Monday, May 23, 2005

Kenya Email Update #8

Hi everyone! What’s up??? Sorry it’s been so long since my last update. Time is flying and I’ve had trouble getting inspiration for what to write about!

Anyway, check this out… Since arriving in January, I’ve lost close to seven pounds! It’s weird. It’s not like I’m eating less… In fact, whenever I can find any chocolate or candy I just wolf it down! No, I think the weight-loss comes from the actual food that I’m eating daily. Most Kenyan dishes are actually healthy and organic – not laced with sugar, cheese and butter like most dishes in the states (I miss good ol’ American cheese almost as much as Halo 2!).

Oh, and an even more obvious reason for the weight loss – I walk a TON! Seriously! I got my map out and did a few calculations. To get to and from Chapel every day, I walk 1.5 miles. And most of that is up a steep hill! Add that to the 10 and 20 minute walks I take all the time (just to save a few shillings on bus fare), and I’m getting used to making long these long treks without complaining. For example, to get a good cup of coffee, I have to walk about 2 miles… A little different from pulling up to a drive-thru Starbucks!

A couple of weekends ago, five of the guys from Chapel went for Nyama Choma at Kenyatta Market. Tim and Njau ordered FIVE KILOS of meat (that’s almost 1.8 pounds for each person)!!! A normal person who hasn’t eaten in three days might be able to force down a half kilo… You see the problem we had. I ate more meat than I ever thought possible. We kept on encouraging each other to eat more and more even though we had no hope of finishing. Whenever I knew I could speak without throwing up, I would turn to whoever was slacking and say “You’re going to stop now? Be a man! You don’t see me slowing down!” Guys are so stupid.

Turns out girls aren’t much better! Last weekend, in honor of the release of Star Wars: Episode III, we had a huge Star Wars marathon over at Angie’s place. A bunch of us gathered in her living room, surrounded by piles of junk food and all of the Star Wars movies ever released. From Sunday evening till Monday afternoon we watched all five movies with only a few hours in between for sleep. It was great! Except for how miserable we were the next day…

Will and I went on Friday to see Episode III, which totally rocked! It was actually one of the few movies released here at the same time as in the States… We got there an hour and a half early to make sure we got good seats. Um, so yeah. Only 15 other people showed up (3 other white nerds like us, a handful of very single Kenyan guys and this crew of French kids talking excitedly about all the stupid movie trailers)… I’ll be honest; the real disappointment was that nobody came wearing a storm trooper outfit!

Ok, so not everything here has been a big party. In fact, some of the stuff I’ve been doing is quite intense. I’ve recently begun getting involved with a church in the Fuata Nyayo slum (near South B, where our church will be planted). I was originally just doing some contact work for the GCC team coming in June, but felt a deep urge to get more involved. Over the next few months I plan to spend time with the pastor evangelizing door to door in the slum and working with their congregation!

The slums of Nairobi are some of the poorest places on Earth. Trash fills every sewage lined “street.” In one area of Fuata Nyayo, kids play along a 15 foot cliff that drops directly into a disgusting river of human waste and industrial pollution. I don’t think you can ever fully imagine what a slum is like until you’ve visited one. The sights, sounds and smells are just too much to explain in words. I believe wholeheartedly that visiting a slum is one of the absolute most eye opening experiences on this earth. You cannot enter a slum without being changed forever.

But that’s not the only amazing thing I’ve been up to! On April 17-19, I took my very first personal retreat. I went alone to a Jesuit retreat center called Resurrection Garden. It was amazing. For 48 hours I wrote in my journal, read scripture, prayed, and totally examined my spiritual life. Chapel only allows its interns to bring a Bible, notebook, journal and pen, so I was forced to focus on hearing God’s voice.

The experience was truly life-changing. I explored my spiritual gifts and passions while unearthing my sin habits and unconfessed sins. It was so eye-opening to see my list of sins growing longer and longer. I had a lot of junk in my life that I had never confronted! I spent time confessing my sins before God and decided the steps of repentance for each. One of the greatest moments of the retreat was when I walked through the garden, stopping at different depictions of the crucifixion to confess individual sins to God.

I left a changed man. When I walked out of the gate (for the 30 minute walk to the main road!), I knew that I had heard God’s voice. I honestly felt like I truly understood myself for the first time! Since the retreat, my spiritual life has skyrocketed! I am disciplined, committed to ridding my life of deep sin habits and replacing them with godly virtues. I’ve begun confessing my sins to others, seeking ways to continue my growth, and reading the Bible as God’s Word, not just a textbook. A few Sundays ago, I cried during worship for the first time in four years!

Anyway, I don’t know if that even begins to describe the amazing things that are happening in my spiritual life. I mentioned in my last update how much I have been growing. I was only in the foothills of this mountain! In fact, I’m beginning to realize now that this year is not just a spiritual mountain… it’s a mountain range! Of course, the implications of that are clear. I have a long way to go yet! There are many more mountains, and many more valleys to cross before I reach my destination. It will be long and it will be hard, but I am committed to seeing this through to the end!

Ok. I have two requests to make!
Please send me any digital pictures you have taken recently of yourself or your family! I’m realizing now that I have almost no pictures of my friends back home! What’s that about???
I made an update with similar content (but lots more pictures!) using Publisher, but it doesn’t work with all email providers, so I went with the old fashioned one. If you’d like me to send you the fancy one with all the pictures, let me know!

Well, it’s been 4 1/2 months and time is flying by faster than ever. Before I know it, the GCC team will be here and I will be reunited with Mom, Dad and Lucy! Thanks again for your prayers and I hope this email finds you well! Keep in touch!