Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bad Blogger

Hello all...

I know-we have been terrible with the updates over the past couple of weeks.

Here is a sneak preview of the stories and pictures that will come after the re-entry into the land of highspeed. Until then, this is our last greeting from the southern hemisphere for a while.

  • Camping with the Dagoretti Guys, eating nyama choma and getting close and personal with a lion
  • Farewells to all of our local peeps...friends, pastors, leaders, frisbee players, teaching partners, family members...lots of food, lots of blessings and invites galore to return.
  • Significant time in getting the masters program up and rolling and in a spot where it will run smoothly from afar.
  • A trip to a 14th Century Swahili Island in the Indian Ocean with Gideon and Mwix
  • Getting our last (hopefully last) round of the stomach biology experiments in...I am taking my cipro as I type.
Tomorrow at 11:20, we enter a 777 and jet out to London...a few days to rest, to reflect and to re-energize followed by a Wednesday afternoon flight to to SEATAC airport. Get ready tasty cheeses, root beer, smooth roads, ice cream, high speed internet and evening walks-we are going to devour you!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ugandan Delight

A Thursday afternoon in June marked an interesting point in our time in Kenya. A good friend of ours, David brought us into the heart of Nairobi to share a meal and his life story. The Ugandan restaurant, set in the middle of someone’s one bedroom house was tasty and the people were amaed to see their first set of wazungu (white people) using their bed as a bench. I am not sure if I have ever felt more cramped in a restaurant, nor would OSHA approve, but it was a unique experience to say the least.

David’s life story is far from anyone’s that I have yet to meet. You have to understand his character a bit before diving in…he is all laughs. There were times when there wasn’t much to laugh about in Kenya this year, nor can you get to the sarcasm that you can enjoy with people from your own culture for fear of being misunderstood. David was our go-to guy in being OK with being misunderstood and laughing along the way. He is an outspoken politician, wanna-be church leader restaurant owner working in Mathare while also spending considerable time at the Inspiration Center, a community center for kids.

He allowed us to peer in behind his laughter and learn a bit of his hard past. He spent years of his life as a robber, thug and running from the police, helping him understand the ways of those in hard places in Nairobi who have little to hold on to other than criminal activity. He understood the post-election violence differently than you or I ever will, yet has somehow developed a new perspective on life. Time in jail, 4 gunshot wounds, memories of running for his life and seeing his closest buddies dead in ditches shape his worldview. His laughter is far from a coverup, and closer to an authentic realization that each day alive is a blessing, regardless of where you have come from.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The beginning of the end...

In less than 3 weeks, we will be sitting in traffic on I-5 heading wouth toward Tacoma. We can't believe how fast this year has gone. As we near the end of our time here, we have been busy cramming in all of the experiences that we never got around to...

Enjoying the new property of Tumani Children's Home!

Mandy livin' it up with her teaching crew

Watching Samara grow up...and learning about parenting (and patience) in the process!

Hording the scenes and moments that we will miss back in the states...

The Masters

Tiger Woods and Phil Nickelson may be a long ways away, but we have officially launched the Nairobi Masters program in partnership with CTM, Carlile College and Bakke Graduate University. With 24 currently enrolled and 5 eagerly awaiting acceptance, the response has been overwhelming.

CTM Director Kris Rocke (the white one) and Mile High Ministry Director Jeff Johnsen facilitated the first intensive of the program last week. The first two days, which were open to the broader community, attracted over 100 local leaders. The two training days to follow were only open to those that are officially part of the CTM Nairobi Masters Cohort. Kris and Jeff were in their prime in “disorienting” the students and forcing them to think critically about their role as urban ministers. We often sat back and chuckled as they found a way to maneuver in tricky spaces around theological, cultural and social landmines. I don’t know of many others that could tread these tracks.

Collectively, we explored what it looks like to see the incarnational nature of Christ in the slums of Nairobi. This was good news to rise up against the prominent Africa prosperity gospel that justifies the circumstances that people find themselves in through God’s blessings and curses. Could it be that there are blessings hidden within the slums than we might think?

Their time in Nairobi allowed us to review our year here and gave us permission to think strategically about what the future holds for CTM Nairobi. We were able to sift through some of the challenges and successes of the past and capture some of the current energy and explore some new possibilities. With the program masters program off the ground, we certainly have our work cut out for us, but are confident that local leadership will continue to provide a way forward.

This process has taught us a great deal about education in various contexts. We came into the year with our own ideas of higher education based on our own experiences in the states but soon learned that there are obstacles to get around here in Kenya. A few examples:

  • As of this January, education is supposed to be free for everyone up to form 4 (the completion of high school). In actuality, it costs the equivalent of two months rent each 3 month term. While rent is very cheap in some places, incomes are low.
  • Because of a lack of access to technology, the expectations between high school and university curriculum are drastically different. Students are well prepared in knowledge content, but struggle with communicating ideas.
  • The Kenyan mode of education is incredibly classical. With the 3 R’s as top priorities and a high regard for structure, it makes are American education look like a bunch of play-dough degrees.

We are eager to see where this will all go. We invite you to learn more about the partner institutions by visiting their respective websites: Bakke Graduate University, CTM and Carlile College.

IDP Concert

There are still thousands of people living in camps throughout Kenya following the 2007 election violence. One of our close friends and organizational partners reached out to his community by hosting a concert at one of the urban camps on the outskirts of Nairobi. With diminishing hope for quick solutions and few people paying attention to the reality they find themselves in, it ws a cool way to honor those that have gone through hard times in recent months. A few pictures to capture the day...