Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My

“Lions and tigers and bears, Oh my.” Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz

This line reminds me of a place in Locust Grove, GA called Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. There was a special trio called BLT: bear, lion, tiger. They were rescued together as babies and have grown up together at the sanctuary. This is an unnatural trio of predators. In nature, they would never be together because lions are from Africa, tigers are from Asia, and bears are from North America. To Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tinman, these were their greatest fears in the dark woods along the path of the yellow brick road.

Language learning is a great fear for many people. As Americans, we endure the two years of foreign language in high school. We learn to read and write a language but never really know how to speak it or understand someone speaking. A few love learning language, some hate it, and others struggle through the whole process. After our high school exposure to a foreign language, we tend to forget almost everything we learned.

“Classes and tenses and agreements, Oh my,” has become a new saying for us.

Jeremy and I both have our own learning disabilities, so language learning is a struggle for us in different ways. We have completed 17 of 60 lessons here at language school. It became a little overwhelming by the end of the third week because in Kiswahili there are 15 noun classes, 15 tenses, and everything has to be in agreement within a sentence: subject, object, adjectives and verbs. Just this past Friday we were trying to explain why we were struggling to our language helper after being presented with the word AMEWAITENI. Only it was left of the original verb kuita which means to call. When you break down this word AMEWAITENI:

A – is the subject pronoun for he/she

ME – is the past tense

WA__ENI – is the object pronoun for all of you

IT – is the root of the verb kuita

(You drop beginning and ends of verbs to add the subject, object, and tenses.)

Literally, you can say a whole sentence in one word. Amewaiteni means He called all of you. I can read the word fine but to be listening to someone speak, you have to do so much to the verb to understand. Jeremy is struggling to even break down a word into the parts to understand the whole word.

Please pray for us as we try to learn Kiswahili. Every day we have 20-30 new vocabulary words being added and usually a new form of a tense. After 4 weeks, we probably have over 300 vocabulary words, 5 tenses, and nouns from 11 classes with their positive, negative and possessive pronoun forms. This is a lot to take in, understand and then to speak. It is truly a challenge for us. Please pray for ears to hear, minds to understand, and tongues to reply. We know we can only learn this language and its complexities with God’s help.



Mtu ni Watu

“A person is people” captures the essence of the human relationships in East Africa. No one lives a solitary life. All are dependent on one another and only in community is a person fully human.

This is the African proverb on the first page of our Kiswahili language book. The school here has the language school, a secondary (high) school and a Lutheran seminary. Our classroom looks out to the Uluguru Mountains. It is an inspiring view. The soccer field of the school is also in our view.

We witnessed a great example of this proverb. The secondary students were taking their end of term exams the first week we were here. Last week, they were waiting to receive their scores, so they didn’t have classes. They were cleaning up the campus because they will leave for a month break this week. We observed that the students were in groups and would do a chore together. Often you would hear the students singing as they worked. At the beginning of the week, the soccer field was over grown from all the rain that has fallen here. The guys had a hard time playing soccer when their chores were done. So a group of guys got together with hand grass cutters to cut the grass. As a group, they were able to get the job done in a short period of time. This was done in community.

I believe the Bible also encourages us to live in community.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

I love being here in Africa where there is a sense of true community. I have much to learn from them.

Home Stay 2.0

What is a home-stay?

You go live with a local family for a time to observe the way they live on a day to day basis. You are their guest but you join in on the things done every day. Usually you have not learned much language in your new culture so communication is limited which allows you to focus on just observing.

Our home-stay this time was in the village we are going to live in and in the house we will be living in once we finish language school. The family will become our landlord but we pray they will become much more. The nuclear family is a single mother with 3 children. The husband had died sometime in the past. The two sons lived at home and went to private school. The daughter was away at boarding school. This family does not stand alone, they are part of the larger family which makes up the whole neighborhood. All the neighbors are relatives in some way: grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins. During our time together, we meet and had tea with several of the extended family members. We have even been invited to a family wedding when we return from language school in late July. This is huge to be already invited to such an important event for the family.

J the younger boy
M the older brother










We both had different experiences because women and men do different things during the day.

Jeremy: I hung out with two teenage sons most of my home-stay.  We went and sat at the main road with the local motor bike taxi drivers. We drank porridge and ate peanuts.  I got myself involved in two soccer games, climbed a mango tree to get some good fresh fruit and visited with a lot of family members.  I spent most of my time outside of the house and in the community.  We ate traditional food. Mama was a very good cook. Overall, it was a great time in the community meeting new people and seeing a little of the “flow of life” in the village.

I got to play a few games of soccer with the local boys

Claudia: I stayed at home most of time with Mama. I watched her clean, wash dishes, wash clothes, and cook meals. She would give me small tasks to do after I watched her do them first. She spoke very little English but we made do. After the work was done, we just sat in her living room. Throughout the day, she had visitors come and go. These were family members and friends. I only went out in the community twice during our time to visit family members and to walk to the stores in the main part of the village.

Claudia visiting the neighbors and sampling fresh mango and also fresh coconut that was harvested just before this picture.

Do pray with us for this family that as we move into the village in mid-July. We will continue to build on that friendship that has started. We were able to pray out loud before each meal in the name of Jesus Christ. We were also able to share the kind of music we listen to which is about God. They understood that we were not Muslims and we were followers of Jesus. We pray over time this family, neighborhood and village will come to follow Jesus.

We made it

Greetings from Kwale, Kenya.  We finally got our phones sorted out and now have internet access again.  We praise God for safe travel.  All our luggage is back together and made it to Kwale safe and sound.  Please pray for us as we continue to adjust to new surroundings.  Also pray for wisdom as we went today and looked at two possible houses to rent.  We want not only a place to stay but we want to be located where God wants us to be.  We pray that He will make it clear in the next week.   We have an upcoming home-stay next week for a few days.  Then next Friday we head to language school for two months in Tanzania.

Expecting to be Rejected

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; Psalm 118:22

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. John 15:18-20

Over the past two weeks, it has stuck me that Jesus came to the world knowing He would be rejected. He knew He was the “cornerstone”. Yet He also knew the world was going to hate Him, oppress Him, afflict Him, persecute Him, and slaughter Him. Still He came. He still LOVES us.

God allowed us to slaughter Him without a word. God allows us to hate Him even today.

Jeremy and I have been warned that the Digo people aren’t the friendliest. They will be your friend one day and turn their back to you the next day. We are going expecting to be rejected. It is very hard to walk into a situation knowing this will happen. As Americans, this goes against our nature. We don’t play unless we know we will win. We don’t try unless we will succeed. We don’t ask unless we know there will be a positive response. We shy away from rejection. Being very shy myself, it brings me to tears thinking about being rejected. I don’t want to be rejected.

Yet this is where God is leading. I have been rejected in the past two years even in the past two months. WHY? Because God says “I have chosen you out of the world.” My walk with the Lord doesn’t seem to get easier over the years. It is getting more difficult. Many times I have wanted to quit and go back to my “easier” life. What compels me? The love God has for me. The desire to obey the One who loves me completely when the world hates me and rejects me.

I want to encourage you to consider starting a conversation not knowing the response, go and knock on a door not knowing if it will be slammed in your face, or try to befriend someone you consider different. TRY. Unless you try, you won’t know what God has in-store for you. Yes, you will be rejected at some doors in life but keep trying. God has placed desires, passions and even hardships in your life that He wants to use for HIS glory. Are you willing to follow and obey even if rejection comes?

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

Christ was crucified. Easter morning came. Death defeated. He is ALIVE today!!!