Tag Archives: Kenya

Cardboard box tower and a covered desktop – The Monday Messy Office Report – July 20, 2015

20 Jul

My Monday Messy Office Report returns!  I’m sure you were feeling incomplete without it…

Today two photos that show what I arrived to this morning:

2015-07-20 Messy Office 02

My covered desktop

A smallish church pastor wears many hats, and Picture #1 shows a bunch of them:

1. Three weeks worth of bulletin proofs. I’m part of a team from Faith Church that will spend 10 days serving in Kenya, starting July 27, so I’ll be out of the office and need to work ahead a bit.

2. An orange New Testament with the name of one of my kids’ friends written inside.  A group of Faith Church kids were hanging out in my office after worship yesterday!  I love that they love to hang out in here…but it can get a little messy.

3. Receipts and a credit card statement.  Gotta keep things in order.  Did you ever wish money would just go away?

4. A couple phone messages.  People to call back!  You should see my email inbox…

5. Minutes from various church serve team meetings.  Staying informed about how all various committees are serving in the church is imperative.

6. Reminders…a bunch of them.  It’s coffee break Sunday which alters the flow of worship and fellowship time and children’s ministry, so we want to make sure the volunteers have some notice about that.  Then there is a reminder to send a bunch of info to the Kenya team.  I hate to admit it but I’m at the point where unless I have reminder notes, those things could easily be forgotten.

7. A bill from a local organ company saying that our service plan expired…11 years ago! They were wondering if we would want to pay $700 to start it back up again?  I can think of another solution…

8. Men’s Retreat brochure.  Can’t wait!  Going to be another awesome weekend at Twin Pines, Sept. 25-27.  Want to join us?  Let me know.

9. Scripture Reader list. People from the congregation volunteers as readers in worship, and I need to get someone lined up for this coming Sunday.

And there is Photo #2:  Why do I have a cardboard tower?  Over the last month or so, packages have been arriving.  I didn’t order any of them, but they just keep coming!  In fact, as I was typing this the postman rang the office door with another package from Great Britain!  Can you guess what this is all about?

Cardboard box tower!In a week I will open the packages.

Can you figure out what they are?

Christmas in July?

Nope.

Here’s a clue: It has to do with our Kenya trip!  Ok, I’ll tell you.  Our missionary friends in Kenya placed orders for items their school needs.  It would be expensive to ship them to Kenya.  But free for our team to bring them on the plane!  So we’re leaving room in our luggage to squeeze the items in.  I am so excited about the trip.  We could sure use your prayers.  And if anyone would be interested in sponsoring puzzle pieces, which is a trip fundraiser, check it out here.  We’d love to have over 200 pieces sponsored before we leave in a week.  If you want trip updates, just like the Faith Church Facebook page, and we’ll post new updates most days.

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Is there only bad news and a broken world?

3 Apr

broken worldHearing the bad news coming out of Kenya these past few days has been a sobering reality about our world.  I know that there is tragedy and evil like that pretty much every day of every week, but this one hit home because we have close friends who are missionaries in Kenya, and my son and I are preparing to join a team of 15 from Faith Church going to Kenya this summer.

I’ll admit, probably because of our unprecedented access to every part of the globe, I can get jaded about the bad news.  How many times can you get totally upset over a mass shooting before you start to get numb?  We call it growing a thick skin.

Some people, rightly though, say that we shouldn’t be surprised by the evil and tragedy out there in the world today.  They say that it is a fallen world, and that bad news is part and parcel of a fallen world. I tend to agree, but, man, can that come across callous.

I am paying closer attention to the news in Kenya, and I’m feeling it more emotionally because it is personal.  Thankfully my friends in Kenya live in a different part of the country and are safe.  But so many in Kenya are struggling today, so many are experiencing profound loss with this very bad news.

And that feels completely contradictory to the task I have in this blog post.  My aim is to introduce an Easter sermon.

I would much rather be introducing an Easter sermon after hearing wonderful news about how Christians in the world did something incredible because of the hope they have in Jesus.  Instead today we are hearing about Christians who were killed for being Christians.

I suspect that my consternation over this introduction is at least in part stemming from my vantage point of Christianity as the largest of the world religions.  But the original Easter story happened to a group of people that were the furthest thing a world religion.

Let me explain with a new word I learned this week: Triduum.  Ever heard that before?  It refers to the three days leading up to a feast, in this case Easter.  The Holy Triduum, or the three days leading up to Easter are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  As I was preparing for worship this week, it struck me how awful those three days must have been for those first followers of Jesus, and of course for Jesus too.

On Palm Sunday they are marching triumphantly into the city.  The crowds declare him King.  These are bold moves.  You don’t walk through the current king’s front door proclaiming that you are the new king, and you certainly don’t do it without a massive army.  Jesus came not riding on a warhorse, but on a peaceful donkey.

Who knows?  Maybe the Romans were laughing their heads off at that scene.  They probably didn’t feel threatened at all.  If they wanted to, they could have stopped the events of Palm Sunday immediately and ruthlessly.  Physically speaking they had no reason to be threatened by this supposed Jewish King.

Turns out it wasn’t the Romans, but the Jewish leaders who felt threatened.  They had been dogging Jesus for months and now things came to a head.  The joy and victory of Palm Sunday turned to a betrayal and arrest on the first day of the Triduum, Maundy Thursday.  Jesus’ disciple Peter whips out a sword to fight, thinking this is the moment. You gotta love Peter’s passion, making the first strike, cutting off a dude’s ear.  But when Jesus heals the guy, putting the ear back, you have to think that Peter was shell-shocked.

Hours later he denies Jesus three times.  All of Jesus’ 11 remaining inner circle run away, except John.  If Jesus was arrested, they were probably thinking, there could easily be a bounty on their heads too.

Jesus passes the night in a dungeon, and now we’re at day two of the Triduum, Good Friday.  He has been and still is being beaten repeatedly.  He is brought to trial on trumped up charges, and the politicians get involved.  They really don’t know what to do with him as he hasn’t actually done anything wrong, but the pesky Jewish leaders are calling for his death.  So the Roman leader Pilate gives Jesus another beating and sends him to be killed.

And they crucify him.

John alone, of all the disciples, and some of the women, are the only ones at the foot of the cross.  And Jesus dies.  Imagine that.  Three years of ministry.  In the toilet.  One of the Jewish establishment guys who is a secret follower of Jesus takes his body and buries it in a tomb.  He is given an honorable burial, but it sure seems like waste.  Could this one who was supposedly king material just be another in long line of failed upstart Jewish freedom fighters?

That takes us to the final day of the Triduum, Holy Saturday.  A day of waiting, confusion.  He had told them he would rise after three days.  I wonder what those disciples were thinking.  Did they have any idea what “rise after three days meant?”  I also wonder if they were ticked off at Peter.  I wonder if they even knew he had denied Jesus.  Did Peter tell them?  He wasn’t one to keep quiet.  I can hear them arguing, debating wondering what in the world they should do next.  Clearly they decided to stay in the city, maybe just because it was Passover and that’s  what you did.  Maybe they actually weren’t decided on what they should do.  Maybe they were too torn apart to know how to think.

Their world was broken.  The events of those three days had ripped it to shreds.  Our world can feel very broken like that.  Events of the past days leave us confused and frustrated, just like the disciples.

What do we do?

Is there no good news?

The Triduum will eventually finish.  And there will be a new day.  If you’re not part of church, we’d love for you to be our guest at Faith Church on that new day, this Sunday, Easter, as we search for some good news.

Note, Christmas Cards – Monday Messy Office Report – 10/27/2014

27 Oct

After a few months off, it’s back!  The Monday Messy Office Report.  It’s not that my has been clean all this time.  I’ve been busy or lacked the motivation to write.  Part of me doesn’t want to start back up again, so I’m compromising with myself and keeping it short.  Here’s what I found in my office today:

1. Note…of encouragement!  It was great to receive this.  A person from the church just wanted to encourage me!  When is the last time you gave someone a note of encouragement?  Maybe you could send an encouraging note right now?  Handwritten notes are still supreme in my book, but a quick email, Facebook message or text could do the trick!  Years ago I read a great book called The Church of Facebook, and the author suggests that we use Facebook to encourage people. So, how ’bout it?

Love146_Cards_Front_Page_medium2. Christmas Cards…from halfway around the world.  I know it is not in vogue to talk about Christmas too early, but I ask you to give this a listen.  For the second year, Imagine Goods is selling Christmas cards hand-made by survivors of sex trafficking.  You can purchase them here.  Since the Imagine Goods Fulfillment Center is just down the hall from my office, someone from Faith Church had graciously worked on assembling card packs at home (thus getting them ready for sale) and then brought them here.  Check them out.  Not only are they hand-made on recycled paper, but proceeds benefit survivors of trafficking!

3. Bag of Bean Soup.  Admittedly this has been on my shelf for weeks.  A neighbor of the church graciously brought it over for me.  I am so thankful for that!  But I am not going to use it, so I’m now looking for a loving home for it.  Do you like bean soup?  Want it?  Let me know!  With the weather cooling down as we head deeper into fall, this soup looks like a wonderful lunch for someone.

4. Cards for Missionaries.  The children of Faith Church made cards for our missionaries a couple weeks ago!  Their artwork is awesome!  We’re going to send these cards to Spain and Kenya soon.  Whitakers and Stoltzfuses, if you are reading this, look for a package soon!  We love that our kids can make connections with our friends who are serving the Lord around the world. As I write this today, I’m also exchanging emails with our travel agent in preparation for a summer 2015 trip to Kenya!  It has been too long since Faith Church had a mission trip, and so we’re quite excited to travel to Africa next year.  keny-LMAP-md

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!

Skype with the Stoltzfuses!

22 Aug

I remember as a kid being fascinated by the missionary phone patch, or at least that is what it was called at the church I grew up in.  During a worship service, we would call one of our missionaries and do a mini-interview with them through the church sound system.  It was really cool to think that our whole congregation was talking with someone halfway around the world.  As the church got more technology proficient, I remember that we would use an overhead projector to show their picture during the call.

Fast forward 20 years.

Stoltzfuses 2013Two weeks ago at Faith Church we Skyped with Lamar and Janice Stoltzfus, long-time Faith Church members who are full-time EC missionaries serving with Africa Inland Mission at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya.  It was a live video call.  Live video of them was on our big screen up front, and through a camera in our sanctuary, they could see us.  Through our sound system we could talk as if they were right there.  The wonder of the internet.  It was like Skype that you are accustomed to, but on a big scale!  I am so thankful for that kind of technology.

We’ve done it before plenty of times with our missionaries, but those calls have always been short, 5-10 minutes.  We would check in, hear brief updates and prayer requests, pray with them and say good bye.  But then we thought, why not give them the whole service like we do with missionary guest speakers?  Through the magic of Skype we can easily do this.

That is if Kenya doesn’t lose internet!  As it did last time we tried to do a short Skype with them.  Imagine that…the internet goes out over an entire country.  That gives you a bit of a picture of life in Kenya.

Thankfully this time, the connection was great, until literally right before I was about to turn the service over to them.  At that very moment we lost the connection.  It was great that their daughter Alyssa was with us in person, and she had just spent a month with them in Kenya. So as I interviewed her, the sound/projection team restored the connection and got the Stoltzfuses back on the line, and we had a clear call the rest of the way. No delays either.

It was great to hear from Kenya, where God is at work!