Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments

While we're ministering in Kenya, I thought you'd like to get a taste of Kenya our last trip.

2012

My husband and I recently returned from our fifth mission trip to Kenya.  After twenty four hours of travel and a day in Nairobi we made the 6 hour drive to the city of Kisii (pronounced key-see), where we spent the night.  The next day was Sunday so we planned on attending worship at Mustard Christian Center (MCC) where our host is pastor.

It wasn't until Sunday morning that we learned our team of six would be divided up and attending services in different locations, traveling with some musicians who would be in concert at MCC later that afternoon.  Teammates Chris and Kim went to MCC as planned while Bob and Doug went to a service at a girls school with the musician named Anderson.  This left Ali and I to go to Kisii University and IVC Church. 

There's nothing like heading off into the unknown with God as your safety net!  We had no idea what would be expected of us, and I know Ali was very relieved that our role was limited to briefly introducing ourselves and participating in worship. 

Ali and I with musicians Daniel Tonino and Stella Nyanduko at Kisii University.

Daniel is a Masai, a people group known for (among other things) their beadwork (his mother made his bracelet) and their ability to jump. I wish I was able to capture a better picture of him jumping; he was clearing the pulpit!



We started out at 9:00 a.m. and made our way back to MCC at noon where we were still able to catch the last two hours of worship.  I had my first inkling that Anderson (in red) was not just your average musician when I saw a stream of people filing up to photograph him as he played.



After the service, our team and all the musicians went to dinner at the home of Ezekiel and Irene, where more photography ensued. 



If you've ever hosted a dinner party, you know that it is a lot of work.  In Kenya it's even more so.  Rice and beans, staples found at most meals, take a long time to cook...





... and most homes cook over stoves like these I photographed at our lodging in Kisii.  Everything is cooked in a pot over a small burner and I've never seen a kitchen with more than two, which means cooking for anyone - let alone a large group - is quite an undertaking.




Ugali (on the left) and green vegetable (on the right) are also found at just about every meal, including this one we were fed while building a house in the village.  I have often heard it said that if there's no ugali, there's no food.  Ugali is made of ground maize and water and tastes similar to field corn.


Insulated serving dishes such as the ones shown above are necessary to keep the food warm since cooking is such a long process.



Many of the foods, such as boiled bananas or potatoes, have to be peeled and sliced before they can be cooked, another time-consuming task. Surprisingly these two food taste remarkably similar (the bananas used are green).  When served mashed, the only way I could tell the two apart was by the appearance of the small banana seeds.




Running water was not always readily available, even in the city, so it was not unusual for our hosts to bring around a pitcher of warm water and a bowl to catch it in.


"Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." 
~ Hebrews 13:1-2

Our hosts weren't entertaining angels, but they were seeing stars. They thought they were just entertaining our group from the U.S. and a some Kenyan musicians but unbeknownst to them, among their guests was one of their favorite celebrities. Ezekiel and Irene mentioned on more than one occasion that they couldn't believe the people they watched on TV were now in their living room. We learned the person we knew as Anderson is better known as Man Ingwe, a producer and music icon in Kenya. To translate it into American terms, it would be as if someone like Stephen Curtis Chapman or Mandisa showed up with their entourage in your living room.

Lord, I thank you for the incredible hospitality shown to us while we served in Kenya.  Everyone went above and beyond.  Thank you for the joy of witnessing the surprise blessing this family received through their service to You.


Lisa
Here's one of Anderson's videos.  The language is very much like that we encounter in Kenya - a lot of Kiswahili with a little English here and there.  The song, entitled "Wrong Number" is basically about a man who calls a phone number he believes belongs to God and through the conversation comes to know Jesus. 












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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 1 comments

We face a lot of oppositions when we're in Kenya, as evidenced by this post. We're currently in Kenya on our 6th mission there.

2012

There once was a sculptor who was carving a piece of stone as a young child stared, mesmerized.  Suddenly the child's eyes lit up with recognition and with all seriousness asked, "How did you know there was a rhino in that stone?"


We are fascinated with transformation, whether it be a rock carved into a figure, a home make-over or trash turned to treasure, but especially captivating is a transformation of the human variety.  There are the visual transformations like those you see on "What Not to Wear" or "The Biggest Looser," but even more enthralling is the transformation of a life.  We may see it in others or even in ourselves, that change that makes you want to ask God, the sculptor of our lives, "How did you know that was in me?"

I remember years ago when some friends from church were in training to become full-time missionaries.  They sent us photos from their "camp" where they were living without the benefit of electricity or running water.  I remember thinking, "There's no way I could ever do that, nor would I want to.  I'm much too fond of both."

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — 1 Corinthians 2:9

Evidently God saw something in me that I did not, because even with a myriad of health issues He chose to send my husband and I to Kenya - much of the time without the benefit of electricity or running water - not once but FIVE times.  This was never even a blip on my radar, but my husband confessed after trip #3 that he'd wanted to be a missionary since he was a child.  (Whatever happened to full disclosure?  He also told me he wanted to be the first farmer on the moon.  At least it looks like I'm safe there.) 

My friend Mary Beth and I were at Cindy Bultema's video premier last week when I learned she didn't know about my upcoming trip to Kenya next week so I thought I'd better share the news with anyone else whom I've neglected to tell. 

This will be trip #5 for the person my first team leader declared would be least likely to return.  (Come to find out, my husband and I have been the only ones to return!)  The team leader wasn't being critical when he said this.  It was a very difficult trip for me physically, which is a story in and of itself.

In fact, all of the trips have been difficult for me.  My back has gone out as well as my hip; malaria, food poisoning on the plane (both on the same trip); and most recently a lung infection that's still giving me grief two years later.  But the problems aren't just confined to the trip.  In every instance there have been problems beforehand as well, and this trip is no exception.

I've been to the doctor three times in the past three weeks, been on two rounds of antibiotics and had a doozy of an ear infection.  My ears are still plugged, so tomorrow I go to see an ENT doctor.  A couple of my team mates have some health issues going on as well.  Would you please pray for us?

Father, I thank you for the privilege of serving you halfway around the world.  I ask that you would bless the entire team with good health so we can serve you to the best of our abilities.  Bind the enemy in the name of Jesus Christ and allow us to accomplish great things for your kingdom!


Lisa




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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 3 comments


It may sound funny, but blogging has helped improve my eating habits! When I link up my blog posts, I visit others who have also linked up, allowing me to find great healthy recipes like this one for Summer Veggie Slices from W.O.W. (Warm Over Wednesday). Not only does it taste great, it also looks great, making it an ideal side dish on those nights when you have guests for dinner. Best of all, it's easy!


 Ingredients
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic or 1 teaspoon minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 medium zucchini squash
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 slices muenster or provolone cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
The only drawback I found with this recipe is that it took forever for the potatoes to get tender. Total baking time was suggested to be 45-50 minutes. Mine was in for 1 1/2 hours and the potatoes still weren't as tender as I liked, although the original baking time was fine for the other veggies. I spoke with a few other people who had tried this dish and they had the same problem.

My (untried) solution is to put the potatoes in the oven first, while you're preparing the other veggies, to give them a head start.

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Spray an 8x8 baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray

Thinly slice the potato. Layer it flat in the baking pan and place in the warming oven.

Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic if you're using cloves. Spray a skillet with olive oil and saute the garlic and onions about 5 minutes, or until softened.

Thinly slice the remaining vegetables. Remove pan with potatoes from the oven and temporarily place the potatoes on a cutting board or in a bowl.

Once again spray the pan with olive oil, then spread the tender garlic and onion across the bottom of the pan. Place the vegetable slices, including the potatoes, in the pan vertically in an alternating pattern. (Since my tomato slices were so much larger than the others, I used 1/2 or 1/4 slice instead.)


(I thought it would be a good idea to place my extra veggies around the edge of the pan. It wasn't. The veggies at the end of the stacks were fine, but those I tucked along the other two sides came out inedible and seemingly permanently adhered to the glass.) 

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme.


Cover the dish with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the foil and lay the cheese slices over the veggies. The original recipe called for shredded cheese, but I prefer the slices because I think they give more even coverage.

Return to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.


Do you think giving the potatoes a head start will help, or do you have another suggestion?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Lisa

I've been known to link up with: Monday's Reflections, Inspire Me MondayLiving Proverbs 31, The Beauty in His Grip, Playdates With God, Soli Deo GloriaUnite, Titus 2sdaysTell Me a StoryTeach Me Tuesdays, Tutorials and Tips, Knick of Time, A Little R&R Wednesdays, Hope in Every Season, Doing You Well Wednesday, Thriving Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Think Tank Thursdays, Thrive at Home, Inspire Me PleaseHome Sweet Home Funky Junk Interiors, Friendship Friday, Feathered Nest Friday, Frugal Friday, Thrifty Things Friday,  #Fellowship Fridays, Heart-Filled Fridays,  Best Blog Post Ever, Make My Saturday Sweet, What Have You Redone, DIY Sunday Showcase , Think Pink Sundays,

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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 7 comments

Tips for Tuesday

With all the busyness I have organizing a mission trip to Kenya; a wise friend suggested I make some time for myself. (Okay, so I was freaking out a bit under all the pressure.) Her sage advice, combined with an interview with author Randy Singer on the radio program Chris Fabry Live and an unclaimed gift card abandoned by my son all converged to bring me to purchase "The Advocate."

I have to tell you, "The Advocate" was the perfect book for me; I absolutely loved it! It's a work of historical fiction based on fact that takes place during the Roman Empire. It was also great timing, because when I started reading "The Advocate" I had just finished reading the book of Acts in my Bible reading plan. 

I don't think you have to be a Christian or even familiar with the Bible to enjoy this book; it would be a great read for any history buff. While it does accurately recount Scripture as far as it's included, the majority of the book details life in the Roman Empire, its provinces and those who rule them.

In the Bible, Luke is the author of the books of Luke and Acts, both of which were initially written as letters addressed to a man named Theopolis. The salutation used in the book of Luke, "most excellent Theopolis," indicates Luke is addressing someone of high rank in the Hellenistic culture of that day.

In case you're not familiar with the book of Acts, it ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome, waiting for his trial under Nero. 

"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!" ~ Acts 28:30-31. 

Wouldn't you agree that's a strange way to end a book? Why didn't they at least include the outcome of the trial?

"The Advocate" is written under the premise that Theopolis is Paul's attorney in Rome, and that the books of Luke and Acts were addressed to him upon his request for the background necessary to defend Paul at his trial.

The book begins with Theopolis in class with his contemporary Caligula; already self-absorbed and showing signs of the evil Emperor he would one day become. After an encounter with Caligula, Theopolis goes off to Greece to study to become a lawyer, or as they would say, an advocate. His first assignment upon returning? Serving three years as the assessore, that is, the chief legal advisor for a prefect "in a province where a strong-willed people hated him (the prefect) with barely restrained passion." That province was Judea and that prefect was Pontius Pilate.

Because of his position, Theopolis became an eye-witness to some of the events that took place during Jesus' final trip to Jerusalem; many years later he would even base a defense strategy on a method used by Jesus Himself. After His arrest, Theopolis was the one who suggested Pilate offer to release Barabbas, certain that Jesus would be the one chosen to be freed. The knowledge that his advice cost an innocent man his life would haunt Theopolis the remainder of his days.

Singer seamlessly weaves fact with fiction in this account, giving us insight into the Roman culture and answering the questions where Scripture is silent, such as:

What did Jesus write in the sand when the woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Him?

Why was Pilate's wife so adamant that Jesus be released?

What made Pilate fear the Jew's threats to complain to Caesar?

The book reveals there was a lifetime between the trials of Jesus and Paul. While serving Pilate was Theopolis' first assignment, defending Paul was his last. In between are the details of a very full life lived in the Roman Empire, complete with emperors, gladiators and vestal virgins. 

As a student of the Bible, I appreciate "The Advocate" because it reintegrates the history of Rome and the history of the Bible, placing the stories of Scripture into the context of world history. The events of the Bible make more sense now that I have a better understanding of the culture enveloping them. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to a copy of this book!

Lisa

As always, all opinions are strictly my own and I did not receive anything in exchange for this endorsement.



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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments

The most challenging home to visit on our third trip to Kenya was a small apartment within a large complex. Our destination was at least a quarter mile from the main road and in between it and us lay a veritable obstacle course. Which we walked. At night. Just after a heavy rain. (Kenya is located right on the equator and the sun sets about 6:30 each night. There are no streetlights, so when it's dark, it's DARK!)

After walking single file across a swaying bridge we made our way toward a steep slope. As the pouring rain met with the clay earth it had formed a slick sludge that now clung to my shoes. Despite my efforts to side step gingerly down the embankment, my slippery tennis shoes caused me to pick up speed at an alarming rate.

Suddenly I found myself in the dark, in the mud, barreling downhill at breakneck speed. The thought, "This is not going to end well," flashed through my mind. Fortunately for me our Kenyan host for the evening, familiar with the jaunt between the road and his home, saw my dilemma and took action. Actually, he didn't take action. Rather, he planted himself directly in my path, spread out his arms and prepared for impact. 

While I felt foolish having a high-speed collision with a relative stranger it definitely beat the alternative, which was being planted in the mud face-first. There were no other options.

Alas, just another day in Kenya. 

Recently, West Michigan was rocked by the arrest of a popular Christian radio DJ on charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and his alleged confession of assaulting an 11-year-old boy. Things like this don't happen in a vacuum, as later evidenced by the shocking discovery of very disturbing items in his storage unit.

The list of those wounded by this event is numerous; the victim and his family, the DJ's step-son and bride of 7 weeks, their family members, his co-workers, the listeners. The list goes on and on.

The question, "How does something like this happen?" reverberates throughout our community.

I believe the answer is, "One step at a time."

"Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is drawn away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death." ~ James 1:14-15


Photo courtesy of rrenomeron and flickr

There is a reason why sin is often referred to as a "slippery slope."  Just as I had no intention of barreling down that hill, no one sets out to commit full-grown sin. Rather we justify taking one small step, believing the lies coming from the pit of hell that say "it doesn't really matter," and "it won't hurt anyone." 

Satan is the master of deception, convincing us it's possible to just take one little step and remain in control. The truth is, each step sends us further out of control and makes every subsequent step that much easier to take.

Just ask David.

It really DOES matter

I'm trying to get ahead in my Bible reading plan since we'll be leaving for Kenya soon, which led me to read about David this morning. If we look closely at the account in 2 Samuel 11 we can see the small steps that led David to big sin.

Step 1: In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war...David remained in Jerusalem. (:1) David's first misstep seems innocent enough - failing to do the work God called him to - but this was the first step towards his downfall.

Step 2: Failing to work led to idleness, putting David directly in sin's path. David...walked around on the roof [and] saw a woman bathing. (:2)

Step 3: Rather than turning his head, David stared long enough to see she was very beautiful. (:3)

Step 4: Instead of leaving it at that, David sent someone to find out about her.

Step 5: After being informed that this was Bathsheba, daughter of one of his mighty fighting men and wife of another, David sent messengers to get her...and he slept with her. (:4)

And that may be the last David thought if it, at least it was until he received word from Bathsheba saying "I am pregnant" (:5) with what was undeniably David's child. Then he went into panic mode, desperately trying to cover up his sin.

Step 5: David sent word to the commander of his army, ordering that he "send Uriah the Hittite [Bathsheba's husband]." (:6) 

Step 6: Following some idle chit-chat about how the war was going (:7) David then sent Uriah home to take it easy (:8). This included, presumably, sleeping with his wife. But Uriah was a man of honor, saying when he was questioned the next day, "How could I go to my house...and lie with my wife" while my fellow soldiers are camped in the open fields? (:11)

Step 7: Rather than leaving it there, David invites Uriah to "stay here one more day" (:12), giving him time to come up with another plan.

Step 8: This time, David attempts to lower Uriah's inhibitions by "making him drunk" (:13) but still, Uriah refused to go home to his wife.

Step 9: Ultimately David resorted to sending Uriah back to the battle front, carrying his own death warrant! "In the morning, David wrote a letter to Joab [his commanding officer] and sent it with Uriah. (:14) In it he wrote "Put Uriah in the front line where the fighting is the fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die." (:15)

David would have never stood on his roof and plotted the death of one of his finest warriors; yet in just nine steps, there he was! 

How many of those steps seem innocent to you? 

How many of those steps (or the equivalent) have you actually taken?  


All it takes is one step in the wrong direction - entertaining a thought, telling one little lie, picking up a magazine, a click on the internet, a glance at the television - and before you know it, you find yourself tangled in something far worse than you could have ever imagined. 

David may have thought he had gotten away with it, successfully covering his sinful tracks, but nothing misses God's attention. Nearly a year later, after the birth of his son, God sends Nathan to confront David of his sin. To his credit, he doesn't deny it but confesses, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin." (2 Samuel 12:13)

Did you catch that? Immediately after David confesses his sin, "Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin." But even though God had forgiven him, David still had to live with the consequences of his actions.

It hurts EVERYONE

- Nathan prophesied, "the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite." (2 Samuel 12:10)

- Then "the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David" (2 Samuel 12:15)

- David's son Amnon raped his half-sister Tamar. "When David heard all this, he was furious," (2 Samuel 13:21) yet he did not confront Amnon. Could this be because he was afraid Amnon would bring up Bathsheba?

- Because David didn't act, Tamar's brother Absalom took matters into his own hands and had Amnon killed, (2 Samuel 13:28) not unlike the way David ordered Uriah's death.

- David refused to speak to Absalom and after years of silence Absalom attempted to overthrow David as king, assisted by David's own counselor, Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Samuel 15:12). In the list of David's mighty men found in 2 Samuel 34, Ahithophel is listed as Eliam's father (:34). In 2 Samuel 11:3 we're told Bathsheba's father is Eliam. If these two Eliam's are the same person, it would explain why one of David's trusted advisors would assist his son in a coup.


And on and on it goes. David lived with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life, forever connected to his sin:

"For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.(1 Kings 15:5)

David's sin followed him all the way into the New Testament where it's mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. "David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife." (Matthew 1:6)

But then, something interesting happens. Although the name "David" is mentioned 59 times in the New Testament, it is never again connected with his sin against Uriah. 

Why?

Because now it's connected to Jesus.

You see, when Jesus died on the cross He took on the sins of the world.

David's sins.

Your sins.

My sins. 

That means that once we confess our sins, God no longer associates them with us. "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12 


So where do you find yourself today?

Have you taken a step or two in the wrong direction? 

     - Confess to God and ask Him to open your eyes to the magnitude of your sin.

     - Praise Him for removing that sin from your life and make a U-turn back to Him.

Do you feel like you're barreling out of control towards disaster?

      - Reach out to God. Ask Him for forgiveness and invite Him to do whatever is 
        necessary to get you off that path. 

      - Find someone you can trust to plant themselves between you and calamity.

Are you still hung up on a past sin that God no longer associates with you?

     - Lay your sin at the feet of Jesus; 

     - Let it go; 

     - Don't pick it back up!

    - Remember that once Jesus has taken your sin upon Himself, God no longer 
       attaches it to you. 

Father, we praise you for the gift of forgiveness you have given us through your Son Jesus. Forgive us for condemning the sins of others while ignoring our own.  Free us from the burden of sin already confessed and forgiven so that we may live in the freedom you so graciously provide.


 Lisa


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