Monday, October 23, 2017

Interruptions



Interruptions.

I've never looked at them as a positive thing.

Have you?

Someone showed up at our door.

In the evening.

Without calling first.

I'm in my baggy, comfortable, flannel pajamas.

Never mind it's only seven o'clock.

It's been one of those days.

Scott & I had just settled in with a movie.

And plate of fresh avocados & salsa.

(with blue corn chips on the side.)

And.... the door bell rings.

Dang!

Who the heck?

Interruption.



My youngest.

Deciding at the end of her sophomore year at AU.

To move home.

And finish at Lander.

Scott & I were two years into our empty nest.

Well

adjusted.

In our empty nest.

Happy.

Really happy.

In our empty nest.

And our 20 year old moves back home again.

Of course we were supportive.

But it was.

An unexpected development.

A change of plans.

She wasn't an interruption.

But our empty nest?  

Yep.  

It was most definitely  interrupted.





Let's go back a ways.

That time in 2013.

Three days before my flight left for Kenya.

Just about everything is done.

Three days out.

Bag packed.

Malaria pills.    Passport.    Stash of dark chocolate.    

Everything was ready.

And then.

Terrorists attacked a mall in Nairobi.

Kenya is rocked by the tragedy.

As is our team.

The trip

is understandably

postponed.

It's a no-go.

Plans change.

Last minute.

Redirection.



Sometimes plans change in small ways.

Sometimes in big.



So came cancer.

Not what I expected.

Definitely not in my plan.

Tumor.

Surgery.

Oncologists.

Scans.

Life changed overnight.

Interruption.





Life happens.

Things change.

But how do I usually react

When interruptions

come?



Last week I read an interesting question.


How do I see people  or circumstances.

That interrupt my schedule?

That interrupt my plans?

Do I see the interruption as an aggravation?

Or an obstacle?

Or does it ever dawn on me.

That God may be up to something?

That He may be at work in my life?

Or someone else's life?




" On days when things go smoothly,
   according to

   your
   plans,

   you may be unaware of My Sovereign Presence.

   On days when your plans are thwarted,

    Be

    on

    the

    lookout

    for 

    Me.

    I may be doing something important in your life,
     something quite different than you expected." *





I'm beginning to see it's true.



The unexpected visitor at my door?

He drove all the way to Due West.

To ask us for the last spot on our Kenya team.

This trip will have a lasting impact on his life.

I know it will.

It was interruption to my quiet evening on the couch.

But God was doing something much more important in this man's life.




And my youngest moving home?

A change in college resulted in a change of majors.

She found her passion in another field -- art.

And unique job opportunities came her way.

Pursuing something she truly loves.

An interruption to our happy empty nest.

Took her life on a different path.

Again.

God was doing something much more important.





My mission trip postponed three days before departure?

It was a devastating tragedy for Kenya.

And many lives were changed that day.

Our mission trip was rescheduled for a few months later.

My original team.

Combined with a second team at my church.

And one of my new teammates.

Has become.

(Along with her husband and children)

Some of our closest friends.

Plans changed during a tragedy.

But God was working in that loss for good.




Cancer?

It changed the direction of my life.

Completely.

I'm a better person for walking through that experience.

Not what I would ever have chosen.

Clearly an interruption to my life.

But God was doing something much more important.

In me.




"On days when your plans are thwarted,

  be

  on

  the

  lookout

  for

  Me.

I may be doing something important in your life.

Something

quite

different

than

you

expected."*



So, I'm on the lookout.

For interruptions.  

And before I get stressed or annoyed when they come.

I'll try to step back.

Take a breath.

And consider something more important might be in the works.






* Sarah Young "Jesus Calling"







Monday, October 16, 2017

Well Placed


From time to time.

I grumble about where I've been placed.

Placed in the sense of where I'm placed to do life.

And where I'm placed to serve.

I'm sure.

You would never do that.

But from time to time.

I grow dissatisfied.

And I consider.

Surely a different place would be easier.

Surely God didn't intend for me to have this place.




Responsibility is a big part.

Of where I've been placed.

And not just in my job.

In several areas of my life.

So.

I imagine sometimes.

What it would be like.

To be placed in life.

With less responsibility.

Or maybe none at all.

A place with more solitude.

Less conflict and demands.

And definitely more peace.

Yeah.

My life would be better.

If I were placed in a place like that.




I wonder what it would be like.

If I worked in my studio all day?


With quiet music and time to create.

Or maybe if I were a gardener at Brookgreen Gardens?



I'd be good with walking the beach every day.

Watching for wayward starfish.


So I could return them back to the ocean.

Maybe I could do animal rescue?


I've had some practice with that.

Or how about just cutting grass with a great lawn mower?


Those are the places I sometimes consider.

Well placed places for me.



This week.

I've been reading out of the book of Luke.

Jesus telling the parable about the four soils.

About what happens to the seeds.

That fall on the footpath.

The rocks.

Among the thorns.

And the fertile soil.

The study notes for this passage struck me.




"In order to be helpful, we need to be well-placed."

"Seek opportunities where you have been placed."




Where.

I.

have.

been.

placed.



When I look at my life that way.

I can see.

That solitary places.

Places of tranquility and peace.

Would not be very useful to Jesus.

And in all honesty.

Not where I'm best suited to be.

He can use me in other places.

Out in the world.

Where life can be difficult.

And hard.

And challenging.

Where people are hurting.

And need encouragement.



Ultimately.

Well placed.

Is where people can catch a glimpse of Him.

Through me.

Where they see love and understanding.

He gives me that chance.

To reflect Him in my place of responsibility.





It's clear.

The time I spend wishing for different circumstances.

Wishing for less responsibility.

Feeling dissatisfied.

Is time.

Wasted for me.

Distracted time.

Ineffective time.

Likely.

It's been an area the enemy has effectively nailed me.

And I don't like that.




So.

I'm being intentional.

Because it won't come naturally to me.

To pay attention.

To the opportunities.

Where I have been placed.



In order to reflect Jesus.

I.

need.

to.

be.

well placed.

And well placed.

Is where He places me.














Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Hard Assignment



I've heard many times.

You're not the first person.

To have a hard assignment from God.

And how ridiculously many times.

I thought they were really talking about me.



It really doesn't help at all.

That I recognize.

Many of you may feel the same way.

I'm a self-absorbed human.

And so are you.

Life takes place in my own little world.

Where I'm the star.

Nobody else's challenges are as big as mine.

People just don't understand.

The world around me is so unjust.

Can't they see how much I do for them!

Nobody ever says thank you.

Nobody ever notices.

If anyone really knew the responsibility I carried.



GEEZ!

Dramatic martyr complex if EVER I heard it!




Do you sometimes just have to step back.

And tell yourself to get a grip?

Maybe not.

Lord knows I do.




I've been sitting here this Sunday morning.

It's very early.

Before 6: 00 a.m. early.

I come up here about this time.

To my studio.

Most mornings.

It's my have to time.

I have to spend time in this chair.

Getting my feet under me.

Spiritually speaking.

Before my day gets underway.

To read scripture.

And pray.    And hopefully listen.

And this idea of a hard assignment.

Convicted me a little today.



It's hard for me not to be all about me.

I want to make it about me.

And when I do.

That inner dialog in my head often follows.

All those I shared above.

And how hard my assignment is from God.



But this morning.

I thought about my college roommate.

Fighting the physical battle of her life.

Stage four cancer.

A young friend that lives under the constant reminder.

Of what was said over him as a child.

A family member.

Who lost a child.

Someone at work.

That struggles with anxiety.

A friend who's husband cheated after 30 years of marriage.

Another couple I adore.

Who have banked everything on a call to minister in Kenya.

And are still waiting on God to make the way.

I thought about someone close to me.

That's living out the brutal consequences of lifelong alcoholism.

And someone else  that lives under constant scrutiny and expectation.

Because their husband is a minister.



THOSE.

Are hard assignments.



Being self-absorbed is a distraction.

An effective one.

The enemy uses distraction my life.

Effectively so.

To keep me from doing what I'm really called to do.

Because if I'm distracted.

Focusing on me.

I don't see my assignment.

Not the hard assignment I thought I had.



My real assignment.



I have a chance.

Everyday.

To be used by God.

Countless opportunities to make my life count for eternity.

To bless other people.

Just as I have been blessed.

I have a chance to bless and add life to someone else.

Wherever I go.



Is that what I do consistently?

Of course not!

Not nearly as often as I could.

Especially if I'm distracted.

And focused on me.



But it sure the heck.

Is what I can.

Choose

To

Do.



And that assignment.

Don't seem so hard.

After all.






** painting "A Woman's Hand's Crossed Over Her Chest"
                     by Elana Ray



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My False Sense of Security



I watched their grainy images on our camera security system.

One of them crawled through a window at our office.

And walked to a door to let the others inside.

Over the course of the evening.

They smashed windows.

And used a crowbar to pry open office doors.

Including mine.

They sat at my desk.

In my chair.

Riffled through papers and my things.

They threw beer cans across the room.

Knocked over furniture.

And lamps.

And then they left.

They appeared to be just kids.

The police came to investigate the next morning.

They interviewed some neighbors close by.

But the boys in the grainy video images.

Were never identified or found.



The break-in happened last year where I work.

Repairs to smashed windows were made.

Broken things were replaced.

And the memory of it now.

Has faded.

But I felt different because they were there.

And that uneasiness hasn't completely gone away.




Most days.

I rest in what's comfortable.

I rest in what's routine.

I get lulled into a false sense of security.

Safe neighborhoods.

Locked doors.

Alarm systems.

The small town where I live.




But I'm reminded.

Just like that morning at the office.

That my security is not dependent on an alarm system.

Or what party occupies the White House.

My security isn't dependent on my family.

Or how much I have in my retirement account.

I know from walking with Him.

That ultimately.

He.

Is my only real security.



"Nothing can separate you from my loving presence.

 That's the basis of your security."



 "Whenever you start to feel anxious,

 Remind yourself that your security rests in Me alone."



I'm visual.

I'm an artist.

I depend on what I can see.

So, it's a challenge for me.

Many times.

To depend on what I cannot see.

But He reminds me.


"I am nearer than you think,

 Richly present in all your moments.



The more aware you are of My presence,

 The safer you feel.



 I am far more real than the world you can see,

Hear, and touch."

                              "Jesus Calling" Sarah Young




And when I remember that.

My false sense of security.

Is gone.

And my real security.

Is found.























Saturday, August 5, 2017

Life After Cable



We did it.

We turned off cable.

It wasn't pretty for the first 72 hours.

There was the initial withdrawals.

From times we fell comfortably onto the sofa.

At the end of the day.

For mindless distraction.



I would say "comfort" was often associated with cable.

But, in truth.

Even with hundreds of stations at our fingertips.

There was almost never anything good on.

(Well.....with the exception of Fixer Upper, anyway.)




It's funny.

I've become quite frugal as I've gotten older.

And it's always a bit of a wake up call.

To see the annual cost of something.

Dang!    Over $2000 a year on cable.

True.   The internet & land line are part of the bundle.

But, the phone we never used.

I take that back.

Kate used our land line.

If we didn't pick up a cell phone call.

She automatically called the land line.

She's persistent that way.

So Kate used our land line.

And I watched "Fixer Upper."

Scott watched what I call -- murder & mayhem.

And while it's true, I'm a news junky.

Politics and news have become pretty discouraging in recent years.

I've grown weary of the 24 hour news cycle.

Not what I want to take in at the end of my day.




All in all.

Mmmmmm.

Not so much worth it.



So.

We called the cable company.

And turned it off.



That was about a month ago.

I'm happy to say.

We have survived.

I won't lie.

There's still times when I just want to plop down and watch.

But, for me.

It's been good.

It was mostly a comfortable distraction.

But, there's other things I'd rather do.

I don't have that much down time in my day.

Time just for me.

And I was spending too much of it there.

On nothing really that important.



I would say.

That a peace has descended on our house in the evenings.

It's always been pretty peaceful here.

But more so now I believe.

More time to exercise.  (Heaven forbid!)

More time to read.

More time for Pinterest.

More time to sit on the porch and talk about our day.

More time for my mosaics.

More space and time to think.




Everything has it's season.

You may think I've lost my mind.

There was a time.

I might agree.

I used to think that people who had no cable were a bit odd.

Now.

I've joined the pack.

I'm not sure I'm missing so much.

Plus.

Keeping it real.

(There's always Netfix.)



Pretty content.

At being cable-free.











Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What I Carry



It's been a very long time.

Since I felt carefree.

Light.

I've been thinking about this.

I honestly don't remember.

The last time.

I felt no care at all in the world.




The skipping, singing, happy kind of carefree.

The kind you sometimes see in children.

How about you?



Where did I start picking up things.

And decide to start carrying them?

Or does that just come from getting older?





I choose to carry stuff.

Worry.

Doubt.

Fear.

Responsibilities.

Burdens.

Concern.


And when I've not been careful.

And intentional.

The load can quickly pile on.

And I feel the weight.

Much I was never intended to carry.

Much wasn't mine to carry.

Things outside of my control.

Things I had no business picking up in the first place.



I met a woman in Kenya two months ago.

Margaret.

Margaret was a sixty-six year old widow.

Just a few years older than me.


Margaret's husband died when she was a young woman.

And she was left to tend this one acre farm herself.

Four times a day.

Margaret walked down the mountain trail near her home.

To a well.

And there she filled a three gallon pail of water.

Strapped it on her back,

And climbed 100 yards straight up to her home.

The interpreters on my team challenged us.

Suggesting the women in our group carry it back up.

I always hate to be underestimated.

So I strapped on the pail of water and headed up.

Much to my regret.

We did a relay of handing it off on the way up the hill.

I walked a ways and handed it off to Myra.

She walked a ways and handed it off to Kristen.

It took three of us.

To do what Margaret does four times every day.




I learned an important lesson that day.

Some loads we have to carry.

But many are meant to share.



And in my worry.

In my doubt.

And in my responsibility and concern.

I'm reminded to stop.

Take a breath.

And take a good hard look at what I carry.



"Don't take yourself or your circumstances so seriously.

Relax and know that I am God with you.

Stop trying to monitor My responsibilities -

Things beyond your control.

Find freedom by accepting the boundaries of your domain.

Do not miss the Joy of My presence by carrying 

the weight of the world on your shoulders."     Sarah Young














Sunday, May 14, 2017

Every Mom Has A Choice



Even now.

At 57.

I recognize.

The things you did really well.

As my mama.


I hate to admit it.

But sometimes seeing someone else.

Not do this so well.

Causes me to appreciate.

That you did.

I don't know that I ever really thought about it before.

How important it was in my life.

Supporting me as I made my own choices.

And decisions.

 And live my life.

Without imposing your own opinions and fears.

Over me.



Looking back now.

Even at this point in my life.

I'm not sure I always appreciated.

Or realized.

That not everyone is given the same.



It was evident in hundreds of ways as a kid.

As I constantly rearranged my room.

And kept every kitten that came across my path.

You encouraged my love to "create."

To paint and draw.

And play football.

And ride motorcycles.



It was evident as I grew older.

And picked a college.

And wasn't made to feel guilty.

 About not coming home every weekend.

You encouraged me to fly on my very first trip to New York.

To leave home for a summer camp job.

And you never discouraged me.

When I changed my major three times in as many years.



You helped me get my first apartment.

And said yes to my wedding reception in your front yard.

When Scott and I got jobs and decided to move away.

I never remember you suggesting we stay close.


When my own kids came along.

You spent nights.

Helped.

And loved them.

And encouraged me as I became a mother myself.

Never suggesting that I mother a certain way.

Or your way.



Even as a grown woman.

I've continued to see.

Your encouragement to live my own life.

When very few people thought buying a shabby old house.

Would be a good idea.

(You agreed.)

But didn't discourage me.

When serving in Kenya became my heart's desire.

You still don't understand it.

But you don't discourage me.



Every mom.

Has a choice.

And I hope I continue to choose as wisely as you.

Give your children the freedom.

To be who they are.

To live their own life.

Free of the burden of your discouragement.

And your opinions.

Your manipulation and fears.

Free to live their lives.

You did that really well, mom.

And I pray I do it too.

I love you!














Thursday, May 11, 2017

Real Life Stories in Tumutumu

Happy Kenya Travelers - April 2017



I think you'll find this interesting.

Even if you'd never in your life.

Consider going to Africa.

Scott &  I are just back from leading our first 410 Bridge team to Kenya.

We were not a perfect group!

(Smile)

Scott & I led by example in that regard!

We were just.

Flawed Americans.

Willing to throw caution to the wind.

And travel to the other side of the world.

Twenty people signed on our team.

Ordinary people.   

Different backgrounds and ages.

We've grown as close as family.

This blog is a chance for them to speak.

And tell you what it was like.



I hope you'll read on.



Watching this reunion was one of best parts of our trip!  
Our teammate, Melody met Jennifer on a 410 Bridge trip to Kenya years ago.
Even though Jennifer speaks no English, these two made a strong connection.
 Melody has traveled to Kenya many times with 410 Bridge and reconnected with Jennifer on every trip.
 Even though our team served in a different area of Kenya this year, we were able to make a slight detour on the way to safari on our last day -  where these two were reunited again.  Their friendship has endured for many years 
and visits to Kenya thanks to 410 Bridge.

Melody, 35
Stay at Home Mom

Melody and I have served in Kenya together on two previous trips.  I've watched her grow
from someone that was too shy to participate or share at nightly debriefs, to someone
that led one of our four travel teams through the Atlanta, Germany & Nairobi Airports AND
volunteered to lead morning devotion!  Serving in Kenya is truly Melody's heart's desire -
and God continues to use these trips to increase her courage.



" This trip to me meant stepping out of my comfort zone- WAY out of my 

comfort zone!!! This trip meant community and family when I'm typically more

of a loner. This trip meant that my good, good father, the creator of the universe, 

loves ME. Loves me enough to allow me to travel to my favorite place with some 

amazing people to stretch me and grow me." 

Melody

~~~~~


At our closing ceremony at Tumutum, the community gives Donna her Kikuyu name.  
Each team member was given a traditional Kikuyu name before the end of the trip.

Donna, 50
Nurse

In two previous 410 Bridge trips to Kenya, Donna has only traveled and served on
medical teams.   That's her passion. Donna would tell you that she felt like a fish out of
water serving outside of a medical setting with us.  Still,  her nursing skills were called into
action on a daily basis as she took care of our team.  During our time in Kenya, Donna
& a few teammates toured a private, mission hospital in Tumutumu.  That was an amazing
treat for Donna.  As we boarded the flight home, Donna also
 had a chance encounter (if you believe in those!)
with an American doctor & his family (from Greenwood of all places!)
that may play an important role in Donna's future as she researches medical mission
opportunities with the organization this doctor serves with in Kenya.



"Our group was hands down the most spiritual, loving group 

I have been on. This was my third 410 Bridge trip. Watching the love that 

Scott and Kathy have for Kenya, each other, and our group is simply amazing.

While I still struggle to figure out why God put me on (a non-medical trip), I will 

forever love the people of Kenya, my leaders of this team, and my team mates." 

Donna 


~~~~~~


Rusty says goodbye to 410 Bridge Community Leader,
Pastor James Mwangi as our closing ceremony on our last day.


Rusty, 52

Production Supervisor





Rusty didn't need a lot of persuasion to go with us to Kenya. He and I served
together on our very first trip to Kenya with North Side Baptist Church 

ten years ago. Rusty is a humble man with a huge heart. He and Scott

were two peas in a pod on this trip. Rusty showed great generosity and

support on this team. We loved serving with him.




"The incredible relationships formed both in the amazing people groups in 


Kenya as well as the members of our team are ones to be cherished. 




I am truly grateful for the opportunity to serve with the family group that 



God brought together to call our team. While I had been to Kenya before 


with a different group, traveling as part of the 



410 Bridge organization was a truly inspiring journey.



The philosophy of fostering relationships rather than


"accomplishing a task" genuinely resonated with my heart and soul. 



Our group partnered with the people of Tumutumu to share life,


while worshiping God through our works.




After returning from this amazing journey, I have been asked

multiple times, "would you do it again?"


My response has always been 


the same ... "ABSOLUTELY!!!, When do we leave?" 



Rusty


~~~~~


LJ Davis surprises his wife, Danee, at the top of the holy mountain in Tumutumu  -
by sharing how much he loves her & what's she's meant in his life.
He then invited Danee to renew their wedding vows on the mountain top.
Scott led the couple through an impromptu renewal ceremony in
celebration of their 10th wedding anniversary on Easter Sunday.
It was a moment none of us will ever forget.
We were a hot mess of tears & kleenex by the time they finished!

Danee, 32
Adult Day Health Care Aide
&
LJ, 31
Electrician



Danee & LJ (and their 13 year old daughter, Sonoma) all traveled together
on this team. I think everyone would agree, this family was the "heart" of our
entire team. We watched God move and provide for this family as they had 
the daunting task to fund THREE trips to Kenya! He was faithful to provide every
penny they needed for their trips. Danee and LJ led devotions during the week 
and were always willing to share and speak about what God has done 
and is doing in their lives. They also made us laugh A LOT! This was Danee's 
second trip to Kenya and LJ's first. These two are the real deal! Their faith is
genuine and their love for each other and us was undeniable. We were honored 
to serve with them both.



" What did Tumutumu mean to Me? It meant an answer to my prayers....

it meant letting go and letting God....it meant dancing and singing in the 

sweet smelling rain with the sweetest little children ....



and it meant that my face will 

hurt from smiling so much. These people and this place captivates every fiber

 of me and I am forever changed ....

Africa is apart of my soul now." 

 Danee




" What I learned in Tumutumu: Community = life."  
LJ

~~~~~




The guys on our team, including Brandon (far left)pose together at closing ceremonies at Tumutumu.



Brandon, 37

Manufacturing Engineer



Brandon and I have served on multiple teams to Kenya with 410 Bridge.  In fact,
Brandon led our 2015 trip to Segera, Kenya.   His ending up on this trip was 
definitely God thing. Our teammate, Mike Fulmer, was diagnosed with the 
flu 24 hours before were scheduled to leave for Kenya.   When Mike concluded he
wouldn't be well enough to go,   we only knew one person that could go to Africa 
with only one day's notice - Brandon.  He did say yes to the unexpected spot on 
our team the day before we left.    He jumped in to serve the team and help 
whenever he was needed.     Brandon has a special love for Kenya that many of
us understand.  We were fortunate to have him serve with us.



"This trip was a reminder of what community means. It was a gift of God's 

love  to me, encouraging me to continue to follow Him in 


whatever He asks me to do. "



Brandon

~~~~~


Mike Fulmer (in the blue shirt) chats with team members at one of our team meetings
Mike was looking forward to his first trip to Africa & had his bag packed 
& ready to go when he was diagnosed with the flu
24 hours before our flight was scheduled to leave.
Mike missed the trip, but was an important part of this team in the
nine months of meetings & preparation!   He's hoping to make the 2018 trip with us!

Mike, 60
Pharmacy Technician


I don't think any of us can imagine what it was like to be in Mike's shoes. He
had the immunization shots, filed for his travel visa, had his Kenyan shillings
and for well over nine months had fully planned to get on the plane and go.
For reasons we may never understand, God had other plans for Mike this trip.
We're counting on him rejoining us in 2018.






"I was was blessed even though l wasn't physically there with this team. 



It was such a blessing to see the team l had grown to love experience such 



amazing things. The greeting by the community, church on Easter, coming 

alongside the wonderful people in the community to build a waterline, 

communion, vows renewed, meals together, debriefing, devotionals, closing 

ceremony, safari. I'm so happy each one had such a wonderful experience!!"

Mike



~~~~~


Kristen (left) gets an idea what it's like for a Kenyan woman to carry
4 gallons of water on her back, along with cut grass for the goats during our "Day in the Life"
where we spent time with a family in Tumutumu.


Kristen, 24

Director at Chick-fil-A



It was a treat to serve with Kristen. I knew from the first time we sat

across a table from her eight months ago - sharing information about this trip -

that she was very solid in her faith and had a strong desire to go. Kristen signed 

on this team with her co-worker and friend, Savannah. In the months that followed, 
Kristen saw some pretty amazing things happen as God provided for her trip cost. 
This was her first trip to Africa - and we know it won't be her last. She was marked by the experience, just as we were a better team by having Kristen with us.







" This trip put my whole life into perspective! It showed me how amazingly 

blessed I am. It showed me how much my Father loves me, and cares for me, 


and how beautiful He thinks I am. It showed me how to love people 


differently.  How to love people on the level that they need 

and receive love and how to love with my Father's love.

The word I would use for this trip would be "Wanted" 

because Kenya is where I found myself. It's where I learned who I was, 

where I began to see myself how He see's me, 

where I found that I'm not alone and that 

there are people that want and love me. 
People that don't even know me,  that love me."



Kristen




~~~~~
Kedra and our team hiked a short distance to the top of Mt. Tumutumu
after  a picnic lunch and church on Easter Sunday.   This was Kedra's
s second trip to Kenya with 410 Bridge.  She was one of four members of
the same small group at NewSpring Church that signed on to our trip.
Kedra, 41
Self Employed


We loved Kedra's positive attitude and great sense of humor on this team!
She was a terrific traveling companion and encouraging to everyone on the trip.
We loved laughing with her and appreciated her love for Jesus, her team
mates and the beautiful people of Tumutumu.





"What this trip has done for me is increased my relationship with the LORD, 



and he sent me across the world to show me I need to 



embrace my imperfections,



to walk in the freedom of Him! 



I can't wait to go back with yall!! " 



Kedra 





~~~~~


This woman loves Kenya!  During a brief afternoon shower in Tumutumu, Kelly soaks it in -
enjoying the rain and every moment of being in her adopted homeland!
Kelly, 37
Nutrion Hostess


Scott & I served with Kelly on her very first trip to Kenya in 2015.  I've seen
team mates fall in love with Africa on a trip, but Kelly fell in LOOOOVE with this part
of the world - head over heels!    She signed on to this team early in our planning and
counted the days until her return.  We love Kelly and her enthusiasm for Kenya.
She's got it bad! 





"This trip meant so much to me because it renewed my relationship with

 God.    I had been walking the christian steps


but wasn't really dependent on Jesus  everyday.


God took me half way around the world to remind me that he still l



oves me unconditionally and that I am a fully loved daughter. Bonus: I got to 



go to my favorite place with 21 of the most Jesus filled people I have ever met! 



My family got bigger & I love it!!!" 

 Kelly


~~~~~






Nikki posing by the equator sign in Nanyuki, Kenya!   Nikki is another team mate that was
completely smitten & fell head over heels in love with Kenya!
We do expect to travel with her again :) 



Nikki, 41

Freight Payment Manager

Nikki is one of the four small group members from NewSpring Church that served

on our team. She was one of the last people to sign on to our team. I remember

just before one of our funding deadlines for the trip, Nikki texted me that she

didn't know where the money to go was going to come from - and she thought
she'd have to back out of the trip. Having seen her heart for the trip, backing
out was unacceptable to me. I told her to hold on and see what God would provide.
She and I both learned a valuable lesson that week about his faithfulness. Within
three days of that text, Nikki received several very generous and unexpected
gifts. She went from almost giving up to being fully funded within a matter of 
days. I knew then -- this woman was meant to serve on our team!







"Unbeknownst to me, Kelly and Melody (my friends & small group members) 



had been planting seeds for me from the time they returned from



their last tip in 2015.



But, when God leaned in and said "GO TO KENYA" over and over to me in 


July of last year, that's it, that's all it took.



From the moment I said "yes," He kept telling 



me He had something great planned for me, something life changing. 


He planted and rooted so deep in my soul a love for a people 

I've never met and a love for a country I've never been to.



From that first breath of Kenya air when deplaning, 


to my feet hitting that tarmac, I knew and now know that's where I'm 



suppose to be. Kenya will forever be part of my life." 


 Nikki


~~~~~


Becca sprained her ankle just days before we were scheduled to leave for Kenya.
Becca knew this injury was not a coincidence so close to the trip.
She amazed her team mates with her grit & determination not to miss a thing.
She hobbled through international airports and up and down mountains & hills all week, -
without complaint.   When Becca returned home, she learned there was actually a break instead of a sprain that
was missed on the first xray!  Amazing!


Rebecca, 30

Physical Therapist



Becca is my daughter, Kate's, best friends. They met in PT school. Becca

spent a lot of time with our family during those years - and we grew to love her

and consider her to be part of our family. I've asked Becca multiple times about
going to Kenya -- this trip, she finally said yes. I watched her, over the course
of our 10 days in Kenya,  grow in her love for this team and the people she met
in Tumutumu. I know God had his reasons for allowing her injury just before
we left.  I learned that Becca saw the injury as a gift in disguise. 
Here's why:







"I always thought that when I finally decided to participate in foreign 

missions that  it would be medically based, because that is my background 


and that is what I have to "offer." Then I thought, if it's not medical at least I 


will do doing something tangible, like I'll be able to say when I leave that I 


helped build this structure, or  lay this water pipe, or somehow contribute 


to some project. I wanted to feel needed,  and in the end, accomplished. 


 But God took away my ability to physically contribute 



much of anything by literally breaking my ankle before the trip. 

He left me with only  myself and relationship, nothing else to offer. 


 God showed me that what really  matters in building His kingdom is 


connecting to people, showing them Love, and  allowing myself to be 


loved by them. I used to think the only way to serve was by 



doing things. But God taught me, through this trip and the community of 

Tumutumu,  that really the best way to serve is to 


just be present, listen, engage and share yourself."


Becca

~~~~~~


Sonoma was our youngest teammate at 13 years old!  She quickly became a favorite
on the team.  She had a great attitude & loved on the children wherever we served.
Here, she meets the kids of Tutu on our last day.  They flocked to her.


Sonoma, 13

Student


We love to travel with young people! That proved to be true on this trip too.

Seeing Africa through Sonoma's eyes was a gift in itself. She looked forward to

this trip for all the months of meetings and preparations. Once we hit the 

ground, she showed maturity, love, wisdom and kindness to everyone she
encountered. We LOVE this kid!





"Africa was the best experience of my life. These people are the sweetest, 



most caring and loving people I've ever met; 

they still invite you into to their home 



and say "You are welcome anytime," or this is your real home 



and we love you." 


Africa has put a strong desire in my heart to know that

I'm loved from a bunch of kind-hearted strangers, 

even when they are thousands of miles apart from me...." 


Sonoma


~~~~~


Kathy and all the ladies on our team were given these beautiful wraps by the
women of Tumutumu during the closing ceremony in that community.


Kathy, 47

Director of Operations



Kathy and I work together in the same office. This was her second 410 Bridge

trip to Kenya! The thing I love about Kathy's story - is that when we first 

started working together, I could tell she likes for things to be orderly and

maybe even predictable. Since those words are rarely used in an international

mission trip, I was shocked that Kathy answered almost immediately - YES!

when I asked if she'd consider going with me to Kenya for the first time in 2015.

I can honestly say - these trips have changed this woman! She's been greatly 
impacted by the experience. When Kathy got home a few weeks ago, she went 
and got a tattoo of her Kikuyu name on her wrist. I know!?! who is this woman?? 
(smile.) Kathy brought her daughter Sarah in 2015 and her youngest daughter,
Sophie on this trip. That's the legacy she's leaving her girls! pretty cool!



"My trip to Tumutumu was awesome! The community was very warm and
welcoming. They really seemed to want us there even though they could get 

the waterline done faster without us. The best part was getting to see my 

daughter, Sophie, experience Kenya for the first time!! " 

 Kathy

~~~~~



This photo was taken moments after Sandy took a fall in Karogoto.  Knowing
what had transpired between Sandy and our nurse (Donna) unwrapping
a bandage - I could see God at work in the circumstances of their lives that day.
Read on.






Sandy, 58

Custodian



"....I never thought of myself as selfish but God says that we have to deny our 

selves daily. Well, I hadn't. I went to Africa to be used by God and I ended up 


being the subject of one of His lessons. We went out on Monday to 


dig water line ditches. I had brought along my favorite blue jeans on the trip. 

The  night before during debrief, our leaders said we could wear jeans to work


in.  The next morning, I put them on and headed to breakfast. As I was going 

to get in line for my plate, Donna says "You can not wear jeans! 

410 Bridge said no jeans!"


I went to our trip leaders and they told me not to worry about it, the jeans 

were fine.  But I fumed....and fumed....and let it eat at my joy all day. 

How dare her tell me I can't wear jeans!  She's isn't over me!


Later that day, we visited a women's knitting co-op in nearby Karogoto. That's 


when I had a nice fall off the side of a hill.   My feet slipped right out from 


under me - and down I went. I had injured this leg before, so I was scared to 

move .  That's when I heard someone say, "go get DONNA!" 

Donna is a trauma nurse. She was quick to respond with no hesitation. 

I know now, God puts people where they need to be. She helped me to move 

my leg.  Pulling out some sissors from her medical bag, she proceeded to cut 

the very jeans she had called me out on earlier that morning.

She looked me in the face and said " I hope these are not your favorite jeans." 


Every bible verse I read that day dealt with forgiveness and humbling self. 

LOL! 

(He was talking right to me.) I have never been treated so kindly by someone 

that I was also so angry with. Satan tried to steal my joy.   At debrief

that night, I told the team how God had humbled me and publicly
 

apologized to Donna.  For the rest 

of the trip, things were different with Donna. 

I am thankful for her friendship and 

that God allowed me to meet her.  This lesson has changed my life. 

I don't look at things like I did before. "Self"  no longer comes first. 

God sent me over 8000 miles to show me that He needed 

me to be selfless not selfish."


Sandy





~~~~~



Sophie is asked by the community of Tumutumu to share her Kikuyu name
with everyone at closing ceremonies on our last day.


Sophie, 14

Student

Sophie surprised her mom. And, she surprised me. She worked hard all week in

the community. That's not what surprised us. She jumped in three foot water

trenches and could swing a three prong hoe with the best of them! She was

eager to start every day and did whatever she was asked to do. That didn't

surprise us either. It was that last day in the community. We said goodbye to
the people we had served with all week and worked with. The children in the
community came up for final hugs and high fives. It was on the bus pulling
away -- that I saw what the entire experience had meant to Sophie. She was
in tears. I was afraid something had happened -- but she was heart broken to
leave. Ahhhhh. Even now, I see that kid by the bus window - not wanting to 
leave. At 14 years old, this young lady will never forget this experience -- and
never forget Tumutumu.


"All the Kenyans in the community were so welcoming & grateful to 

have us there. It was amazing to see everyone work together


just so one small community could have running

 water. I'm so glad that I got to meet so many strong & talented people 

and help alongside them. I CANT WAIT TO GO BACK!!" 

 Sophie

~~~~~




I love this picture.  Holly comforts Sonoma as they watch Sonoma's mom and dad
renew their wedding vows on Mount Tumutumu..


Holly, 51
Computer Programmer

Holly is a self-confessed, Type A personality!  She wants to know what she's
going to do every day -- loves to check things off a checklist when they're done.
As she started sharing that about herself in our team meetings, I confess I got
a little concerned.   If there's one thing I know -- it's that time takes on a 
totally different meaning in Kenya.  And, there's no checklists for sure!  
It all worked out.  Holly pitched in and helped our team in  many ways before we 
the trip.  She arranged for her church to transport us to and from the Atlanta airport.  
She had a friend make mosquito repellent soap for every team member.  She even bought temporary tattoos with scripture  and prayer rings for the team.  She put 
her love for "doing" into action.   She served her team before we left, just as she
served the team on the ground.    Holly soaked up every moment in Kenya.   The trip
for her was made even more special because she experienced it with her son, Sean.
You could see how much it meant to Holly every single day! 







"I got to experience Jesus in the flesh around me every single day ... 

from each member of the team to the people around us in TumuTumu and 



everywhere in Kenya. I not only experienced this myself but with my son 


who showed me that he understands that Jesus is in all of us if we just 


acknowledge Him. I have gained a new family via my team and a village, 


TumuTumu and a country, Kenya." 

 Holly


~~~~~


I won't forget this moment either.  We played a group of teenagers in volleyball
one afternoon.  This younger kid played in the area with his home-made
soccer ball (made of plastic bags & twine.)   





Sean, 16

Student



We LOVE this kid! Sean is Scott's cousin - and until this trip, they had never

spent a lot of time together. Watching Scott and Sean together during our time

in Tumutumu was one of my favorite things about the trip. Sean impressed
ALL of us. He was humble, hard working and polite. He also showed a
strong faith and understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. He was
amazing - and we're incredibly proud of him.



"In a lot of bible verses after the Resurrection of Jesus, it says that 

at first people did not recognize him, and that was so true for me on 

this trip. When I first got to Kenya and saw the people, I did not 

recognize Jesus. Until I realized how much I could learn from them; 

Faith, Hope, and Strength, physically and spiritually. That is when I 

recognized Jesus." 


 Sean

~~~~~





Myra (navy shirt) enjoys a laugh with team mates at the top of Mount Tumutumu.


Myra, 57

Horticulturalist



Myra and I have been friends since childhood. But like many, we drifted out of 

each others lives. When we reconnected a few years ago as fifty something

year old women, we seemed to pick back up right where we left off. We've talked

about traveling to Kenya together several times - but when this trip rolled
around, the circumstances in Myra's life made it possible for her to finally
say "yes." It was a special treat for me to see Myra see Kenya. She had a smile 
on her face from the moment we arrived. As someone that loves working in the
earth and with plants, Tumutumu was paradise in Myra's eyes with lush banana
& coffee trees, avocados, macadamia nuts and flowers of every description.



"How amazed I was at the happiness and spiritual depth the people of 

the community, even though they had so little possessions,

food and water. The community of Tumutumu made us 

feel accepted, appreciated and loved even more than we feel in your 

own environments. They have to work so hard just to and live 

and survive.  Its not about working to buy "stuff."

I really loved "our team", the debriefs every

night and just sharing such an incredible experience with 

another group of people.  I think about "the day in the life"

everyday!   (We spent the day with a widow, Margaret, on

 her farm.) She had a wall picture in her dirt floor home of Jesus Christ

- and it said "Jesus Christ is the head of this house- sits with us 

at the table and listens to what we say."

I am so appreciative to have had this opportunity! " 

Myra


~~~~~




Savannah (in pink)  is swarmed and greeted by the children of Tumutumu
Primary School on our first visit to the community.


Savannah, 24
Chic-fil-a Human Resources




Savannah grew up with our family. Our youngest daughter, Taylor, and Savannah 

were best buddies as kids. We've always claimed her as one of our own. Scott & I

were really happy that Savannah was able to join this team. She's a recent 

college graduate and has an amazing work ethic. She jumped in and tackled any

project that was given to her. Everybody appreciated her positive spirit, her great 

attitude and her willingness to give away love all week long! She was terrific!




"Freedom. Africa felt like freedom. In a place where we have everything, 

we miss the little things.   I sometimes miss what Jesus



may be saying and let things of this world consume my life that 



don't really matter. Africa is a place for true growth and where richness 



resides. Not in a monetary way, but you can see it in the food, 

in the eyes of a stranger and in the hearts of so many.

Jesus let me experience their freedom and joy in one of the 

most amazing places on earth by letting me go with some 

of the most loving and generous family I never knew before."


Savannah




~~~~~





Nichole shares photos on her phone with the kids in Tutu.


Nichole, 39

Occupational Therapist



Nichole babysat my kids when they were little. I've watched her grow into a

warm and caring woman - raising her own family of three beautiful children

with her husband, Shane. When I first approached Nichole about going to Kenya, 

I could see her interest. But because she's such a hands on mom to her three 

young children, I wasn't sure that she would sign on to our team. She surprised me. 

Like many young families, Nichole is always on the go with their activities and 
schedules. I admired her courage for stepping away for 10 days to go to Kenya.
While I know she missed them, I also saw that she didn't waste the opportunity.
I know that God showed up in her trip and in her time in Tumutumu.





"It's funny the year of planning and even a couple of days into the 
actual trip I wondered what exactly my purpose would be.

I think I thought that through something I would do, I,  or someone else

 would be changed. God knew better. He needed to take me away from 

everything - including my family  - to know what it was to truly spend

time with him. I heard His voice daily sometimes - just to calm

me down or help me through the ache of missing my family - but

I HEARD him. That's honestly not something I could say prior to the trip. 

To know he was speaking to me, wanted a closer relationship to me,

was amazing. I  yearn for that now -especially returning back to

 such busyness and time schedules. I miss the calm, the people,

the love I felt. I want it here at home, in America. I'm praying for the 

Lord to continue to speak to me, lead me, love me. I'm grateful beyond words

for a chance to know Him more and also gain a new family in Christ."



Nichole 




~~~~~

We spent a morning with this woman - Margaret - in our "Day in the Life" activity.  Margaret was
at the church in Tumutumu where Scott preached on Sunday - and she LOVED her pastor!
Here, she dances with Scott and shows appreciation for the time our group spent with her at her farm.
This is an amazing woman!




Scott, 57

Team Leader


I sure love this man.    He was 100% in his element preaching in Kenya, leading us in
communion on Easter Sunday,  renewing wedding vows for Danee & LJ,  praying over the
release of 1000 fish fingerlings at a fish farm,  presiding over debrief every night and helping our
team make sense of what we saw each day and what God might be showing us.    He loves to help
people understand what it looks like to follow Jesus on a day to day basis.  That's his true calling.
He's a rock star in my book.  No question.



"People often ask, "Why do you go to Kenya when there is so much to 

do here?"   Legitimate question.  I am happy to say that I



serve at home too. I selfishly go to Kenya to be re-energized.



To see what real faith looks like in the midst of real need. To experience 

real community, real worship, real hope. To see people who have almost 

no earthly possessions find deep joy in the promise

of abundant life in Christ. I don't go to bless the Kenyans, I go for them

 to bless me." 

 Scott


~~~~~




This is Terry & Stacy Williams with us at the Atlanta Airport just before our team left for
Tumutumu.  Stacy works for 410 Bridge - and she's one of my hero's.
I want to thank her for her dedication & love & legacy of making these trips
a reality for so many people like me.  The direction of my life has forever changed because
God used Stacy to encourage & support me & Scott in our work in Kenya.
When we get to heaven, she's going to be surprised at how many lives have
been impacted for the kingdom because of her life.
I love you woman!



Me, 57

Team Leader



It was different for me to go to Kenya this time as a trip leader and 



not just as


a participant on a trip. 

 People have asked me since we got back - 

"did you like leading a team?"

I got to be a part of all of the stories you just read -- 

so yeah, I liked it. 

 I loved it.

It's like multiplying my own experience in a place I love times (21) 

-- for every person who served with me.

In the words of Becca Chain -- "I'm so glad I didn't miss this!"

Me too. 


If these stories have peaked your interest in going yourself,
message me or visit the 410 Bridge website
for more information.
www.410bridge.org
Teams are organizing soon for 2018.