Tuesday, April 28, 2020

IT CAN BECOME FRUSTRATING



It’s like I told the lady from the call center, “Neither was it my
intentions for my retirement years to be involved with a work so stressful as managing an orphanage in Africa. 

My own intentions for retirement were to live out some peaceful years with my wife on our little farm. But I found I needed to respond to a need. This work is something that has been given to me to do, and I am simply looking for a way to get it done.”

What was I talking about?
I was responding to what she told me was the reason that I could no longer use the Visa Travel Card to transfer money to our Log Church Orphanage in Kenya.

“How you are using the card is not the way we intend for it to be used,” she told me.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

KING DAVID IN SELF-QUARANTINE


It was actually before the time when David became the king of Judah, and unlike today’s situation, it was not because of the Covid-19 virus that he was in self-quarantine. Actually, neither did I before think of his situation as being in “self-quarantine;” but that is essentially what it was.

David was isolating himself from what was for him a deadly enemy. The enemy was not a coronavirus, or actually a disease of any kind. The one who was seeking his life was in fact the reigning king of the day, King Saul.

Saul jealously and selfishly viewed David as a threat to the throne, and like the virus of our own day, Saul seemed to be looking for opportunities and manners with which he could infect and end the life of David.

The place where David put himself in his self-quarantine was in a cave called Adullam. It turned out that he was not alone in that place for long. Soon his brothers, his parents and the rest of the household came to join him. Then after that, some four hundred other men also came to the cave.

It probably may not have been the best of company for David. I do not know how the family got along. At one time David’s brothers had been jealous of him, but perhaps those feelings had been forgotten. But the other four hundred men who had come to the cave had come with the baggage of their own issues. These men are described in 1 Samuel 22 as “the distressed or indebted or discontented.” It seems not the choicest of company.

Friday, April 24, 2020

KISII REPORT - THE DOUBLE THREAT

Before the coronavirus struck East Africa, the primary concern there was with the historically severe locust invasion.

In an area of our world where food security is merely just a phrase one hears, but which is a reality to only a tiny percentage of the population, the desert locust plague became a severe threat to already meagre food supplies.


The Kenyan government, although not flush with a lot of funding, was putting substantial efforts into fighting the locusts. The UN and a few NGO’s also recognized this dangerous threat to the area and were also lending a hand.


Then came the coronavirus.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

KISII ORPHANAGE - A PARTY FOR THE ORPHANS


Journal Entry – Friday, November 24, 2017

As I mentioned in the previous post, each child received something from the two suitcases that I had brought with me on the airplane, even if it was just a couple of color crayons and a pencil. But of course what I brought was far from adequate for them to have enough supplies for school. Especially, we had come up short of tablets. There were also a few other items as well that we thought should be added.

In addition to this, we wanted to buy a treat for the children. We wanted to do something fun for them. We wanted to have a little party. As I saw when we passed out the items from the suitcases, it takes very little to bring out wide smiles in their faces.

Things used for play are some of these things that bring
out the smiles. There are two places on the grounds where the staff have set up swings. These are the only items that I could identify as being for play. All the kids use them—from the youngest to the oldest. Whenever someone is swinging, it is not only the one swinging who is delightfully screaming, but the six or ten children who are watching are also enjoying the time.

One day, one of the boys approached me, and after shaking my hand and telling me his name, he said to me, “Sir, we would like a ball that we could kick.”

Sunday, April 19, 2020

KISII ORPHANAGE - THE RISK FOR THE ONE BEARING GIFTS


This series of Kisii Orphanage posts is a recollection of entries from my journal when I visited the Log Church and Orphanage of Kenya for the first time in November of 2017.

To retain the continuity of the journal, please begin with the March 22 entry entitled How it All Began, and work your way up, reading each post that begins with Kisii Orphanage.

You can see the blog archive on the right side of your screen to jump to this post.
*****************************
Journal Entry – November 22, 2017


Today we gave the gifts of shoes, clothing and school supplies that the people of the Log Church of Wisconsin sent for the children of the Log Church of Kenya. I was actually not looking forward to this time, since contrary to what we would hope to be the case, receiving gifts often brings out the worst of our human personalities.
 
Shortly before I left Wisconsin to come here, a friend of mine, who has worked in clean-up operations in some of our natural disasters, told me of an incident that he experienced after the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
 
As part of the disaster relief effort headed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a large trailer of a semi-truck emptied its contents in the center of a big parking lot in one of the more poor areas of the city.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

KISII ORPHANAGE - CROSS CULTURAL STUDIES 101

 

Cross Cultural Studies 101

Journal Entry – November 20, 2017 (evening)
 


This was now the third day of the conference, if you count the Sunday service as the opening day. After Sunday, I expected that the format for the conference would change slightly, but it actually has stayed mostly the same as our Sunday worship service—except longer.

 

It is not only I who teach a session, which could actually be called a sermon, but each of the pastors also take turns at some point during the day to preach their own sermon. There is always a lot of singing and dancing during the service at various times throughout the day. The children recite memory verses, and always much prayer.

Friday, April 17, 2020

KISII REPORT - TELLING THE STORY (SOMETIMES IT IS DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHAT TO SAY)

Yesterday I wrote of the Log Church of Kenya, and how they were pressing on with the work that they have been given despite the many obstacles that they encounter.
 
It is what one does when given a calling from the Lord. You press on. I will not say that it does not matter what troubles you encounter, but despite these things, if the calling is truly from God and not just some self-fulfillment kind of thing, you press on.
 
I also mentioned yesterday that today I would tell of the present state of the Log Church Orphanage. It is a work that for me personally, has been the most frustrating and at the same time, the most rewarding ministry with which I have ever been involved—and there have been a few.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

KISII REPORT - NEWS OF THE LOG CHURCH

I am going to write about the present situation of the Log Church orphanage with all that is happening with covid-19 tomorrow, but today I would like to let you know about what is happening in the church itself:
 
Many churches here in the US are scrambling to try and figure out how to carry on during this time of quarantine and isolation, including our Log Church of Tripoli.
 
But the Log Church of Kenya, as they face a similar prohibition against meeting, seems to have no problem about what to do. The people there think that it is the ideal time to build!
 

Monday, April 13, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH - DAY 7, EASTER SUNDAY PART 2

 
It was such a flurry of events for the women on that Sunday morning of the Resurrection Day that it is difficult to piece together exactly which woman was doing what at every single moment.
 
However, from the different accounts given to us in the four gospels, we do know that there was more than one trip to the tomb of Jesus, either in small groups, or as we saw with Mary Magdalene, even alone.
 
At one point after Mary Magdalene had spoken with Jesus near the tomb, Jesus actually met several other women and greeted them on the trail between the tomb and the city. The women bowed down to him and even grasped his feet in worship.[1]
 
Much of what was happening was taking place at a rapid pace in the dim, pre-dawn light and even while it was still dark.[2] Besides that, it seems that the disciples, although they were all in hiding and behind locked doors, were not all in the same building. They were in a few separate locations and even in their own homes.[3]

Sunday, April 12, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH - DAY 7, EASTER SUNDAY PART 1


 
Have you ever noticed that most of the participants in the events of Sunday morning were the women? I am a bit ashamed to say it, but the men did not look good in those early hours of the day.
 
It was the ladies who went to the tomb even before it was light. They first went there simply with the purpose of paying homage to Jesus by anointing his body with spices.
 
It was the ladies who discovered the open tomb, the empty grave and the missing body. It was the ladies who saw the angels. It was the ladies to whom the angels said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” It was the ladies who then ran back to tell the disciples the news of the missing corpse, and about what the angels had told them.
 
Where were the men during all of these events? They had locked themselves inside their homes, afraid of the Jews.[1]

Saturday, April 11, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH (DAY 6 - THE SILENT DAY

The Silent Day (the day that Jesus was in the grave)
 
Pioneer Cemetery Behind the Log Church
After Jesus had been crucified and after he had breathed his last breath, in the midst of their tears, some women at the foot of the cross began to make plans for the customary application of spices to his dead body. The spices were not meant to be a type of embalming, but were only intended to alleviate the stench of the decomposition of the body.
 
Jesus was dead. The women recognized this, and obviously they had no thoughts that he would rise again.
 
But if they were to anoint his dead body with spices, they had better begin to make the preparations now. They would only have that evening to do so. The day on which Jesus was crucified was not of course called “Good Friday” at that time, as we call it in these days. It was, in fact the “Preparation Day” for the Jews.
 

Friday, April 10, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH (DAY 5 - GOOD FRIDAY)

“Woman, here is Your Son. Son, here is Your Mother”
 
This is not a typical devotional for Good Friday, but by no means is
this day a typical Good Friday.
 
Typically on Good Friday, we as Christians enter into a type of mourning, at least there is a sense in which we do this. In any case it is what I do, and this is the message I usually try to bring in my Good Friday messages.
 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

KISII REPORT - HOW GOD RESPONDS

(I have three separate “strings” or series going on this blog page right now. Confused? So am I.
But to help us all out, they are:
     1: Messages to an Empty Church, which are devotionals that I am writing during this time of quarantine when we are not meeting at the Log Church
     2: Kisii Orphanage, which are recollections from my first trip to Kenya in 2017; and
     3 [this one] Kisii Report, which are items of current happenings at the orphanage.
I hope that all helps.
 
KISII REPORT - HOW GOD RESPONDS
Notice the 2 metre spacing between
people in the queue (to use the Queen's
English). This spacing in lines may
be common in Sweden (for instance)
but definitely NOT in Kenya!
Perhaps you remember that it was almost a week ago that I shared with you a portion of an email that I had received from Pastor Joel, in which he told me that the Health Minister was making certain safety requirements to the orphanage because of the covid-19 threat.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH (DAY 3)

“House of Worship” or “Den of Thieves?”
 
On that first Palm Sunday, as Jesus entered through the gates of Jerusalem riding the colt of a donkey, he was also riding high in popularity with the people. So admired was he by almost everyone, that no one at the time could have imagined that in less than one week, those shouts of “Hosanna” would be changed to cries of “Crucify him!”
 
But Jesus knew. He understood that these were a capricious people and that the depth of their commitment was based only upon what immediate benefit they might receive from him. What outwardly seemed like adoration and worship to him, was actually, at its deepest level, an adoration and worship of themselves. In seeing Jesus riding into Jerusalem, they saw themselves benefitting in some manner from his presence among them.
 
It was the very attitude that Jesus came to oppose.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH (DAY 2)

Lamenting the Lion
 
It was on the first Palm Sunday, as Jesus was entering Jerusalem in
the midst of the uninhibited adoration of a great multitude of admirers, that he did something that was totally unexpected—he began to weep.
 
Why would he weep now? This was the time of his greatest popularity and triumph! After all, do we not call this entrance of his into Jerusalem his “Triumphal Entry?”
 

Monday, April 6, 2020

MESSAGE TO AN EMPTY CHURCH (DAY 1)

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Log Church,

I hope your day yesterday was a good one. It was a unique Palm Sunday for sure, and one with gathering restrictions that I am quite positive none of us would like to see repeated for another Palm Sunday. 



The original Palm Sunday was all about gathering. People gathered to praise Jesus. They gathered to shout “Hallelujah. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Yesterday, our Palm Sunday was instead a more private one.

Just as our Palm Sunday was yesterday, this entire Holy Week with its continuing gathering restrictions will be a different one than any of us have ever before experienced. We do not prefer these to be repeated. Nevertheless, we are here. We must see what we can gain from these unique times rather than what is lost.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

KISII ORPHANAGE - FEELING KINSHIP IN A FOREIGN LAND

After a couple of posts to relate to you the current state of the orphanage in Kenya, in this following post, I bring you back again in time to the year 2017


This series of Kisii Orphanage posts is a recollection of entries from my journal when I visited the Log Church and Orphanage of Kenya for the first time.
To retain the continuity of the journal, please scroll down to the entry entitled How it All Began, and work your way up, reading each post that begins with Kisii Orphanage.
****************************

Journal Entry – November, 2017

Last night (or I should say early this morning at about 3:00 AM), I was awakened by a small ding from my phone, telling me that I had a text message. Because I thought the message could only be one coming from home, instead of turning over and going back to sleep, I picked up my phone to read it.

“¡Saludos amigo Donald!” the text read. “¡Soy Augusto!”

Friday, April 3, 2020

KISII REPORT - IT ISN'T GETTING ANY EASIER


It isn’t getting any easier.
 

Last year about this time I was dreaming of beginning a hydroponic garden at the orphanage to teach the kids about raising food, helping offset the cost of the food that we need to purchase for feeding the children, plus even becoming a model for the area to also begin to teach another food-raising method to other people as well.
 
But we have not gotten there, nor are we making headway in getting there.
 
Constantly rising food costs because of extreme weather conditions especially over the past couple of years, and now this year because of the locust plague ravaging the land, plus the rising school costs, all of these have kept us basically in the same place as far as progressing.
 
But I look at the positives. First and foremost I suppose, is that we have 49 children who are alive, instead of either living on the streets or dead.
 
That should be enough. But these children have also been given a life with at least a hope for a future, and are being raised by a loving church. I am also very thankful that at the very end of the school term last month, we were able to finish paying the rest of the fees for all the children so that they were able to take their exams and receive credit for the term.
 
There are many things for which we can be thankful.
 
Nevertheless, I admit to sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the difficulties that keep coming to us. After rising food prices, rising school costs, sicknesses, as well as other challenges, we now have a new situation. I wrote yesterday of the social distancing guidelines for the orphanage, but it turns out there is more.
 
Pastor Joel’s letter from today is below:
********************************
 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

KISII REPORT - FACE MASKS OR FOOD?

It was a week ago that I wrote on this blog page about the visit to
the orphanage from the Ministry of Health, who told the church leadership that because of the covid virus threat, the children were sleeping too close together and that the orphanage staff would have to provide better sleeping arrangements for them.

Good advice perhaps, but it also involves some difficult choices. Of course we have no extra buildings where they can sleep, and neither do we have sufficient mattresses and blankets. But that is not the worst of it—the orphanage was also out of food.
 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

KISII ORPHANAGE - IN KISII TOWN

This series of Kisii Orphanage posts is a recollection of entries from my journal when I visited the Log Church and Orphanage of Kenya for the first time.
To retain the continuity of the journal, please scroll down to the entry entitled How it All Began, and work your way up, reading each post that begins with Kisii Orphanage.
****************************
Journal Entry – November 19, 2017 (morning)
 

This morning I awoke in Kisii town. After we left the church last night, the same group of men who had brought me from Nairobi accompanied me to the hotel that they had arranged for me.
 
One of these men of course is the pastor Joel. Another is also a pastor of the church. His name is Vincent, but it took me some time before I actually figured out what his name was, since the “n” sound is very different in Swahili. He pronounces his name something like Vinecent.
 
 
The third man was the driver Amos. He owned the car and was a taxi driver. It would be Amos who was to pick me up every day and bring me to the church.
 
The front of  my hotel
The hotel where I am staying is in Kisii town proper. We had actually passed through this town on the way to the church, but the church is a half an hour or more beyond it on a dirt road that leads up into the hills.