Micah 6:8

"...do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God." - Micah 6:8

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Remember Kenya

Things in Kenya seem to be getting worse, not better. I haven't heard from our friends there in awhile, but I've heard too many bad things on the news. Last night I caught the end of "Out of Africa." We have free HBO for a month and that was one of the movies playing. I've seen the movie before, but in the current context it felt different. The ending, when Karen Blixen leaves Kenya for good, was more heart breaking than I remembered. I felt like I was the one saying goodbye to the Ngong Hills. I'm so sad to think that we might not be able to go back to Kenya this summer, but sadder yet to think of the friends we met there who must deal everyday with this newly exposed instability. As if poverty alone wasn't enough.

I am comfortable and safe, but I don't think of myself as "rich." I think of Oprah as rich. But, of course, Oprah is something far beyond rich. The discrepancies in life still take my breath away. Who is accountable for them? How did we get here?

Thursday, January 24, 2008


These are my brother's kids, Royce & Kyley. I don't get to see them very much because my whole family lives in Minnesota (where winters are even colder and snowier than here.) But I like being an Aunt. Kyley and I talk on the phone sometimes. And my parents and my brother keep me updated on all their fun stages. We had a great time together over Christmas. And I can't wait to spend some more time with them.

It seems like everyone I know just had a baby or is about to have one. I never really imagined myself getting to the age I am now (I won't reveal it here) without having any babies, but at the same time it's kind of hard to imagine my life with kids. Babies have been on my mind a lot lately. Sometimes I wish I had an extra decade of time. There are so many things I want to do. I'm feeling the movement of time in a way I never did before. Royce and Kyley are growing up fast. And I still think of their Dad as my "little brother."

I'm not really sure that I would be a good Mom. I'm scared about that sometimes. And I worry about how we would manage everything and what we would have to give up. We haven't really left much space for a family -- at least not until Rick finishes law school. For now I guess we wait.

I've been thinking of Winnie a lot, the little girl we met in the AIDS orphanage in Kenya. I've been day dreaming about adopting a baby from Africa, reading up on the process. In some ways that idea seems to fill a void in me that's even deeper than any ticking biological clock. I wonder what Winnie and her friends are doing right now?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Time for the lighthouse

In 2001 Rick and I led a refugee Bible Study and prayer group at Victory Court Apartments on Sunday nights. On any given week people from Rwanda, Congo, Togo, Mauritania, Sudan, and Afghanistan were likely to be in attendance. It was a pretty amazing experience to be surrounded by prayer in so many languages.

Some of the people from that group have remained our close friends, and others we've lost touch with. Yesterday a woman from the group who we haven't seen in a very long time came to see us. Her teenage son is in jail and facing very serious charges. She's heart broken and confused. She doesn't understand the system here. She makes no excuses for the trouble her son has caused in the past, but this time she's worried that he's just an easy target for the police. Her dream of a better life in American is crumbling. She's sick and losing weight. She can't sleep at night, thinking about what will happen to her son in jail. And she doesn't want people to think that all refugee boys ae going to be crimminals, just because they've been through hard times.

We prayed with her, and said we would try to help her understand what's happening with her son's case. But I felt kind of helpless. We know how to help with things like rent assistance or car repair or explaining papers that come in the mail, but this was nothing we could fix with a few donation dollars. And sitting with her made me think about all the mothers in this country who have sons in prison. We've got to help the Church find a way to be with these women. This is just one of the reasons it's long past time for the Church to be a lighthouse in Aurora.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bryan House in the News

Click here to read an article on the front page of the Metro Section of the Tribune today about Bryan House. Thanks to all our friends, family, and sponsors for making this dream possible!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kenya on my mind...

On Sunday the team of us who traveled to Kenya last summer met and prayed together for our friends who are suffering there. We managed to scrap together some funds to send. It felt good to have something to offer them as a sign of our solidarity and love. But we know that it is only minor and temporary relief. The money will soon run out and Kenya will still be broken. What our friends need is some kind of real and lasting peace in their country. Something solid and stable to build on. And that isn't a gift we are able to give them. So we pray and we hope and we wait, wondering what each new day of news will bring. Hoping not to see the face of anyone we know on TV.

Our team is feeling a new longing to be back in Kenya, back with our friends during this difficult time. Sometimes it's hard to even concentrate during the day. Here is an email from our friend, Francis:

sory for the delay, its just that am really busy looking for means, its just that i lost a family member in the on going riot and clashes and am even organizing for the fundrising to get the body from ELDORET town past NAKURU to be buried at the central part of kenya, otherwise thanks allot for your concern, sory for the delay its just that everything was in a mess. have to go now pliz coz i can hear some gun shoot outside coz of demonstration.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More email from Kenya...


I do not see any hope, as the government has rubished the negotiation by some eminent world leaders. The so called the president has not been sincere with such talks. The AU chairman and the president of Ghana, Jon Kofour went back very dissapointed as nothing important took place, the president refused to meet the opposition.
We still contiune to be refugees in our own country, and now depend largely on donors. This is ridiculous, especially the way we have been trying to improve the living standard of the people of this wonderful country.

Our fate depend on the dimention that will be taken by opposition leaders. Kindly continue praying for us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Updates from Kenya

This is a picture from last summer of our Kenya team with members of the
Kibera Slums Community Development Project. Kibera has been one of the areas hardest hit by the post-election violence in Kenya. Below are some excerpts from emails we've been receiving from our friends in Nairobi. We continue to pray for peace and reconcilation in Kenya.

January 2, 2008

Hi Desiree,If you tell us "Happy New Year", We Kenyans at the moment will say " Thanks, but all are not well." This is because in spite of economic hardship, Kenyans are robbed of the victory of their presidential choice, and the aftermath is total civil strife; what we have never experienced since independence. This scenario has brought a lot of bloodshed and our political leaders are doing completely nothing! Oh God help us!!...there is no money and children are crying as if there parents are forcefully denying them their rights, the structures in which they live and do businesses are being demolished some are out in the cold all day and night. the same people are not spared by the wanton bullets from the security forces nicknamed " General Service Unit". Our children are confused and the country's transport system is on hold; roads are barricaded with heavy loads and are therefore impassable. Vehicles are set ablaze and this engulfs the whole country. .My request is simple: Pray for us and God will hear you. Joseph

January 4, 2008

Hi Guzman, Many thanks for your prayers as well as your interest to help. Kibera currently is a "no go zone" there is alot of para-military police police sorrounding it. Actually what we need most is you prayers.Even if there are alot of problems now, we have to wait till the tension cools down then we will see what to do. Let's pray for peace. George

January 7, 2008

Desiree,Thanks for your email. I have taken this length of time to reply because there is no means of communication around Kibera. I have to trek up to the city centre to send this email.The condition has not improve either. People suffer a terrible pain as they cannot work to earn a living. All business premises have been demolished. We all hope it will improve now that there is presence in the talks by international community.

January 8, 2008

Hi Desiree, How are you... I hope that you are fine and doing well. We are still in the process of peace healing and reconciliation. At the moment we are experiencing alot of people in worst condition especially in Kibera whose houses were burnt, families killed etc. People are living on the street day and night without food, clothings etc.There is a mass of displaced people from Kibera now camped at the Nairobi Show Ground, 2km from Shalom House, they lack all the basic need. We are mobilising and collecting some donations to send there.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Dream to Become the Next President.

As Americans in Kenya last summer there was one question people kept asking us over and over again: "Do you know Barak Obama?" Those were the words they used, but the pride in their eyes expressed a more intimate question. Something more like this: "Do you know my brother, my son, my neighbor, my countryman, the one who just might be President of the United States one day? His father is Kenyan. You know that, right?"

Possibility is electric. It raises hope and in-turn hope has this way of pushing the possible a little closer to the probable. Who doesn't want to be at the center of hope and possibility? I know African refugees who have been pushing hard to get their US citizenship process done in time to vote for Barak Obama. In many ways he is the symbol of all that they dream for their children. Can the black son of an African really become the leader of the most powerful nation in the world? Is it possible?

Last night Obama made history by winning the Democratic Caucus in Iowa. While he was winning, the slums of Nairobi were on fire with the rage of an unfair election process in Kenya. Over three hundred have been killed. Food is scarce. Violence reigns. There has been no opportunity for the people who asked us that question to rejoice over their son. Possibility is forgotten now.

When we were in Kenya last summer we saw a troop of former street boys perform. They sang a song that has been ringing in my head today. The chorus says, "I have a dream to become the next President." I can still see their faces. The smiles. The great hope. I almost believed that one of them would be President of Kenya one day. Was I naive to think it possible? The illusion of a stable Kenya is crumbling. You cannot keep poverty and oppression quiet forever. It has a way of rising.

I pray that possibility and hope will come flooding back to those Kenyan boys soon, the way it has recently poured down on over their brother, Barak. I pray for peace in Kenya. And real possibility in our own election process.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's not enough...

"It is not enough to kneel and pray. We tell parishioners that
whatever they do, they must do something that will affect peace

- Father Francis, a Kenyan priest near Uhuru (Freedom) Park
where an opposition rally was dispersed by police using tear gas
and water cannons following disputed elections and the deaths of
some 300 people in related violence. (Source: The Christian
Science Monitor)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. - Matthew 5:9