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God is moving, can you see it?
May 6, 2013 12:59 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , , , , ,
Checking out the Great Rift Valley

Checking out the Great Rift Valley

That’s right, my folks made the trek to AFRICA!!!!!!  I cannot even begin to tell you how special it was to share my world with two of the most important people in my life.  My parents were beyond troopers, they were adventurers!  Travel in Africa is not for the faint of heart and I’m proud to say that they took everything in stride and with open hearts.  Nairobi traffic and slums, unpredictable African airlines, learning the art of tucking in mosquito nets, wandering around bustling island spice market, it didn’t matter what the day held, they dove right in!   Since I’m better with photos than words, take a look-see at our time together…

Hippo spotting on Lake Naivasha

Hippo spotting on Lake Naivasha

Dad and I scoping out Crescent Island on my birthday

Dad and I scoping out Crescent Island on my birthday

Walking safari on Crescent Island

Walking safari on Crescent Island

Birthday fun!

Birthday fun!

Dad getting a smooch

Dad getting a smooch

Muah!

Muah!

Hanging out with Tony and Tito in Korogocho slum, just outside of Nairobi

Hanging out with Tony and Tito in Korogocho slum, just outside of Nairobi

My Kenyan host parents meeting my real parents... pretty amazing moment!

My Kenyan host parents meeting my real parents… pretty amazing moment!

Goofing around with the kiddos at Sanctuary of Hope (the homes that Holly works with!)

Goofing around with the kiddos at Sanctuary of Hope (the homes that Holly works with!)

Dad getting into the safari spirit

Dad getting into the safari spirit

First day on safari

First day on safari

Big guy!

Big guy!

Baby zebras!!

Baby zebras!!

Our awesome tent at the safari camp

Our awesome tent at the safari camp

Mama lion and her energetic babies

Mama lion and her energetic babies

Sunrise on safari

Sunrise on safari

M&D 48

Yoga in the wild!

Yoga in the wild!

We all got into the stretchy-zone

We all got into the stretchy-zone

Mom and our VERY tall guide Moses

Mom and our VERY tall guide Moses

Sunset in Masaai Mara

Sunset in Masaai Mara

Dad learning all about whistling acacias from Moses

Dad learning all about whistling acacias from Moses

Our digs in Zanzibar

Our digs in Zanzibar

Fishermen in the Indian Ocean

Fishermen in the Indian Ocean

Mom and Dad found some great shells

Mom and Dad found some great shells

Relaxation time!

Relaxation time!

Spice market haggling

Spice market haggling

The basket dude

The basket dude

Shopping in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Shopping in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Serious conversations.

Serious conversations.

Mom making the kiddos smile, per usual!

Mom making the kiddos smile, per usual!

Dad and his leaf glasses

Dad and his leaf glasses

Spice farm royalty

Spice farm royalty

A yummy lunch to fuel us for snorkling

A yummy lunch to fuel us for snorkling

Learning about all the fish we were about to see

Learning about all the fish we were about to see

My buddy Ryan even made the trek out to Africa and joined us in Zanzibar.

My buddy Ryan even made the trek out to Africa and joined us in Zanzibar.

Setting sun in Zanzibar

Setting sun in Zanzibar

Dad greeting the morning

Dad greeting the morning

Little local kiddos

Little local kiddos

The ever beautiful Indian Ocean

The ever beautiful Indian Ocean

Naps under mosquito nets

Naps under mosquito nets

Mount Kilimanjaro peeking through the clouds on the flight home to Nairobi.

Mount Kilimanjaro peeking through the clouds on the flight home to Nairobi.

 

My heart is so full, this was a once in a lifetime experience that I will treasure forever.

June 4, 2012 6:57 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve been in my head a lot lately.

You know the feeling, when you realize you’ve been sitting in the same position for a long time, staring at the same spot on the wall, just thinking.  I’ve had some incredible experiences lately that have caused me to retreat into the recesses of my brain (and heart) and mull.  I’ve had a chance to go through photographs of the last month, and it has only deepened my “head time.”  Oh how I love photography.  The fraction of a second snapped with a camera has the ability to rocket me back to a time and a place, helping me remember.

These photos are my visual breadcrumbs, they are significant marks on a path of memory that I can follow through the woods of my mind.  They leave a trail, reminding me of where I’ve been.  Whoa, did I just get a little “heady” there?!  Sorry, that’s just how it’s been lately.  Here are some of my latest “crumbs”…

I had my first guests!  After six months without a familiar (Montana) face, my heart nearly exploded with joy at the sight of these people.  We ventured around Kenya, and went to many places that had an impact on me in 2009 when I first came to Kenya.  The second time around is always different than the first, but sometimes even more meaningful.

Lots of laughs with Joanna, Yasmin, and Holly

Revisiting Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, home to more than 500,000

Spending time with my dear Kenyan host family in Korogocho slum, Nairobi

Get-away with my girls on Lake Naivasha, complete with several hippo encounters!

In early April I had the privilege to experience a different area of Kenya, outside of the bustling epicenter of Nairobi.  The media team and I traversed eight hours north to a place called Maralal.  It’s an arid, scrubby land where the sun shines hot on the baked earth, and all the plants seem to have thorns.  The Samburu people call this area home.  They are tall, lanky herders (goats, sheep, and camels) with friendly, warm spirits, sun-weathered skin and broad smiles.  Oh, and they like beads… a lot.

Samburu mama and her chicken

Samburu kiddos

I was struck and inspired by one Samburu, a young pastor named Peter.  A warrior turned multi-church pastor, Peter left his tribe to get an education, and unlike so many, he returned to be with his people afterwards.  He rides his bicycle for miles and miles every week between his four churches (one of which is under a tree).  I’ve never met someone with such a heart of joy and passion.  His fire inspired us all.

Pastor Peter on his bike near one of the first churches planted in the area

Little Samburu girl at church

Chai tea and hospitality at Pastor Peter's house

After my mini-adventure to northern Kenya, I boarded a plane bound even farther north.   North Africa.  Little did I know what was waiting for me… a whole new world.  I went to see what that world looked like, felt like, tasted like, smelled like; I went to broaden my knowledge of what and who makes up this crazy continent of Africa.  I went to see my dear friends who labor in love there.  I went so my heart could begin to understand.  Head coverings, mosques, Arabic, the call to prayer… It is a place unlike anything I had ever experienced.

Fabrics for sale in the market

Canyon walls

Exploring local crops by the river

Breakfast with friends

Oasis town

Fragrant tea blend of rose hips, chamomile and mint

Camel trekking

Honeydew is best shared with friends

Fresh orange juice!

Climbing dunes to watch the sunset

A couple braves the rocks to watch the ocean

Spices galore!

Thread baskets

Toasting adventure with saffron mint tea and dear friends

Now, I know how to pray.  Now, I have breadcrumbs to remind me of all I saw, heard, tasted, and felt.  Now, I can’t pretend that I haven’t seen this world, this beautiful and vibrant yet hard, heavy, and dark world.  Now, I can’t ignore it… now I press into it.  Now, I bear witness of my experience.  I feel a bit like Paul, who was knocked clean off his horse on a road to another place, and made to see.  Afterwards God told him this…

Now get up and stand on your feet.

I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness

of what you have seen and will see of me…”

Acts 26:16

Paul rises, taking with him what he has seen, and walks forward into God’s promise… that he, Paul, will see more of God.  I am responsible to bear witness to everyplace God leads me.  Now, what do I do with what I’ve seen?  That’s why I’ve been in my head, I can’t just walk away from this one.  God has planted some curious seeds in me, and I’m giving them time and room to grow.

I only have one life to pour out, and I want to make it a beautiful offering, a fragrant and pleasing sacrifice to my God.  I will not lay before Him a life that was easy, nor one that cost me nothing.

What can I say?

What can I do?

But offer this heart, O God, completely to you.

 

January 16, 2011 8:47 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , ,

The action of trusting has always been a difficult one for me… especially in regards to God.   And when I really think about it, He is the ONLY one I really can put every particle of my trust in.  Then why don’t I?  It’s because I think I should be able to do it on my own, of my own strength, by my own power and might.  Ha!  Good try, Bess.

I’m human and I live amongst humans, and well, we really aren’t so trustworthy.  We aren’t very strong.  We fail.  ALL the time.  In my own life I have failed my friends, my family, and myself.   I’m not strong enough.  But I know one who is.

The song Too Proud by Enter the Worship Circle has always struck me, right to those sensitive heart strings.  It’s a song about pride, weakness, release of control, and finally trust…

“I’m too proud to ask, too broke to eat
Too weak to bow, too strong to bleed
Can you sing over me words of comfort?
Can you satisfy me, sweet honey?
Can you break through me, with your strong hands?
Can you undo me, enough to heal me?

You take the weight from my shoulders
My hands were clinched now they’re open!
I’ll take your goodness, pour it from the sky
Food from the ravens, water from the dry well!”

The process of support raising has really showed me how much I don’t trust the Lord.  I find my self agonizing over the what if’s…. what if I worded my letters all wrong, what if my letters got lost, or were sent at the wrong time, what if I offend someone, what if I start working an extra shift, what IF?!?!  And on and on.  It’s exhausting.  But, God is showing me, everyday, that it doesn’t have to be like this… I don’t have to carry this all on my own.

As soon as soon as I release control and begin to trust the Lord I see His goodness revealed everywhere.  When I stop building layers of safety nets, and stop making 100 back-up plans just in case the Lord doesn’t come through for me, I find myself in the present, on firm ground, with a promise of the Lord ringing in my heart.  You can trust me, my love will never fail you!

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him.
(Psalm 32:10)

5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, LORD,
for I hide myself in you. (Psalm 143:8-9)

I want to know that it was not by my power that I made it to Africa, but that it was only by the hand of the Lord.  I want to be rooted and established in deep unshakable trust.  I want to see, more clearly everyday, the unfailing love that surrounds me.  I want witness the movements of the Lord, the wind made visible!

8 But I am like an olive tree
flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
for ever and ever.
9 For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name,
for your name is good. (Psalm 52:8-9)

Everyday I have to release going to Africa to the Lord, and trust.  He has good things for me, and his UNFAILING love surrounds me… ha, not bad for a simple girl from Montana.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)