We Ready

A question we have gotten often since leaving Kenya has been, “where are you going next?” Well the answer to that question may finally be becoming clear. However, this isn’t the blog post where you get to hear about it. Hopefully that can all be revealed soon. This is the blog post where I catch you up a little bit on our escapades. Bronwyn and I moved out of our house in Nairobi and to camp outside Nairobi in May. We put most everything we needed in suitcases and what we didn’t need in tubs. In that time, we have slept in over a dozen beds in four states and two countries and been hosted by nine different people and stayed in a cabin, a tent, and three hotels. We have driven five vehicles and been hosted to I don’t remember how many meals. Neither one of us are very high maintenance and can be satisfied with very little, however the last few weeks a recurring theme between the two of us has been, “we are ready”. First, we are ready for God to reveal what is next for us. We said at the very beginning of this we were ready to walk by faith and not by sight and trying to live out 2 Corinthians 5:7. But we are also ready for some other things, and saying these things out loud make us seem a little worldly and I guess because of it we are. I think we are both ready to come home, that is come to our home. We have both caught ourselves referring to wherever we happen to be staying as “home”. The second thing, and this gets a little specific, we are so ready to take our clothes and hang them in our closet instead of putting them back in a suitcase. We are ready to put our food in our fridge, drink from our glasses that we wash in our sink and sleep in our bed. I feel like we are better equipped for this kind of nomadic lifestyle than most but I think we are both really ready.

Now don’t hear me wrong, we have been unbelievably grateful for all the hospitality we have received from so many amazing people and Bronwyn’s parents for being our hub and where what little stuff we own is housed. One thing we definitely learned in Kenya was how to host well and how to show hospitality. Because of that, I hope we have learned how to also be good guests. We have certainly had a crash course in it. But we are ready, we are so ready. We love to travel but if we don’t have to put anything in a suitcase again for some time that would be great. However, as ready as we may be the time hasn’t arrived just yet. We have at least one and possibly two more trips ahead of us. God knows what He is doing, and I know He is teaching us something in this, if nothing else it’s patience. You can’t pray God’s timing and then expect you own. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are ready. We would seriously appreciate your prayers as it looks like we are getting to the end of our journey and about to start our new ministry, but we can’t be completely sure yet. God will speak soon; He will make His perfect will known and once that happens, I promise we will announce it. You’ll probably hear us as we sigh and slink into “our” chairs for the first time in over half a year.

 

 

 

On one last note, Bronwyn and I have been unbelievably blessed  by generosity of old friends and new. Most of our trips cost us very little. Honestly, it’s been amazing to see how God has not only provided but blessed. Thanks for reading and look for a big announcement soon.

What’s Next

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So, we kind of have a pact here at camp that we aren’t talking about the fact that in just a few weeks we will all be going our separate ways. In fact, some of the people I love the most in the world are about to be thousands of miles away.  For now, I’m totally focused on nothing but loving and serving them well and serving our last session of campers. I think there is a level where I’m thankful I don’t know what’s next because it might split my focus. As it is for now, I can stay completely focused on the here and now. Here is what we know for now, we get on a plane and head to Memphis on August 18, that’s so soon now that I really think about it. We will spend a week with friends and family and then we are heading to Florida to spend a week with the man who discipled me and spiritual father and mother. So that gets us to about the beginning of September and the complete unknown. We have no home, no car, no jobs and no fear. I haven’t talked about this next part much, but I do want to share it now. When I was fasting and praying a few months ago I had a waking dream or vision or something, but I know it was from God. The vision was of my foot stepping out in Faith trusting completely in God’s perfect plan for our lives. I can’t really explain how much peace it gave me, but it did and does. I have never in my life felt so secure in what we are doing, putting our complete trust and hope in God. We are truly walking by Faith and not by sight.

One of the things we do at camp is hide colored rocks in the morning and if campers find the silver ones, they can get a verse from me and if their entire cabin learns the verse, they get two emeralds (green painted rocks) which are the most valuable. It’s a heated competition so that can really put you over the edge. One of the verses I give out on little slips of paper is Hebrews 11:1 which has the best definition of Faith found in the Bible. It says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Although I can’t see what’s next, I know God has a plan and I honestly am excited about it even though I don’t know what it is.

So, the answer to what’s next is just that, we don’t know and we invite you to join us in prayer as we seek God’s perfect will. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”. If you keep reading, there are verses about if you are a son and you ask for bread a good father will not give a snake and if you ask for fish a good father will not give a stone. We have a good Father and all we are asking is for His perfect plan and will to be revealed to us in His perfect time. So please pray for us as we pray God’s perfect path to be put out before us.

Thomas Legolas

 

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Thomas Legolas and I

This is my good friend Thomas. At camp he patrols at night and protects us from any unwanted intruders. Camp is well guarded with gates and other guard post, but Thomas is our in camp protector. Since I don’t sleep sometimes, we see each other quite often. In fact, there has been plenty of times when Thomas was the last person I saw before bed besides Bronwyn and the first person I saw in the morning.

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Thomas carries a bow and arrow he crafted himself and before I knew his name, I referred to him as Legolas the Elvin archer from Lord of the Rings. Thomas is one of the people that makes me wish I knew Swahili instead of just the few phrases I have memorized. He doesn’t speak much English although I think he understands me pretty well. I’m sure he has a fascinating story.

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I already had a real soft spot for Thomas Legolas, but he went to an entire new level a few weeks ago. My last blog post I mentioned Lions Pride and at some point, I hope to do an entire post about it. It’s a challenge for our senior camp that requires them to complete some difficult tasks through the night and it’s a real honor to those who finish. One of our young ladies got out on one of the challenges and was very upset over it, she went behind one of our storage containers to read her bible and pray, however she didn’t tell anyone she was doing this so when she was unaccounted for a short time later it was a little stressful. She was an amazing young lady, so we knew she wasn’t up to anything bad we just weren’t sure exactly where she was. Without going into too much detail I spent most of the night searching almost everywhere at camp except, apparently, the one place she was. That’s where Thomas Legolas saved the day, well night. He was searching just as hard as me and found her where she had been for hours, behind the container reading her Bible and praying. I hugged him, thanked him and sent her to bed.

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I am so thankful for so many of the amazing people that make my life and calling better and easier but in that moment there was none more important than Thomas was in that moment. It’s sometimes hard to know how to honor someone but in this instance I know I have the perfect way. On Friday nights we have what we call “Summit Fire” where we give counselors and staff a camp name, this Friday we plan to honor Thomas with a camp name. He will forever in BlueSky be referred to as “Shepherd” because he was finder of out lost sheep. Just like the man from Matthew 18:12 who left his 99 sheep to find the one Thomas spent his night searching for our lost sheep. I will be forever thankful to him.

A Moment of Silence

As a staff team we decided to have a time of fasting during a break between campers to seek God and His strength and to focus on Him for the rest of the season. As part of that fast it was suggested that we also take a time of silence for part of the day. This may come as a shock to you, but I was not very good at doing this. I was so bad at it I actually took note of the words I said, here is the list.

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Just so you know we started at 5 so I only made it seven minutes before I said my first word. I’m pretty sure I was deep in prayer for each of these and then said a word out loud as I prayed. Some of the words I get, love, Glory, and thankful. However, I have no idea what prompted me at 6:09 to say “Chilling” out loud. I was really lost in thought and prayer and I think God may have revealed something to me and it was chilling to me, however if it was some other stupid reason I wouldn’t be surprised. Fasting and prayer has become a very dear discipline to me but clearly there are aspects of it that I need more work on.

Our senior high camp can take part in something we call Lions Pride, it is a difficult challenge that requires them to complete many challenging tasks one of which is to remain silent for a great deal of time. All the aspects of Lions Pride are difficult but the most difficult for me would the silence. We have had campers get out for speaking to bugs that were in their face, for being polite and saying, “excuse me” or “thank you”, and just for forgetting they were not supposed to speak. I would not be able to last but about seven minutes which I know is God’s way of saying I need to shut my mouth and listen to Him better.

I’m reminded of the verses in Habakkuk 2:20 “but the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him”. We should be silent before God and consider His awesome power and sovereignty and listen for the still small voice Elijah talks about in I Kings 19:12. I’ll continue to work on this aspect of my prayer life.

Speaking of prayer please be in prayers for us, we only have a few weeks left in Kenya, We still have no clear direction from God about what is next but we know God has an amazing plan for us and look forward to Him revealing it to us.

When Your God Daughter Gets you a Ring

MeWe are back in full force camp mode but just before camp started back we had a few weeks of travel. During that time we essentially did two things, we took camp on the road to lots of places in Nairobi and out for students who might never have been able to experience camp otherwise. And we took our staff who are mostly from the US to see some of the amazing and beautiful sites in Kenya I’m going to write a few blog posts about those experiences.

As anyone who has followed our story knows we have been privileged enough to have our God Daughter, Nadia, come and serve with us this season of camp. It has been such a joy having her here, she is amazing at camp and personally it’s been a blessing to share these experiences with someone so close to us.

We have let our US staff have a few opportunities to experience a Maasai Market. The Maasai are one of the local tribes people and often near large tourism places they will have markets to sell various crafts, local made jewelry, clothing, or blankets aka shukas. It can be a stressful experience if you aren’t mentally and even physically prepared but it can also be fun if you don’t mind haggling. Nadia was of course pretty good at it and so she bought some items for herself but even more as gifts, I was the lucky recipients of one of those gifts.

I’m not saying I would ever go out and purchase a gold ring for myself and I don’t think anyone on the planet would ever in a million years buy me a gold ring. After all, my wedding band is made of blue rubber, however Nadia thought very differently and decided the thing my finger needed over anything else in the world in a gold ring with a picture on Kenya on it. Here it is in all of it’s glory. The Ring

Now immediately I knew something was wrong  with it and after some inspection and conversation we determined that Kenya was facing the wrong way on the ring. But, misprinted baseball cards are worth more money so maybe it isn’t so bad. The ring also has lots of jagged edges something I discovered every time I did, well anything. It also may have started to turn my finger the slightest shade of green and because it’s “adjustable” it pinches the fire out of my finger about twice a day. Because I’m back at camp and I don’t want to inadvertently cut anyone I am no longer wearing it, but I did proudly display it while we traveled.

Nadia will be the first to say that I am not very sentimental, however I can guarantee  I will keep this ring forever. I don’t love it but I love her and she gave it to me. It will all be special and important to me because she will always be special and important to me.

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Camp on the Road

We are back in full force camp mode but just before camp started back we had a few weeks of travel. During that time we essentially did two things, we took camp on the road to lots of places in Nairobi and out for students who might never have been able to experience camp otherwise. And we took our staff who are mostly from the US to see some of the amazing and beautiful sites in Kenya I’m going to write a few blog post about those experiences.

Because of the way the school systems fall in Kenya we have a gap between the first few weeks of camp and the last five sessions. During that time we want to give our staff an opportunity to relax, find time to grow in the their Faith, experience Kenya and give back to some of the communities we serve. Since we know camp and know how impactful it can be we decided this year to take that knowledge on the road and take Camp BlueSky to places and students who otherwise may never be able to be a part.

We chose four locations, one near Mathare a large slum in Nairobi. Two at schools we or some of our team have relationships with and one at a very remote village. Of all the amazing things we have done in Kenya these day camps may have been my favorite. The days weren’t complicated, we set up three or four stations with games and then divided the groups up by age and let them rotate through each station. Some of the students were much more standoffish at first but in the end most joined in. It was such a joy to see our team connect with these kids in such powerful ways. One of our girls sat and talked to a group of older girls all afternoon, they never did much but talk and it was perfect. Another of our guys is really good with a yo-yo and had a group of boys mesmerized with his tricks. When we left a bunch of the boys had tied string to rocks to emulate his tricks. In the end, all of our team connected with the students and were probably much more deeply impacted than even the kids were.

After the games we sat in groups and shared bible stories and worship songs, we prayed and talked about anything else that came up. It was truly four amazing days, days I may never forget and days I know we learned more about other cultures, ourselves and the God we serve.

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Playing with a Tire

img_3961We are back in full force camp mode but just before camp started back we had a few weeks of travel. During that time we essentially did two things, we took camp on the road to lots of places in Nairobi and out for students who might never have been able to experience camp otherwise. And we took our staff who are mostly from the US to see some of the amazing and beautiful sites in Kenya I’m going to write a few blog post about those experiences.

Our first adventure of “Camp BlueSky on the Road” was Starkids School and Rescue Center. This is a school Bronwyn and I have been building a relationship with for some time. We took the entire team to host a day of fun and games with the students there and in the process wanted to build relationships that could lead to opportunities to share Christ.

As I walked around watching our team doing amazing things a small boy approached me with a tire. He never said a word he just rolled his warped tire at me. I rolled it back to him and the game began. I don’t know what it was but for some reason I just felt at peace rolling this tire back and forth. I decided in my mind that I would continue to roll it as long as he wanted to. He was a little guy and I assumed he would get tired or board pretty quickly. That was definitely not the case, an hour later we were still rolling and he had still never said a word. Occasionally he would run over to a few rocks next to him and move them around as if he was keeping some kind of score but then he would be right back to rolling the tire. We rolled that tire until it was time to go. I felt blessed to do it.

Honestly, I feel like it’s probably like that with God. He is so big and powerful but also enjoys getting into our simple tasks with us. Enjoying our company and reminding us of how much He loves us.

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Connections that Last a Lifetime

People come into and out of our lives all the time, that’s a perfectly normal thing. But as you examine your life are you making it easy for people to come in and difficult for them to fall out? The metaphor I am about to use isn’t pretty, but I bet you remember it. Your life should be like a roach motel, you are open and inviting for people to want to come in and once they are there they are there forever. It’s so easy to let people fall in and out your life but I honestly think we need to work on making sure we keep people around for the long haul. I think a lot of people live their lives in tiny little communities that are made up mostly of their immediate family and never do life with anyone outside of that. In other words, they are only doing life with people they have to. Living that way is both boring and unbiblical. We are called to share our lives. Christians seem to love saying they are “sharing their Faith” and that’s great, but what else are you sharing? Are you sharing your table, your Saturdays, your prayer time or even your paycheck?

I’m not going to write this and say I have it all figured out because of course I don’t. I will say that Bronwyn and I have been working hard on sharing more of ourselves and because of that we have found and built and rich beautiful and diverse family here in Kenya. When we left Memphis, the hardest thing wasn’t leaving possessions. Most of what we had we sold, gave away or it burned up, what was hard was leaving people. Now that the time is coming when we will be leaving Kenya, it’s going to be the same thing all over again. A couple of people have said they don’t even want to talk about it until they must. However, I know two things! One, Bronwyn and I don’t let people fall out of our lives very easily and two I truly believe all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ will spend eternity together in perfect relationships with God and each other. So yes, temporarily it may be hard when we create these deep bonds and are then separated but that shouldn’t discourage us from doing it.

Be deliberate about building communities and let God bring people into your life. Don’t miss out on people. Examine your life and your community and make sure it’s full of people who love you and that you love.

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When God Moves

So, it’s true that I’m not a big crier. It’s not that I’m not emotional because I totally am, I just don’t have tears very often. However, in the last day and a half I have almost cried no less than six times. Now I want to make it clear that so far, I haven’t actually cried but I think it’s coming. The thing is I know exactly why. It’s this absolutely amazing staff team coupled with the powerful moving of The Holy Spirit.

We are in the middle of staff training and I have been so touched by the outpouring of love from this team that it keeps bringing me to ALMOST tears. The first time happened when I walked out of the office and saw that Victor and Nadia were sitting together on a swing. Victor, who has been staying with us and has become family and Nadia, who has been like a daughter to us were just sitting and having a normal conversation. I just looked at them and the worlds that God had brought together and just turned around and went back in the office so I wouldn’t break down right there. I thought it was just a quick onetime thing but what came later was so moving I nearly completely lost it.

I had asked several of our staff to prepare 2 Minute Testimonies, just a quick telling of how God was moving in their life and what God was showing them. All the camp team sat around in a circle and I asked if anyone wanted to share their testimonies more or less expecting that the ones has asked would be the ones to share. What happened next isn’t something you can ever plan or put on a schedule. God just filled the room with his presence and one after another the staff shared powerful stories of how God had transformed their lives or was in the process of transforming their lives. It was so overwhelming and powerful that now two days later as I type this, I’m still incredible moved by it. The next morning it was all anyone could talk about. I think people were incredible touched by everyone’s openness to share their brokenness. It was a powerful reminder that God uses broken people to help broken people and through the power of His love we can all be healed.

After several morning conversations I thought I was finally over my ALMOST being brought to tears. But then at lunch I received a note from one of my fellow staff team members and again I almost cried right into my Cream of Zucchini soup. God is moving in a powerful way here at camp and we don’t even have campers yet! I know that everyone here can feel how powerful this camp season will be. Please be praying for me and Bronwyn as well as our entire camp team.

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2019 Staff Team
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Making Time for God and Man

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One of my favorite Quiet Time spots at camp

One of the best things about camp is that you are around amazing people all the time, Christ centered, loving people and amazing campers from all over the world. One of the hardest things about camp is that you are around other people literally all the time. I told a member of our team the other morning that Sunday mornings are one of my favorite times during camp because it’s just about the only time someone doesn’t need anything from me. Look, being around people is amazing! The first thing God ever said, “was not good” is found in Genesis 2:18 where it says, “It’s not good for man to be alone”. However, just as true is what is found in Luke 5:16 where it says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray”. So, absolutely we need other people. We need to open our hearts to others and share our lives with them. But we also need to time alone with ourselves and with God to pray, process life, even tune out from the world at times. Life can be stressful, people can drain you, and you and I both need to just relax sometimes and know that those times are just as important as anything else you do.

During the three months of camp I would be completely worthless to my team and the campers God entrusted us with if I didn’t have time to be alone with God to recharge and make sure I’m aligned with God. The same is also true of our counselors, we must make time for them do the same thing. For these three months when we are all living in same place practically on top of each other it isn’t always easy, but it must be done. I mean Jesus did it so clearly, it’s extraordinarily important. It’s such an interesting thing, we need people in our lives, but we also need to be alone with God too.

I think an amazing example of that is Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane found in Matthew 26:36-56.

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Jesus wanted to be alone with God but also not completely alone. Are you spending adequate time alone with God while also balancing that by not being alone? The right balance of both is healthy and biblical. This camp season please pray for Bronwyn and I as we work through just that for ourselves, our team, and even our campers. Also, examine your life and make sure you are doing the same. With the right balance you will be a better parent, grandparent, employee, employer, church member, and all-around person.

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