Lasting Impressions of Kenya

March 4, 2009

I was sitting in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam a week ago. For no particular reason I remember eating the “London” breakfast meal at McDonalds amongst my exploration of the beautiful airport. Having a seven hour layover really built the anticipation of getting on that last flight and arriving back in DC. Once I finally boarded the plane, I had a hard time napping as I just wanted to fast forward the 8 hour flight. Between those 15 hours in Amsterdam and on the last leg of my journey home, my mind moved in and out of reflection on what truly was impressed on me, even in me, during my brief stay in Kenya. In no particular order…

Globalization is truly incredible. I had decent wireless internet service while I was at KIST. I was able to blog and email my wife. Cell service (though incredibly expensive and unused by me) provided full bars in practically every corner of Kenya. I’m fairly well convinced Kenya has better cell service than we do. A big however. Availability is not synonymous with accessibility. The extent and quantity of technology is extremely limited as poverty is widespread.

The competence and integrity of the highest level of organization leadership facilitates or impedes progress. It is quite impossible to excel at a level greater than that which you have been empowered or enabled to do. This is true in Kenyan culture where power is king and corruption is rampant and ministry leaders are in great tension over the place and their pursuit of power. This is also true of American culture and the requirement of clear, strategic vision that reflects mission and opportunity with proper human and financial resources. It is difficult to succeed when both are missing.

I am the husband of one wife. Never has such an obvious statement meant so much. Where polygamy is socially normative, integrity and purity in Christian leaders is critical. How pastors choose to handle the various complexities of polygamy in their ministries is essential to success.

The proximity and intensity of sensory interaction in one’s life is truly amazing. It’s not only a matter of choice but a state of being. It is cleansing to have very little interaction with vehicles and media. When the breeze, birds, occasional cow mooing, and personal conversation comprises the sum of your sensory interaction you have more energy and greater personal clarity. In America, the complexity and layers of sensory interaction (both permissive and contextual) is incredible and, in my ways, dulls our capacity to experience a regular, greater sense of freedom.

I was really comfortable in Africa. It was weird. Throughout my trip, I tried to put a finger on why I felt so at ease. In the months leading up to the trip, I had the idea that when I stepped onto African soil, I was going to have an intense emotional reaction. I didn’t. What I did feel was more significant than I could have imagined. Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I felt at peace. God really prepared me for this and I felt available to take advantage of some really sweet opportunities. I spoke several times, from audiences of 50 to 1000+. I was never nervous or anxious. Again, just peace and clarity. Since I’ve been back I’ve found it so hard to describe that peace. Regardless of my surprise to its presence or my ability to explain it, I am grateful that it was peace that defined God’s gift to me and my experience in Kenya. It was truly special.

I hope to return to Africa.

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2 Responses to “Lasting Impressions of Kenya”

  1. Loretta Cooper Says:

    Andy,
    I am so glad you shared these thoughts. Not your usual travelogue… very interesting stuff. I have always wanted to visit KIST. Charles Ludwig, who’s parents started the school a million years ago, was one of my pastor’s growing up. I remember hearing him tell stories about his mother in Africa in the 20s’ I guess it must have been. It’s always captured my imagination.
    So glad it was a stunning experience.

  2. Glenn Says:

    Andy,

    I was browsing through and wanted to send a note of encouragement as you are walking the steps of mission ministry. It’s encouraging and I pray you remain firm your faith AND the sharing of it. What an encouragement…may the Lord continue to bless you and your family.

    In His Service….Glenn


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