Sunday, March 9, 2008

Goodbye, Kenya

From Talitha:
Today is a sad day for my mom and I. Today is March 10, 2008... which means that today is our last full day in Kenya. Tonight we leave at 11:30pm for our flight to Amsterdam from Kenya. Part of me wants to stay. Part of me wants to leave and see my church, school and just be at home. I have seen so much for me to process. Some of what I saw made me angry. Some of it made me sad. Some of it made me happy. Seeing the poverty made me mad and sad. Seeing the children happy and asking us "how are you?" made me happy. We take so much for granted in "the states" and we don't even think about other people in the world who may not have the same things that we do, or may not have it at all. I encourage you (in the states) to pray earnestly for these (broken or hurt or happy) people in Kenya. Also when you catch yourself being picky about a certain food ( don't feel bad, I do it too) remember that there are people in the world who don't have any food or live on less than a dollar a day so they eat what they can get for their family. One thought I definitly come away with on this trip is that there really is trees dying and a lot of us waste paper in the states and we don't even think about that there really is trees dying. I given you a lot to think about, so process it slowly and maybe you have some thoughts.
God bless you and keep you and give you a heart(if not already) t0 be on your knees for these people in Kenya and all of Africa. May Jesus Christ's name be hallowed forever in Africa!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"I Cry Every Day"

From Noel:
Today I went with Craig and Francis about 1 hour to Old Kijabe Town for a workshop with community leaders. The purpose was to promote God's vision for his creation. At the beginning Craig and Francis asked for memories of what the land was like 30 or more years ago.

One man said "There were so many wild animals--elands, antelopes . . . . Anytime you cut across the forest, if you met a buffalo, you were safe, because the trees were so thick, he couldn't get through to you. Today you would be dead."

Mr. Stephen Ngungi Munga (pointing to the bare hills) said, " I cry every day. I was born here in 1941. There were huge forests here. Today I look at it and cry because I reflect back and remember how it used to be. The land is groaning. The forest is weeping. If those who have already gone to the Father were allowed to come again, they would leave again immediately."

There was much to ponder in Craig and Francis's presentation. One thing I'll pass on right now. God created everything to display his glory. That includes us and all of nature. "Apart from the scriptures, the creation is the most complete and spectacular physical evidence of God's reality and glory." So damaging and destroying creation insults God and hides his glory.

Friday, March 7, 2008


From Talitha :

Hey Everybody! I hope everybody is safe and blessed.
ok, Some thoughts here. When I saw how the women have to walk down this steep steep hill to get firewood and back up carrying it, it struck me how hard these women work to get food for their families. They (i think ) get firewood down the steep escarpement 3 times a week. That takes a lot of muscle. The firewood they carry is a huge old pile. Some women did not have shoes. Some women did not have husbands because they were widowed. Some women had torn and dirty dresses and scarves. That is one of the reasons (I think) that they loved the scarves. We in The States take for granted the firewood we burn because we can buy firewood. And we have cars to go get it. A lot of us use cars to go get firewood, clothes and other stuff. When they have to walk maybe some miles to go get the essentials for living. Also when I saw some of the children walking to school, it struck me how sometimes they have to walk a long way to get to school. And we sit back and relax in buses. Seeing this taught me that I shouldn't complain when my bus comes late because i should be grateful that I get to ride a bus at all. Also some kids at my school live farther away, They should be grateful that they do not have to walk the 20 or something miles. I have given you alot to think about, so process it slowly. If you have questions or something to say, give me a comment. Blessings!

Coincidence--I mean GOD-incidents

From Noel:
God-incident #1--

Talitha and I decided to read one chapter each day from 1 and 2 Timothy. We chose those fairly randomly, simply because together they had the same number of chapters as there are days of our trip. We could do that, knowing that God would use his word, wherever we read, to give us what we need for each day. We are taking turns being the one who reads for the day and comments about what seems pertinent, especially to this trip.

On Sunday, our first morning in Kenya, where post election violence was so recent, Talitha read 1 Tim 2, and it seemed planned for that particular day. Pray for those in authority so that we may live godly lives in peace and quietness. The perfect prayer for this first day. And yes, it WAS planned, though not by us.

God-incident #2--

On Tuesday, after we returned from the trek down into the Rift Valley with the women hauling wood, we had lunch together. Pastor Kanori's wife and some friends prepared it in the small forest that Pastor Kanori planted 10 years ago--a cool, shady place to rest after the exertion of the climb.

Before I left home, I had collected larger scarves to bring as gifts, just 13 of them. I also had a few earrings. Almost all the rural women wear scarf head ties. I was worried 13 would be enough. I shouldn't have worried. As we ended our time together, I gave earrings to the younger women who weren't wearing head ties. And that left exactly 13 women to receive the 13 scarves.

On the Wild Side

From Noel:

Today Talitha and I joined the Sorleys for their weekly family day. At Lake Naivasha (about a 1-1/4 hour drive from Sorleys'), we rode in a slow motorboat that skirted semi-submerged hippos (you don't want them messing with your boat) and dropped us off at Crescent Island.
Moses, a guide who's worked there 15 years, led us within yards of gazelles and dik diks. We saw a giraffe nursing her 1-day old baby. On the next hill we could see a herd of zebra, and on the shore on the opposite side of the island were waterboks and wildebeests. In the course of the day, we counted at least 19 different kinds of birds--fun and beautiful to see. Amazing when you think how few that is compared to Kenya's 1089 bird species.

We sighted a hippo on land, fortunately headed toward the water. You don't want them to mess with you on land either. And somewhere on the island is a 5-meter long python. Moses explained that when a python eats an animal (gazelle, for example), you can tell what it's eaten by the shape of the lump in its body. Nathan and Aaron Sorley really wanted to see the snake. But Moses apologized that the python was deep in the bushes and not to be found today. Talitha relaxed then.

Afterward we had lunch beside a swimming pool and then we adults had a few quiet moments to talk while the kids played in the water. Quiet moments have been rare this week, but they're important to me for knowing how to pray.
It's 9:30 pm here, which seems early to me. But as usual this week, I'm the only one up this late. Tomorrow Talitha's mission is to minister to MKs--Nathan and Aaron here and a couple of others she's met nearby. I'll be with Craig and Francis at an all-day workshop for community leaders in old Kijabe town, about an hour from here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fields of Dreams?

From Noel:

While Talitha was getting her hair braided (don't miss the post just previous to this one), I was attending a workshop, Farming God's Way presented by Care of Creation staff.
During the morning, twenty-one farmers first conversed about the difference in yields over the last 30 years. The farmers harvested an average of 19.6 bags of corn/acre in 1977 and in 2007 it was only an average of 6.5 bags. The land is depleted by erosion, irregular rains, pests, etc. All of these are connected in various ways to the vast deforestation--no root system to hold the water, no nesting places for birds who eat the pests, and the loss of the moisture provided by trees that contributes to rainfall.
Then they heard from Craig and his coworker, Francis, the biblical foundation for taking care of God's creation. Though farmers are considered the bottom of the heap here, they are working in God's image, God who was the first farmer (Gen. 2:8-9).
After lunch Craig and Francis gave instruction in the method of Farming God's Way. One of the first questions was this: With your dead cornstalks is it more important to feed your cow or your soil? The instinct is to feed the hungry cow. But every year your cow gets hungrier because you have fewer cornstalks. If the cornstalks become mulch to enrich the soil and hold moisture, both your cow and you eat better next year. The method involves tilling the soil only once, at the beginning. After that the farmer keeps the ground covered and just digs seed holes.
Well, I could go on. There was 3 hours of great biblical and practical information. We ended by visiting the demonstration farm, where corn and beans were just harvested. The farmers felt the coolness of the mulched soil and were amazed at the height of the corn stalks and the amount of yield.
Pray that they will be convinced to try something new. They are from 10 different churches and as many different communities, so there won't necessarily be supportive neighbors when they don't do what's always been done.
Pray that God will prosper the work of the Care of Creation staff with many "fields of dreams."

Ta Da!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


From Talitha:

Hey Everybody! A exciting thing is happening today. I am gettng my hair braided with extensions. Isn't that exciting? Later we probably will post a picture of my hair. But now, I have to go and get my hair braided! Many bessingsand I miss you all ( especially my class, Thanks Jalen for the awesome comment, I bue you too!) I am feeling better with my shots, Thanks for the prayers! Love you all,bye!

Meeting a Favorite Author

From Noel:

I have known of Rift Valley Academy ever since my sister Julie worked there for a time in the 70s. It is a well-known day and boarding school founded by AIM in Kijabe and sits about halfway up the escarpment of the Rift Valley. Craig Sorley was a boarding student there, grades 8-12.

Adjacent to RVA is the AIM hospital. To all my medical friends I say, if you want to see medicine in a new way, come work at a mission hospital. Most cases are far advanced and there are conditions that are rarely if ever treated in the US.

Today, after walking around a bit at RVA and eating spaghetti lunch amidst a tent-full of student clamor, we drove down the hill to the hospital to meet Dr. Harry Kraus. I "met" Harry first through his writing. Since then, when I knew I'd be coming to Kenya, he and his wife, Kris, were kind enough to invite us to visit them. So this afternoon we had tea--I mean chai--and then this evening they took Talitha and me out to eat at a Java House (apparently founded by Americans who thought there ought to be a good place to buy good coffee in this coffee-growing country).

I want to recommend Harry's books to you. My favorites are The Chairman (fiction) and Breathing Grace (non-fiction). I wouldn't be surprised if when you read these, you'll want to find his others.

Once again, it's late and time to sleep. Tomorrow I'll be attending a Care of Creation workshop for farmers: Farming God's Way. Talitha will be doing something she's never done before, but more about that later.

(By the way, I keep mentioning the Rift Valley. The Great Rift Valley is a north-south volcanic-earthquake fault running from Lebanon to Mozambique. It's major enough to be seen from space.)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

There Used to Be Trees

From Noel:

Sorry about the previous post. The internet went down last night just as I pressed "publish".
Anyway, I don't know when I've been so tired--and humbled. We left the house at 6 am to drive to the edge of the escarpment leading down to the Rift Valley, which is wide, deep, and distinct here. We waited at the top for women who would be walking down into the valley to collect fire wood. They would already have been walking 2-3 kilometers, then it was another 3-4 kilometer walk (not the right word) down rocky, dusty semi-paths to find a place where there was still wood to be found.

Hill and valley as far as you can see used to be covered with forest and rich land, maybe just 30 years ago. Now it is all eroded down to grass, rocks, scrub, and gullies. The firewood the women collect, we would call kindling. That's all that's left now.

Here's the humbling part. We went down too, but not as far as the women. Going down, Talitha was glad for a helping hand several times when the slope was steep and the rocks slippery underfoot. But she was energized on the way back--way ahead of me. By the time I was about halfway back up, I was testing the bench qualities of boulders about every 30 feet. And I was carrying nothing. I hope not to do this again for a long time, if ever. But these women, some in their 70s, carry 40-50 lbs of wood on their backs up the escarpment 2-3 times a week. Many women spend 30 hours a week collecting firewood and water. Around that they do all that a woman does to care for her household. This includes cooking over a fire, while I just turn a knob.

You could hardly ask for a more clear illustration of how much Care of Creation is needed, in particular here, for the planting of trees to renew the land and to help people live more productive lives.

On the way home we stopped at a school where one Bethlehem team helped to build a water tank where water is caught from roof rain run-off. Another Bethlehem team built a fence around the tree nursery there--very young saplings that are nurtured by water from the tank. Dozens of fruit trees are ready to be sent home with students who have been instructed how to plant these in their yards. Other types of trees will be suitable to grow for firewood.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Day in Nairobi

From Noel:

This morning we drove through Kibera, a slum/dump area in Nairobi you might have heard of recently during reports of the violent days in Kenya. We saw 2 burned out churches and numerous burned houses and shops that were poor enough to begin with.

Afterward, Craig and Tracy took us to meet with the people at NEGST (Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology) who have taught an elective theological course about caring for God's creation. They are hopeful that the course might become part of the core curriculum. We also met with people at Daystar University, where there is an environmental science course, but not yet a course that looks at creation from a biblical perspective.

Later in the afternoon, Talitha, Tracy and I hung out with MaryAnne Augustin, Bethlehem missionary with Wycliffe. She began her missionary work several years ago, planning to do Bible translation work in Congo. Revolution and later strife there has made it impossible for her to settle there. Wycliffe/SIL's Congo work has gone on "in exile." Now, finally, MaryAnne is planning to move to Congo in a few months.

We're trying for early bedtime tonight, because we leave the house at 6 am tomorrow do do something we've never done before. We'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


From Noel:

We went with the Sorleys this morning to Tigoni Baptist. We expected the service to be in
Swahili, and most of it was. Good music. I was able to catch on to a couple of the phrases if they were repetitive enough. One sounded really familiar and I finally realized it was "Things Already Bettah" that we learned in English from Watoto.

Then when it was sermon time, Pastor Bosco had another man up there with him to translate into English. I think that was an impromptu arrangement because we were visiting. The sermon was from Philippians 1:15-18. He spoke about unity and love, specifically relating it to the recent violence in Kenya. He challenged the church to be different than others.

I have been in services other places where the language is unfamiliar, and God works anyway. Maybe I meditate on the passage I know the pastor is preaching from. Or maybe God brings other things to mind. Or maybe I pray for the people who are worshiping around me.

So I didn't mind when I thought this morning would be all Swahili, but I was glad I could understand more than I expected.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

We're here!

From Talitha:

Ok, tired here. But for the most part i am happy because we are here safely.
Thank you to all who were praying for us that we would be safe. The planes were safe and we had a nice time at the Amsterdam airport and had some delightful walffle caramely cookies ( the kind that Miss Ward really likes! smile). I slept 6 hours on one of the flights. And I slept all of the night yesterday night and woke up in the morning at 6:00am. Here it is about 9 hours difference so right now it is 9:10am. At home it is about midnight.

Grace and peace from God our perfect heavenly Daddy!