Why Should You Lose Weight?


These photos were taken in 2004 in Kitengela, Kenya.

This was our first venture into our calling in Africa which spanned from 2004-2010.

This is my wife Mary with  Maasai friends.

A revival with the Maasais commenced twenty five years ago.

Previous to that the Name of Jesus had not been heard.

Now, these remarkable people are added daily to God’s kingdom.

Many Maasai live in manyatas, or cow dung huts, built by women.

This particular manyata is tiny.

The door was four feet high and the entrance into the manyata wound through a narrow hallway.

In 2004 I was thirty five pounds heavier today.

When I attempted to get into the manyata, I could not!

Halfway in I got stuck!

Terrified, I pulled out while others laughed.

I wonder if I could do it today.

I think I could.

This is one advantage of losing weight!

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Mary with friends in 2004 and the tiny manyata.

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Mary with friends in 2004 and the tiny manyata.

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Mary with friends in 2004 and the tiny manyata.

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A manyata that we slept in 2006

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Inside a manyata

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Inside a manyata

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A fatter me in 2004. Teaching for the first time in Africa!

Dear Church, Here’s Why People Are Really Leaving You!


Following is my response to an article I read on Facebook.

Here is the article link.

http://www.faithit.com/dear-church-heres-why-people-are-really-leaving-you/

Here is my response!

“This man makes some good points, though I caution against lumping everybody into the same box. Every church is different and many do not fit what he describes.
Some do.

For me, this is the bottom line. I have been a Christian for 36 years. I have been in church all of these years. I have never stopped going to church.

I have been in a number of churches which had more serious problems than the ones he described. I did not leave simply because they had problems. When I left it was because God told me to.

For me, church is more than a Sunday service. The Bible tells me that with those who consider themselves Christians, I am part with them, of body of Christ.

My reason for attending church is not for the nuances of the Sunday service. It is my desire to connect with the rest of Christ’s body. The hand cannot be isolated from the eye or the leg. Can you imagine that? Church is a vital avenue for allowing this connection to occur.

Secondly, I go to church not to be catered to by the flashy lights, bagels or coffee or the pastor’s sermon. Years ago God told me, to go to church to cater to others and not to be catered to. This changed my life. Church will be boring if one goes expecting to get the ideal sermon or great worship or the perfect lingo. But if you go there with the attitude of how can God use me to bless or pray for someone who is hurting, God will use you.

Many hurting people go to Sunday church. This is a known fact. For many years God has used me to bless someone in need. I have never failed to have a wonderful experience of being able to assist someone who has come hurting, week after week, and year after year.
I mean, one does not leave a job because things are not right? If this was the case we would not last in any job more than a few months.
So why should I walk out of church because things are not right?

The danger with our society is that if things are not going the way I want them to I’ll walk, instead of saying, God use me to bless someone today.

Or what about God use me to make a change in this church?

I never got to church to get the Word of God. If the emphasis is that my Christian experience hinges on what the pastor says, my relationship with God is shallow. My relationship with God is from day to day, not just on Sundays.

People who summarily leave churches because things are not right need to examine if their relationship with God should go deeper.
We should have an ongoing relationship with God every day.
Church is the outflow of this relationship.
It should be a time to connect with the rest of the body of Christ, and a time to give out what God has put in during the week.

I agree with every one of his reasons. Things do need to change, but let it begin with you and me. Let us be ones who say to God, use me to affect the change, and not just be another one who sees the church as a glass half empty and leaves.

I want to be a catalyst for change in church. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty in people’s lives.

Those who isolate themselves from the activity of church will grow lopsided as a hand or an eye which dwells alone.

Yes, many things in the church need to change, but we must remember that church is not a service, or a sermon, or the flashy lights. It’s a sea of people, many of them hurting. Many come to church as a last resort.

If we want to see church become better it will have to be about making people’s lives better, not the service.

God’s call is always the same. Will you be the person who will affect change and make someone one’s life better, or will it all be about you and what you can get out of church?

Leaders affect change. Followers let change affect them.”

Leader’s influence people. Followers allow people’s sins to influence and mess up their lives.

If one’s life consists in being catered to, he will never be catered to. If someone’s life consists in how I can cater to another, he will always be catered to.

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Church in Kampala Uganda

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Church in Kibera, Kenya, the second largest slum in Africa

Maasia Land Kanisa

Church in Maashuru, Kenya

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The former church of my good friend, Edward Nyakundi Simon

Aram Kanisa

The potato bag roof church in Aram Kenya

“My Journey to Africa” by Sarah G. Alvarez


This entry in as essay written by my daughter Sarah Alvarez as part of a submission to one of her college classes.

In 2005, my parents uprooted my family to Kenya, Africa. Living in a third world country proved to be an experience that changed my life forever. At the time, I did not realize how much of a significant part of my journey it would become, shaping me into the woman that I am today.

Needless to say, as you can imagine, living in a third world country was a humbling experience. From the moment you step off the airplane you are taken back by the poverty that the people of Kenya live in. Kids roam the streets without shoes, families live in small shacks, and clean water is a luxury. On a day-to-day basis, food is no guarantee. Health is an afterthought, and survival is the priority. Many people watch the news and hear the stories of a third world country from their own home, and have the comfort of being able to change the channel and forget about it all. However, it is another thing to immerse yourself in that environment and face the true reality of what it is to walk in the shoes of the less fortunate in Kenya. People cleanse themselves with unsanitized water contaminated with bugs and bacteria. It is a rare luxury to have a shower, and an even rarer luxury to take a hot shower. The toilets consist of a deep hole in the dirt, and if you asked a local from Kitengela if they had ever heard of a refrigerator, their answer would most likely be no. Even living there, I cannot say that I fully endured the poverty that so many around me did, but in my year and a half in Kenya I experienced just a small dose of what life is and always will be for millions of people.

Initially, moving to Kenya, I don’t think that any of us anticipated it to be as difficult as it was.  Leaving the United States with just your parents, three siblings, two Chihuahua’s , and just a few bags is no easy task. We were leaving a whole life behind us. A life that we were all so accustomed to knowing. A life where we had our friends, family, and even small comforts that I soon learned to never take for granted. As time passed, we adjusted bit by bit through the culture shock, but I would be lying if I said that there weren’t any days where I stayed in my bed crying. I was home sick. I longed to see familiar faces, and to go about with my normal routine which I had in America. I wanted to eat the food that I usually ate, and watch the television that I usually watched. Adjustment was the most difficult task of them all, and I don’t think that I would have been able to do it without my family’s love and support. We helped each other through it all. Whether that being my hilarious brother trying to go out of his way to make his sisters laugh instead of cry, or even just being homesick together, it helped tremendously.

Finally, the impacting realization that I took away from this experience, was that I came to see how grateful I am to be an American. So many of us take for granted the little things that I have already described. Whether that is food, clean water, shelter, or other basic needs. But more so, we take for granted the very country we live in. We often do not realize that compared to so many others out there, we have it amazingly well. We need to be proud of where we have come from, and most of all, be thankful for everything we have been blessed with.

All in all, the experience of living in a third world country shaped me into who I am today for a number of reasons. First, my year and a half in Kenya humbled me greatly.  It reminded me more than ever how important my family is to me. Also, it has taught me to never take for granted being an American, our rights and the freedom that so many others would do anything for. It is important to give thanks every day for what we have, big and small. There is so much to be grateful for in the world, whether that is family, health, or maybe even just hot water and food. But it is our job to never, even for one second, take what we have in life for granted.

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Sarah Alvarez in Central Park, NYC, NY.

 

An Urgent Need For Burial Expenses


Our dear friends Pastor Elias and Rosemary Onduas, pastors of Journey to Heaven Churches in Kenya, are seen in this photo. Our ministry has worked with them in many Bible conferences since 2006. Called to leave Nairobi and minister in rural Kenya, the Onduas live in abject poverty.

This week Rosemary’s mother, Vivian Akinyib, passed away.  The outstanding hospital bill of $550.00 has to be paid for Vivian’s illness for her body to be released for burial.

Would you prayerfully consider donating towards this urgent need?

Safari Through the Word Ministries is a 501 C3 nonprofit corporation. We issue you tax receipts for your deductions at the end of the year.

Thank you

Jose and Mary Alvarez

Please give at the link immediately following.

http://fnd.us/c/0KKI0

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Rosemary and Elias Onduas Ouma

Its Been A God Given Privilege to Minister Around The World ( A Pictorial Blog )


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Sunset over New Mexico.

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Ministering in Kitengela, Kenya

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At the ordination ceremony of Apostle Stella Marie Ngoka

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At Ndeda Islanad; an island of fishermen on Lake Victoria

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At Ndeda Islanad; an island of fishermen on Lake Victoria

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At Ndeda Islanad; an island of fishermen on Lake Victoria

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Mombassa, Kenya

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Simba, Kenya.

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With baby Henry.

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With Maasai friend, Jane

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Preaching in Masat Kenya

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At the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro

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Ministering in Kiminini, Kenya

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Ministering in Kiminini, Kenya. This is a Muslim woman who had tremendous courage to come and get prayer.

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Open heavens over Kiminini Kenya

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Open heavens over Kiminini Kenya

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With friends in Kiminini, Kenya

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Jose is one of the conference speakers in Mashuru, Kenya

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With Pastor Paul

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Cutting the 9th year anniversary cake at Arise and Shine Ministries in Mashuru Kenya

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With friends at Simba, Kenya

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With Pastor Sarah at Simba Kenya

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At Thompson Falls, Nyahururu, Kenya

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Facing fierce cannibals in the Name of Jesus

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Seeing a healing in Farmington, New Mexico

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At Ndeda Island, Lake Victoria

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Taking a preaching nap at Ndeda Island

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With friends at the great Navajo Nation near Carson, New Mexico

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Domingo, New Mexico

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Revival service, Ugunga, Kenya

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Maasai manata at Narok, Kenya

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Baba

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at Narok, Kenya

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Maasai manata at Narok, Kenya

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Mama

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Narok, Kenya

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Narok, Kenya

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Mary with Maasai girls, Narok, Kenya

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Four hour ride back from Narok Kenya

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Maasai worship, Mashuru, Kenya

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Getting ready to teach in Mashuru, Kenya

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Talking with Pastor Daniel Lomunyak, Mashuru Kenya

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My bed in Simba Kenya

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Young people on fire for God and saying ” Jesus ” in Simba Kenya

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Simba Kenya church service

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Conference speakers at School of Fire Conference in Mashuru Kenya

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Amish Country. Ohio

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In Ohio

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Ready to baptize people in Mashuru Kenya

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Being honored with the Maasai walking cane the fimbo.

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with friends in a bible study in Albuquerque, NM

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In downtown Miami

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In Kampala, Uganda

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Mary being honored with Maasai jewelry

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With our friend Dorothy at the Navajo Nation

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Ministering to the Lost Tribe of the Emus

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President Jose Nixon

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With our friends Ken and Angie Aguillar of the Pueblo Santo Domingo Native American Nation

Can A Culturally Relevant Disciple of Jesus Exist In 2013?


The culture might change, but people and God remain the same.

Mat 10:39  He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.  

  • He that comes upon, hits upon, and holds on to his own selfish life for his selfish gain, shall bring himself to ruin, destruction, uselessness and misery through his corrupted self.  He that ruins, destroys, and wastes away his sinful existence for the sake of the Lord shall discover, recognize, acquire and real life from the Lord for himself.

 Matthew 16:24  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

 Matthew 26:34  Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

  • We see that Jesus commands His disciples to “Follow Him” in the above scripture. This is defined as a  union in traveling the same road.  It is an oneness with the pattern of Jesus’ life, His ministry, and even of His death, if necessary
  • Look at the illustration of Peter’s denial of Jesus in comparison to Jesus’ command to deny ourselves.  As you will notice, it is exactly the same word!  Can you imagine how vehemently Peter with every fiber and atom in his body angrily disavowed that he knew, or had any relationship with the Master?  This should be our same attitude in denying ourselves for the sake of our Lord?

Mark 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send (apostolic sending) my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

  • Which shall prepare: Literally who will lay down all the needed gear, utensils and equipment at another’s disposal.”

 1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

  • First John two and fifteen is an example of what I call a “proportional scripture.”  In other words, to the proportion that the love for the things of this world fills the limited space of our heart, is to the same proportion that the love of God has no more room within that limited space, and must leave.

1Cor 9:24  Know ye not that they which run (to run and spend my strength in attaining to something) in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.(to possess and make my own).

25 And every man that striveth for the mastery (the agony of athletic competition) is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

  • Our Christian lives should abide in the exhilarating agony of strenuous athletic discipline.  If we are experiencing boredom as believers, we are missing out on part of Christ’s destiny for us.  Every great work of God has been executed on bended knees.  Every great work of God takes between one to five hours of prayer daily

26 therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  

  • Our faith must contain a clear perception of God’s vision for our lives.  “Without a vision the people perish.” We must not walk obscurely, as those who do not know the voice of God.  We must not trash the air aimlessly with those things that Christ has not called us to, no matter how noble or praiseworthy they might be.  Our time must not be wasted by the missed discernment of God’s will; too much is at stake!  Our punch must be sure; we must strike straight and not spare.

27 But I keep under my body (To beat the body black and blue, or get a black eye), and bring it into subjection(make my body a slave to the Spirit of God) lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (a reject , reprobate, and one who failed the test that God put before them.)

  • The love of God and the love of the world are opposed to each other.  Either you love one or love the other.  What the world values, Christ abhors.  What the worldly man esteems as of great value Christ says, “get the behind me Satan!”

1Cor15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured (To labor with strenuous zeal, to the point of exhaustion) more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.   

  • “Spiritual burn out” is always inadmissible.  It is the product of all labors for the Lord initiated by us, and not the Holy Spirit.  Yet our lives should be consumed with the Lord and His work.

Philippians  3:13  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

  • Therefore I neglect and no longer care for what is behind me. I stretch myself out and towards, and run swiftly after what is before me. The direction being, the mark of the goal of the high price of unbroken fellowship of Christ’s resurrection life, and the hope of His calling for me.

1 Tim 1:12  And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

  • Greek: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who endued me with His power (only as He found me dependable.) The gift of His power was given to me as He found me worthy of trust. Once that the trust and power were there God placed me into my ministry.

1 Tim 4:14  Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

  • Greek: Do not become careless about the spiritual gift, which was given to you by (the Holy Spirit) through prophecy and the laying of hands.

 15  Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

  • Meditate- Care for, attend to, and keep practicing “the things that we have discussed”
  •  Give thyself wholly to them – Literally “to become one with them”.
  •  Paul tell us throw ourselves fully, or become submerged and consumed with the things that lead to godliness, purity, charity, spiritual gifts, and so forth.
  •  That thy profiting   Literally “pioneers cutting a way for an army”
  • Every Christian is called to a blaze a new pioneer trail, through which the Lord can effectively travel, in accordance with their unique calling. There are now pew sitters, and no room for mediocrity in God’s kingdom.
  •  May appear to all  – Will become evident to all.

16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

  • Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine Fasten your attentions to, observe, and attend to yourself first, and to your doctrine second. This doctrine is what you teach. It must be in accordance with the truth of the scriptures and your life must line up with it.

Continue in them – Be sure to remain in these things!

Our provisions when we go to teach in Maasai Land, East Africa

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Mary preaching in a church in Kibera Town, Kenya. Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa.

 

Dancing the Boda Boda In Never Never Land


Never say never, to God!

The things that I’ve said never to are the things I’ve done.

In my twenties I vowed I would never give up my promiscuous playboy life style.

God then kept me as a nine-year celibate till He brought my wife Mary.

Or after leaving Miami, Florida, in the 90’s I vowed never to go back.

I did not like Miami’s lack of seasons, insane Cuban/ Venezuelan drivers, and its mundane “concrete jungle” image.  Now we are back, pastoring.

I said that I would never go to Africa.  Not only have we gone there for seven years, we lived in Africa, and love going back.

So this is another saga in the “never say never” land.

We are not your common missionaries travelling overseas to help with the construction of homes or wells. We are Bible teachers.  In Kenya, for example, we’d spend three weeks on a Bible conference whirlwind tour to three or four locales.

So many preachers go to the big cities, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Nakuru, where the offerings are big.  Few, go to the rural towns where honorariums are corn, eggs and a goat. Or where there are no toilets, running water, or electricity.

But this is where we felt led to go.  Who will teach these precious ones God’s Word?  I’m so glad that God sends us to where few go.

So here we were at Ugunja, Kenya, close to Lake Victoria and Kogelo, Mr. Obama’s Kenyan hometown.

We were staying at Pastor Elias Onduas.

This man of God oversees forty churches in Kenya, and yet lives in Ugunja’s abject poverty. His hut is three miles from greater Ugunja, the site of our Bible conferences.

Every morning we’d eat breakfast, and shower and shave enfolded in nature’s sounds.

With an attaché case full of Greek and Hebrew reference books we’d walk nearly two miles through trees and dusty paths to the highway.  Once there, Elias would flag down the fourteen seater Toyota minivan called a matatu.  If eleven people were on board we could squeeze in, if not, we’d have to wait for the next one to zoom by us.

Sometimes, the larger bus would also swing by. If it was not packed we’d get on.

The only other transport is the infamous bicycle taxis, the Boda Boda’s.

The Boda Boda, is a bicycle with a modified basket or extension suitable for one passenger.

They were commandeered by young, tall, slender Kenyan guys.

On occasions when it seemed that only crammed buses whirred by us, Elias would suggest, “Let’s take the Boda Boda into town.”

I’d smugly reply, anger coursing up my veins, “ There is no way I will take the Boda Boda. I will never get on a Boda Boda.”

I would be a fat American white ( mzungu) preacher, with a bag full of books, long sleeve shirt and tie, riding on the back of a Boda Boda!

Can these skinny guys hoist me up the Ugunjan hills for the next two miles?

What if I fall?

Are the Kenyans going to laugh at me?  “Look at the fat mzungu on the Boda Boda!”

“ No Pastor Elias, I will never take the Boda Boda”, I cynically reassured him.

The next morning back we were on the highway’s edge.  Matatu after matatu crammed with folk like sardines whooshed by us.

“Let’s walk to Ugunja, Pastor Elias”; Anything but the Boda Boda, I thought.

The walk was long and hot. Vehicles whizzed by us kicking rocks and dust in our faces.   At our pace we’d get to the conference late.

“Well, are you going to humble yourself and take the Boda Boda?” the Holy Spirit asked me.

“Alright Pastor Elias”, I blabbered loudly; “Get the Boda Boda!”

After being helped unto the basket, I was astounded at how this skinny Kenyan bicycled me effortlessly up to my hilly destination.

By gosh, it was the most enjoyable trip of my life time!

From then on I’d ride on Boda Bodas when possible.

I  learned to dance the Boda Boda in never never land.

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Mary and Pastor Elias with the boda bodas

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The highway buses that you pray have space for you.

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My beloved Mary, always so full of child like faith, on the boda boda