Monthly Archives: September 2011

Listening Time

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Roadside shops on the way to Charisma Tumaini in Sinai slum

Roadside shops on the way to Charisma Tumaini in Sinai slum

Sam, my dad, and I had the amazing opportunity to spend the day out with our dear friends from Pebbles and Stones, Kathleen Trock and Sue DeKoekkoek, visiting the children at Charisma Tumaini school and Provision Education Center. (Mom & Baby Aviya stayed home to rest.) We did short Pebbles & Stones groups with them, teaching them that God not only speaks – He wants to talk to and have a personal relationship with each one of us. I think that my very favorite part of the day was our “listening time” with the students at P.E.C. Over 160 children – ranging from about three to twelve – were gathered into one room, yet there was nothing to be heard but the beautiful sound of silence. God’s sweet presence so filled the room that it was nearly tangible.

When I looked at all those little blessings (as Mrs. Kathleen so fondly calls us children), each and every one of them had his or her eyes scrunched shut and hands folded neatly, expecting to hear the Father’s voice. Student after student came to the front to share what God had said to them, or a prayer that He had given them. I can’t help but think about how much the Lord must love it when His children quiet themselves before Him and simply listen.

Listening to the Father's voice

Listening to the Father’s voice

In the silence
You are speaking
In the quiet I can feel the fire
And it’s burning, burning deeply
Burning all that it is that you desire to be silent, in me

(Lyrics from Jason Upton’s “In the Silence”)

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Serving in Love

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Sara with Pastor Elisha. Neither of us speak Swahili. I only speak English & he only speaks Maa (the language of the Maasai people).

And the call is to community,
The impoverished power that sets the soul free.
In humility, to take the vow,

that day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.

These words are part of a Michael Card song and are a perfect fit for what it means to be a missionary family. Each and every day, we are learning more and more to live our lives outside of ourselves – living to love people and sow into their lives by shining God’s glory. We live here in Nairobi to serve communities and impact lives. It is not about how wonderful and amazing the Hoffman family is, living as missionaries in a country half-way around the world. It is about giving ourselves to serve others.

In any ordinary place,
on any ordinary day,
the parable can live again
when one will kneel and one will yield.

See the words “In any ordinary place, on any ordinary day”? That is our life. Each day we have beautiful opportunities to share God’s love, not just through big things, but thorugh small things as well – listening to someone’s story, feeding both friends and strangers, offering a smile, or sharing a hug. A life of loving and giving isn’t always easy – in fact, it usually isn’t easy at all. But we do it because we are passionate about Africa and our calling is to community.

Chad during a visit to one of the children's centers supported by CMA.

And the space between ourselves sometimes
is more than the distance between the stars.
By the fragile bridge of the Servant’s bow
we take up the basin and the towel.

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Here is the YouTube link to Michael Card performing The Basin & The Towel live.

Michael Card — The Basin & The Towel

When Americans Shop for Groceries in Nairobi

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Nakumatt at Junction mall is a nearby grocery store but somehow this photo is missing the atms, matatus (taxi buses), shoe shine stands, armed security guards and the throngs of shoppers.

Nakumatt at Junction mall is a nearby grocery store but somehow this photo is missing the atms, matatus (taxi buses), shoe shine stands, armed security guards and the throngs of shoppers.

Grocery shopping isn’t nearly as simple as it was in Michigan. Each week the products are rearranged – often in quite a drastic way or a way that makes no sense, such as putting the apple sauce in the row with the tomato sauce (the African equivalent of ketchup) because they both said “sauce.” It just never ceases to amaze me and frustrate my efforts at following my shopping list.

A happy discovery I made, however, was the existence of sweet melon. Sweet melon is neither a cantaloupe nor a honeydew, but possess qualities of both – the rind and texture of a cantaloupe with the color and taste of a honeydew (it sometimes has the colors of both, being green with a orange-colored ring near the middle). Oh, and if the variety of the melon is unknown to you, just throw it in a bin and call it “sweet melon.” In addition, there are big, juicy pineapples and delicious, firm avocados in abundance. Dried fruit and nuts are more difficult to come by (and cost more $$$!). Pork of any kind is rare because people are partial to cattle and goats – hence the easy access to goat meat and ground beef! (Steaks are actually not as popular – I doubt many people know what a “grill” is.) And don’t get me started on cheese – seriously, imported cheese only, please — unless you are craving the taste of crayons. The cream cheese (which is fluffy and rather salty) also leaves something to be desired. If you are looking for the potatoes, try that mountain of dirt in the vegetable section. You want crackers? What are those???

Cherries: 42 cents each — did they ride first-class from Michigan? Don’t worry, I redeemed a frequent shopper punch-card and got these for free!

A Dog’s Life in Kenya

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Last week I was walking my five-and-a-half pound Yorkshire Terrier, Poppy, with the company of Sam and his spaniel, Ginger, in our apartment complex. As we walked past one of the buildings, Sam in the lead, a small boy was peeking out his window at us. He began to “oooh” and “aaahh” over Ginger. When Poppy and I went by, however, he shouted “Ha ha ha! A CAT!” I just couldn’t keep a big grin from appearing on my face as I thought, “Oh, yes, just a very expensive cat on a rope!” It is so funny to watch how people react to our pets. Poppy and Ginger make the highlight of many a person’s day because they stay in the house, sleep in our beds, have little toys, and “love you back.”

Sabra and Mary with Joel in Maasailand

Two weeks ago on Wednesday, our family – dogs included – went for a much-needed day away from the Nairobi hustle and bustle to visit with our friends in Maasailand. The dogs were a smashing success – everyone loved them. Ginger was thought to be quite novel, but Poppy was something else altogether. If we hadn’t had Poppy spayed, I could have made a veritable fortune breeding her. As it was, I almost thought that we wouldn’t make it home with her in our possession! Everyone wanted to know if they could have her and whether such a little “thing” could survive in the hills of Maasiland. To the first much-repeated question, I continually gave a single answer: NO. To the later question I mostly just smiled, thinking to myself that Poppy, while she would love to become part of a herd of mbuzi (goats), she would probably get taken by one of the big baboons that roam freely in the area. One particularly enterprising young lad even wanted to know if he could get “one of those” from his dogs – some of the “wild dogs,” as the people call them, that wander around (which we would probably call “mutts”).

Our dogs adore people – with the exception of “bad people” (those wearing hats) – and love to be stroked and have a fuss made over them, so this is the perfect situation for them. What happy lives they lead!

Sabra with Poppy & Samuel with Ginger