Archive for February, 2011

Sunday, Feb 27

Diane and I went to church this morning with Moira and family who live across the street.  Moira is from Massachusetts and her husband, William, is from Christchurch, New Zealand. (His mother lost her home in the recent earthquake). They have an orphanage out in the country with 11 kids, and they have six more living with them in their house. She is one of Diane’s best friends here in Kenya and I already love her.   She and William were in YWAM for years and she did not get married until she was 37 and bore her first and only biological child at the age of 40.  So, there is hope for all of us!  Or at least me….

Anyway, now that Diane has a car (David is letting us borrow his for the next few days until Diane buys her new vehicle in the next week or so—we hope), we decided to go to church with Moira and fam.  They attend one of the larger pentecostal churches in town.  We went to the smaller congregation which was absolutely filled with the cutest kids, many who come by themselves from around the neighborhood.  I love worshipping in Swahili and English and I learned my first worship phrase in Swahili: “Hakuna mungu kama wewe” which means, “there is no God like You.”  A little Swahili lesson:  Hakuna means “there is not.”  It comes from “Kuna” which means “there is,” and the “Ha” makes it negative.  So the famous song, “Hakuna Matata” means “there is not a worry.”  I also met the sweetest teenaged girl after the service—and her name was DAISY!  I thought that was cool, since Daisy has sorta become the underlying theme of this trip.  I have a general idea of where she lives—in my general neighborhood—but I wish I had gotten her exact address because I want to spend more time with her. She was precious and I felt like it was a God-appointment. (UPDATE:  one of Moira’s daughter’s knows Daisy and we will go visit her together later).

Tonight we are going to “missionary fellowship.”  Many of the missionaries around here get together once a week on Sunday night, moving from one house to the next.  Tonight will be at John and Esther Green’s.  John is an old Pentecostal missionary from England…a real no-nonsense guy, from what I hear…I have not met him yet. He came to Kenya in the early 1960’s and started an orphanage and married a Kenyan woman—the beautiful Esther.  I met her the other day when we went out to lunch for Diane’s birthday.  It is hard to believe she is in her early 70’s, with no wrinkles and only a few grey hairs.  She could pass for in her 50’s.   Their property is called Testimony Faith Homes, and the beautiful grounds certainly are a testimony of trusting God and His faithful provision. They always have over 100 kids at a time and one of the best schools in town.  I look forward to getting to know them more.  The big news in the missionary community here is that John (an orphan himself) just discovered that he has a sister!  She lives in Aberdeen, Scotland, and is 72—one year older than him.  All these years and neither of them knew that they had a sibling!  He has a blog, which you might enjoy: http://tfhomes.blogspot.com/

UPDATE: Just got home from missionary fellowship.  It was so much fun.  We ate and sang out of a hymnal and then shared what is going on in our lives and prayed for each other and things going on around the world.  All the people there really seem to love it and draw strength from their fellowship and they all said how much they miss it when they are on furlough or travelling in other parts of the world. There were people there from the States, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands and of course Kenya. I will be going out to lunch in a few days with Sophie from NZ/Aus who runs a children’s home and Carol from the Netherlands who is married to a Kenyan.  I enjoyed meeting everyone. 

A prayer request was brought up that I want to share with you.  Early yesterday morning, someone broke into an orphanage run by a Dutch couple who were YWAM missionaries in Nairobi.  They killed the husband and raped his wife right in front of the children.  That evening was supposed to be a big graduation for a bunch of YWAM students who had been training there for the past few months.  Every one there is really shook up.  Please pray for them, and especially the wife and children.

I couldn’t believe some of the other prayer requests regarding some of the kids that have recently been received in some of the local orphanages, including a malnourished baby on the brink of starvation.  His mother was taking the heavy duty formula that they had been giving her and selling it for money instead of feeding her baby.  The baby was finally placed in the care of a Kenyan couple there who run an orphanage.  There were many other similar stories like that too sad to share.  

Diane and I and some of the others will be starting Swahili lessons next week.  Lots of good stuff brewing—I will share more later as it shapes up concretely.

I have been thinking of KLF, my home church a lot today.  Hard to believe it was just a week ago today that we had my commissioning service.  It seems like a month has gone by since then.


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Kweli/SILA/Dominion  Feb 25

This has been an amazing day.  Diane and I went out to visit the SILA headquarters in Eldoret.  They have – acres, housing a primary school, several large greenhouses, two huge gardens, a home for 1,000 chickens, and several cows, as well as a large kitchen for the school, play area for the kids, cafeteria, and a processing station which converts cow manure into biogas and fertilizer.  The whole operation runs on bio gas and is completely self-sustaining.  Everything is organic.  They also have dry toilets which converts human waste into fuel and fertilizer.  Nothing is wasted anywhere. Even the kitchen uses fuel-efficient wood burning stoves. There are about 40 employees, from farm workers to teachers.  All of the produce from the farm is used either to feed the kids and workers, or to sell.  Among the plants they grow are native Kenyan vegetables and greens, tomatoes and onions in the greenhouse, and passion fruit, which they are just starting. (They are grafting two versions of the fruit into a new version of the fruit which should be sweeter and more fruitful than other versions). In addition to all of this, SILA also drills new wells, advocates and sells dry toilet systems such as they use, and many other projects that are focused on demonstrating the heart of God in practical ways and serving the people of Kenya.  Their goal is to “take church outside of church” and make it real and practical in everyday life. 

As part of their desire to bring the kingdom of God to every facet and area of life, they have many discipleship meetings (about 15 to 20 a week) for the staff.  Some are just for the teachers, and some are for the employees and some are special meetings for the kids. I have been invited to speak and minister at as many of these meetings as I want to…and I will start next Tuesday by sharing with the School teachers in their devotional meeting early in the morning before school begins.  I think I will probably teach a series based on the Sermon on the Mount. I told God I wanted to be stretched, so here we go!!!

I am also thrilled that I have been invited to join David and some of the others as they venture up to the Kakama refugee camp on the Sudan border next month. I had been wanting to go there and praying much for that place but had decided to drop my push to go there since I heard that it was dangerous (bandits, thieves and murderers around there) with treacherous roads. Missionaries have been murdered while driving there.  I told the Lord I would not bring it up again and that if He wanted me to go, someone would invite me.  Well, that has already happened!  SILA received a ton of clothing, medicine, vitamins, shoes, etc from a ministry in South Korea that he is friends with.  I mean a whole room full of boxes of stuff to be distributed.  I saw it today at the SILA property.  They are going up to distribute it and I get to tag along! 

SILA is run by a team of talented Kenyans with a BIG vision.  It was started by David Kipyego, who is a close spiritual son of Diane and Jesse Grey.  He is a nation changer who thinks outside the box, as well as an anointed minister and apostolic in mindset and calling.  To boot, he has a total servant heart and is really humble.  They are all a great team of people. Several of them were over for dinner last night and I played my guitar and we all sang and worshipped together in the evening.  The presence of the Lord was sweet. 

(God bless Joann Varner, by the way, who told me on Sunday that she wanted to pay for me to bring my guitar with me.  I can see that I will get tremendous use out of it while I am here).

 After visiting SILA, we went to the Dominion Children’s home and school, started by my friend Ann Fyall from Greenville, SC.  SILA also helps to oversee Dominion, and together with Kweli they all work as a team.  Really, you could say the whole thing is one ministry with three different aspects to it. 

I had seen pictures of the Dominion kids, but I was totally unprepared for how much it would impact me to see them in person.  They are all soooo cute, with amazing smiles.  I made it a game to learn their names and ages.  There are two 9 year olds (Naomi and Solomon) and the rest are younger, with the majority of them being 6 years old.  The newest addition is Titus (6) who joined the home in Dec.  He was found dying in a maize field but today he is a bright and smiling, affectionate little boy.  Before long they were climbing on me and letting me tickle them and play games with them.  We came inside the house and all ate lunch together—cooked cabbage (with tomatoes, onions and cream.  It was dee-lish) and ugali, which is basically cornmeal porridge cooked until you can pick it up and eat it with your fingers which is how all the kids ate it.  They love ugali.  It was basically a cross between masa (used for tortillas and tamales) and polenta. We hung out with the kids for several hours. 

I am really looking forward to going back to visit and work with them when class is in session, as well as coming over in the evenings to read them stories.  Some of them don’t even know their ABC’s, and none of them speak English too well, so we will be starting from the beginning.  Can I just say again that I am soooooooo glad I brought my guitar?  It is going to be a ton of fun to sing with the kiddos. SILA had just dug a new well on their property and everyone is so impressed with how clear and clean the water is.  The well will service not only the home and school but also the surrounding community.

The foods here are delicious.  My kind of food—heavy on the vegetables and flavorful.  My favorite dish so far might be katumbara—a mix of grated beets, chopped tomatoes, onions, and chilies.  I never really liked beets much, but I could eat katumbara all day.  Diane is on a major health kick and losing weight, so we eat lots of “spinach” (it is actually another leafy green that is similar to spinach, but everyone calls it spinach), lentils, salads, fruit (mangoes, papaya and pineapple mostly), butternut squash soup, etc.  I feel great and am eating better than I did in the states! They make lots of homemade yogurt here, from fresh cow milk.  I can’t wait to try it. Kenya would be a perfect place to open the Healing Center that I have dreamed about…land and labor is cheap, etc.

A common means of public transportation here is the “tuk tuk” (pronounced “took took”).  It is a piece of “technology” as one Kenyan explained that is created from the parts of a motorcycle.  A tuk tuk hauls 6 people around, including the driver, in a tiny carriage with three wheels that is started like a lawnmower—with a pulley to crank the engine! It putzes along and wheezes and seems to be on the verge of breaking down constantly, but nevertheless manages to get people where they need to be going.  Imagine how fast a motorcycle would go if it was hauling 6 people (uphill), and you get the idea.  Imagine being squeezed in so tight, you might as well as be on the lap of the person next to you…Now add in the smells of B.O. and diesel fuel and you have a pretty good feeling of what it is like to ride in a tuk tuk. I rode one downtown yesterday with Anna, Diane’s helper.  It was an experience…so was the glue sniffing gang boy who tried to con me with a smile so that his friends could steal my camera from behind.  I am glad Anna was with me, who explained to me how the street kids work and what to watch out for.

Kenya reminds me much more of Mexico than Niger. Niger was far more rustic, isolated-feeling, and quieter.  Diane told me today that Kenya is roughly 80% African, 12% Asian (mostly people from India) and 8% white (mostly from the UK).

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Feb 23

I am finally here in Eldoret, after 24 hours in airplanes and airports, a night in Nairobi, and a 6 hour drive over the equator up into the mountains, where we are nestled at 7,000 feet, amongst tropical pines, frangipani flowers, and cactus trees.

My plane ride from Amsterdam to Nairobi yesterday was very interesting.  I was nestled in the middle aisle between a Kenyan man and a Sudanese man and his American wife.  We all had wonderful conversation the whole way and the 8 hour plane ride literally “flew” by!  Heh heh….

The Kenyan man (Jessi) works in the US and was on his annual trip home to visit his wife and two daughters.  Apparently it is an arrangement that works for them and is not too uncommon!  The Sudanese man (Tok) had an amazing survival story.  Growing up in war torn southern Sudan, he was taken from his family at the age of 4 and trained for war, along with many other young boys.  By the time he was 10, he was a full-blown soldier.  When he was 15, almost his entire group was killed in a horrific battle that he did not want to talk about.  He and a few other boys escaped and lived on whatever food they could find to eat and water they could find to drink.  They made their way to Kenya, where they were placed in the Kakuma refugee camp.  (This was the camp that I had earlier talked to Diane about possibly visiting but she assured me that it was very dangerous up there).  Tok lived in the camp for the next four years, where he basically survived on UN rations of one meal of rice a day.  They were always hungry and it was just enough food to keep everyone from dying. 

When he was 19, he got a special offer to come to the US with some of the other “lost boys.”  He was placed in Fargo, North Dakota, speaking very little English, and given a job as a butcher, killing pigs.  He tried to join some local high schools but they would not take him.  He studied on his own and focused on learning English.  Finally a school in Minnesota allowed him to attend…and for the next few years he focused on his butcher job and getting an education.  Little by little, he worked his way up, eventually getting a job at Walmart, where he met his wife.  She is also from Fargo and her accent was so strong I initially thought she was from another country.  Both of them were very soft spoken.  After she married an African, her parents stopped speaking to her.  They were moving back to Sudan to open a school.  He had somehow found his parents after being separated from them since he was four years old and this was his first time to see them again, as well as his first time back to Sudan since he escaped into Kenya.  I got their contact info and plan to keep in touch with them.  I was so moved by the whole story, I asked him if I could pray for him and he said yes. He believes in God but had not been raised up in any religion particularly since he had been in the army and in survival mode for so long. His family had been animist.  So I layed hands on him right there in the plane and prayed for him in the name of Jesus and spoke life and the will of God over him….and he openly recieved it with a big smile on his face. 

He has the humble heart of a true king and I know God has preserved him for a reason.  I believe he will do great things for his nation and felt honored to sit by him.  I thanked God because I had had such an interest in the Kakama refugee camp.  Ever since I learned of it, I have been praying for it and asking God if I could visit it.  It was very special to me that out of everyone on the plane, God sat me right next to someone who had been in the Camp.

I also shared the Lord with Jessi, who had been downing one bottle of wine after another. I think he was nervous to see his family again for the first time in almost 2 years.   After he saw me pray for Tok, I could tell his heart was softened.  He is Presbyterian, he told me.  He knew his bible very well and we talked about the Holy Spirit.

When I got through customs and got my bags, Diane, David Kipyego and a few others were waiting for me with a bouquet of roses.  It was too dark to see anything of Nairobi.  We went straight to the guesthouse and went to bed.  (All the beds here have beautiful white mosquito netting around them.  I love it—for some reason, it makes me feel like a princess!)

Today, I ate uji, among other things for breakfast.  Uji is ground millet porridge and it is supposed to be the thing that all Americans hate because it is so tasteless.  I had it with milk and a bit of sugar and thought it was delicious!

Nairobi is full of matatus (public transportation vans and small busses) and huge clouds of diesel smoke…churches and mission schools on every corner…as a former British colony, they drive on the opposite side of the road.  I had a lot of fun writing down the funny names of the matatus.  (Apparently each is named by the driver or owner).  Standard names were, “Integrity,” “Diplomat,” “Leisure,” “God’s Blessing” and the like.  More amusing names included, “Hold Me Tight,” “Sweden Special,” “Boy Zone,” “Obama,” and my favorite, “Neo-Colonialism.”

As we drove from Nairobi to Eldoret, we drove passed groves of plum trees, peppercorn trees, lots of sycamore-willow looking trees, jacaranda trees with big purple flowers, tropical pines and huge cacti, and the awesome acacia trees, which are basically a smooth greenish trunk, with branches spreading wide and flat at the very top of the tree…Standard African looking trees that I have seen in photos.  When we passed through the equator we were at 9,000 feet. A man there demonstrated how water drained one way on one side of the equator and then drained the opposite way on the other side of the equator.  When we stood right on the equator the water just drained flat, with no whirlpool in either direction.  I videoed that and will upload it at some point.

We also passed wild baboons by the side of the road!

David Kipyego is such a great guy.  He is the one who drove us all around Nairobi and back up to Eldoret.  We had wonderful discussion talking about the kingdom of God and how it is meant to be part of everyday life and lived powerfully outside the walls of the church.  Most Kenyans, he said, have the idea that they can go to church on Sunday and live as corrupt as they want to all week long.  They think nothing of doing horrible things and then coming to church the next day, where the general idea is to sit and listen to “the minister” speak…no involvement beyond that. 

His way of discipling people at the moment is to train them in integrity in the marketplace.  He has started a Christian school and owns many businesses all under his Ministry, SILA (Serve In Love Africa).  His focus is on breaking down the walls between “church” and “regular life” and to break out of the walls of religion, denominationalism, and into true holisitic, Kingdom living.  He invited me to speak next weekend at some weekend meetings that he holds for all his employees.  He also invited me to come and speak to the teachers at his school.  They have a chapel/prayer meeting every morning for ½ hour before school starts, and he said I can take as many of those as Iwant to teach basic kingdom principles—for the next few months if I want to. Exciting! 

Diane has done so much to get my room ready for me and she is so easy to talk to and be with.  I feel like I have known her for much longer than I have.  She has a lovely home in a neighborhood where lots of other missionaries live.  I have my own room and bathroom. A lady named Anna comes in every day and helps with cooking, etc.  I have not met her yet, but I did meet several more of the KWELI/SILA crowd tonight.  Everyone is very warm and friendly and they all say that they have been anticipating my arrival for months.

I can’t believe I have only been here for 24 hours.  It seems like a week has gone by!

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Isn’t everything I see and hear and taste and smell and touch just the appearance of the world in front of the world?

I suppose at the very beginning of my blog, I should share the story behind why I named my blog, “Ordinary Daisy;” and why daisies are so special to me.

The story begins in January of 1999, when I was attending a large prophetic conference in Colorado Springs with some friends. Part of the conference included turning to the person behind us and praying for a moment and then sharing what the Lord told us about the other person.  While I was grateful at how my “word” seemed to impact the lady I was praying with, I was disappointed with what was spoken to me.  It was something to this effect: “Every time I look at you, I see a daisy. God wants you to know that you are like a daisy to Him.” 

I was immediately irritated.  A daisy?  Come on!  Why could people not see past my exterior?  Couldn’t they see that I had so much more in me?  I had graduated from college a few years earlier and since that time, had been working for a web-based ministry in hiddenness, in lonliness; deep in the boondocks of Arizona.  It was my choice, but sometimes I had the distinct feeling that I was watching my life go up in smoke. (I don’t mean that in a negative way. In the midst of the smoke, He awakened worship in my heart and turned everything into incense. It was a time I wouldn’t trade for anything).

Even so, deep in my heart, I was hoping for someone to recognize me; to tell me: “You are doing a great thing.  In laying down your life there is a great reward. There is a mighty call of God on your life.”  Granted, the Lord had whispered plenty of encouragement to my heart and I knew that I was where I was supposed to be. But in my immaturity, I wanted to hear more than “daisy.”

When I got back together with my group, I was so embarrassed about my “daisy” word that I couldn’t even tell them.  I only said, “Oh, they told me that God sees me like a flower.”

Later, everyone who attended the conference experienced a time of personal prophetic ministry with some of the staff.  I don’t remember all that was spoken to me, but there was one word that went like an arrow to my heart:  “God says that He sees you just like a beautiful flower, just like a daisy…and there is something so special to Him about a daisy heart.” 

What?! Again? A daisy heart?! What was that even supposed to mean? I blinked back tears, got my coat and headed for the door.  If I was going to be compared to a plant, why couldn’t I at least be called an oak tree or something powerful with roots that went down deep and bore much fruit? Why did I have to be compared to a dumb flower? As I was walking back across the massive, snowy parking lot to join my friends, the internal, audible voice of the Lord came clearly to me.

“Mercy, why do you like daisies so much?”

I stopped in my tracks, stunned. 

Up to that moment, I had completely forgotten that I love daisies.  As unbelievable as it may sound, I had totally forgotten that daisies are in fact, one of my favorite flowers! Immediately, all the emotions that daisies had ever stirred within me came flooding into my heart.

Why do I love daisies?  Let me count the ways!  They are so bright and clean, so happy, so pure, so fresh and simple—and yet somehow hinting of a complex beauty and truth beyond what was apparent to the eye. I could never look at a daisy without my heart being somehow lifted. Indeed, when had I ever been able to look at daisy—really look at it—without my heart turning soft within me?  One of the things that I loved most about daisies is that their simple beauty is so available to everyone. While some flowers may be reserved and untouchable in their beauty, the humble daisy seems to welcome all; profoundly revealing the charm of the commonplace.

Immediately, all that daises were associated with in my mind came flooding to my thoughts: wooden floors, mandolins, front porches, stars, creeks, climbing in trees, sunshine, home-made pie cooling on a windowsill, quilts, canyon wrens, picnics in meadows, bare feet, clean windows with light shining through them, china teacups, and so on.

In one moment, God’s little question to my heart began to melt away my self-striving. I realized that in the same unexplicable way that I was drawn to daisies, God was telling me that He was drawn to me. Just the way I am—right now!  I didn’t have to be some great thing to catch His eye. All I had to be was myself, the true ME that He made me to be! So what if there are billions of daisies in the world? Each one possesses its own unique daisy-power to inspire.

Many a man has stopped at the daisy—an indeed, every other created thing—and fumbled to read its ancient language; with a faded knowledge that still resonates somewhere deep within the soul. We carry within us a knowing that is not entirely forgotten, though most would feign to attempt to express what those vague feelings might mean.

Some of the meanings that have been associated with daisies through the centuries include: unfettered love, loyal love, innocence, purity, new beginnings and inner sanctity.

Because a daisy’s petals close over its center once the sun disappears, one website says that “a daisy hints at a wrapped up secret and even points at keeping it hidden. Thus, daisy symbolizes truth… It stands for the concealed truth, away from everyone else’s notice. When a daisy was given in public, it meant a transfer of secret from the giver to the receiver.” 

As I look back on that day, I see that God was handing me a daisy as a mystery for me to unlock—the mystery of myself.  Even more, He was giving me the mystery of Himself; the “concealed truths” of His person, which, since that time, have been the most amazing and wonderful discoveries of my life.

As I recently began to research more about daisies for this blog, I was amazed at what else I uncovered.  The name itself comes from the Anglo Saxon words ‘daes eage’ meaning “day’s eye;” because they open at dawn and remain open as long as the sun is shining; softly closing their petals over their sun-heart when the light goes away. With a bright yellow sun in the center, and petals like the white rays of a star, daisies are from the Aster (star) family of flowers (along with sunflowers and many others).

“If your eye is good– full of light–your whole body will be full of light” said Jesus.  Maybe He was thinking of a “Day’s Eye” when He said it; the daisy being the first to open its eye to the Light and “awaken the dawn.” Maybe He was thinking of me…of us.  

What I realized that day in one profound moment is that if I could see myself the way God sees me, I would understand that He has already placed inside of me the things that I am naturally attracted to.  If everything was clear, I would fully understand that “the works of His hands are wonderful, that my soul knows right well.”  God has placed the key to that enjoyment deep inside us. The things that we are drawn to are clues not only of who we are, but aspects of God Himself that we carry within us.  Amazing!

If it takes humility and simplicity to see things as they really are, then one of my primary goals is for the “eyes of my heart to be enlightened” and washed of all cynicism.  I want to see the world through God’s eyes; through His lens of love and truth that pierces every shadow and brings meaning to every symbol, however obscured it might initially appear to be.  I want to see everything for the truth it represented in the heart of God when He drew it out of Himself and spoke it into being.

After all, everything that He made prophesies of a deeper truth, giving shape and form to concepts, emotions and ideas.  The Bible itself plainly reveals that God thinks in symbols. 

Of course, nothing that He makes is truly ordinary, in the ordinary sense of the word!  Every daisy is unique, just like every snowflake. But in an era where we strain past the boundaries of nature in order to stand out, there is something so refreshing and pure about not trying to re-create ourselves but instead, simply discovering who we were created to be in the beginning. If we could awaken our hearts afresh to the wonder of existence, we would revel in the fact that ordinary things are themselves so…extraordinary.

I love how the Bible says that “Elijah was a man just like us…”  Of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him.”  The wonder of the Shulamite in the Song of Songs is that she is just a shepherdess out in the fields—not a “high” lady of the courts.  Before David was anointed King, he was least among his brothers, and the last of his family to be considered for greatness.  Queen Esther was also an “Aster”—a Star of the heavens; and the flower-family to which daisies belong.

Ordinary daisies are earth’s counterpart to the blazing stars of heaven; they are angels in disguise, humbly growing at our feet.

And so, while I have created this blog to document my adventures in Africa for the next 6 months, it is really dedicated to the never-ending discovery of the heart of God.  My desire is to discover Him more fully in every place I can, because He is the most fascinating Person that I know.  I fix my Eye on Him! May it ever open more and more to the fullness of the Day.

I look forward to seeing what He uncovers, and I hope that some of you will enjoy taking this journey with me…to Africa and beyond!  ~Mercy Aiken

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