For this week I will have very limited connectivity as I purchased an Airtel modem (what was recommended for me in Nairobi) upon my arrival for Internet and an Airtel SIM card for my phone. I made sure I had both charged with full bundles of time/data and carried with me some extra credit to be added as needed prior to coming to South Horr where Stakwell lives as I was unsure what might be available here. Well, it turns out Airtel does not have coverage out here, only Safaricom does and neither my phone nor my modem will connect. A brother here was kind enough to allow me to use his modem last night so I could send an email to Kellie so she would know I was safe and sound even though out of touch, but with electricity available for only about 2 hours each evening (after the solar panels have recharged the batteries) so that everyone must recharge devices then, communication would be severely limited anyway. I did bring a solar charging device and a Zagg Sparq so can keep my phone and flashlights powered up.
Oh, and an aside, I had to purchase separate modems and SIM cards for Uganda when I went there as Uganda and Kenya systems are not compatible.
Just thinking of a week here at Stakwell Yurinemo’s place without being connected to the outside world… actually that thought brings a tremendous sense of peace washing over me as long as Kellie knows I’m safe and I know friends there are caring for her. Btw—thanks to Travis Moore for going over and mowing our lawn, Kellie says it looks great!
As most of you at Dayspring are aware, we have been supporting Stakwell’s ministry to young people in far northern Kenya for a number of years. Stakwell is a Samburu, I encourage you to research them a little on Wikipedia or just ask Judy Baer—she would be glad to tell you about them and to share Stakwell’s story—who came to faith.
in Christ as a result of being sent away to school, which happened to be an American sponsored Christian school. So, he was raised speaking English primarily though he is fluent in Samburu, Swahili and something else I can’t recall at the moment. With the help of JL & Patt Williams and friends, Stakwell established and developed a sports camp where they bring tribal youth from all over northern Kenya with much the same philosophy as Kent Susud’s Sportsquest ministry with which Dayspring is heavily invested and involved. Bring the kids in to learn sports, hone their skills and have fun and then teach them about God while you have them here. All coaches, counselors, and facilitators are Christians. Right now it is the middle of winter here and school is in session so there is not a camp going at present which makes the entire environment most peaceful and spiritually uplifting. Stakwell does employ quite a few people here doing various services so there is always some activity but with just one day of observing it appears to be never hurried and always subdued.
Because the camp is located in South Horr, Kenya we are surrounded with the sounds and activity of a remote tribal village. Goats, cattle, and chickens are ever present. The goats (thousands of them it appears, of a very small species) and cattle (small native cattle that look like diminutive brahmas) are always passing nearby with men or children following them as they go out to graze or return to the security of their nighttime thorn enclosures. Although South Horr seems to be in a garden paradise because of the presence of water here resulting in many large trees, including banana trees, you don’t have to go very far in any direction and you are back in the desert. And although this part of Kenya is arid South Horr is in a valley surrounded by mountains, which means the sun doesn’t “rise” (appearing in the sky) until about 9:00 AM and sets by 6:30 PM each day regardless of the season. The sky does get light earlier and stay light later but the sun isn’t in view.
It was also quite an experience getting here as South Horr is at least a couple hundred kilometers from the nearest actual road. I was truly surprised when I traveled over some of the “roads” that Google maps indicates are in this part of the world… they obviously haven’t sent their little camera cars here! I had studied the maps online and thought it was just a matter of finding transportation; was I ever wrong! If you want to locate South Horr, go to Google maps and view Kenya. You will see Lake Turkana in the extreme north of the nation; South Horr is just off the SE point of the lake a few kilometers. I have to say that my love for off-roading excitement was fully satisfied yesterday on the drive in here. By virtue of acting as a consultant for the Lake Turkana Wind Power company, Stakwell has use of a Land Cruiser, but this isn’t like any Toyota Land Cruiser sold in the U.S. This truck is substantially larger than a Suburban and sits twice as high off the ground and is built SOLID with a suspension that is beyond stiff. The closest thing to this truck that I’ve ever seen in the U.S. is a military HumVee. The man who drove us in here has a real love for driving and somehow manages to blend off-roading with LeMans style racing; although I’ve owned off road vehicles and have enjoyed challenging terrain, I’ve never had anything that could have traversed the country we did to get here in twice the time it took us without being destroyed. I did however see a lot of African wildlife on the trip and I did accomplish my ultimate goal in getting immersed in the African lifestyle and culture so as to make my teaching at the pastor training school culturally relevant.
And that brings me to the title with which I started this letter. This culture is ancient and has existed relatively unchanged for many centuries (yes, the tribesmen often still carry spears here) however, they are experiencing a new phenomenon. With westernization and the first stages of the introduction of technology, they are already seeing some cultural changes. The first to be mentioned to me is that the younger generation is now losing their respect and reverence for their elders as they become exposed to outside cultures. The second apparent one relates to the cultural question I posed you here last week regarding polygamy. It turns out that the church here in South Horr is made up almost entirely of polygamists though they are teaching the next generation that God’s will is one man and one woman. However, outside influences are leading many of the younger people to disdain marriage altogether and to accept the disavowal of vows made to a spouse and before God. So, as a culture now being influenced by the outside, it appears they are running from one extreme to another, from polygamy right past monogamy to simple immorality. While some of us might shake our heads at this, a true introspection into the current state of the American church and the trends within it would make us realize we are not a model for them in this regard. I myself am not, for I am not married to “the wife of my youth”, a reality that weighs upon me in spite of knowing God’s grace.
So, though some of the Samburus are being blessed even by the limited introduction of modern technology; motor vehicles, electricity, radio & TV, the Internet, western clothing and food, better building materials, those same blessings can also be curses as they introduce ways and attitudes that are not beneficial to them.
My question for myself and you today is this, “Are we able to see the curses that we have accepted into our lives as we have been blessed by so many technological advances?” For instance, most of the Samburu have one change of clothes which looks just as they did several hundred years ago, while modern fabric and manufacturing technology have created for us a fashion industry that dictates constant changes in style and has created within us a desire to own closets full of clothing and wear something different each day… or several times per day. Most of us would never consider our desire for more clothing as materialism, but can we really call it necessity? (consider the state of many of our not-too-distant ancestors) And automobiles are necessities, right? And our desire for new ones or better ones?
Most of us don’t understand the advertising industry and the psychological tools they employ to create within us longings for things which we would never even consider without their efforts. …Which is the actual reason I don’t have TV… I have come to understand my own psychological weakness for their manipulation. I know I can become focused on ‘things’ and take my eyes off the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer where life truly exists. It is so easy for me to get focused on this physical world and take my eyes off the eternal Kingdom. May this week in South Horr, Kenya renew my focus!
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.