Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 9 comments

A look at our return from our mission trip to Kenya in 2012. The crying baby I mention just turned 3!

2012

This one time I was sleeping and...was awakened by the chatter of a young child.  The first thought to enter my mind was, "I wonder who brought a baby into the compound?" quickly followed by, "Where am I?"

Initially I thought I was still in the village in Kenya, where we were doing mission work.


But then I realized we'd left the village and spent a night in the city where we'd be attending worship the next day.

Our apartment was on the 4th floor, around the corner.

After worship in Kisii, though, we made the 6 hour drive back to Nairobi where we stayed at a guest house.



Then there was the night we spent while on safari...now that was a nice bed!



This was followed by 30 hours of travel.  I'm sure I must've gotten some sleep on the airplane because I never did see the end of that movie...


With the baby babbling in the background, I forced open my heavy eyelids and saw it was just after midnight.  "Hey, wait a minute," I thought, "that looks just like my alarm clock." I jolted awake as I realized I was home in my own bed!  (Six "beds" in six different locations on consecutive days does make it a bit difficult to identify your whereabouts.)  That meant the baby happily entertaining himself was my grandson.  I was the one looking after the baby!  (Did I mention I'd crossed several time zones as well?)

To say we came home to a lot going on would be an understatement.  My daughter's husband went into the hospital about a week after we left for our mission and had been there two weeks by the time we returned home.  Her son, who just turned one last week, had been sick and shared what he had with most of the people who watched him.  On top of all this, she's 8 months pregnant. 

Hence, my returning home and jumping in with both feet.  Needless to say, I feel I'm behind on everything, but then again, I suppose "behind" is a relative statement, a condition which exists primarily in my own mind.  Yes, I still have a few things  from our trip to put away, and no, my 24-year-old son didn't concern himself with housework while we were gone.  (He actually does a great job picking up after himself, its just that it doesn't go any further than that.)  I haven't been posting as often as I'd like, but I guess that's what happens when real life intervenes.  

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." ~ 1 John 3:18

Right now, my primary calling is to serve my family.  Thankfully, my son-in-law is back home after a three week hospital stay, but he has a long road ahead of him.

My grandson is healthy once again, but only after giving this grandma his cold.  This after four weeks of my being sick followed by three weeks in Kenya and a week of jet-lag.  I'm praising God I remained healthy during our trip - a first! After four trips with health issues, I really needed an uneventful one.

Two weeks from now, there will be more adjustments as another baby boy is added to the family.  Grandma is on call and ready for duty!

Lord, I’m so thankful my children live close to me and that You've given me the flexibility to help out when they need a hand.  Help me to remember that serving them is serving You.  Thank you for this privilege!


Lisa








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Another look back to a previous trip to Kenya...

2012

As our canoe glided through the water and approached the shore, a myriad of children came running towards us from seemingly every direction shouting, "Wzungu! Wzungu!" (wah-zoon-goo - I hate it when I don't know how to pronounce something!) The picture that had been painted for us while we were preparing for this mission trip to Kenya was now manifesting itself before our very eyes. 


We had been told before embarking on this journey that wzungu meant, "white people" and we certainly did hear it a lot on this once-in-a-lifetime (or so I thought) trip.

On our third trip to Kenya (God is just full of surprises, isn't He? As you read this we're just winding down our 6th trip!) it was just my husband and I working with a Kenyan pastor.  One day we were traveling in a vehicle with 5 or 6 other local people in it, and for 2 1/2 hours Bob and I listened to friendly banter in Kiswahili, which I must say is a bit disconcerting when your vocabulary consists of a dozen words, give or take. 

Of course, my ears perked up whenever I heard a word I recognized.  When someone said, "mzungu" (mah-zoon-goo - the singular form of wzungu) and then everyone started laughing, to say I felt uncomfortable would have been a gross understatement.

I asked the pastor what was so funny about us, and he explained that they weren't talking about us at all.  While a white person is referred to as a mzungu, the word actually refers to someone obsessed with time. So all white people are considered wzungu, but not all wzungu are white.


I'd say they hit the nail on the head with that one!  Who is more obsessed with time then we are?  We even try to change it by moving our clocks backwards and forwards!

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:8-9

My mind can't even fathom living outside the constraints of time, yet time is of no consequence to God.   

How often do you get impatient with God because He isn't moving fast enough?

How often do you put your own agenda ahead of God's?

How often do you pass up on a God-ordained opportunity because you're too obsessed with your self-imposed schedule? 

For me the answer to all of the above is, "Far too often," but thankfully I get it right on occasion.  Should I really consider myself to be behind if I set aside my agenda so that I can follow God's?

Lord, how I long to be like you, to be unfettered by this thing we call time.  I long to sit at your feet and walk in your path, not feeling guilty about what I "should" be doing.  Give me eyes to see as you see; make your priorities my priorities and allow me to accomplish all that YOU would have me do.

Lisa
On that third trip to Kenya, the pastor shared his vision for a school for those children who cannot afford to attend public school.  Much to our surprise, my husband and I are now heading up OpeN Christian Center, a non-profit ministry that feeds and educates impoverished children in rural Kenya.  You can learn more about it here.









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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 6 comments

We'd greatly appreciate your prayers as we minister in Kenya. Here's a look back at our last trip. Hopefully this one is quieter!

2012

CLUNK...CRASH...CLUNK...CRASH...

The stillness of the Kenyan night was shattered by the incessant clatter as the metal ball and rocks slammed against one another inside the steel drum.

CLUNK...CRASH...CLUNK...CRASH...




You might think, as I first did, that a gold mine would be a real boon to this poverty-stricken community but, alas, that is not the case.  Unfortunately, it's had just the opposite effect.

Why?

Because of evil, selfishness and greed, among other things.

When gold was first found in the village, people were just digging with their hands.  (The process has only incrementally progressed from there; now they're digging with small rods and picks.)



Witch doctors, still quite prevalent in the area, were consulted as to why some  were finding gold while the others were not.  Their explanation?  Gold is evil and will run away from the pursuer unless the proper action is taken.  That action? Paying the witch doctor to cast a spell to make the gold hold still.

Of course - if one looks long enough and in the right area - sooner or later there will be success, and there was.  But as I said, it has been a detriment to the community, not a benefit.

Why?

Because the belief is that gold is evil; therefore they're convinced anything it's used for will be cursed.

  • If used to build a house, that house will collapse.
  • If used to pay for a wedding, the marriage will fail.
  • If used to educate a child, that student will be expelled.

 So, what is the money used for?

Alcohol, sex, drugs, and the like.  I guess they figure evil money can only be spent on things that are evil. 

It gets worse. 

The rocks are placed into the drum with that metal ball until they are crushed into a fine powder so that the gold may be more easily extracted.


This powder is then mixed with water and panned for gold.


The problem?  A dab of mercury is added to the mix. 


Mercury is highly toxic, wreaking havoc on the environment and the nervous systems of individuals.


No precautions are taken, and my guess is most of the workers have no idea of the risks.

All for this:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." ~ 1 Timothy 6:10

Note that God does not say that money, in and of itself, is evil.  Money is but a resource.  It is the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Like any other resource, money can be used to further God's kingdom or distance us from it.

How about you?

Most of life is not as black and white as this situation is.  How are you using the resources God has entrusted to you?

Lord, I thank you for the many ways you've blessed us.  I ask that you would reveal to each one of us how You feel we're managing that which has been entrusted to us.  May we use everything we're given for Your glory!


Lisa

 








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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments




While we're on our SIXTH mission trip to Kenya, here are some memories of our last trip.

2012


I was recently sending information to someone who's interested in sponsoring a student at  OpeN Chrisitan Center, our school in Kenya, and in addition I gave an explanation as to the meaning of the child's name.  I don't know about anyone else, but I find the meanings behind these names to be very interesting.


In Kenya - or at least in the areas of Kenya I've been in - I noticed many people go by their first and second names while their last name is hardly mentioned.  In fact, in the school register there are no last names listed!  While there are a wide variety of first names, the second names seemed to have come from a smaller pool. 


As I was going through the register with the head of the school, I asked him for the meanings of the second names and here is his reply:

Abuya - born in a weedy place (perhaps while the mother was working.)
Achieng - born in the daytime.   
Adero - born in (or next to) the grainery.
Adhiambo - born in the evening.
Adoyo - born during the weeding season.
Agola - born behind the house.
Aketch - born during the famine (or time of serious hunger).
Akeyo - born during the harvest season.
Akinyi - born in the morning.
Akoth - born during the rainy season.
Alouch - born during the cold season.
Amondi - born early in the morning.
Anyango - born mid-morning (around 10:00 a.m.).
Aoko - born outside.
Atieno - born at night.
Auma - born facing down.
Awino - born during the season when the maize is about to produce.
Awuor - born at midnight
Ayoo - born along the way (or along the road.)

These are all female names since they begin with the letter "A".  The names for males are similar, but they all begin with the letter "O".  Just looking at these names makes me thankful my children would be Akeyo and Omondi and not Abuya or Ayoo!


In the Bible names mean something, and it is the one in authority who does the naming.  We first see this in Genesis 2:19-20 where God gives Adam authority over all living creatures and then Adam gives names to all the animals.  We also see the name of a person in the Bible changed to reflect a new characteristic now true in his or her life, as when Abram and Sarai became Abraham and Sarah. (Genesis 17:5,15)

What does your name mean?

I have friends who chose names for their daughters based on their meanings, but I think they're in the minority.  I know my name was chosen because it was popular at the time, my parents liked the sound of it with my last name, and because of its length. (My mom had a long name, so she gave us all short names.  I, in turn, felt my name was too short and so gave my children longer names!)  I'm pretty sure meaning wasn't a factor when it came to choosing a name for me, but a little research showed my name means, "devoted to God."  Perhaps a happy coincidence, but I like it!

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. ~ Revelation 2:17

Not only does Jesus know each of us by name, He knows us each by a name known only to Him and to us. Looking at the pattern of naming found in Scripture, I believe that name will mean something.  Perhaps it will be a reflection of the life we've lived for Him here on earth.  What do you hope your name will be? 

Faithful?
Perseverant? 
Loving?
Trustworthy?
Hard working?

Father, I thank you that this life is not all there is, but that as your followers we have so much to look forward to for all eternity.  I pray that I will live this life in preparation for the next, and that I will live up to my earthly name and be considered "devoted to God."

Lisa



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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 11 comments

Friends, I had grand plans of having articles all written and lined up to post while we're ministering in Kenya, but unfortunately that didn't happen. Nor did updating early (and little-read) posts. So, in a last-ditch attempt at publishing something, I'll be re-running posts from our previous trips. We'd greatly appreicate your prayers as we're on the mission field!

From 2012:


As Americans, we’re all about comfort, aren’t we?  The problem is, God didn’t call us to be comfortable, He called us to be obedient.  

"But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." ~ Exodus 9:16

How often have you heard (or used) these excuses?

“I could never speak (to a stranger, to a group, in public, etc.); I just wouldn’t be comfortable.
 

“I could never go without (electricity, running water, familiar food, sleep, fill in the blank...)

“I could never travel to a place with (insects, bats, creepy-crawlies...)


How often do you begin a sentence with "I could never..."?


I just returned a few days ago from three weeks on the mission field in Kenya, where we encountered all of the above, and then some!

  • Difficult travel (rough or impassable roads, long flights.)

  • Mornings begun too early due to roosters, barking dogs or Muslim call to prayer.

  • Living out of suitcases, rarely able to find anything.
  • Toilets without seats (on a good day).

  • Darkness, dirt and dust.
  • Frequently surrounded by languages we didn’t understand.
  • Speaking in front of groups with little notice, if any (and not just those of us who are speakers!)
  • "Short walks” that last for hours (and once included walking up a mountain!)
  • Lack of routine and pretty much everything familiar.


But we also experienced:

  • A pastor cleaning the mud off our shoes every morning.

  • Water carried in and heated for us to bathe in.

  • Being served the very best they had to offer.

  • The sound of children singing.
  • Watching children who had never seen a playground before experience  one!
  • People receiving medical treatment for the first time in their lives.
  • Hope restored.
  • Souls saved.
God may not be calling you to go halfway around the world, but He is calling you.  The question is, what is your response?
Lisa
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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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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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