Monday, October 24, 2011


I have really been into surfing lately and so insted of being under the water I am on the water learning how to catch waves on my bodyboard. I really like bodyboarding since you are right in the wave and can really feel its power. I am starting to learn more about where to be in a wave and how to move around within it. Pretty fun..

Earlier in the month my friend whose is my surf "instructor" and I took our daughters surfing. The waves were small and it was a little overcast so the girls got a little cold but they had  a great time. The small waves made it perfect for learning and Sophie caught one perfect wave which was her "gem". She had a great time and hopefully she will want to go again.

Weekend Update

This past weekend was the beginning of the Halloween week here on Kwaj. The kickoff event is an almost 50 year old tradition called the Shaving Cream Social. The social is a time when they fill the ravine in the fields here with about 8-10 inches of water and then send the kids out by age group with a can of shaving cream to smear on their friends. It is a hoot. The little kids go in with their parents (Kim went in with Gavin) and then they figure out how fun it is to smear the old fashioned kind of shaving cream on their friends and then roll around in the big puddle they are in. Remember that even though it is October it is 86 degrees out with over 70% humidity so it is warm enough to roll around in a puddle.

The Second round was the early elementary age which Sophie was a part of. She and the kids didn't have parents (only life guards) and they were allowed in a larger area of the ravine with a little more water. It was fun to watch the older kids really go for it with the cream. Each age group had about 10 minutes before it was time for the next group so there was a real energy to it and the kids really went for it.

That was Saturday afternoon. Sunday afternoon was the Halloween carnival with a haunted house, face painting, story time, crafts and the costume parade. This too was timed for the different ages and thankfully are kids are still in the age group for these events so we can go as a family. The kids had a good time and it was fun seeing the kids in their costumes.

It was a fun weekend with some new experiences for us and for our kids. That is one of the things we keep trying to emphasize with our kids. Living here is only for a season and we are having some experiences we might never have again so we want to be sure to enjoy them while we are here.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Yesterday I was able to go surfing in the afternoon for a few hours and it was fun which was odd since the waves were at an almost all time low. They came in infrequently and when they came in they weren't that big and yet with a little patience and some good timing there were some good rides. I took advantage of every wave that came in and rode it as far as it would take me since I knew I might have to wait awhile until the next one came. As a result I had a great time at it was wonderful to be out in the water.

While I was waiting it made me think about how we live life. So often we can miss what is right before us because we look at what we don't have and don't take advantage of what we do have. We can lose our gratefulness and our awareness of how God is blessing us now. Currently we are in a budget reduction here and we have less goods and services than we have had in the past. It is painful since we have so little already and it is tempting to dwell on the loss rather than to see what we still have.

Don't get me wrong, we need to process loss and be honest about what we are feeling, we just shouldn't let it dominate our time and energy. If it does we will be so miserable and then regret that we missed out on life. The same can be said if we live in the States, we can focus on what we don't own or don't have and miss all of what we do have and do own. We need to cultivate an openness to the gifts that are being given now.

For us the gifts are related to living in the tropics. We get to look at tide pools, go to the beaches (which are never crowded), be close to everything, go sailing and powerboating, pet sea turtles at the turtle pond, search for cool shells and whole host of other things. It would be a shame to spend so much timing thinking about what we miss about the States that we don't enjoy now. For example when we lived in the Washington it was always tempting not to climb something since the mountains aren't going anywhere. The fact is I missed out on some good opportunities and when we are here I don't want the same to be said about our life here. There is a pass I want to surf and a few places I want to dive and the key is to make the plans and simply go.

God gives us so many opportunities to live life now and we should steward those opportunities well so that we can live life in its fullest.

Friday, October 7, 2011

LWR news release

Drought Conditions in East Africa Remain Dire; Lutheran World Relief Mounts Long-Term Response

Fatumah Muhammed Abdi arrived in Dadaab with five small children, none of them her own. She traveled six days with her nieces and nephews and an orphaned girl from her village to get to the Kenyan border, where they arranged transport to Dadaab.

"They needed to be taken care of," she said of the children. "Older children can take care of themselves, but these ones stressed me. I'm not so worried for the children now that I'm here. I feel like I'm at home and there's no stress. I'm especially happy for them, a chance to grow up and have an education and have them a better future."

Baltimore, September 27, 2011 — By the thousands, hungry, weary and desperate people continue to arrive at the gates of the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya, seeking refuge from the drought and food crisis that has driven more than 13 million people across East Africa to the brink of starvation.

Fatumah Muhammed Abdi fled to Dadaab with five unaccompanied children from her village, for whom she is still caring. “When we had nothing else to live for there, we decided to come all the way from Somalia to Kenya,” she says.

Amina Bulle, 18, traveled 20 days on foot with her infant son to reach the camps. “We had no food in Somalia,” she says. “My people were herders but the livestock are all dead so I have fled to Kenya.”

In response to this crisis, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) is working with its partner, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), to meet the immediate and long-term needs of communities suffering the effects of drought.

LWF manages the Dadaab camps and reports that while they were originally built to host 90,000 refugees, they are now hosting over 400,000 people with 1,200 new arrivals each day. By the end of 2011, the camp population will likely exceed 500,000 people in need of immediate and long-term humanitarian assistance.

LWR and LWF have been working to provide water, baby care supplies and psychological support to new arrivals, an extension of the work LWR and LWF have done in Dadaab since 2008, through a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM), linking vulnerable refugees to social services, providing shelter and promoting security within the camps. BPRM recently awarded LWR a $440,000 grant to continue this work with LWF. In addition, LWR and LWF are supplying water to people waiting outside the camps and to communities surrounding the Dadaab complex.

“It’s important to remember the host communities in Dadaab,” says McCully. “Reaching out to them with assistance promotes peace and fosters their long-term recovery as well.”

In Ethiopia, LWR and LWF are working to reach underserved rural communities, distributing food as well as training farmers to improve natural resource management and agriculture and providing tools and other supplies to begin replanting.

“Relief is only the first step,” stresses McCully. “To move past this crisis and help rural communities stand up to future droughts, we must make a long-term investment in agricultural livelihoods.”

Long-term plans should seek to ensure that farmers have access to water, supplies and technical training to successfully grow crops and raise livestock. Efforts to promote soil conservation, improve agricultural infrastructure and increase access to local markets will help smallholder farmers become more resilient to future droughts. LWR has seen success with this type of agricultural approach in other drought-affected communities in East Africa and hopes to carry out similar work in response to this crisis.

To mount such a long-term, sustainable development response to the East Africa drought, LWR needs to raise $3 million in 2011 and is accepting donations to its East Africa Drought fund. Donations can be made online at, by phone at 800.597.5972 or by mail at P.O. Box 17061, Baltimore, MD 21298-9832 USA

Jonathan Ernst for Lutheran World Relief

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Freedom and Giving

I received the following email (see end of post) from a good friend of mine and mentor today. My email inbox also had a  notification about the starvation in Somalia. It makes me think that there is always a need to think beyond our own needs and concerns. So often we can get caught up in issues that are indeed difficult and challenging yet I think Christians are called to look beyond our own needs to the needs of others.

The love of God actually frees us from selfishness to selflessness. We are freed because we know that we are loved and that God's love reaches into our daily needs. We are taught to pray "give us this day our daily bread". Praying this helps us to see God's gift for daily bread as well as calls us to be vehicles for daily bread for others. It is a prayer for a community where sharing is the norm and not the exception. In this community we come to learn that in God's kingdom there is always enough and that living in the kingdom means both giving and receiving; blessing and being blessed. We realize that God is a providential God. It is ultimately God who provides all good gifts. Through prayer we are given eyes to see how God provides in our own lives and how God wants to use us to provide for others. All of this is done freely because we are loved by  God in Christ and this love overflows into love for our neighbor. The economy of God is truly brilliant.

One of the ways to express this freedom and love is to give of ourselves, our time and our possessions. This is a concrete expression of love and care in others lives. Knowing that we are responding to God's love and being loving is a reward in and of itself. We don't have to demand anything from the one who receives the gift, we can give it freely just as it was freely given to us.

May God us me and you so that many may know His love and care. Amen.

Below is the email I received.

Friends in Christ,
I (Pastor Fecher) received the following communication from SHARE. If the closing actually happens some of our loved ones will be shelterless. We will want to pray about how to respond. Maybe we can pray along with this scriptural admonition from James 2:15-16 "If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?"

The note from SHARE mentions attachments which I am not sending. You can join the SHARE Google Group and receive updates by going to this link: