I believe in God, up to a point. I am a Christian, until it gets difficult.  Does that make me a true believer?

Hold that thought.

Paul is among the greatest Christians that ever lived.  He was a great evangeliser. He wrote plenty of the New Testament books and his faith eclipsed (or seems to have surpassed) that of even the greatest apostles.

Recall how Paul started out. He was Saul, the greatest persecutor of Christians that ever lived. The Jews loved him, the Christians feared him. In comes Jesus Christ one fine day and a conversion takes place. Saul goes blind and when he gets his sight back, he is a new person baptised Paul.

Then God sends him right back into the fray, to the same public. What reception does he get?  He is now a betrayer of the Jews and the Christians are confused. He is a controversy.

With this background, I’d like you to read what Matthew says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Matthew 5: 43-48 NKJV)

Think now of our present enemies – – Al Shabaab, ISIS, Boko Haram…. – -name them.  If we prayed with enough faith, enough love and enough urgency as we are told to do in the Gospel of Matthew, how many Pauls could we gain? How much suffering could we stop?

There is a Nigerian Bishop who was praying in front of a crucifix, and was asking Jesus how to end this Boko Haram madness. Jesus appeared to the Bishop and handed him a flaming sword. When he took it, the sword turned into a Rosary.  This was Christ’s answer.  Pray the Rosary until the madness ends and only by praying will the madness surely end.

This is what it means; to pray, to go counter culture, to follow Jesus Christ. Love my enemy. Pray for those who persecute me.

Is our faith as big as a mustard seed? Are we praying yet?  We need more Pauls. We need these very convicted young militants to burn up with love of Christ instead of blowing up with hate for Christians.  The power of prayer is in our hands. Start now and let’s not stop until they are all converted. Onwards Christian Soldiers!

Pray

Until

Something

Happens

This is the only way the church militant can help the church suffering here on earth.

Faithful, persistent prayer changes things.

Little people can cause you pain.

How? You wonder. To begin with, they are stronger than they look. So when you have a little boy with the usual amount of testoterone in him, and you are playing, he’ll punch you in jest and you’ll be thinking, “ouch man!, that hurts…”

I digress.  The pain I was thinking of relates more to rejection and hurts worse than the physical pain from the punch.

The other morning, I was leaving for work and this little boy couldn’t be bothered with me.  He didn’t say “SASA!” in greeting or respond “POA!” when I greeted him.  As if that wasn’t enough, he wasn’t even in the least moved when I said “bye” and took my leave.  He just continued playing and laughing with his nanny.

I went off feeling dejected, thinking, “ouch man! that hurts…” Wondering, has he forgotten I’m his mommy (it’s been a long work week with many late nights), as insecurity set in. It bothered me all day.

Fast forward to the following morning. He barges into my room, jumps into my arms and showers me with kisses. It makes me think, well, perhaps yesterday he had just woken up on the wrong side of bed.

My advice to you, don’t take it personally.  Just be there and spend as much time as you can with the little people in your life, in less time than you know, they won’t even be around to ignore you, they’ll already have flown the coop.

Books

Books…books…books…books…books.

Big books, little books, middle size books.

Books about boys, books about cooks,

Books, books, books!

Books about Moses, books about Musa,

Adventure books, history books, drawing books

Strictly books, kindly books, journal books

Books, books, books!

Shopaholics, Workaholics, Alcoholics, Bookaholics.

Kindlers, e-bookers, audio-bookers, lib’ers,

Books, books, books, books, books.

It’s a world of books.

Books, books, books!

Holy books, story books, comic books.

Books with pictures, only words,

Books, books, books.

English, Japanese, Kiswahili, Greek.

Books, books, books, books, books!

Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Atlas books

Prayer books, Memoirs, Kamusi.

Books, books, books, books, books.

It’s a world of books,

Books, books, books!

I had a rather eye opening encounter with God’s grace and the power of forgiveness this morning.

On my way to work, I pass through Ngara Market and from time to time I buy fresh produce to take home in the evening. A few months back, I wanted to buy mangoes and the lady whose stall I intended to buy from was so curt with me when I enquired what her price was, that I went away angry and dejected, not buying mangoes at all.

Fast forward 8 months later to 15th November, mangoes are back in season and I buy from all the adjacent stalls but never from the curt lady. I even have an audible thought in my head – I will NEVER buy from her, and I walk away feeling pleased with myself.

Fast forward again to 5th December – this morning that is—I pass the said lady’s stall and she has beautiful mangoes stocked.  A voice speaks up in my head forgiveness it says… and so I reluctantly retrace my steps and approach the stall to enquire how much she is selling mangoes.

Me: Habari.  Wauzaje maembe?

Curt lady: Tatu mia

I turn to select the ones that I intend to buy..

Curt lady: Hizo hazijaiva

Me: Ni sawa

Curt lady:  Wataka za how much?

Me: Mia mbili

She takes paper bag and starts selecting. After picking two, she invites me to pick one more. I take 2 and add them in.

Curt lady: zishafika tatu

She must not have heard me when I said I want to spend 200 shillings.

Me: Nataka za mia mbili

Curt lady: Oo ,sawa… hata ongeza uchukue nane kwa mia mbili

I happily add on till they are eight and gladly pay for my purchase.

Curt lady: Unaenda mbali?

Me: Hapana, lakini nina nafasi kwa bag, nitazibebea hapo.

She had intended to give me a second paper bag so that the one I have does not tear along the way and spill the goods.  Considering that paper bags are expensive and the market people never give away extra ones if they can avoid it, this is a very generous gesture of the curt lady to me.

We part ways, with mutual asante sana said to one another.  As I leave I contemplate the lesson.

When you forgive, you (the forgiver) get more out of it than the person that you forgive (the forgivee), and a relationship is restored. In my case I got two extra mangoes for the price of six and she got an early morning customer back that she never even knew that she’d lost a whole nine months ago.

This story begins when the idea was floated to help raise money for a Seeing is Believing  SCB’s CSR…  Before preparing to climb, the team fund raised and psyched up and from 40 volunteers a final 15 ultimately went… this is part of the story.

Prep 1: Rock Climbing at Lukenya

8 of the climbing team went to Lukenya 2 weekends before Kilimanjaro.  Innocent lambs to the slaughter.  Most of us were of the opinion that we would be spending the day walking. . . shock NO! we were to be climbing rocks, all geared up with ropes and helmets.  Going up was tough, or so we thought. Then we saw the coming down part of it! Imagine dangling many meters off the ground on a rope, the only way out is down and there is nothing but gravity to keep you moving. . . This was a mind over matter training, just so we could confront ourselves and see whether we are determined, and we were.  All height phobic and only-ever-seen-this-in-a-movie shocked lot of us.

This whetted out appetites for more, and also brought out the aspect of positive peer pressure.

Prep 2: Climbing Mt. Kenya

So we’d thought that the rock climbing was something?  It was nothing really.  Climbing Mt. Kenya involved first going to Naro Moru for a sleep over, in tents – very cold indeed; waking early and setting off on what would end up being about 6 hours of hiking. Mt. Kenya is steep, slippery and largely unmarked so we had to keep together – never walk alone – and we had to concentrate so we wouldn’t fall.  We fell many times over J…. For those of us that had never been up a mountain, we got a taste of altitude.  It was funny how as we walked we’d be all hot and decide that we need a break, then as soon as we stopped we got cold and got the urge to keep moving so as to get warm again.  We were now beginning to understand the concept of COLD and the meaning of layering up (well sort of)…

No more Prep: Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

When we got back from Mt. Kenya, we were tired, achy and sore.  We were also a little scared because we had realized that mountaineering was no walk in the park… but then we were in high spirits because it was FINALLY here, the climb we’d been preparing for.  All the weeks of fundraising, renewing passports 2 days to leaving, drinking water, getting yellow fever shots – had come to this; Friday 12th August 2011 we were leaving for Mt. Kilimanjaro. After a little pomp and circumstance of being flagged off by the likes of Peter Churchman (Head GSSC Africa) and the visiting bosses from Corporate Affairs – Group level – and taking pictures with the 100 Years flag, we were off. . .

The journey was definitely more than a thousand miles.  parts of it felt like being on the cast of The Lord of The Rings… when Sam and Frodo were walking endlessly though a desert that just kept stretching on without an end in sight…

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is the most challenging, demanding, dirty (imagine not showering for 5 days) enervating task any of us had ever taken on.  It was very rewarding all the same because we went, we saw and we conquered!  What a thrill.  What an experience of a lifetime!

What does it take to become a mountaineer?

A VERY STRONG WILL. THE ABILITY TO KEEP GOING ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU FEEL YOU SIMPLY CAN NOT.  A HIGH THRESHOLD FOR DIRT 🙂. A SENSE OF HUMOUR.  SUPERIOR BOOTS.  DRINKING LOTS OF WATER.

Words to take to heart: DAWA YA MLIMA NI MAJI NA POLE POLE

I know if I hadn’t been climbing a mountain for those 5 days, I probably would have been at my desk working and there would have been nothing super significant to remember years later, but I did do something different, I stepped away from my desk and Climbed a MT. Kilimanjaro… how differently I remember those 5 days!

I just completed reading Robin Sharma’s book entitled “Who Will Cry When You Die?”  It is a great book with excellent advise that is in bite size pieces, hence easily digestible.  I rarely read, let alone recommend to others to read self-help literature, however this is one self-help book that  I do recommend everyone to read, for the enjoyment of it if nothing else, because it is really well written.

Moving away from the contents, the title got me thinking…crying is a one time event, however missing is a process that is more profound and better reflects the enormity of loss…so I re-phrased the title and asked myself, “who will miss you when you die?”  You know, like an amputee, who is forever missing the lost limb, because a part of themselves no longer exists.

And so I wondered for me and other single girls especially, who would miss us when we die?  We have no spouse or child, we are totally self-absorbed and do not participate in the community,we take and take–at work we want to climb the corporate ladder and will step on anyone; with our six inch heels; on our way. We go to church (if indeed we do) perfunctorily simply to fulfill an obligation but do not volunteer for anything.Our friends are seen on rare occasions, our interest in seeing them dependent only on how much we can get from them.  Everyone is a tool or a chess piece to be manouvered to suit our needs so as to help obtain whatever elusive goal we are chasing. Our interest and ability to build up a sense of community is eroded over time the longer we are single.

Who will miss you when you die?  In whose life are you such a vital element of being that, your absence will be acutely felt as soon as you are gone? Perhaps that is the essence of a legacy. not building up money or fame but building a presence that would be missed when it no longer exists or better yet insinuating yourself into others’ lives — ofcourse in a positive way– such that they cannot imagine you no longer being there. When you inevitably will not be there you will be missed even if only by a single person….

He was born with it 14 years ago. He’s looking forward to joining form 1 now. Every day of his life, he goes to the hospital to get drugs, but with childlike innocence, has never thought to ask, what are they for? He sits down with the counsellor and they start discussing what AIDS is. The boy is engaging and bright. He answers all the questions right. Then the counsellor says, have you ever thought you might have it? I? but it is passed on through sex and I have never been sexually active…                                                                                   – Silence –