Tomorrow I’ll fly to Nairobi, Kenya, with my friend Al Willingham. We’ll arrive Friday evening, 7:30 PM (Kenya time). Saturday will be a chill-out day for us, hopefully getting in sync with Nairobi time.
On Sunday morning I’ll preach at Cliff Msioki’s church in Nairobi. Cliff’s church has three Sunday morning services, but they will combine together when I am there. Cliff has been praying and fasting all this week in anticipation of what God wants to do on Sunday. I am very expectant about this!
Then Cliff will drive Al and I down from Nairobi (elevation 5500 feet) into and through the ancient Rift Valley and to Eldoret to the northwest (elevation 6500 feet). The drive from Nairobi into the Rift Valley is supposed to be spectacular. When I was in Israel I took 2200 pictures. For this Kenya trip I am very prepared to take 2-3 thousand pictures. My theory is: just keep snapping, even randomly. One good, even great, photo can come out of the many.
From Monday – Friday next week it will be my privilege to teach and minister to pastors from Kenya and Uganda at a retreat center in Eldoret. I will use my Spiritual Formation & Transformation teachings as a platform for the Holy Spirit to move and have his way among us. I know God is going to do unexpected and great things in our midst.
Then, back to Nairobi, and home to Monroe via Amsterdam.
Travel time, from takeoff to touchdown in Kenya: 17 hours. I fly, therefore I read books. I’m taking some with me on my new Kindle (yay!).
17 hours on a plane. Some books. My mp3 player loaded with Kenyan music (Suzanne Owiyo, e.g., called the “Tracy Chapman of Kenya”). If Linda were with me this would be perfect.
I’m in Nairobi!
Our flights (Al W. & I) were excellent. First, Detroit to Amsterdam. Amsterdam has a nice, efficient airport. But not as nice as Detroit Metro (which is the nicest I’ve ever been in).
Then, onto the big KLM 747 for the flight to Nairobi. My seat was 56H. The ticket person scanned my ticket and printed out another ticket that read: Seat 2K. Sounds better than 56H! I enter the plane, they direct me to my left, I am in first class! I have a guess how this happened. Probably one of our Redeemer Delta/KLM people upgraded me. It’s either that, or God, or luck. Probably, it’s “that” and God.
About first class…
- Big chairs with your own armrests. This is important since on the Detroit to Amsterdam flight a man sat next to me and his arms were as big as chairs, My arm, thus, didn’t exactly “rest” on that flight.
- Heavy-duty luxury plastic silverware comes with your meal. The knife, fork, and spoon were so nice I thought of taking them home and using them for our good dinnerware.
- Leg room. If you were Yao Ming you’d have enough room.
- The chairs recline to full prone position. And, they are wide. These chairs are nicer than most people’s beds.
- The chairs have back massagers in them.
- The food is different, and better, then economy class. This made me feel, for a moment, guilty.
- But before dinner came we first-classers each got a sizable bowl of assorted nuts. But note this: not one peanut was in that bowl. Need I say more? (Since “assorted nuts” usually means “peanuts,” with an occasional walnut chip.)
- Three times hot wash clothes were brought to us. Why? Because we deserve that kind of treatment, that’s why! Yet I wondered…, if they only knew I didn’t pay for first class, would I have gotten a wash cloth?
- First-classers have their own, isolated bathrooms. Economy-waifs cannot use them. Which means they are always available, since numerically first-classers are “the few.”
- Then, right out of nowhere, I am served a cup of ice cream.
- In first class you are treated like you are sombody even though you are not.
On the two flights I read Ngugi wa Thiongo’s Decolonizing the Mind. Whoa, what a brilliant book, and sad in some places as we read of atrocities and dehumanizing acts done by the imperialistic colonizers of the African continent. Thiongo is a tremendous writer who some thought would receive this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.
I read, on my Kindle, more of The Dark Night of the Soul and was quite impressed with St John of the Cross’s insights into shallow, sensual Christianity. Read more of Wayne Proudfoot’s excellent Religious Experience. And, a little bit of Thomas Merton, which always goes a very long way.
Al & I both were blown away as we flew across the Swiss Alps and had an amazing, long look at snow-capped peaks and deep, green valleys. These Alps flow into northern Italy, which looked, from the air, spectacular. Down the east coastline of Italy, over Sicily, across the Mediterranean, into northern Africa, then over Libya and Sudan, where we were both in awe at the very big Sahara Desert. How big? 3.6 million square miles. It covers most of northern Africa. The Sahara Desert is almost as big as Europe, and America. We had incredible sun-drenched views of it from 30,000 feet. Ask Al what he thought of this.
We got picked up at the Nairobi Airport by our host, Pastor Cliff Msioki. Cliff drove us into the city where we’re staying at the PanAfric hotel. Cliff is such a gracious host. I am honored to be with him and his church this weekend.
Al and I just ate a late dinner. I ordered something I’d never heard of – it was vegetarian and spicy and delicious. Al saw, on the menu, something called “cappucino mushroom soup.” Al tried to wrap his mind around that but was having problems doing it. I think he’s going to try some tomorrow.
|Kibera, in Nairobi
It’s 11 PM Nairobi time. It has been a very full day! Here are some bullets…
- Awoke at 8. Slept well.
- Called Steve Lichty (U of Florida Ph.D student & Fulbright scholar who is working on the relationship between African religion and African politics.
- Steve picks up Al and myself and takes us to a Java House – very, very nice place! We ate breakfast outside.
- I loved talking with Steve and listening as he shared the stuff he’s working on and briefed us an all things Kenyan. I took notes. This was for me a wonderful time, and I learned a lot!
- Steve dropped Al & I back at our hotel. Then we walked to downtown Nairobi. It was warm, and at times hot – felt like 85 degrees, and lots of sun.
- We went to a bazaar. I bought some very cool and indigenous jewelry for Linda. Yes, Al and I bartered. I’d like to describe Al’s bartering experience but it would take way too long. I witnessed it. You would be proud of Al.
- Steve picked us up at 3, and toured us around Nairobi.
- We went to Kibera, a slum of 170,000+, and the second largest slum in all of Africa.
- Just around the corner from Kibera are the neo-colonial polo fields where the wealthy play.
- Steve said, “I’ll take you to Karen.” “Karen” is named after Karen Blixen, whom the movie “Out of Africa” was about. It was beautiful! As we pulled into the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden I called Linda – I was wishing she could be there with me!
- Jacaranda trees, with their purple petals, are in full bloom all over Nairobi. As I sipped a cappucino in the Karen Blixen Coffee Garden purple petals were falling all around us.
- We sat and drank coffee and talked with Steve and listened and greatly enjoyed the time. Al pulled out his GPS and said, “We’re 7500 miles from Ann Arbor, 6100 feet above sea level, and 1 degree from the equator.”
- A pouring rain then fell.
- We drove back towards our hotel. All the while Steve is pointing out things. He’s more than your basic tour guide – he knows a lot about the socio-political-historical background and always brings it in, which is really helpful to me.
- Went to the Nairobi version of Super Walmart – it was very big and very modern. Then we ate at another Java Joe’s.
Tomorrow morning Cliff Msioki picks us up at the hotel at 9. I’ll preach in Nairobi to his congregation – the three services will combine. Most of the people understand English, but Cliff will translate for me in Kiswahili since not all speak or understand English.
Then we’ll have lunch, and Cliff will give us his tour of Nairobi.
I think I’ll sleep well tonight. Already the jet lag is not nearly as bad as when I went to Bangkok a year ago.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Nairobi, while on the equator, has a moderate climate – it’s 6000 feet above sea level. Today was a beautiful 75 -80 degree day. Pastor Cliff Msioki picked Al and I up at the hotel and drove us to the place where, on August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassy in Kenya was bombed
. It happened in downtown Nairobi, in a very congested area. 291 people were killed and 5,000 wounded. Responsible: al Qaeda. Now there is a memorial to those who died.
We then drove to Ongata Rongai outside Nairobi. Many of these roads have speed bumps the size of Mount Kenya. Literally, on some of them, your vehicle could get hung up and suspended. If it was dark and you were driving and didn’t see them that is the end of your car’s life mission (which is to transport you). On the way we stopped for a cup of coffee. And, I note, there are many, many Christian ministries and churches along this road.
New Life Mission is a beautiful and effective ministry to children, with a vibrant congregation. As we pulled in the worship was already happening. It was beautiful, powerful, and went on for a long time which, in some of our minds, is very good. “Three verses and we’re outta here” is no longer for me. I’m a ‘7-11’ worshiper – 7 verses sung 11 times. Or more. That’s tribal, meditative, Hebraic worship, where the stuff gets a chance to sink into the heart. Better a 7-11 worshiper than a McWorshiper. Better one entire day of worship in God’s courts than McWorship elsewhere.
After worship there was an offering, and a group of women sang a song as it was collected. Then – announcements. I’m guessing 700 people were there, many of them being young adults.
Cliff introduced me. I preached on the 2-fold methodology of Jesus, which is: proclaim and demonstrate. I told the people about prophecy, then demonstrated it with two people God had given me prophetic words for. Please note: 1 Corinthians 14:3 prophecy is to strengthen, encourage, and comfort. It was well received by these two people; they felt it was from God and for them. Then I told the story of Carl, the marathon runner in our church whose foot was broken and was healed (I’ve got the hospital records that show this). I asked, “Are there any marathon runners in Kenya?” There was a slight gasp in the people. That’s like asking, “Is the pope Catholic?” Kenya is THE long-distance running center of the cosmos! I then made a joke (it seems funny to me). I said, “After church today, I challenge all of you to a long-distance running race.” Many smiles among the people… Just kidding, I said.
I asked if there was anyone who had a problem with their feet. A young woman, Julia, raised her hand. She came forward. I explained to the people about “authority” (exousia), and how Jesus gives his followers authority. She had sprained her ankle multiple times and it was not getting better. I asked her what the pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10. “Eight,” she said. I then said, “In Jesus’ name, be healed.” “How is your pain now?” I asked? Julia said “Zero.” And immediately as she said “zero,” before the people could begin toclap and praise God, there was a “pop” as a ceiling light broke, shattered, and fell to the ground right next to this woman and myself. The people erupted in praise and wonder. I told them that I felt the timing of this light popping (which Cliff said has never happened before) was absolutely perfect. It gave an exclamation point to the healing of Julia’s foot. That, I believe, was God. Now there was this increased sense of expectation in all our hearts because God was in the house.
A lot more things happened. Al and I and Cliff prayed over many people, for healing and greater impartation of authority, power, and love.
Afterwards, on the drive back to our hotel, we:
- saw two groups of baboons on the roadside. My camera battery was dead; Al didn’t get to his camera in time to capture them.
- compared the potholes on the road to the potholes in Monroe County. FYI – our potholes do not take a back seat to Nairobi’s.
- drove along the edge of Nairobi National Park. In that park are: Black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, Giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, elands and diverse birdlife with over 400 species recorded. In my supreme ignorance I asked Cliff, “Do people walk in that park?” Cliff responded, “No, they’d get killed.” OK. People drive through the park and stay in their vehicles.
- Stopped and ate outdoors at a Kenyan Mexican restaurant. Don’t laugh. America is not China, and we have Chinese restaurants. People in China laugh at this.
Back in my hotel I crashed. There came a knock on the door – it was Al. He had not taken a nap. Actually, I wouldn’t call what I was doing “napping,” which has a connotation of lightness about it. I was in comatose hibernation mode (CHM). I’m sure I looked disoriented when I opened the door for Al since I was disoriented. At least I was “authentic.”
|Rift Valley escarpment west of Nairobi
Here’s the day so far which, on this side of the planet, has just begun. Here we’re 7 hours ahead of Detroit time.
- Slept better last night – got 6 hours of solid sleep. Did not awake in CHM (comatose hibernation mode).
- Al and I ate at the PanAfric’s breakfast buffet. Lots of food, including meats, fruits, pastries, eggs, pancakes, fruit drinks. But for me… I had a bowl of whole grain cereal, and a bowl of coconut cardamom oatmeal with some honey added. I liked it!
- We’re packing up to leave Nairobi today. Cliff picks us up at noon. We drive 5 hours NW to Eldoret.
- 70 pastors from Kenya and Uganda await us there. I’ll teach them Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Now… the Rift Valley outside Nairobi. Here’s from a site that writes about it.
“The Great Rift Valley is a massive rift or fault on the surface of the earth that runs from northern Syria in the Middle East all the way down to central Mozambique in southeastern Africa. In Africa, the rift splits into two: the Eastern Rift Valley and the Western Rift Valley.
The Eastern Rift Valley runs through Kenya from Lake Turkana in the north and beyond Lake Magadi in the South. It is the home to breathtakingly unique geographical features, including geysers, extinct volcanoes, gorges, escarpments, the Aberdare Range and numerous lakes. Some of the oldest human fossils have been found here.
On the drive from Nairobi, the capital city, to Nakuru in the Rift Valley, there are a number of scenic overlooks along the way, where the ground suddenly drops away from the road into a steep valley that expands several thousand miles in every direction.”
I have my camera and binoculars ready.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Posted by John Piippo at 9:43 PM