93 Days

Bronwyn and I and the camp team are about to enter a 93-day period of nonstop ministry. This is not an exaggeration at all, the next 93 days we will be working pretty much day and night. Of course, this isn’t a surprise, although we do year around ministry this is the most important months of our time in Kenya. If we even began to try to rely on our own strength, we would fail. During this time, we have to rely on verses like Isaiah 40:29 and Ephesians 6:10 reminding ourselves that God has an endless supply of strength and that our cup can literally overflow with the abundance of His power.

Last year during camp season I only had one really rough day, I mean I had other rough times and was often in difficult situations and even discouraged but truly only had one really bad day. I honestly can’t even remember all the circumstances or even exactly what week it was but I remember being emotionally and even physically drained. That afternoon I went up to the area we call “The Impala Grounds” to pray and be close to God. What God did for me that day was astounding! OK, maybe it won’t sound that astounding to you but to me it meant everything and gave me the strength to get through the rest of the season.

I sat down and opened my Bible and was writing in my journal and after a while I walked over to one of the tin cans we keep out there. We mix kerosene and wood chips in the cans to make a light source at night. Inside the can was a ladybug, one of only three I’ve seen in all my traveling in Kenya and Tanzania. For those of you who have never heard me say it, seeing a lady bug always reminds me that God loves me. Lady Bug Saga  I didn’t cry, but I almost did. However, God wasn’t done yet.

I decided I needed to hear some of God’s word and went to one of my favorite places to hear it. I put on Jason Cook our pastor at Fellowship Memphis. I promise I chose a sermon at random, David and Goliath. It was how I was feeling, and I needed to hear it! You must click the link and listen to the first 10 seconds. Fellowship Memphis (David and Goliath) I didn’t remember that this was the sermon that was preached the day Fellowship prayed over us before we were supposed to move to Kenya just a few days before the fire that delayed us by a month. So, with this I cried, I wept tears of pain and joy and even now typing this I am getting emotional being reminded of what God will do to comfort His children.

So, for the next 93 days please remember Bronwyn and I and the rest of our camp team in prayer. We will have some hard days, but we have a Creator, Master, Savior, and King who loves us and will strengthen us when we remember to rely on Him. Don’t ever believe that God won’t give you more than you can handle, of course He will so you can be reminded that it is HIS power, not ours, that is our greatest strength.

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Ready to Build

As I think everyone is aware by now that Bronwyn and I have determined that God is calling us away from BlueSky and Kenya in August after the camp season. Our time here has been unbelievable and we know that the past few years we have walked in God’s perfect will for our lives. But, now it’s time for us to move to our next calling.  So of course, the question is what’s next? Well, we honestly don’t know. We have stated a few times that we feel God is calling us to trust Him, to step out in faith, to listen to Him and be led by the Holy Spirit. And the next question is, isn’t that scary? Well, yes and no. I honestly am finding it to be exciting, seldom do we as Christians truly step out in faith and let God take over and be the God of our lives. Moving to Kenya was very calculated, we spent over a year planning and preparing for it but now here we are with no house, no car, and no jobs as of August and I can tell you from the bottom of my heart I’m not worried at all. God, the creator of the Universe has a plan for us, and we are just going to walk in that plan.

2 Corinthians 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Here is what I do know! God is calling us to build something. In my quiet times and prayer, I see it all the time, God is calling us to serve Him by building something. I don’t know what or where, but He does, and I trust His plans way more than I trust my own. I know that God has been preparing us for a long time for this next calling. We had things to learn about service and leadership, sacrifice and giving, hospitality and forgiveness and for whatever reason He knew the best place for us to learn those lessons was in Kenya. So, now we are ready for our next great calling, the call to build. The call to plant an orchard and see the fruit grow and spread throughout the world. I honestly am not trying to boast I’m just sure of my calling. My God, King, and Master has called me and Bronwyn to a season of faith and we are going to trust and obey. We are going to walk on His perfect path trusting Him with our very lives and we are excited to be on the journey.

Galatians 5:25  “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

1 Corinthians 3:9 “ For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”IMG_3176

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Nadia Foster

img_3395Bronwyn and I have been very blessed to work with some amazing young people now on two continents. Some we have worked with only for a season and others we have been fortunate enough to do life with for a long time. There are more than a few who have become more like family than anything and one of them we are trying to help get to Kenya this summer to serve with us at camp. Before we moved to the other side of the world, Bronwyn and I ran a large teen program at the YMCA and honestly some of the people we are closest with in the world were part of that program.  There really wasn’t anyone we were any closer with than Nadia Foster. We began working with her before she was even a teenager and were fortunate enough to watch her grow into an a amazing young women and college student.

Now she feels called to come and serve the summer with us at Camp BlueSky. Nadia would be an unbelievable asset to our team, she has a tremendous amount of experience working camp and most of that experience comes from working with us. It’s honestly not just a matter of wanting her here, we could truly use her gifting, her heart and her abilities.  All of that being said I am asking that you would consider clicking the link and choosing her name, Nadia Foster, and helping support her to spend her summer with us in Kenya. Support Nadia Foster

Currently Nadia is a student at the University of Memphis, but I asked her to share a little of her heart, this is just an excerpt of what she sent:

It is in light of the position God has placed me in that I am able to attend the University of Memphis as a double major in psychology and social work with the aspirations of doing all that I love for His glory. It will be only through the grace of God and His calling for people from different areas of my journey thus far, to support me financially and prayerfully so that I may fulfill God’s current call on my life to go and serve. It is only God’s doing that I, Nadia Foster have the opportunity to put forth practice for not only my future career as a child counseling psychologist but more importantly my relationship with Christ. The opportunity to put forth all of that in being a camp counselor in Kenya this summer is truly a blessing. I would love for you to join my support team prayerfully and/or financially, to act as a catalyst in spreading the love of Jesus.”

Because this all came up so quickly, we honestly don’t have much time for her to get the support she needs so I am asking that if you are able to please act now to help get Nadia to Kenya. We are about $3000 from our needed goal and would really appreciate any amount. Thanks, and please be praying for her and us as we get ready for a crazy three straight months of nonstop ministry.  Support Nadia Foster

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Important Update from Brett and Bronwyn

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“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

This morning during my quiet time I was reading Acts 14:24-28. At first glance there isn’t much here but for me it was very powerful and profound. The passage talks about Paul and Barnabas returning to Antioch at the end of their missionary journey. Well, after much praying and fasting Bronwyn and I have surprisingly felt that God is bringing us to the end of our missionary journey. Not immediately, we still have an entire season of camp to lead with an amazing staff and are truly excited about it! However, once we have closed camp, we will be completing this exciting and deeply transformative period of our lives. So, you may be asking, what’s next? Well, honestly we don’t know. Even with its challenges, we have loved living here and developed amazing relationships that will be tough to leave. All we know for now is God is moving telling us our time here is finished and to step out in Faith trusting Him with our very lives. We have been praying through and standing on these three verses.

2 Corinthians 5:7

“for we walk by faith, not by sight”

Psalms 47:4

“Delight yourselves in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”

Galatians 5:25

“If we live by the spirit, let us also keep in step with the spirit

Now, some people may think it’s crazy that we are sharing this now and not waiting longer since we are still completely reliant on our financial partners. Well, we wanted to share for two reasons. First because we have always had such faithful partners and we would never want to do anything that kept them in the dark about what God is showing us. He has supplied all of our needs so far and I know that He will continue to do so. Second, we really want people to follow us on this faith journey. We want people praying for us, but we also want people to see that the God we serve is faithful and trustworthy. We truly want to live lives that point towards God and allow God to use us for whatever His purposes are. We are excited for what He has next for us, even though we don’t know what it is yet.

So, in the meantime please be praying that we can finish our time here strong and that his purposes for us here will be completed. Also pray that God will in His time show us His perfect path. And finally pray that God will use us as a testimony to believers and non-believers that His grace and power is all we need and that trusting in Him and in His perfect plan for our lives is not only possible but preferable.

It looks as though we will be leaving Kenya in late August and will continue to receive pay through BlueSky through October. We would ask that if possible, please continue your ongoing support through then. Also, if you have always intended to be a donor but never got around to it now would be a great time to join us. We greatly appreciate all your prayers and support; we absolutely could not do this without you. God has moved so many people to help us and for that we will be eternally thankful.

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STARKIDS Part 2

Bronwyn and I were being shown around StarKids Academy and Rescue Center. It is called a slum school because of its location and because the community it serves. The school consists mostly of steel walls built on wood frames. The kitchen was made from the wood left over from a shipping container. Most but not all the rooms have poured concrete and most of the furnishings came second and sometimes third hand. We went back to the dorms where the children who lived there slept. There was a room for the boys and a room for the girls. To get to the bunks in the back required you to craw over other bunks since they had put as many beds as possible in the space available to hold as many students as possible. Some bunks slept two children, not because there wasn’t enough bunks but because of the lack of mattresses. The mattresses (think foam mattress pads not box springs) they did have were old, thin, falling apart. Many had holes worn all the way through and were so musty. Our dog Amazi has three mattresses at the house that are all better than any of these. When you are a school struggling to have books and pay teachers and feed children, a new mattress is a luxury that you just can’t afford.

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I knew the Holy Spirit was requiring us to do something.  After our tour we went out to a nearby field to play games and teach some songs but the entire time all I could think about was tonight all those kids we were playing with would go to sleep in those beds. I was wrecked about it. Those of you who know me know that I’m used to seeing rough conditions. I worked in some of the poorest parts of Memphis with gang members doing home visits for years, but I had never felt the need to do something more than I felt about this. So, in the middle of playing games I went to Ms. Roslyn who runs the school and asked her about the mattresses. I asked her to help me find a supplier and get me quotes on a few different longer lasting ones and that I would see what we could do. After spending the day playing and going to classrooms we went home and by that evening she had some prices for me. The prices were for the thin kind they had that aren’t mattresses as much as foam pads, a middle kind that were a step up from that and something she called “heavy duty”. The “heavy duty” ones were what most of you would think of as a mattress (although still not box spring because most mattresses here even ours are not) and I knew that was what we would have to go with. We went back over to the school, made some arrangements for transport and I sent Nicholas and Victor with Ms. Roslyn to get them paid for. I knew if I went, we might get charged more.

We couldn’t be there when they arrived, mostly because I didn’t expect it to all happen so fast. Kenyan time runs a little differently, but we came back before they went back to the dorms and it was a beautiful site. 85 brand new mattresses piled up and kids running around them happy and excited to go to bed. We helped carry them back and get them on the bunks. It was amazing, it was like ten Christmases. We are excited about continuing to work with StarKids Academy and Rescue Center and planning an entire day of camp for them. We are also planning a work day at the school to help with some general repairs and haul out some junk. They do amazing work there and we are excited we got to be a small part of it.

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STARKIDS PART 1

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Recently we have started building a relationship with a school and rescue center not far from where we live in Nairobi. It’s called StarKids Academy and Rescue Center. It’s referred to as a slum school because most if not all the students that attend the school are either from the slums or far away villages. As the name implies, it is more that just a school but also a “rescue center” which means over half of the students who attend live on site. There are several reasons many of the students live on site. They may live far from the school out in one of the villages where decent education can be challenging to acquire or because their parents would have no way to get them back and forth to school so it is easier if they just live there. However, the school also has a large population of students who without the school would have nowhere else to go. They may be orphans, have an abusive family situation, or just don’t have families that can support them. Truly this place is a rescue center.

The school is run by a former teacher and administrator Ms. Roslyn. I have absolutely enjoyed all the time I have spent with her. She loves the children in her care, and it shows. We have been to every classroom at this point and every class we go into the students are always very polite and hard at work. They are receiving an excellent education in an environment that is far from perfect. Remember, this is slum school which means wood and steal walls and ceilings, they in fact just got concrete floors in the last few years. The rooms are hot and stuffy and clay dust that permeates in the slums is everywhere. But the students are happy to be there and desire to learn.

Ms. Roslyn told us a story about how a lady had brought blankets for the children, in Kenya they are called Shuka’s, you may have seen them. They are bright colorful blankets that are also used as tunics in East Africa. So, this lady brought the blankets for the children and two of the boys snuck two out and sold them so they could buy some mandazis. Mandazis are similar to a beignets without the powdered sugar. If really made well, they are super light and almost hollow on the inside and people can fill them with jam or whatever. We just eat them plain. They are my favorite Kenyan food. Now because the school literally doesn’t have a lot, a couple of blankets going missing was noticed quickly. Also, because everyone knows everything in the community it wasn’t long before Ms. Roslyn knew everything too. However, instead of punishing the boys and expelling them she gave them an opportunity to confess and were ultimately forgiven. Now if this isn’t the very definition of Grace, I don’t know what is.

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Near the school is a nice sized field which the community works hard to maintain because areas like that is the slums are rare. In the afternoons it’s filled with people from the community playing football (soccer) but during the morning hours it’s a great place for the students to play. We took some of our camp games and went and spent a long-time playing group games. It was so fun to play with these amazing kids. After we got back to the school, we had brought juice for everyone and continued our tour of the school. We were taken back into the dorms where the children stay. They were bunk beds floor to ceiling, in a few places 4 high. Every bit of space in the room was used. Then we saw what these clever, fun, kids were sleeping on. They are like mattress pads but were old and rotting. Some had holes all the way through so the children were sleeping on iron bars. Immediately I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and say, “you have to do something”.

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Aphantasia

This morning I woke up and like I usually do I grabbed my phone and started reading. I usually start with the news and then if I’m not ready to get up I’ll just start finding random articles. I came across one about a man who was on a long journey on a boat and the hardest part was that he couldn’t picture what his girlfriend looked like in his head. My first thought was that I can’t picture what Bronwyn looks like in my head, I’ve never been able to. I read that the man had Aphantasia and stopped reading that article and started trying to find out everything I could. I read the Wikipedia page, found a few studies and joined a Facebook group but I still don’t know much except I guess I have it. Turns out it only affects about 1% of the population and often goes undiagnosed. I mean I would never have known I had it because how do you know what you can’t see in your own head that other people can?

The new discovery led me to ask Bronwyn questions all day. Can you see what I look like when not looking at me? Can you see a garden in your head? Can you see a cow? Can you remember what old friends or family look like? Her answers were always yes, mine were more like kind of. So, I still have no idea what’s the difference between what I see, and she sees but clearly, it’s different. Now there are people who can’t see anything at all, that’s not me. Like I can picture the Golden Arches but not a particular McDonald’s. I can picture a cow but not a cow I’ve really seen and mine is more cartoony and exaggerated. I can picture parts of a garden, a flower or a butterfly or grass but not all of them together at once and none of it moving, only still like a photograph.

The best thing we came up with today was when Bronwyn asked if I could picture a tractor in a field. I could but it’s just sitting in the field and there isn’t really a field just ground under the tractor. Then she asked if I could see the wheels turn and it move across the field, I absolutely cannot. It takes a lot of effort just to see the tractor. Then I asked her if she could visualize in her minds eye what it would look like on fire with flames and smoke and she could and honesty that seems impossible to me. We went through lists of people and some I could get a vague mental image of but most I couldn’t. And it was really random too, I had a good friend who’s face I could not see but I could get an image of her husband who I wasn’t particularly close with. I shared an office with several different people at my old YMCA and if I concentrated, I could find an image, but it was only one snapshot each. As I type this, I’m trying it again and I can only get two of them in my head. But they aren’t moving, it’s just an image, and I can’t hold that image and picture anything else in the room. And until today I didn’t know other people could do any of that. This also explains why I am terrible at directions, I literally can’t get a picture in my head of where I’m going or where I’ve been and again I never knew other people could. I never knew how people were managing to find their way around without getting lost. mind

So, now it’s 3am and although it’s not unusual for me to be awake at 3am it is unusual for me to be thinking about something like this. I mean, I can’t really morn the loss of something I didn’t know I didn’t have but it still feels strange. It makes me sad I can’t get an image of Bronwyn’s face at all especially when I can with some other people. I don’t know what to think of it honestly. I do know this though, God knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalms 139:13) and although this makes me a little different, I believe it’s part of what makes me who I am. And look, I know as far as afflictions go this is a pretty mild one, I mean I was 44 before I ever even knew it was a thing. However, it still has me thinking about it. Colossians 1:16 says “for by Him all things were created”. I’m a thing and so I was created by God, but because of sin we live in a fallen creation and the result of that fall is our bodies are no longer perfect. But with all my heart I know my next body will be. Philippians 3:20 says “The Lord, Jesus Christ will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body”. That body will be able to visualize a tractor moving through a field full of flowers. But I doubt I’ll want it to because all I’ll want to picture is my beautiful Savior.

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WorldWide Revival

How big are your prayers? Honestly, think about them. Weigh them out and ask yourself if you are praying prayers that you know are being heard and answered by the creator and sustainer of the universe. You know, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t pray about small stuff, anyone who has ever read Exodus 25-31 or Leviticus 6-10 knows that God cares about the details. But are you just praying small prayers? If so, don’t you think it’s time to ask God to do something huge, something miraculous, something that could only come from him?

So here is my challenge, if you are reading this make a commitment to start praying for worldwide revival. It’s a huge audacious prayer and just the kind of prayer I think God will respond to. Now, if you have studied revival you know there is something that has to proceed it. Do you know what it is? I’ll give you a hint.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.

Before revival can happen, we must have repentance. So maybe we start there, lets pray that believers around the world will be moved towards repentance. I preached last week at a church and I challenged the people there to pray for worldwide revival. One of the things I wanted them to be sure and understand is that Nairobi is a perfect place for that start. The world truly comes here. It’s exactly the kind of city that Paul would have spent time in. The United Nations is here, I literally live across the street from the embassy residence for Costa Rica. Worldwide revival could very easily start here. It could also start in your home, God may be calling you to be one of the leaders of this revival from your kitchen. Are you praying a big prayer? Well let’s do it, lets commit to pray together for worldwide revival. Have you read James 5:16?

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working”

Now notice that the powerful prayer comes after the confession of sin. Revival comes after repentance. I’m doing it, I’m praying that revival will spread across this city and then around the world. Let’s all do it. Let’s repent, pray that others would repent and then pray for revival. The Good News of Jesus Christ needs to be shared around the world, to every corner and every person. Maybe you aren’t called to be the one to go but you can be the one who commits to pray. Oh, one last verse.

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“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come”. Matthew 24:14World Map

Sunset at “The Rocks”

Sunset at the rocksJust before the start of camp season last summer the entire team climbed up an area we just call “The Rocks” to pray and seek God for the camp season. It’s a little bit of a hike from camp but when you get to the top it’s totally worth it. From the peak you can see all the valley below and see all of camp at once. It’s a pretty amazing site even on bad days, this was not a bad day. After we prayed together as a group, we split off individually for some time with the Lord. Most everyone stayed close to the top, one person did go down the side of the mountain and I think got momentarily lost. If you knew him this would not surprise you at all. While we were all praying for camp and while literally looking down from “The Rocks” at the place camp would be held, the most amazing thing happened. The sun and clouds aligned just right, and sun beams flooded camp. It was stunning and beautiful and was one of those things that was so perfect nobody even needed to say anything.

I truly believe with all my heart that God showed up that evening to encourage us and remind us of Him. No, it wasn’t a supernatural event it was just a sunset, a spectacular one, but just a sunset. But just because it wasn’t supernatural doesn’t mean it wasn’t God showing up. It wasn’t something that is easy to describe but we all knew what was happening. It was stunning and powerful and made a statement about the importance of prayer and even God saying I’m with you, I’m for you. I was filled with joy that I got to be a part of it. Before camp season starts this year, I am sure we will do the same thing, climb “The Rocks” and pray for camp. I don’t know if the same thing will happen or not, but I do know that won’t change the fact that God is with us and we still need to be praying for camp and our campers.

Zechariah 4:10 says “whoever has despised the day of small things”. Zechariah is sharing one of his many visions here and in this section, he is talking about the Golden Lampstands which are symbolic of God’s watchful eye. This always makes me think of this verse for two reasons. First, it was a small thing, but God can work through small things to powerful effect. The second is that in the moment it felt as if God’s eye was on us. I mean I know that it always is but this was different and powerful and honestly in that moment it was perfect.

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Bird in the Hand

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We have a lot of birds around our house. I suppose we had a lot of birds around our house in Memphis too but those were the birds of my youth, these are exotic you only normally see at the zoo birds. Now most of the time that’s great. You look out your window and see the beautiful plumage of exotic birds, it’s amazing. Rarely it’s not as awesome, like the ibis that used to come into our yard and make the loudest screaming bird noise I’ve ever heard at 5:30 in the morning. Sometimes it’s humorous, like the bird that has learned to wait for the dog to walk away from his bowl and then he swoops downs and steals some, or the two little birds that seem to have great pleasure in taunting the dog when he’s trying to sleep in the driveway. My favorite birds have been the ones who have been sneaking in the house. Because we keep the windows and doors open most of the day and there are no screens, they sneak in to look for food or water. The problem is none of them have been able to find their way back out. The way we usually find out is we hear a loud racket that sounds like a herd of cattle running up the stairs, it’s just birds flapping in the windows trying to get out and Amazi chasing them. I have become pretty good at gently grabbing them and putting them unharmed back outside and since it’s been so dry, Bronwyn has been keeping an upside down frisbee full of water outside for them.

One of my favorite all-time stories has to do with a bird coming in one of the churches we used to do program at back in Memphis. It was flapping around and the young man who was helping me save it from a certain hallway death asked me what he needed to do. I told him to “shoo it out the door” but what he heard was, “show it out the door”. So, he being the awesome guy he was, and this guy was and still is truly awesome, flapped his arms like a bird and tried to show the bird how to go out the door. I was so happy when he did it, not that it worked but it just made me smile that he was sure that the best way to get the bird out was to become like a bird and lead him out the door. I think of that story every time I get ready to catch a bird in the house. I love that story because it also reminds me of what Christ did do. He became a man so he could show us the way.

Philippians 2:5-9 English Standard Version (ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a]who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,[b] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[c] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

We can learn a lot from little birds and each other but mostly we can learn from Jesus who lived a perfect sinless life, lets follow His example.

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