"And if you SPEND YOURSELVES on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday."

"The Lord will continually guide you. He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."- Isaiah 58:10-11

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Few Pics

Katie with our Houseworker Esther, making chicken on the jico...

Rachel with Msuni and Precious

The Battle with Safari Ants.

Last Friday evening, we had put the kids to bed and were sitting and talking with Joseph and Annah and their son, Silas. All of a sudden, from over the top of the wall (yes there is a space between the roof and the wall), several thousand safari ants came marching into the room! Joseph quickly grabbed the bug killer and started spraying them. He then ran outside to attack the source.

Rick and I, not knowing what safari ants were, were relatively surprised but not afraid. We didn’t find out until the next morning that Joseph spent a good part of the night battling them to keep them away from the house with ‘Doom’ – the bug killer.

So, Safari ants are these amazing creatures that plan and strategize attacks on certain areas. They march in lines and follow the very large commander ants. Each commander leads a troupe of ants. The commander stands erect on his back legs with his very large pincers open wide. All of the smaller ants march in front of him. They plan their ‘attacks’ during the day and they always attack at night. They will go great distances around and area to surround their prey. They have been known to surround and kill large animals. And they bite hard! Unfortunately we have all experience this…

Sunday afternoon, Julia and Msuni accidentally stumbled across their new nest, which was about 20 yards below the house. In a matter of seconds, they were both crawling with ants and started screaming. We stripped them down and got all of the ants off. And then we went to work.

Being uninformed Americans, we followed Annah and Naimutie, one of the 12 year old girls living here. They gathered hot coals from the ‘jico’ and started pouring them over the piles of ants. Then we gathered dried grasses and lit them on fire and placed them all along their trail. We were trying to create a barrier to drive them down the hill towards the creek. Some people here actually leave their houses for several days when these ants come. The ants kill every living thing in their path, including spiders, bugs and unwanted creatures living in the remote corners of the house. They see it as a blessing!

This morning, we found them near the dish-washing station in the back yard. Caleb and Emmanuel worked to light them on fire today. We are wondering where they will turn up tomorrow! Anyone want to come and visit Kenya?

Unexpected Joy

Before I left for Kenya, a dear friend of mine gave me a piece of jewelry with the word ‘Joy’ engraved on it. She chose this with a promise to pray that I would find unexpected encounters with joy along the way!

I have found myself experiencing joy these past few weeks in several very unusual circumstances. Here is one story…

On Saturday evening, our family was enjoying a rare meal together alone. We were talking about our day and savoring the roast beef and mashed potatoes I had prepared when a chicken wandered into the room. He was looking for a place to lay and egg. Kenyans think nothing of this. As Joseph would say, “Why would you shoo something that is food out of the room?”

We crazy Americans think chickens are unsanitary so as this chicken wandered in, all of the kids started screaming. Then they tried to chase it out. Every time they got it close to the door, the chicken would dart under the table or the benches and the chase would begin all over again. It was pandemonium in the room. All the kids were screaming and yelling out directions. Rachel was the only one committed to actually picking the chicken up and capturing it. However, she didn’t want chicken germs to get on her hands so she had a napkin in each hand that served as a germ barrier. Several times she reached out to snatch the chicken and grabbed the very back end of it. The chicken would squawk at her and she would scream and let go. This happened several times and as I sat there and surveyed the room I started to laugh. Not just a chuckle, but a deep down satisfying laugh. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Little House on the Prairie Day

Had a 'Little House on the Prairie' day yesterday. Can't believe I actually had a day like this. Never thought it would happen in a million years.

After my QT, I started my day by soaking my laundry in a bucket full of rain water and detergent. Then we drove it (fortunately my parents were leaving and we were able to drive it up) the half mile up to the top of the hill. After saying our good byes, we (the kids and I and some of the mama's from the home) spent about an hour scrubbing clothes and rinsing them in the great well water. (Got a blister on my fingers and sunburned my arms doing laundry! :) - never thought I'd say those words...) Thank God for this water! SO helpful for doing laundry. Then we (me and the kids) hauled it back down the hill on our heads and hung it on a line to dry.

Schooled the kids - so great to be able to do this outside!

Then we helped 'prepare' dinner. Caleb helped cut the head off of a chicken! Then we dumped it in hot water and Katie helped pulled the feathers out while Caleb ran around chasing everyone with a chicken head. I made one of our family favorites 'Mango, Chicken, and Corn Salad'. Spent about 2 hours preparing it over a fire. The chicken boiled over the open fire (I encourage you to try this outside on your fire pit). They have these small metal buckets called 'jiko's' that hold hot coals. Julia and our houseworker Estther cooked chipati (like a bread pancake) over one of these while the chicken cooked. Rachel took the donkey with Faith, one of Joseph's 12 year old granddaughters, to the bottom of the hill to get water - twice. Then I de-boned the chicken. Was going to get rid of the skin and bones but the Maasai actually eat these. So I cooked the 'meat' in spices for everyone, and then I cooked the skin and bones in spices for them! We really enjoyed our American meal. They must have too - everyone had seconds...

CRAZY!!! I'll tell you what - water is a GIFT. A GIFT! I hasn't rained here in two days and we are out of rain water. It is VERY challenging to get enough clean water to cook with, wash with, and drink. Today, we are praying for rain!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kijabe Hospital

This past week week we have spent with one of the children at the Oasis children's home at Kijabe hospital. She has had multiple ear infections and had ruptured her left eardrum. A fantastic doctor from the States has arrived at Kijabe and we were able to have her surgery scheduled with him! She was very shy but did a great job! Remarkably, with many prayers, she was able to return home the following day and we were able to escort her! This was our initial trip to the Hill and it was great to have her along to join in all of the excitement of our arrival!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Julia's Baptism!!!

Over the years, we have had many joyful opportunities to watch people get baptized at The Chapel. Truly, this is my favorite part of being in ministry. To see a life changed and a person stand before their Christian brothers and sisters, and commit to making Jesus the leader of their life is exhilarating.

After the last baptism we hosted at the Mundelein Campus, Julia approached Rick and requested that she be baptized ‘Up North’ in front of her whole family in the lake! How could we say no to that? So, last Sunday, in front of all 25 of the extended Smith family, Julia publicly proclaimed her love for Jesus and commitment to follow Him the rest of her life. It was truly exhilarating to say the least! She was so precious and so sincere in her testimony of how God has worked in her life. She was followed by all 4 of the Mascari cousins!

And now she is having a chance to demonstrate her commitment to Jesus. This weekend was very hard for her – VERY hard. She sobbed on several occasions at the thought of leaving her cousins and aunts and uncles, especially Paige and Aunty Bevy. We will miss them all deeply. We had several significant conversations with her in moments of calm where she affirmed her commitment to going to Africa, even though she didn’t want to leave everyone. We are SO proud of her choices, even at this age!

The End of a Chapter...

We have spent the last two weeks on the receiving end of multiple gifts, experiences, and encouraging words from our family and friends. Being in ministry, as Rick noted, typically puts us on the giving end, so it has been ‘uncomfortable’ for us being on the receiving end of so many generous friends. But despite this, we have been deeply touched by the authenticity and encouragement of so many of you through your words and prayers for our family. I know they will carry us through the days ahead as we venture into the unknown. Below are some of the fun pictures.

Our first major event was with some of our dear friends from Arlington Heights…

Next, we were surrounded by our family, as we all traveled ‘Up North’ for a relaxing and memory filled vacation.

Then, we spent an evening with our Chapel family at the Griffins.

Finally, we had a friend and family filled send off at the airport.

Through many tears and lots of hugs we boarded a plane for Kenya. And so the adventure begins in the next chapter of our lives…