This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not
that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

Friday, July 22, 2011

Do Everything to His Glory!

I am so thankful that God opened the door for me to follow him into Africa. Now, after returning to the states, I am excited to see what God has instore for me next. I always want to remember to serve the Lord with gladness and to willingly and joyfully follow his lead every day of my life.

For years I thought God's will for my life was so complicated, but I've learned that it's not nearly as nit-picky as I've always set it out to be. In fact, it's really simple. I don't need to get wrapped up in and stressed out about all the little details and decisions. Living in Kitale has shown me that God's will for my life isn't complicated at all. God's taught me that his will is centered around loving and glorifying Him wherever I am and in whatever I am doing. Ultimately, I think it's not the location I live or the specific job I have that's most important, it's the fact that in my community and at my job I do everything to his glory. Perhaps he delights most when I simply glorify him in everything that I do. Whatever car, house or job I have doesn't matter as long as I'm doing it to the glory of God. Basically I'm trying not to let myself get consumed with all the little details of things and just focusing on the fact that my purpose here, God's will for me life, is to love and glorify him and to share that love with others so that they will come to know and glorify him as well. So really I make life seem more complicated and the will of God appear more intimidating than it really needs to be. I keep trying to remind myself that my purpose is simple- just seek to love God in the things I do and that's his will for my life. I am called to do God's work anywhere and everywhere. Whether I am in Africa or America, my ministry to the people God furiously loves never stops. I'm praying that I will keep that in mind as I return to life in the states!

Today I heard this song and loved how perfectly it fit all the thoughts and feelings I've been having regarding God's will for my life. I hope you enjoying it as well!

Do Everything by Steven Curtis Chapman
You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
for the 15th time today
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
and head out the door
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do
Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day
Little stuff big stuff in between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do
Well maybe you’re sitting in math class
Maybe anekatips on a mission in the Congo
Maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio
Maybe you’re dining at a five star
Or feeding orphans in Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere you are
Whatever you do it all matters
So do what you do and don’t ever forget
to do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Follow the journey of an American college student living life in extreme poverty

Through some friends, I found out about a guy named Brett who has taken on the challenge of living in extreme poverty for 30 days. He will be spending 15 days homeless on the streets of Seattle and 15 days in a village in Ghana.

I loved reading through all his posts yesterday and sharing them with my mom today. I recommend following his journey. I guarantee it will be an eye-opening experiencing for all of us.

To follow along check out his blog at:

Please pray for Brett's journey as he steps into shoes of people living in extreme poverty. May God's light shine in and through him!

Here's what Brett has to say:

"Recently, my thoughts, actions, and heart have been really focused on the fact that 1.1 billion people live on $1.25 a day.  It is a problem that I believe a lot of people are aware of, but don't really understand, myself included.  I understand the statistic and the implications it probably has, but often times wonder if I really understand what it is these people go through?  I go back to the old saying that "you can't really understand what a person is going through, until you spend a day walking in his shoes."  I believe this to be true in the area of starvation, struggles and poverty as well which is why, starting this week, I will make an all out attempt to live below the lowest line of poverty that this world has ever known.  I want to better understand just what it is that these people around the world go through, so that I can better relate to them, and try to help them.

We will be filming the experience with the hope of allowing others to also walk in the shoes of those less fortunate.  Through film, we will attempt to bring people the opportunity to live in the world's most extreme poverty.

The first two weeks I will live homeless in downtown Seattle, WA, and the second two weeks we will head over to Ghana, Africa, one of the poorest nations on earth and I will live with a family in Yendi, who actually lives below the line of extreme poverty.

As I set off on this journey Tuesday, I hope that you will live the story with me.  My the film artist who will be documenting my experience during the 30 days will post blog and video updates from me each day.  Thanks for joining me on this adventure, I can't wait to see the story that God is about to tell."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Too poor to save

This morning I was counting my blessings as I thought about the desperate situations I witnessed everyday in Kitale. The list of things I have to be thankful for could go on for days. Things like a home, food, a bed, family, parents, access to medical care, a job, clean clothes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, showers, electricity, shoes, clean drinking water, schooling and opportunities for success.

I'll admit that I often find myself thinking about the ease of life here in America. Yes, that's coming from someone with a middle class upbringing whose parents have worked hard to provide for their family, but let's consider the overall welfare of our country verses underdeveloped, poverty-stricken countries such as Kenya. In America it is possible to - as the famous saying goes - pull yourself up by your bootstraps and pursue the American Dream of transforming your life from rags to riches. That sort of transformation is unheard of in many places. How does someone who has no resources, capital or education pull themselves up by their bootstraps? It's really difficult when you don't have anyone pushing you along, offering advice or providing a helping hand. Something much harder to find in African than in America. They've got to depend on someone to stumble across their potential and find investing in their life worthwhile. Something hard to find since people who live in poverty tend to come in contact only with others living in poverty. Praise the Lord for people and organizations who work hard to help these people everyday!

As I think about these things, I realize over and over again what a blessing my parents have been. The mere option and ability for my parents to save and invest their money is something most parents in Kenya can't fathom. Over the course of my life, my mother and father have consciously reserved money for my future. Whether it was putting money into a savings fund, buying stock and bonds, purchasing life insurance or investing their money in other endeavors, they have always sought out ways to set money aside for needs that arise later in life. Saving money isn't really something I've ever considered a blessing, but after a conversation I had with a friend I know without a doubt that it is.

I stopped to chat with John just as I did most days. I love John. John has a gentle spirit that greets me with joyful excitement. He has such a precious heart and always thanks me for remembering him that day- a big reminder that even giving people the smallest attention can make them feel loved, appreciated and valued. Quickly after greeting John, I found myself engulfed in a conversation about money and finances- a rather abnormal topic of conversation for the two of us. I knew John, despite having a full-time job that keeps him working well over 70 hours a week, only made 150 shillings ($2 US Dollars) during his nearly 11 hours workday. Although abundantly thankful for his steady income, John shamefully disclosed his troubles about his inability to save any portion of his income. An inability that hasn't come from his lack of desire or efforts, but simply from his need for survival. How will he ever be able to save money when he barely makes enough to keep his family alive? The current food crisis taking place in Kenya has increased the price of ugali (the cheapest and most filling food available) to 140 shillings a bag- the amount needed to feed his family for just one day.  That leaves him with 10 shillings (a whopping 12 cents) a day to pay rent, buy firewood, provide medical care, pay school fees (school in Kenya technically isn't free and no money means no school), mend or buy clothes, purchase bathing soap or laundry soap and pay the costs of other needs that arise. It's true things are cheaper in Kenya, but they aren't that cheap. There is no way he'll be able to provide the basic necessities for his family and certainly no way he can afford to set money aside for a savings fund.

Although he desperately longs to invest in his children's future, John really doesn't have that option. He literally has barely enough money to feed his family today. Can we even imagine that? I've lived among and become friends with people who face this reality everyday and I know that I will never be able to understand such desperation. It makes me so thankful for everything that I have, that my parents have been saving their entire lives and that they've been able to invest in my future. I'm thankful that I've been able to attend school and graduate from university without debt and without using any of the money I've earned and worked to save. Because of God's blessings and their hard work, I have been given stepping stones into a bright future. I pray that my life reflects a sense of gratefulness for all that I have and that I always remember to praise God for everything he does in and for me.

So thank you Lord for my family's ability to save. Thank you so much.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Oasis- Texas!

This week my mom, sister and I are heading out to the Texas hill country to enjoy a few days together! Tonight we spent the evening watching the sun set over beautiful Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. A stunning picture of God's perfection. We ate dinner at a restaurant called Oasis and I tried to pretend I was back at Oasis of Hope in Kitale, Kenya. Sadly, my imagination wasn't quite able to take me from this continent to the other. Oh, and yesterday I ordered a smoothie simply because it was named Oasis. Does anybody else think I'm going through withdrawal?

beautiful sunset over Lake Travis

mom and sister wearing the Kenyan skirts I hand sewed for them :)

Saturday, July 16, 2011


Believe it or not, I never did see any elephants in Kenya. Of course, I probably would have if I had ventured out on a safari at some point in time, but that wasn't in my plans. Instead, I waited until I returned to the heart of Texas - Waco, Texas - to see my elephant! Who needs to see an elephant in Africa when you can see one in Waco?  :) 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Praying for Grandpa

Last week, as the result of a fall, my grandpa ended up in the hospital. He's still very confused, lethargic and in pain. Please keep him in your prayers as he begins his recovery. Love this man so much :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Portland bound!

My mom and I are off to visit my grandpa (her dad) and grandad (my Dad's dad) in Portland, Texas! I'm SO excited to be reunited with my precious grandpas! :)

Today, I am grateful for many things. The first being the smoothly paved roads of south Texas. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the roads in Kenya are terrible. Absolutely terrible. Almost all the roads in and around Kitale are unpaved and extremely eroded and the ones that are paved have massive craters covering every inch. I've heard car rides in Kenya described as a bull ride. In my opinion, this is a very accurate depiction of the the shaking, bumping, jerking and jolting that takes place. It's literally painful. Okay, so all of this to say that the highways to Portland had no pot holes nor speed bumps (yes highways in Kenya have speed bumps on them) and our journey south was pleasant, comfortable and unlike any car ride I've experienced in the last 5 months.

I should probably also mention that since we drive on the left side of the road in Kenya, I have panicked several times as I've tried to readjust to watching people drive on the right side.

Bathrooms. That's another thing our drive to Portland has made me thankful for. Neither time we stopped to use the bathroom did I have to supply my own toilet paper. Believe it or not, toilet paper is something you have to carry with you in Kenya if you're expecting to use it. It's not that they ran out or forgot to restock. It's just simply not part of the bathroom.

While I'm grateful for toilet paper, I am even more grateful for toilets! No more stinky holes in the ground- hooray! No more mud huts where I have to aim and balance myself while trying not to hit myself with my own urine or stand in anyone else's urine (or other waste) that is covering the ground around the hole. One of the funny joys of living in a country where plumbing isn't normal. And I've bet you guessed by now that where there is no plumbing there are no sinks. Yuck!

I can tell you this much- I'm so blessed to come from a developed country where nearly every place I go has a toilet complete with toilet paper and a sink!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The road to Nairobi...

Here's an excerpt from my journal:

If only I could justly describe the experience I am having right now. I've been riding the North Rift Shuttle for 4 hours as I make the journey to Nairobi to fetch Ben from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. We've now stopped at what I could consider a rest stop, but an African style rest stop of course. It's no Buckees nor is it one of those rest stops you pass as your cross from Texas into Oklahoma. It's more along the lines of a rundown, podunk town. A line of shacks laid side by side and old enough to look like they are about to collapse straight to the ground. In the background I can gear artist from the early 1990's entertaining peoople of all ages.

I wish I could somehow describe the sent put off by this place. A few of you might understand what I mean when I talk about the "hole in the ground" toilets. I saw my first "hole in the ground" toilet while traveling through Italy in 2008 and my second while in Morocco a few weeks later. Both of these toilets were bizarre and difficult to use, but looking back on it a million times cleaner than what I would later experience in Kenya. It never fails- every time I've used this type of toilet the area around the toilet is wet where I stand is wet and each time I try to pretend that it's not urine. (But let's be honest, there really is no other option!) The smell of stagnate bodily waste is strong enough to knock you over as you try to balance yourself and aim into the toilet. I always laugh at the awkwardness of the situation and still avoid these toilets at all costs! One small side note: when a hole in the ground gets full they cover the hole and dig a new one. It's impossible not to notice a 'hole in the ground' toilet that's over a 100 yards away simply because you can't miss the smell.

You have the option to purchase chips (french fries), kuku (chicken) and chapati- the traditional Kenyan foods - as well as a few of what I would call highly unappealing, dried out snacks. I chose the safest and most familiar option- strawberry yogurt. I've had yogurt in Kenya before so I know not to expect anything spectacular or even closely familiar to my idea of yogurt back at home. This being the case, I wasn't too surprised when I opened my yogurt to find a solid layer of goo about two inches thick lying on top. Gross. Did I mention that you drink your yogurt with a straw here? Sadly I did not grow up in the go-gurt generation so slurping my yogurt is a concept I find unattractive. I did manage to puncture the inch of goo on my straw and settled down on the red dirt ground to drink my snack and wait for the shuttle to reload.  Suddenly, it was time to go. Within 15 seconds everyone, including the driver, piled back into the van and off we went!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Don't cry, please don't cry

It's my last week here in Kitale and I am trying with all my might not to shed a tear. Not yet at least.

I can't explain the turmoil my heart is feeling at this point in time. I'm trying not to let myself be overwhelmed, but  I can't deny the fact that I am. While I'm excited to be reunited with my family, I'm not ready to leave this home and the family and friends I have developed here. I will miss my Kitale family and all the beautiful relationships that have been built over the last 5 months.

Tears will be shed. Lots of tears. I'm just hoping I can hold them for now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome to Kenya, Ben!

The newest arrival in Kenya- Ben Butler! Check out his clean feet compared to mine!

Day one in Kitale! 

Ben making someone's day by fitting him with a new pair of glasses!

Saying bye bye to my glasses! Blessed to have had LASIK and happy to pass my glasses along to someone here in Kenya!

All smiles as we visit in Shimo :)

      Ben getting swamped!

Ben's first ugali experience!

Trying a Kenyan delicacy- live termites! 

beautiful faces

Ben making new friends!