It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and for that I apologize. It’s been a heavy travel month for me. I’m spending time with our partners learning who they are, what they do and how I can help support them with your help.

I spent about a week in Uganda (just before CHOGM arrived if you’ve kept up with the international news, so I missed Her Majesty the Queen, but I’m sure she would’ve loved me if she’d met me) working with the Bridger there, Rena. I was also able to spend 3 days on the road with the Country Consultant, Jim and his wife, Josephine and the Pgm. Advisor, Allen. We went to visit some of the partner work upcountry. I learned a lot and see how differently CRWRC works in each country.

It was such a great time with Rena, being able to visit with someone who’s doing the same job was awesome! She’s been in this position since Jan. so we had some great conversations. We shared frustrations, joys, challenges and ideas of what can come next and how to better do what we do. It also helped clarify what it is we are supposed to be doing. It’s always a good day when you figure out a part of what you are supposed to be doing.

I learned not only about Uganda, CRWRC’s work there and bridging, but I learned about myself.

I may have mentioned a conversation that I had when I was in Mali. Mary and Scott invited all the CRWRC and CRWM staff to the house for a potluck while we there. It was fun and a great night of fellowship. We started talking about where Chinyere and I would finally end up serving and when I mentioned that I was going to live in Nairobi someone said, “Ooooh, you’re what we call a candy missionary.” I had an idea what that might mean but because I’m such an expert in cross-cultural communication (I am being facetious here incase you missed it in the written context) I thought it best to clarify the meaning and not assume anything.

Candy Missionary refers to someone living the ‘cush’ life in a big city with all or most of the luxuries of home available.

Nairobi is a city of over 32 million people. I live in a lovely apartment with running water all the time (including hot water). Electricity each time I turn the lights on and am near the office and lots of shopping and most any kind of food I can desire. That qualifies me as a candy missionary. I am not living in the bush upcountry squatting in the back yard in the middle of the night, hoping I don’t get bit in the butt by God only knows what, praying that I don’t fall into the hole. I don’t sleep in a hut, much to my sister’s chagrin. I don’t have to plan for three hours to get to town by any number of means of transport just so that I can attend a worship service in a language that I understand. I don’t get stranded from the rest of my mission/support team for months at a time due to the rainy season. I DO walk 25 minutes to work amidst some crazy traffic and lots of fumes. I DO walk up four flights of stairs to get to my apt. I DO not have internet at home. I DO not have a vehicle other than my feet or the occasional ride from a coworker. Still, I am a candy missionary.

Honestly, I am just fine with that tag behind my name. My response, without hesitation, to the person (I can’t even remember who said it) was simply, “Hey, God gives us what we can handle and Nairobi is what I can handle.”

However, I also believe that God not only gives us what we can handle but continues to stretch us within and without so that we can continually handle more.

I’ve often said that I can handle a lot IF I HAVE TO, I just don’t WANT to. If it’s not necessary, why should I walk 25 minutes to work? I would never have done such a thing in the States. It took me that long to drive to work most days but I never would have considered walking through St. Paul. However, few people walked. I had a car and there was no need to walk. Nairobi has a lot more people walking and riding matatus. I don’t have a vehicle here and will not be getting one at all. Therefore, I walk because that’s what is called for now. Things are relevant, huh.

So, this candy missionary has learned that I can certainly live outside of my ‘norm.’ I can squat with the best of them in all sorts of toilets. I can bathe in water that is from the river and may result in more sticks in my hair once it’s washed than before it was washed. I can walk a lot further than I ever would’ve desired. I can sit in homes watching gut-wrenchingly sad situations that I have never imagined, gaining hope and hopefully offering some to those with whom I am visiting.

There is hope. If I can reach outside of my candy missionary world, so can you. God has shown me his love and hope in what some would call hopeless and godless places. I shout out “NO, GOD IS HERE! HE IS ALIVE AND THRIVING IN THE HEARTS OF ALL OF US HERE! IT ISN’T US AND THEM WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!” Reach out of your world and share the hope and love that you have. God will only give you what you can handle with the Holy Spirit but will continue to stretch you. I pray for strength for all of us as we are all stretched.