Sunday, November 18, 2018

Praise the LORD with drums and dancing!

Praise the LORD! 

Praise God in his Temple! 
Praise his strength in heaven!
Praise him for the mighty things he has done. 
Praise his supreme greatness.

Praise him with trumpets. 
Praise him with harps and lyres. 
Praise him with drums and dancing. 
Praise him with harps and flutes.
Praise him with cymbals. 
Praise him with loud cymbals. 
Praise the LORD, all living creatures!

Praise the LORD!

Psalm 150 (GNB)

In a month full of meetings, where much of my time is being spent down country, today I am thankful for a great service in Lodwar with lots of singing, including new songs performed by multiple choirs. Usually it is only the Children's Choir that sings for us and today I actually think I missed the regular Children's Choir as I was later than the normal late (we rarely go "on time", since services do not really start "on time" and can last 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours).

The Children's choir I did hear consisted of the
smaller kids, some of whom I do not see participating regularly and it was nice to see that. Since the older kids are out of school now, we also had a Teen Choir. In addition the Women's Choir (which is really adult women and men) sang, after a typical slow progression, with them saying they did not want to sing, rolling their eyes at each other, and eventually sauntering up to the front to form a group and start. It was fun to see the older mama come join them (looking rather spry today) and this lady on the drum is one of my favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in America. Take time to be Thankful and Praise the LORD!

PS. I was later than my normal late today, due to rechecking a dog patient who was really sick yesterday. I am also very thankful that she is much improved today.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blessed are the Flexible.....

Blessed are the Flexible.... for they will Not be Broken. 

This is a favorite saying of one of my teammates and as a missionary it is good to remember.

I have always enjoyed sharing what I have learned with others, whether this was in a large group setting, or with smaller groups and individuals, including people I worked with and clients. I am thankful for all God has allowed me to experience and learn throughout my life and I love sharing those things with others. I especially love public health, veterinary medicine, and science in general. Did you know that scorpions glow under a UV light! Thanks to a friend in Tanzania I now know that and am sharing that Fun Fact for the Day with you all! 

Before I came here I was comfortable that how I taught was not that bad and that people did learn things from me. Now I am transplanted in a new culture and every day I question how I am teaching and how I can do it better. The people I am teaching have different interests, abilities and levels of education, with many having no formal education. However, they all have something in common that is very different from me. They come from oral societies.

" 'Orality' refers to reliance upon the spoken, rather than written, word for communication."         From the International Orality Network website

The CHE (Community Health Evangelism) program, that I work with is great in that it uses spoken word, stories, skits, dramas, pictures and many other participatory learning tools to help teach lessons, which are really more facilitated discussions based around lessons than teaching facts to memorize. In itself it is flexible and can be adapted to use with different cultures. This is good, but it takes the teacher/ facilitator recognizing a need to adapt and the ability to be flexible and do the  adapting.

This has not been easy, but I am continuing to adapt and want to share one way I have done this when teaching/facilitating a lesson that begins with the creation story. When I first taught this I used pictures that I made, then began asking the people to draw the pictures, then I added motions/ actions that made sense to me for each day to help me remember, lastly I asked the people themselves to decide which motions/ actions they wanted to use.
One of my drawings. 

Here is a video of the result from one community. (Click here to watch if the video will not play. )

There was a bit of prompting, but I hope you will appreciate their input and understanding of the story through their own actions. I particularly like them using the sound and actions to call their goats for the land animals, the flicking of their fingers to represent killing the snake, and the fact that they used walking to represent man. 

As usual after we finish a lesson the people are encouraged to share the story with someone before the next time we meet. This is the hard part as people here do not like to share information. It has been explained to me that information is power and by sharing you share a micro-advantage with others that might help them get ahead of you.

That is tough, because everything we teach through CHE is meant to be shared, from Bible Stories, to health lessons. Multiplication is one of the key principles and that cannot happen if the people are not sharing with others. There are a few who share, especially among the women. I find them more willing and understanding of the need to share, but even then I still wonder how can I teach differently to make this easier to share, could there still be a cultural "thing" I am doing that makes it hard to understand and share.

Because of all this, next month,  I will travel with a teammate to South Africa for the International Orality Network's African Conference (ION).  There we will meet with 130 other people learning about African oral societies, how they learn, and how we can work with them to help spread the Gospel. I am most interested to see how they address the idea of a micro-advantage keeping people from sharing information. Is it really the stumbling block or is that an excuse and there are solutions unrelated to it. I am thankful for the commitment of ION and their partners to put on this conference and others they are hosting around the world this fall. I am thankful for their commitment to pray for the conferences and oral societies around the world.

Please join me in praying for this conference and other ION conferences and all who will attend. Pray we come with open minds and are able to absorb many wonderful things that we can take back to our ministry areas. Pray we are able to apply these things we learn and also share them with many others. Pray for travels and logistics and the leaders who are coordinating these events.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Life is a Journey.... Part 1

August 2018 will go down in Shannon Tucker history as the most people filled, event filled and travel filled month of my life. For this introvert it was overwhelming at times and yet quite enjoyable. So much happened that I cannot share only a few stories or use just one blog to do justice to all God has shown me, shared with me and taught me. So sit back and enjoy Part 1 of Life is a Journey!

As we landed in London at 6 am I was happy to see the sun shining. We had a great flight and would have landed about 30 minutes early, but London has an ordinance that says planes cannot land before 6 am. I got a little concerned for my stomach as we zigzagged and did some other route changes, but it was not too bad and it was interesting seeing other planes in the sky doing similar things while we all waited. After landing, we rolled up to the gate and I noticed that I had an incredible view of planes landing in 2 lines, as one on the right got close to touching down, another would break through the clouds and the same on the left, with those staggering the ones on the right. I had the perfect window seat to view all this happening and it was fascinating to see the precision of so many planes landing in such a short time.

Upon exiting the airport, I was greeted with a beautiful day full of warmth and sunshine. I was in England and the country side was green with rolling hills that somehow reminded me of Southern Indiana. I knew it had only been 4 months since I left America this time, but a change of scenery like this was filling my soul in ways I definitely needed. At that point I did not realize how much more my soul would be filled over the next 4 days of meetings.

Highleigh Conference Centre
I was heading north of London to a conference center for our CMF Forum 2018. Indy office staff and CMF missionaries from all over the world would be there and many people had worked long and hard putting together this conference for us. I had met many CMF missionaries for the first time, the previous summer while I was home on furlough, when we gathered in Indianapolis for Furlough Retreat. At that time, they all encouraged me to attend the Forum. At first it was really hard to get excited about choosing to go to 4 more days of meetings. However, after a week together with those missionaries at Furlough Retreat (debriefing, sharing, learning, talking, worshipping, singing, praying, playing and so much more), I could not imagine missing an opportunity to be with them again and  to meet so many others.

CMF Forum 2018 did not disappoint, from the topics discussed in main sessions, to the worship and devotions, to the fellowship and fun with missionaries and office staff. I want to thank everyone involved in making it happen. I learned so much and still have so much to process from our time together, hence I have decided Part 1 of this blog will be dedicated to my time at the Forum. At this point those of you not really interested are welcome to stop reading (as our ministry team says this is the Melba version, feel free to read no further). For those who continue , I hope you enjoy a snapshot of what I learned and experienced. I am happy to answer any questions, or discuss a topic in more depth than I will be able to do here. Also I apologize to our leaders, if I misunderstood or misrepresent anything here, from what you shared/taught us.

Worship Time

Playing croquet in England
Our group consisted of over 120 adults and children who gathered at the Highleigh Conference Centre, in Hoddesdon, England. There were beautiful old buildings, mixed with the new and their grounds were gorgeous, with plenty of room for everyone (we were not the only group there that week). There was a park nearby, a field we could walk through with cows (I was hoping for sheep, but cows still made me smile). I played croquet (check that off the bucket list) with my teammate, walked to town and shopped, drank British tea (when I went to buy some, the label said…made from the finest tea leaves in Kenya J).

We had morning liturgical prayer time together by the “big log” (it really was a very large old log/fallen tree). Worship time was led by very creative MK’s (missionary kids). The room where we met had great acoustics and our voices mixed well with a ukulele and what I assumed was a new-fangled beat box type of drum. It was not until the last day that it was mentioned he was actually playing the rubbish bin and I looked and saw that he really had been playing the rubbish bin (trash can). MK’s are the best!

In devotions we discussed where is home and how to find home in our churches, scarcity and abundance and that where we start with our faith foundation makes a difference. We had a corporate worship service one evening with songs, scripture readings, liturgical readings and prayer.


Our main sessions were focused on Relationships: with God, self, team, and national partners.


In this session we learned about different types of spirituality and different ways that we worship. There were six main categories we discussed and most people are a mixture, with a somewhat predominate type. I am an “Affective” type of worshiper. A few of the characteristics of that type are that feelings, emotions, and values bring connection for me. I need to feel I am cared for and experience God’s love and be able to share it. As I write this I am realizing it more and more. When I just reread the above section about worship, I got all the feels again. I remembered the child climbing on the big log as we spoke scripture and prayed together, the trash can (appropriate technology) used as a drum, the voices all mixing so beautifully in the building where we had our meetings, being in meetings, yet having so much time to be outdoors and interacting with God’s people and His Creation (more on that a bit later).

As we learned about all the categories and thought about our dominant types, we probably all realized that there are bits of the other types that help us worship and a few that are definitely not what fill us up in worship. At this point, we were cautioned to learn about our type, but to be open to other types of spirituality and to realize every person is different and certain parts of corporate worship will appeal to each person differently. We need to be flexible for the other styles and the fact that we have (and now know) our dominant style does not give us a “pass” from worshipping corporately within the other styles. Be careful to not be “so delicately balanced” that you cannot enjoy worshipping God in new and different ways. However, if you need filled up, think about your style and do something to help fill that area.


A field of English cows
The relationship to self, started with a bit of an introduction about how CMF has changed to a more holistic view of missionary care. Now everyone in the office is considered to be involved in our care. This makes sense as even our financial health with CMF and relationship with donors is very important to our personal health and health of our ministries. I have been impressed with the changes taking place in CMF and was happy to meet the new coordinator for our Care Team and to hear about these changes.

A few key statements from this section:
-       Self-care is not self-centeredness, it’s not “me first”, it’s “me too”
-       How you treat the “body” (individual), affects the “body” (family, team, community)
-       Some questions to use for regular self-check in’s:
o   What joys have I not celebrated?
o   What losses have I not grieved?
o   What fears am I afraid to explore?
o   What anger am I holding on to?
o   What are my values and how have I lived them out?
o   What is my motivation? How is it serving me? Others?
-       Think about the 4 areas (mind, body, soul, relational): How full is each area? Which are most satisfying? Why? Which are empty? Why?
-       We were also introduced to enneagrams and encouraged to take the test and learn more about our number classification. It is more than just another personality test and will help with self-discovery and identifying motivations. I did a small test and plan to read more about these classifications, especially the areas that are weaknesses for me.
-       ! Kings 19:4-8 the angel telling Elijah “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” After eating and drinking he was strengthened and traveled 40 days and 40 nights.

This was a really good session and another key point is that we often cannot separate team time and me time without the team speaking into it. Things we do in our personal lives often affect the team and the ministry. Food for thought, that can be a bit tough to swallow.


We discussed how to be an ideal team player. An ideal team player should be a mixture of 1) Humble, 2) Hungry, and 3) Smart. I would guess that few of us are ideal. By identifying our strong areas and weak areas we can grow into an area so we are a better mix of those 3 attributes and become better team players. We all took the simple test to check where we are now and discussed our strengths and weaknesses (more information can be found at

My teammates at Forum
Statements to ponder “What we really do as we do it is more important than what we do.”

Or  “How we go about doing the things we do, is more important than the task itself.”

And  “Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”  Winnie the Pooh

So, that last one was not shared at the meeting, but it speaks to me.

National Partners:

Our relationships with nationals/partners was discussed with reference to 2 books “Building Strategic Relationships: a Practical Guide to Partnering with Non-Western Missions” by Daniel Rickett and “Western Christians in Global Mission: What’s the Role of the North American Church?” by Paul Borthwick.

Partnerships have 3 main areas 1) Results, 2) Relationships (moving from transactional to kinship) and 3) a shared Vision. There is a healthy dependency that involves reciprocity where both partners respect each other and work together, yet maintain independence. Both partners can correct and instruct and refuse those things from each other. Both partners bring something to the partnership. Lastly both work to safeguard the integrity and honor of Christ.

On paper that all seems straight forward and manageable. However, I can tell you in real life it is not easy. Please pray for my team, and our national partners, as we continue to work through the tough parts of our partnership relationship.


Creation Care:

In 2012 the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel was published.

They put forth 2 major convictions:

1)    Creation Care is indeed a “gospel issue within the lordship of Christ.”….. Therefore, our ministry of reconciliation is a matter of great joy and hope  and we would care for creation, even if it were not in crisis.
2)    We are faced with a crisis that is pressing, urgent, and that must be resolved in our generation…….Love for God, our neighbors and the wider creation, as well as our passion for justice, compel us to “urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility."

I have only included a small part of those convictions above to give you an idea of what Creation care is about. This is something I have been involved with through CHE and using veterinary medicine and public health in missions, although, I have never called it Creation Care. For my thinking it again goes back to a holistic way to teach and live, that includes respect for God’s creation and living in Harmony with God, self, others, and nature.

Sunny view from my window
We were presented with a lot of information and Biblical truths about our responsibility to God’s creation. Then we looked at the 10 points under the call to action. We were challenged to think about how our teams were already doing some of these steps well, the areas we wanted to do, some that seemed impossible that we would pray about, and lastly the areas that the church should be doing. It was really interesting to discuss this as a group and to hear the reports from other teams about things they were already doing in their ministry areas.

Disciple Making Movements:

DMM is already being used by some of my teammates working across Kenya and they are seeing many come to Christ through this type of teaching. It uses Discovery Bible Studies to let people who may or may not know anything about Christianity read the Bible and asks questions that help them discover what the scriptures are saying. That is a very watered down version, but much of it is like CHE, the hardest part is asking questions that may or may not get answered the way we would like or would hope they would be answered and then often keeping our mouths shut to let the person learning find the truth in what is being taught. It can be tough, but it was great to hear the reports from my teammate and others in different fields about how they are using these methods to reach many with the Gospel good news.

During the workshop times, there were concurrent sessions, and the two that I did not attend were on homeschooling and business as missions.

Networking, Fellowship, Meals, Conversations, and Games

These times together with individuals and groups were some of my favorite. I got to reconnect with so many that I met last year in the US and meet so many new people. Sometimes it was a conversation over a meal, a quiet moment at a break, a walk through the field with the cows, walks to town, tea breaks, coffee breaks, learning new things about each other as we played games together (shout out to those Mossome sisters!!)

On a walk to town for some talking and shopping
It was a lot of people time and as an introvert I did take time alone each day to recharge, but I also embraced the peopleness of this Forum, knowing there would come a point where I was craving people again, the white skinned variety, that I could talk with in fast, southern Indiana English. It was a time of being with people who could “get me” and “get the things” with which I struggle. We can somewhat relate to each other, even if the specific situations are different. I still laugh when I think of the missionary who looked at me like I had 2 heads when I was reasoning out loud that I could safely sleep with my windows open since there were no mosquitoes  (hence no worries about malaria) and no monkeys (they come into houses in Kenya and steal food, and I had just done some important chocolate and Dorito shopping).


What can I say, other than it is good to be aware, be informed and it is fun to say OODA LOOP! I am thankful that CMF staff have done trainings and shared what they learned with us at this meeting. Some people live where things are not always secure and war is very close. I am thankful that I serve where it is generally peaceful, but that does not mean I should not be aware and think through these things.

Key points were to pay attention, don’t ignore your intuition and be situationally aware, along with some other more specific things to help make you less of a target. To help mitigate a potential attack use the OODA LOOP. O- observe O- orient D-decide A- act.

Sharing What We Learned

In the last session we all had a chance to share what we learned. While CMF also sent out an email survey after the Forum, it was really nice to have this session and to hear the varied answers from so many participants. The thing I took away from this is how different we all were. How certain things resonated with others that seemed to not even stay in my brain very long and what was important to me, maybe was not as important to others.

If we all knew, liked, excelled at the same thing, we would have a rather lopsided group. The body of Christ takes all of us with our different strengths and weaknesses, different personalities (Myers Briggs and enneagrams), and so much more to make it all work. It is a good an glorious thing that we are not all alike, even though it is often our differences that drive us crazy when working together on teams. God loves us all and he loves the unique people he made us to be. Yes he made us all in His image, yet we are unique. What a great, wonderful God we serve and I am so thankful that I am serving Him with other missionaries through CMF.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Take time to Pause

He looked down at the ground as he listened, but I watched his eyes and I knew the moment he heard it. 

I had planned to head to the bush to recheck some goats and treat a few others that we had not had a chance to see the last time we went to this area. I was hoping this would be a quick trip out and back. I was already worn out from a few busy days that preceded this and still had work to do before our team meeting started the next day.  

When we arrived in the bush, I received the sad news that the goat they had requested I come treat had already died. I expressed my sympathy and even though I knew there was no way I could have come out sooner, it still hurt me to know that I did not get a chance to examine or treat the goat and I hoped it had not suffered. 

Then they brought one other goat for me to check. Since it was just one goat it was a chance to slow down and do some review and teaching with my helpers. Over the past year I have been working on seeking God in every situation and looking for what he wants me to learn or see in that moment. This time I realized I could step back and see if what I had been teaching was getting through. So I told my helpers they could measure the goat (to help estimate weight) and then I would start trimming its hooves, while they calculated doses of the medications we needed to give. 

They did a great job, with just a little direction and it was fun to see them working together and helping each other.  We treated this goat and then I asked the man who owned the goat if he had ever heard a heart beat. He responded no, so I positioned the stethoscope then handed him the ear pieces and allowed him to listen. He was amazed and it was fun to see his excitement.

As we gathered our supplies to leave, another man arrived and asked if we could go to his place and look at his sick goats. We were already out here and I knew it would be a week or more before I returned again to this area. I also felt the sadness of the other goats death and wanted to do all we could to help. He told me his place was "close" and assured us he was really just the neighbor of my helper. At this point I knew there was a bit of walking in my future. We drove as far as we could, then left the truck and got out to walk carrying our supplies. It may have only been a 10-15 minute walk, but in the sand and heat, dodging thorn bushes and carrying supplies, it seemed much longer.

When we arrived another older man came out to greet us and the kids started gathering the goats. We began by examining and measuring them, then made a treatment plan, starting with the healthier ones first. As we continued the treatments I began to get more and more tired. At this point I only had one helper with me, because the other was not able to continue on with us.

We examined and treated 12 goats, then they brought out 2 sheep. They looked good. I almost said these sheep are fine, we are done. However, I paused, took a breath, and decided we could at least deworm them instead of doing nothing. It did not take long and at that point although I was still very tired, I thought of the first man of the day and how he had the chance to listen to a heart beat for the first time in his life.

I asked these men if they had ever heard a  heart beat. They had not either, so just as I had done earlier I listened and positioned the stethoscope, then passed the ear pieces to the first man.

He looked down at the ground as he listened, but I watched his eyes and I knew the moment he heard it. I had begun to think I needed to reposition the bell because he was concentrating so hard and obviously not hearing it. Then his eyes lit up and a huge smile crossed his face. The joy he was feeling was evident to all around him. 

At that moment I was no longer thinking about how tired I was or how much work I needed to do. I was amazed at his joy for something that I take for granted every time I hold my stethoscope and listen to a heart. I stayed still while he listened and made noises to imitate the heart beat. I allowed the second man to listen also. He was even more excited. 

Then I looked at the mess of supplies we had that needed to be repacked. I realized we walked so far that I could not even see the truck. My tiredness hit me again, but I knew we needed to pray. Prayer is a very big part of everything I do here and I was not leaving without praying. I like to pray and also have someone else there pray after me. I had my helper ask if one of the men would pray. They discussed this, then my helper told me that neither of them knew how to pray. 

At this moment I knew God's purpose for us being there. This was the true teaching that we were there to do that today. So I prayed as I usually do in English, then spoke slower and line by line had my helper translate each into Turkana. When I was done I explained that prayer is really just talking to God and we can do that as a group or by ourselves. God loves it when we do it every day. We should thank him and appreciate all he has done for us. We may ask for help for ourselves and for others. We praise and worship him through our prayers. Prayers may be long and eloquent, or short and simple. God hears all our prayers and does not judge one prayer better or more worthy than the others. 

As I began to repack the supplies, I prayed again, but this time silently. I prayed for the sheep and goats we had treated there. I thanked God for providing the medications we used and I asked Him to help heal the goats and that the medicine would help and not cause harm. I prayed for these men to be blessed and thanked God for allowing us to meet with them that day and spend time with them. I prayed for them to desire to talk to God again and be open to learning more about prayer so that they could teach others.  

That was a busy, hot, tiring day, but I will always remember it as a good day with special moments. 

Father God Thank you so much for a day with so many lessons for me and for those around me. Thank you for allowing me to pause and be present in the special moments of that day. 
Please help me to continue to look for moments like these and always seek your presence there. AMEN 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kutembelea- To Visit

I left my house that day at 3 pm (hour nine). I was on a mission to find a house I had never visited before. It was the house of a lady from our town church and the location for that week’s Ladies Bible Study meeting. During the announcements the previous Sunday we were told where the meeting would take place and to be sure to arrive on time at 2 pm (hour eight). Many of you, including my mom, are probably thinking, Shannon you are late! How rude! You probably missed the entire meeting! If you thought those things you would mostly be wrong. TIA = This is Africa!

Africans like proverbs and two of my favorites are:
“Westerners have watches, but Africans have the time” and
 “Haraka Haraka haina baraka” which means Hurry, Hurry, it has no blessing.

In general with long term missions we say “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”. That works well here where time is something very different and I have come to enjoy it, but it can also still frustrate me. When planning to meet someone, I often need to stop and think, am I meeting another Westerner who will respect the time we agreed to meet (and often be early) or an African who has a different sense of time. As I write this at 6pm I am still waiting for the person I was meeting at 1 pm to show up at my house. Knowing that he usually has trouble getting away during the day (even though he is the one who suggests we meet at that time), I now do not usually expect him before 6pm and sometimes not until the next day. Today, I made 1 pm lunch plans with Westerners and left my house, with only a slight worry that the African would show up for our meeting while I was out.  

Many missionary friends recommended I read the book “Foreign to Familiar”, by Sarah A. Lanier, before arriving on the field. At one training we were even told we should reread it every 6 months when we are on the field. I just finished rereading this book for the 4th time, so I am behind a few readings, but every time I read it I find that something new jumps out at me that helps me understand a bit more about life in a country that is not my passport country.  Things that are not right or wrong, just different.

That day, as I drove along the bumpy, dusty, Turkana road I thought through my plan again. I would go to another house I knew I could find easily, where another church member lived. If she had already left for the meeting, I hoped to find a child somewhere around there that could then direct me to the house I needed to find, or at least get me closer, where I could find another child who might know the correct house. Are you following all that? What could go wrong? Well that’s a story for another blog, but this time I was more confident and had been doing well finding my way around town to visit many people upon my return from furlough.

I reached a point where I needed to decide if I would continue on the main road or try the short cut. The main road is under construction and it might be hard to find the way at the point I needed to cross it, because the work area changed day to day. However, I had not traveled this short cut the entire way since my return and often fences are quickly constructed that block our route, which I guess somehow was someone’s property not really a road.

As I slowed down to make my decision, there beside me was a friend who I had not seen since my return to Turkana. He was on his piki (motorbike) and had stopped to talk to someone he knew who was walking. Here is something else you need to understand about Kenya and possibly all Africa: people walk a lot, all the time, everywhere. Yes, even in our town where the pikis and taxis are increasing every day, the majority of people walk. People are everywhere walking. I have learned to notice the walks of so many friends and church members that I often stop to pick them if I am traveling the direction they are walking and at least take them a bit closer, if not all the way, to their destination.

My friend noticed me stopping and he was as happy to see me as I was to see him. He was a worker on our farm and water team and now has a government job. He was one of the first Turkana I met when I came here on my vision trip in 2013. It was so great to have this spontaneous meeting, but we were rather in the middle of the road and needed to move up a bit if we were to visit more. Since he was headed to his house and he saw I was headed that general direction, he invited me to come to visit and greet his wife and children.

Besides time, relationships are one of the big differences between many cultures that the book “Foreign to Familiar” talks about. Americans tend to be task oriented, while most Africans tend to be relationship oriented. A typical American would say, Shannon you are already late for the Bible study, you do not have time to visit. Make a plan for later in the week. However, for me it was a “no-brainer” that I would detour to visit this friend and his family, then eventually continue on to the meeting. So off we went and I was happy to realize that I remembered the way to his house and would have been able to find it on my own. 

When we arrived I greeted his children and some others who were outside playing. Then I asked how his wife was doing and he said “Great she had the baby yesterday”. WHAT!?! I didn’t even know they were expecting again, and here I was barging in to visit when she just had a baby! And I had no gift! But for this culture it was about me being there more than any gift. It was about their hospitality. It was about greeting him, his wife and his children after I “had been lost for so long” (ie been away in America for 9 months). His very sweet wife graciously brought the baby out for me to see and we visited briefly before she and the baby went back to rest and I visited with their boys who were very happy to have a baby sister and to have a mzungu (white person) at their house, all in a 24 hour period. I was so thankful to have had that visit with them all and I promised to return later for a proper visit.

At that point I shared with my friend where I was originally heading that day. He offered to show me the way to the house where the meeting was taking place. So off we went, with me following his piki. When we arrived some of the ladies came out of the house to see who was there. They cheered and laughed and then got the story of how I had managed to get there with the guidance of my friend on his piki. They also shared that they sent one of their children to the other house to look for me, so that I would be sure to make it to the meeting.  

At this point it was around 4 pm. The meeting had started, but there were still others who showed up after me, so I was not the last to arrive. I was not considered rude and they kept commenting how great it was that I now knew how to get to another ladies house. At the next weeks church announcements they probably reminded us all again to arrive on time at 2 pm, but we all know that means that’s about when the others will begin to prepare to leave to walk to the meeting place and some will arrive at 3 or 3:15 or 4 pm and the fellowship we have together will be just as sweet no matter when we all arrive.

I am not perfect. I am still an American. I am still an introvert. I do not always embrace the slower, less time oriented, relational parts of this culture. But the days I do embrace all of those things are some of my best days here and that day was one of my favorites. Meeting baby Felice for the first time, greeting her dad, mom, and brothers again after my “being lost” in America, and being greeted with cheers and smiles by the women at the Ladies Bible Study. These visits, and so many others here,  as well as the many wonderful visits I had with friends and family while I was in America,  are what helps me get through the tough times.  Knowing you all are loving me, praying for me and supporting me in so many large and small ways is essential to keeping me here working with God in this place. I am so thankful for you all and have so much more to share about what God has been doing in the ministry and my life since I have returned to Turkana.

Matthew 18:20

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

Baby Felice, her mom and brothers. 

More friends I missed terribly while in the US. 

I even got to briefly visit "Zebra" the brother dog of my guard dog Max! They both have those cure curled tails!