Consumerism from the USA to the World

World Bank Indicators

World Bank Indicators

<== 71.9 cell phone subscriptions for every 100 persons in Kenya.  We have a responsibility to ensure that our industry and consumerism does not negatively effect the world and we must not blindly push our waste onto developing countries.

“Ewaste” is increasing exponentially, perhaps creating a problem greater than any other. This is happening as the developing world takes on first, our technology and then our consumerism. Cell phones is just the beginning, but their use has escalated at an unprecedented rate. I saw this from my visits to Kenya beginning in 2005. By 2013, most everyone I encountered had access to texting at a minimum.

It is only in the last couple years, however, that I have seen the dramatic increase in computer usage, even among the very poor.  This will only increase and with it we have a very troubling view of the future waste.  The very poor, many of whom live on a dollar a day, do not have the luxury to spend money on clean-up. We can look at it this way, we want the world beautiful and the developing countries also offer us wildlife found nowhere else.  How can we expect to climb Mt Kilimanjaro for example and not see the deleterious results our own consumerism.  

It is our responsibility from a moral, ethical and practical standpoint to assist developing countries as they are increasingly faced with the resulting wastes.

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Murder Capital of the World

IMG_6963  – That’s the title given to this city, Juarez, Mexico. May that title be stripped away permanently.  In January, seven of us from Calvary Chapel Chico went to help deliver Christmas gifts (Samaritan Purse – Operation Christmas Child gifts).  Nearly 2,000 impoverished children received shoe-box gifts packed by people with love, shipped by people with love, and delivered by people with love.  Even better, each child has the opportunity to meet with a pastor and other kids for a 12 week program to learn about the Way, the Truth and the Life.IMG_6953

The last place we delivered gifts was an HIV clinic. Some kids had HIV, some had parents with IMG_6989HIV.  Such a joy to love on the kids and parents at this really great clinic.

In 2007 when I went I remember hearing the number of murders on the Saturday I was there was 17.  HOWEVER, this is changing.  It is much safer now.  I know that the many thousands of people throughout the USA and the whole world packing the boxes with love and praying so much for the recipient of the box is doing good.


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Return to Kenya

IMG_6625Whether morning or night (or both) when bathing I remember my friends in Africa who do not have the luxury of hot water delivered in a tap. Nope, if they are women, they lug it on their heads or backs. They lug coal (or sticks in villages) to heat it too. How blessed we are in the USA. Yet I do long to return to that wondrous though difficult land, and I did feel I was compelled by God to visit one last time before putting my nose to the grind to earn some money. Compelled to give some Christian discipleship to those who gave their lives to Christ last year. Compelled to share the gospel with the Women Equality Empowerment women I worked with, admired and loved so much last year, particularly in the light of losing one of them and heavy sickness in their midst.

Death often comes early in Africa. Incredible sadness.  Amazing resilience too.  I return to the States and see how whimpy we all are…including me.  One reason which makes me want to return is their desire to learn and their appreciation of what I can offer them.

I was able to visit Sammy’s village, he was excited because they had recently harvested maize; thus in the background of the photo, it is being pounded.  In the foreground his mother is weaving a rug.IMG_6830

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The Push and Pull

Why do these shoes look like this after only 9 months?

If nothing else, my shoes tell me, it is time to go home. This is a beautiful land with intense hurt and ugliness. Today, I went to a wonderful orphanage on gorgeous park-like grounds.  The children seemed happy except of course the three new ones who just lost their mother. Last week there were floods across Kenya.  Many world travelers returning from seeing the most magnificent animals on the face of the earth were inconvenienced up to a week by them. This rain also flooded through a slum in Nairobi and as a woman tried to lift her children to safety she got electrocuted from a poorly placed wire.  The youngest child who is 1 1/2 or 2 years, will only let one of the older girls hold her. Yet she did allow me to come near to her and she played with my glasses and finally allowed me to stroke her head a bit. She has struggled with tuberculosis most of her life and couldn’t even stand up until 6 months.

The boys liked the picture taken of them

Quoting Ecclesiastes 7:1-22

As another sweet child played happily, I was told the progress he and his older sister have made. This sister at four years old was sent to be a house-girl, that is to do chores for a family.  She worked for this family for 2 years.  When she was 6 the mother died.  She took on the mother role of her baby brother.  When he cried because he was hungry, she would mix dirt with water like a porridge to soothe him.  Consequently, when the orphanage got him, he had limbs like little sticks and a big belly full of worms. The HIV he has is manageable, good nutrition, love and God’s grace has brought him far, but will it be extended to reverse the damage of his brain? So far, it looks like God is working that miracle too.

Yesterday at the Ngong WEEP center I enjoyed doing nutrition assessments and talking individually to many women about their nutrition.  These women know the depths of despair, yet they are seeking God and encouraging one another and I get to be a part of it. Margaret who finally got her asthma under control, is lit-up because she believes that she will be able to afford her medical care now. She’s making money and Alice who provided for her a few months also helped her figure out how she would keep up with the costs on her own. The typhoid which Margaret was also diagnosed with on Friday did not seem to dampen her spirit.  Then there is Tabitha who almost died just over a month ago with an appendicitis. She said she prayed, “You will not be defeated” through it. I am not sure what that means exactly but I do know that God is glorified in her life.  Though she is still underweight at times lacks food, she like Margeret exudes with joy.  On the way back, Jackson the driver gets a call to take a route which avoids the city center because an explosion has just occurred and immediately thousands thronged the area.

This morning at HEART Silvia Evans gave a talk on Grief, then she and Vickie anointed with oil and prayed for each one of us. How can I not have a pull to stay?  But it is time to go, my shoes show it and I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends in the USA.

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Swindled by a Ninja

Malindi's Old Market. Fatima, a woman clothed in black, entirely covered except for slits for her eyes ran across the busy street to greet me and pretended that she knew me. It was the start of a swindle. A few days earlier I had met a woman dressed like her. She called her attire “ninja” - I was told that the name came from Ninja soldiers. I enjoyed buying the trinkets she had displayed upon a tarp in the Malindi old market - my favorite place to practice my Swahili. I’m so curious about what goes on in the mind of one who wear the Ninja. This particular woman was 18 and had been wearing it for about a year. I was hoping to cultivate a relationship with her. I wondered what her personality was like, what gives her the most satisfaction in her days, and how she handle her position in society.

When Fatima the swindler hailed me down on the street,  I had no face to compare so I asked her if we met at the old market and if she was 18, she said yes…so I thought it was probably her. She asked if I could pay for medicine for her sick baby which she carried in her arms. She had a prescription and I was glad to pay the $7 for medication to treat pneumonia.  A few days later she calls crying, saying that her child died. She wanted me to go to the hospital with her; the baby was in the morgue. I knew that Kenya the hospitals release neither patient nor corpse until the bill is paid and the bill builds day by day. I had 1250 shillings ($15) with me, I told her that I probably would not be able to settle her problems with it but I would try to be her advocate and friend. We met in town and took the favored transport, a tuk-tuk (1/2 motorcycle, 1/2 golf cart) to the hospital.

At the morgue two men were sitting outside, she talked to them and understandably she didn’t want to go in. Guess who goes in?  Dead bodies, naked, a slit near their groin to drain the fluids and all lined up and laying on the floor. I didn’t see Fatima’s baby but the morgue worker points to a girl of about 4 years old. He says that one is her. These bodies were once alive and were the carriers of the soul. Their minds conversed with God, with people and I think even with their own soul. God had breathed into them the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). Though part of me wondered it it would be sacrilege, I asked if I could take a picture. He said yes, so I did.

Back outside, I said to Fatima and this morgue worker that her child wasn’t in there, only an older child, a girl was in there. The morgue worker actually said that the bodies stretch after death. I laughed at him and said no, the don’t. Fatima said that it wasn’t her baby that died but her older daughter. She and I set down on the curb, I couldn’t blame her for not wanting to go into the morgue. It was horrid. So I take my camera and zoom in on the face alone so she doesn’t have to see child’s body nor the other bodies captured in the shot. She looks at it and with a wail confirms it is her child,

When I was in the morgue, Fatima was given a paper which had the name of the price. They wanted 3000 shillings ($37) which I didn’t have. I wanted a medical report and there was then a long discussion about this. No one could tell me the cause of death. I thought it was very important for Fatima to have the facts even if she wasn’t very interested in them at the moment. Isn’t that what an advocate and friend is supposed to do with a grieving woman? White people are generally charged a higher rate so I let Fatima take my shillings thinking she was going to the accounting office and we would get the records that evening.

The second man told me that she was running toward the gate. “Kimbia?” I say like “really, literally ‘running’”. He tells me how to intercept her. From behind, I come up to her, when she looks at me I see the most interesting look on her unwrapped face. I figure that it was surprise because I caught her when she thought she had gotten away. I walk with her and she talks but now mostly in Swahili. As we come to some benches I have her sit down. She continues to talk and cry, I say calmly – as two women are across from us. “Why won’t you speak English?”. In quiet boldness I reach over and take the purse which she held on her lap. She does not protest and I remove all the money, then give back 100shillings because she had that initially. A minute later I say it is time to go and after walking a bit, when alone I say to her clearly and quietly in English then my best shot in Swahili that I know that the child was not hers. She says that she’ll be back in the evening for the records and she will show me that it is. Of course that did not happen. We get in a tuk-tuk and I let her off in town.

I went directly to my Swahili lesson and my teacher then gives me a lesson on culture. From my first sentence she knew that it was a swindle. “No African woman would ever be allowed out of the house in the days after a child’s death”. Not for any reason. Someone else would take care of the body. A relative would always be there. If not a mother, aunt it would be some other relative. There would always be someone. The two at the morgue probably did work there but doing something would be interfering. We come together, it was our affair so they would feel no responsibility to expose her to me. They did not at all think of themselves as accessories to a crime. The fact that she treated me like a friend and told others that they could speak Swahili to me and I concurred only confirmed to them that they should stay out of it. The first guy felt that he could get a piece of the profit, but was not himself a thief in his own mind, so would not have to worry about any repercussions. The look which I saw on Fatima’s face I now know without a doubt was fear. If I had let other people know what happened they would have stoned her and set her on fire. She was fearful of her life. A simple “thief” or “help” from me was enough to end her life.

Gertrude was very familiar with this, it happened many times in the different areas she lived. Just last year a neighbor of hers was stoned, burned and killed for stealing a chicken. He was just 20 years old, a nice looking man who needed food. that was right there in her Malindi village. The next day I told (in brief) Nixon, the waiter I saw several times a week about the swindle. Then asked him, what do you think would have happened if I let people around us know what was happening? With his face down and in a quiet voice he said, well, they might have burned her or stoned her. Two weeks later I was back at HEART in Nairobi and Jackson the driver came in to work late. He told me that very early that morning he saw some men hiding in his yard. He called the police who arrested them. He said that sometimes police take bribes and let go criminals and so people get angry at this and resort to “mob justice”. His description of this was like Gertrude’s. With one yell people come in great crowds. They are in a frenzy. Somehow they have the things that they need for the execution. It is like they come out of nowhere. Big stones, bricks, a tire, lighting fluid. They go to other peoples homes to take them, if they do not give them, they are marked and it is held against them. Everyone will know and somehow they will pay.

The day after the swindle, I count my money….looks like she gave that morgue guy a couple hundred shillings for entering into her scheme and playing a part.

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Bible Studies

Before leaving for Kenya last summer, a big hope of mine was to share with the WEEP (Women Equality and Empowerment Program) women about the Old Testament on a weekly basis.  Finally, today was the first of the series at both the Ngong and Kibera centers. I left the HEART compound at 7:30am this morning and reached the Ngong center at around 9:30. Traveling across Nairobi is always a challenge. When I arrived the women had already begun lifting their voices in prayer and song.    Freda, Mercy and Regina gave testimonies of God’s work in their lives.  The study went great, they were so very attentive. At least 15 attended.

From there I went to the Kibera center.  11 attended here. I know the Kibera women better than those in Ngong and I have been bringing Swahili Bibles to these 11 plus others who weren’t here today.  Finally, the last 3 of the group

Everlyn sharing about life with HIV and God's provisions at the HEART fundraiser

received Bibles.  Everlyn received hers a couple months ago and she says she carries it with her during the day.  She relates to us her stories of the different people she ministers to with it.  She lives and works in Kibera, an extremely harsh living environment.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, she shines the light of God’s word into the hearts of individuals who are heavy laden.

Today I helped the women at the two sites to make sense of all the books in the Old Testament, we looked at the table of contents and I presented an overview of the entire Old Testament.  I am so very grateful for this opportunity!

Now, it is time to start buying Bibles for the Ngnog ladies.  Only a few of them have a copy in their own language.

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Women Equality Empowerment Program


image Symptoms_of_AIDSA month and a half ago I gave a class on HIV to 54 women at the Ngong Center.  They meet weekly in a support group, a few are in the WEEP program.  The next week I went to language school…today, as I returned to Ngong they were very happy to hear me greet them in Swahili.  Of the many blessings I received today, the greatest was seeing the progress of the WEEP graduates.

They have built a culture of hard work, savings, accountability and Christian fellowship. I am very impressed at what they have been able to achieve.  Through WEEP, they learned business skills, confidence, organization and budgeting. Now they are supporting their children and they are lights to their neighbors. They pool a portion of their income in a “Merry-Go-Round”.

How their “Merry-Go-Round” works:

  • Weekly meetings to discuss money matters. Each woman contributes at least 100 shillings ($1.20) per week to this cooperative.  They were able to start with the graduation gift from Bayside church (about $150 each).

  • The woman who wants a loan must show that she is trustworthy for repayment.  She is not allowed to hear the discussions of pros and cons of giving out that loan to her.
  • They allow certain others who they associate with regularly to be a part of the group, but she must contribute $150 before they will be considered eligible for a loan.
  • They also will loan out money to non group people at 30% interest.  This is equal to or less than the current bank rates.  To group members, the rate is 18%.

Why this is Success:

When starting the WEEP program they thought they were on their death bed, that they all were abandoned, they thought their children would be orphans, they lacked food and were prey to the evil forces at work in the slum.

Each woman has taken the first loan from the fund and nearly all have repaid it with interest within a few months.  So the money is building very nicely. They are not out of the slum but they have one another, they have skills, they have confidence, they stand with one another and they build up one another in faith and good works.

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Resolutions to Be Thin and the Habits of Your Mind

How we eat is primarily habitual.  Deep in our subconscious we have our “directors”.  These directors tell us how to eat throughout each day.  Some of these guys are really nasty. They come from all over the place; we were born with some of these directors. Others were developed because of what we were told in early childhood by our loving family (“finish your plate”).  Some, we developed by our emulating others.  Still, some we developed due to our lack of restraint (stuffed, yet eating that second bowl of ice cream). And lastly, some directives stem from social norms (eating a big mac).  Have you had enough of these tormenting directors?

Kick-Out the Nasty Directors of Your Head

Don’t dismay, you can kick-out the nasty directors and direct your habits as you wish.

When you find yourself striving to be thin and then failing, it is your subconscious taking over.  First, biologically, your body thinks that you are starving itself when you diet so it activates mechanisms which counteract what you are doing. You have put your body into what I call “mini-starvation mode”. Second, there are habits which over the years have become etched into your brain.  These habits can be broken when you replace them with new healthier habits.  You have heard that it takes 21 days to break a habit.  That is true, but remember we are talking about numerous habits. Allow yourself time to transform your mind. Third, (partly due to the media) you have false assumptions in your head.  These must be identified, evaluated and replaced with truth.

People can and do make positive health changes in their lives; you can too.

  • Some change under crisis. (e.g. heart attack).  Someone may have such a scare, that it creates the ability to kick out those old directors. Often in this state of heightened emotions he or she is very receptive to education, he has support and the environment may change so that healthier habits are easier to become a part of life.
  • Others change because of social influences (e.g. all your girlfriends are going to the gym and losing weight).
  • The most proactive way to change is to create a Vision for the new you. This Vision must be clear enough and heartfelt enough to pull you forward to achieve specific goals. It begins with courage, reflection and seeking and accepting truth. What is true about my self-image?  What is true about how I relate to food?  What is true about food and about health? You have the means to find this truth; but remember you find it in a journey.

Improved health habits come in stages.

The stages of change are: Pre-contemplation (when one does not see that there is a need to change), Contemplation (e.g. intending to change in the next 6 months), Preparation for change, Action and Maintenance.  The Action stage itself is full of transitions into new and better ways to live. The reality is that relapse to earlier stages tends to be the rule for health changes. The good news is, that only 15% of people regress to stage 1 and there are many things to do to help you move from stage to stage. This is your journey toward health. It is up to you to walk it and ensure that you have motivation to sustain it.

Help for your journey.

When spontaneous change does not come, get help. Choose a person who understands the processes of change within each of these stages, a life coach who can help you to understand and act from your vision and your values. This coach can help you to build upon what is already working for you so that step by step you will be at a healthy weight.  You will free yourself from the nasty directors and have charge over the way you live and think.

Christmas Party at the Ambassador's Residence

I am available for coaching by phone or skype.
See my website and send me an email
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“Go Ye” – Kenyans in Action for Christ

Lydiah, a 25 year old woman who runs the Freedom for Girls program for HEART invited me to spend the Christmas season with her. It began with her “Go Ye” group. The name delighted me because it comes from the verses which have been my theme for the last month. Matthew 28: 19, 20 Go Ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you… Their activity for the day (23rd) was serving a single mother who lived in a Nairobi slum. They prepared foods, shared a meal and left her with blankets and a supply of food. What a blessing it was for me to join these young servants of the King!

Lydia and her family

In her rural area of Murang’a, I had pleasure of again seeing Kenyan Christians joyfully following Christ’s call. Lydiah’s mother, a nurse and father, an x-ray tech moved to their rural home where they grow most their foods and built a small church for ministry. Working their full time jobs, and taking care of the family and farm even without running water and electricity is a lot for anyone. However, they could not neglect the “Go Ye” command.

Lydiah playing ball with kids

On Christmas Eve, Lydiah and Peter (her Dad) and I went to visit a home of 39 orphans. Our visit, juice, yummy treats, stickers and a soccer ball brought a little extra Christmas cheer to their lives. In the evening Peter showed the 10 Commandments DVD. He and David, Lydiah’s friend, began the movie in his church but the generator went out, so they just took the movie and set up an outdoor theater. Christmas Day they showed “Jesus of Nazareth” in the same place. People out and about with not a lot of good things to do, stopped to watch a film about Jesus on Jesus’ birthday. Peter and David were so excited to spread the good news about Jesus. What a great “Go Ye” service! Consider, that this is all done on a shoe string! No good roads, no good cords, no fancy screen or equipment. The DVD player was borrowed, projector was borrowed (a one time deal from his hospital).

Let me know if you want to fund a projector for Peter. What joy it would bring!

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Wild Africa

Alice and I admired the lovely, noisy weaverbirds just across the river of our exotic tents in the Maasai Mara. Then, we dropped off our bags and went for our Safari ride. We stayed out long enough to see the sunset with silhouettes of animals across the horizon.

Alice’s pic


After dinner, when it was very dark we went back to our tents.  I was viewing my pictures when I received a text from Alice next door, “Do you hear something outside?”, I simply replied “LOL”.  Soon after, I began hearing the sounds.  They quickly became louder and louder.  It rose to a cacophony of splashing, pounding, very loud breathing, snorting, squealing and loud night birds. When I heard the huge splashing, I realized among other things we most likely had a pod of hippos outside our tents.

Knowing that hippopotamuses are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa, I questioned my safety. At my bedside instead of a phone there was a whistle attached to a lantern, the accompanying notice said “use in case of emergency”. Not too comforting. At the back of the tent was an attached solid bathroom, I thought, well, if they come in, I’ll head there.

Excitement stirred in me. I wanted to go outside and see the incredible sights. Caution over ruled my curiosity. I unzipped and peeked out my window and the bottom of my tent door, I didn’t dare to unzip it all. I couldn’t see a thing!  I dared not to go outside, after all, a creature it seemed was on Alice’s porch.  No, I went to bed, listening to the magnificent sounds. Laying there I felt some fear, but more than fear, feeling alive and happy to be in the middle of wild Africa.

not my pic/found online

At 6 am, I had my wake up call,  I asked the man “are those hippos?”.  Now, brave because I had a Maasai man at my side, I stepped off my porch and looked into the river in the dawning light. By this time, the hippos were asleep under the water.  Hippos, I later learned  rise to breathe every 3 – 5 minutes automatically even if asleep. All I could see were their nostrils occasionally emerging, sometimes with a snort.  Great way to start a new day.  The next morning the man showed me the crocodiles.  Africa is wild.

Monkey on my porch

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