The Story that is My Life

My life as it has been and as it continues to unfold is a story. One story made up of many stories. One complex, yet simple story. One sometimes messy, but so beautiful story. One story that I wonder if it might be interesting to be told.

This blog is my attempt to put part, or parts, of that story into words, pictures, or whatever form my mind can wrap itself around or create from within myself to express what it is like to be the one inside Cindy's Story. This is an exploration on my part and on yours in reading, and seeing, and maybe even hearing. It is not necessarily chronological. It might not always make sense, but it is my expression. It is me.

You are invited to see how my story unfolds.....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kenya Month Three; November 29, 2000

[The following prayer update was written by me from Africa about three months after arriving there.  I am including these writings from Kenya in my blog because they tell a part of my story I want to remember.  You can relive the story with me as I discover the things I did and went through in Africa and my thoughts along the way.  I like this letter because it shows me how God answers prayer and shows me that people still have needs.]

Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Dear Friends and Family,

Bwana Asafiwe!
Praise the Lord!

God really is so good and loving to us, knowing all our needs and taking care of each one of them in His perfect timing.

Asante Sana!  Thank you so much for all your prayers!  God is listening to you and answering in many ways.  You have all been such an encouragement to me over this past month.  Many of you have written and said that you are praying and have even offered your help in various other ways.  I am so encouraged and humbled by the way God is moving in your lives and using me even in times that I feel so week.  All glory goes to Him.  Let me share with you some of the ways that God has answered your prayers:

Praises
* Food.  The day after I sent off my last Prayer Update, which included the need for prayer for food for the children, food arrived!  Bags of relief food were brought to the school for the children's lunches the ver day after the previous supply had all been eaten.  God answered our prayer at just the right time, and the kids did not have to go without food for even a day.

* A friend.  You have been praying for a friend for me, well God is sending me a partner to share in friendship and ministry with the Kamba people very soon!  She is a girl from England who has recently finished her high school studies.  She will be arriving in January and joining me shortly after.  We will live together and teach in the same school.  It will be nice to have someone to share things with.  She will be able to take on some of the subjects that I had been teaching at the primary school, thus freeing me up to do even more Bible teaching and activities in area churches, high schools, and technical training schools, which is my desire.

* Rains.  God has sent the rains!  Rain started to fall a little three weeks ago, and has fallen off and on since then.  It is amazing the change in the landscape almost overnight - from brown to green.  People are now busy planting and watching over their shambas (fields).  Some people have even said that it is more rain than needed.

* Teaching God's Word.  God gave me numerous opportunities to share and expound His Word over the last month, including giving the message in the Sunday services at Kathuma, Muthoyoi, and Malooi churches and speaking to the youth at Kathuma.  Also, in January we will start having youth meetings at the local church twice a month where I will be able to teach the Bible and encourage them to remain faithful to the Lord.

* Singing Praises.  A hymn book with music  in it was found so that now I am able to play the keyboard in church as the people sing the hymns in their language (Kikamba).  They enjoy this, and it is a joy to me.  I am also teaching a few of the young men in the church who lead worship how to read music and principles of the keyboard so that they will also be able to learn, play, and teach the songs they want to sing to God.  They are very happy about this, and many hours are spent in singing praises to God as they learn.

May I share with you some more needs that you can bring before God.  These needs are very tangible and have been shared with me directly from Simon Kamu, the pastor of the local church and the head of the family that I live with.  These are all things that the Kamba people see as needs in their lives or desires that they have for their community.

Physical Needs
In the Family
* Simon Kamu has Asthma, and this makes life difficult at times because he must walk or ride his bicycle to the church he pastors.  Plus, it is difficult to continually find the money that is needed to pay for his medication.  Pray for God's strength and provision for him.

* Ebenezar, the Kamu's fourth born out of six children has some type of sickness which is having an effect on him.  It has made him have to repeat fourth grade, and he is still the last in the class.  This can be very discouraging for him, especially when the other children make fun of him and when his younger brother and sister are passing him up in school.  Again, the family must find money to pay for his medication.  Pray for God's provision, encouragement, and healing.

* Crops.  Now that rains have come and the family has done all the needed plowing and planting, they are praying that they will have a good return on their crops.

* College Fees.  Mumo, the oldest son, as well as Mboya, the second born son, have both finished high school and would like to go on to college to get training for a job, but they need prayer for the raising of college fees.  It is not like in America where a student can get a job which pays an hourly wage to put him through school.  There aren't really any jobs in the village, only in the big cities which are far away.  The Kamu family would also like to be able to send Kamena to a training college so that she will be able to support herself in the future.  Kamena is the firl that lives with us and helps in fetching water, cooking, and cleaning.  Her mother has died and her father is unable to support her so she must depend on others and her own hard work even as a girl.

In the Community
* Bibles.  Many Christians do not have their own Bible to read and study.  The Kamba peple understand their own language the best, but many of them are also able to understand English.  There are Kikamba Bibles for sale at a town not far away, but all the money a person has is going towards food these days rather than buying other things.  One pastor even suggested that they would love even to have the used English Bibles that people in America are not reading anymore.

* Discipleship Materials.  There are some Discipleship materials/booklets that I would like to be able to purchase and use with some of the interested youth in the community.  Please pray for God's direction and provision in this and for the interest and commitment of the youth.  These material are printed and sold here in Kenya so the cost is kept low and seems like it very well may be possible.

* Church Building.  The current church in Muthyoi is too small so a new one is being built.  The brick walls are up and money has been raised to put on a tin roof and finish the floor.  Please pray that this would not just be a building, but that it would truly  be a place where people worship God in spirit and truth and come to know Him more.

* Crippled Children's Home and School.  A building has already been halfway started next to the primary school in Muthyoi (but abandoned) with the purpose of being a home for crippled children so that they can go to school.  This is one desire of the community which has currently been put on hold due to many needs.  If this project is to go forward God will need to provide many things including the finishing of the dormitory, the beds and supplies for the children to live there, loving and responsible adults to live with the needy children, and direction in choosing which kids will get to live there (there are many in need).

Well, I know this has been a very long letter, but so many of you have shown such interest and dedication in prayer that I wanted to continue to provide fuel for your prayers.  I especially want to say a big THANK YOU to all the kids who are praying.  Keep it up.  God is listening to you.

Keep loving Jesus and resting in His love.
~Cindy

Kenya, One Month; October 1, 2000

[The following prayer update was written by me from Africa about a month after arriving there.  I am including these writings from Kenya in my blog because they tell a part of my story I want to remember.  You can relive the story with me as I discover the things I did and went through in Africa and my thoughts along the way.]

October 1, 2000

Dear Family and Friends,

I send you greetings from Kenya.  Simon and Mary Kamu (my host family), Paul and Phoebe Kamu (brother to Simon, neighbor, and fellow teacher) the teachers at Muthyoi Primary School, and all those at the church in Muthyoi send their greetings to you all.  Thank you for your continued prayers.  God in His goodness is sustaining me and teaching me many things.  I am growing to love Him even more.

I can hardly believe that over one month has gone by since I arrived in Kenya.  It feels like I have been here a long time, and yet it still feels like I have just arrived.  I am still seeing and experiencing new things all the time.  Let me share some things with you.

Praises:
I am able to join the Kamu family three nights a week for family devotions and prayers.  This is a source of encouragement for me.

September 10 - I gave the message at Muthyoi AIC Church.  I talked about how Jesus is the Bread of Life as He says in John 6.  It was good for us to be reminded that Jesus knows our hearts and can fulfill our deepest needs.

September 13 - Paul Kamu's wife Phoebe gave birth to a healthy baby boy.  This is a big praise because Muthyoi is very far from a hospital and the family does not have the money for such.  She had the baby in the nearby basic clinic.  We also praised God because that night it rained, which is avery much needed because of the drought.

The kids at school enjoy having me there and seem to understand my English okay.

September 24 - I gave the message at Malooi AIC Church.  I spoke on Hebrews 12:1-3, encouraging us all to live the life of faith with endurance drawing our strength from the example of the lives of others and especially that of Jesus Christ.

Requests:

That I would find one good Kenyan friend in my village that is a girl close to my age.  I am often lonely and would like someone to talk to who is just like a friend rather than a student or other teacher.

Ability and understanding in teaching on my part as well as on the part of the kids.  I teach classes in grades 5, 6, 7, and 8 with a wide variety such as English Science, Math, Art and Craft, Music, and Christian Religious Education.  I also teach a Bible club on Wednesdays that I need ideas and encouragement in.

The Ukambani area still needs rain and the people need provisions.

For understanding on my part of what the best way for me to act and be involved is in the community and family life.

I am learning about the spiritual needs of the people and hope to share more about this in the next letter.  Please pray that God will help me in this regard.

Again, thank you for your prayers.
In Christ,
Cindy

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Conversion Testimony (in Swahili and English)

[I prepared the following testimony in Swahili and English to be able to share my simple conversion story with the people in Kenya.]

Kutoka mwanzo wa maisha yangu nilijua ya kwamba familia yangu ilinipenda.  Nilipenda kuwa na wakati mzuri na baba na mama wangu  na hatat babu wangu.  From the very beginning of my life I knew that my family loved me.  I loved spending time with my dad and mom and with my grandparents.  Kutoka kwao niliweza kufahamu vitu vyilivyo na maana maishani na pia maana kamili ya kupata upendo/kupendwa.  Pia niliweza kufahamu ya kwamba kulikuwa na mtu maishani mwao ambaye alikuwa kiini cha uhai na chanzo cha upendo waliokuwa nao, hii kuwa Mungu. From them I learned about the important things in life and what it meant to be loved.  I also learned that there was someone in their life that was their reason for living and the source of the love they had, which was God.
Siku moja milipokuwa msichana mdogo nilikuwa nikipumzika kwenye sofa nikitazama paa la nyumba.  Nikaanza kufikiri kuhusu Mungu na yote niliyofahamu/funzwa kuhusu Yeye nyumbani na hata kanisani.  One day when I was still a small girl, I was lying on the couch staring at the ceiling.  I started thinking about God and what I had learned about Him at home and at church.  Nikafikiri kuhusu dunia na mimi.  Nilijua ya kwamba Mungu alinipenda.  Mamangu alikuwa amenifunza kuimba nyimbo "Yesu anipenda" wakati wowote nilipokuwa na uwoga.  Nilifahamu pia ya kwamba nilifanya vity vilivyo fanya Mungu dhaifu/kuhisi vibaya.  I thought about the world and about me.  I knew that God loved me.  My dad had taught me to sing "Jesus loves me" whenever I was afraid.  I also understood that I did things that made God sad.  Ijapokuwa nilikuwa msichana mzuri lakini nilitenda dhambe.  Biblia inasema "Kwa sababu wote wamefanya dhambi na kupungikiwa na utukufu wa Mungu". (Warumi 3:23)  Hatahivyo nilijua ya kwamba Yesu, mwana kamili wa Mungu alikuja duniani na akafa msalabani kwa ajili ya dhambi yangu.  Although I was a good girl, I still sinned.  The Bible says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)  However, I knew that Jesus, God's perfect Son, came to Earth and died on the cross for my sins.  Pia nilifahamu ya kwamba alikuja tena akiwa uhai akashida kifo ili nikimuamini na kumpa maisha yangu nitaishi na yeye milele mbinguni.  I also knew that He came alive again conquering death so that, if I believed in Him and gave my life to Him, I would live with Him forever in heaven. Biblia inasema ya kwamba "Kwa maana jinsi hii Mungu aliupenda ulimwengu hata adamtoa mwanawe pekee ili kila amuaminie asipotee bali awe naa uzima wa milele." (Johana Mtakatifu 3:16)   The Bible says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)  Nilifurahi sana hata nikakimbia kwa mamangu nakumueleza hiyo uumbe mpya.  Alinichukua na sote wawili tukapiga magoti kando ya kitanda changu na nikaomba baada yake ombi (kama) kili: "Mungu mpendwa najua ya kwamba nimetende dhambe na kukufanya uwe na udhaifu."  I was so happy that I ran to my mom and told her the good news.  She then knelt with me beside my bed, and I followed her in a prayer something like this: "Dear God, I know that I have sinned and have made you sad.  Naamimi ya kwamba Yesu alikufa na akafufuka tena kisha adachukua dhambe zangu.  Tafadhali nisamehe na njoo rohoni mwangu.  Asante sana kwa kunipenda.  Katika jina la Yesu, Amina.  I believe that Jesus died and rose again to take away my sins.  Please, forgive me and come into my heart.  Thank you for loving me.  In Jesus name, Amen."
Wakati huo Yesu alija maishani mwangu.  At that moment, Jesus came into my life.

Monday, May 7, 2012

To Live in Muthyoi, Kenya; September 5, 2000

[The following prayer update was written by me from Africa about a week and a half after arriving there.  I am including these writings from Kenya in my blog because they tell a part of my story I want to remember.  So, more will be coming.  You can relive the story with me as I discover the things I did and went through in Africa and my thoughts along the way.]

Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Dear Friends and Family,

So much has happened since I have arrived in Kenya that I can hardly remember when the last time I wrote to you was.  Many of you must be wondering how I am doing and how things are for me here so I will take this opportunity while I am still in Nairobi (the capital city) to give you an update.

Thank you for praying for me.  I believe that God is really using your prayers.  The stomach trouble that I had when I arrived quickly went away and has not returned.  I am very thankful for that.  I have been kept safe in travel, some of which has been very crazy, especially when riding a matatu (a type of large van or small bus that is stuffed full of bodies and bumps along at a very fast pace).  I thank God for the warm welcome of the local African Christian family that I will be staying with and of the community.  I also am very thankful for the way God arranged things so that I could go out for a few days to my location before returning to Nairobi for a time of orientation with other new missionary teachers.  This has allowed me to see and experience where I will be, and then come back to the city and be able to better prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally for it.  I really am going to need to completely depend on God for everything.

Let me give you a semi-brief description of where I will be living as of tomorrow:  My small house is made out of red brick with a tin roof set on top.  The floor is cement, and I have wooden shutters, but no glass on the windows.  I have a main room, two small bedrooms, and a store room.  I don't have electricity or a phone, but I do have a kerosene lamp.  The family kitchen is a separate mud hut with a grass roof.  In it food is cooked on three stones over an open fire.  I bathe out of a small bowl with a few gallons of water, and the toilet is long drop (a hole in the ground a stone's throw from the house).  Clothes are washed by hand in small tubs and hung on lines to dry.

The location is beautifully set in the mountains and hills of Eastern Kenya (Nzoui, I believe).  I can climb up to a high rock and see out over the whole area.  The shambas (farms) are spread out within walking distance of each other, with the church set on the most fertile land next to the largest sycamore tree.  The primary school where I will be teaching is just past the church and up the hill.  

Much of Kenya is experiencing drought, and my location is especially dry.  Even the oranges have dried up on the trees, and other supplies are short.  Cows are very thin, and smaller animals such as chickens are dying from lack of food and water.  Many people do not even know where they will get the tea leaves or sugar (the price of which has tripled within two weeks and is very scarce) for their  next cup of tea, but are just trusting God day by day to provide.  Please pray for the water and food situations here.  Rain is really needed.

I have been to the school and seen some of the children.  They have so little to work with and yet work so hard.  They mostly speak their tribal language, Kikamba, so please pray for me as I try to communicate with them in English, and as I learn and try to understand Kikamba.

I have been asked to speak in church next Sunday, and I have already had a few chances to share devotionals from God's Word.  Please pray that God would speak through me as I take these opportunities that He gives me to share His Word.  I feel so inadequate, and yet thank God for the chance to be used by Him.  In this whole experience, I feel like a small child.  I am having to learn everything in a whole new way.  Even things such as eating, bathing, and speaking have to be taught to me.  I am finding myself many evenings on my knees telling God that I don't know how to do this and crying out, "Help me, Lord".  I thank God for this chance to get to know Him in a whole new and closer way, and I only pray that each of you will have the same opportunity to daily depend on Him.  God is so good.

I travel back to Muthyoi with all my stuff by matatu tomorrow, and then will start my first day as a teacher on Thursday, so your prayers in these next few days will be invaluable.

Keep loving Jesus.
Sincerely in Christ,

~Cindy

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Before Kenya, August 2, 2000

[This email was written to a friend two and a half weeks before I left for Kenya where I would live for a year as a missionary.]

Wednesday, August 2, 2000

I am thinking over things a bit seriously tonight.  It seems to get more and more real every day.  You know, the fact that I am really doing this, that i am really going to Kenya as a missionary, that I will really be totally living with the daily purpose of telling people about Jesus and helping them to grow closer to him.  Can you believe that?  I mean, I guess that is what I am supposed to be doing now anyway, but it seems so much more real and more my purpose now.  That is my whole reason in moving half way around the world to a whole new culture.

People here have given from what they have to support me believing that God can use me.  That is so overwhelming at times.  Sometimes it feels like I really have no idea what I am doing, that I have nothing of worth to offer.  I just try not to let myself listen to that because I remember that God can do whatever He wants and use whomever He wants.  It is not me and my abilities that are important, but God working through me.  I want Him to do that so badly...

Sorry, tears just started running down my cheeks.  I started thinking about how badly I want God to use me to bring people to an intimate relationship with Him, But then I think about how much of my relationship with Him I am missing.  I interact with Him on one level and just go along like that thinking everything is okay, but I think I could have more.  I have been realizing even more lately that an intimate relationship with someone is something that has to be really worked at if I want it to be good and strong and stand the test of time and be absolutely beautiful.  I guess I have to be willing to remain faithful as a close companion even in the times that it feels like I am a million miles away from the one I love.  With God, I guess that means being faithful in prayers and reading, studying, and meditating on His Word.

I have a feeling that God is really going to work on me this year.  I know that there are some things that I need to learn and start practicing as a consistent and remaining part of my life, things that I would like to have ingrained into my life.  I want to be close to my source of strength, God, so that I will not mistakenly try to draw my strength from another source instead and drain the joy out of the good thing things that are happening in my life.  I want to be able to look up in love for my Savior, and then look out in service for others, but if I get too inwardly focused and only see my troubles and struggles, then it will be hard to do that.

This is my desire: to love Jesus.

Wow, you really got a lot from me tonight.  I just let my thought flow through my fingers as they came.  Thank you for listening (well, reading I guess).

Good night,

~Cindy