Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reed Update - one month in

Business meeting in with my translator.
I just returned from a weekend in Butere, a city about 150 km south-west of Kitale.  I went to visit one of the pastors from my class, Rev. Ibrahim Makokha.  I had a chance to visit a number of businesses from the members of his church, Butere Miracle Center, and on Sunday morning was able to speak at both of the morning services.  Following the second service, they gathered all of the members of their Professional, Business, and Farmers Association, and I had some time to do some teaching on Business as Mission.  There were over 70 business people there, with a number of people missing due to involvement in the upcoming election.  It was an exciting and dynamic group.  Let me just pause here to say, I love what I am doing!  I get so much energy from visits like this - meeting with small business owners, seeing a church get excited about how pulpit pastors and marketplace ministers can work together to build the church!  The pastors are really getting it...and the business people are so appreciating the affirmation of their calling and the fact that God created and loves work! 
Mud block making business
[...By the way, did you realize that Jesus was a business man?  That for probably 15-18 years of his life, he worked as a carpenter... selling, negotiating prices, making sure his business was profitable, dealing with customers, understanding supply and demand?  Remember, he was the first born son and his father died early.  The weight would have been on him to teach his younger siblings in the trade.  Additionally, did you know that of the 132 public appearances that Jesus made, 122 were in the marketplace?  And that of the 52 parables that Jesus told, 45 of the parables had a workplace context?  Some of the themes were:  crop yield, management and labor, construction, misuse of money, ranching, hostile takeovers, wine-making, and so on.  Also, most of the disciples Jesus selected were business men.  And the gospel writers were mostly business men.  Jesus recruited people from the Marketplace to be the backbone of his redemptive movement!  That is just a little bit of what I present to business people...]  
Pastor on left, translator on right
Unfortunately, I had to tell them that their church was not selected for the pilot project, but by the time I left, I did promise to come back monthly to begin the Partners Worldwide model of basic business training, mentoring, access to capital, and advocacy.  While disappointed that I would not be moving to Butere for three months, they were somewhat placated by the promise of a monthly visit.  I also really enjoyed the church.  The preaching was very sound, the worship very worshipful.  But the highlight was the translator.  Each service is in English; the first service is translated into Swahili, and the second into the local language.  The translator was one of the best I have ever seen.  As I told him afterward, he not only translated the words, but he translated the passion.  The pastor and the translator worked so well together, it was amazing and so enjoyable to watch!

Alfred and his son, Harrison, outside the Friends Church.
Pilot Project:  I'm excited to announce that the pilot project for the ICM Marketplace Ministry has been decided.  It will be held right here in Kitale and will be with the Friends Church (Quakers).  [Apparently Africa has 46% of the population of Quakers, with Kenya having the largest number of all African countries.]  This church has about 200 members many of whom are involved in business.  In addition, they have a few daughter churches in the surrounding area.  The pastor who attended the Business as Mission class, Alfred Kibairu, was one of the pastors who said from day one that this class was an answer to prayer for their church - it was what they had been wrestling with and prayed for some way to better equip their business members.  There are two other good things about having the pilot here in Kitale - first, there are four other pastors from the class who have their churches in the area.  They will each be invited to send three business people from their church, making the class multi-denominational, and allowing for other churches to begin to embrace Marketplace Ministry a bit more.  Additionally, since ATS (the seminary) is right here in Kitale, it makes sense to start in the home town.  We hope to gather a number of churches to do prayer walks through the marketplace and begin to reclaim it for Christ.  Lord willing, the class will start mid-March, after the elections. 

A small, rural church that I attended last week.  I loved it!
Learning Swahili Learning a new language at the age of 44 is not easy, but I'm thankful that Swahili seems to be easier than other least easier than French and tonal languages.  I have a tutor who meets with me three times a week...and I have a pounding headache at the end of each session!  But I'm able to greet people pretty well, as well as greet churches.  The thing about Swahili is that each word ends with a vowel - I think I would enjoy playing Scrabble in Swahili - no more complaining about too many vowels!  For example, as I often speak in churches, I greet the congregation by saying this:  Ndugo na dada zungu, nawa salimu kwajina la Jesu Kristo.  This translates to, Brothers and Sisters, I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ.  Lots of vowels, right?  But then if I want to say, God bless you, it is:  Mungu awabariki.  However, Swahili has verb prefixes that determine if it is plural, present, past, future tense, or negative.  So when you remove the prefix, the root word for bless is bariki.  But the word for kettle is bakuli.  So I am afraid some day that I will say "Mungu awabakuli" ...God kettle you!  Oh well, I have to try.  I'm sure I'm not the first mzungu to mess up the language!
The congregants of the rural church - a lot of talent in that small group!

Weather:  The weather continues to be pleasant, with temperatures in the mid-70s during the day, but getting as low as 42F at night.  Since there is no heating system and the windows don't really close, it makes for some chilly mornings!  So, for those of you who laughed at me for needing a blanket when the temp was in the 70s in Michigan, you be happy to know that I think my blood is finally getting thicker!  The other thing is that because of the higher elevation, we do get some strange weather patterns.  The other day, it was 77F by about 4 pm, and a storm rolled in with hail.  It immediately melted, but it's not at all unusual here to see hail.  I like it because it gives me a sense of winter without what all of you are going through back in the US!

The instant hot water heater in my shower.
Electricity - I was spoiled during my first two weeks here (or maybe welcomed :-) with the electricity being on pretty steadily; and any time it went off, the generator on campus immediately kicked on.  But the last two weeks have been a different story.  The power seems to go off and on about 20-30 times per day, and I think the generator has worn itself out.  The frustrating thing about that is that each time the electricity goes out, the IP address for the wireless internet has to be reset...and it's in the administration building, so for most of the time, the internet doesn't work.  Thankfully I have a modem that allows me to get online without electricity.  The other challenge is showers...they have instant water heaters here, which of course depend on electricity.  If you know me, you know I must have a shower in the morning to be able to feel awake during the day...but taking a cold shower when it is 50 degrees in your room is quite a challenge!  (I wonder why these instant water heaters haven't taken off in the US.  It immediately heats your water - no more running out of water because someone takes a shower for too long, and the only power needed is while you are taking the shower.) 

Ugali with sikuma wiki
Food and Drink - The most common foods eaten here seems to be ugali with sikuma wiki.  Ugali is a maize flour (cornmeal) cooked with water to a doughlike consistency.  Because there is a lot of corn grown here, it is quite affordable.  Sikuma wiki is a stew made of kale, which is also grown in abundance here.  It is not spicy like West Africa at all, which means I need to carry hot pepper with me since I have grown very used to spicy food.  The main drink here is Chai.  As they say, "Every time is tea time!"  Because of the abundance of dairy farmers around (everywhere you go, you see grazing cows roaming around), so milk is in abundance. As I mentioned before, this area is called the bread basket of Kenya, with so much farming going on.

Election:  The election is scheduled for next week Monday, March 4; schools will close this week Thursday and will remain closed for one week.  It seems that much of the country will shut down during the course of the election.  Because they have implemented biometrics (electronic voting) for the first time, they expect to announce the results by the next day.  As we continue to move closer to the election, prayers continue to be needed.  Many churches are planning a fast and prayer time for the whole weekend, with people staying at the church to pray through the night.  The more time I spend talking with people here, the more I am beginning to understand the complexities behind what happened in the 2007 election, as well as the dynamics behind the current situation.  Kenya held their first ever presidential debate on February 11 and a second will be held tonight, February 25.  You can stream in to watch it online, as I will (I don't have a TV) if you are interested; it looks like one of the two frontrunners will not participate due to the focus of the debate on the 11th on the indictments on both he and his vice-presidential candidate by the International Criminal Court.  The BBC has a good summary of what is going on currently with the election.  If you are interested, click here.
Random monkeys playing outside my window while I worked.