Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Hello Friends and Family,
   We are sorry that we have taken so long to write again… I guess we have realized that we are very “in the moment” type people and we are bad about writing update letters J .  We are back in the States after our 13 months in Kenya and trying to adjust back to life here.  We can’t thank you enough for your prayers, support, encouragement to us throughout the last year. We wanted to share some of our highlights of our last few days at Rohi with you……
So how do you say good-bye after a year of meaningful friendships with shared struggles and joys?  Well the Kenyans were very good at saying goodbye and for the last month we were there, they took every opportunity to write notes and say some last words every time they saw us, Even if it was multiple times a day J.
On our last night in Rohi, we stood with the high schoolers in their partially constructed dining hall.  As the heavy African rains beat down on the tin metal roof drowning out all our voices, we stood there, as one by one the students came up and hugged us goodbye.  We all had tears in our eyes….when the big tough football players came and gave Nate a big bear hug and picked him up off the ground, Nate lost it….. when the student who had been so sick that we almost didn’t think he would make it from HIV/TB complications, approached me with a big smile and bright eyes and told me “Thank You for everything you did for me” I lost it…..
When the rain calmed down we said our goodbyes and Nate said to them.  “You know guys, it’s hard to say goodbye but I’ll tell you one thing, I am not worried about you.”   I will tell you why…After being with you for one year I can really see how God’s Love has changed you.  You guys have high character, a strong work ethic, discipline and wisdom beyond your years.  And although your education, discipline, food and shelter that have been provided to you has impacted you, they have not solely transformed you.  The unconditional love you have experienced from your Creator, people, and families that have loved you is what has changed you the most.  You guys have a love for others and that is what will take you far in life.  You have everything inside you to succeed.” Nate told them that many children in the States are in a worse position then them.   He said that although they have many of the earthly comforts, they do not have the Love that is transformational.  He ended by saying, “Of course I will still pray for you and think about you, but I will not worry about you because I know God has your hearts and what is more important in life than that!”
Saying good-bye to the women living with HIV/AIDS that I met with every month was also a special moment.  We had a good time of sharing, singing songs and dancing before I left.  I am continually humbled by the way they encourage others and me, they have definitely challenged me in that area; as every word that comes out of their mouths is blessings, encouragement and promises to pray for me and my family as I go back home to the US.  I can’t help but feel awkward because I’m too shy to speak such extravagant words to people and because I feel like I haven’t done anything to deserve such abundant words of praise and blessing.
One woman in particular, Anita, I will never be able to erase the memory of waving goodbye to her and her daughter, as they stood among the tea plantations in her rural area.  I know that God brought us together as friends this year, as she battled running away from a very abusive and dangerous marriage and having the courage to start a new and healthy life.  She took the steps to start taking medicine for HIV and taking care of her body, which her husband never allowed her to before because he said “your faith is not strong enough if you go get drugs for AIDS”.  She has managed to put her daughter in a new school, start her own cosmetic business, and actively encourages women like herself to reach their potential and discover the gifts inside of them.  She is no longer stressed and discouraged but full of joy, hope and love.  I will miss talking and laughing with her every day, but I am also not worried about her because of the kind of woman she is.  She has a deep wisdom and a faith that is unshakable. 
Nate was also able to help his friend, James move off Rohi campus into the “real world” for the first time, get his own place and start his own mechanic business.  James is a former street boy and was a “regular” in our home, stopping by for chai or a “second dinner” a couple times a week.
We are so grateful to all of you who supported us over this year, we could not have done it without you.  Your prayers kept us healthy and strong and allowed us to support and encourage the people in Kenya and the work they are doing. We feel so privileged to have been able to serve with the Kenyans and try to adopt their culture even if it was just for a short time in these last 12 months.  We really hope to get together with so many of you and sit and share pictures and stories.  This will most likely be our last update but feel free to email us.  Loves

Last Letter to the Students

Hey Guys,                                                                                                            July 16, 201
I thought I would pass along some of my thoughts, feelings and maybe a few words of wisdom.  I want you guys to know that I will truly miss you and a big part of me wishes I were not leaving.  I want so bad to see you guys next year and be there to watch you grow and mature.  
Each one of you has left an impact on me that I will never forget.  You all have a unique personality and set of gifts and talents that will blossom in time.  Find what you love most in life and do that with all your strength and energy.  For me, I knew I liked working with students your age and that is why I became a high school teacher.  When I am at school with you guys I don’t feel like I am working.  I love being with you guys!
A few things I have learned:  It is always best to be honest even when it means you will get in trouble.  Life is unfair and can be difficult, but it is YOUR choice in how you respond.  Passionately pursue your dreams.  Tell those that care for you and provide for you that you love them, because someday you wont be able to tell them how much they mean to you.  High school can be full of drama with friends, parents, and teachers, but know that life will mellow out after high school so graduate and do not get stuck in it.  Have an adult (parent, grandparent, friend, teacher) in your life that encourages you, supports you and believes in you.  Don’t keep all your thoughts and emotions inside your head.  Find a healthy way to let them out (tell someone you trust or write them in a journal).  Don’t worry about what others think of you.  Don’t let other people opinions affect or stop you from being a leader and doing what you want.  People will always say negative things about us, but don’t let it affect you.   Work hard at everything you do and God will bless you!
This is a big one:  Do Not marry someone based only on your emotions and feelings; marry someone because you are making a commitment to be with them forever.   If you marry someone only based on your feelings, what happens when those feelings disappear or change?  Your love has to be based on a commitment that is deeper than your feelings.  I know this just sounds like all the right things that a teacher should say, but I truly believe them.
I know that you guys are capable of being successful in whatever you do.  You are all smart students, you all have great character and I truly believe that you can do anything you want to in life!  I hope to see you again, but if not, know that I am praying for you and thinking about you.  I Love you guys!
These are the scriptures I live by: Matthew 22: 36-40, Prov. 3: 5-6, Philippians 4:6-8
-Mr. Nathan Alcorn

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trying to Understand Our Differences

After living on the Rohi campus and interacting closely with the staff and students, we have quickly formed deep and trusting relationships.  This was our purpose in coming, “to live with the Kenyans, to listen and learn from them, and in doing so they would be encouraged and empowered to see their God given talents.” 

In learning from our friends here, we have realized that although it is common for us in the States to have many friends and family that we trust and share openly with about our life and struggles, it is uncommon here in Kenya. The Kenyan culture is often admired for its strong sense of community and hospitality.  We have found this to be true. But what is interesting is that despite the lack of boundaries between friends, family and neighbors and the welcome and warmth that visitors feel when coming to Kenya, there is a general lack of communication and trust for each other. 

Whatever the cause, many Kenyans we know do not have many deep and trusting relationships.   The communication is usually surface level.  Intimate and personal information is rarely shared.  We have found this to be difficult, because we come from a culture and a family background that is open with communication and keeps few secrets.  Most of the students don’t trust each other and the teachers do not share openly or have personal relationship with the students. 

Forming deep and trusting relationships with staff  and students is different then how things are typically done here in Kenya.  This type of interaction is new and uncommon, therefore it is difficult for some Kenyans to support it.  These differences have created contentions that we have had to work through.  It has been challenging but rewarding;  it has helped us to develop deeper relationships with the people.
Through this process, I have come to realize that although many of our differences are cultural, our family background has a more profound influence on us.  The way I was raised and the wounds caused (unintentionally) by my parents have a profound effect on how I relate with others.  In college I came to realize that I was a person who likes to avoid or run away from conflict.  I would rather avoid difficult conversations and avoid talking about what is bothering me.  This is not a healthy way to deal with anger or frustration. It is best to talk it out openly.  Although I am aware of this I still struggle with it today, it still emerges in my marriage and now I have seen it come out in dealing with cross-cultural differences. Instead of directly addressing issues and differences, I try to keep things as peaceful and minor as possible even though inside I am upset.  I have had to apologize and  admit my mistakes so we can move forward together.

Monday, May 30, 2011


A Quick Quote to Chew On

"Today we are trading wisdom for information. We have exchanged depth for breadth, we want to microwave maturity." John Ortberg

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Justice and Mercy

We think God owes us mercy, but if mercy were owed, it would not be mercy. The only thing God actually owes us is justice (Boice)." Because we are sinners we cannot expect God to save us, it is His decision to extend grace to us. But He will not force it on us. We must accept that grace by acknowledging our sins and confessing that we need God to save us.

God is good by nature, therefore He must be just. Justice is His Character. He cannot live with evil. So for us to live in the presence of God we must accept Gods forgiveness, His grace, so that judgment does not fall on us.

According to Scripture, carrying out justice is not a choice but an command from God. We should follow Christ’s example and practice grace and mercy, while we speak the truth and carry out justice. In the gospel there is a time of mercy and grace (the time we are living in now) but judgment and justice will come.

However, having grace and mercy does not mean that I have to do what is nice. Jesus’ entire ministry brought conflict and dissension amongst the people. Jesus was not concerned with being nice but with truth and justice. We are not called to be nice but to carry out justice. Even if it is difficult or unpopular, justice must be done. God will not judge us based on our kindness but on how we defended the defenseless, loved the outcasts, and cared for widows and orphans.

I am called to carry out justice, but not be judgmental. How do I do that? It requires grace and humility to see something or judge that something is wrong and then do something about it (carry out justice). A judgmental attitude that is sinful is one that wants to see the other person fail or fall. It is when I don’t love the person that I see as living or acting wrongly. Carrying out justice means I must do what is right, but still love the people that are acting wrongly.

I hope that God will help give me wisdom and humility in how to respond to situations where I see the need for justice.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Empowering Women With HIV/AIDS

Over the last few months, I feel like God has really put certain people in my life for a reason. Since the New Year started I have been working really closely with women and children living with HIV. It’s common that maybe 1 out of 4 people you meet in Kenya might have HIV, but it’s not so common to find people with HIV that are strong and proud, and speaking out on the disease. It’s a challenge to encourage them to not see it as a death sentence but like any other disease that they have to take medicine for. Many seclude themselves from their families because they feel outcast. They stigmatize themselves so much, that they cannot hear any words encouragement you give them. Then they get sicker and sicker because of the stigma, the negative outlook, and the depression weakens their immune system. The majority either give up or they ignore that it’s real. Many people I have counseled cannot accept that they have it, even after many years of knowing they are HIV+. They lie to themselves and say to me “God has healed me because of my faith. I don’t have HIV.” Yet, they have never gone to the hospital to get re-tested and they refuse to. You see them getting sicker, losing weight, coughing all the time from TB. As much as I counsel them and speak truth to them, I cannot force them to walk into the doctor’s office with me. It’s been so hard to visit some of them in their homes and see them wasting away because they have already given up before they even gave it a fighting chance. The stigma is wrapped up in their culture. It is almost impossible to change a whole culture, especially over night.

That’s why I have been so encouraged by a certain group of women in a nearby slum. These women are strong and are fighters. They know they don’t want to depend on their husbands anymore. In a country where the average husband is a drunkard, has multiple wives, dead or nowhere to be found, these women are choosing to not let that keep them down. They want to be self-sustaining, they are choosing to live positively, talk about their problems and issues openly and seek help. I meet with these women and their children once a month at Nakuru Miracle Center, a Redeemed Gospel Church in a slum in Nakuru. The pastor of this church is awesome, his name is Reverend George Nyori and he is fiery and passionate about serving the poor and the community. Pastor Nyori is a professor at The University of Nairobi, the head pastor of Redeemed Gospel Church, and also travels doing motivational speeches and evangelism. His wife, Rahab and him support these 40 women every month, they have been giving them 5 kgs of Unga (maize flour) every month. They have also stood by these women through their sickness and even sometimes death, as some have passed away in the last year. They have helped the family bury them and provide for their needs.

We meet with these women every month, I discuss health topics related to HIV such as nutrition, side effects of ARVs and adherence to the drugs, how to prevent passing HIV to their babies, etc. They ask me questions that they are afraid to ask in front of other people. They are honest about their sicknesses and their struggles. We encourage them and they help each other.

Through talking with Pastor George and his wife, we are realizing that these women are ready for something else. They want to know a skill, trade or something that can earn them money so they don’t have to depend on the Church or their husbands for continued financial support. The prices of food are going up through the dry season, and its difficult for this church to continue to provide flour for them. These women are so eager to learn and work. Last week I brought my friend, Naomi and she taught the women how to bake cakes using their normal “jiko” or charcoal burner they have at home. She taught them how to decorate them, make them look beautiful enough to sell and earn a profit from them. The women were taking notes and so excited to try it themselves.

The church wants to take the top 20 women that are the most serious about starting a small business. They want to split them into 3 groups and do trainings for each of them in baking (cakes), computers, and tailoring. After completing a four-month training they will be able to get small loans from the church to start their business. Every week in order to get more money from the church; they have to pay back what they borrowed. They have already started this loan program with another group of women who were poor and it has been successful. But now they want to start it for these women living with HIV. We know and believe that if these women with HIV are working, they won’t have time to get discouraged about their illness and it will keep them healthier and happier. But its true that these women do get sicker more often and cannot push themselves like women who are just poor. They have to pay attention to their bodies, go to the hospital when they feel ill, get proper nutrition and plenty of sleep. The church is trying to raise money to help these women go through a 4-month training. The training costs only 80 dollars for one woman to go through 4 months of training and it would be a one-time donation and then the church would take over helping them with loans.

If anyone is interested in helping sponsor a woman, please feel free to contact me and we can get these women started. Or if at your workplace, you all wanted to pitch in some money to sponsor a woman, please let me know. We think the best way to send money is through Western Union. And we can send you a picture and the name of the women you are sponsoring. We are hoping that they will be able to start the training in April/May. If you are interested in speaking directly with Pastor Nyori I can give you his contacts as well.
Thanks for listening to me ramble…hope you all have a blessed week!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life is a Journey not a Destination

When we ask questions sometimes they are not meant to be answered. The Big questions like is there a God, what is the purpose of life, why is their suffering in the world, how did life begin? Sometimes when we raise a question, we are not actually seeking an answer. We are simply wondering or initiating a dialogue. To stifle wonder is to crush passion, creativity, and freedom. A quick answer to life’s biggest questions not only stops us from wondering, but it make us feel unsatisfied, frustrated, or hopeless. We may feel like there has to be more.

Many questions don’t have answers. These questions are meant to be discussed. Answers are not found in a quick or simple response but in a life long pursuit of the truth, a pursuit of learning, experiencing, and discussing these questions. We find purpose on this pursuit or journey of seeking answers. This journey is one of formulating some kind of stable thought that will suffice for a time and offer some comfort or consolation. These temporary answers only satisfy for a time and then we begin to ask the questions again or in a different manner. After learning or experiencing something new, we reformulate or thought our prior beliefs. We construct a more solid and satisfying answer. The point of these questions is about the search or the journey, not the destination of finding an answer. Much more is learned in the pursuit then in the conclusion. Whether a completely satisfying answer is ever reached is not the sole purpose of asking the question.

Life is also a journey, not a destination to be reached. Having financial security, a good job, a house, a family, a wife, love, or success, although these may be important aspects of life to be maintained or sought after, they are not the sole purpose of life. What would happen when these aspects of life are achieved? Then the journey is over, the destination has been reached. Life can become depressing and meaningless. Choose a path that has a goal in mind, but would take ten lifetimes to achieve. Dream big and love deep. Have a purpose outside yourself. Let your life be about the journey and what happens along the way. Life is a give and take with others as we are on the journey together.

Let your life be a journey, a discussion, with no final destination or quick answers. Let your life be a search for truth and a have a purpose beyond just yourself.

In The Moment

Why can’t I be more in the moment?  It is so hard for me to keep my mind on the day-to-day.  I get so distracted with thoughts of the future, that I am taken out of the moment.  My mind is constantly dreaming of the future; the new plans of what my life will look like and adventures I will experience.  Why can’t I jus be content with where I am or at least have a balance of reminiscing of the past, enjoying the present and occasionally dreaming of the future.  I rarely speak of the past and reflect on past experiences.  I am in the moment when I am with people, but when I have time alone in my own thoughts, they are always running ahead.  I am excited about the dreams and desires the Lord has put in me, I just wish I was more in the balance.  I guess that is what I strive for in all aspects of my life...balance

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hiking Mt. Kenya

Point Lenana (16,355 ft)

On Death

The last few years of my life I have thought about death almost everyday. This may seem morbid or a waste of time. It is not something that I try to think about, it just comes into my head. I have many fears about death, because it is such a big unknown. I wonder what will happen after death. I believe what the Bible says about life after death, but sometimes I doubt. Is there really a heaven? And if so, what does it look like?

I am always thinking: what if my wife or family member dies? What if I die? These thoughts are good if they lead to positive conclusions. These thoughts and questions often lead me to: what is my purpose on this earth? If I was to die tomorrow what matters today? If I die tomorrow does is matter how much money or possession I have?

Thinking about death helps me to see my life from the correct perspective. It helps to me to put my priorities in the correct order and see life as a gift. I am able to count my blessings. These thoughts help me to appreciate and love people in the moment.

Who is a Father?

Friday night was the best night I have had with the students. We talked all night, told stories and asked each other questions. We talked about girls, school, futures, family, marriage, life and careers. I encouraged them to begin to see themselves as husbands, leaders, and as the fathers they have never had.

They asked me to tell them honestly all the things that were different and funny about Africa or Africans. I broke every cultural sensitivity rule that you learn when training to do mission work… and it was amazing!! I was very hesitant at first, but just like with my friends in the states, when you love and trust each other there is a freedom to joke and laugh about your differences. These differences were not offensive but hilarious. The more details and examples I gave, then the harder we laughed.

This was the first time that I had truly and deeply laughed here in Kenya. Humor is one of the last things that translates cross-culturally. Humor is always different depending on where you are. So to find the same things funny and to laugh together was a bonding moment. We were together.

By the end of the night there were about 5-6 boys remaining with me. I noted that these 5-6 students who remained are the same boys who are here over the holiday break. These are the boys that have little or no family to go home to on the holidays; no fathers, mother, or relatives to care from them. When asked who their role models are they often say a close friend that is their same age. They don’t have deep or intimate relationships with adults; no teachers, parents, grandparents or church leaders. Because of the time we spent together and the closeness we felt, they told me that I was like a father to them that night. I was taken-a-back by this statement because I felt more like a peer or a friend, but not a father.

For them a father is someone who listens, encourages, and cares for them. A father is someone who can offer some kind of guidance and wants to know what is going on inside their minds. This is how they feel loved and I think this is true for most people. They have never had an older male figure who has sat with them at night and shared openly with one another. In fact, even some people who have dads don’t have these special times of deep, intimate conversation. It was so sad for me to learn that they have never had a father figure in their life, but I was encouraged that I could be with them for that night and hopefully there will be more moments like this in the future.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How, as an American, do I depend on God?

I don’t think there is any one answer to this question; it may be different for everyone. But here are a few thoughts for the average American: when Christ said that, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God!…Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God everything is possible;” I think He had America on His mind (Mathew 19:16-26, New Living Translation). Considering that only twenty percent of world lives on seventy dollars a day, forty percent of the world lives on less then two dollars a day, and eight percent of the world owns a car, we can see that the average American is rich.

Why does Jesus say it is so hard for a rich person to enter heaven? I think it is because we depend on ourselves and our riches rather then depending on God. Why do I need God: if when I am sick, I can just go to the doctor or the (24 hour) pharmacy and get some medicine, if I am hungry I can make some food or stop by a (24 hour) fast food restaurant, if I don’t have money I can most likely get a job and at least make minimum wage, if when I am bored, depressed, or upset I can distract myself with TV, movies, video games, the internet, or shopping. Why do I need Jesus on a daily basis if all my needs and wants are being met?

I realize that my relationship with Christ should not be based on my needs being met. I am grateful and understand that Christ created me, died for my sins, and has given me grace and a future with Him. I serve Him because of who He is and not what he does for me, but is this enough to make me dependent on Him?

How do I depend on him?

Do I need to become poor? No, I am sure this is a great way for some people to truly depend on God, but that is too literal of a translation of the Bible for me, it is a little ridiculous…(Mathew 19:21-22).

Do I need to live on a budget and give away ALL the excess money to my church or an organization that helps the poor? No, that would be too extreme, besides God has blessed me with money and I need to provide for myself and my family and give some to Him, because that is what the Bible tells me to do…(Mathew 6:19-21 and Mark 12:41-44).

Do I need to give up comfortable life in American and go somewhere else to serve others? No, I have a great job, a house and I can’t leave my parents or extended family; Christ is not calling me to do that…(Matthew 4:21-22,  8:21-22 and 9:9)

Do I need to serve those in prison, those who are sick or travel to a dangerous place to be with others? No, Christ is there to protect me and keep me safe…wait Jesus died doing ministry…and if we are his disciples then…(Mathew 10:28 and 38-39).

It looks like, according to scripture, that disciples of Christ did leave their jobs and their families to follow Him and that it is more important to follow Christ then to tend to parents or extended family or have your own house to sleep in.  The more I read and look at Jesus life, the more I see a poor, dangerous, homeless, and radical person; and the more I question whether I am a true disciple of Christ.

My intention is not to make us feel guilt or shame, but to encourage us to think and pray about how God is calling us to have an impact in His Kingdom. I have recently been praying, “Lord break my heart for the things that break your heart,” and then I pray, “Lord put me in the place where I can be most effective for your kingdom.” When I say these prayers, I believe that God will direct my life (through my desires, talents, weaknesses and dreams) into places that I can have an impact in His kingdom. I don’t care what happens to me on this earth, as long as I know I am making a difference in other peoples lives for eternity.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Many of the students and staff here at Rohi have a deep and honest faith in Christ. You can see that they really love Him and depend on Him. God has radically changed their lives. Many have come from poor or rough backgrounds and now they are in school with all their needs being met. They thank God for this. They attribute this provision to God. Most students don’t question or doubt God because they see him moving and acting in their lives everyday. He is not distant and unknown; He is active and present in their lives.

This was most evident when I was meeting in a small group of 18-20 year old male students. I proposed a question that I ask many students in America. I asked, “Can you tell us about your relationship with God, what questions or doubts do you have about Him?” After a pause, a student named Samuel began to speak about all the ways in which he sees God. He began, “I ran away from home when I was a young boy because there were seven children in my family and my mom could not feed all of us. So as the oldest son, I felt that if I left than it would be one less mouth to feed. I left home to live on the streets in Nakuru, begging for food and sniffing glue. After three years on the streets, staff from Rohi found me. I joined the rehabilitation center for some time and then was sponsored to come to Rohi as a student.”

Samuel feels a deep sense of gratitude and the only person he can say thank you to, is God. God is the one who motivated the right people and made the necessary connections to allow Samuel to come and live at Rohi. Samuel understands this and all he can do is cry out to God with complete gratitude. This is the faith of most of the children and orphans we have met at Rohi. Their deep and strong faith in Christ is teaching Sarah and I how to see God and depend on Him more.

Samuel’s faith in God is different from many of the youth in America. Many college-aged students go through a period of doubting their faith and questioning how they were brought up in the church. I am not saying this is bad, just different. In America it is hard to see God. If something good happens we attribute it to our own efforts. In general, in America, we are more dependent on ourselves then on Christ. In many ways, although life is easier and more comfortable in America, it is more difficult to see Christ. Good and evil are masked by comfort and materialism.

After hearing many stories like Samuel's, I came to a point where I had to make a decision. Was it random chance or divine intervention that brought these students to where they are today? Just as so many students have chosen to believe that it was God who saved them, I too see that it was God who has given them a hope and future.

If you believe that it was random chance then you must ask yourself some questions. What was this feeling or burden that the Mathua family (who started Rohi) felt to help these children? Where did it come from? If you believe that they were just good people, I think you must look deeper. It is crazy, especially in a place like Kenya where there is more poverty and less opportunity for finding work that seven children would agree to give up their land and inheritance. And why would a family from the US give up their comfortable life to move to a new and uncomfortable place to help others? And what motivates the 350 families from the US to sponsor these students, pay their school fees, write them letters and come to meet them? What conviction or belief is strong enough to motivate someone to do this and where or with whom does that conviction begin?

I don’t believe that it is chance that motivates people to sacrifice their lives to love others. I do believe that it is the only response that Christians have to the sacrificial life that Jesus lived. It is our only way to say thank you to a God that died so that we could live free. Jesus’ example of living an uncomfortable and sacrificial life should drive us and compel us to live a life modeled after Him; a life that is not for ourselves, not for the fleeting pleasures of the world, but truly and honestly dedication to Him.

But how, in America, do we develop this kind of faith that motivates us to sacrifice our lives for others? Anyone who has been on a mission trip knows it is easy to see Christ and love others when you go abroad, but what happens when we come back to our comfortable and distracted lives in the US? Where does the passion and conviction go, how do we maintain it?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Just an average day in Kenya

I want to tell you a story about a recent rodent encounter in our home.  Well it began one night when Sarah frantically yelled, “Nate, its a rat, quick get it!!”  I calmly replied, “Sarah you can’t just catch a rat with your hands, especially when you can’t see him, you have to get a rat trap.”  Sarah did not like this answer because the rat was in the kitchen.  We could not find it so I set the rat trap out that night.  In the morning we did not catch a rat, but he had left plenty of evidence that he had enjoyed our food during the night.  Sarah was bothered.  I was content.  Late in the day Sarah exclaimed, “Nate it’s the rat, I can hear him, he is still in here somewhere!”  I look for him everywhere and don’t find him.  I laugh at my bride and tell her she is paranoid as she had confessed that she dreamt the night before of rats invading our house.  I reminded Sarah that you don’t just catch a rat with your hands; you have to use the trap. 

On the second day, we still came up empty.  Later that day Sarah was in the bedroom and calmly said, “Nate I know  he is in here.”  Of course, by this time, I thought Sarah is crazy and just hearing things. But like a good husband I went into the room to prove to her that there was not a rat in the room.  So I looked behind the dresser and sure enough there was a cute little rat.  Sarah ran out of the room and shut the door and said, “Don’t come out till you catch the rat!”  She was not messing around.  I knew at that moment that I must emerge with the rat; our marriage depended on it.  I asked for a few items to catch Sarah’s nemesis, including a stick, trashcan, and a trash bag.  The battle was on….. Me vs. the Rat.   The battle ensued.  Back and forth it went, I would scare him out from behind the dresser, then try and throw the trash can on him and miss, and then he would go back behind the dresser.  All Sarah could hear from outside the room was a lot of banging, clanging and cursing.  This dance continued for a good 15 minutes. But then there was a lull in the battle and I could not see or hear him any more.  When Sarah heard the noise stop, she said, “ Did you get him?!”   Now, out of breath, I say weakly,“ Uhhhh, no.  I can’t find him.”  After a few minutes of looking I found him….
 He crawled up the dresser and suspended himself about 5 feet above the ground between the wall and the dresser!  Wow!! When I saw him, he was just staring at me with his cute beady eyes, as if he was saying, “What man, it was my only option…. but I guess you found me… bummer.”  I was so impressed with the little fellow! He was like a ninja rat! He stayed suspended while I showed Sarah and took a few snaps. This rat had just earned my deep, inmost respect.  I decided that I just wanted to catch him and let him go because I was so amazed with him.  But Sarah did not stand for that.  She slammed the door again and said, “We are not letting him go.”

After a few more minutes, I emerged the Victor.  I trapped him in the trashcan and slipped him into the trash bag.  I walked him outside and smashed his head with a rock.  The sheep looked on with sad faces heads when he died.   Sarah cheered,  I was a bit saddened, and the rat was unresponsive.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where is Home?

Is it where I grew up? Is it the town where I went to school and Church?  Is it where my friends and family are?  Is it the place where I feel most comfortable and safe? Is it knowing myself and my purpose in the world?  Is it just where I find myself at a particular place and time? Or is it where I can see and experience Christ the most; the place where I feel Him calling me to?  Maybe home is all of these things. 

But what about those people who have lost their parents; they have no family, church, or place where they can go and feel comfortable and safe.  What about those people who are abused physically or sexually by those they trusted?  Where is home for these people? 

These are the questions that I have been asking myself the past few weeks.  Sarah and I have been hearing the stories of  students who have no family, no one to call mom or dad, no one to touch them and hold them, and no house to go to on the holidays.  And some students who do live with families have been abused physically or taken advantage sexually.  Most of these students have a deep and really faith in God.  He is all they have to call home. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


 This weekend we were invited to join 40 Rohi students on a hike to a near by town. This was in preparation for a hike up Mount Kenya in November. We were very excited, because both Sarah and I love to hike, however we did not realize what we were getting ourselves into. We started off at 7am and hiked for 4 hours through town and up a mountain to another small town. We crossed a few rivers and saw some beautiful vistas. We ate lunch which consisted of beans, rice, cabbage, and chipoti. then started back. We decided to go a different way home which was to be shorter. This was not the case. We walked through corn fields, crossed a marshy river, and walked through pouring rain. After another 4 hours we finally arrived at home. The last hour was rough as our legs were tired and aching. Sarah and I were both out of shape and after about 8 hours of hiking and 15 miles later, we were spent. But we enjoyed the time walking, talking, and eating with the students.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Why do I try to make my life comfortable wherever I am?

Since I have been in Kenya I have been out of my comfort zone. I have been seeking God more during this time. But I am also noticing that I am trying to make the life as comfortable as possible.

I find that when I strive to be comfortable I tend to be less dependent on God. The distractions that come with being comfortable pull me way from my relationship with Christ. Do I have to remain in a state of being uncomfortable to be close with Christ? If so , how do I create that when my tendency is to seek comfort. Or can I maintain my relationship with Christ while I am comfortable?

Jesus purposefully lived an uncomfortable life, at least during His three years of ministry. He was always on the move. He had no permanent home. I guess what I am seeking is, how do I remain in constant state of dependency on Christ, like so many of the Kenyan Christians that I have met.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I am learning

I am learning how to depend on God daily and not put as much trust in myself, my job, my bank account, my car, and my health. I am learning to see that everyday, everything good is from God. Whether it is a safe journey to town or a hot meal that fills my belly. Whether it is the opportunity to spend time with the homeless children at street church or hold hands with a small boy who lives at the city dump with his family. God is behind it all, somehow…I don’t understand it…but I am learning to see life this way.

I am still fighting the idea that my self worth comes from 'what I do' rather then 'who I am'. Everyday that goes by I wonder at night, “Was I an encouragement, am I helping, was I productive?" Most of where I find self worth and contentment is based on my performance. But I am learning how to find my identity in who I am and not in what I do. I find who I am through relationships; relationships with my creator and with the people around me. It does not matter what I accomplish that day, it is about who I spent time with.