10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

Come join in the discussion of faith at the Koinonia Page where scripture and life intersect in conversation and exploration. Visit on Facebook, Twitter, and Dave's Web Page too! I'd welcome your company at Palmyra First United Methodist Church, where I hang out, too, come and see!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Africa Videos from A Colleague on the Trip

Here are some videos from the recent teaching trip to Meru, Kenya. 

  1. Graduation a
  2. Graduation b some good music
  3. Graduation teaching team singing
  4. Graduation preparing to give certificates
  5. Graduation mingling
  6. Graduation dancing
  7. Graduation first certificate given
What looks familiar to you?  What's different?  What is God inviting you to do/be/change in your life/ministry?

Friday, February 21, 2014

New Perspectives

     New places, experiences, friends and thoughts, give me new perspective.  I like that.  Being up close and personal with a giraffe or an elephant, with only a car door as barrier, makes me ponder the wonder of creation and my own mortality.
     I made the journey to Kenya to help, serve and teach, full well knowing that I would learn, grow and receive.  I've come to understand that new experiences are critical to my spiritual health, my ability to grow in compassion and my effectiveness as a citizen.   Why?  In each thought stretched, idea shared, personality encountered I'm reminded of the height and breadth of this world.  I'm tutored in justice, and mentored in communal hospitality.  I'm coached in skills to embrace the wonderful variety of people and paths in God's cosmos.  And, I'm invited to be uniquely me, while welcoming the uniqueness of others.  I am taught to love more fully, laugh at myself more easily and trust God more completely.
     Here are some familiar things I encountered from new angles.   How about the ubiquitous traffic jam... with livestock instead of cars.   Then there is the whole world of construction.  I've been on mission trips and renovated homes here in the states.  I've watched churches, stores and office buildings be built.  And, still, the hand poured concrete, and labor intensive forms built from tree-stick scaffolding, made me think again.
     I watched the news as the ICC held a trial for the Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki and listened to the perspectives of pastors and business folks from the country, all passionate, and many understandings.  Familiar differences emerged in a situation that appeared extreme to me...and so I listened, learned, wondered, talked... emerging a different person.  I'm not different by leaps or bounds, but by nuanced perspective and a broadened menu of experience on which to draw as I interpret the world around me.
      I am so blessed to receive the privilege of serving and traveling.  I am grateful for those around me who supported and encouraged this trip.  Thank you!   I know, in the adventure, I brought the gifts I planned to deliver:  teaching, encouragement, resources, neckties, friendship and connections of Christ.  I am awed by the gifts I receive:  friendship, teaching, encouragement, connections in Christ, and broader understanding of a world that doesn't look and function like my beloved home territory.  New perspective usually requires me to journey beyond the familiar and the comfortable.  When I do I find hope, promise and joy.  That's just how I'm designed and frequently how God works.

Watch for more pictures with commentary here.  Check out my Facebook for a whole collection of photos.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Familiar, Yet Different. An Invitation to Growth.

Splendid Starlings
 On safari these beautiful birds perched beside our van.  I asked our guide, "What kind of bird are they?"  Our guide-driver replied, "They're Splendid Starlings!"

Outhouse at Athwana teaching site
Splendid Startling is an oxymoron isn't it?  It certainly provoked me to thinking, "What are the new and surprising gifts and experiences in life that I dismiss because of experiences both previous and perhaps inaccurate?"

Kenya is filled with familiar yet different experiences.  Need a toilet?  No problem, it's there... familiar, yet different with it's concrete hole requiring personal supplies and accuracy!

Three Steers Hotel Addition in
Meru Kenya
Construction abounds in Nairobi, Meru, and in the country-side.  Need a new hotel?  No problem, local artisans can do that... and although available, it's familiar, yet different, with it's tree-branch scaffolding, and hand poured concrete filling build-as-you-go molds.

Left long narrow sweet potatoes, right
Arrowroot -- a little like Hawaiian Poi
Hungry? Hakuna Matata (No Worries)!  Chow down at the breakfast bar, it's familiar, yet different, with it's purple Arrowroot and unfamiliar sweet potato starches in the line-up between hard boiled eggs and bread.

Every traveler and student knows this experience of familiar yet different.   It makes us uncomfortably curious, me included.  It draws us in and makes us glad for home. (There's nothing like my own family and bed!)  It prompts us to press on into new territory, while leaving a trail that we can retrace back to the familiar and same.

The Splendid Starling became, for me, an icon of Familiar, Yet Different.  With it's bright colors standing in stark contrast to it's demanding and dull Pennsylvania cousin, the starling.  The juxtaposition invites me to journey and to learn.  I'm challenged to step out into the places where I notice first difference, and am consequently surprised by the familiar links to the trusted, comfortable places of my life.

I'll be writing and posting more about the sights and sounds from Kenya that goad me to greater growth and learning as I journey, a student of the Master teacher.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Life Learning in Kenya

This blackboard is an image representing my learning about life and the world here in Kenya.  Life, for me, is enriched engaging the Kenyan pastors and people.  Learning comes to life when life comes to learning.

My students amaze me with their eager spirits and persistent efforts to learn all that they can about teaching and about God. I'm teaching in a developing nation, to 22 men and woman whose lives are hard by any measurement.  Their tools are rudimentary, when they are available.  And, their call to serve God is passionate. This bouquet of hope-at-work draws me in and encourages my own spirit.

The blackboard on the left is old, worn and ready for class everyday.  It sits at the front of a shed-like wooden church in Murthura, Kenya. The chalk, although limited in supply, is freely given.  The teaching finds enhancement with student focus and participant willingness to jump into drama, experiential learning, academic information and practical application.  The blackboard leaps to life with the enthusiastic learning of the lives gathered.

Today my class served me black tea, instead of Kenyan tea (Kenyan tea starts as black tea a then mixed about half and half with boiled milk, then generously sweetened with unprocessed sugar), all because one person noticed that I preferred that yesterday at a meal.   What loving hospitality!

I can't help but wonder if I would be so dedicated in my calling if my context had half as many impediments and challenges as those attending my class.  I am reminded of how privileged I am to serve with a full complement of tools and support. My Kenyan experiences are inviting me to consider ways to more fully employ the gifts at my disposal and challenge others to do the same.

All these thoughts from a simple blackboard, a basic class, and the family of God.  I am blessed!  In all of this what gifts might I be treating as entitlements, instead of wealth?  I wonder.  How would you answer the same question for yourself?

For more about my trip, pictures and comments, check my Facebook page.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

God is funny sometimes... and always good... Check engine light on my car meant... I need a new engine! Yikes... but yeah, it's under warranty.... but yikes... I need wheels to get around... yeah, I get a loaner.... yikes, they are out of loaners.... yeah, they found one... yikes, it's a crew cab, 4 wheel drive, gas guzzling monster that doesn't fit in parking spaces... but yeah, it's what I'm driving when my Mom dies and I have to haul everything out of her room.. God is funny sometimes... and always good... provision in funny clothes. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. Always look for what's good and God and you'll see Love at work! Always!