Monday, October 17, 2005

Mombasa Re-visited

Last weekend, Will and I took a night bus to the coast for a two day, budget vacation. Now, when I say budget, I mean BUDGET. With a capital everything.

It took us an hour to find a place to eat breakfast. We ended up at this really sketchy bar with waiters who didn’t understand much of anything we said (I guess they translate “We would like coffee please” into “Get us tea! And take as long as you want!”).

From there, we took a matatu up north to Watamu (the coastal village where we stayed). The ride wasn’t all that bad, except for the fact that in the front seat were about 10 cardboard boxes full of baby chickens chirping their heads off. For the first hour, I was thinking about how many animal rights activists would have been furious to see so many chicks crammed into those little boxes. By the second hour, however, I was planning to throw the boxes out the window and end the incessant chirping. Forget the activists!

In Watamu, we stayed in this tiny, run-down room that cost the equivalent of two grande lattes at Starbucks. It was really, um… nice. You see, the screen on the window only had one fist sized hole in it. The sheets smelled bad, but it was clear that they had been washed at some point. Oh, and the giant wood-beaver sized cockroaches were actually quite friendly!

But oh, the ocean was worth it… Right beyond our door was a sandy path leading to giant coral cliffs and a beautiful blue lagoon, where happy Italian men went swimming in their disgustingly small Speedos. Ok, we could have definitely done without the Italians. But otherwise, the beach was amazing!

Oh yeah, I am a BIG fan of the Kenyan coast now. I thought that my trip down with Chris in June had shown me all there was to see. Man was I wrong! Good times!!!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Good news, bad news...

Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.

The good news is, our house is finally starting to come together. I now have a bed, curtains and sheets! Granted, the bed is a little too big for my mattress, the curtains don’t completely cover the window and the sheets feel like the ones they have in hospitals. But hey… they exist!

Also, our pantry is beginning to fill up. Now we can have bread with peanut butter and jam!

But here’s the bad news… We haven’t had water in a week. That means we can’t use our new gas cooker, because all our dishes are filthy!

Oh, and one more thing. A bunch of cows walked past my window this morning. Not sure if that’s good new or bad news…

I think there might be an ancient tale about a heard of legendary cows that bestow blessings of abundant running water and comfortable sheets to all who gaze upon the gentle herd.

Or maybe it was the one about the abundant cow dung that now litters the road I walk down every day. Can’t remember…

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Kenya Email Update #11


Here I am, writing to you again. I mean honestly, can time really be going this fast? I freaked out the other day when I suddenly sprouted a nearly full beard. It took me almost two minutes to realize that I had actually shaved days before. Still a little shaken up about it though…

Anyway, where to begin? So much stuff has happened since I last wrote. I suppose the biggest news right now is that I finally moved into a new house. This was supposed to happen back in July, but hey…

Those of you who have seen my blog recently know that it hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk. Because the five of us are such poor bachelors, we’re living in hilariously destitute conditions. For furniture, we’re sporting mattresses on the floor and a couple of plastic chairs. We have yet to buy a cooker, refrigerator, table, couch, or desks. I did find a plunger the other day for around a buck. That was exciting…

So far, we’ve been surviving on sliced bread and peanut butter, boiled water and coffee. Lots of coffee. Oh, and the kiosk outside our gate has some really good chapatis and mandazis (which, if you read email #6, you would know that I love…). So I’m not starving or anything (but I’m not gaining too much weight either!).

There have been countless problems with the water supply. Either our pump is broken, or the city is fixing the pipes or the running-water gods have frowned upon us… Ice cold bucket baths, 45 second showers, shaving with one cup of water… I don’t know why we’ve had such bad luck, but I know one thing – I’m definitely learning to appreciate the little luxuries of life.

Now, I’m not going to be one of those guys who says “Oh, I’ll never take running water for granted again…” because I know it won’t be true. Seriously. Give me a week back in the states and I’ll be enjoying 5 hour showers every morning. But the whole experience has definitely given me a new perspective.

For the first time in my life, I’m really (I mean really) looking at the prices of things in the grocery store, and picking the cheapest stuff. My parents will be shocked when I get home and instinctively buy stuff like Bran-o-Wheat cereal because I can save 17 cents. Like I said… a new perspective.

Hmmm… I don’t know if this is related, but I'm becoming scared at how patient I am now. It’s a character change that totally snuck up on me. I can’t figure out when the change actually happened. When I got here, I used to wring my hands and get all upset about every little delay (like any good American), then all of a sudden I became really patient. Weird.

Just the other day I was in the middle of a terrible traffic jam, after being in the matatu for almost 25 minutes. That's when I realized that I hadn't once worried about when I'd get there, I hadn't once thought about alternate ways to get there faster, and I didn't once start fiddling with stuff in my bag. I just... sat there. Perfectly content to spend the time thinking. Cool huh? Hope I can keep that going back in the States!

The first Mavuno Church Foundations Class has come to an end. This was the new-believers class I mentioned briefly in my last email. I was sort of the administrator for the class. That meant that I had to run all over town looking for biscuits and lugging mountains of photocopies up Mamlaka Road (you feelin’ me GCC team?). Though it was a lot of work, I had a blast. Plus, I made a lot of good friendships through the class that will undoubtedly continue for years.

There was one amazing experience with the class that I just have to write about – the Foundations Class retreat. On the last night of the retreat, we had time for everyone to gather and share testimonies around a campfire. I was amazed at how much God had done with the class. It seemed like everyone there had something to say! But the truly jaw-dropping part of the night didn’t begin until Pastor Muriithi and Pastor Simon anointed each of the class members with oil (symbolizing the Holy Spirit)…

I was praying quietly in my seat when I heard a yell. I looked up just as the girl Pastor Muriithi was anointing fell over onto her back, shouting out in tongues! Um yeah, I was a little shocked. That sort of stuff only happens on TV right? Not with people I know!

Just as I was thinking that, another guy fell over. Then Pastor Simon asked me to stand behind the others to make sure they wouldn’t fall into the fire!!! Here’s me, never having seen anything like this in person before, catching people as they fell over in the Holy Spirit. Three people fell, some were trembling and shouting prayers, others were bawling their eyes out… It was, to say the least, a powerful moment.

At that time, I felt God telling me to receive prayer as well, so I went up to Pastor Simon. When he finished praying over me, I went off into the darkness. As I was leaning against a tree speaking to God, something hit me. I began to weep. The more I reflected on the things God had done for me this year, the more I lost control.

The other thing that made me lose it was the recent calling God has put on my life. As many of you know, I quit Moody Bible Institute with only a year of school left. I walked away confused, cynical and rebellious. My spiritual life was flat-lining. It was only by God’s power that I was able to get myself here to Kenya. But now, after this incredible and life-changing year, I feel that God wants me to return to Moody!

That’s right. God is calling me to go back to the environment that almost killed my spiritual life, to help the other students avoid my mistakes, and to put into practice all the things I’ve learned. He also wants me to begin a massive movement of purity on the campus, to change the face of the student body from the inside! I’ll be going back with a purpose.

Can you see why I was weeping? Not only has God completely changed my life… he now wants to use me to change the lives of others! In the darkness that night I kept asking God “Why me? What have I done to deserve your blessing???” The gentle answer I kept receiving was “Because I love you and want to use you. You are my son!”

I don’t know how long I sat there, but when I came back to the campfire I was completely spent. I shared all of this with the others, committing myself to this course of action. A few days later, I sent out a prayer update giving a more detailed description of this calling (If you’d like to read the update and/or be on my prayer list, let me know).

This calling is the real reason behind wanting a well-paying job for the next 6 months. I need to save up money so that at Moody I won’t have to work. I still haven’t found anything, so if you can help me find one, I’d greatly appreciate it!

Whew! Writing all of that got me worked up again! I’m so pumped about this whole thing. To add to the excitement, I’ve been hearing all about Grace’s “Imagine” campaign. I can’t wait to come back and be a part of it! With the Nairobi Chapel church plants gaining momentum and GCC really taking off on a new initiative, I’m getting to see God’s work in two continents at once! I love it.

Well, there you go. My longest email update yet. I told you that a lot has happened! I hope that you are all doing well and enjoying the first few weeks of Fall (as it becomes Summer over here!).

Be sure to stay in touch, and don’t hesitate to email me. Just be a little gracious if I don’t get back to you right away. My new house is a billion miles from anywhere, so I check email a lot less than I used to.

See you in 80 days!