – his next project is to build churches for the groups who are meeting under trees, and to build an orphanage for the 70 or so AIDS orphans in Pastor Simon’s immediate area who do not have any care.

Today we have been packing and saying goodbye. It really is hard to believe that we are leaving. The Lord has given us so much to think about, and connected us with so many incredible people. I am waiting in anticipation of what He will do from here.

I will post pictures as soon as I can. This place is breathtaking. 🙂


Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Pictures from two schools/feeding programs we visited in Mombasa

Outside our sponsored child’s home

Receiving a gift from our sponsored child, Abassa

Our girls with the children in Abassa’s village

Nathan and Abassa

Saying goodbye.

Today was an incredible day. We went up the coast, past Malindi and into the Golbanti region to meet one of our World Vision children, Abassa. We had no idea what to expect, but this wasn’t it.

After meeting the staff from the Golbanti project (which supports 3000 children currently), we went to Abassa’s village. He is from the Orma tribe, and I didn’t realize until we got there that this was a completely traditional village. We got to go inside a couple of the houses which are woven entirely from grass and they sang for us as well.

The best part, though, was driving up to the village, and seeing him out front. We have his picture on the fridge, and have been praying from him every day for almost 10 years. It was absolutely incredible to get to meet him. He’s sixteen now, and his English is pretty good, so we were able to communicate well – this was something we didn’t know beforehand either.

Yesterday was also wonderful. I went to two different schools that were started by the couple who are hosting us here in Mombasa. They started as feeding programs, and each serve about 220 kids. Now they’ve grown into schools that serve preschool through 2nd grade. They’ll add a year every year until they get to 8th grade, so they can keep these kids all through primary school.

I got to sing with the kids, but my favorite part was when they sang for me – it was so sweet. I was so impressed with the work that they were doing, and I loved meeting the children.

One fun note – yesterday evening we went out to the beach for just a bit. We just wanted to touch the Indian Ocean. It may sound trite, but I never thought I’d get to see that ocean. God is good!

On to Mombasa

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

These monkeys kept trying to break into our tent. They’re like squirrels here – everywhere.

Pictures from Masai Mara

Well, I’m sitting here at Mayfield, the guest house for Africa Inland Mission in Nairobi. We flew in this morning from Masai Mara into Wilson airport, and we have to fly out tonight from Jomo Kenyatta airport on the other side of the city. Donna and Wally Coots, our hosts at RVA, set us up here so we would have a place to crash and catch up while we waited for our flights.

We’ve spent the last couple days on a little family safari, and it was amazing. God totally provided for us, as the driver we were using last week, Elisha (who is such a wonderful man of God) also sets up travel for people, and was able to get us in a wonderful place for a lot less money. We’ve spent the last couple of nights sleeping in tents listening to the tree hyraxes (who, by the way, scream from 9-10 pm every night and from 5-6 am every morning) and the monkeys. During the days, we went on safari drives in Masai Mara, and it was incredible – we saw lions literally feet away, cheetahs hunting, huge groups of giraffes, troops of baboons, elephant families, it really takes your breath away to see the creativity of our God. I had to remind myself several times that we were actually here.

This afternoon we had a meeting with James Kamu who coordinates Young Life for Kenya. We were so encouraged to hear what the Lord is doing here through their ministry, and it’s so needed. A lot of the work they do here in Nairobi is in the slums, and the Lord is using them in such an incredible way. Please pray for them, for their ministry and their funding (we have really seen that many of these communities could never support a ministry like that, but it is so very necessary). Also pray that the Lord will lift up leaders for them – He is expanding their ministry in wonderful ways and so quickly, and they need leaders to grow it.

Tonight we’re flying into Mombasa. We’re doing some ministry with a feeding program through the church that I am singing at this week, and also working with World Vision and meeting our sponsored child – I can’t wait!

RVA continued…

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

The RVA guys become my “back up dancers”

The concert at RVA

The keepers with their orphaned elephants

This little baby black rhino was the size of a medium-sized dog

Yes, we were that close. And we’re looking at you, too.

My son playing with the Little Lambs

My daughter playing with the Little Lambs

The Little Lambs show off their new clothes – GO BUCKS!!

He’d never had a new piece of clothing before.

We’re trying to post one more time before we know we won’t have access for a few days. Here, it is very hard to get connected, but we leave tomorrow for Maasai Mara, and we know there won’t be any way of connecting from there. We’ll be in Mombasa by Thursday, and hopefully will be able to connect again then to update here.

We’ve had a great couple of days. The kids here at RVA are pretty amazing. Their faith is so sincere, and I’ve had a great time working with them on music. Thursday night I spoke at Koinonia and sang a song to close. Right when I began, the keyboard decided it didn’t want to make sound anymore. I was going to sing it a cappella, but then I saw one of the kids from the band I did the workshop with the night before. I had a lead sheet, so I had him come up and play the guitar for me. He’d never heard the song, but he did a great job – shout out to you, Josh! Thanks.

Friday morning we went to the Maasai market and got presents for people. It was really fun, but also overwhelming – so much art, so many people, so much haggling. Our best purchase was a carved giraffe about as tall as my son (wish us luck getting it home in one piece!) for 2000 shillings – less than 30 dollars. It’s funny, some things are very comparable price-wise, and then others are really inexpensive.

Friday night was my concert at RVA, and that was truly fun. I’ve had the whole week getting to know people here, which is a very different experience, and so everyone was really excited for the show. We even got cell phones waving, which was fun. For one song, I had 6 senior guys come up (we surprised them) and be my “back up dancers” – it was pretty hilarious.

Saturday we went to the animal orphanage and got to see and pet about 15 baby elephants. We also got to pet a baby black rhinoceros, which is amazing. There are only about 2000 black rhinos left in the wild. He was so funny – he was totally playful, and kept jumping and running around like a puppy. He was about the size of a medium sized dog. All of these animals are released back to the wild, and are only exposed to humans other than their handlers for about 20 minutes a week – they don’t want them to get too comfortable with people. Then we went on to feed the giraffes – note to self: giraffe saliva is very slimy. You learn something new every day.

Saturday night I met the people in charge of Little Lambs, the AIDS orphanage. We sorted clothes for the kids that we brought with us, and went out to a local Kenyan place, a little hole in the wall called Mama Chiku’s. It was all great food, and we had a great time together.

This morning I led worship for the school. They sure know how to sing here! Nathan and I led the singing and worked with the worship band here. These students are really talented, and a lot of fun to work with. Add to that 600 people singing their hearts out, and you have a pretty awesome morning.

This afternoon was so fun, and so hard. We went to Little Lambs and played with all the kids for a while. Then they sang for me, and we sang for them, and we also taught them some of the kids music. After that, we distributed clothes. They were so excited about their new stuff, and all went and put it on right over the clothes they were wearing. Then they had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chai that some of the students from RVA had put together. When it was time to leave, there was one little girl in particular who just wouldn’t let go of me. They were so full of joy, it’s easy to forget the situation they are in, but when you realize how few hugs they get, it just breaks your heart. I cried a lot of the way home. The people there do an awesome job, but that is just not how it’s meant to be.

Tonight I went back and worked with the worship team, and then stayed to watch them do SNL – Sunday Night Live Worship. We sang the line “Let my heart be broken by the things that break Yours” and I cried again. God is certainly doing that.

Please pray for our safety as we travel – we’re leaving our friends who have really taken care of us, and hope we know what we’re doing. 🙂 Pray also that God will show us how to help more here, and what He intends for this trip. Thank you!

First notes and photos from Kenya

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

One of the many views of RVA

With the pastor at Karuna Community Chapel, Nairobi

At Karuna Community Chapel, Nairobi

People walking home from church


On the way to Kijabe

One view out the car window driving to Kijabe

Working with the worship band at RVA

Singing with the kids at Titchie Swot – the elementary school at RVA

Rugby and volcanoes

We may have finally found a way to connect to post a blog! Communication is hard here.

We got in on Saturday and have been ridiculously busy ever since. It’s been really fun to see God fill in the time, and we are learning a lot.

The flight from London was nearly 7000 miles. How can we sum up first impressions? It’s incredibly beautiful here, but then there are shacks all along the road, with this backdrop of unbelievable mountains and flowers. Driving is crazy, holding on the whole time, donkeys and cows in the roads, and police checkpoints where the police carry AK-47s. So many people, so much pollution, such staggering natural beauty that is at the same time so harsh. There is a drought in the valley now, and many are starving. You look down there and see IDP camps (internally displaced people) housing people in tents made of fertilizer sacks who fled their homes to avoid being killed in the election a year and a half ago – it devolved into a tribal war between the Kikuyu and the Luo tribes when the outcome was disputed. There are gorgeous mountains behind them – actually volcanoes. It’s hard to get your mind around it.

We are now in Kijabe, about 30 miles from Nairobi at the Rift Valley Academy, part of Africa Inland Mission. It’s a boarding school that serves K-12 missionary kids, and also some local Kenyans, and there are about 500 students here, the majority of which are in high school. It feels very Western, a lot like a cross between a college campus and a really nice camp.

I’ve been helping with the choir, doing voice lessons, singing at chapels, doing kids’ music, giving various clinics (last night I did a workshop with the worship band), and basically being useful wherever I can. Nathan’s also been helping out with their IT department. As we said, communication is so difficult here, and they were happy to have another guy thinking about solutions.

Last Sunday I sang at Karuna Community Chapel. Nairobi Chapel planted this “small” off-shoot church, and they now meet in a huge tent not far from Kijabe. They have two services and the tent seats about 500 – pretty amazing. Apparently they don’t get severe weather here, so they don’t spend the money on buildings. I had a wonderful time with them, and really enjoyed their praise band. The whole congregation was dancing – you don’t get that in the States! The sermon was about marriage and my favorite quote was, “Marriage is like a dual carriageway (a divided highway) – there is no stopping or turning around, and the next roundabout is death!!” Hope that inspires all you single people out there. 🙂

Tonight I am speaking at Koinonia which is a youth event, and tomorrow I am giving a concert. Saturday our hosts are taking us to an animal orphanage where we’ll get to play with baby elephants (!!!) and we’ll go to Blackrock, the school’s rugby tournament – rugby is all the rage here. Sunday I’ll be leading worship here at RVA, and we will go to Little Lambs, an AIDS orphans’ day school – we will sing with the kids and take them the clothing we brought with us from the clothing drive. On Monday we head to the coast. Hopefully we’ll get to update this more often, but it’s been pretty amazing so far. We want to tell you more!

England pictures

Friday, May 8th, 2009

The London Eye

Big Ben and the Parliament across the Thames

Buckingham Palace

The Tower of London

The Rosetta Stone


The Roman Baths in Bath

Well, we’re leaving tonight for Kenya, and we’ve spent the last two days on a whirlwind tour of many English landmarks. I’m just going to post a few. I have no idea how often I will post from Kenya, since we don’t know the situation with internet, but we’ll do our best. 🙂

I do want to say that we’ve been staying with Tom and Ninie Hammon, and they’ve been such a blessing. Tom runs Young Life UK, and we’ve loved talking with them in the evenings about what God is doing here. There’s so much need and so much opportunity. Please be praying for their ministry!

A typical day

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

A one-lane road through the beautiful Cotswolds

A recovered fourth century Roman mosaic

It’s spring!

At the gate of St. Peter and St. Paul

Road in Northleach

Well, we’re taking a couple of days off as a family before heading for some intense ministry time in Kenya, so not a lot to talk about today, but I’ll share a couple of pictures.

I also had a talk with Randy Nickel who has had a huge hand in training Young Life leaders in Kenya about the area, and we are going to try and connect with some of them either in Nairobi or Mombasa or both to hear more about what’s happening there, and possibly do some ministry with them while we’re there.

Today we saw a Roman ruin from the fourth century, took tea, ate chocolate covered marzipan (and no, it doesn’t get better than that, my friends) and walked and drove through some amazing little towns in the Cotswolds in England. Way cool family time!

Yep, that’s what I said – flaming trebuchet, baby!!

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Me and Mike Rimmer

Yes, that is a ball of fire about to be flung by an eleven ton trebuchet.

Well, today has been interesting. We spent the last night at camp, had breakfast with the Young Life staff and left. What wonderful people we met – God’s family is everywhere.

Then we headed into Birmingham and I did a radio interview with Mike Rimmer who’s with Cross Rhythms, Gospel Link and the BBC. I had a wonderful time meeting him and doing the interview. It was amazing since we missed each other repeatedly at GMA, and then to find myself only a few miles from him in the UK was pretty incredible.

Then we headed to Warwick Castle with the kids and it was all pretty fun
(and a little mindblowing that some of it is from the 11th century), but I have to say, the best part for the guys in our party was definitely the end. They have the largest trebuchet in the world, and the shot a ball of flame from it down along the river. We hardly ever see that in Columbus!

Cleobury Mortimer

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Cleobury Mortimer on the hill

Some of the Young Life staff working on one of the service projects – a new sidewalk

Well, it’s not the most poetic name I’ve ever heard, but the town is beautiful.

We’re here at the staff work weekend for Young Life UK. This morning I led worship, we took some pictures, and then Nathan and Rinnah worked on the service project while I put Toby down for a nap and did school with Rachel. Then we went down the hill to see Cleobury Mortimer, and I gave a little concert this evening.

Driving here has been very interesting. Staying on the left isn’t the half of it. It’s staying on the left while sitting on the opposite side of the car so all the proportions are different, in a rental you don’t know, on extremely narrow streets that people just park on randomly, and then playing chicken with (and yes, this happened today) an oncoming bus. When we managed not to wreck our car, the parked cars, the 500 year old building on the side of us, or the bus, Nathan said cheerfully, “Well, we’re all still alive!” but apparently the kids were pretty spooked. Rachel yelled, “Dad, I wish I knew your middle name!!” I guess she knows what is said when someone’s in trouble. 🙂

Watch out for mum!

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

The chips in question

Well, we’re here! Jolly old England. Where some people do actually say, “Pip, pip, cheerio!”

We flew to Detroit, had a 3 hour layover, and then a bit of a delay leaving for London, but still got in on time. Man, that’s a long flight, especially when you’re landing at 3:15 am your time, and they served you breakfast an hour and a half before and you need to get off the plane and drive several hours on the other side of the road.

We got our car which took a long time, and then had the hair-raising experience of trying to drive on the left sitting on the left for the first time at Heathrow airport. Well, we’re still all here. 🙂

Then up for an amazingly beautful drive to Buckinghamshire. We’re spending the weekend doing worship for a Young Life staff weekend. We caught up with my friend Tom, lead some worship, put the exhausted children to bed, and caught up our blogs.

My favorite quote from the day was from a little old lady at the Three Pigeons Pub, where we stopped for lunch. I ate a french fry off Toby’s plate, and she said, “You better watch out, or your mum’ll pinch your chips!!”

Sounds painful. 🙂