Browsing All posts tagged under »Africa«

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VIII)

January 19, 2012


As I reflect back upon my travel to Tanzania today, I am snowbound in my house. It has been snowing for the last four days and the snow on the ground continues to accumulate. Each day the weather forecasters tell me that the rains will come, but of 2pm on Thursday, it’s still snowing strongly. I am reminded of Tanzania. I am at the mercy of forces outside of my control. In Africa I was completely dependent upon the schedule of others and was required to be ready to move at a moment’s notice. Here, buried in snow, I was similarly prevented from driving off on my own at my own whim, but the forces of nature. I am finding that it’s not a bad thing at all.

My family and I have spent some good quality time together this week. We pulled out some board games and had the opportunity to play and laugh together; we baked bread, watched some TV as a family, had a good family meeting and even got to do some sledding. Perhaps life’s inconveniences are really blessings in disguise? I was discovering this in my trip to Africa. I talked about how spoiled we can become in the west to the luxuries which we experience daily with barely a thought; from daily warm showers, running water, having a mirror to shave and get ready in the mornings, clean drinking water piped into our house, hot running water and a plethora of entertainment options to help us anesthetize ourselves to the suffering of others.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VII)

January 13, 2012


My first experience of Nairobi was the evening ride from the Nairobi Airport to our hotel. My travel companion and I were exhausted after a day spent traveling; confined to our cramped airplane seats for twenty+ hours, waiting at security screenings and the boarding areas in Seattle, Amsterdam and Nairobi. While physically and mentally fatigued, another long slumbering part of me seemed to quicken and come to life, as I described in Part VI.

The heat of the day had dissipated only slightly, so I relished leaning my head out my open window. Catching even a warm humid breeze was a welcome relief from the stagnant air of the Nairobi airport. Our driver Muhammad engaged us in conversation, telling us about the Nairobi National Park and other notable items as we passed by them, as he deftly navigated his way through a challenging obstacle of people, cars, motorcycles, pot holes, bumps and debris in the road. I marveled as he seemed to know every crack, dip, or bump in the road, slowing for them well in advance. I imagined that he had driven this route many times before.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part VI)

January 4, 2012


When we are confronted with new experiences and situations which we lack prior familiarity with, our survival instinct seems to kick in and we find ourselves suddenly awake (I mean really awake) as if our life up until that point was really just some rambling extended dream. There is a sense of urgency, even potential danger, but you’re groggy and your mind, still waking from its long slumber, races to try and make sense of the new world to which you have just been thrown into. It can feel a bit like a movie which you entered in the middle of and you don’t yet understand the plot, the characters and what exactly is going on. You smile, fake it and hold on tightly until you can figure out what is really going on. Your prior understanding of reality is suspended and you find yourself back to learning as you go.

That basically describes my experience in Africa, from the moment our plane touched down in Nairobi, Kenya until returning to the United States. Everything around me took on a surprising clarity and sharpness to it and I felt more fully alive than I have in a long time. In Africa, even the most basic tasks, which we not only take for granted in the States, but which we execute upon with little to no conscious thought at all; suddenly became adventures in themselves and required thought, energy and planning to accomplish.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part V)

January 3, 2012


I continued moving forward with the pre-work I needed to accomplish prior to leaving for Africa and watched in amazement as the ‘dead vision’ was being continually resurrected. Excuse after excuse to not go, were being knocked out one by one. Necessary funds came in. My passport arrived in time. The airfare to Africa which had jumped up significantly causing me to doubt going on the mission trip, suddenly took a share dive I was able to secure passage for even less cost than my travel companion paid for booking early. The curriculum which still confounded me was beginning to take shape as I had established an outline and framework to build on. I was asked to preparing training on the qualities and principles of Godly leadership.

As a teacher, I had become aware of a key principle of learning and that was that there is no better way for one to learn something deeply, than to be asked to teach on it. God must have a keen sense of humor (or irony) in asking me to speak to others about Kingdom Leadership. Me, the once very visible, outspoken and prolific server, now relegated to years of inactive service. I felt very much like a first stringer in the majors now demoted to the practice squad or to their minor league team, while I was re-habbing my injuries. Perhaps analogy was not so far from the truth.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part IV)

December 31, 2011


The experience of preparing to go to Africa and my time in Africa was revealing to me that the importance we place on our actions is a misleading one. The motions that we externally go through in this life are less meaningful than our reasons and driving motivation for doing them. It is our attitude and the condition of our heart that moves us to action which is the single most crucial aspect of walking out our faith. God is concerned first and foremost about the condition of our soul more than our vain human attempts to deceive others into believing that we are better than we actually are. Is it not from out of the abundance, the overflow of our heart that the mouth speaks? Doing the right things for the wrong reasons earn us nothing except perhaps the deception of others and their misguided praise.

I am reminded of Jesus’ admonition to remember Lot’s Wife. She heard the message of warning from the angels to leave the city before it was destroyed. She acted upon that knowledge and left the city with her family. She was with people being saved, BUT she looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt. What’s up with that? It’s not like she didn’t do anything; she at least made an attempt, she went through the motions, she was with others getting saved but in the end she is lost, turned into a pillar of salt. How different is she from the countless folks who dutifully take their seats in the pews of churches each Sunday morning and go through the motions and the rituals of religion without the understanding the spirit behind the actions? They are hearing the message and with others getting saved yet I can’t help but wonder if their fate will be any different than that of Lot’s wife.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part III)

December 30, 2011


For all my myriad of faults, when I commit to a work, I am invested in going the distance. So when I formally confirmed that I would be going to Tanzania, come hell or high-water, I was going to find myself in Africa. It was then the problems began to pile up. The ‘old’ me would have expected this, but as I mentioned previously, I was just getting my spiritual footing again in the area of service. I should have been familiar with this ‘cause and effect’ process by now, but apparently I had become spiritually rusty as of late.

The principal is this. Whenever someone takes a step of faith, the one thing that you can count on is that problems will begin to surface. It seems as if the entire world, previously occupied in a plethora of various disparate pursuits, is suddenly solely focused on providing reasons for you to second guess your step of faith and the excuses to extricate yourself from the commitment begin to pile up. It’s the Death of the Vision principal. God gives you a vision of something amazing that you can accomplish or be part of and immediately afterwards, the world conspires to killing the vision. At that point, you can give up and walk away; many people do BUT if you move forward in faith, holding true to the original vision, the vision which had died is miraculously resurrected, frequently even bigger.

I Will Give You the Treasures of Darkness (Tanzania Part II)

December 29, 2011


Everyone is wired differently. The things that motivate one person may fall flat when used to motivate someone else. I have found that I am wired to be needed. Let me clarify. If someone approaches me with a request that I can’t turn down (the Godfather request); basically telling me that I have to do something, then my first instinct is to dig my heels in and resist, regardless of whether or not I want to do it OR have the spare time to do it. Reason usually wins out in the end and I determine whether or not I can fully commit to the request or not.

However, if someone approached me and I am there last option and instead of telling me that I have to do it, they appeal to me based on their valid need for me to help them out; then I have a hard time saying no to that type of request. It usually leads to me overcommitting myself and stressing myself out, but the service tends to be its own reward. Those of you, who give of your time to charitable works, understand what I mean by that.