Monday, 28 July 2014


Almost twenty years ago, a guy called Peter Shaw said to me, with complete conviction.

"You should live in another country for at least a year."

And I remember what I thought at the time.


Funny how life turns out. Funny that I never forgot what he said.
The power of some words: lasting.

So what's it like, leaving your own culture for a year?

Let's go with the positives.

There's a lot of deep stuff I could say about the Rendille people and God's goodness (perhaps another time). However, for this post I've mostly just had a bit of fun, by skimming memories from the top of my head, which means that what follows is predominantly random, light and fluffy. 

This has been a year to make the most of the daylight hours. Apparently, 9pm is "missionary midnight" and this rings true for me. I'm often in bed by 10pm. My parents both grew up on farms, where milking hours were early, so surely they can swell with pride that I've been waking at the crack of dawn on almost every day. Make the most of the day and all that...

I am now a walker. Every day, I take the trip to school on my feet. Imagine that! No car. No visits to the petrol station (what petrol station!?). I'm really hoping that this habit continues back in the UK.

My appreciation of fruits and vegetables is at an all-time high. That has to be good, right? When you go for weeks without either, your body rushes to meet that fresh tomato. Nothing like a big, red tomato! Cabbage becomes exciting. No. Really.  Given my new appreciation of the humble vegetable, I have to agree with Proverbs 15v17:

"Better a meal of vegetables where there is love
Than a fattened calf with hatred."

Notably, the middle-aged belly has gone. The "Korr diet" (core diet?) really works for me. No cake in the staffroom for people's birthdays helps enormously. There's no McDonald's in the entire country, so I can't just nip out to 'top up the tummy' with a few cheeseburgers. One bowl of getheri (beans and maize) for the 12 hours between breakfast and the evening meal really deals with any lingering folds of flesh. Marvellous.

I don't have to flush the toilet for months at a time. Think about that for a minute! (Being free from having to pull the flushing lever has saved approximately 17 minutes 15 secs over the course of the entire year... ... !?) The cockroaches deal with everything for free. Yes, cockroaches are the misunderstood good guys!!

I have not had a cough or cold all year. Now that is something to be thankful for. The ongoing hot, dry weather really clears up the snivels. I've not had that miserable combination of feelings of blocked sinuses, competitively-thick cough, rain pouring down, dark outside, driving to work with your wipers swishing wildly in front of your nose, wet playtimes all week, and kids cooped up inside.

Random. Light. Fluffy.

Although I am now curious as to how 'one year away' has affected other people, for those who've been mad enough to try it.

How was your year away?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Death-bed delight

Picture the scene. It's your death-bed and you think to yourself: What did I do with my life? Was it worth it? Did my life make a difference? Too many people are caught with the same thought:

"I wasted it. Oh, how I wasted it."

Let's change the scene to a different, but related scene.

I was able to be part of an extraordinary prayer meeting on Sunday night. Emotional. Inspiring. One couple, nearing the age of retirement, shared their thoughts, looking back over 35 years of work in this part of Kenya. God has used them to reach a people group who knew nothing of Jesus, so that now an 'unreached' people group has become 'reached' in their lifetime; on their watch. They have been able to write down the Rendille language for the first time and translate the New Testament into this local tongue. Checking still has to be done, but the majority of the work has been completed.

And to think, for the first 13 years of living in this remote area, not a single person became a Christian. I think that a lot of people, people like me, would have packed up and gone home. You can only take so much. I'm glad they stayed! Today, the church is thriving and changing lives.

Another couple in the prayer meeting had never been to Korr before. What were they, tourists? Far from it. The guy began to open up. It turns out that they'd been praying for the work and supporting the projects in Korr for about 30 years. They have done what many Christians do: support and pray for places that they may never visit. For decades. Visibly, they were overwhelmed to actually be in the place they had spent years praying for. They were seeing for themselves what all those prayers could achieve.

Let me encourage those of you who have prayed for years and you question yourself:

Is it worth it?

I've seen it with my own eyes. It's worth it. Keep going. God is faithful and He will do it.

And one day, as your life ebbs away, you can rest peacefully in the knowledge that heaven is smiling down on you now.

1 Thessalonians 5

24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.