Rest…with a purpose

Lesson #2 from the Mara

The day after our safari was over, I sat and jotted down a few lessons one could potentially learn from taking a safari. Last time, I started out with Lesson #1 – Trust your guide. Tonight, I am reflecting on another lesson I learned:

After a hard journey, rest. You are resting in preparation to continue the hard journey.

I shared a bit about our journey to safari – the massive mud hole we got stuck in. But there’s more to our journey than that. It was a seven-hour ride in a vehicle meant for driving across open fields, not meant for the roads of civilization. So to say this was an uncomfortable ride would be putting it nicely.

Micah and I shared the back seat, which of course is the least comfortable. And remember, that just the night before we left for safari, I had received a bear hug that popped one of my ribs out of joint. I didn’t really realize just how bad it was until after we got to the Mara. At that point, I bowed out of our first game drive in preference for a massage at the neighboring camp.

All that to say – our journey to the Mara was not an easy journey. But hard journeys have become familiar. The journey our family has experienced over the last four years has been hard. Receiving a terminal diagnosis is hard. Watching your life mate wither in front of your eyes is hard. Ushering your spouse into his eternal home is hard.

The beauty of the Maasai Mara was a perfect end to such a hard journey. Resting under the trees. Eating gourmet meals outside. Listening to the hippos in the river. Watching the gentle giraffes munching on the trees. Seeing the elephants care for each other. Becoming part of the landscape of Africa, if even just for a few days. Resting. Rejuvenating.

And in our own personal journey – after Tim died, we have taken the last three years to rest. To heal. It has been incredibly important that we just “be” for a time. The boys have stepped out of most of the competitive sports. We have had very little on our schedules over the last couple years. I have dropped some of my time commitments at church. It has been a season of rest.

Our time on the Mara was short – just two days, two nights. But after running as hard as we had in Nairobi, and after the grueling road trip to get there, those two days and nights were restful and exactly what we needed. You see, our mission in Africa was not yet finished. We got back into Nairobi late on Friday night and we still had Saturday and Sunday to go – and Micah and I stayed for another two days after that. So our safari rest really allowed us to restore our energy to go back and continue our hard journey, continue ministering in a foreign environment, continue seeing sights and smelling smells that would stretch us to our limit.

After three years of resting, I am feeling ready to tackle life again. Each year, I find myself saying that, but each year it’s really true. I guess I am just now starting to realize just how hard that journey was (and still is). I am now working full time, still volunteering in kids’ ministry at church, and now the spark of missions has been lit again. Without having taken some time to rest, I don’t know that I could be where I am.

So, if you are on a hard journey in life – don’t forget to rest now and again. But keep in mind that the rest you take has a purpose. You are resting in preparation of continuing the hard journey. And another thing I am realizing – all of life is a hard journey. It’s just different chapters all along the way. DSCN0738



Lessons learned on the Mara

I’ve been mulling over my time in Kenya, thinking about what God taught me while there. As we were driving back to Nairobi from our safari, I was already realizing a few lessons to take to heart. Here’s the first; I will add more in coming days.

Lesson #1: Trust your guide.

One of my all time favorite books is Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I have re-read this book countless times because of the lessons learned. In style, it is quite similar to The Pilgrim’s Progress – the main character, Much-Afraid, is walking her journey to the High Places. The Shepherd (a.k.a. Jesus) assigns her two guides. At first, Much-Afraid does not like her guides at all – they seem ominous and gloomy to her. But as her journey continues, she learns to trust them and depend on them. By the end of the story, she realizes just how important they were to the success of her journey.hfohp

That is how I felt about our guide on our safari. At first, I wasn’t too sure about Julius. He didn’t seem to know how to maneuver through Nairobi. It took us two hours longer to get to the Mara than we had anticipated. And just as we left the tarmac (paved) road to begin the long, arduous journey on dirt roads, he got us stuck in a hole.

And I don’t mean just stuck (like rock the car a few times and you’re out), I mean STUCK. We were in the puddle so deep that we couldn’t open the back doors or the muddy water would have flooded the back of the Land Rover. He was spinning our wheels deeper and deeper.

After we offered to get out – silly us, we thought that might help – he continued to sink the truck deeper into the pit. Finally, another safari truck ambled along. Our rescuer pulled right up to our truck and pushed it back and out of the hole. While I was watching from the side, I saw the front left tire spinning in thin air as the rest of the truck was straining to catch firm dirt. Shortly, we were all back in the truck and on our way again.

As I said, at first, I wasn’t too sure about Julius.

But by the time our safari was coming to an end, I came to appreciate his depth of knowledge of the Mara. He learned the guiding trade from his father who had been a guide many years ago. Julius would go out with his father on game drives and learn from him. Then, he went to further schooling to learn more about his trade. Julius could answer every single question we peppered him with – whether it was about the Big Five (hippos, rhinos, elephants, lions, buffalo) or the smallest rodents, whether it was birds or flowers. Julius knew his stuff.DSCN0688DSCN0776

He also knew how to protect us. The Mara seems like such a peaceful place, but the reality is this is the wild. Lions, cheetahs, leopards and hyena are constantly on the hunt for their next meal.  We were within petting distance of lions and cheetahs more than once. I quickly developed a deep trust in Julius that he would keep us safe. He knew that we could be very close to these predators while they were resting, but when our truck was between the lions, he quickly moved us to a safer place.

This cheetah walked right next to our truck, paused in the road, and then kept going.
This male lion along with his pride of lionesses and cubs walked right past our truck to continue their mid-day napping.


Julius showed us the many wonders of God’s created world. He also treated us lavishly. He knew that his role as our guide was to serve us. On our sunset game drive, he had driven around the rains and then came to a stop. We all wondered what had happened – there were no animals near us to look at. He said we had a flat tire, so being the good farm girls we were, Lynette and I started to look to see which tire needed the help. By the time we had gone all the way around the truck, he had gotten out a picnic basket with a bottle of wine and wine glasses for us to share together. We all got a good laugh out of the flat tire that needed a medium size stone to help fix it!! Julius made our time on the Mara so special.


Lynette and Julius after his “flat tire” ruse.


As I think about how Julius fulfilled his role as our guide, I think of how the Holy Spirit has been called our guide, our counselor. The Holy Spirit, being fully God, is the only One that has full knowledge of who I am, how I am created, and what my purpose is. If I want to ask help or advice from someone, who better than the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, being fully God, has 100% of God’s power available to shield me from evil, to protect me from Satan’s attacks, to rescue me from danger. If I need help in any situation, who better than the Holy Spirit to protect me. The Holy Spirit has the unique role in the Trinity of living within believers. As such, He is there to help us and serve us – not in the sense that I command Him around, but that He shows me the wonders of God’s created world. He also intercedes for me at the throne of God (Romans 8). The Holy Spirit makes my life on earth more special than if I were to live without Him in my life.

Julius, thank you for being our guide on the Mara. You taught me far more than just facts about lions and giraffes. I pray that the same Holy Spirit I learn from in my daily life would be in your life too. You were a great guide for the Mara – the Holy Spirit is the BEST guide for LIFE.

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Micah and I share a photo with Julius as we are leaving the Mara to head back to Nairobi.

When in Rome…

Wow, this journey has been fantastic so far and to think that we are finishing with a few days holiday in Rome.

We arrived at the River Palace Hotel last night at around 10 pm and are just now getting up and going for the day. We have nothing planned for today, so it’s up to us to create our own adventures. I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for us.

It’s much cooler here than we had planned for, so we may need to find a shop to get a few warmer clothes in – we’ll see. Otherwise, it’s just Micah and me and the Eternal City. Ready, set, GO!!

Just a couple days to go

We said goodbye to the Fruits and the Klems last night as they headed back home. Micah and I have one more ministry to connect with. We will be heading to Charles and Ann Nderitu’s home today. I will be doing some children’s workers training (finally) with Charles’ Awana workers. We will be staying overnight with the Nderitu’s and then heading back to the Brydges apartment tomorrow. I’m hoping to squeeze in a little bit more shopping before packing everything up tomorrow evening. We leave bright and early at 8:35 am on Wednesday morning. That will be a very early morning for us both.

Then, on to Rome for a few days of relaxing before heading home.

Sorry this is so short, but I still have prep to do for the training I will be leading today.

A Short Update

We are back from the Maasai Mara – the most beautiful green space on our planet! Between Lynette, Karis and myself, we probably have taken close to 2,000 pictures of the Mara alone.

We left on Wednesday morning, for a very long and bumpy 7 hour car ride to the Mara. But it was so worth it. We settled in to the equivalent of a 5-star hotel – only it’s platformed tents in the middle of nowhere. I will share many more thoughts and pictures later, but for now, just know that the two day rest was needed and enjoyed.

This morning, we are heading out to Joseph Sulwa’s village for a family celebration to honor his parents – this “family” will include 700-1000 guests!! And because we are the white people visitors (mzungu), we will have a place of honor throughout the day. I’m quite anxious to see village life in action. Again, I’m sure that between Karis and I, we will have mountains of pictures by the end of the day.

I do have two prayer requests:

  1. The night before we went on safari, our wonderful Nairobi driver gave me a giant bear hug. He hugged so tightly that he popped one of my ribs out of joint – it’s a rib that has popped out twice before, so it’s more and more prone to happening. Please pray that either it pops back in or that I can find a trustworthy chiropractor. It really bothers me most in the mornings after laying still in one position over night. As the day wears on, the joints loosen up a bit more and I get more comfortable.
  2. Nancy picked up a stomach bug overnight. She is fairly sick this morning and is most likely not going to go with us to the village. Pray that she gets over the bug quickly.

That’s all for now – again, I promise to revisit all that we have done here and add pictures later.


Seeing ministry blossom in the desert

Today, our entire day was spent with Joseph Mulwa. He is an amazing man of God that has a deep passion for children and for the people of the slums of Nairobi. Because this day was so very full, I really must take time to process what I saw, heard, and smelled before I commit much more to writing. I will take time over the next day or two to share more. Just know that the ministry Joseph is running is producing fruit left and right. He is honoring God in every way possible.

The event is what’s important

After all the frustrations of waiting yesterday, a good reminder this morning. On Sunday, we ended up about 45 minutes late to a dinner engagement with Dennis and Irene Tongoi. As Bob was apologizing, Dennis assured him, “The timing is not what is important – it is the event that is important.”

Through all the waiting yesterday, nothing started on time. But at the end of the day, the things that are truly important happened. Pastor Roy spent time doing leadership training with several pastors. Did it start on time? No. Did the technology work up to our standards? No. Did everyone come that was expected? No. But, Roy met with six pastors that engaged with the materials he brought. They received his training and were grateful for his words on leadership.

I had a chance to share my hobby with 13 students. Did we start on time? No. Were the students as advanced as I expected? No. Did we accomplish as much as I had wanted to? No. But, is that what’s important? No. I was able to introduce a new concept to these students who have come from nothing. Not all of them were that keen on it, but there were at least 5 or 6 that by the time we were done understood the concepts of quilting and probably 1 or 2 that will really end up interested.

The rest of the team opened the nursery. Did they start on time? No. Were they able to spend time with the teachers? No. Did they hang out with the kids playing? No. But they got all of the stuff into the nursery. They set up the bed caddies. They taught three little ones what toys are – little ones that have never even seen a toy. At first they were scared, but quickly took to the toys and started playing with them.

So what is it that is really important? What time we start? How many quilt blocks we create? Or so many other things that we get stuck on? No – what is important is that Roy spent time with leaders, I spent time passing on the ideas of quilting and the team opened the nursery.

What a good reminder in a place where the concept of time is held so loosely.