Archive - April, 2009

Week 33: Good-Bye Ring

My ring which I have been wearing on one of my hands everyday since the 8th grade has parted from me. Our last day in Mombasa, I was teaching one of the Foxies to swim in the deep end. He got scared and so I pushed him to the side and as he was frantically grabbing my hand he yanked my ring off which was not found after a few hours of searching. It was unusual because another Foxie a few minutes before said, “You should take off your ring.” I told him it was on very tight. Nope. Next time I’ll listen.

Week 32: Revival Til You Drop: The Double Whammy

You know those ‘Dance ‘Til You Drop’ dances, where couples have to continuously dance and whoever goes the longest wins?  Well, that’s basically what the Revival I just returned from felt like to me.  The four Foxies, three old Foxies, the boss, and I all participated in the Revival from Monday night to Sunday night.  Each day included five to six sessions.  Each session began with half an hour to an hour of Praise and Worship, then we had the preacher (the shortest was 45 minutes and the longest was 3 hours) and then the session would wind down (which took anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour).  We would have a ten minute break usually, but if it was meal time we would break for 45 minutes.  Around day two I started to feel frustrated about going to the next session which made the next four days and 22 sessions even tougher.  Furthermore, I was trying to set a good example for the four Foxies so I tried to be at each session ahead of time and participate as much as possible.  I’m not the Revival kind of guy I’ve determined.

There were some good sermons and some “interesting” sermons.  There were some very questionable moments, but I do not feel that I have the right to write about those here.  Reflecting on the revival, I have never been more proud to be Presbyterian Church (USA).  Furthermore, I have never been more happy that there are other denominations where people who like a different flavor of ice cream are able to get what they need spiritually.

The double whammy was that not only was it a different culture, but also a very different denomination who put their emphasis in very different places than the PC(USA) does.  So, as I listened to Swahili sermon moments I would also encounter some casting out of demons and other things I had only seen on TV previously.

The Revival Group:
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Week 32: Revival FYI

I’ve been in Mombasa all week at a revival which is like nothing I have ever experience before.  I am currently sitting at an internet cafe a quarter mile from the church which I’ve hardly left in the past 5 days.  My days include 6 sermons a day which all last over an hour.  There have been good sermons and interesting sermons.  One of the most entertaining moments for me so far was when one preacher said , “The reason people have pimples is because they’re not saved.”  Hallelujah.  I will write more later, but just wanted to drop a note while in Mombasa.

Weekend 31: Naivasha Youth Retreat

Early Friday morning we traveled to Naivasha, which is a city located at the base of the Great Rift Valley northwest of Nairobi.  As usual, the details of what we were doing in Naivasha unfolded as we did them, which is something I have grown to enjoy.  It turns out we were helping lead a youth retreat for a Pentecostal Church from Eastlands.  In Kenya, you are a youth until you’re 35 or married.

The morning began with us going to Eastlands to pick everyone up.  I have missed traveling around with Foxies and having new experiences out of my routine.  I hadn’t had a good mzungu outing recently so this was my return to the children following me around asking, “How are you?” in high pitched voices.  For some of the children this is the only English phrase they know so when you answer they just giggle and run away, while others respond.  The best part was that the new Foxies got to see what it is like for me to travel around Kenya.  Since we were in a new place, we stuck together which meant they got to see a little bit of my Kenyan life through my eyes which is great.  If we could all walk in each others’ shoes more often there would be much more peace and understanding.

The “How are you?” crew:
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We arrived at the Kenya National Park Hippo camp site just outside of Naivasha and set up seven Colemen tents.  It was a very nice camp site that was surrounded by green barked trees (well the bark was gone so it was green tree).  This was my first time to camp out in Kenya (besides sleeping inside tents inside a church in Maasai Land).  It was just like camping in the States except you’re in Africa and the weather was perfect.  My favorite part of camping is always the ambiance of the night.  For dinner, they cooked goat Nyoma Choma (BBQ) which was the best Nyoma Choma I’ve had in Kenya (that wasn’t from a restaurant).  So, we sat around the fire eating and talking for hours.

Nyoma Choma (BBQ):
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Youth Retreat Group with Foxies:
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I woke up Saturday morning, walked out of my tent, and met Rodgers who said, “Hey, a giraffe just walked right through camp.”  So, I was off on a giraffe siting expedition.  I found her just on the edge of camp, but she walked away when she realized I was checking her out (typical).  Rodgers had walked with me and started talking with the guard of the park who invited us to go see “The Giraffes.”  So, we walked straight into the forest down thin dirt paths about a quarter of a mile where we ran into around 20 giraffe, 60 zebra, and an assortment of other animals with whom I’m not used to camping.  This was definitely one of my most amazing experiences with the wild life of Africa even after eight safari outings.  On safari, we are always in vehicles for our protection (lame).  However, this morning we just walked right between 20 giraffe and 60 zebra.  I really enjoy walking among the animals rather than driving to the animals.  So, if you’re ever in Kenya and are looking for a cheaper animal experience I highly suggest paying the two dollar camping fee and spending the morning hanging with giraffe and zebra outside Naivasha.

Sitting Masai Giraffe:
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Mama and Baby Masai Giraffe (I thought I was taller than the baby, but it turned out the baby was like nine feet tall…giraffes):
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Me and the Dominant Masai Male Giraffe of the Herd (If you can see, he is much darker than all the other giraffe.  He was the only giraffe that didn’t really care at all that we were there.  He just kept on eating.  I think he was just playing it cool):
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The Panorama:
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Lord of the Rings Explanation of the Easter Vigil

A few more words on the Easter Vigil from A Triduum Sourcebook, Gabe Huck, Mary Ann Simcoe, eds., Liturgy Training Publications, 1983.

To those who are not of the household of faith, what we are about to do must look very peculiar.  We are about to stand in the dark, carry candles about, sing lengthy and sublime religious tests, read stories from the Bible.  What does this all mean?  What is going on here in this community?

I think that I first came to understand what this was all about and why I came to think that this was the most important thing in my life when I read The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.  In their wandering and meandering, two of the main characters, called hobbits, meet a talking tree, called an Ent, and they introduce themselves and the conversation proceeds:

“I’m a Brandybuck, Meriadoc Brandybuck, though most people call me just Merry.”

“And I’m a Took, Peregin Took, but I’m generally called Pippin, or even Pip.”

“Hm, but you are hasty folk, I see,” said Treebeard.  “I am honored by your confidence; but you should not be too free all at once.  There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain’t, as you might say.  I’ll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please – nice names.  For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rat.” A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes.  “For one thing it would take a very long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story.  Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say.  It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking along time to say, and to listen to.”

To use Treebeard’s mode of expression, we are not going to be hasty folk tonight, satisfied with glibly saying the name “Christian.”  Tonight, you might say, is “Old Entish” night in the church.  Tonight we are going to tell our name – to ourselves, by way of reminder, to those who will become part of us this night through baptism and confirmation, and to those of the world who will listen, who will take the time to hear what our name is.

And our name is a very long one, one that has been growing since the creation of the world.  Our name is a very long story – of how we are made, of how God chose us from among all peoples, of how God liberated us from bondage, of how God planted us in the promised land, of how, in these last times, God has given a new twist, given our name meaning in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Because we have been here for so long, it takes a long time to tell who we are, to recount the story of our life as a people, and none of us would be here if we did not think that that name was worth telling and listening to.  Now the trick to this kind of name telling is to relax.  You cannot be hasty in this time ahead of us.  Haste will stop up your ears finally, and then you will not hear this lovely language and our beautiful name.

Relax and make yourself comfortable in the darkness and don’t even try to “make sense” of the name.  Just hear it, let it roll over you in waves of meanings.  Tonight we are going to listen to a series of episodes, not write a theological treatise on the resurrection. A practical word about relaxing:  if you need to get up and move about, do so.  If you need a breath of fresh air, go out to get it. We’ll still be telling the story when you rejoin us.  Whatever you need to do to stay comfortable, do it.  All of this will enable you to hear the lovely language in which we can really name ourselves as God himself has named us.

“Christian” is merely an inadequate abbreviation for what we are about to tell. – Brian Helge

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