Sunday, May 26, 2013

tow trucks in Kenya?

This evening I got a chance to go back to Flavors of East Africa, this time with fellow SIM Kenya missionaries! Kristen and Matt have three kids and are leaving for Kenya about a week after my scheduled departure date. It was so great to enjoy Kenyan food together, share emotions and schedules, talk about our excitement to leave and everything in between. I can't believe the next time I see them will be in Kenya... there are very few people I get to say that about!

However, our experience at dinner tonight may indicate a bit of what we may experience in just over 8 weeks. It started out great, we ordered, talked, got our food, enjoyed. We had 3 people taking care of us (hospitality is a Kenyan trait), our waters were never empty, however the waitresses weren't all sure what menu options they actual had and the evening festivities were quite interesting.

Incident #1: would you care for some Mandazis (african donuts) for dessert? So the first time I went to this restaurant I tried ordering these for dessert and the waitress kindly said they didn't have them and I was offered an American mint instead. Tonight however, one of our waitress came over and asked if we wanted to try one. I, excited to hear they had them, said yes, just one. Kristen agreed and I got excited, they had them this time! A few minutes later another one of the waitresses came over with our bill, told us she was taking over, and asked if their was anything else we needed. I told her that the other girl was getting us two Mandazis. She (the same waitress from the first visit I had) once again told me they didn't have them. She left, a few minutes later the first waitress places 2 Mandazis (pictured below) down in front of us. We all looked at each other and chuckled and began to enjoy. They definitely had some interesting spices in them, a recipe online lists these as options: cinnamon, ginger, all-spice, or cardamom... I think ours had all of them. The waitress came over (who said they didn't have them) I held it up and she said, "oh the cook must have just got them." Oh my... she ended up bringing us some sugar to dip our last few bites into.

Incident #2: tow trucks in Kenya? The restaurant is in a location where parking can be very difficult. There is a AmPm gas station right next door and one of the restaurant attendees had parked their car in a their parking area. As we were nicely enjoying our Mandazis the owner (I think) came rushing over and asked what kind of car we drove. He moved to the next table when suddenly the woman stood up and freaked. Both went running out the door to see her car almost getting towed! This wouldn't have been that exciting of a story unless I add the part that it made our conversation switch to, "would this have happened in Kenya?" We went on to discuss traffic in Nairobi, the likelihood of sighting a broken down car in the middle of the street, and whether there will or won't be tow trucks in Kenya. My money would say No. The evening was beginning to make us wonder how similar this evening is to what life will be like when we're actually there.

Incident #3: I thought we were at a Kenyan restaurant. We had finished our dinner, enjoyed our donuts and having some great conversations until all of the sudden a spanish dressed lady interrupts the restaurant conversations to announce the presence of some music and dancing from Spain, the middle east... everywhere but Kenya... or even Africa for that matter. The evening began to turn even more interesting as the volume of the music made hearing each other incredible difficult and the hand drum player came around and motioned for us to clap along (obviously our dinner conversation was not near as important as his musical ability or the cultural dancing taking place in the middle of the restaurant). We would have got up and went and sat outside but we realized it may be a little rude to get up at the beginning of their "performance" in the middle might look like we didn't like it... what's the protocol for leaving a restaurant in a Kenyan culture during a middle eastern fiesta?? Oh the things we have to learn!

My dinner choice for the night: Oxtail, Dengu(lentils) & Chapati(african flatbread)

Friday, May 24, 2013

faces to pray for!

I can count on my two hands how many weeks left until I leave and each week there is some event going on that will make these next few weeks fly by! My emotions are very mixed all the time. I'm so excited to go and I'm sad to leave. IF I ever go serve overseas again in the future I will not work the last 6-8weeks before I leave and I definitely don't recommend it. Between people wanting to meet up, praying (its a necessity these days), spending quality time with family and friends, sitting doing nothing because crying takes so much out of you; time for work, let alone the brain power to focus, is very difficult! I'm doing it because this season brings on my favorite part of the job, organizing the 500+ volunteers for our vacation bible school, but it's hard!

For those of you still praying about giving financial, know I am praying for you! I pray day and night (and often throughout the day) for the finances for His ministry. I know only He can move people to give and it is so amazing to see Him work as I pray. My support is at 59%! That's a 24% increase since May 1st. I'm beyond words as I see who God is choosing to play a part of His mission. It reminds me that this is not about me. There are over 60 one-time and monthly donators to this ministry and 10 of them I have never met. Is that not amazing?! I have just over $1,000 left to be committed monthly. A prayer partner of mine sent me this verse and I will be memorizing it tonight as I fall asleep.

God, who has called you into fellowship with the Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 
-1 Corinthians 1:9

And, a few weeks ago, I received some pictures of the sweet faces I will soon be teaching. As you are praying, here are some faces to pray for! I cannot wait to meet these kids in person, oh it's going to be here before we know it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

the drawing room

I'm reading a book that in so many ways has changed my life. Every couple pages Joanna Weaver, in her book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding intimacy with God in the busyness of life, includes a story or application to help you apply what she has been discussing. A few days ago, her focus was prayer and creating that quiet time with God that is meaningful and purposeful and something that is a joy, not a burden in the schedule.

This depiction of the drawing room has resonated in my mind and heart for the last few days and so I decided to write it out. To be able to come back to it when I need to remind myself He is waiting, it's not about me, it's ALL about Him.
We walked next into the drawing room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. I liked it. I had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa, and a quiet atmosphere. 
He also seemed pleased with it. He said, "This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet and we can have fellowship together." 
Well, naturally, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I could not think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes apart with Christ in intimate comradeship. 
He promised, "I will be here every morning early. Meet with Me here and we will start the day together." So, morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the drawing room and He would take a book of the Bible... open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths... They were wonderful hours together. In fact, we called the drawing room the "withdrawing room." It was a period when we had our quiet time together. 
But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened... I began to miss a day now and then... I would miss it two days in a row and often more. 
I remember one morning when I was in a hurry... As I passed the drawing room, the door was ajar. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there... "Blessed Master, forgive me. Have you been here all these mornings?" 
"Yes," He said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you." Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me... 
He said, "The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to Me also."
(Quoted from Robert Boyd Munger's article "My Heart Christ's Home")

Knowing these moments of quiet, reading His word, and conversing with Him is something He looks forward to, makes me want to make that time even more. He is waiting for me, that will definitely get me out of bed in the morning, and knowing He is ready to reveal Himself to me, that is what I want most. These last few days, I have even woken before my alarm and instead of laying there waiting until it goes off, I turn it off, get up, and grab my Bible and go to my drawing room. The last few mornings have been such a sweet time, my heart is ready, I'm willing, and He transforms me during those moments. 

On Sunday, the earliest day I have to get up out of the week, was actually the easiest. I had blogged a few days before about where I was, feeling the countdown to leaving, fighting the calendar, and yet coming to the Throne changed my perspective on everything. On Sunday, I read this Psalm and I stopped, re-read it, and was amazed. It was my hearts cry that morning. Oh how He loves me!

Yet I am always with you;
  you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
  and afterward you will take me into your glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
  but God is the strength of my heart 
  and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
  you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God,
  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
  I will tell of all your deeds.

-Psalm 73:23-28

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the dreaded calendar

Missionaries. The dictionary defines the word missionary as "a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work." But there is really so much more to it. Yes the person is being sent, therefore there must be people who are sending them. And if there are people sending them, they most likely have relationships with this person or persons. And if there is relationships, then there is probably a level of sadness as the person leaves. And that doesn't even take into consideration all the person being sent is trying to process. 

So what exactly does it feel like? In so many ways I feel like my life is ending in just a few weeks. I know it sounds morbid, but it really is reality. I'm preparing to leaving everything, everything is coming to an end, and there seems to be no way to control my emotions.

And therefore the one thing that I am clinging to and yet fighting like no other is the dreaded calendar. At the beginning of May I printed out a month view of May, June and July. Beings that two weddings, work, a few fun trips, random babysitting, time with family and friends, and two week-long intense work events are going to take place between now and the end of July, I had to put it on paper to get it out of my head. But the reality is, there is only 3 pages left! And half of one is almost over! 

So how do I deal with it? Oh yes, Jesus. I was reading my Bible the other day and as I was reading, this thought occurred to me. (like one of those, I never thought about it like that moments and it actually makes since) God never changes. (I know I can be a little slow sometimes) My world is getting ready to go full-speed and then turn upside down, (think worse roller coaster ever and then times it by 10) and ad-mist all that going on, there is this (slow down speech...) calm, easy-going, Spirit with me always, steady and unchanging. He is my Rock to stand on when everything around me at times feels like it's crashing down. (Can you picture it??) There's this safe place I can go, hide away from the craziness, and breath, deep breaths, and remember that...(insert Truth) this is not about me.

As I sat down to write this post I felt the overwhelmingness, the weight heavy on my shoulders, the desire to just break down and cry. But as I write out all of this, I'm recalling versus in my head, and I can tell I'm calming. So many of the fears and worries have left. His Truth has set me free. That's the power of the Holy Spirit.

So what now? Yes it's still going to be hard at times, but I must be intentional about taking the time to refocus when my thoughts and emotions begin to take-over. No matter where I am I need to just stop, pray, and remember, He is with me, He is going through this with me, He doesn't change, He understands, and He will be there when everything else I know is not around. The calendar is still there, the emotions will still try to overtake me, the day will still come when I get to board a plane, but the mission is so much bigger than what I can see. The purpose is more than I will ever understand here on Earth and my God loves me and has a plan for me; one that only He knows. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Attention iPhone, iPad, & iPod friends!

In just a few weeks I will be boarding a plane to Kenya. The best way you will be able to keep up with me and my crazy adventure is following my blog. One of the blogs I follow is simply clarke, and a couple months ago she blogged about the new blog trend, getting an app icon that takes you directly to your blog. Well, I connected with her and I now have my own!!

Amazing right?! And when you put it on your home screen, the corners will round. Here's how to get my icon on your homescreen so you can access it whenever you so desire! :) Happy following!

1. Open up the internet on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod and type in

2. Make sure you let it completely load before doing this next step! Very important or the image won't come up right.

3. Click on the icon shown below.

4. Hit Add to Home Screen. 
(make sure this exact picture comes up, if it hasn't, then the site hasn't loaded completely, hit cancel and try again after a few seconds)

5. Give it a good name and then click Add. 

5. And success! You have an app icon for my blog, Go and Make Disciples of all nations!

Thank you simply clarke for helping design and set up the link! If anyone is interested in getting your own blog icon, check out her blog! She's quick and awesome!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Flavors of East Africa: bday edition

Mbuzi Choma (goat meat) my brother and I shared... a staple
in Kenya according to our waiter and something I will eat often.
Sukuma Wiki (collard greens & cabbage) also on the plate.
A few days ago I celebrated turning a quarter of a century! It was a great week of celebrating, eating lots of delicious food and never enough cinnamon rolls! On my actually birthday, Laura, my Mom, and my co-workers all made or bought cinnamon rolls for me on my birthday! I can't honestly remember exactly how many I ate that day, BUT I did lose 3 lbs. from the day before, thank you Jesus!!

The night before my birthday, my parents, brothers, grandparents, Aunt, Uncle and cousins from my mom's side and I went to Flavors of East Africa to celebrate! Our waiter was a Kenyan and was awesome at helping us choose just the right meal. I think everyone really enjoyed what they got... plates were cleared. My proof above.

One of the things I loved about going with a large group was getting to go around and try all the food! Everyone was so great about letting others try a bit to see if they liked it. Some were quite brave and others hesitant, I think everyone was surprised they liked so much of everything. Many ordered a appetizer plate of Sambusa's. I never made it around to try them but everyone raved about them. My aunt and cousin had both met the waiter at the OB farmer's market selling these Sambusa's. If you are ever in the area, go get one and enjoy a little flavor of East Africa for me!

Oxtail cooked with African spices... my favorite by far! We ordered this
entry for everyone to try a bit and everyone liked it!
Oxtail... in the middle of the eating process. The best example I could
come up with for comparison of taste was a roast. Oh it just melts in
your mouth!
Chapati (African flatbread)... They eat these with everything.
Tasted a lot like a flour tortilla cooked in oil for a bit.
Gingerized Juice (for real this time... my last post was just juice)
And my bday presents from my cousins, a red velvet cupcake!
Thanks Kyle, Megan & Ashlyn!
My birthday cakes made by my amazing Mom! My favorite is funfetti,
this year however, I found a pinterest recipe for cookie dough and
funfetti cake layered together.
I ate this piece and almost a whole one of those cakes myself over
the course of the week... still lost week, thank you Jesus again!!
The fam... Nick's head got cut off and my Aunt is taking the picture
Thanks everyone for coming and celebrating with me and for the
presents! You all being there meant so much to me and I loved
getting to experience it with you!
Me and my family! Cody, Tucker, Mom & Dad. Love you guys!
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