Letting God be God in the New Year

Happy New Year Kenya

It’s a new year and that means it’s the time of year when people are talking about resolutions. I’m going to eat healthy, join a gym, spend more time with my family, etc. etc. All of these are worthy goals and certainly worth doing but how many of us sit down in December and just decide for ourselves what our goals are? Just sit and make a list of ways we think we should be better when ultimately it doesn’t matter as much what we think we need to work on, what’s more important is what God thinks we need to work on. I think a lot of times we just don’t let God be God, we think we know best. God doesn’t want to just be the Lord of what makes you a good Or healthy person. He wants to be the Lord of everything about you, let Him into that. Let Him into your messes and screw ups, let God into your history of outbursts and addictions, let God be the God of your drive to work and the way you treat the cable guy or that person who is way too slow in a check out line. Let God be your all in all. In other words, let God be the God of your sin and failures not just the God of your Godly life. So, when it comes time make changes it’s Him who is pointing the way. There is a beautiful verse in 2 Corinthians 3.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We are being transformed, that means we are imperfect, and God is still transforming us. So here is my question, as you make your New Years resolutions. Are you coming before God with an unveiled face, bringing before Him all your mess, all your junk and saying Lord help me? Please, be the Lord of this and help me become more Christlike. Otherwise we are relying on human intellect to deal with spiritual matters. Let God be God of your whole life and that includes your messes.

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Hospitality

Our House 1

One of the thing we have enjoyed about living in Kenya is the idea of Hospitality. In the time that we have lived here we have learned more about being good hosts than in our entire married lives in the United States. It seems we almost always have people staying with us which is amazing. I’m actually sorry we didn’t start a guest book to keep track of the number of people who have spent the night at our house. I absolutely love it and it just isn’t a thing we ever did before we moved here. The Bible is full of reminders to be hospitable and it isn’t something I ever took to heart. I can’t imagine ever wanting to live any other way.

1 Peter 4:8-9 English Standard Version (ESV)

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

I like that “loving one another earnestly” and “showing hospitality without grumbling” are placed side by side here. In order to love people well you have to let them invade your space, you can’t love people well from a distance and what better way to do that than having them literally in your space. Sure, sometimes it’s an inconvenience but have you really served anyone if you haven’t been inconvenienced? The Greek word used here is Xenia which translates hospitality and not just for family and close friends but for strangers and people far from home, travelers and pilgrims. You may not be familiar with the word but you may have heard xenophobia that comes from it. The “strong dislike of people from other countries”. I’m not trying to get political here but I am going to point out a few verses that I think are important.

Hebrews 13:2 English Standard Version (ESV)

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

James 1:27 English Standard Version (ESV)

27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Matthew 25:35 English Standard Version (ESV)

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me

I think I had and still have a lot to learn about being a good host and a good servant but I am so thankful that God has brought me to this amazing country so I can learn. The Bible calls us to not only share the love of Christ and to act it out by serving one another but also others who may not know you yet. Giving someone bread and sharing bread together are two very different things.

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Driving in Kenya Part 2

On March 26th I wrote the first part of this story. You can check that out here if you would like.

https://brettandbronwyn.com/2018/03/26/driving-in-kenya-part-1/

Although I am certainly not a driving expert I will say I’ve had a fairly easy time learning how to drive on the other side of the road. The difficult thing at first was just getting used to judging the distance I was from things from the drivers seat. The side of the road seemed so far away and the middle of the road, where I was sitting, just didn’t look or feel right at first. The first dozen or more times I drove began with prayer and more than a little apprehension. I have certainly become more cautious the older I’ve gotten, one of the few things I think that is good about getting older.  The truth is I just woke up one morning and it just felt natural. The human brain is pretty spectacular.

So once I felt good about all of that it was on to navigating some of the other things you have to know to drive in Kenya. I’ll list a few here:

  1. Matatus – These are mini-buses that many people use to get around in and around Kenya. Without them people would really struggle to get to work or church or anywhere. However, they are run but private enterprises and not publicly run. Because of this there is a a lot of pressure for them to pick up as many people at possible so they are always in a race with each other and all the other traffic to get to the next stop and pick up more paying customers. I would say they cause a large portion of the problems on the roads in Nairobi. If there is any room at all they are going to pull out, pass, or run you down. The good thing is you absolutely know they are going to drive crazy, so they are easy to predict.
  2. Boda Boda – These are motorcycles that people also use to get around. From what I have experienced the Boda Boda drivers attempt to never stop under any circumstances.  They zoom around traffic, through intersections, and never pay attentions to street lights. But in their defense there is only one street light I ever see anyone pay attention to and it’s in front on the UN. It also doesn’t work half the time. I have seen more than one dead Boda Boda driver in the road, it’s a dangerous  way to make a living. You can also get anything delivered by boda boda, I have seen a lawnmower, a family of four including an infant, 15 chicken coops, 4 tires, another motorcycle, and most impressively a couch. These guys are good!
  3. The Roads Themselves – Bronwyn and I live in a nice neighborhood with street lights and even guards who can close off the streets. However just a few yards from our house the road turns to gravel and just a little past that dirt. The potholes here are no joke, there are times when it feels like driving through a road that was bombed. Sometimes at night I try to get behind someone who looks like they know the rout through the minefield of holes and just follow them through. The worst still is after a rain when they are full of water and you have no idea how deep they are.
  4. Traffic – Getting places in Nairobi can be extremely unpredictable. Our office is less than 5 miles away and we have gotten there in about 20 minutes. However, it has also taken us an hour and a half. Most of the time it takes about 45 minutes but the places that slow us down change.  It’s competently unpredictable. We can leave the house at 8am or 10am or afternoon and it does not matter. It could be an easy drive or it could be a traffic snarl beyond anything you can imagine. There is no predicting it! If someone is taking their cart of potatoes to the market then traffic moves at the speed of a potato cart. If cows are being taken to market and it’s over a bridge then traffic moves at the speed of cows on a bridge. The biggest issue is there just are way more people and cars than the current infrastructure can manage. There really isn’t much you can do but prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
  5. Danger – Whenever we go anywhere we make sure to remember to lock all the doors. But that’s true of any large city, the only real issue here is someone may reach in and snatch your phone or groceries or something. Next you have to drive both offensively and defensively all the time.  If there is a crack in traffic and you need to go you just take it. Everyone is pretty much expecting you to and acts accordingly. Aggressive driving is the only way to get anywhere, but you also have to constantly be on the lookout for all the things I mentioned above. It actually has it’s advantages, I think a lot of wrecks happen in the US because people get complacent and stop paying attention. That’s not something you can do here. All in all though it’s pretty safe. There isn’t really road rage, people just kind of accept this is how it is.

I’m sure at some point I’ll have a Driving in Kenya Part 3, I could probably make almost as many as there are “Fast and Furious” movies.  But for now know that we are perfectly safe on the roads here and confident in our ability to get around.

Driving and Navigating
This is pretty much how we look everywhere we go. Me driving and B navigating. Like everything else we do we make a great team.

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Camper Impact Stories 3

Posted by Bronwyn:

img_7552

This camper story is from Hannah S (we had 4 Hannah counselors this past summer). Hannah has an amazing testimony of how God called her into a relationship with Him and then to Kenya to be serve as a camp counselor.  I found out Hannah was an art major so I quickly handed her 3 tubs of random arts and crafts supplies and said “do whatever you can with this”.  Fortunately for us, she took it and ran with it!  Hannah worked with several different age groups but this particular story is from her week as a Meru counselor which is ages 12-14.

“I was blessed to be in a cabin of Meru girls, which are a really interesting age because this when I feel like some really trying situations can arise with kids. They are facing the beginnings of peer pressure are trying to please their peers. I got especially close with my cabin, and got to share my struggles that I faced, and still face today. One of my campers confided into me and shared about how she never felt good enough, and how she was trying to do good work to be able to know Jesus and that she always fell short. I also learned that she comes from an atheist family. It was that week that I got to share with her that we as humans can never do enough good to earn a relationship with Jesus. That we all have fallen short and continue to fall short of the glory of God. That salvation can never be earned and the Lord loved her so much that he took all of her sins and short comings to the cross. This camper gave her life to the Lord that week, and told me and all of her cabin that she had received the greatest gift of her life…Jesus.”

“When I left Camp BlueSky, I was not the same person as when I arrived.  Camp pushed me out of my comfort zone and to unashamedly live out my faith to my campers and fellow staff.  Getting to spend week after week with the lost and encourage those who had a relationship with the Lord to go even deeper was one of the best experiences of my life.  Even though I was sent to be a blessing to the campers and staff at Camp BlueSky, they were a bigger blessing to me.”–Hannah

I am pretty sure Hannah knew she would be returning to Kenya before she even left and we are super excited that God is calling her to do so! Observing her fervently praying for her campers was amazing but she was also willing to dress up and play some ridiculous character for a game or use her sweet voice to help lead worship. I have already told her that arts and crafts was her to plan and lead!  Please keep Hannah in your prayers as she begins to raise her financial support to spend summer 2019 with us in Kenya again.

 

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Camper Impact Stories 2

Posted by Bronwyn:

 

These next two camper stories are from Amy.  Amy is from Alabama and she served most of this past summer with us as the Satima counselor.  This group is ages 10-12 and I’m pretty sure God created her not only specifically for this age group but to also be a camp counselor.  The joy she had every day (which is tough because camp is exhausting) working and playing with her campers was not only evident to us but you could tell her girls adored her!

   Satima Camper– “The very first night I sat beside this camper’s bed, I asked her what she learned that day. She told me that she learned that Jesus is real and that He loves her. She then proceeded, “I don’t want to be like my parents.” She went on to tell me that her parents are atheist. As the week went on, she continued to ask great questions and was always interested in what we were learning. On Wednesday night after cross talk, I sat with her under the stars and asked her what she was thinking. She told me, “I am very confused.” I asked what she was confused about and she said, “Not Jesus, I know He is real.” That night, she asked Jesus into her heart. I was able to give her her very first Bible, and the rest of the week every time we had free time, she was reading it. She even told the story of Adam and Eve to our cabin.”

   Satima Camper–” Within the first few minutes that this camper entered my cabin, she informed me, “I am not religious.” That night, when I sat the girls down to do a devotion she repeated, “I am not religious.” However, after devotion when I asked her what she learned, she told me, “Next year, I am coming back and I am bringing a Bible because tonight I realized how important it is.” The next morning, I gave her a Bible and she continued asking great questions. Friday morning during our morning worship, I had the opportunity to speak about Simon Peter and how after he denied Jesus 3 times, Jesus reinstated him by asking 3 times, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Friday night, she came up to me and said, “Amy, tonight I heard a voice in my head that said,  ‘do you love me?’ and I told the voice yes.” I told her that the voice was Jesus and He was calling her by name. That night, she accepted Jesus as her Savior.”
   “My favorite thing about being a camp counselor is that the ministry never ends. I have a huge passion for children’s ministry, so living with the kids you are sharing Jesus with is so special. There were times I was up at 3 am praying with kids when they were feeling homesick, or sitting by their beds at 1 am when they weren’t feeling well. It was the little moments that I was able to be present with them and point them to Jesus that meant the most.”   –Amy

Amy also feels called back to Kenya to serve again and we couldn’t be more excited to have her back 2019!!!  Please keep her in your prayers as she begins to raise her financial support to once again spend her summer sharing the love of Christ with her campers.

img_7545

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Camper Impact Stories 1

Posted by Bronwyn:

Over the course of a few blog posts, I will be sharing camper impact stories from counselors who served with us this past summer. These first two stories come from Emma.  Emma is from North Carolina and had never even been on a plane before God called her to serve as a camp counselor in Kenya!  Completely out of her comfort zone, she opened herself up to being used by God and it was truly amazing not only to watch her love on her campers as she shared Christ with them but also to watch her personally grow in Christ. Emma was one of our rock star Suswa counselors with our youngest girls ages 7-10, and you can imagine what living in a cabin with 6-10 of this age camper is like. She had such a heart for her campers to come to know Christ and often asked us to pray for specific campers by name.

Suswa Camper — “Even though she was bashing every single thing that she was being taught, I was still able to talk to her on Cross Talk night. I came to know that she was afraid of disappointing her parents and that’s why she told me she can’t believe in Jesus. The more I talked to her though, I realized that there is a piece of her that believes, but she was bashing because she doesn’t want to believe since it will upset her parents. God was planting that seed and allowed her to be open to answers when she had questions.”

Suswa Camper — “She came into camp having questions, but as the week went on she got sick and would sit out for everything. At summit fire when the campers were given one more opportunity  pray with their counselors, she came to me and accepted Christ into her life. She said that while she was sitting out and was by herself she felt God calling her into a first time relationship.”

“I’ve learned that not everyone will encourage you or support you, but instead of clinging onto the lies that other people are speaking over you, we should cling to the truth that God is whispering over us. I have become more confident this summer, but not through myself. I’ve become more confident in who God is and because of that I am able to be confident in myself too.”—Emma

Emma feels God is calling her back to serve again with us next summer.  Please keep her in your prayers as she begins to raise financial support to cover her travel and stay expenses for summer 2019!!!

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Campaign for Two Years

Bronwyn and I have completed our first season of camp and are starting to get settled into Kenya. We love everything about it and plan to be there for as long as God keeps us there. For us that means a lot of trust, a lot of prayer, and a lot of telling our story. We love telling our story, I think I told it six times today to nine different people and will be sharing in again more tomorrow. What I love best about our story is how clearly, we are not the stars of the story, it has been all God all the way. From our call to Kenya to our being sustained while we were there, it’s been all about Him and that’s exactly how we want it.

Before we left for Nairobi back in March we had 100% of our support for 2018 and what’s incredible is that we weren’t 110% supported or 98% supported but we were pretty much right on 100%. Honestly, I don’t expect anything else. He will provide all of our needs but still remind us that we need to rely on Him for all of our needs. It’s been such a blessing for us to learn to trust fully in God. We know that even now God is working on the hearts of people to partner with us and provide. Honestly, there is a part of it that is humbling, but again that is exactly what we are called to. If it was easy it might be too easy to forget that we need Him, it wouldn’t have the same impact and we wouldn’t have the same testimony.

I talked to a great Christian man today and I told him flat out that we needed him on our team, we needed him as a partner. I know he believes in us and I believe whole hearted in what we are doing. I may have even taken him a bit by surprise, but I honestly felt that he needed to see my passion for our call.  And that is truly what I have, passion for our call. A pastor friend of mine who I was a camp counselor with in the 90’s told me on the phone Sunday that he felt like Bronwyn and I were always all in on things, and it’s totally true. In this case we are all in on our work in Kenya and mostly because we can be so sure of our call.

So we believe:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

We also know that God may very well be calling you to be a partner with us. All I ask anyone is to pray about it. If you have questions, ask and listen to God’s answer. Thanks for following our story.

img_0215
Our niece and nephew helped us make some support signs

Trusting and Obeying

Jeremiah 17:7-8 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This is what I’m reading this morning and the verses I am standing on while we are home on this very important trip. Being completely dependent on God for everything is amazing. Trusting in Him to literally provide all your needs is unbelievably frightening but also exhilarating. It gives us the opportunity to see how God works and provides for his children. So here we are, back in the United States sharing our story, making contacts, but mostly trusting in God. When we left for Kenya the first time we were 100% supported and it would be amazing to know that when we leave this time we will be again. But I refuse to get too stressed about it. I know, and Bronwyn knows that we have been called by God to serve in Kenya and as sure as we are certain of that, we know that God isn’t going to call us and not provide a way. We only need to “trust in the Lord, trust in the Lord”.

So please, if you are reading this and you have followed our story pray about becoming a part of our support team. And here is the thing, even small monthly donors make a huge difference. We have members of our support team that contribute $5 a month and we love them just as much as those who are $100 a month supporters. We know that not everyone can drop everything and move to Africa and not everyone has been called to that, but we are, and we know that God is calling some of you to help support the work we are doing. Below is the link to our support account, take a moment and click on and ask God what He might be calling you to do. Also share this blog post with others. I am attaching some amazing pics from camp, so you can get a snapshot of what we do.

As always, thanks for following our story. If you have any questions, please ask. We are excited about what God is doing in our lives and love sharing it with others to hopefully encourage and strengthen them.

Adventure Camps

Most people that know Bronwyn and I well know that we love anything outdoors. Beach, mountains, just hanging out in the park we would much rather be outside than inside. When we first started praying about what a move to Kenya might look like one of the things that most excited us was seeing what Adventure Camps would look like. After all, we ran those types of camps for years in the States. That’s why after we finished our first camp season we began to work hard on launching Adventure Camps. There are way too many amazing places in Kenya not to take advantage of taking students out to see them. So, we are excited that in December we will be launching our first two offerings of these types of camps. One of the things that has been most surprising to us is how few people who live in Kenya have seen some of its most amazing sites. Through Adventure Camps we hope to reach students from a wide range of schools and backgrounds and let them explore the beauty of Africa. Our first trips are to Mt. Suswa and Hell’s Gate.

Yesterday Bronwyn and I went to the new REI outlet in Memphis and purchased six new tents, which if you have followed our story you know we desperately needed. Now the hard thing about something like that is how do you get six tents to Kenya. Bronwyn and I will be maxed out with our weight headed back and mailing just isn’t an option. Well, get ready for a cool story. While we are in the States a mission’s group from Hope Church is going to stay at our house and they graciously are taking two tubs of stuff to Kenya for us. We were able to pack the tents and still had weight left over to get some protein bars over too. God truly works in the details!

Bronwyn and I are hard at work in the States right now, our calendar is filling up but we do still have some times and dates available to speak to groups or whoever. Remember, we are not just support raising but also recruiting staff too. No group is too large or too small and no time slot is too long or short. Thanks for continuing to follow our story.

Click here to support Brett and Bronwyn!

Advenrure Camp

Coming to America

Usa.pngI promise to get back to writing about camp but Bronwyn and I have been in Tanzania the last few weeks with very little ability to communicate with the world. I’ll share our experiences there soon but first I’ll give this quick update.

Bronwyn and I will be back in the States October 3rd through November 7th. We look forward to seeing friends and family but we also want to have as many opportunities as possible to share our story of what God is doing in our lives here in Kenya. We are happy to speak to any groups or individuals at any time. If you would like to have us come speak please let us know as soon as possible as our calendar is already filling up.

On top of sharing stories and support raising Bronwyn and I will be recruiting staff for next summer at BlueSky. We will also be looking for opportunities to speak to college groups who are interested in missions in Africa for the summer.

Finally, The Grove at Red Oak Lake has been generous enough to allow us to hold our support dinner at their amazing facility again this year. We hope to have a packed out house so please RSVP as soon as possible. The event will be November 1st 6-8 pm at 849 Rocky Point Rd, Cordova, TN 38018. You can RSVP through the FB event or just email us.

We hope to see as many people as possible in our time in the states, and as always you are more than welcome to visit us here in Nairobi.