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God is moving, can you see it?
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.

 

June 12, 2011 7:28 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , , ,

I’ll confess, for a while I truly thought it was just my camera that was broken.

After all, I did drop it (which resulted in a GASP and maaaaybe a curse word from me) a few months ago while on vacation with my friends in San Diego.  Strange ticking sounds emitted from my lens as I cranked the focus-ring around, trying to get a clear picture.  After 10 minutes of sweaty panic, my camera started working again… mostly.

Just a few weeks ago, I experienced a strange sadness as I packed up my dear camera and shipped her off to be appraised and exchanged for a newer bigger camera.  This old girl has been through a lot with me… three of my four years in college, seven weddings, two newspaper jobs, backpacking in the mountains, 49 days in Kenya, and numerous jaunts through the tall grass of meadows and orchards.  She has recorded the faces and lives of not only my family and my dear friends, but of people who were in my viewfinder for only a moment.  I’ll miss you, a lot.

(please excuse this horrid photo, when your camera is among the packing peanuts, one must resort to the phone camera… shudder!)

Even with a beautiful, completely unbroken camera in hand, I still couldn’t focus.  What the heck?  I know what I’m doing… I’m not a nincompoop… most of the time.  Could it be my eyes?!  Surely not, I’ve been 20/20 all my life!  Medical forms have always a breezy cinch for me…no braces, no allergies, no prescriptions, and certainly no glasses… normal as normal gets.  Well, there was one minor tangle with a mini-trampoline at the age of six that resulted in a broken elbow… but I will save my dashed hopes of Olympic glory for a later date.

With confidence in my complete normality quivering, I went to see Dr. Kim… gentle master of all things eye-related.  She put a giant contraption up to my face, a few drops in my eyes and with a click, whirl, click… I could read the BOTTOM row (which I always thought was an unreachable visionary feat, there only to remind us of our mortal state).

It took a week for me to find just the right frames, and then two days more for Erik (the extremely kind and patient optometrist) to make and fit my lenses.

When I put my new glasses on last Wednesday, I almost puked.  Details! A whole new world of beautiful details, and I could see them all!!

I feel a tiny bit like Mr. Black in the beautiful/sad/brilliant novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (which if you haven’t read, you must, but beware, you might cry… a lot).  The main character, a little boy named Oskar, is over at his elderly neighbor’s (Mr. Black) apartment in New York City, and they decide to turn on Mr. Black’s hearing aides (which he turned off years ago).

“Do it slowly,” he said, almost like he was begging me.  “It’s been a long, long time!”…

Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the the window, extremely fast and incredibly close.  Maybe twenty of them.  Maybe more.  But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.  Mr. Black grabbed his ears and made a bunch of weird sounds.  He started crying- not out of happiness, I could tell, but not out of sadness, either.

“Do you want me to turn them off?” I asked, but he wasn’t paying attention to me anymore.  He was walking around the room, sticking his ears up to anything that made noise, including very quiet things like pipes.  I wanted to stay there and watch him hear the world but it was getting late… I told Mr. Black that I would pick him up next Saturday at 7:00…

He said, “OK,” and the sound of his own voice made him cry the most.

Now that I can see properly, it makes me wonder about all the things I have been missing over the years.  What photos have I not seen, and then not taken?  What have I overlooked?  What beauty have I missed?

It’s no coincidence that as the flaws in my physical vision were recognized, examined, and treated… God was examining the eyes of my heart at the same time.  He always seems to do stuff like that with me, coinciding the physical with the spiritual.  Double wammie!

For a long time I have operated as a “snippet Christian.”  I pick and choose tiny little bits of scripture that I like, tote around a few select characteristics of Jesus that appeal to me, give a quick nod to the Holy Spirit when glacing at Acts, and generally disregard the rest.  I could tell you in 5 seconds flat what John 3:16 says, but have not a clue about verses 15 & 17… let alone chapter 3, nor the whole Gospel of John.  It’s like I’ve been living out my faith with beer-goggles on… I’m dizzy and sick of it.  My heart has been stirring in heavy dissatisfaction for a while now, and, well… the pot just boiled over.

I want it all.  I don’t just want the Jesus who died more than 2,000 ago… I want the Jesus who was with the Father at the beginning, who dwelled among us, and who will come again in glory too bright to look at.  I don’t just want the Father who was (in my clouded eyes) a big warring meanie in the Old Testament… I want the Father who breathed humanity into being, has never to this day stopped fighting for us, desiring us, and making a way for us to come home.  I don’t just want the Holy Spirit who landed on Jesus like a dove… I want the Holy Spirit that hovered over the water before creation, that blew like a mighty wind and filled the people at Pentecost, the Power that raised Jesus from the grip of death, and the great Counselor that resides in my soul.

And I want the living Word.   I don’t just want the 23rd Psalm, Romans 5, or John 3:16… I want the WHOLE book!  I want to know why every book was written, who wrote it, and to whom it was written.  I want to understand God through the ages, I want to see His hand through history, to this moment, and beyond.  I want the scriptures engraved upon my heart, to know, that I know, that I know what my God has said.

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.

Psalm 19:7-9

This will take a long time.  The Word is rich, and fathomlessly deep.  I have, at best, 70-ish years left on this earth.  Lord, help me to use this time well. Set in me an unquenchable thirst for the Word, born out of an inextinguishable yearning for you.  Open the the eyes of my heart Lord, and strap on my divine-cardiac-spectacles when the way becomes unclear.

 

17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,

may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,

so that you may know him better. 18

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened

in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,

the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

 

May I be remembered as a woman who knew her God, and was known by Him… even if they call me Four-Eyes.

 

December 7, 2010 6:50 pm
Published in: Pre-Field Tags: , , ,

Just a random little note today…

A friend of mine shared an interesting NPR article today.  It talked about how “big” events, places, and things are/were, scale-wise, and it was WILD to look at and imagine.  They ended the article with a picture of Africa… and had an awesome way of describing it’s enormity… check out the picture below.How wild is that?!  All of China, Europe, India, Japan and the USA fit inside!  In a way it is a bit daunting… that is a lot of land, and with it, a lot of people.  More than 1 billion souls… incredible.  My mind starts racing, how can the love of God reach all of them?  It seems too hard, too much, too BIG!

But then, I stop and think about God.  Talk about big!!  The word says,  “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27)  Too right, God.

It has always been hard for me to fully trust God.  I find myself covering all my bases in case He doesn’t come through for me.  But what He really wants from me is surrender, complete surrender… its a lot to ask.  Come, sweet release, come!

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in 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.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
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 58:6-11)

Do I believe that God is big enough to cover not only me, but all of Africa in His love?  You are so big, Lord, help my small faith to grow.