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Monthly Archives: May 2012

I was tasked to visit the business we have in Kakuma.  I was there for ten days:

As I start my day in Kakuma I hear women working around our compound singing songs about Jesus. Oh, what a glorious way to start the day, surely this is how it should be? Across the river in the evening and in the morning you can hear the proclamations. Sometimes orthodox chants, Roman Catholic choral voices or harmonious worship songs from the Christians.

Please don’t be tempted to rationalise this as the culture of a less developed people, shackled by a lack of opportunity. Do you honestly think you are better informed or more enlightened? Well shame on us for allowing such ignorance. I eat, chat and hang out with these people and they wrestle with the same daily problems as my neighbours in Bristol. They have ‘lifestyle choices’, materialistic influences and competing messages just as we do in the west.

A crucial difference, from what I can tell, is limitations on credit. As a rule all you have is what’s in your account. Resisting the temptation to live beyond your means seems easier.  However, the choices between necessities and luxuries are still there. The relational issues are just as real. A husband stopping on route home to spend his wages filling his belly with a meal that includes meat while there is none at home for his wife and children happens in the same way as the Brit who may visit the bookies ahead of providing for his family.  I guess my observation is people are not nearly as different as I may have at one time imagined.

There are opportunities for those who work hard, even around refugee camps, and for the idle they quickly get left behind. The obvious difference between our cultures is one of gratefulness through celebration and song. Approaching the daily grind with a heart rooted in the promises of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with a certainty that whatever trials are approaching they’ll never be deserted or forsaken – that’s the difference.

Joy echoes through the day and night providing the anthem to sustain our labours and accompany the onset of another evening of community time and rest.  I will miss Kakuma.

Hard work in the desert sun making concrete plinths for loos in the camps. Note the typical footwear for this kind of work.

Whatever our gig; business, sport or parenting we are trying to filter a cacophony of information.  The thing about cacophony is I can’t discern a melody.  So culture teaches me to make my own, the problem is when I do that I just add another indecipherable sound from which nobody benefits.

What we’re missing is harmony and culture’s solutions consistently fail.  My proposed solution is to ‘stop listening to myself and begin speaking to myself’.  Our hearts, my heart is deceitful.  How do I know? I know because most of the men of our family, my wife’s and my own are adulterers and have divorced their wives?  Doesn’t recognising your heart is deceitful explain why we fail in our intentions to commit to healthier eating, go to the gym, commit more to family and less to career or get control of our finances?

If we are going to begin listening to ourselves we need trusted sources of wisdom. I need to find my rightful place in the orchestra and place myself under the authority of the conductor.  Then, alongside others who have recognised their limitations, I can contribute to a melody that is pleasing to the ear.  Meanwhile, culture is teaching us, and the generations to come that we can all be the conductor and it’s producing an unbearable racket!

Recommendations:

For businessmen and entrepreneurs the Chief Nonsense Officer.  A South African offering counselling and coaching to senior business executives in the USA.  He has a radio slot on National Public Radio and broadcasts and produces a refreshing newsletter.

For sportsmen and women www.endurancecorner.com Gordon Byrne’s website provides a rich mine of material, including training sessions. He is triathlon long distance focussed however, he meets the needs of any athlete in any discipline, from jockey to sailor. Gordon also produces a helpful newsletter.

For parents will you summon the courage, knowing how desperately you love your children, to explore Christian parenting resources?  You have nothing to lose and much to gain so take some time to examine the family section in www.theresurgence.com In addition, I have heard that on average children get their first exposure to porn at around eleven years. You’ll find life saving resources at www.xxxchurch.com  where you’ll find resources for men, teens, women and parents.

Edward is 18. He works in the kiosk behind selling sodas, snacks, cigarettes and so forth. I tell him I love to meet hard working young men for I also have sons his age.  He doesn’t smile often so the photo was a special treat for my and it’s my joy to share that treat with you.

Words Kenyan politics and its politicians dominate the TV shows around these parts.  It is no secret that corruption is a problem in politics globally, it comes in many guises: nepotism, the old school network, ‘Linked In’, elitism, snobbery, and various other isms.  Holding the notion that the tribal affiliations that influence Kenyan politics is somehow an unbridled kind of corruption that must be stamped out to achieve progress is ridiculous.  I would submit that if that is your view then you’re being imperialistic, idealistic, chauvinistic, simply ignorant or you have a vested interest of your own in the mix.
It is those vested interests that are at the heart of those who would criticise Kenyan and African politics in the whole. Would a change in the way in which this country is governed, and your own for that matter, improve its outlook, bring prosperity and secure the future for the next generation?, most likely.  Do countries prosper from more transparency, readily accountable public servants and better structured governance?, so it would seem.
But let’s not pretend, dear reader, that serving your personal vested interests is necessarily the appropriate path for Kenya. What my experience here has emphasised for me is the power of the spoken word. I mean the words you use to express yourself, to share and set out how you see the past and future.  My words are my influence on the decisions yet to be made individually, and corporately.  Once they are out they cannot be taken back, they have entered into the tapestry that is the perceptions of those who hear them, directly and indirectly.  Isn’t this why when we hear politicians speak we so often doubt their sincerity? That is why interviewers press and press for more forthright answers because we are all desperate to hear what is being thought as opposed to said. 
But let’s think about this for a moment, would you really want your thought life to be broadcast?  Since starting reading this piece if all your thoughts were set out on a neon banner above your head would they be worthy of being recorded as a contribution to wisdom literature or enter into your nation’s canon of valued thinkers?  Don’t we find that those inclined to share their  thought life in politics are marginalised into positions as deputies, or end up as pundits, popular but with no serious impact? If establishment figures such as HRH the Duke of Edinburgh share their thoughts they are respectfully ridiculed.  The paradox is that we want to hear other people’s thoughts but rightly so, earnestly defend our own.
Now I love my wife deeply. I have access to a well-spring of love which I tap into to love her to the very best of my ability to death us do part, however, rarely will a conversation pass between us without me first processing my thoughts before speaking.  Now there are circumstances when our conversations are intuitive, instinctive and come straight from my heart but all of our conversations are simply not like that.  We both know the gravity of words, how they can build up or destroy and we want to take care to edify each other so that we can face the future in union.
What’s Jesus’ take on this you say?, thanks for asking, you’re welcome. He said, that whoever looks at a woman in lust has committed adultery with her is his own heart. Wow, now that’s a standard, is it any wonder the religious leaders stirred the mob against him and arranged for his murder?  God knows your thought life, something to think about.
How’s this for unambiguous use of words?

Francisca is on the left.  She has one son and five daughters. The son was born in 1991 and her last child is ten.  Nelly Ng’Asuban is in the midddle. She has a 7 years old daughter Gladys and a son Junior 3 and half year old son. Her mother is from Uganda and her father who has died is Tucana, her husband abandoned her some time back.  She spends most of her working time singing praise songs to her Mighty God. On the right is Rose.  She is younger, I haven’t really met Rose.  They each earn around 5000 KES per month which is about 40 pounds.

When was the last time you heard maids singing praise songs about Jesus?  Pretty amazing harmony. Anyhow I love the dichotomy between their lives and the piece I read from Real Buzz today all about waking up in bad moods.  It shows what completely different lives we live in the West compared to these women.

It’s a culturally sensitive piece of journalism from the online magazine.  It so neatly exposes the lies, deceit and counterfeit solutions that we have adopted.  They are telling their readership what they want and like to hear, what sells the mag. Not many may heed the advice but they are comfortable with it.  My aim is to make you uncomfortable, I want to tell you what you don’t want to hear, what you will intuitively reject because you, like many, reject the Truth.  You see, you are already narked!

Real Buzz 10 unexpected things that put you in a bad mood

Ever woken up in a bad mood and not known why? You may be surprised by the cause. While many things contribute to putting us in a bad mood, there are steps you can take to eliminate some common causes. Here are 10 surprising things that can spoil your mood.

Food intolerance

Real Buzz – Food intolerances are responsible for a wide range of physical conditions including nausea and abdominal pain, but they can also affect your mood, causing irritability, mood swings, lack of focus, aggression, nervousness or hyperactivity. If you suffer from regular mood swings, try keeping a food diary – noting what you eat as well as any changes in mood – to see if you can identify a link.

Comment – I agree, keep a food diary. However, a meal is a celebration.  Every meal should be eaten in gratitude.  As every shower in clean water, use of functioning sanitation system and opportunity to turn on the heating or air conditioning, ride on public transport or walk down the street in relevant safety should.  Eat regularly, together, sit up straight, chew your food well and eat more vegetables than starch and more starch than protein.  Count your blessings, no matter how few that’ll help with your dark moods.

Real Buzz – Your home decor

If you want to give your mood a boost, try changing your home decor as your surroundings can heavily influence your mood. While red can make some people feel irritable or hostile, yellow communicates happiness and blue aids relaxation, so try accessorising your home with colours that enhance your mood. Research has also suggested that hanging up soothing pictures — such as beautiful landscape paintings —can positively affect a person’s mood and reduce stress and anxiety.

Comment  Maybe, but don’t borrow money on your credit card to do it.  Good budgeting and home administration should be a higher priority. Yes it can be appropriate to decorate, and there can be fun and a sense of reward from doing so but nothing beats having your home well administered. If you are a husband and wife team who both work full time and expect that paying decorators will boost your moods think again.  You probably live in a functional house that provides shelter to two independently spirited co-habitees in a dysfunctional marriage.  The trouble is that the Bible teaches that the man should leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two should become one flesh Genesis 2:24.  And if you read Proverbs 31:30 you learn about a wife of noble character who is worth more than rubies.  The point is that a home needs investing in and nurturing.  If you are both putting those energies and passions nurturing your workplace don’t be surprised if home doesn’t boost your mood.

Real Buzz – Getting promoted

While many of us dream of getting a promotion in work, the reality may not be as rosy as you think. A study by researchers at the University of Warwick has found that rather than improving quality of life for workers, following a job promotion employees suffered from increased mental strain and there was on average a 10 per cent decrease in people’s mental health.

Comment Being promoted is not the cause of depression. Being promoted beyond your level of competence, what I believe is called the Peter Principle, is probably a bit tiresome.  However, if you are promoted to a level of responsibility commensurate with your ability that’s alright isn’t it? The motto at Sandhurst is Serve to Lead.  If your motive when promoted is to serve then your purpose is fulfilled on the other hand you are beset by depression you are likely in the wrong job.  Get out or get over it.

Real Buzz – Late nights

Many of us are aware that lack of sleep can contribute to a low mood; however, research suggests that when you go to sleep could be almost as important as how much sleep you get. According to a study published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, night owls are almost three times as likely as early birds to experience severe symptoms of depression, so try getting some early nights to boost your mood.

Comment Since I introduced stricter earlier bedtimes my energy levels and immune system have been improved.  Our enemy is TV and the internet, both time stealers of ill repute.  Could that half an hour you give to just watch the News be better invested in sleep?  Could you not learn what you need to know on the radio news the next morning over breakfast or even on the way to work from your neighbour on the train?  Wow, now there’s a way to really cut bad moods, speak to your neighbour, he’s probably in a terrible mood and could do with a friendly chat.  Let me suggest an introduction: “Excuse me Sire, I missed the news last night and this morning, did anything important or interesting happen please?”

Real Buzz – Nutrient deficiencies

While depression can be caused by a number of things, symptoms can be worsened or improved by your diet. Deficiencies in vitamin D, the B vitamins (particularly B6, B12 and folate) and omega-3 fatty acids can all lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. Try introducing more foods rich in these nutrients into your diet to see if symptoms improve.

Comment Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits and plenty of pure, fresh clean water.

Real Buzz – Your friends You might think that spending time with your friends is a great mood booster; however, that could all depend on their mood. Research has found that emotions – both positive and negative – are contagious and easily passed from person to person, often without you being aware of it. Furthermore, you don’t even need to see your friends to catch their mood, as a study suggests that the emotions of Facebook users directly affect the emotions of their friends for up to three days.

Comment I can’t imagine anything more depressing than being around people who are constantly cheery, I get the distinct feeling they are hiding something.  I worship a man who the Bible records was a man of tears, acquainted with sorrow who warned that life will be tough. By Real Buzz’s measure he’s not the kind of friend I should have! However, we are told to “rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Romans 12:15.  Where are you going to go for wise counsel, the Bible that captures 3000 years of human history, from around 40 authors in 66 books or today’s internet?

Real Buzz – The Pill

A study by researchers from Monash University has found that women who take birth control pills are twice as likely to be depressed as those who don’t. For some, certain birth control pills can also lead to mood swings, increased anger and loss of libido. If you think that your mood has changed for the worse since you began taking the pill, visit your GP to discuss the alternatives.

Comment, close but no cigar.  Symptom yes but not the cause.  The cause is women giving your bodies away on the cheap instead of waiting to be a gift of mind and spirit to your husband and his body to be a gift to you (1 Corinthians 7:4).  It’s having sex with someone who is not your husband that will eventually depress you.  Men are warned not to sleep with prostitutes because when you have sex with someone it is a spiritual union (1 Corinthians 6:16).  Why do you suppose rape victims are so traumatised???  If it was merely physical women would recover from rape as one would from a broken bone, but they don’t do they?  Something to think about next time your boyfriend wants your body outside of a lifetime covenant.

Real Buzz – Smoking

We all know that smoking causes cancer, heart disease and premature ageing, but it is less well known that cigarettes can also affect your mental health. According to the results of a large study conducted by New Zealand researchers, people who smoke cigarettes may increase their risk of developing depression, and those who are addicted to nicotine may be more than twice as likely to have depressive symptoms than those who are not.

Comment What nonsense.  Smoking is not the cause of depression.  Quite the contrary.  All our addictions are ways in which people medicate to treat their depression.  Without addictions people would be profoundly depressed.  For the psychiatrists they are likely addicted to their intellectual abilities and academic achievements, for the businessman their own initiative, the husband who spends too much time in private on the net its endorphins fired up by illicit images etc  So keep on smoking.  10 out of 10 of us will die anyhow so don’t get depressed over the fact you smoke.  You would be far better off investing your time thinking about what’s going to happen to your soul when that death time arrives.  It’s coming sooner than you imagine.

Real Buzz – Sunlight  Most of us have heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) caused by dark winter days, but did you know that sunlight can also bring on the blues? While summer SAD is thought to affect less than one per cent of the population (compared to the five per cent affected by the winter version) it can be a serious condition for those it affects, bringing on insomnia, decreased appetite and depression.

Comment They really are scraping the barrel on this one.  Enjoy the sun, remember getting burnt is just stupid.

Real Buzz – Your bedside lamp

If you regularly fall asleep reading or watching TV, this can have repercussions on your mood the next day. Research has shown that night time light can suppress the production of melatonin; a mood-regulating hormone which is only produced during darkness. So, try investing in some heavy curtains and make sure you turn off all lights at night to give yourself a happiness boost.

Comment I agree and refer you to the comment above about time stealers.  If you want to avoid waking in a dark mood know this, that there is no darkness in light.  Did you know that there is no such thing as dark? Dark is simply an absence of light, a bit like there is no such thing as cold, it is just an absence of warmth.  Jesus said that he was the light of the world,’ ..whoever follows me will not walk in darkness’ (John 8:12).  With him there is no darkness. No matter how dark the world becomes, your pains, sorrows, and hardships you can be in communion with the light of the world. That’s the good news.

Love that does not correct and rebuke is not love.

The Kenyans from the North East are closely linked through tribal and clan affiliations to the Somalis. They speak the same language, share the same religion and have a similar cultural worldview.  We recruit from the families of this region.  Given literacy levels many of the people I work alongside would struggle to get work elsewhere because they might not fulfill a particular educational ‘standard’.  How much weight do you put on a person’s ability, talents and character in light of their educational achievments?

I just want to share with you that I would rather have an experienced man or woman of the land, who knows how to care for livestock, understands concepts of loyalty, purpose and manhood than some of people I meet in my native country.  The men and women in the photo are conducting a drill display in the heat of the day.  Do you see the dust? this is desert and the going is hard.  These are tough people and they are a joy to work with.  As herdsmen they understand being held to account for the safety of another’s wellbeing and property.

Home comforts weaken my mental ability to resist the lies proclaimed by a material world that says buying comfort and beauty will bring me happiness; I am not preparing for the hardships that are to come.  I delay loving my neighbour to another day for I work on the false presumption that they, my neighbours, will be around for another day.

I trust my time here is strengthening me to pursue my role and purpose and encourage and help those I love to do the same.  I am enjoying the work of preparing for the seasons to come.

These are just some of the great crowd who get together to study the Bible each week.  Singing songs in Kiswahili and offering prayer drawn from a deep, deep, well spring of love really is an unparalleled experience.  Many of my closest freinds, who I have known a lifetime, and loved ones from my family think that this is all nonsense and foolishness but then that’s what the world and culture teaches us and who are we to say that the world and our culture are following a lie.  Mmmm…hang on, aren’t lies believed because they are attractive, beguiling and partially true? Something to think about.

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