Archive for May, 2009

From Geoffrey to you; Aids, the gay mans curse right? WRONG

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Wednesday May 21, 2009

AIDS the gay mans curse… right? WRONG!

I remember in ninth grade at the awards ceremony for the Junior ROTC at Mayfair high school. As the highly decorated and honored Vietnam veteran read off my name for my new ribbon, my mom leaped from her chair and started hooting and hollering “THAT’S MY BOY!” Overtime I found that the proud bellowing cries of my mother was one the easiest ways to get a massive amount of blood to rush to my cheeks and for me to bury my face in my hands out of embarrassment. Nothing brings out embarrassment in a child’s life like a proud parent. I feel the same way about overzealous and condemning Christians that claim that AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuals and spend their free time holding up signs and denouncing and condemning the two worst sinners in their eyes; homosexuals and those who have gotten an abortion. Nothing gets a massive amount of blood to rush to my cheeks and forces me to bury my face in my hands in sheer embarrassment then when they open their trap and rant on about how God hates these people. They represent Christ in such a way that makes me not want to follow him if he is the type of God that their actions represent him as. The sad truth is that I have unfortunately heard Christians claim that AIDS is God’s wrath on homosexuals time and time again. Nothing opens up my eyes to the ignorance and misrepresentation of my faith by some people like these arrogant and egotistical people. I guess it is the American Christian way to put the blame on someone else. It is their fault and not mine, right?

I guess we can blame those dang homosexuals for the 1,000 people who die each week in Northern Uganda from AIDS, malaria and starvation. I guess it is also their fault that in Uganda AIDS has orphaned one million children. It is the fault of homosexuals that the Lords Resistance Army, where young female children are raped and forced into sexual slavery causing them to contract this disease, has abducted over twenty five thousand children. I guess we can also blame homosexuals for the 500,000 Tutsi women that were systematically raped by men who knew they were HIV positive during the tragic Rwandan genocide. Once again let’s point the finger at that homosexuals for the two million children that have been orphaned by AIDS living in Kenya. Apparently it is their fault that the millions upon millions of people have died from this disease and for the millions who still have it. If it wasn’t for those homosexuals AIDS never would have been sent down by God, right? WRONG!

Though these statistics make a pretty strong argument against the homosexuals, this little voice in my head is telling me that instead of pointing the finger and blaming others for this disease we should be blaming ourselves. Instead of putting the responsibility on a certain group and being the stereotypical Christians we should do our part. If someone were dying in my arms and I had the power to save them, how cruel would it be for me to allow them to die a slow and painful death? If I have the ability to end the suffering of someone and to give someone hope, how cruel is it for me to deprive them of it?

A woman named Kitty Genovese was brutally attacked as she returned to her home late one night. She cried out for help and fought with every ounce of strength she had for thirty minutes. Thirty-eight people watched this woman fight for her life and heard her cries for help, but not one of them was willing to even called the police. Kitty died as thirty-eight people watched.

It amazes me that these thirty-eight people watched and did nothing, all they had to do was dial three numbers and this woman’s life would have been saved. All they had to do was start yelling to stop or throw something to get the attackers attention, but they didn’t. Instead they returned to their television shows and beds and lived life as if nothing were happening at all. They all had the power to help, but not one lifted a finger. I wish I could hear their excuses, “I thought someone else had called the police,” or, “it isn’t my fault, it was someone else’s responsibility.”

How tragic was 9/11? What was the response of the nation? People were outraged! Tears were shed. Hearts broke as families were torn apart. It truly was a tragic day, a day that we shall never forget. This was one of the biggest and most horrendous things to happen to our country and it impacted every American citizen in one way or another. How would you respond if I told you that in one day five fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes filled with American citizens would crash? Think of the lives that would be impacted and families torn apart. What if it were twenty fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes in one day? What if it were twenty Boeing 747 airplanes filled with American children, and they crashed each day for an entire month, meaning that 600 planes crashed, what would your reaction be? What if I told you that every day for an entire year twenty Boeing 747 airplanes completely filled with American citizens were crashed, leaving three million people dead, what would your reaction be? What if I told you that we had the ability to stop it but we did nothing at all, would you be outraged? Three million young and innocent American children, women, men, grandparents would all be dead… how tragic. Wouldn’t you want our government to do something? Wouldn’t you want action and someone to step up and stop this tragedy? What if you knew it was happening would you try to do anything to stop it? How would you respond if everyone said, “it isn’t my responsibility,” and waited for someone else to step up to the plate and take action in this matter. What if I told you that this year a total of three million people would died from AIDS. This staggering number is compared to twenty fully loaded Boeing 747 airplanes crashing every single day for a year. Why does our reaction change when we go from American citizens to African?

I was pretty shocked when I first heard about Kitty Genovese. I was outraged that so many people watched and did nothing at all, so many people had the ability to help but didn’t. I think about what they are going to say to God on judgment day and whether or not they are going to point the finger at someone else. The sad reality of the situation is that they had the power to help and to save a life and they didn’t. I am sure that if any of them could go back and relive the situation they all would, but there is no rewind button on life. The sad reality of AIDS is that we have been given the ability to make a difference, but we don’t. Do you realize that if each church in America sponsored forty-two AIDS orphans that every child would be taken care of? If we found forty-two people in each church to contribute less than a dollar per day, the AIDS epidemic would be significantly impacted. Unfortunately we look past the young sex slaves, rape victims and children born with this disease and blame the homosexuals. Instead of using those resources that God has given us we put the blame on someone else and assume it is someone else’s responsibility.

It seems like most Christians believe that the two worst sins are homosexuality and getting an abortion. Whenever I see someone holding up a sign with one hand and a blow horn in the other, words of hatred towards these two groups of people are always being vomited from their mouths. It is just like us Christians to put our entire focus on an issue mentioned six times in the bible and completely over look the issue mentioned over 2,100 times. It amazes me how we claim these are the two worst sins, when in actuality I would think that us disobeying the 2,100 commandments to meet the needs of others would be a little more offensive to God, but what do I know I am just a rambling mzungu in Kenya…

I am told over 2,100 times that I need to help widows, orphans and those in bad situations. Over 2,100 times I am told to not just say I am a Christian but to put my money where my mouth is and to use what I have been given to meet the needs of others. Over 2,100 times I am told that if there is someone in need and I have the ability to help I must or else the love of God isn’t in me. Over 2,100 times I am commanded to use what I have been entrusted with to meet the needs of others. Over 2,100 times I am told that if I am a true believer and see someone in Christ then I will help meet his or her physical needs. God makes his point loud and clear over 2,100 times, but I guess these are the parts that we over look. I guess it was just a mistake; he really meant to write stuff about homosexuality and abortions 2,100 times. Why is it that I always see people condemning gays and those who have gotten abortions, but not once have I seen someone holding up a sign confronting those people who are standing on the sidelines with the ability to help but don’t?

When I look at the AIDS epidemic I realize that I can respond in one of two ways. I can knock the dust off of my feet in its general direction, point the finger on the gays, and claim that the responsibility is of other people, meaning I can react like a stereotypical Christian OR I can do the Christ-like thing. I can see the millions upon millions of people suffering because of this disease and look at it as one of the greatest opportunities of the Christian faith to put their money where their mouth is and prove their faith in God through their actions. I can be like Christ and care less about how someone becomes sick and focus my attention on healing him or her instead of condemning him or her. I can take what has been entrusted to me and use it in a God-honoring way. I can love someone as much as I love myself. Instead of putting on my Christian front instead of people I can read the 2,100 different bible verses and obey them. We have enough of the stereotypical Christians, let’s be the real thing.

I have SOO much more to say about this and figure it is going to take another blog or two, so I am going to stop here for today… I ranted on long enough

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Funds for a Generator
Tumaini Medical Center, we are still dotting our “I”s and crossing our “T”s and finishing up the final touches
Betty is having bad medical problems, we visited her today

I love how little kids eat. I was sitting next to this three year old as she ate a cookie-like thing. She grabbed a handful and tried to eat it, half made it into her mouth an the other half made it onto her face. Her hands were covered in saliva which also ended up on her cheeks, nose and forehead.
We went to the biggest house in Masii… they have grass.. not savannah grass but like U.S. grass, it was pretty cool. They also had the only play ground I had seen since I came here.
A man committed suicide on Saturday
I bought baked beans the other day in town… they are beans and tomato sauce… they look nasty
I saw an advertisement for soft ice cream machines… it reminded me of my other half… frozen yogurt I can’t wait to each ten pounds of it from yogurt land

Mungu Anakupenda
Moon-goo ana-coo-pen-duh

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From Geoffrey to you– Dream Big Dreams

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Tuesday May 20, 2009


I spent the last thirteen hours in a van taking a group of people to an eye clinic practically light years away. Though the distance was vast and the roads unbearable at times, today was a blessed day. As I sat with these AIDS orphans for the entire day, I asked a simple and yet profound set of questions, “What are your dreams? What do you want to become?”

One wanted to be an accountant, God bless those types of people cause the good lord knows I couldn’t sit and look at numbers all day : ) Another replied that she wanted to work within the medical field to help those who are sick. One more boy added in the fact that he wanted to become a doctor despite the years of education required. Here is a small group of children who at one point had no hope of even attaining a basic education and yet now they are dreaming big dreams and reaching for the stars. Despite the difficulties and dilemmas life throws their way as a corollary of the loss of one or both of their parents, these children have hopes, aspirations, and dreams. The past doesn’t imprison their ability to dream and have hopes of achieving great things in life. I think they have something that the cruel “realities” of life have robbed us of through the bumps, bruises and wounds inflicted by the sheer brutalities life holds. Many of us stopped dreaming big dreams years ago. Whether I am in Kenya or the U.S. I love hearing the responses from children to that question because they don’t put God in a box or limit their dreams. We do though.

A little over two years ago I was spending a large portion of my time working as the apprentice of a youth pastor near Inglewood. The leaders of this youth ministry, including myself, set out for a one-day leadership retreat. We gathered around in a circle, attempted to write down our “God sized dreams” and explain our personal dreams to the group. If money was no option, if obstacles were no more, if it didn’t matter what people said or thought, if the impossible was made into the possible, what would your God sized dream be. I wrote down two things, to work with the homeless and to work with AIDS orphans in Africa.

Here I am a little over two years later and I helped create an origination working with the homeless and am serving AIDS orphans in Kenya. I guess my “big” dreams weren’t big enough. I think that is our problem, we don’t dream, when I ask people what their “God sized dream” is most people say that they want to get married or buy a house, which is all fine and dandy and all, but your dream is the dream that millions of people are living, let’s dream bigger. What happened to reaching for the stars? We are reaching for things an inch off the ground that a toddler can easily get his hands on.

I feel like it is time for me to go back to the old drawing board and rethink my God sized dream, I need to dream bigger and give God room to work and be God. After hearing the dreams of these children today as well as throughout my trip, the little flame of hope has been rekindled in my heart and I find myself dreaming in a childlike fashion. I look past the obstacles, difficulties and improbability of it all and return to the uncomplicated hope that seems to be entrenched in the heart of every child….This is a brief overview of what my aspirations for my next chapter of life are.

I really enjoy working with the homeless, I was el presidente of H.A.N.D.S. and was the pastor of our Sunday morning breakfast for about two years. Embedded in those two years were some of the most staggering and miraculous experiences of my life; watching drugs addicts throw their drugs away, holding fully grown men and women as they wept, and being privileged enough to baptize some. Though these experiences were life altering, I want more of them and plan on continuing my work with the homeless, if it is God’s will. I want to do more though, don’t get me wrong feeding them, dispensing clothing, cutting hair, washing feet and ministering are incredible but besides the ministering all of the others seem like a band aid on a broken arm or a temporary fix for a life-long problem.

I want to attempt to repair what is broken and help to not only fill their stomachs for a day but assist in rehabilitating them back into society in a way in which they are able to provide for themselves instead of begging for food. I dream of developing a transitional home in which we give them employment for one year, pay for their rent, food, and also put them into a year long trade school. After the course of one year they will have saved up a nice chunk of change to move out, will have a year of work experience, will have a skill and will have an actual shot at life instead of just being kicked to the curb once they get sober.

This is going to cost a GREAT deal of money right? Where the heck will that money come from? I’m glad you asked. I want to open a small coffee shop, called Holy Grounds, where 100% of the profits go towards the funding of this home. The employees will be those who are going through the program. Every hour that they work they will get paid but wont get it until they leave the program, that way they have a years worth of salary to be used towards moving into an apartment and starting their life over again. The rest of the money from the coffee shop will go towards paying for their schooling, rent, food and other expenses that life brings up. Additionally I have a few designs for T-shirts that I want to get printed. I want each shirt to be sold for $30; $5 for the production, $15 towards sponsoring an AIDS orphan in Kenya for two weeks, and $10 towards feeding a homeless person for two weeks here in America. Ideally word would get out about this coffee shop, a place where your money isn’t making the rich richer and just going into the pockets of an entrepreneur, but the money that you would already be spending will be saving and transforming lives one cup at a time.

This is my dream and what I am going to be working towards when I am finished with my mission trip. This is my God sized dream. This is something I desire and aspire to see launched. I figure I can aim and reach for the stars and miss or aim for the gutter and hit every time. Personally, I would prefer aiming for the stars.

My question for you today is what are your dreams? What is your God sized dream? If there was one thing you could do, despite financial cost or improbability, what would it be?
If you are looking back on your life and find yourself saying, “I haven’t really done anything great and don’t have any extraordinary dreams,” that is fine today is a new day and tomorrow marks a new chapter in your life. The past is the past and there is no changing it, but tomorrow is a new day, what are your dreams despite the past?

If you are looking back on your life and find yourself saying, “I have done so many incredible and life altering things,” great, what is in your next chapter? What is the journey you are taking on next?

I want to hear your God sized dreams, and if you don’t believe in God I want to hear your dreams and aspirations in life. Too many times has the response to this question been an awkward silence or cliché answer. I am requesting that if you are reading these words, mom, dad, sisters, cousins, aunts, friends, grandparents, strangers, reply to this message and tell me what your dreams are. If it money didn’t matter, if time was irrelevant, and if obstacles were of no concern what are your dreams? I actually want you to reply to this and tell me. It seems like as our age progresses our dreams stop, but that inhibits our lives.

Too many of us don’t dream. I don’t think that AIDS, starvation and disease are the most tragic death of our day and age. I think that the continual demise and eventual death of hope and dreaming is the most tragic. My wheels may be turning, but without direction and a vision I am going nowhere. I may be working a job just to pay the bills, and wake up each morning out of routine, but I am just going through the motions of life if I don’t dream. You may have air in your lungs, but without dreams, you aren’t really living.

What are your dreams?

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Carro and her recovery
Tomorrow I get to read for a blind woman… we found out today that she will never be able to see again and she is only 23 years old. I am going to try to show her some love and get some friends to help me in supporting her. Just keep her in prayer, she was really heartbroken when she heard the news about her sight.

I get to organize a youth convention in August, I am STOKED!!!
Some of the food here is a little too rich for me… I think it is a good thing that I am living alone now… I probably would have driven William out of the house : )
I ate a pretty raunchy hamburger today…. It had carrots on it… weird huh?
Kenyans make the best mango juice
I am listening to “wrapped up in you” by Garth Brooks, I cant wait till I get married and get to “woo” my wife with this song.
When we were driving home we saw three giraffes just kicking it right by the road. We were about ten feet away from them. Really crazy to see them in their natural habitat
I read the book “Children of Hope” today… INCREDIBLE

Does anyone have the series or any of the books from the chronicles of narnia? A friend sent me the first book and I read it and loved it, now I want the rest of them and my parents are going to try to get another package to me… if you have any of the books from that series can I borrow them?

Anyone want to buy me a tattoo for my birthday when I get home?… figured it was worth a try…. Haha


Mkate – mmmm –caw-tay
Bread… I eat like half a loaf a day

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From Geoffrey to you; Soak it all in!

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Sunday May 17, 2009

Soak it all up

I write this as I sit outside Parkcrest Hall, the building that Tumaini built that we use for our church service, while welcoming our guests to our service. The beginning of the church service is nearing. The members of the worships team are warming their vocal chords with angelic Swahili hymns. I have young children piling on top of me with their eyes fixated on this computer screen, though they haven’t the slightest clue as to what I am writing. Occasionally one of these children works up the backbone to do what the inquisitive look on their faces tells me they desperately want to do. With eyes wide open, they inquiringly, ever so slightly, use the very tip of their finger to prudently stroke the keyboard or slide it across the smooth computer screen and eagerly wait for my response. I normally scare them or chase them, which only seems to make them want to come back and touch more things on the computer.

Herds of children are flocking, meandering, and galloping towards their, eagerly awaited, Sunday school. On any given Sunday we can have anywhere between forty and seventy children encircle the Sunday school teachers and soak up the homily. They play games, sing songs, dance dances, learn rhymes and find the whole ordeal irresistible. These children generally wake up and walk themselves to this place of worship; it is of their own want to be here. Children wake up early, wash their faces, iron their clothes and allow their little feet to carry them to their Sunday school lesson because the instructors have been able to create a worthwhile and enjoyable environment where these children are able to freely learn and be loved.

Sunday school just ended, as did the first church service. I am sitting outside, once again, welcoming guests, entering their names into the register and making sure that no more children fall into manholes or sewage (we don’t want a repeat of last weeks incident). With the peaceful, soothing, beatific words being sung by our choir reaching my ears I just sit here and smile. I look at the different children running, laughing and playing in our field of grass and smile. I look at this building, which is one of the most aesthetic and functional ones in Masii, and smile. I look at the clean and newly finished medical building and think about the hundreds of lives that will be helped through it and smile. I look at the children who get chased off and told not to play near the church and laugh and then smile. I look at the Tumaini van and its model and make that seems to be out of the 70s and smile. I look all of the men and women that are sitting in the church service, lifting their hands, dancing, and praying and smile. I look at a mother trying to hold one of her children as she cries, she is trying to hand her a piece of orange but the little girl just throws it on the ground and pouts and then I smile. I look at the buildings Tumaini has built, the lives they have changed and the souls saved through this organization and I smile. I am simply amazed.

Do you ever have one of those days when a grin is painted on your face and it seems as though nothing would ever be able to take it away. Have you ever been so filled with joy, wonder and amazement that no matter what people said or did to you that day no amount misfortune could ruin it. That is how I feel right now, not even cloud nine I am on cloud thirty. When I thought that I couldn’t feel anymore at peace and as if I was maxed out with joy I looked at the gate and up came Carro with her mother pushing her.

The surgery was a complete success, she arrived back in Masii last night, and the water was removed from her head. No longer will Carro have the unbearable pressure in her head, she now has a tube that flushes any water from her brain to her stomach, so there will never be a build up of water in her brain. We are told that with physical therapy she will be able to walk on her own and wont even need the wheelchair. If you could have seen Carro after the surgery as her illuminating grin shined for all of our congregation as she made her way to our chapel, you would understand this sensational jubilation that I experienced. She was bouncing off the walls and had the biggest smile on her face. We normally have the pastors and leaders stand in a line and have them shake each persons hand as they exit the building, today we had Carro shaking everyone’s hands. She was laughing, dancing and shaking more hands then she had ever before. If you only could have seen this childlike awe… words cannot express it.

I looked around this facility and just smiled. I can’t believe the hundreds of lives that have been transformed. The hundreds of children who are able to go to school and eat each day because of Tumaini. People like Carro, who have been blessed in such a way that their lives will never be the same. The dozens of volunteers and workers that have invested their hearts into this organization. This whole ordeal started with someone just wanting to help a few AIDS orphans, then it grew into a slightly bigger dream, and now it seems like Tumaini has more dreams and goals then they have paper to write them down but they are coming true. It started as such a small dream and look at it now. This organization and this trip has encouraged me to dream small dreams, medium sized dreams, big dreams, impossible dreams… it has encouraged me to simply dream. When we dream big dreams and dream of the impossible we give God room to work.

Dream and dream some more and when you have nothing left to dream about then dream even bigger and even more unrealistically… give God some room to work in your life.

Asante Sana

Mwendwa the friendly mzungu

Carro recovery… though it seems like she is fine
We are taking a nearly blind woman to the eye clinic on Tuesday, I get to wake up at like 3 AM to go, but we are hoping that something may be able to be done to give her the ability of sight again. She has cataracts.
Our medical facility

People tell jokes in Swahili and everyone is laughing and rolling on the ground from it… I ask what the joke was and normally it something that is completely over my head and doesn’t even seem funny
I learned how to make Chipati yesterday… it is basically a Kenyan tortilla but taste magical, probably from the tons of oil you put in each one… it takes forever to make but taste great
Seamstresses use those old fashioned sewing machines here. The ones that aren’t electric. The ones that you have to pump your foot to get it working. I started to learn how to use one and am told that I am going to make myself a shirt by the time I leave
The wine we use for communion is HORRIBLE. I have never tasted jack daniels but I imagine it is similar to this. The portion is one part wine and two parts water and I still gag when I take it. It tastes like it has been fermenting for centuries… I normally just take it once in the first serviceand don’t go into the service until right after the communion… ha ha
I saw a few cool things as I stood by the door of our church and greeted people:
1. a kid stuck in a tire
2. A girl pick her nose and eat her boogers…. Boogers taste good to children even in kenya… natures candy
3. Carro’s little sister was trying to take off her sweater and had it stuck on her head for a good five minutes… it was really funny watching her struggle to get it off
I sat and talked with two girls about 21 years old or so for about a hour. We talked about the differences in dating and relationships and culture in Kenya versus America… wow is all I have to say…
I gave the two of them some M&Ms and they looked at me shocked. They told me that good chocolate like this would cost them like $40 in Nairobi… really? Wow? And they said they had never had them before.. so that means you guys should send me some M&Ms and Reeses so everyone can eat them, including me : )
People always give me food… I was thinking that I was going to lose weight on this trip but I think I am going to gain some…
Do you ever wish you could break dance? I often do… man it would be so cool!

Tumechelewa (two-may-chay-lay-wuh)
We are late… something everyone has embraced here

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From Geoffrey to You; Green and Lush is a Plus

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Saturday May 16, 2009

Green and lush is a plus

I spent all of Thursday on the backside of a motorcycle with my dear friend Jackson. We ventured up some of the steepest hills imaginable and scaled up a mountain on this bike. We forced our way through rivers. We passed through small cities and towns. This bike took us to what seemed like the edge of the world and back. With nothing but beautiful countryside to our left and right, rough terrain ahead, and the wind howling past our ears we were free to explore the beauty of this world.

I had traveled along this road before, just not as extensively. My previous ride opened my eyes to the extreme famine and hunger as a ramification throughout this country. I saw river beds completely dry with young children digging holes in some attempt to find water. I saw hundreds of shambas (farms) where no crop or vegetation could be found, keep in my that there should be a plethora of food for the harvest right about now. I saw brittle old woman and young children carrying jugs of water on their heads or hanging them on their backs. The climate was dry, arid and miserable and that seemed to match the optimism of some of the people I met. There was an profusion of suffering and affliction because of this drought, the morale and spirits of some of the people I crossed paths with were low. Faith in God for some seemed to deplete as famine flourished. This was my last trip which was over a month ago.

Since my last visit God has sent down the rains in selected areas. Masii is as dry as ever, but it seemed like Masii was one of the few in the area that was lacking rain. As we soared down the road and up the dirt paths my eyes were opened to how incredibly magnificent and truly amazing the lush green wildlife Kenya has to offer. Vegetation was beginning to soar to the sky in the shambas. The most vibrant shades of green enticed my eyes as I gazed upon the splendor of Africa. The contrast between the seemingly effervescent red earth and the lively colors of the foliage was outstanding. My eyes have seen some of the most aesthetic sights any set of human eyes have ever experienced.

I think one of the most comforting spectacles was the fact that we crossed a few rivers and not river beds. Dry patches of sand where people dug holes to find water, now had vigorous rivers gushing saturate that once desiccated sand. Young herdsmen could be seen watering their animals. Families were able to fill their water jugs without a quandary. These rivers of dirty murky water seemed more like gifts from God and rivers of gold than anything else. A smile was fixated on my face as we zipped, zoomed and sped our way over mountains and across rivers.

I can’t even express the view from atop the mountain. Farmers had carved stairs into the deep red earth to level out their farms, it looked like a stairway to heaven from my view.

Our mission for the day was to deliever checks for school fees for Tumaini children. We traveled the furthest distance to visit the school and pay the fees for just one child. Imagine traveling nearly nine hours for just one person whom you had never even met. This was a young girl in her last year of high school. She is the pride and joy of Tumaini, her grades in school are brilliant. She is university material and, by far, is going places in life. I heard the tragic story of her being orphaned and was flabbergasted that she is where she is today. If it weren’t for Tumaini she never would have gotten the opportunities she has. If it wasn’t for someone traveling nine hours every few months to pay her school fees she never would have gone to school. We sat there and told her how far we had traveled and the fact that we did it because she was so important to not only us but to God.

This trip opened my eyes to the mighty power of God, as it was not only displayed in thriving plant life, but also in the life of this young woman. It never ceases to amaze me what a group of people united in heart can accomplish, look at Tumaini and the lives they have impacted and differences they have made. Wow… all I can say is Wow.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Speaking tomorrow
Stacy’s wheelchair
Funds for Tumaini Projects
Functioning of the medical center

I paid a guy twenty five cents to iron my clothes… he came at the perfect time because I don’t have an iron
The first small business I am looking at helping start is a dry cleaners… it would be the only one in Masii, which is cool cause everyone here has clothes they need to have dry cleaned
In the package from my friend Tovah I got M&Ms… all I can say is that went I am chomping on those bad boys I am at peace… if you want to be cool send me M&Ms or Reese’s : )
I started reading the Chronicles of Narnia and finished half of it this morning… good book even if you have seen the movie
I also got sent a few magazines… did you know they have projectors that can fit in your pocket!! Also I read in Men’s Health about Matthew Mchonahay and he basically travels the country in a RV
I have been bitten enough times by mosquitoes to last the lives of fifteen men

Githeri (not sure on the spelling)
It is a Kenyan dish of basically beans and corn. Nothing gives you more gas than this!!

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From Geoffrey to you: Here for a Reason

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Friday May 15, 2009

Here for a reason

Yet again, I was advantaged enough to get another opportunity to ride in a matatu today; not just once, but twice. In case you forgot what a matatu is, it is the public means of transportation here in Kenya. Imagine a small van, appearing to be stuck in the 70s, with over twenty people jammed in it. Personal space is a privilege not a right when it comes to riding in the matatu. I was fortunate enough to only be wedged in between a few people, my old roommate William wasn’t as fortunate. The matatu’s make frequent stops so the workers sit or stand near the door, William was ill fortuned enough to sit near the door. He became good friends with the two workers who sat on his lap. After a long and sardine-like drive we arrived in Machakos, the biggest city near Masii.

I dread taking the public transportation and avoid taking it by all means unless absolutely necessary. The only reason that I was willing to suck it up and befriend those twenty five other people in that van was to get a wheelchair for Stacy. Stacy is my old neighbor. She is four years old and is physically handicapped. Apparently she wasn’t delivered fast enough and she began to suffocate during her birth which left her somewhat limited physically. The major cause for her further immobilization was caused by malaria when she was six months old. She isn’t able to walk or hold things with her hands. Her eyes are permanently crossed and she lacks the ability to articulate words. She isn’t able to play outside and travel is difficult because she must be carried the entire time; Stacy has yet to truly venture far from home. Life’s journey for Stacy has revolved around spending the entirety of each day strapped into a small wooden chair just outside her home. She sits alone lacking companionship as the other children run and cause a ruckus. She can’t go to school. She can’t make friends. She doesn’t have an opportunity to move throughout Masii to see new faces and learn new things. Playtime for Stacy involves a cloth hanging in front of her face that she musters up her strength to grab. These physical handicaps have robbed this child of friendships, experiences and have crippled ambitions. Up until this day, these limitations have condemned her life to revolve around sitting off to the side alone only to wake up the next day and sit some more.

William and I met Stacy and her mother at the hospital in Machakos this afternoon. They travel here in the dreaded Matatu each and every Friday for physical therapy and check ups. This must be a difficult task. I have no space or room in the matatu and I am a grown man, what must it be like to have a child to protect and care for? The distance from the home to the bus stop is easily over a half mile and the distance from the bus stop in Machakos to the hospital is probably near a mile. Imagine being a woman in your forties traveling that distance each Friday with a fifty pound disabled child on your back in a sometimes swelteringly hot climate. As we met with the physician and moved from one building to the next William offered to carry Stacy and had difficulty, I can’t even begin to imagine how exigent this voyage is for Joyce each week.

The prayers cried unto God and the tears that dampened the earth from Joyce have reached God. Of all of the locations in the world to take me, I was brought here. Of all the neighbors to have, I had Stacy. Of the billions of people on this planet my life has crossed paths with Stacy and Joyce. Of all the friends a guy could be blessed with I have been given some of the most generous and benevolent people to walk through life with, when I first posted a message about Stacy’s situation I had an overwhelming amount of people who were ready and willing to share in the expense of the wheelchair. Do you ever feel like you are a certain place and time for a certain reason? That is how I feel right now. I feel like God brought me here to do many works and had already worked out the kinks in the system for me to not only meet Stacy but to link all of you with Stacy; giving Stacy a wheelchair as an end result.

I have learned that getting a wheelchair in Kenya isn’t an easy task; everyone gives you the run around. I have been trying to get one for over a month now but kept on reaching dead ends. God granted me favor and opened a door for purchasing one for Stacy. This wheelchair isn’t a regular one, it is modified for Stacy’s size and disability, it is made for rough terrain, an upgrade will be affordable for Stacy’s family through this company and it will be here within two weeks. The obstacles I have hurdled over in order to get this wheelchair are nothing in comparison to the difference it is going to make in Stacy’s life. One thing that has the potential to change Stacy’s life is this wheelchair. The freedom to move about Masii or travel throughout Kenya is at her discretion. Schooling is an option, in fact, Joyce now plans on enrolling Stacy in school. Stacy is going to be able to meet other children and have a social life. Tragic events may have crippled her body, but they aren’t enough to imprison her for life. Stacy will be able to move. Stacy will be able to dream. Stacy will be able to live.

As we sat in the physicians office Joyce supported Stacy with her leg and Stacy stood, granted it was assisted standing but she stood nonetheless. She started to giggle and laugh. Rambles and slurs expelled from her mouth. I sat there looking at a small crippled girl who never would have been given a shot at life. This is a person who most people would overlook, underestimate and disassociate themselves from. Most people probably think that because she isn’t able to speak she has nothing to say and that she is practically a vegetable. As I gazed upon her smile, heard her childish giggles and slurs I felt something… peace in my heart. Encouragement. Inspiration. Joy. I just couldn’t believe that God brought me thousands of miles from my home, to a city most of the world has never heard of, to sit in a small office with a few “no one’s” from a city that is the size of a speck of sand on the earth… God brought me here to be inspired, learned and taught… which after today, I can say I have been.

This moment of sitting in this office with Stacy while filling out the paperwork for the wheelchair probably sounds pretty dumb and like I am rambling on. I guess it is one of those moments that you just would have to be there. It sounds small and insignificant, but this is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life. I know, without a doubt in my mind, that God used me today… and I stand in awe that He was able to.

For those of you who contributed towards this wheelchair THANK YOU! I know I had MANY people who were willing to help out with the costs but I didn’t need that much money, but THANK YOU for your willingness to help out. Just know that you made a difference in someone’s life.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
I ordered the wheel chair for Stacy but it will take two weeks to get here, please pray just for the whole ordeal
I am speaking again on Sunday, the last two weeks have gone GREAT pray that God continues to speak through me
Funds for the different projects for Tumaini
The medical center

I bought water from Machakos today cause it is cheaper there… I had to haul twenty liters of water around with me… it sucked, but I have water so I am happy
My toilet only flushes half way, it normally takes a few flushes for a completely new batch of water to be in there
I know I already mentioned it but I am going to repeat it… Kenyans get cold easily. Imagine having twenty plus people in a small van, it gets hot right? So I crack open the window and have a bunch of people complaining that they are cold. I was DRENCHED in sweat… lol
Everyone tells me to take them with me when I come back home.. so I guess I am going to cram a few Kenyans into my luggage
As I was riding back to Masii a friend came on board and sat next to me. She talked to me the entire time but I didn’t understand or hear what she was saying. I basically just nodded my head the whole time… : )
I think that my stomach is going t be like a rock when I get home and I will be able to eat at grade “Z” restaurants…. Our health codes seem to be different than the ones here
I found cereal today… it has Arabic writing but it taste pretty decent. I used to eat cereal breakfast, lunch and dinner every opportunity I had. Ask my mom. We always used to go through cereal like crazy!
When I come home it will be one year since I cut my hair
As I wrote this I saw a GIANT cockroach, the kind you see on the National Geographic Channel. I tried to find it and kill it but it ran off. Now it is buried in my clothes… which is real comforting to know.

Word of the Day
Kuja mara moja
Coo-juh mmmair-uh moe-juh
Come here NOW!! That is what they say when you are in trouble

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From Geoffrey to You; Pancakes and High School Drop Outs

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Thursday May 14, 2009

Pancakes and high school drop outs

Today was repugnantly long. I spent over eight hours on the back of a motor cycle literally climbing up a mountain and going to the other side, which left me with a sore butt. I have mastered the John Wayne walk, the one that makes you look like you have been riding a horse all day.

As I returned home from the long days journey I scurried up three flights stairs with my John Wayne walk to grab my bible and rushed over to a bible study I was leading twenty minutes later. Lacking the opportunity to rest, I made my way to the small group only to find myself being one of the only people there actually early; like every Kenyan event, the bible study started late and lasted twice as long as it was supposed to. As we closed out in prayer I almost fell asleep from exhaustion, walking like John Wayne tuckers me out. We stopped at Esther’s shop to take tea on the way to my home, I really wanted to ditch the tea and go home to snooze. I painfully plopped down in a chair as her son began to pour us our tea and pancakes, apparently I had it wrong all these years and we are supposed to eat pancakes with tea not crumpets. As I dunked my pancake into my tea I noticed Esther’s nephew sitting alone in the corner with his head hanging so low I thought he was going to bump it on the ground. I didn’t take long for me to find out why he was by himself and why his head was sunken so low.

James had a rough childhood to say the least. His parents aren’t able to provide for his basic needs so his benevolent aunt Esther cares for him. She has opened her home to him, provides him with food and clothing as well as covering his school fees. Most children in this situation forget about school and try to contribute towards the family until later on in life if money becomes available; I know a few people who weren’t able to start high school until they were twenty years old. Esther is a godsend for James and he has been given opportunities that millions upon millions of children will never get. The fact that he is able to go to school makes him richer than many children in Masii and throughout the world. The fact that he is able to eat each day and wear a different pair of clothing each day, makes him rich in the eyes of so many. This young man held his head so low because he had an overwhelming abundance of shame. This tenth grader ran away from his home, dropped out of school, started seeing prostitutes and fell into a rough crowd. He threw away the opportunity to go to school for free and to actually make something of himself, he gave up everything for sex and wild living. He threw away those opportunities that his neighbors can only dream of… and for what? A few nights of partying and a few different hookers that may have STD’s.

I believe in generational curses, the idea that addictions and unhealthy problems can be inherited from parents. Abuse passes from father to son to grandson. Alcoholism and drug addiction are handed down from one generation to the next. Unfaithfulness to a spouse or financial burdens seem to be inherited by children and then passed to the next generation. I have come across countless cases of people who follow in their parents footsteps in a negative way and I still can’t seem to fathom it.

How is it that someone can grow up watching their parents suffer and copy them? How can you watch your parents throw their lives away and then do the same thing? How can you watch your mother prostitute her body, contract AIDS, and die at a young age alone and poor and grow up and start hooking? How can you watch your father overdose and then live a life of drug addiction? You would think that we would learn from our parents mistakes, but we don’t.

I sat and talked to James. I tried to tell him that he doesn’t have to follow his parents footsteps and that their fate doesn’t have to be his. I told him about the fact that he had an opportunity to make something of himself and to stop his families curse. He doesn’t have to get AIDS and die at a young age. He doesn’t have to drop out of school and work dead-end jobs for the rest of his life. He doesn’t have to live a life of poverty. He doesn’t have to be put in a situation where he isn’t able to provide for his children and pass them off to family who can. He doesn’t have to throw his life away… he can make something of himself. Tears streamed down his face. He said he wanted to change… we will find soon enough.

I just don’t get why we do this.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
I am going to the city to buy the wheel chair for Stacy. I have been having some difficulties buying it…
Funds for different projects for Tumaini
Carro’s recovery

You can get an oil change on a motor cycle for two dollars
When you are on a motor cycle and it starts to rain the rain drops feel like little needles
I almost pooped my pants today from holding it in ha ha ha
Everyone seems to know who Arnold Schwarzenegger is
I went into an office today that had been made out of a water tower
We were going over prayer requests tonight and a little boy farted really loud… we all started cracking up
This last week I have gotten two packages and a letter. My mom sent me some rad stuff and my friend Tovah sent me candy, magazines and PEANUT BUTTER…. I don’t think she realized how much I absolutely love peanut butter… PB and J for life!
I also got a deck of cards in the care package…. I mentioned them the other day and I was told they are illegal. I am trying to think if I should bust out my duck shaped children’s playing cards and break the law… ha ha
I went to spit today and totally spit on myself
I think I found the number one worst toilet today…. After this experience I decided to take enough immodium to plug me up for the rest of the trip

Word of the Day
Kabolalu (not sure about the spelling on this one)
Bottle cap… this is a fun one to say. All of the children always run up to me and tell me to say it cause I say it really funny.

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From Geoffrey to You! Poor Beggars and Loved Drunks

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Wednesday May 13, 2009

Poor Beggars and Loved Drunks

The pastor of the church made home visitations today. Our first stop was at the home of an elderly woman who was having many difficulties within her family and with her legs. She was generous and was incredibly hospitable the time we spent together I treasure. We talked for a couple of hours, prayed and went on our merry way. No one was home at our next destination so we decided to visit a place called Kosovo instead. Kosovo is where you go to get drunk off of the illicit bootleggers’ local brew. Only drunkards go there, so we welcomed ourselves to it. Most churches don’t want drunks, drug addicts and hookers in their church and do whatever they can to steer clear of them and keep them out of their church. If you hadn’t already noticed I don’t look at myself as your stereotypical Christian or your typical pastor, I like to think outside the box and I want the people that no one else wants; when we started the homeless church we were gladly working with drug addicts, mentally unstable, alcoholics and prostitutes. I picked up that trait from reading the bible; I think that is a part of the bible that a lot of the pastors and religious gurus of today overlook.

As we strolled our way to the scattered set of deteriorated buildings, a putrid and rank smell overwhelmed our senses, this place was a pigsty. We found ourselves surrounded by waste and about forty adults who smelled so bad their clothes were begging to be burned, it seemed like they hadn’t bathed for what seemed like weeks. I have worked with the homeless for quite a while and have smelled my fair share of unclean fellows, but this group topped the charts. When I worked with the homeless I found a mystery crust covering their hands each time I shook their hands, the hands of these gentlemen; I was served forty crusty and rough hand shakes and “jambo’s” as their warm welcome. You could smell the alcohol on their breaths a mile away, they were as drunk as can be and it wasn’t even lunchtime yet. These guys were completely addicted to this local brew which looked and smelled like sewage water. Most of these men made drinking their priority, more important than school fees for their children and food for their family was this alcohol. Whatever little money they are able to make one day they drink away the next. I have friends who have had to drop out of school because their father drank away their fees.

These guys are looked down upon by the religious crowd and seemed to have a hunger for God but aren’t accepted in most churches. A few of them started blurting out scripture in a drunken blather They were a good group of guys, definitely smelly but a very good group of guys. Most of them had gone to church but were kicked out or were chased out because of this addiction.

Many Christians get this “holier than thou” thinking mentality that ruins it for the rest of us. Why are Christians labeled with the stereotypical negative connotations, it is because of those over-zealous type that read a scripture and smack people upside the head with it instead of applying it to their lives. Those Christians holding up signs condemning gays and people who have had abortions and have put themselves up on a pedestal and act as if they are perfect. I heard a preacher here in Kenya say that he hadn’t sinned for twenty years, he sinned right then by lying. I have met so many Christians that are eager and willing to point out the flaws in someone else’s life by judging and condemning them, but aren’t willing to look at their flaws. I have learned that whenever we point a finger at someone we have four more pointing back at you.

I don’t look at myself as this incredible or perfect guy. I don’t think of myself better than anyone else. I don’t think that I am holier or less of a sinner than anyone else either. Unlike those zealous religious folks, I remember where I came from and the condition in which I became a Christian, it seems like those guys holding up the signs while they shout through blow horns have forgotten that they are sinners too. The reason I became a Christian is because I was so messed up that God had to send Christ to die for my sins, apparently those guys with the signs became Christians another way… maybe they got cool matching jackets for not being a sinner like me.

Romans 8:28 “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

I guess God had a mess up by tossing this one in the old bible huh? One of my favorite sayings is from an old pastor of mine, “I am just one poor beggar telling another poor beggar where to find food.” See I don’t have any food and I am no better than anyone else. I am just one poor beggar telling another poor beggar where to find food. Some of us forget about the fact that we are poor beggars just because we have a little food in our stomachs the truth is that we need Christ just as much as the next guy. It isn’t my place to judge or point a finger or kick someone out of a church because of an addiction or struggle. I haven’t forgotten about where I come from and the fact is that I still need God as much as I ever did.

I sat there and talked with these smelly and toothless drunk fellows. I apologized to them about what churches and pastors have said about them and how they had been treated, I tried to explain that sometimes we do a bad job representing God. I told them about John 3:17 and the fact that we weren’t there to judge them or condemn them and that they we would love to have them visit our church and if they did we would accept them with arms wide open. We told them that this was no way to live. They have wives to love and children to support and that they are missing out on life, we told them that just like us they need help because they are just as messed up as we are. Don’t worry about your addiction, don’t worry about what people will think or say, please come as our guests and sit with us this Sunday morning. I told them that we aren’t any better than them and that God didn’t send Christ to die on the cross to condemn them and hate them. No lie, as I spoke you could have heard a needle drop I think God sobered them up because their slurred ramblings turned into intelligent conversation. After a few questions we had a pretty overwhelming amount of interest in where our church was and what time to be there this Sunday, I am excited to see who comes.

Today I was reminded that I am nothing great. It isn’t my place to judge or to keep people from coming to church. It isn’t my responsibility to tell someone that God hates them and doesn’t accept them. My job is to love and show God’s love… I remembered that I am merely one poor beggar telling another poor beggar where to find food.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Carro’s surgery and recovery
Funds for different projects for Tumaini
I am going to town on Friday to buy the wheelchair for Stacy… I have had some difficulties buying it from this hospital so please pray that it goes well and that I get it
My speaking on Sunday

Apparently polygamy is a big hit here in Kenya
Bob Marly is cool everywhere… even in Kenya
I bought some matches today for the stove I just got woot woot… the matches are made of wax… isn’t that weird? I lit one and though I was going to break it.
It is impossible for me to leave my house without being followed by children or stopped five times by people saying “Hi Geoffrey do you remember me?” More often than not I don’t remember them… in fact I have NO CLUE who they are
A lot of people wear shirts and hats but have no idea what the writing on them means. Little kids walk around with marijuana leafs on their shirts and the F bomb on them. I have a picture of a girl at the youth camp wearing a marijuana shirt… ha ha

Karibu sana
Cuh-re-boo sauna
Thank you very much or you are very welcome

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From Geoffrey to you; Service with a smile!

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Tuesday May 12, 2009

Service with a smile

I like to serve and volunteer my time; most of you probably realize that. I have volunteered and fundraised more times and ways that I can remember or count. I have participated in walkathons, runs, danceathons, can drives, door to door fundraising, work with orphans in Mexico, construction, washing the feet of homeless people, serving food at homeless shelters, working with underprivileged children, speaking at youth camps, I have co-led thanksgiving and Christmas feast for the homeless, collected goods for orphans, made visitations to convalescent homes, and the list goes on. Regardless on how long we have been acquainted, I am sure I have probably hit you up for money for some worthy cause or attempted to persuade you to volunteer with me somewhere. I have a problem though; sometimes I think my service has an underlining selfish ambition.

When I volunteer my goal is to meet a need and try to make a difference, but I always seem to get something out of it. Of course you are going to get something out of working towards some worthy cause, but there is a difference when I sign up to help versus signing up to give myself a pat on the back. It is cool to say at the end of the day that I have fed the homeless or encouraged underprivileged children and I am left with this indescribable fullness and self worth at the end of the day. It seems like a win-win situation because I get something out of it and the worthy cause or organization gets the help or donations, but it isn’t as much of a win as it could be. It is easy to sign up to volunteer and say I want to help in any area, but really only mean that you are willing to do the glamorous and fun aspect of volunteering. I always want to do the work that everyone else sees, I want to wipe boogers from the face of a starving child, hand out food to a homeless man, help a crippled child learn to walk, V.B.S., these are the things that are at the face of volunteer opportunities; the things that everyone is more than willing to help out doing. I feel like these are the things that I do that make more of a difference in my life, in making me feel good about myself, than in actually making a difference in the life of another or meeting the need of an organization. Yes I am making a difference for the cause or organization, but I am meeting a small need that everyone wants to do instead of actually surrendering myself to be used in a way that benefits them the most. I do the jobs that make me feel the best and that I consider the most important instead of the ones that are actually in the direst need of help. I know I am not alone in this.

For those of you who don’t know my friends and I started a non-profit organization called H.A.N.D.S. ( which focuses on feeding the homeless while trying to help get them out of their situation as well as working with needy families and orphans in Mexico. Every Sunday morning, now in three separate locations (woot woot go team), we bring out barbeque grills and cook the homeless personalized omelets, cut hair, wash feet, give away clothing, provide bicycle repair and hold a church service. We have been able to lend a hand to literally hundreds upon hundreds of people in need and have been blessed with hundreds of volunteers. Whenever we get a new volunteer it seems like they think with the same mentality that I do; I want to cook eggs cause I feel that is the most important part and it would make me feel the best. Everyone always wants to cook an omelet or make pancakes for the homeless, which is great really it is, but that is just about the smallest part of our Sunday morning ministry. Cooking the food is the glamorous part of H.A.N.D.S. and is the part that we always seemed to have an overwhelmed amount of volunteers for, but when it comes to the behind the scenes work like organizing bins or making phone calls almost no one is willing to help. I have had people come up to me and tell me that they are ready and willing to serve on a Sunday morning, but they only mean that they are ready and willing to serve if I give them the job that they want; like cooking eggs versus showing up to organize our storage unit, I can guarantee we need more help organizing a storage unit than we do cooking an omelet. Why? Because as people we want to do the thing that they consider most important and that will make them feel the best, when I go to a soup kitchen I want to serve food instead of standing at the door collecting tickets, but that job is just as important as the others. I’m not trying to make anyone feel bad or call anyone out, this is just an observation that I have made over a few years and it is something that I see in myself and don’t like. I think that I if I volunteer my time that I should want to be put in the area where I am going to make the biggest difference and meet the greatest need whether that is doing the glamorous work or the grunt work that no one sees or hears about.

When I started planning this trip to Kenya that was one of my biggest concerns. One of the first things I told Stanley before I came was that I just want to serve whether I am working with an AIDS orphan or scrubbing a toilet; I just want to serve. I can come to Kenya and play with the kids and tell them about Jesus but that is the easy stuff for me and I know it would make a difference, but I think I can make an even bigger difference doing small things and the stuff no one else really wants to do. We have plenty of groups and people that are coming here and can work on that front, we need them there, but since I am here long term and God has already provided people to work on that front I can put my focus elsewhere. Today I spent the day working for Tumaini in the office, the majority of my time there was spent writing down the names and children and their schools from one piece of paper to another. Most people wouldn’t travel ten-thousand miles to write down the names of children and their schools from one piece of paper to the next, I bet that most people would want to deliver food, play with the kids and do V.B.S. which is great and needs to be done, but I think what I did today was just as important if not maybe even more important. Since we have groups that come and are going to be doing work with the children I am free to work on another front and use my gifts and talents elsewhere. Working and playing with the children is SO important, and don’t get me wrong I definitely do play with the children, but there are plenty of other important areas that I feel I need to put my focus. When I go to Mexico to work at the orphanage I am signed up to just do grunt work, I’m not playing with the children or working with them I will be doing construction and digging holes, the stuff no one else wants to do, but it is important stuff. One of my goals when I came here was to do some of the stuff that no one else wants to do knowing that whatever my contribution was, whether cleaning a toilet or speaking in front of orphans, that I played an important role in something bigger than myself. I want to serve in a position where my abilities are going to make the biggest difference.

I encourage you, as I encourage myself, that when you volunteer your time to an organization or cause that you try to find the important things that need to get done that no one else wants to do.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
I think I ate bad food yet again… stomach problems
Carro and her surgery
Funds for different needs for Tumaini

Let’s say that you and I are walking side by side. I like to tap your shoulder on the opposite side that I am on in some attempt to fool you and get you to look the opposite direction… apparently you aren’t supposed to do that to someone of the opposite sex here… it is a big “No-No.” I got in trouble for it.
I prayed for Esther and her malaria went away
Since I told that girl that I’m not going to marry her whenever she sees me we both get embarrassed and blush ha ha ha… awkward!
You can buy a bunch of Kenyan tea for a buck

Word of the Day
Asante kwa ukarimu wako
Uh-sss-on-tay qwa oo-car-emu wa-co
Thank you for your hospitality

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From Geoffrey to you; Like a bad car accident

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Monday May 11, 2009

Like a bad car crash…

I remember the first youth group that I attended upon my arrival here in Kenya; it was pretty painful to watch. We had a small group of young adults encircled around the pastor who was leading a dull discussion about sex, is it even possible to have a boring discussion revolving around sex when talking to teenagers.. yeah apparently it is. Every mouth was shut. Each set of eyes was fixated on the ground. Some were texting while others were talking on their phone. As questions were asked each response was an overwhelming deafening silence. No one talked, no one shared and it seemed like everyone wanted to get out of that place. They were so uncomfortable that it made me uncomfortable, I even wanted to leave. The pastor was giving it his all but these people wouldn’t budge. It was kind of like a bad car accident that you just didn’t want to watch; painful and messy.

I have been working with youth for a few years and feel as though I have a natural knack for it. I was overly confident in my ability to give these youth a thriving and beneficial environment as I thought of my first lesson. The next Sunday afternoon I stepped up to the plate with one of my favorite lessons in hand and struck out in a more grotesque way than the pastor had the previous week. There was no getting through to them and they wouldn’t budge! No one talked. No one looked at anything besides the ground. No one was willing to share or open up. This youth group was filled to the brim with an underlining inept and gauche tone. Like the pastor crashed and burned I did too my first week. I knew they wanted to leave and so did I to be honest. I was a little curious as to why so I asked the pastor about the culture and what the problem was. The difficulty of getting people to open us was made aware to me. Most people don’t feel guilt but shame is ever present and many things are socially unacceptable and have a negative connotation or stigma. If you open up and talk about your shame then you are putting yourself in a position where you may be mocked, ridiculed, and victimized, more so than what we experience in America. These youth haven’t had as many opportunities to share and open up as we have and don’t live in a place where you can ask any type of question, many things are taboo and aren’t spoken about (HOWEVER the culture has been changing and the taboos are becoming less and less and things are now more socially acceptable than they have been previously).

The pastor has a lot of natural talent and abilities, but from what I have witnessed these talents seem to revolve more around adults, preaching and teaching than they do with youth. For whatever reason I feel as though my gifts are opposite of his and I have a natural ability to work with youth, it is as if I can get them to open up as a friend but still give them guidance from the perspective of someone who has been around a few times. Many people hate teenagers, I want to spend a large chunk of my life working with them; everyone has their calling. I’m also a people person, all of you have probably come to that realization if you have spent anymore than five minutes with me and if you haven’t I would question what rock you have been living under, I thrive in social settings and have this natural gift to bond with others and often find people ready and willing to be broken and transparent with me. Even though being the youth pastor here had a rickety rackety rockety start, I have been able to do what I do best and bond with these young adults. I feel like the environment we have now is light-years ahead of where we were two months ago; they are actually opening up. They share now. When they are going through a difficult time they actually say they are going through a difficult time. We have all grown closer together and have so many things we want to do in the future. We have a thriving environment on Sunday afternoons now.

Through these youth becoming more comfortable and opening up I have learned that the things they struggle with and are tempted by are identical to us in the good ole’ U.S. Even tough ten-thousand miles separate us, sex, drugs, and alcoholism are struggles that the youth of Kenya and the youth of America both seem to stumble into. We talked a little about getting drunk yesterday, and surprisingly everyone except one person had gotten drunk before, and we aren’t talking about people in their mid-twenties many of them are still in high school. If you ask a group of high school students in America if they have ever gotten drunk I know you will get the same reaction and response. Sex, porn, getting drunk or high, fighting and having a foul mouth are some of the main struggles that both of our youth suffer from. I’m not sure why but this completely blew my mind. I was so worried when I came here that I would have no idea what to say or how to relate. I thought that the struggles were going to be completely different than what I am used to, but they aren’t. Before coming here I have had my share of youth that have been abused, molested, raped, addicted to drugs or alcoholics, depressed and suicidal, experiencing fighting parents, teen pregnancy, abortion, prostitution, thinking of dropping out of school, and not having a father and they have all of these issues here as well.

I guess I wanted to express two things today. I think it is pretty amazing that we now have an environment in which these youth feel comfortable enough to open up, it is something that many of them haven’t done before and we have had some pretty intense things shared in the past two months. I also find it interesting that I am sitting in a third world country that is ten-thousand miles from my home and yet the struggles and temptations prevalent here are the same as if I were talking to a group of teenagers in America.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Carro’s operation and her family coping with her in the hospital
Funds for a generator
Medical building

I have two friends named Sarah and Ruth that are my age. They both work beneath my hotel room and if I stick my head out the door I can see them. Yesterday Sarah called me over and said Ruth wants to talk to you, then Ruth blushed and buried her face. We were all talking and like everyone else they were worried about who was going to cook for me and Sarah came up with a really good idea. Why don’t you marry Ruth for the next four months and she can cook for you… wow… really? She kept on urging us to get married. She pointed out how I live right above where she works so it would be so convenient…. Wow can you say awkward? I am pretty sure Ruth has a crush on me and Sarah is trying to make something happen between us. Sarah and left Ruth and I alone to talk… both of us were pretty embarrassed and blushing quite a bit. She asked me if I wanted to take her back with me to America, she said it with sincerity and truthfully. I had to sit there and explain to her that we weren’t going to get married and that Sarah was joking and that I wasn’t going to take her back to America with me. I have had to give the “I just see you as a friend” talk to a few friends before but this was by far the most awkward and weird. Sorry Ruth and sorry Grandma I know you can’t wait for me to get married but you are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.
Things that I do that are completely normal and acceptable for our culture is so weird for the people in Kenya. You don’t say “Bless you” when you sneeze. When I try to clean up after myself people get mad. I put on bug repellant last night and Mutuku looked at me as if I was crazy and then started to laugh at me.
When I am walking to my old house there is a group of about twenty kids that are always outside. They yell out “MZUNGU” or “Joe-free” (that is how they say my name) or “Mwendwa” then they all come running to me. They literally run so fast and drop whatever they are doing to shake my hand. Two of them always ask me for candy. I think it would be a pretty bad idea to give them candy this early in the game though, if I do they will NEVER leave me alone. I think I am going to give them a ton of candy and junk food right before I leave. So every time one of them asks me for money or candy I start to ask them for money and candy. They always say “tomorrow tomorrow.” I think it’s funny. Especially when I reach into my pocket and pull out an empty hand and start begging them for candy and money… they get a kick out of it!

Word of the Day:
Tafhathali naweza kwenda msanani
Taw-faw-dolly nuh-wez-uh qua-when-day mmm-sa-naw-knee
Please excuse me to the bathroom… this one is a must!

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From Geoffrey to You; Eager to Serve

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Sunday May 10, 2009

Eager to serve

I moved into my hotel on Wednesday and since the move I feel completely at ease. My hotel is on one hundred percent lock-down and has a substantial amount of security twenty-four hours each day; I don’t think I have felt this safe and secure since I left home. I have bars on my windows and a fierce deadbolt keeping my door securely locked. No one else has a key which means no one is going to be able to come in and steal anything, it also means that I will have to pull out some of my fancy foot work and kick down my door if I lose my key… or I’ll just have to pay for a new lock. Not only is my safety secured and my fears history, but also this place has become a paradise for me.

I love being here, truly I do, I normally have an entourage of children following me or and flocked by friends, which is great don’t get me wrong, but it is just really nice to have a refuge of my own to retreat to. This place is my get away to be alone with God, to pray, to read, to watch movies and to think. Alone time has been nearly nonexistent since my arrival, but now I get as much time to myself as my little ole’ heart desires. After playing with kids all day, traveling a great distance on the dreaded public transportation, making numerous house visits, praying for the sick or leading small groups… I am exhausted and need a place to unwind and now I have one. Besides security and personal space I have truly been blessed with a toilet and a shower, I actually have running water! I know it sounds kind of inane but you would probably react the same way if you had lived for two months without a toilet or running water (that’s right can you believe it has already been about two months since I left home?!?).

Besides being blessed with safety and running water, I have made a new friend; Mutuku. I’m not sure exactly what job title you would give Mutuku because he and his partner both do so much. He cleans the rooms. He does my laundry (apparently no matter who washes your clothes [me, Mama Carro, William, or myself] with the type of soap and the water found here your underwear still comes out stale each time). He cleans the facilities. He fixes things. He seems to be a handyman, janitor, caretaker, gatekeeper, security and concierge all wrapped up in one. He is up later than I am and wakes up before I do. He is ALWAYS here and ALWAYS ready to meet any and all of your needs. I need to take a few lessons from Mutuku when it comes to serving.

Whether I am leaving my room at the beginning of a new day or whether I am dragging my fatigued inert self into bed, Mutuku is always there and is ready and eager to greet me. He asks me if I need toilet paper, towels, or soap, but the tone in which he says it is as if my life depended on it, everyday he says “Mr. Geoffrey what can I get you?” or “Mr. Geoffrey can I do anything for you?” When I take out my trash or make my bed it is as if some immeasurable amount of gripping fear as well as disbelief have engulfed his body and he stands completely in awe with his mouth gapped open, as if I insulted him by doing his job. Anything I need or anything I want Mutuku is more than willing to get for me and I learned that apparently the good Lord forbid I do something for myself. The smile on his face and the joy in his heart as he serves and meets my needs is ever present.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Mutuku doesn’t have much. He has been working in these owners for thirteen years and by the look of his clothes and appearance of his living quarters he hasn’t obtained much wealth from it. It also seems like he never seems to be off the clock; always working and always on his toes waiting to meet the needs of another guest. He lives to serve, while on the clock or off the clock. I have known Mutuku less than anyone else here and yet his zeal, attitude and sheer will to serve has already blown me away as it is accompanied by his hospitality and benevolence.

He bends over backwards to make sure that I am being taken care of. He offers me food and fruits whenever he has some. He runs to greet me in the morning. He has no shame in his career, he is proud of what he does. He gives this job everything he has. He may not be making large amounts of money, but the joy he displays surly makes up for that. He is happy and content. Whether he is scrubbing toilets or mopping floors, he has a smile on his face as he serves with everything he has! He reminds me of two scriptures:

1 Peter 4:11 “If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 6:7 “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.”

Matuku isn’t working a white collar job. He doesn’t have a 501K. He doesn’t own a car or have many luxurious items. In this job field not everyone will be treating him with respect, some guests may even look down on him and treat him like a lesser being because of his career choice. His job is labor intense and he works pretty brutal hours. Most of us, including myself, would never want to work this type of job especially for his pay, but Mutuku doesn’t look at it like we do. Whether he is serving a millionaire or a pauper he treats them with dignity and respect as if he were serving God. He goes the extra mile whenever it is possible. I can almost guarantee that if I were in his shoes I would have quit, I would complain, I would be muttering all sorts of swear words under my breath all while an extreme dislike for others continually built up. I wouldn’t give this job 110% I would do just enough to scrape by, and nothing but money would persuade me to do more than I was obligated to.

As I look at Mutuku and his situation something inside of me is stirred, I realize something that he has I need. When you look past his well calloused hands, torn slacks, and faded shirts he takes more honor and dignity in his line of service than I can even hope to come close to. Whether he is taking out trash, opening doors or scrubbing a toilet he lives to serve and does it with a smile. I feel like if things aren’t done my way or if my specific conditions aren’t met then I wont do it. I lose my zeal and ardor to serve others if I don’t see the point or if I don’t reap an instant reward. Mutuku, however, works as if he is working for the Lord. I want that and I need that.

Asante Sana,


Prayer Requests:
Carro and her surgery. Her mother is really scared.
Funds for a generator
I’m still a little sick
Our new medical center

I was walking home from church with two friends. We heard a loud noise and my friend scremed as she looked back. I looked back and there was a mini-stamped of bulls…. When I say mini I mean mini. One bull came pretty close to stomping on us… but I screamed and freaked out and so did my other friend, in response to the initial scream. When I looked back I only looked at the one running towards us and assumed the entire herd was stampeding…. So I ran off the road… boy do I feel dumb now.
I guess me newly acquired shower had a clog or something was blocking the drain because my shower flooded, but I didn’t realize it until after I was done… my room flooded and all of my books got drenched… DANG
When I was walking to church at the butt crack of dawn, two wagons passed me. They were the old fashion kind, made completely of wood and have wooden wheels. They were being powered by bulls.
At church today there was a really “inquisitive” little boy. He found a sewage drain and took the lid off. Apparently the lid was too heavy and it pulled him into the sewage… he bumped he head and cried a bit but was fine. I just thought it was hilarious that he fell in sewage… was it wrong of me to have laughed? I only laughed after I knew he was okay… no one else laughed… I guess its an American thing to laugh at this sort of stuff huh?
I watched the God’s Must Be Crazy yesterday… seriously cracks me up each time… especially the part about the car.
The building I am staying is run partially by solar power (don’t think it is fancy and hoity toity cause it isn’t)… I am just surprised that in a third world country, in a broken down hotel, in a place filled with poverty there are some buildings with solar power…

Word of the Day
Siagi ya jugukaranga jamu mkate
See-ah-gee yah jew-goo-car-on-ga mmmmmmm-cot-aye

Butter of peanut jelly and bread… that is the best I can do to say a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…I eat about two or three a day!

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