Thursday, September 25, 2008

a special mission

I have to leave for Kibera in a few minutes. My task today is to tell the children a story. this is what I think I might say:

Once upon a time a baby was born to very poor parents in a dark slum. He was an unknown child of a King, his Father. He was on a special mission. He had planted inside himself a little voice from his Father that told him he was very loved, very important to his father, and on a special mission. He grew up poor, without a lot to eat sometimes. He did the right thing as he listened inside himself to a little voice that said, “this is the right thing to do. I love you. Your Father.” So he spoke the truth as he saw it in a loving way. First to this one and then to that one.

He told a lot of stories that his father had given to him to tell. He told stories about little people who loved each other even when it cost them a lot. He told stories about rich people in power to were greedy and selfish, who just wanted to make themselves feel and look very important. His life was very full and loving and he laughed a lot. Then one day the important men in charge of the slum, the rich men, decided they didn’t like his stories. He embarrassed them. They made secret plans. Bad plans. They wanted him to die. So one night when he was walking home they rushed out and attacked him. They killed him. They dumped his body below a lot of trash. His body got covered over by sewage and flies. Three days went by.

And then, on the morning of the 3rd day, he got up, alive again, out of the trash. He walked around the slum. He showed people the wounds where he was stabbed. He gave them food. He loved them.

And it wasn’t long before his Father called him back to his Home where he still is today. But his Father’s voice still is speaking if you listen very hard in the morning when you wake up, or at night right before you sleep, or in quiet moments during the day. He’s talking to you too. He’s telling you the same message, “I love you so much. You are very special. I’m especially fond of you. I will protect you and give you food in your spirit to eat that others do not see. Be faithful to me and I will be faithful to you.” The end.

I don’t know if I can remember what I just typed. We’ll see. I love you. I have to go. I’m on a special mission.

the widow's mite

This morning we again waded through open sewage in the streets to get from the edge of the slum into the orphan center. When we finally got to Risa’s Child Home in Kibera, the world’s largest slum, it was about 10 am. We wandered through the classrooms, picked up and comforted children, stirred beans that were boiling for 3 hours to be mixed with rice and a little fatback and spice, for the children’s only meal that day. Not overly balanced diet but it would fill up gnawing stomaches.

We had a little break time, devotional in nature, with some tea in Risa’s office. I asked each of the four staff about themselves. None of them are licensed teachers, but they all know more than the children. Rarely are they paid; mostly this is just giving their time. One of them in particular impressed me. I asked her, Elizabeth, in the picture, what in the world motivated her to get up each day to come here and work. She smiled about a mile wide and said, “I just looooove these children! God puts that love in me for them and I can just feel it coming out of me when I am with them.”

Later, as it turns out, after some probing, she has been married over 20 years, her husband and she have 4 children of their own and they take home another three each night who have no where else to go. He makes 1000 shillings a week doing construction jobs (about $15). They tithe that. Then they give an offering on top of that. Then they buy groceries. Tea in the mornings if they can afford it (with a teaspoon of sugar if they have extra money that week); most often a glass of water. Lunch consists of whatever at noon that the orphan care center provides; sometimes that is nothing. Then a little cooked flour paste at night, called flaa, with some beans and water, perhaps a little rice. This woman and her husband, and three children, plus four guardian children plus another teacher from the school, Anne, all sleep in one small room on empty sacks that used to contain sand or concrete. The next day they all get up and do it again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just the Right Recipe of Apart-Togetherness in His Master Menu of Obedience

Wednesday. Sept. 24th 2008

* Hold on. You’ll be hearing from Vance real soon now.

If you simply taste and savor the metaphoric thoughts of this caption, straight from Vance… who knows where God will draw you? Vance, you capture our attention with essentials such as these ~ once again! Thank you for your careful listening to Him and sharing with us.

September 23rd 6:58 AM “We’re well and happy. Just checking to 2 say we love u and miss u; all the while having amazing adventures.”

Provided me an opportunity to… smile!

September 23rd 10:09 PM “Thanks so much for updates…and for folks helping you. Bless them. Pool water looking ok? 4 tabs in strainer and 4 in floater? My mind floats in and out on house chores, missing the familiarity of it all. At the same time my heart is tugging away from that scene to mission fields afar. Waiting is hard even as I travel actively. I love you more each day as our Master Chef plans just the right recipe of apart-togetherness in His master menu of obedience. I am learning to listen to His starts, stops, and taste tests before I turn on the mixmaster and have mashed potatoes all over the ceiling… [smile] Right now we are well and getting closer to the Kibera slum work tomorrow. Blessings!

I really loved the “help” Kenya! [Brought more smiles].

You have to know Garrison Keillor to appreciate “mashed potatoes all over the ceiling” – the master Mark Twain of our era was ruminating in his head having a conversation with his mother – who apparently continues to mother him into his eldering years… Been here! Done that? And, to the degree you know Vance, well… it’s good, real good that he’s learning the “art of taste tests before turning on the mixmaster…”

Above all else, return thanks for all the Savior has done… and is doing… in Kenya, Sudan, all of Africa, around the world … and in the United States… “pray about everything He brings into your heart and mind.” He’s counting on us to move His hands… so He can show us HE IS GOD, Lord of Everything - It’s His Power, His Majesty, His Money… It’s even HIS election, if we call on Him earnestly! Just press into Him – into His Goodness, His Wisdom, and His Power. Require it of Him. He delights in people who are passionately in love with Him. Oh yes, He is.

I received a lengthy, wonderful, absolutely exciting post from Vance - and it's captioned - for the blog. so, ya'll will hear soon. Blessings!

Monday, September 22, 2008

O THE BEAUTY ... The Mystery of His Majesty reflecting opposites yet whole

Monday. September 22nd 2008

Perhaps you think it is Mount Kilimanjaro or the Rift Valley to which I refer in this caption. Or, Lake Baringo, which lies in the solitude of the "semi-desert area and is described as a haven of peace and beauty in harsh, rugged but majestic surroundings." Vance and Dima are experiencing these beauties on their pilgrimage. Google the areas … and we can catch a glimpse…

There is satisfaction in holding seeming contradictions together -- peace and beauty with harsh and rugged circumstances... or a desert with springs of refreshment... or one's unspoken struggles hidden in deserted aloneness and hardly anyone knows ~ except HIM, The One Who holds all things together by the power of HIS Word.

What marvelous “coincidences” are prepared by Providential grace! The Shepperson Men accepted the assignment. And, the “taste and see… The Lord, He is Good” … is beyond their description.

And, HIS majesty extends to all His Creation… including you and I. Our road is full of surprises. To quote a favorite of ours, J. H. Jowett, “We see the frowning, precipitous hill, and we fear it, but when we arrive at its base we find a refreshing spring!” “That is the surprising way of the Lord. He delights to hang great weights on apparently slender wires, to have great events turn on seeming trifles, and to make poverty the minister of “the indescribable riches of Christ.”

What joy it was for me to receive this message below just minutes before I commenced my first work day of this week.

September 22nd @ 7:55 AM. “It’s been a good day with Edgar (family to Helen) and Dima. Traveled 175 miles in E’s car through gorgeous country. Now at hotel with hot springs, pools. Swim and eat ~ with monkeys eating off table. God is good.”

Simple and true.

May God enliven your steps, catch you by surprise, to see the splendor of Him next to refreshing, yet surprising available springs. One of my surprising springs? That I’m EVEN writing in this sheppersonsblog… - no less enjoying it! This was never a conversation between Vance and I. Won’t he be surprised when he initiates his first entry since Sunday, September 14th? Oh, yes!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Families Meet & Create A Divine Moment for their "daughter"

Today is the day! Going by Easy Coach, Vance and Dima traveled from Nairobi to visit Helen Maritim’s family who live in the Rift Valley. You can read a “comment” by Helen in this blog just a couple entries back. Helen is a student at Hope International University, master’s program. She’s the youngest in a family of 12!

We met on a Saturday morning in 2007 at Starbucks ~ Helen, sipping tea, had just arrived from Kenya. Vance and I, enjoying coffee and breakfast, had just returned from Thailand… we struck up a “Shepperson conversation” and …boom ~ one of those “divine appointments” happened. We’ve adopted one another and she’s simply ecstatic that “Dad and Dima” are at her home.

When I called her tonight with the news from “Dad” she said, “Thank you, Mom, so much for calling and telling me. I didn’t know what happened. Nobody called me. I am soooo happy. It is so good.”

Here’s Vance’s text: 12:30 PM …most welcomed in all my life. 30 people in midst of road singing & dancing us all the way 2 the house. Dima said they felt at home with us in such short time. Fun! Much 2 tell. Baringo 2morrow. 250 miles 2 travel. Dima misses u, as do I…