Sunday, December 09, 2007

Home.

First can I say, God is good. My flight from London to Chicago took off late, so we arrived 1/2 and hour late...so my 2 hour time squeeze to go through customs, retrieve my bags and check them in again and get to my gate (which of course was in another terminal) was cut to 1 1/2 hours. I was freaking out. I had traveled so far I couldn't imagine missing my last connection!

I ran off the plane. Ran to the customs line, played the perfect representation of the impatient American and ran to baggage claim. While waiting for my bags I asked the airline representative what time they would close the door and if in her opinion I had any chance. She responded, "yeah, a slight chance, if you hurry, but they won't wait for you." I wish I had more witty responses when I am tired....

I wait for my bags, finally grab them, run to the baggage check and re-check them, and then run to the tram, catch the tram and run, full out, to the gate, arriving at 3. My flight was supposed to take off at 3. Thankfully, God knew. The weather caused my plane to arrive late, so we took off late, which was such a blessing, cause had it been on time I would have never made it.

The other point worth mentioning, all of the flights the airline had today between Chicago and Indy were canceled due to weather, except mine.

A few things I have noticed in my few hours here...
  • I am feeing a little overstimulated...there are things to see, grab your attention, smell hear EVERYWHERE! It makes me a little dizzy.
  • I am used to having just a few choices when it comes to groceries...grandma and I stopped at walmart to get shampoo and conditioner and I literally got overwhelmed with having to choose. When did choosing become so difficult?
  • Food is rich here.
  • Its cold. Yep. really cold, but not as bad as I expected.
  • Internet is really fast.

Dizzy

Starbucks. Borders. Sushi. Bagel place. Wireless internet. All within 30 yards of where I am sititng.

I have entered the western world. It feels strange.

Don't get me wrong, as I shiver in my fleece sweatshirt (thanks dad) I am thoroughly enjoying my starbucks beverage. Its been nearly two years since a soy peppermint hot chocolate hit my palate, and it is as good as I remember.

But honestly, so many options, at one time, WHOA difficult. The woman in front of me ordered a drink that I was convinced needed translation... non-fat soy hot choc no whip luke warm....she's havin' it her way. Its been a long time since I could have things my way, and it took me a minute to order, and the guy gave me a funny look.

It went a little like this...

"um. its not on the options but can I get a peppermint hot chocolate?"
"yes mam, coming right up"
"Can I get it with soy milk?"
"sure thing...what size?"
"huh?"
"what size ma'am?"
"uh...uh...um...small?"
"you mean tall?"
"yeah...yeah...that's right...Tall."

Anyhow, the journey is going well. I have been traveling for about 26 hours, and must say it has been uneventful. And I must admit I am now a fan of British Airlines...wow. I slept almost the whole flight, which is nothing short of a miracle. I usually am wide awake the entire journey. Although this trip is longer because I wanted to save money, I would say it was worth it for those precious hours of sleep.

Its strange to think that in about 12 hours I will land in Indy. So very strange. Its been so incredibly long. I am realizing how much I have changed and how much the lives of those I love so dearly back home have changed. All for the better, but regardless, I am realizing I am about to encounter a lot of change.

Next stop. Chicago. I have two hours, to get off the plane, get my bags, take them through customs and catch my flight to Indy. Prayer is probably a good idea. Lines are longer in the Western world.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

She keeps a blog...

To learn more about Ron and Jane Ann...check out her blog!

Journey into Africa

Ron and Jane Ann

Sadly I have never mentioned them before, but I really should have! Ron and Jane Ann made a visit to Tanzania a few weeks before I arrived in 2006, and during that visit decided they were going to join our team! SWEET! We needed them...rather...we need them! They both bring a unique set of gifts and talents that will help our ministry here in Tanzania.

We have been excited as they had tickets to head here Dec. 10 to join our team. As always we applied for their Residence Permit a few months ago, and usually they come through without too much hassle. Today though, just 6 days before their departure, we were notified by immigration that they have been DENIED their Residence Permit! AGH! Apparently they don't want to give Ron a permit because Tanzania thinks a Tanzanian could do the job he is coming here to do just as well as Ron could. Hmmm...

Honestly, I can't imagine what is going through their minds at this point. I know that at a week out it must be crushing to get this news. We can appeal the denial, but it will take time.

Pray for Ron and Jane Ann. Pray for their hearts. Pray for a miracle and the provision of Permit!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Climate Change

Since my secret is out...I would like to point out the climate change.

Today it was blazin' hot in Arusha. Somewhere between 85-88 (depending on who you ask) degrees and the humidity had to be approaching 90 percent. To make it better the power was out all day so the fans couldn't keep the stale air moving.

Today in Indy the high is supposed to be 38 degrees. My teeth chatter at the thought of it. However I wouldn't complain over a little snow for Christmas.

Yesterday while the Midwest was recovering from a snow storm...I was getting a sunburn.

Which brings up a prayer point. Between Dec 8 and Jan 9 I will board 12 planes. It would be really nice if weather would cooperate.

I think I will be cold when I land in Indy, but I really don't care! Mom will give me a hug and she promises to bring my winter coat to the airport!

I have a secret...

And it is killing me to keep it inside. There is a girlie grin on my face this week, and well I told everyone at the market today my secret, cause really it is of no consequence for any of them, and well I just can't keep it in any longer! Since it is my secret and I am the one who imposed the "secrecy" I figured I can lose the secrecy and let it out.

Place Drum-roll here....

God gave me an early Christmas present. On December 8 I will begin a 40 hour journey home to celebrate Christmas with my family. I cannot tell you how excited I am, excited doesn't really cover it really, ecstatic maybe? Thrilled? Giddy? Nope. None of those words suffice. There isn't a word to describe the depths of joy and excitement and anticipation that fills my entire being at the thought of seeing my family. Its been nearly two years folks. Way too long. So much has happened in the two years that I know there will be story after story and well I can't wait to hug my big brother and talk about life after Iraq, and I look foward to teaching my niece Myla how to say "Pam." (She was 4 months old when I left.) I can't wait to sip tea on the couch with mom and walk on the beach with dad and watch made for TV movies with grandma and...and...and...! I must stop.

So why the secret? Because I am only home for a short time and although I would love to see everyone, I can't, in fact, I am making my fam priority for this trip. In four weeks time I will travel to IN, FL, CO, and TX to visit loved ones. I won't be in any place nearly long enough to see everyone. I will have to hold off and see the rest of you when I furlough in April. I appreciate the advanced forgiveness. :-)

5 more days until I start my journey. Only 5 more days! Yep. She's smiling big.

Little surprizes in my day.

Even after two years, I get shocked by some of the things I see...I wish I had a camera for a few of these...

Today Kendra and I were in town. We were commenting on traffic and vehicles, because really I am sure some of these vehicles were made before my parents were born...anyhow today, we saw a truck and it was decorated...not for Christmas. Rather, it had three baby dolls tied to the grill...kinda morbid if you ask me. I saw it again later, and asked a Tanzanian friend about the truck...and she said..."oh that's the trash truck, it picks up trash in town." Odd, I didn't know we had a trash pick-up, and honestly, with the massive amounts of trash everywhere on the roads and sidewalks you would assume we DIDN'T have one.

Another surprise was that for once something was finished early. I moved into the apartment the beginning of October, but have put off having curtains made (we can't by them already made like you folks who live around the corner from Walmart or Target.) Anyhow, I put it off, because it really is a big job, you have to search for fabric you can live with, and well, I just haven't been in the mood. I am not a home ec kinda girl. These things are work for me. A few weeks ago my friends reminded me that I still lived in a fish bowl and I was going to be out of town for a few weeks and that it takes time to get these things done, so we set out in search for fabric for the kitchen windows, living room windows and my bedroom. We found it all and I dropped it off. I told the man who sews (you really can't call him a seamstress...) that I was leaving town Dec 8 and I needed to have these curtains done before I left. That left him with 10 days to complete the task. He said he could do it, I looked at him warily and questioned again. He assured me he could complete all of the windows before I left. I doubted having been reassured many times before on other projects...well he must have heard my doubt, as he called me today to tell me they were finished. All of them. I no longer live in a fishbowl. I was surprised. He is the first Tanzanian I know to finish something ahead of schedule. And I was surprised that after they are all hung they were sewn correctly (this doesn't always happen) and I am pleasantly surprised with my bedroom and kitchen curtains in particular...I am rather fond of them really!

I was also surprised when my car was broken into while I was picking up my curtains. I was shocked to find the drivers door lock completely destroyed, and then to find that although I had groceries and even a DVD in the car that NOTHING was taken. I was then again surprised when an old man came up to me and told me he saw a kid trying to break in and intervened. I thanked him profusely. I was again surprised in that emotionally it didn't phase me, I have grown accustomed to the behavior. That's kinda sad really.

What surprised you today?

Friday, November 30, 2007

So what does Christmas "FEEL" like anyhow?

It's that time of year, and yet again I am stuck on the fact that it doesn't "feel" like Christmas! I grew up in Colorado, Michigan and Indiana, which means, that almost all of my Christmas' came with gusting winds, snow and miserable temperatures. It is shocking to me how many things make Christmas for me.

Yesterday the temperature tried to hit the 90 degree mark. It is really hard to listen to "the first Noel" and "the little drummer boy" and think about Christmas when it is this warm. But tonight we sat around a campfire out at our training center and it felt like just possibly Christmas might be approaching. The difference, I was was cold. It was damp having just rained this afternoon, the wind was blowing, and it was cold. We talked about the need to rush in, make hot cocoa and turn on the Christmas Carols before the weather changed again.

Christmas means many new things to me lately. Even though it is tied to my memories of cold weather, it is not the weather that makes it Christmas. Even though I am used to spending it with one of my parents, that doesn't make it Christmas either. And yes, I am used to church on Christmas eve, with everyone dressed in Christmas best, and nope, that doesn't make it Christmas. The fact of the matter is, although it seems like everything here about Christmas seems different, it is only those things that don't really make it Christmas that are different.

Jesus is still the same. No matter what the temperature or climate, no matter who is present or not present, He is there, it was His day, it still is the day that God came near to us and humbled himself to be born in a lowly manger. I suppose if you asked Jesus what Christmas felt like he would give a much different answer than the petty answers about weather and family and tradition (turkey) and gifts. He would probably with joy share about his journey to redeem his people. He would probably share about being made flesh, possibly about itchy straw in the manger, or about the wonder of being made vulnerable and experiencing birth, infancy, and toddler-hood. Christmas isn't about me or my traditions, it is about Jesus, but it is shocking to me over the last few years how much I want to stick to those traditions, those memories, and even make some new ones of my own.

What does Christmas feel like to you?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Confession of a conversion

Well folks, it took 20 months, but I held out as long as I could. I mean really, it is one of the main crops in East Africa. I have to confess, that I woke up this morning, craving coffee! AGH!

I have been an avid coffee avoider. I like the smell but have always run from opportunities to try a friends Latte or Cappuccino or mocha...no matter how much sugar was in them, if they put even an ounce of coffee in those posh beverages I could taste it and how I dislike(d) that taste.

I don't know how it occurred, but my taste buds apparently have changed. I had a meeting yesterday with Annelle. She gets the latte and I get a hot chocolate, but yesterday I was looking at the menu for tea options instead when I noticed the chococcino. Typically at this juncture the chocolate would peak interest for about 2 seconds until I noticed the expresso...but oddly, I said to Annelle, "it sounds good, I kinda want to try it." She was just as shocked as we all are really.

So I tried it. I liked it. I wanted one this morning.

Don't worry though, I am still the same girl, not everything has changed, I still don't care for tomatoes and I don't do fruit in my yogurt.

Monday, November 26, 2007

GROSS!

I eat eggs, almost daily, at some point. Really in any form, omelet, scrambled, fried, with veggies mixed in, plain, add some cheese or some salsa...really I have come up with many ways to eat them. Partly because I struggle to get protein in my diet, and partly because I like them. And yes I pray about my cholesterol.

Today was no exception. After getting off the phone I went to the kitchen to fix some eggs for breakfast. I put some red and green pepper in the skillet and went to crack the egg into a bowl (we do that here, although until today I never found it necessary). The white came out into the bowl, but the yoke was stuck to the shell. I shook, and the yoke plopped down, and there were colors other than the typical yellow and opaque white. I tossed it, grabbed another clean bowl and another egg. Cracked it, same thing, this time it was just more colorful than the first. Most people would either give up at this point, or be grossed out, but red peppers are not to be wasted, so I grabbed another bowl and another egg. Cracked it, same thing, except this time...there were FEATHERS! GASP!

It was gross, but I realize I have grown up a bit since moving to East Africa. My old self would have been grossed out to the extent that you couldn't eat, let alone ever touch an egg again, but I wasn't. Yes I was grossed out, but I was not going to let this stop me from my morning tradition! So, you guessed it, I got another bowl, and another egg, and this one, it was beautiful, all that it should be, and so I got brave and cracked another egg, and it too, was just as it should be. And my omelet was fantastic!

There's food in the kitchen

Today was a scorcher, a real scorcher, probably the hottest day I have experienced here, aside from our trip to Zanzibar last March.

Which is probably why I had to think twice when I went into our "grocery" store this afternoon. I was lazy again and decided I didn't have the energy for the open air market, and I needed fabric softener and you can't get that at the open air market. So I caved, sometimes energy is worth the cost.

I had to think twice when I entered because they were playing Christmas carols and decorating! I took a double take and laughed, thinking about all the Christmas hub-bub of the western world. I enjoy this season when I am in America, people seem more pleasant, there is a more giving attitude, and for someone who loves to give gifts it is a dream come true...

So my laziness paid of, with a sweet reminder of the season where we celebrate our King, and a little giggle as I reflected on life back home. It also paid off with groceries in the pantry, and yes, I only bought what was necessary and I only had to make one trip up the stairs.

And I might add...I got creative and it was successful. It is always a good feeling when you experiment and it works!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Blogger should have thought of it...

So I was reading a friends blog, and decided to check out the company who she is writing with...she isn't using blogger...

Anyhow, the group she uses, allows for a password protection to individual posts (I recall suggesting this a few months ago to blogger). That would mean your blog can be public, but you can select entries that require a password.

I am thinking of making a switch. They make it easy for you. But this blog has moved so many times I think it is tired.

Laziness and the 4th floor apartment

My pantry is empty. It is empty because I live on the fourth floor and refuse to buy a weeks worth of groceries because it will mean multiple trips up the stairs.

So instead I go to the market every 2-3 days to get what I think I will want to eat for the next 2-3 days. The problem is, last week was a very busy week, so I didn't make it to the market.

An inventory of my pantry and frige:
2 bananas
1 orange (its nearly rotten it should be in the trash)
too many condiments
juice
milk (its probably spoiled too, I never drink it fast enough)
teas in an assortment of flavors
a package of rice cakes
rice noodles
sweetened condensed milk
cocoa
spaghetti noodles
various seasoning packets
3 carrots
a flat of eggs
2 granny smith apples
a can of tuna

So I have determined I need to either 1. become less lazy, or 2. plan better for busy weeks. Partly because I am hungry, and partly because I love to cook and my creativity is being stifled by the current state of my pantry.

69 steps. It's only 69 steps. Surely I can manage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Words I appreciated...

This life therefore, is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness
not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest, but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it;
the process is not yet finished but it is going on.
This is not the end but it is the road;
all does not gleam in glory but all is being purified

~Martin Luther

I also read this and this this week, both left me thinking and reminded that I to am in the process.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is hard to believe that it is my second Thanksgiving in Africa! Wow how time flies! It is hard to believe it is a holiday here, mostly because it is only a holiday if you are an American!

Here's a view of my Thanksgiving Day:

6am alarm reminds me I have to work today!
6-6:20 communicate via text between US and TZ! (fun times)
6:20 reset alarm for 7, I didn't really have to get up THIS early on a holiday did I?
7 Skip pilates and start working on the sweet potato casserole (thanks Crosspointe for the canned sweet potates, later about 28 American missionaries and their kids will savor that Thanksgiving Tradition!)
7:30 Shower
8 Post the pics from yesterday that wouldn't load.
8:45 leave for appointment at 9.
10:30-2 Continue week long seminar, getting out a few hours early for the holiday.
2-3 finish preparing my portion of Thanksgiving dinner.
3:30 gather at the Carter's house for a Thanksgiving feast that this year, does in fact include Turkey! (it was ordered a while back from Kenya, and yes, it was costly!)

How it is different:
Most of us don't gather with families, cause they are not here, so we gather with surrogate families!
I won't get to watch the Lions play football but I expect my uncle Jim will give me the details!
It's HOT! No sweaters today!
No pre-Christmas shopping tomorrow, its back to the training!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One pure and holy passion.

In all honesty, I was trying to keep myself awake. It was too early to go to bed, but too late to take a nap, so I did what I do most nights...I pulled out the guitar and the folder of music that I am trying to re-learn how to play...should I mention that I am re-learning the guitar, and it hasn't been like getting on a bike...it has been a challenge, one met with some icky sounds...my poor neighbors...

Anyhow, I was working through a relatively easy song, One Pure and Holy Passion by Watermark. And as I played it the 10th or 12th time it dawned on me, that I was praying the lyrics as I realized my passion wasn't what it should have been.

The lyrics really cause me to think:
Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
to know and follow hard after you.

To know and follow hard after you.
To grow as your disciple in the truth.
This world is empty pale and poor
compared to knowing you my Lord
lead me on and I will run after you.
lead me on and I will run after you.

I was praying these lyrics as I realized my passion, as of late, hasn't been to know and follow hard after Jesus. It has been about many other things....being a good minister, girlfriend, friend, teammate, sister, daughter (all are quite noble pursuits I might add :) and can I dare admit...about starting a vital ministry....screeeeech! When the passion becomes the ministry as opposed to the One who leads us to the throne himself...oh folks we have got a problem. No wonder my heart has been a little achy lately. It was pursuing all the wrong things, good things, but the wrong things.

My passion somewhere went from knowing Jesus, to doing good things for him. My passion for Africa became less about following His lead, and more about starting a good ministry, and completing the task, and doing it well, and about so many other things, instead of being here because he led me here. My passion for working with the poor hasn't been so much about following Jesus' lead either, instead it has been about the job...wow this is an honest post isn't it?

Dear Jesus, Give me one pure and holy passion. Make whatever I do in my life revolve around knowing and following hard after you, wherever you lead me, I will run after you.

Velvet Elvis and transformed thinking...

I am continuing to be floored as I read Velvet Elvis. It really is challenging me to think about how I view Christ, the Church, myself, and well, others.

I am not the only one being transformed this week. If you haven't already noticed, check out what is going on in Unga. It's amazing. Words cannot describe.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The weak Dollar

I never really paid attention to the economy when I lived in the US. I also never really paid attention when I heard about the US Dollar being weak. Now I do. Now I am watching it ever so closely.

Because of the weak US Dollar, we are experiencing a money crunch here in Arusha. Compared to this time last year, with the weakening (as in it goes down daily) exchange rate, we are paying 25% more for everything that we pay for using Tanzanian shillings...which is nearly everything. This time last year, you would get 1300 Tanzanian Shillings per USD. In the last 3 months there has been a steady decline, and it is now about 1100. Ouch. Add to that, the cost of living here has increased. I don't know how Tanzanians are surviving.

Take oranges for example. A year ago you could get 5 oranges for 100 TSH. Today, to get 5 oranges you pay 500 TSH. That's five time the amount folks! Add to it that many Tanzanians don't make enough to spend that much on oranges and you wonder why crime is on the rise, people are malnourished...it goes on.

My car has two gas tanks. It used to cost me about $135 to fill up. It now costs about $180 per fill-up. Cost of living increase, coupled with a weak exchange rate...Ouch. I fill up about once per month...at nearly $45 per month that adds up to $540 per year. You feeling my pain?

We had a meeting tonight as a team, as it also poses a financial threat to our ministries. Each August we make a budget for the following year. When we made our Budget for 2008 at the beginning of August this year, the dollar wasn't suffering so much. Based on the current exchange rate, we are now short $7000 for our team budget for 2008. YIKES! Our budget didn't increase, and the amount of USD that we will receive from the USA didn't decrease, but the amount of Tanzanian shillings we are receiving for those lovely greenbacks is greatly decreasing, and since we operate in Tanzanian shillings...it hurts. The difficult part, is that there doesn't appear to be a change in the future concerning the weak dollar. Ugh.

Pray that the Dollar would gain some strength, or that more dollars for our ministry would flood in to cover the damage.

Unga

Again..check out Unga. In fact, you should come back and check it often this week. It's a big week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Unga Goes Rural

Read about it here. These are exciting times in Unga Limited.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dreams

I had a strange dream in Dar. It wasn't a horror story, it wasn't a dream where I woke up startled, but I did wake up with a stirring within me. So much so that I went to the front porch and told Byron and Lisa about it, saying I don't know if it means anything but man, its got me thinking.

I had the dream again last night.

It is a rather simple dream really. I can't say what town I was in, but I knew that I was in a city in the USA. The dream itself was black and white, and I was cold, but my heart was very much alive. I was walking up and down the streets and the alleys of the city I was in and talking to people. Eventually I came upon this homeless man. He was sitting on the stoop and well, I sat down and we chatted, and my heart, exploded with compassion, and mercy, and well, was at peace as well.

I don't know why but I noticed he was older than my dad but not old enough to be my grandpa, and I also noticed he was white. I am not sure why that was important, but it stood out to me. I sat with him for hours. We talked about his family, his hopes, how he ended up there and what he thought would cause change in his life.

So like I said, the dream itself wasn't scary. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was comfortable, it was familiar, I was at home. That was the disturbing part.

I don't usually put a lot of stock in dreams, I don't usually mention them really, but having this dream twice, in as many months, and the odd peace that I felt in the dream has me unsettled. In fact, I felt more at peace in that dream, walking the alleys and helping that homeless man than I have felt in ages.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Velvet Elvis

Do you build walls that keep people out...or do you invite people to jump on your trampoline...

I like to think that I invite people to jump on my trampoline...but if I was honest I have spent many days laying bricks and building walls.

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell is causing me to think. Its worth your attention.

She's a workin' gal.

I was re-reading through the blog posts about the car accident, police, court etc. earlier this evening and it is amazing to me that it was over 2 months ago. Really. Shocking. 11 weeks ago I was going through what I thought was the trial of a lifetime...it is nice to look back and see that I survived, that although I got beat up (figuratively not literally) it is nice to know that I am again standing on my feet, and again I am walking through Unga (read about the latest in Unga here) and that I am back doing what I love to do.

As for life...it goes on. Kinda reminds me of the theme song of a tv show I watched as a little girl, although I haven't a clue what the show was at the moment...and life going on has been good. I have gradually over the last few weeks stepped back into ministry, and although it was rough I heeded the suggestion and encouragement of many to go slow. This week, I am back full time, and it is incredible. Now I feel like I have finally conquered the battle. It no longer places restrictions on me, the incidents surrounding the accident are no longer keeping me from what I love, they are no longer placing boundaries on my heart and on my life. I feel a new freedom, and my love of this place has returned. I love the people, the culture and the ministry that I get to share in, and it is good to be back in the saddle. Yeah, I still have fears, and I still get to (as in I like it and it is good for me) see a counselor as we continue to wrestle through everything that came up with the accident, and yes, things do frustrate me, like the guy I saw pulling a girl into the classroom today by her ear, yelling at her because she was late, but it is still a lovely place, a place that has found space in my heart.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Fourth Floor

I can't really tell you how many times I climbed up to the fourth floor and down again carrying boxes, furniture, appliances etc...

Really I haven't a clue how many times any of us did (a huge shout to my teammates and friends who helped Kendra and I move!)

I am sure our legs will let us know tomorrow, that even though we haven't a clue how many times we climbed up, that it was too many...

Moving is going well. So far so good. Only 1 thing broken this time, and it was all my fault, I failed to remember that my wireless router isn't compatible with 220V power...oops! Yep, you guessed it, it fried.

Now to find some dinner.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

AGAIN!?!?!?!

March 22, 2006 Move to Temporary Housing in Arusha from Indianapolis, IN.
April 7, 2006 Move to Apartment in Arusha.
October 2006 Move to larger house in Arusha to prepare for coming roommates.
April 2007 Move to house down the road because of constant water problems.
November 2007 Move to an apartment in Arusha.


Yep folks. My 5th move in 19 months. I must say that with each move I can remember saying, "this is the last one." "never again." "I'm staying put this time."

And as I write this I am procrastinating the packing process that is required for the move to take place this weekend.

Sometimes, working, living together, and having all of the same friends isn't a necessarily a good thing, it hasn't been a bad thing, but Kendra and I decided that it is best for both of us and for our ministry and our team to find apartments and live on our own...

So starting tomorrow I will again, pack things into the Toyota Prado, and a borrowed truck and move into an apartment. I am excited about the move, not the process. I think it is going to be good for both of us, and will really help us to enjoy each other more. I also am excited for my own space, (I really am selfish about my space.) I am not excited about giving my dogs to someone else to care for. Thankfully they are friends and teammates so I can come visit them whenever I want...mind you I am still sad cause I know it won't be the same.

In addition to packing, I got to fire my second employee since I have been here. He's been sleeping on the job. I have a hard time letting people go, as I know their family needs the money to survive, but I also have a hard time with warning and warning and warning and not following through...today I had to follow through. It was hard. I grieve for his wife and kids...if only he would not have slept repeatedly on the job...

Well, time to stop procrastinating, and get packing again.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brick Update

About a month ago, Donnie did an update to the initial Buy a Brick Video. I should have posted it as well.

A few months ago...

Donnie made a video as a way for us to share what God is doing on our training center and also share some needs...a few months ago I should have posted the video on the blog...



Just so you know...buying a brick is still an option...

Confessions.

This season, has been a painful one, but it has been filled with many lessons. And revelations...some of them re-revelations (is that a word?)

1. I like to be in control. (duh) Although I know that everyone around me has the best of intentions and wants the best for me, it is very difficult having them call the shots...which leads to number 2.

2. I have a hard time trusting. And the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that this isn't just with people, it is with God too, cause if I truly trusted God with ALL of me, then I would trust the people He puts into my life to lead and guide me.

3. I don't like being told what to (or not) to do. My mom is probably sighing in relief that I realize this...she has known for years.

4. I don't like painful processes. They're painful. (another duh!) and the word process...insinuates a LOOOONNNNGGGG time! I would much rather rip the band aid off than pull it slowly, I don't care how hairy my arms are.

5. I am blunt. too blunt at times, and that causes people (most often those closest to me) pain. I really must master the art of telling the truth in love.

6. I am forgiven. When I accepted Jesus, I was forgiven for everything, not just everyone else, and I really should start to live that way.

7. I am loved. I mean really, He gave His life on a cross for me. Why wouldn't I realize I am loved beyond measure.

8. Life...it hurts sometimes...and its OK. And crying, i hate to do it, but it is a good thing...maybe that should be number 9.

9. Those who read this blog..especially this post won't believe it...but I am an extremely private person, at least with all the hurts, sins, past etc. I don't like to share my failings with others...but then...really...can I be in community with others if I don't?

10. I NEED the body of Christ. Another re-revelation. Which attempts to squash numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4. We're working on this one still.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Flip flops.

I wear them daily. I like them as shoes but don't necessarily like the flip-flopping of my life. Last week was a week of flip flops. But I am taking it in stride.

Last week we had our bi-annual team meeting, where we all gather for three, full days of evaluating, planning and developing strategies for the future. Those of you who know me, or have worked with me in the past know that I don't do well sitting in meetings for that long, but I got through these, even with flip flops.

Monday was a review of the last 6 months, and awesomely I am on track, having completed the goals we set at last years meeting for 2007. That felt good. It was encouraging. We had actually accomplished a few more!

In April of 2007 we set our goals for 2008, this meeting we were just to evaluate and make them firm. On tuesday, I had to remove a few, because they had been accomplished, and then add a few new ones to take their place. Again it felt good, and it was fun to dream about the future of Unga. I got excited thinking about the work we could get done in the beginning of 2008 before I went on furlough. In my mind I was going on furlough in July 2008.

On wednesday we restructured our team, which is an awesome thing for me, in that on our awesome team I am have been the only one pressing in for Unga, my teammates were on the rural church planting side of things, and lets just put it out there, I felt overwhelmed, and like I was carrying the burden for this ministry on my own shoulders. With the reconstruction, I now have a team of people who are carrying the weight with me.

On wednesday we discussed furlough, and my furlough dates were changed for me by the team. I got excited and switched my thinking, instead of being here the beginning of 2008 thinking I would be in the USA.

On Wednesday night I got confirmation that it probably wouldn't change after all, or that I wouldn't be heading home as early as the team proposed.

On Thursday I was offered another option.

And I still have no idea when I am going on furlough, just that I will be in the USA sometime in 2008. Most have asked if I am angry, hurt or frustrated that I am not going on furlough early as suggested earlier last week. Honestly I am not, I am just frustrated by the flip flop. I would just like to set some plans forth, and know if I should be thinking about ministry and planning and for what months.

Another flip flop. I am moving. When? I haven't a clue. Sometime in November. I have found an apartment that I like, but at the same time I am me so I have to check out all the other options first, to make sure I don't find something that suits me better.

I can take the changes in stride, and handle the ups and downs, but I am learning that the flip flops, do cause some tension, as I like to dream, and it is hard to dream when on one day you are told you will be somewhere and the next you won't.

Don't worry though, I am still dreaming. Dreaming of walmart, my family, my friends, and smooth roads, and people who speak my language and understand my culture. sweet bliss.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fans, Internet, Refrigeration, Security Lights, and Hot Water

This was the dilemma last night.

Long story short, we are having power problems. Somewhere in our system there is a problem, mind you no electrician in Tanzania can seem to figure it out. We have another one coming tomorrow. In the meantime, we have the dilemma of trying to figure out which is most important...especially at night.

You see, I can't sleep without a fan on, I have become rather accustomed to blocking out the barking (of my own dogs, not the neighbors) with the fan, so I would really like to have the fan on.

Internet. It is on another switch. Is it necessary? We determined not necessarily while we are sleeping.

Refrigeration...seeing as I bought several chickens a few weeks ago and they are in my freezer this is a necessity. But can we keep the fridge and the fan on? You never know. Really.

Security Lights. We can keep half of them on. Turning on the other half shuts down the whole house.

Hot water heaters. Lets face it, we all like to take warm showers.

Last night, after much trying, we somehow managed to have the fridge, my fan, security lights and the hot water heater on all night without the breakers flipping. I think it was the grace of God.

Tonight we won't have such a dilemma, as this afternoon while I was looking at a few apartments (read on) I got a message that the hot water heater sprung a leak, and our hallway was flooded. So, now we don't have to debate about hot water, as we have had to shut off all the water coming into our house to stop the flooding. Hey, at least I get the fan!

Typically these nuances would seem to be much more than nuances, but after the accident, court, the guy on the bike and other such incidents of the last week, these things are minor details. Of course it does help that I will be moving in a month or so, to a safer, more secure apartment. Where that is I don't know yet, but, God does. That is a long story in itself, lets just say God has plans, and I am resting in them, and I am thankful that today someone did commit to taking my two pups, as I won't be able to find an apartment in Arusha that will allow me to keep them. Sadly I grew too attached to my "guard dogs" so it will be hard to part with them. There were thoughts of a fish, however, they don't cuddle so well.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Getting Lazy

I am frustrated with myself. When there is pain, sorrow, heartbreak and I feel like I am drowning I put all energy possible into getting better and seeking God, but once things start to feel better, I get lazy. This is where I am now.

And it is sad that I don't treasure this time with Jesus as much as I should. I mean, most people I know would love their employer to remove them from work to get well, and I am completely appreciative of it, but I also know that I could be doing much more, pressing further in, digging deeper with Jesus with all this extra time, but alas, I grow lazy, or get distracted in the kitchen (which shouldn't be so bad as it brings nourishment to many and cooking has always been a stress reliever...but I digress.)

As I think about the last three days, I realize the going got good, I am feeling free again, joyful, content, and therefore, I am not screaming out to my God to be near me...

will I ever learn? I need His nearness today just as much as I needed it six weeks ago. But then I realize, my distance is also an avoidance technique. Allow me to explain...

I have some hard questions for God, some that I know He may not answer, and although I know full well that HE is GOOD, He is Mighty, He is Loving, Gentle, Patient, Compassionate, Slow to Anger, Just, and well so much more...and I believe that He does know what is best for me and I am in now way having a major crisis of faith...I still find myself asking some tough questions:

Where were you?
Why didn't you intervene?
How could you let those men take advantage of their authority over me?
Why did I have to go through this?
What am I supposed to learn from this?
Where were you? WHERE WERE YOU?

And even, on occasion throughout the day, "where are you now?"

I am thankful that I serve a God who allows these questions, and I am thankful that He is comfortable with me asking them. I will be thankful to, to discover the answers, and I trust that He will give them, when I am good and ready to hear them, or when the time is right, or both.

Lazyness and avoidance, two reasons why I need you to keep praying. I know God has so much more of himself to reveal through these circumstances, and I know He has some precious time set aside for me and him each day, and I have not taken full advantage of it.

Going Public

I have a suggestion for the folks at blogger...to create an option where you can have your blog pubic, but if you want, have certain posts private...

This private blog business has been difficult for many, including myself. This is a major way of communicating to those praying for me, and keeping in touch, and well, having to put it under lock and key (or password) like the rest of my world, well, I don't like it..It wasn't helping that feeling of being trapped, or controlled by my circumstances or experiences.

But I also don't want to invite trouble by some of the controversial stuff I posted during the events around the car accident and court appearances...

So...those posts have been removed, and all of you who read, can read again without the extra step of entering a password. You will just be in the dark when I have strong feelings about corruption and using power in a way God didn't intend.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Back in the saddle...

or drivers seat.

Today I drove, and it felt good. I have to admit, it was a little bit stressful, and I got nervous when I got into the drivers seat, but I drove. And I drove well.

It felt good. Really good.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Coming Home.

I returned to Arusha Friday night, and I can't explain the joy that gripped my heart to be home. It is beyond words.

I am still not working, and still not driving, but still getting some counseling and much needed debrief from the last 6 weeks or so.

My fears of driving are quickly being out-weighed by my frustration with being so reliant on other and my annoyance at my lack of freedom. I hope to get back behind the wheel in a couple of weeks.

I got news that my car was finished with its repairs over the weekend. My teammates were nice enough to pick it up and take it to the other mechanic to have the brakes checked. Yep, they needed repaired/replaced. They were to be done yesterday. I haven't heard yet, but really, what's the hurry, I can't drive yet anyhow!

I also had another homecoming of sorts yesterday. I got to go to Unga with some guys sent by CMF (who also happen to go to E91.) It was a joy to share my heart with them, to and let them get a glimpse and also take tons of photos for CMF. It was even more fun seeing my friends and embracing them after such a difficult time.

So that is the update. Life is progressing, and I am growing, healing and being restored. I am ready to head back to life, but am cautioned about doing it too quickly. God must know my tendencies pretty well, as I now have a killer cold and that is helping to keep me down and resting.

Thanks for praying. I eagerly look forward to sharing with you what I have learned in this season, when I figure it all out and can put it into words!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Not so random thoughts.

God grieved.
Jesus grieved.
Jesus told us we would grieve.

I find great comfort in those thoughts.

Jesus also told us, that we would find peace in Him when we encounter troubles. I do. I find great comfort in that truth as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Healing and Comforting Words

These are the passages of Scripture that have spoken to me over the last week, and I know some might consider it heresy, but below I put in italics what I felt God was saying to me through them. I believe He does speak to His children and I do believe that His Word can do wonders to restore a soul, I believe because His Word is doing wonders in mine. An insight per say...to this healing process...

1 Peter 5:6-10
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplishes by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Pam, God's hand is mighty, and God cares for you, so place yourself and all of your anxieties in His hand. Know that the devil would like to devour you, but resist him because of who you know God is, know that other people are suffering as well and as you suffer a little while, know the God of all grace who calls you His own will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.


Isaiah 58:11-12

And the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a well watered garden, and like a spring whose waters do not fail. Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will rise up the age old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

Pam, this verse is part the passage I used to call you here, don't miss it, the Lord will continually guide you, He will satisfy your desires in the sun scorched land and will give strength to you bones. You will be like a well watered garden, and like a spring whose waters do not fail. When you are strengthened, and you become like that refreshing well watered Garden those from around you will rebuild that ancient ruins, your ruins, you will rise up the age old foundations that Christ has set within you, and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell.


Isaiah 59:20-21

A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob, declares the Lord. "As for Me, this is My covenant with then," says the Lord, "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the Lord, "from now and forever."

Pam, Your redeemer is coming, turn from sin and this will be my covenant with you, My Spirit, the Counselor, which is upon you and the words I have put in your mouth shall not depart from you, nor your children or your grandchildren, forever.


Isaiah 60:1-3

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Get up! Be Radiant! Your light has come and the glory of God has become a part of you. Know this, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the people, but the Lord, he will fill you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to the light of Jesus in you, and their leaders to the glory of Christ in you.



Isaiah 40:1-2

"Comfort, O comfort My people," says your God. "Speak kindly to Jerusalem; and call out to her, that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."

Pam, be comforted, again be comforted, I am calling out to you, your battle has ended, your sin removed, and the Lord, he will give you double for all of your sin.


Isaiah 40:10-11

"Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm ruling for Him and His recompense before Him. Like a Shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm he will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.

Pam, God has a mighty arm, it rules and has great might, but like a shepherd, he tends his flock, the flock that you are a part of and he will gather his lambs near to his heart, he gathers you near to his heart and he gently leads you.


Isaiah 40:29-31

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Pam, when you are weary, God gives strength to you, when you are weak he gives you power. Though you grow weary and tired, and though men fail, if you wait upon the Lord you will gain a new strength, you will mount up with wings like eagles, you will run and not grow tired, you will walk and not become weary.


Isaiah 35:3-10

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, "take courage, fear not. Behold your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, But He will save you." Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Ara bah. The scorched land will become a pool and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of the jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes. A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the highway of holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it. No lion will be there, Nor will any vicious beast go up on it; these will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Be encouraged, be strengthened. Take courage and do not fear. Your God will come with a vengeance, He will save you. The eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will hear. The lame with jump and the tongue of the mute will shout with praise. The land will be made new, and there will be a new road, the road of holiness, as you travel on it, you will be safe, secure, no vicious beasts or lions will be found there. You will walk that road with joyful shouting, with everlasting joy. You will find gladness and joy, sorrow and sighing will be gone.


Psalm 84

How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising you. How blessed is the man whose strength is in You. In whose heart are the highways to Zion! Passing through the valley of Ba ca they make it a spring; the early rain also covers it with blessings. They go from strength to strength. Everyone of them appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in You.

How beautiful it is to dwell with the God most High. My soul has longed, yearned for you my Lord. My heart and my flesh were crushed in my seeking of you, but I will sing for joy to the living God who is good. Even the birds have found rest in you. I am blessed as I dwell in your presence as I focus my eyes upon eternity. As I pass through the valley of weeping, you make it a a valley of hope, where I can go from strength to strength. Lord you are my shield, I am your child, and I know a day with you is far better than any other thing. How blessed am I as I trust in you.


Psalm 73:23-28
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.

Lord, I know you are always near, even when I can't see you, you are holding my hand and you guide me with your counsel. Who do I have that is mightier and lovelier than you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God you are my strength and portion forever. The nearness of you is my good, I have made you my refuge, that I can tell everyone of all that you do.

Jeremiah 31:3-4
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying; "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with an everlasting love; I have drawn your with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt O virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.

Pam, I have drawn you with everlasting love and kindness, I will restore you, and you will be renewed. Once again you will dance and rejoice with the joyful.



Lamentations 3:22-26

Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, "the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him, it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.


Pam, because of my great love for you, you will not be consumed by this, my compassions do not fail, they are new every morning, my faithfulness is great. Allow me to be your portion, wait for me. I, the Lord, am good to those whose hope is in me, to the one who seeks me, it is good to wait upon me.


Isaiah 62:1-4
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blowing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her), and your land Beulah (married) for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.


I will not be silent, I will not be quiet until your righteousness shines out like the dawn, your salvation like a blowing torch. The nations will see your righteousness and the kings your glory. You will be called by a new name that the Lord will give you, you will be a crown of splendor in His hand, a royal diadem. You will no longer be deserted or desolate, but you will be my delight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I love the slums.


So I am not working these days, but I can still manage to get into the slums.

Most people go there, but can't wait to get out. Those living there are always looking for ways to move on. People go there and become overwhelmed by the smell, the dirt, the icky stuff in the roads, the flying toilets, the despair, the poverty, the lostness and I could go on and on.

But I am strange. I love the slums. I get excited there, and I see it differently than most. When I walk through, I am energized, I am fueled and motivated by what I see around me... the possibility for radical transformation through the Gospel. I don't see the delapidated shacks, I see the beginnings of lives that are just waiting to be restored. And today, wasn't any different.

As I walked through Kibera with the group from Crosspointe yesterday morning I oddly felt at home. I have missed Unga in the last week, and no it isn't an insane symptom of a work-a-holic, rather, it is just where my heart is energized and where my passion for ministry resides. Kibera is huge, huge isn't descriptive enough of a word, and I can say, that is is overwhelming, but walking through there, I looked into the eyes of the kiddos and I had hope. I know the God of the universe, who has a plan for them, and this, living in this state, isn't His plan. I know the depths of His love for them, and that He has come to redeem them and give them life, and that my friends, makes the slums some of the most beautiful places on earth. It doesn't have to be a place of despair and darkness, it can be seen as a place of hope. A place of redemption in the making, a place that has such a huge future that God is gonna blow us away.

I love the slums.

How am I?

Now that I am connected to the world again I have found my inbox flooded with questions... particularly one... "Pam, how are you?"

And again I am failing to find words to describe the last six weeks, in particular the last week. Maybe some things are meant to be stored up in my heart and not to be shared at the moment.

In short, I am doing much better. After a few weeks of walking around seemingly under a raincloud and often confused by the intense feelings of grief, and not being able to see God, or hear Him or really just connect to Him, I am finding that I am learning a ton, and learning, isn't always fun, but it is necessary. I am learning new things about the God I serve, particular about His heart, and that He is actually closer than I think.

I have learned a lot about God's grieving heart, and how His heart is so closely intertwined with mine that He grieves my pain as well. I have learned that even Christians, and yes, even those missionaries who somehow get put on a spiritual pedastal we never asked for can struggle with depression, and yes, I have learned that it is ok to say such things. You see, I think part of the problem, was that I was ashamed for what I was feeling, I had somehow become convinced in my thinking that Christians should never be down, not for so many days in a row, and particularly, to the extent that I was, and so I somehow believed I couldn't share these thoughts, these feelings, this pain with anyone, and thus, my pain grew, and grew, and grew, I tried to carry the burden on my own.

I have learned a lot about the snare of depression. More than I ever learned about a textbook when pursuing my psych degree at IUPUI. I have learned a bit about the spiritual despair that goes along with it and contributes to the depths of it. I have also learned that the Word of God can bring Life in a way I never experienced. Yea, we all talk about the Word, its life giving ablity, how it brings freedom, but I have never experienced it in such a way as I have in the last 4 days. I can say with great confidence, that although I know these counseling sessions are helpful and important, I have found more freedom and hope and healing in the moments that I sit on the lounge chair, pour out my pain to the Lord and then read through His Word. His word is washing over me and healing my heart, my spirit, the dark depths of my soul, and I am being renewed.

My words are failing me to truly describe the last four days, even those already written don't express what my heart feels at the moment. Basically, I am doing better. I am still in Nairobi, I have another counseling appointment today (I had one on friday afternoon last week) and another scheduled for Thurday morning. I hope to return to Arusha Thursday afternoon or friday morning, and then to make shorter trips to Nairobi to continue on with the counseling.

Thanks for praying. I couldn't express how the support of the body of Christ is helping me to endure these difficult times.

Writing on a Mac in Nairobi

I know that often times I can be quite wordy. Too wordy. But right now I am failing miserably to find the words that can express the gratitude and blessing of the gift I received from Crosspointe Church during their visit here in Kenya. I am currently, sitting in the gardens of the Mennonite Guesthouse able to update the blog, return emails, and listen to recent podcasts because they brought me a macbook.

Words cannot express the blessing. To be able to freely update everyone on life without carrying around two external hard drives, to be able to have more than one program running at a time, and well, just to be connected with the folks back home is a gift that is beyond measure...

So, I lack the words, Thank you hardly seems adequate, but thanks Crosspointe, I am humbled by your generosity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Encouraged and Discouraged

I woke up refreshed this morning. It was the first time in weeks. Aside from the two nights in Dar, wow did I sleep good in Dar.

After 10 hours of sleep I woke up and heard an encouraging message. I love podcasts. I then got myself up to head to bible study. A group of ladies recently started Beth Moore's Believing God and I joined them. Before leaving I got an email from Brian, an elder at Crosspointe, with some very encouraging words. He also reminded me of one of my favorite songs and so I put it on repeat as I drove to bible study. So this sounds boring to you right? Well let me put it in perspective, I havent' had a morning like this in weeks. As of late it is a struggle to get up, I haven't readily gone to the Word because to be honest it is difficult to pay attention so I kinda figured "what's the point?." Although I have maintained my normal activities, it has been a battle.

Anyhow, lets just say, I was encouraged. I shared my hurt with my bible study and the confusion of it all, because although I haven't been formally diagnosed, I think it is safe to say I am depressed, crisis can do that to you, and thankfully it isn't the end of the world, it is just a season that has to be worked through. I was encouraged as these ladies loved me and heard my heart, and blessed me, man did they bless me.

So I leave bible study, and I am enjoying the spring time sun and thanking God for what seems to be a fresh start, a new outlook, a corner turned.

I notice a man riding a bicycle up ahead. Nothing abnormal, there are usually bikes, chickens, carts, other cars and so much more on the side of the road. I take note that he is there and that he is in the bike path. I continue driving, only to notice as I get closer to him, that he has a huge load on the back of his bike, and yep, he is wobbling a bit, so I slow down and get as far to the edge of my lane as possible without moving into on coming traffic and yep, here you have it folks, the guy comes into my lane, I can't move into the other lane and yep, I hit him.

Let that soak in.

So I again pull off to the side of the road. Again the tears start, the shaking, the nerves, the shortness of breath and the fear, the fear of what in the world is gonna happen, what have I done and is it ever gonna stop? Thankfully a safari car was following me, and stopped to help. And thankfully another American I know saw the whole thing and stopped. The good news...bicycle man is ok. He only had a scratch. I however, am not fine. My already bruised spirit is wounded yet again. I am fighting lies like you wouldn't believe it and yep, I am crushed. I just wonder, when will all of it end. I love this place, and I love my job and my ministry here, however, I am tired of the struggle.

Pray. I hurt. I know God can restore me to my usual glass half-full or even full self, just right now, I don't quite know how he is gonna do it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ramadan

It started this week. Go to this website for ideas of how to pray specifically for Muslims during this month of prayer and fasting. You can even sign up for a daily email prayer suggestion. I highly recommend it, mostly cause I am becoming more and more aware of how much a difference prayer makes, as well as I am living in a community of Muslims, people who don't know Jesus as he truly is.

CHE Explained...somewhat.

In response to many requests to know more about CHE, I have written a summary of CHE on the Unga Limited Blog.

Keep the questions coming, and thanks for praying!

Joy and Roses

So I listened this to a podcast this morning from Crosspointe Church. It was from their current sermon series Above Ground, and the message I listened to today was aptly titled Joy, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It challenged me in how I am viewing the world these days.

On a sidenote, as I reflected on Joy and was putting my living room back together I opened the curtain to see ROSES! I am much more a tulip, daisy, and daffodil gal, but, I must boast, that I have some gorgeous roses springing up all over my yard. And yes, I am thanking God for the little things today. I think I might pick a few to put on the dining room table.

18 months

It is hard to believe it has been 18 months. 18 months since I tearfully said goodbye to my mom and dear friends at the Indianapolis Airport. 18 months since I had a minor freak out on the plane asking myself what in the world have I gotten myself into. 18 months since I have eaten Chik-fil-a, had a diet coke from McD's (thanks to the Detroit airport), lived in a society where everyone spoke my native tongue, and could pick up my phone at any moment to call a friend or family member and not have to think how much it would cost me in Tanzanian Shillings. Its been 18 months.

Its been 18 months since I got my first glimpse at the dream and vision I had on my heart for so many years. 18 months since I first encountered the insane speed bumps throughout Tanzania. 18 months since I met my teammates who have now become family. 18 months since I saw the bright eyes of the kids in the neighborhood, noticing that their eyes still had hope. 18 months since my dream became a reality and 18 months since I started to fall in love with this place.

You would think, that after 18 months, I would no longer experience culture shock or if I was, at least that it wouldn't affect me to such a degree. But research, and more research, and yet more research speaks loud and clear that culture shock, is a process, and it seems to be never ending. As long as I live here, I will experience the stress of living in a country that is not my own, that is not my home, and does not function the way my home does. A lot of what I have read, says that many living in a culture other than their home culture will have waves, they will have periods of set back or just plain frustration, and oddly, it seems to be on a cycle of every three months.

So why all this culture shock explanation? So that you will know that I am ok and normal as you read the rest of this post. And instead of worrying about me and if I am depressed or losing it, you can pray with me through this process.

The last 3 weeks have been the hardest three weeks since arriving in Tanzania, and quite honestly, probably in my life. Can I just put it all out there? I have been a constant grump. I have been in a state of constant annoyance, of frustration, of grief. I have been in mourning and in grieving so much to the extent that when a friend Jonathan Bow sent me an email asking me to dream I just couldn't. I couldn't dream folks. Now that is pretty pathetic.

I am not sure why it is harder this time around. Usually I can pick myself up quite easily and do what is necessary to endure and continue loving, but this time, my insides hurt, literal physical pain in my heart as I walk this valley with Jesus. And honestly, I think because in the last month, I have had the differences of my home culture and my new culture so blantantly written in my daily life. I know, it was just a car accident, but honestly, I am realizing it affected me in ways I didn't think possible. I felt those feelings of insecurity, of threat, of "you are a guest in this country and I can rule over you" of, you are so clueless about how things are really to function, feelings of abandonment, of hurt, of grief, of anger, oh I was so angry, and alone. I was walking that journey, that no one I had met had walked here, and yes Jesus was with me, and an advocate, and my team, and CMF however I felt so very alone in the process. I was alone in my head as I tried to process all of those feelings. And they all came to the surface in the expression of grumpy, annoyed, sadness, and grief. Add to the accident, the court appearance that shook my foundation and then my constant struggle with fear and an increase in crime in Arusha, which led to increasing our measures of safety as single women here, lets just say I let myself get consumed with the frustration of living in this place.

But there is a paradox, because I LOVE this place. I LOVE my Jesus and I LOVE my job, and the life I live here. I grieve thinking about leaving it, yet I am constantly trying to back my bags for a road trip just to get away from it all. Somebody send some bath salts will ya?

Are you getting me yet? I am stressed. I am tired. I am tired of being stressed and being tired makes me feel more stressed. And somehow in the midst of it all, I got so focused on the differences, the stresses, the annoyances, and how I am not from here, that I missed the point. I missed the joy. I missed the Giver of Joy.

This morning I woke up in that familiar place of the last three weeks...with a desire to not face the world and crawl back in bed. (I really like my fuzzy blanket on my bed :))A desire to board a plane and post on the blog and facebook that I was coming back to America... a desire to run from the stresses of this place. But as with every other day I took myself back to the King, to the Father God and laid myself down and said Jesus help me. Help my grieving heart. Help my heart that hurts as I meet men and women and children who are dying, help my heart that hurts as it encounters a grandmother who is raising her 3 year old grandson who has TB and AIDS who is also taking care of herself who also has both of these dreadful diseases. Lord, help my heart that longs to understand this place and be a blessing, and help my heart that hurts because I still don't feel fully at home here. Lord, I hurt! I need you. I need you to remind me of Joy. I don't like feeling this way and I know this is not what you have for me. I need you. I need more of you.

Life here is hard. It takes getting used to, and I don't know where I got the idea that it would be a quick and easy transition, or that it would one day end, but the reality is, that no matter how much I try to adjust, there will still be parts of me that are American, parts of me that get confused, and misunderstands, and hurt and frustrated. There will be parts of me that long for home. And I also know, that when I go home, there will be parts of me that long for this place.

So remember, this is normal, and I am OK! In fact I am better than OK because I have the Protector, the Provider, the King of Kings, and my Father to walk this journey with me. I have everything I need. But you can keep praying.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I am learning to let other people do immigration stuff for you.

Wow. less than 24 hours folks. Thats how long it took to get my Kenyan Multi-entry visa! Maybe that is what happens when I step out of the picture! Yep, I sent someone to do my dirty work, while I sat on the beach in DAR. But they are pros, and they got my visa much faster than I ever would have I am sure! And it only cost me an extra $20.

So I am back in Arusha, after having some serious fun with the Borden kiddos catching the coolest looking starfish I have ever seen, playing with hermit crabs, building sand castles, mourning the fact that there was so much trash on the beach and yes, taking my long beach walk... something about walking on the beach just relaxes me... and reminds me of dad. I didn't walk often enough on the beach in Hollywood, Florida, I was too busy sitting on my backside reading a book!

Oh yeah, and we had some excitement too! The earthquake in Indonesia spurred a Tsunami warning for East Africa, and yes, of course I was staying with some friends of Jenelles who happen to live across the road from the beach! It drove Jenelle crazy that I just said we should trust Jesus and go to bed. Thankfully a Tsunami didn't hit, I slept through it all, quite peacefully I might add. I figured Jenelle, who was staying awake in case anything happened would wake me if action needed to occur!

We are all safe, but there are many affected by the quake. Remember to pray for them, and their families as they rebuild life.

Back to Unga tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Writing on a mac in Dar

Greetings from Dar es Salaam Tanzania! This week is not going as planned, but I am NOT complaining! I have somehow found myself at the Young Life Retreat Center in Dar, and well lets just say that after just a few short hours I already feel re-energized, a welcome treat after the last few weeks of the car accident and my first court appearance and conviction. Rest is good for the soul.

So why am I here? My multientry visa for Kenya expired a few weeks ago, and I go so often it doesn't make sense for me to not renew it, and I have a trip planned for the end of the month to see the crew from Crosspointe Church at Cary, NC so I really needed to get it done.

AND the Bordens were already making the drive, and they had room for one more, so I somehow managed to get myself not only a driver (sweet!) but some fun traveling companions in order to get my visa for Kenya renewed! SWEET!

So I am in Dar for a few days, limited access to email and limited access to blogging.

On a different note, I am using Jenelle (the amazing guest of the Borden's) Mac. WOW! I am not one who usually gets excited over objects, but lately I have had the opportunity to use the mac of several different friends and my computer has become so unreliable and unpredictable and well, lets just say it might as well be a desktop cause I am afraid to travel with it, that as I type I am quite fond of pearl (Jenelle's Mac) and regretting my decision to go with the cheaper Dell version I acquired a few years ago. I have long thought of switching to the other side, and well, lets just say it might be on the list of things to do when money and life allow!

Back to real life though. Hopefully, my visa will be ready tomorrow and I will be back home thursday night! Pray as I rest and wait for my visa tomorrow, and for safe travel home on thursday!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Pictures really do say a lot...

The lack of a picture says even more!

I had intentions of putting a picture right here...a picture of water in buckets on my kitchen floor. It should have spoken loud and clear that yes, I am again having water problems. But, the Internet is too weak, so I can't post a picture either! I have plenty of water in my outside storage tank, however, something is wrong between the tank and the house as it isn't coming into the house. I shouldn't complain, others have it far worse.

The last several days, really all of this week, there has been a common theme in my time with God. It all revolves around the P word...Perseverance. I am encouraged by what I read, as I am seeing that those who persevere receive the reward but I don't like the word because it implies standing firm, standing strong, pushing through, not giving up yada yada yada and thus implies the potential for a long standing, not a short one.

What I am not sure about is, where it applies. Does it apply in the area of persevering with the nuances (like water issues) of living in Africa? Does it imply that things in Unga are gonna get more crazy before they get better? Does it imply there will be difficulty in my ministry relationships? team relationships? personal relationships? Changes to come that weren't planned by me? Difficult times? Does it apply to persevering as I miss my family while I am here, cause this week, I am really missing Grandma, how I would love to hear her voice! Does it apply to all of the above?

Or is it different, is it a promise of a testing of my faith, that is endured and conquered through perseverance, and then will allow for character development?

I really don't know the answer, I just know, to be honest, that I am not looking forward to it. Perseverance is kinda ominous. I always enjoy coming through a trial and looking back to see how I have grown and what I have learned, mostly about the God I serve and the depths of his love for me, but I don't like standing on this end, knowing that there is a possibility (cause face it, there is regardless of the messages from the week) of difficulty ahead. Don't get me wrong, I am a glass is half-full kinda gal, but I am also a realist. We haven't reached heaven yet. Life in this world will allow for trouble.

Or maybe, then again, it is all about the water. God only knows. I kinda like it that way, cause if I knew, I would already be planning another route, or a self-identified solution...I would rather be caught by surprise, and let God come up with a better solution.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Unga

It was a good week in Unga! Check it out!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wednesday Morning Sabbath

I started a new thing this week. Wednesday morning sabbath. Some of you might find it strange, as you would consider sunday a sabbath, but I work quite often on a sunday, in some capacity. And Saturdays, well those end up having work in them too. The rest of the week as normal includes work.

Then it dawned on me, that on wednesdays, my house is empty, and wednesdays happen to be my lightest working days. So I decided from now on, that I will take wednesday mornings off from work, from chores, from duties that "must get done" and just rest with God.

Today was my first day, it is was a little strange at first. What am I supposed to do with this time anyhow? I read. I talked frankly with God. I also listened to a rockin message called "Who's your daddy?" from Lookout Mountain Community Church. I rested with God, and I feel better than I have in weeks. No wonder he tells us to rest. Why am I such a slow learner?

I read Hebrews 11 today. I have been going through Hebrews the last several days. I was awestruck by a few things.

We all know the passage, it lists name after name after name of people who lived by faith. I am always encouraged by these short stories, but a few got to me today.

In verse 4, "By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke wll of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead."

WHOA! How cool is that? I hope that my life still speaks long after I am dead.

And then I noticed a theme, aside from the faith theme, that they had their eyes on another goal. Their goal was seeing the city with foundations, whose architect was God. (vs. 10) They weren't thinking of where they had been or what had been, but they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one. (vs. 16) They believed in things that God had spoken of but they had not yet seen. He was their goal. What He had for them was their motivation. They were motivated by their daddy.

And I must remark, if I lived that way, I would have much more faith. Duh! But really, if I had enough faith to always take what God says, for what he says it to be, instead of doubt or get annoyed or frustrated or just write it off as me dreaming, my entire life would be different.

I wouldn't get caught up with things not going my way. I wouldn't try and have all the answers right now, but I would abide in the King, and trust that he has it all worked out and will tell me what I must do when. I would worship more freely, and trust more deeply, and yep, I am pretty sure I would love more deeply.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Forms are in our hands

Things seem to be moving quickly now that court is over. I got an sms today from our secretary letting me know she had the forms we were trying to get from the police station for the insurance company. YEAH! Now we wait on the insurance company, but experience tells me they don't waste time.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Normal

Labor day was anything but a normal "labor day" in my world as I still worked, it wasn't a recognized holiday for us. But, it was the beginning of a week of returning back to my normal routine, with a few changes I plan to throw in.

It started with team prayer. Each monday our team gathers for a time or prayer where we share what is before us, and what is going on in life. The rest of the day pretty much went as my normal monday goes. It was refreshing.

I like normal. I like not having the stress and chaos of the culture and such in such a firestorm like it had been in the last week. We are still waiting for forms for the insurance, but I have removed myself from the process, and handed it off to Scollar, our secretary who does so much more than secretarial services. It will be much easier for her to get the forms than me. My whiteness would surely slow things down.

The rest of the accident details are behind me, literally, and figuratively. There isn't much more to do, than heal. My back is still sore, I really should let go of things and not get so stressed out. I am still sore in my chest area, which I thought was because of the stress, but it dawned on Kendra today that I could have bruised myself in the impact, as the pain is right where the seatbelt crosses. Regardless, it is getting better, hurting less and less, and for that I am thankful.

I made plans today also to go back to Unga this week. I like normal.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Returning to Normalcy

Not really much to report at this point, but I know a lot of you are wanting to know what is new and how things are going. Since friday I have been super busy, too busy to really think about or process the last week, which brought relief, but also didn't help with the exhaustion. Friday night I hung out with the Carter family, saturday we had the youth from church over during the afternoon and saturday night I went to a birthday party.

Today, I took the day off. Kendra and I both came home from the birthday party this morning as it has become unsafe to drive at night again in Arusha. We came home in our pajamas, and took a sabbath. I was almost successful in not doing any work at all during the day, but did sit down and write the e-newsletter I have been putting off. When I take days like this I wonder why I don't take them more often.

So those are the facts for the weekend. The heart of the matter, is that it is still sore, but I am doing better with each day. Right now the emotions range from extreme anger at the system and the men who were taking advantage of their job-given authority to extreme pity for the Tanzanians who have to put up with this on a daily basis.

Physically, I am good, and I will be really good when I stop carrying stress and emotion in my back, neck and shoulders!

Thanks for praying. I hope to get more back to normal this week and get back into Unga and back into my routine. I want normal again.

Friday, August 31, 2007

How am I?

Many have emailed, and asked I am doing. Honestly, I am ok, but wrestling with a lot of emotions. Typically, in America, being accused of a crime wouldn't be so bad, actually I don't really know because I have never stood accused, but anyhow, some would think that this whole week was just a hurdle...but I must be honest, I feel like I climbed Mt. Meru three or four times, or maybe 10. I am tired.

I am angry. I am hurt. I am in physical pain because I like to carry stress in my neck and shoulders, and somehow it has made it through my whole back. I am frustrated, I am annoyed, I am feeling a lot of things I couldn't put words to. I am reeling. I am exhausted physically, spiritually and emotionally. I am not myself.

But I am trusting God. I am trusting Him to enable me to trust this culture again. I have not fallen out of love with my job or my life here, I have just had my foundation rocked a bit. I am more in love with this place, even after this experience, and honestly, I am more passionate about bringing change, because I realize that I was harassed because I was a white woman, but the underlying manipulation etc, power struggle, is faced by all Tanzanians. Yes, I am a little afraid, I don't want to drive as I don't want to get in this situation again. It's not an accident that frightens me, but the idea of the ramifications of the accident. I am grieving.

I am reliving a lot of things, that again I can't put into words. I am wanting to pick myself up by the bootstraps and stand tall, strong and speak with a loud voice, but my spirit is squashed and would rather run home or stay in bed. My bed is comfy, and predictable, and well it is just so cozy. Home, home sounds nice, and well home isn't here which makes it sound even nicer. BUT! This is my home, and as frustrated with it as I am, I can say with 100% certainty, that I know this is where I need to be. I am happy to be here.

It's a paradox. A love-hate, courage-fear, rejoice-grieving type relationship. So now that you all think I am crazy, or depressed, I encourage you with the words of Scott Price my team leader, "Pam, although you think the last week was nothing, it was something, it was a crisis, yeah, it doesn't seem like a crisis, but it was, you should be emotionally drained, and physically, and spiritually, that is normal, and we will get you through this." I am normal. I am OK.

So my feelings, they are normal. And, I am working on finding a counselor in Nairobi to debrief the experience, the harassment, the manipulation, the hurting. I will be ok. And yes, I am still driving.

So don't worry, that doesn't accomplish anything, but keep praying. Praying as I process all that I went through in the last 6 days (it is shocking to think that all this happened in only 6 days), and pray that I would do my part in restoring myself. My team has been wonderful, like any family would they have surrounded me and loved me and given me all that I need, they continue to direct me towards Jesus and act like him when I need it. They are being incredibly supportive of my random tears, and my crazy one-liners. They are wonderful. God, in His great mercy is comforting me as well. I am amazed by how His word can speak so closely to my heart in this situation. I am growing. And I am my beloveds and He is mine. I am loved by the King of Kings. I am His daugther, and I am safe.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It didn't look as bad as it felt on saturday.

So yesterday when I went to get the police reports, and my car, I took along the camera, for my sake, and for the sake of the insurance company. I knew they would want pics. When I saw the car, in a calm state, a few days after the crash, it didn't seem as bad as it did on saturday. The biggest concern is the damage under the hood. Lets hope the engine that was just rebuilt a few weeks ago is still in tact. What we do know is that the car won't start, the radiator and cooling fan are damaged and pushed back, the obvious physical damage to the grill, lights, bumper etc, the a/c (that's important) appears to be damaged, and a "slightly bent" (according to the vehicle inspection from the police report) front suspension.

So today I go back again, with a tow truck and a letter requesting the accident report. Hopefully the tow truck being there will help to motivate them to release my car. Maybe I should bring some cookies too.



Sunday, August 26, 2007

The day after

The day after and a few phone calls always helps one to gain perspective.

I got a phone call this morning, that from the start led me to Jesus. After a hello, there was just a spurring on to pray, "Pam, lets pray" and as I fought tears and prayed, comfort came and I was then able to stop being so hard on myself and stop reliving the events of the crash like a bad 80's song on repeat. Later in the afternoon my dad called, and also helped to encourage.

We then were able to laugh about a few things. One of which was shortly after the accident, the driver of the other vehicle came up to me and asked, "is there extensive damage?" Mind you, we were both standing in front of my car, hood folded like a taco, radiator fluid running down the road, lights shattered, bumper pushed back. Obvious damge under the hood. Initially I wanted to laugh, and reply, "no sir, no extensive damage here, I have been driving the car in this condition for weeks!" I chose not to, and honestly didn't answer his question.

So how are things? As I said yesterday, no one was hurt, but Kendra and I both woke up a little sore today, which was expected. We are all still incredibly thankful and aware that it is miraculous that no one was hurt. We are rejoicing in these things. The kids are fine, and we redeemed our fun weekend with church this morning and a fun afternoon chilling at Aunt Pam's.

What is next? This is where we pray. Where we beg of God to led us and dictate the steps, and arrange divine appointments. Yesterday the police came to the scene of the accident to start the process. Insurance requires a police report. I laughed a little, as I watched their investigation of the scene. A tape measure, scrap piece of paper and a pen were their tools as they drew a sketch to show the placement of the vehicles. After a few hours standing on the side of the road waiting for them to draw their picture, they came up to me and told me the options. Before they can issue a police report, they have to do an inspection of the vehicle. And of course, it was after hours. So the police officer told me I had two options. First, he was willing to do me a "favor" and inspect the vehicle at the scene, I could then have it towed to a garage for them to start the estimate and come by tomorrow (today) to pick up the actual report. A "favor" would require an under the table financial exchange (bribe) so I went for option number two. Have the car towed to the police station and come back today to pick up my car and the report.

We all assume, that this is not going to be a simple process. That going to the station to get my car and the report will require many trips to the police station, many refusals at bribe offers, many hours of waiting and frustration. We are hoping though, that God would grant us some mercy, and that as I head to the police station tomorrow we will find favor with the police officers and things will move forward with less hassle than anticipated.

Thanks for the prayers, the emails, and notes of encouragement! They have blessed me!