Saturday, March 23, 2013

"whatchu talkin bout willis?!"

i originally wrote and posted this to renown on September 23, 2010 from Karima, Kenya, Africa. just reposting some thoughts from those days...

This is Willis Maina. (hence the "whatchu talkin' bout Willis" reference in the title.) Willis is a good friend of mine now here in Karima, Kenya.

He has an awesome home and we hung out at his place together for much of the day on Tuesday.

He spoke fairly good English + i could speak pretty decent Swahili by that time, so we could communicate pretty well. and i can still whip out my trusty iPhone app and type in any word to figure out how to say it.
Lucy came with us too (she's Tiffany's good friend and a teacher at the school) and speaks great English so is a great translator.
We hung out with the whole family (except the kids) = Willis, his wife (far left), and his mother (next to Willis). i didn't catch her age, but she is VERY old!

we hung out in the "kitchen" which was a mud hut with a fire in the middle. it was like they were trying to smoke us out of that place! i straight up just couldn't see like half the time. i think someone has a pic somewhere after i came out of there and my eyes look like i've been on drugs for a while. they were just laughing saying - "you can't let the smoke bother you." yeah, well...

Thankfully, Willis was still finishing up working in his shamba (farm) and asked me to come help him carry his tools in from the farm + he wanted to show me all his land and farm.
this was pretty awesome just getting to walk and talk with him! he had corn fields, and onions, and potatoes. i told him my wife loves potatoes.

He took me to the 2 homes where his children live - also mud walls and mud floors. only 20 feet from the home where he slept. he has 4 children and the youngest is an 8th grader at the Primary school i've been teaching at. she remembered me when she came home for lunch. his oldest is another girl who is married and works at a Kanisa (church) in another area of Kenya.

He was growing a ton of Cypress trees too. He showed me one that was like 50 feet tall. then he took me to the ones he was growing that were like 5 inches tall. he taught me how to grow them all in 1 spot & then transplant them to a bigger area when they grow. They have to constantly grow these trees to use for firewood. Fire is a pretty big deal in Karima. you need it for a lot of stuff!

speaking of that, the cool story of the day - when we were all in the kitchen, Lucy was teaching me how to make a fire if you don't have any money for matches. BUT you still have to have some dry leaves and/or hot coals. (it rains everyday in Karima, so dry leaves may be hard to come by.) she said that if you don't have anything to make a fire, you just go to a neighbors home and TAKE fire from them. she emphasized that you NEVER "BORROW" fire because that is TABOO in Karima! and she just left it at that.
* "Why is it taboo to borrow fire?", came the question from the Mzungu...
you would never say you are going to borrow fire, you just take it BECAUSE in Karima they believe every home, every family should have fire... you need it for everything. so, everyone should have it, SO WE SHARE. just come take some of my fire so you can have your own. of course you're not going to borrow it.

WE have a LOT to learn from the people of Karima!
that is some awesome true community and selflessness.

I thought Willis had a pretty sweet crib. looks like a futon.

During our conversation, Willis found out that i love eggs. He has 7 chickens, so he snuck off and then came back and surprised me with an egg! i tried to refuse but he insisted. that was an honor, because an egg is a valuable thing in Karima. he insisted i was his honored guest and i must eat some fried egg!
i had already finished the Chipati and Tea the women made for me. it was all really good. so, they fried the egg and i picked it up and ate it with my hands. best egg i've ever eaten!

Then Willis brought me outside and said "In Karima we say - 'when you eat an egg you must feed a chicken.' This is because you need the chicken to lay another egg tomorrow to replace the one you just ate, so you better feed it! haha... so i got to feed the chickens too.

FYI - women talk about a lot of stuff around the fire in the kitchen. Willis' wife was talking to me about my wife and how we've been married for 5 years, but don't have any kids, etc... all the women said that NEVER happens in Karima. when someone gets married they have kids 9 months later! every time. i was like "cool".
 Then she turns to me and says "So you are using contraceptives?" & i was like "uhhhh..." a little bit of shock that i was having this conversation with 4 or 5 African women. we had to talk through that a little bit and then she said "so you are doing Family Planning."
what in the world? Lucy even said she had never heard of it, but this lady had found out about it somehow - read about it somewhere? she finished off the conversation by saying "so you are not Catholic."

well, good eggs and good times with the Willis Maina family at his place in Karima.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

why i need it

i like reading the Bible. 
some people might think that's weird, but i really dig it.
in fact, i would sit around and read it all the time if i had that much time. that's how much i like it. (but for the record, people who sit around and read the Bible all the time tend to not really follow what it says, so... maybe i wouldn't want to.)

but beyond just enjoying it for being great literature, i love to read it because it DOES SOMETHING IN ME. it changes me from the inside and the way i live. it changes the kind of choices i make. it changes the way i think about what's good. and what's not so good. 

for example, i think we (our culture) tends to depend on our own nature/our own sense of GOOD to tell us what is good. & i do think there's some merit to that. i think there's a sense of what is good and what's not deep down inside of us, BUT it's not foolproof. we get it wrong sometimes.
so, i can't just depend on my own nature to tell me what's good & what's not. or as a follower of Jesus i can't just assume that the things i think are good are the same things that God thinks are good. i count on the Bible to tell me that kind of thing.
For example, in our culture we would never know that God hates coveting. Because to us coveting is good thing. In fact, coveting makes the world go round. It's the engine of capitalism. capitalism exists because it capitalizes on our covetous nature and boom - you have the U.S. system of economy. (my apologies to Adam Smith for that extremely crude summary of his intricate work.)

and there are all kinds of things my own nature tells me is good... but in fact, from God's viewpoint - it's not so good. and when i discover that in the Bible i work tirelessly to change.
that's why i dig it & why i need it. 

(side note - above i wasn't commenting about the inherent good or bad of the economic system of capitalism. i'm not saying it's bad. although, for many Western Christians it is VERY VERY bad because it has become an idol for probably the majority of Western Christians. In fact, beyond an idol and inseparable from their version of Christianity - much like being Republican, democracy, etc... but i digress. another rant for another day.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

these are the people...

these are the people i dream about being a part of a church with...

these are the people i want to hang with as a part of the same "church"
these are the people i want to be in community with.

these are the people i want to worship with, sit with, talk with, walk with, etc...

probly way different than most churches, but here they are. these are the people...
"The flunk-outs and drop-outs and burned-outs. The broke and the broken. The drug heads and the divorced. The HIV-positive and the herpes-ridden. The brain-damaged, the incurably ill. The barren and the pregnant too many times or at the wrong time. The over employed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. The swindled, the shoved aside, the replaced. The parents with children living on the streets... The lonely, the incompetent, the stupid. The emotionally starved or the emotionally dead."
- Dallas Willard

imagine a church full of these people.
that's the community i want to be a part of. with all these people. being accepted and loved... and in their own time, even changing, healing, etc...

but to have a community... a church full of these people... you really do have to "do church" differently.

would it always be easy?




do i want to be a part of creating a place like this?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

changing as we age

a couple thoughts on getting older - both from dead guys who were very wise.
and both meant to make us chuckle, smirk, or at least appreciate the subtle truths...
"Young fellows are tempted by girls,
men who are 30 years old are tempted by gold,
when they are 40 years old they are tempted by honor and glory,
and those who are sixty years old say to themselves, 'What a pious man I have become.'
- Martin Luther
"If you’re not a socialist when you’re young you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re old you have no brains.” 
- Winston Churchill

and there are MANY many ways we change as we grow older. it's all fascinating.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the 1st time i sent my wife off by herself in the backwoods of Africa

i originally wrote & posted this to renown on September 21, 2010 from Kenya, Africa. just a look back at my blog posts from our time in Kenya that i set up HERE.

haven't had any time to write lately, so here's just a quick update as i'm riding on the CRAZIEST road ever in the backwoods of the mountains in Kenya. i don't even know how i'm typing bouncing in the air, etc...

yesterday was awesome. crystal and i worked in the primary school (1st - 8th grades) in Karima all day. i taught 2 different classes = 6th & 7th grades throughout the day.

Amy & Tiffany taught a couple classes too + i hear Keith taught some kids the Hokey Pokey... that's awesome & i wish i had video.

another part of our team was working on the new secondary school (high school) that's being build and i've got some crazy stories from that too.

These kids are amazing. i could spend the rest of my life with them. many of the kids in this primary school are orphans and come to school from a nearby orphanage.
The teachers at the school are awesome. they're my new heroes.

my Swahili is getting a lot better and everyone just wants to speak Swahili to me all the time now, so i'm learning a lot more too. Catherine (who i wrote about on day 1) used to be a main teacher at the school and she and some others hooked me up with a 5th grade Swahili grammar book! they took me through like 2 pages of it during break time.

got to see my buddy John again.

it rains all the time in Karima because it's in these mountains. it's the dry season too so we weren't expecting rain. that makes things interesting. but it's definitely = mvua kwa Jesu (rain is a blessing from Jesus) especially for this largely farming community.

TODAY (it's 9am here) i am working in Karima again all day with the Ridge team and Crystal is actually going by herself to work at the clinic/hospital in Kwambakenya (a nearby village in Kinangop) and then she is going with the nurse to work with the sick people in Kiria... another village.

actually she just got off the bus to go. 1st time i've ever sent my wife off by herself to be a nurse in the middle of Kenya.
i think it is AMAZING & awesome... i think today will be an amazing experience for her. She is going to bring a piece of the Kingdom of God to that village. i only really wish i could go with her and see her in action. (i would just pretty much be in the way.)
they call her "Doctari" in Swahili. she got promoted i guess. There is only 1 nurse for the whole hospital... she runs the whole thing. no doctor.

gonna be an awesome day in Kenya.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

even the bank judges you

this morning i needed to get a large number of $1 bills from the bank. the ATM only gives you $20s, so i had to go inside the bank to get $1s.

i told my wife that morning, "this kind of sucks, because everyone at the bank is going to think i'm going to a strip club with all these $1s."

sure enough, i told the teller how many $1s i wanted and she responded "and you want it all in $1s?"

"yes ma'am."

"well, we know where you're going with these!"

i mean, i didn't think they were allowed to judge you at the bank?

or, put it this way - i figured they would all be thinking that but surely no one would say it. but there it is... outright judgment.

i kindly assured her that i wasn't going to a strip club :)
and furthermore, although i have never been to a strip club, my guess is that there aren't many open for business at 9AM.

maybe there aren't many places left in the world where you can go and not be judged (outwardly or secretly).
i'm stoked to be a part of creating one such place, though

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

our very own Harlem Shake

this is the Student version of the Harlem Shake @ ridge church this week.
every time i watch it i notice something new that makes me crack up. you almost have to watch it over & over and track with a different individual kid each time :)

Here's the big Question... have YOU been in your own Harlem Shake video yet?

i bet you can't pick me out in the video above. yeah, i snuck in there real sneaky like.

**the coolest part for me is this: when we started Student Impact the whole goal was to create a place where students belong. a place where they could be themselves and be accepted no matter what. EVEN IF they didn't feel accepted and "at home" anywhere else in the world - this would be a place they belong.

& in a funny way, the Harlem Shake embodies all of that.
think about it - a bunch of teenagers letting loose and acting a fool - literally doing whatever comes to mind without worrying about how they look or what others think of them...

and being accepted

and being able to belong.

you never knew the Harlem Shake was so deep :)