Monthly Archives: June 2013

Trying on a Skirt

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I learned something profound yesterday: the way we dress ourselves in culturally dependent.

When one is preparing to move to a foreign country, it is wise to undergo training about the culture where one will be living. We did that. We learned what to wear, and what not to wear. We learned about the local food, how to get American food, and all about the importance of hospitality. We learned differences in the perception of time, communication and daily life. The list goes on and on. Essentially, the things that are determined by culture is overwhelming. I’m not sure you can get a true appreciation for this truth unless you live in a foreign land.

I thought my realization of this important fact was coming along quite smoothly…until yesterday. I had gone up to Industrial to order firewood because it’s remarkably chilly in Kenya, especially from sunset to sunrise. On the way home, I noticed that one of the fruit stands had apples! How exciting! Apples must be imported and usually purchased in Nairobi, which ¬†means we buy 30 apples at a time on the occasion we travel to the city. One Kenyan lady was wise enough to purchase the fruit she knew we Americans like and sell them at her duka. Genius!

We stopped by to purchase the apples, and I ended up buying a kanga as well. I didn’t have the correct amount of money, and she didn’t have any change, so I agreed to take the items and bring the woman the money later the same day. So, yesterday afternoon, Jacob and I walked back up to the dukas to pay for our apples and my beautiful new kanga. Another woman was watching the stand and took the owner’s absence as an opportunity to sell me more stuff as I waited for the owner to return. The owner is a seamstress and had several beautiful skirts displayed, so I held one up to my waist. This is where the teachable moment took place.

I was encouraged to try on the skirt, so I looked at the dirt on the ground and gave the sweet lady a confused look. In response, she laughed at me and say, “No, no! Let me show you how to put on a skirt.” Then, she proceeded to turn the skirt inside out, put it over my head, and straightened it out for me. Then, she said, “You put your skirt on like trousers. I have shown you the right way.” Indeed. The skirt fit very nicely, so I removed it over my head, of course. Then, she insisted that I try on one of the other skirts. Again, she turned it inside out and I acted like I was diving into it. I felt silly, but I guess it’s a good way to keep your skirt clean when the floors are dirt.

I ended up adding the one skirt to my order. Jacob liked them both, but I thought I should show a little constraint. Getting 6 apples, a kanga AND a skirt in one day is quite exciting here in rural Kenya. As soon as we got home, Jacob wanted me to change into my new skirt. I decided to wait until it was washed, dried and ironed. But rest assured, when it comes time to wear my new skirt for the first time, I will step into it like I’m “putting on trousers.” ūüôā

My new skirt hanging on the line.

So, the moral of the story is this: When you go to order firewood, stay focused on the task. Otherwise, you might buy things you don’t need…and get laughed at in the process!

Now that I am adequately humbled for the week, I’m wondering what my next cultural lesson will be!

Praise and Prayer Requests

1.) Praise God for good friends. My boys ate dinner with another family Friday night so that Aaron and I could have a quiet, candlelight dinner for two to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary.

dinner

2.) Praise God for a relaxing Father’s day. The boys made cards for Aaron, and we took pictures.

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3.) Praise God that we survived the weekend! It was emotional but God was with us. Here’s a picture of all 10 bunches of flowers Aaron got me for our anniversary. I spent hours arranging them. Now my entire house is covered with containers of flowers!

flowers

4.) Please pray for Aaron and I as parents. We are still trying to figure out the boundaries of life here at the compound. The boys have been more disrespectful than usual, not only to Aaron and me but also to other adults and their peers.

5.) Please continue to lift the Murphy family up in prayer. (They are the missionary family from Zambia I mentioned in an earlier post.)

6.) Praise God that Selah is continuing to improve!

7.) Please pray for the patients at Tenwek. Aaron had a particularly hard case this week. I’ll let him share whatever he feels is appropriate, but I’ll ask you to pray for this particular patient and for all the people who visit the hospital. So many are so sick. Pray for both physical and spiritual healing. Pray for protection over the hospital and all the people who work there. Pray that above all else, that Jehovah God would be glorified!

Thank you for praying so diligently for us! I will close with a passage of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is teaching me to apply to my daily life here in Kenya: 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

June 14

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Tomorrow is June 14. It’s Flag day. Not even sure how you’re supposed to celebrate Flag day…

Ten years ago, Aaron and I decided to celebrate big by getting married. While I’m sure it isn’t the traditional way to celebrate Flag day, it was probably the most prefect day of my life. My dress was perfect. The weather was perfect. The ceremony, the reception, the horse-drawn carriage ride, everything was as perfect as it could have been.

Cake Eating

Apparently, this is the only picture of our wedding day that is on the computer…I have so many beautiful pictures that capture the perfection of the day, but I can’t locate any of them. Sorry…This will have to do. ūüôā

On our wedding day, our world was full of possibilities. Our future as a couple was exciting, new and unknown. I could never imagine it would turn out like this. I mean, the past 10 years have been wonderful. We’ve moved to West Virginia, Pennsylvania and then to Kenya. We conceived and birthed 4 beautiful children. We’ve witnessed God’s hand at each and every moment. Even the past 3 months, during the most difficult part of our lives so far, our marriage has been solid and full of meaning. But still, I never thought I’d be walking through such a valley during our 10-year anniversary. When each anniversary came, it was exciting and memorable, but the 10-year mark is a big one! I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. When we first moved to Kenya, my mind was full of possibilities of where we’d celebrate. Anywhere seemed so exotic. Now, since we just had a weekend alone at the Mara, we decided to postpone the getaway celebration until the fall.

Here is a picture of our 5-year anniversary. Noah is 2 years old, Aaron is ending his second year of residency, and I’m pregnant with Jacob. Exciting times in our lives!

5th Anniversary

Our lives are still exciting, but this year will be different. As we celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss, we will also mark 3 months since Hannah’s death.¬†Bittersweet¬†is the go-to word once again. ¬†We are doing well. Our new normal is taking shape. Some days are good; others are hard. When I’m doing well, I must fight the temptation of feeling guilty for not being sad. When I’m sad, I must fight the temptation to defend myself to all those who care about me. Maybe that’s the hardest part of grieving. My pride is challenged no matter how I’m feeling or coping. I feel like I’m always being analyzed. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have the freedom to grieve in my own way for fear that someone will judge me. I guess that’s part of growing and maturing into the person God wants me to be. “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple,” are the words of Jesus himself. When my friends and family are asking questions, they are doing so out of concern, not out of judgment. When they cry with me and for me, they are carrying my burden, not feeling sorry for me. Through all the ups and downs of the mourning process, God is teaching me. He is gently showing me the areas in my life that need to change. Perhaps the biggest thing standing in my way of following Christ wholeheartedly is my pride. I need to die to self more and more.

Here is a picture of me and my hubbie. My how we’ve changed!!

Trying out the boys' goggles

I may not be the perfect wife…or the perfect mother…or the perfect anything. I am being perfected though. Through Christ, I am a new creation, one that is under constant construction. It’s not always pleasant to be His workmanship, but it is always worth it. God knows all things, ordains all things and created all things to bring Him glory. That’s my goal: to bring God glory. No matter the circumstances, I desire to bring Him glory.

Sometimes, that means I need to sport Levi’s Hulk goggles with Aaron wearing Noah’s Spiderman goggles just so we can laugh together. Other times, it means I need to be serious and grieve hard with him. Regardless of what the moment brings, I am so blessed to have met my husband at the age of 15. It wasn’t my plan to start this covenant relationship so early in life, but it was God’s perfect plan for us. I am so thankful for that step of obedience and submission to the Great I AM. I am so thankful for Aaron’s commitment to me, for the adventure we get to experience together, for all the ups and downs we help each other get through. As I look back over the first 10 years of our marriage, it makes me excited to see what the next 10 years will bring. God, I trust you to see us through whatever You have for us in the days and years to come!

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Psalm 139:1-18, 23-24

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Amen!

Prayer Requests:

Please pray us through June 14 and the mix of emotions it will bring.

Praiseworthy

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This week was another crazy week, but one that is full of praises. God is so praiseworthy, even in the storms and craziness of life. Here is the abridged version of my praises for the week:

1.) Dr. Aaron Jones, who I mentioned in my last post, is doing great. He is healthy. Praise God, for He is our Healer.

2.) Selah, the little girl with the head injury I mentioned in my last post, is improving. Praise God!! Please keep updated on the prayer wall, and please keep praying for her and her family. The road ahead of them is still long.

3.) Praise God that I survived Monday morning and that Joyce’s eye is better!! To give you the back story, Joyce (my househelper) ¬†had a red spot on her eye for a week. Refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer any longer, I sent her to the opthomologist at Tenwek. After spending 4 hours at the hospital, she came back with medicines and already felt better. In her absence, I had a busy morning of homeschooling, cooking, laundry, etc. By Friday, Joyce’s eye was healed. Alleluia!!

4.) Tuesday was equally crazy even though Joyce was with me all day. Praise God that my freezer is fixed, for good friends who always take the time to help me and teach me the ways of Tenwek, and for a successful first lunch party with visiting staff. God is the Great Provider!

5.) Praise God for safety in travels and shopping. Aaron, myself, a driver and two others took a ‘quick’ trip to Nairobi on Friday. We left at 6:45 a.m. and did not get back home until 9:30p.m. Typically, a trip to Nairobi requires at least one night at a hotel or guest house, but we didn’t want to spend the time or money. While Aaron and Elijah attended a meeting, Ashleigh and I shopped and shopped. It was fun, a little stressful and quite successful! But most of all, it was great to have a day with a new friend.

6.) Praise God for a relatively uneventful weekend. It has been so nice to relax, get some decorating done, and spend time as a family. God always knows what we need and when we need it. He is the perfect Father. Please praise Him with me this glorious Lord’s day.

Psalm 150

1 Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

 

A Contrite Heart

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I woke this morning with a contrite heart. I couldn’t make it through my shower without sobbing before the Lord. “How long, O LORD, how long will you make me wait? How much longer must I live here on this earth full of sin?” No sooner had I composed myself and quoted Scripture of promise to myself than Aaron announced another urgent prayer request. Tears poured forth from my eyes once more. This is the third urgent message we got this week, so this post is a request for prayer on behalf of all the people who expressed needs this week.

While my heart is weary and thoughts of doubt keep entering my mind, I am not shaken. My faith is built on solid ground. I refuse to believe the lies that God is not working here in Africa. No matter how many times Satan may attack me or other missionaries, GOD IS IN CONTROL!!

The song by Steven Curtis Chapman¬†I Will Trust You¬†most adequately expresses the hurt my heart is feeling today in the midst of great faith. (I highly recommend his Beauty will Rise¬†CD. It’s amazing, encouraging, heartfelt and relavent to what we’re going through.)¬†I choose to trust the God of the universe, the God who sees the whole picture, the God who holds each of us in the palm of His hand. He is trustworthy.

Selah Ferguson and Family

Selah is a little girl who was injured during a move. She and her family live in Rwanda where they are missionaries. Despite skull fractures, Selah is recovering. Please read her story and get updates at the Ferguson’s website. Although the last update is positive, please pray for her as she recovers. She may never be the same. Pray for Lance and Tiffany, her parents, as they navigate these difficult days and months ahead.

Murphy Family

The Murphy family just lost their 10-year-old daughter, Christianna Joy. They are missionaries in Zambia. Their other 5 children, ages 1 through 13, were in the house while Rob and Christa (the parents) struggled to save her life with no success. They are scheduled to fly back to the States June 6th for the funeral. Please pray for them. I don’t have a blog or website to share. From the e-mail we received, their faith is strong. In fact, their story is so similar to ours in so many ways. My heart is broken for them. In whatever way you prayed for us, please pray for them.

Aaron Jones and Family

We met Aaron Jones and his wife Sonya this summer during our training for medical missions. They have two little girls. They moved to Kenya to serve at Kapsowar Hospital in the fall. Aaron admitted himself to the hospital last night because he felt like he had irregular heart rhythms. Praise God that this morning his heart rate returned to normal. He will remain at the hospital as a patient today. Please pray that everything remains normal, that he will recover quickly and return to the hospital as a doctor. Please pray for his family back in the States. I’m sure they are feeling helpless. Pray that they will have a peace that only God can give. Pray for this family who is seeking to serve God through their talents. They have a website too.

Psalm 51

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

O LORD, you are God. You are Creator, Redeemer and Friend. Father God, we are a broken people. Delight in us! We confess our doubts, our sins, our misunderstandings. We are unable to comprehend your ways, for they are so much higher than ours. Hear our prayers, Lord. Protect your missionaries. Protect our children. Help us to proclaim your name to the ends of the earth! May nothing  hinder the calling you have placed on our lives. Heal Selah, Lord. Be Comfort to the Murphy family. Go before them as they walk this difficult road. Bless them with your presence, with safe and easy travel, and with blessings unending. Heal, Aaron, Lord. May he never be admitted to the hospital as a patient again! May he be healthy and strong to serve the people you bring to Kapsowar. Use this to make his a better, more compassionate physician. You are good, God. Always good, faithful and trustworthy. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and Redeemer. Amen.