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Animals Culture Family Food Holidays Life Love of Family neighbors Shih Tzus Shirley Buxton Photography Social

Do Nothing Monday

I’ve been tearing around here during the last few weeks, more than usual and that’s saying a lot. Just to fill you in, during the past month Jerry and I hosted a dinner party for seven–counting us, then a couple of our children and their families were here for four days for Thanksgiving, then last Saturday, we held our annual Christmas Open House and I whipped up a huge pot of soup and spent a couple of days baking goodies. There were 28 of us. Now understand, I am neither complaining or bragging about all these festivities that have been carried on here at the Buxton home. For the dinner party Jerry grilled ribs on his back deck smoker, and it just feels to me that if someone else cooks the meat, I can whip up the rest of it handily. Very dear friends have graced our home during these days–some of long duration, others of newly established relationships, and I’ve loved sharing meals around our table. It’s one of my favorite things to do, and I feel honored when such people come to our home . . .and happy. And my kids…to have them here . . .well, it is just the best. So, as I say, the point of this piece is neither to complain, or to brag about all my doings, rather to press a point.

On Saturday afternoon as I was lighting candles, stuffing yeast rolls into my hot oven, and doing a couple of other very last minute things for my guests, I got tired. Just kind of sudden-like, I felt this fatigue threaten me. What is this?  I kicked the rascally feeling out of my being, lifted my head, and soldiered on. But at that moment I decided I would take Monday off. Flat do nothing. Today was Monday–The Day. And I have done nothing. Well, very little.

It’s been kinda cool. When they came to our Open House Craig and Sandra presented me with a beautifully wrapped box and when I opened it, I found this.

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This morning I spread out the pieces on a small desk that sets between the kitchen and the dining room, pulled up a little bench, and have spent a great portion of the day there. I’ve connected all the edge pieces, except that I seem to be missing one. Expect it will show up before I’m finished. I’ve called Alexa to play Christmas carols, we’ve listened to cowboy shows on XM radio, I’ve scratched together a couple of meals, and heard beautiful comments over the radio about the late President Bush. What a commendable life he lived.

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DSC_0832Winston took Monday off too, but such activity is not terribly unusual for him. He’s snuggled down here between Jerry’s legs that are stretched out on his recliner. Snoozes throughout the day. Rallies to eat and take in tasty treats.

I’m within a couple of months of the finish of a book I am writing. The book will be titled Dream Shards. The thrust of the book is that we all have dreams that from time to time are broken. What then we do about that? Pick up the pieces and rally, or wallow around in our grief and disappointment? Toward the end of the book I speak of ways to dream again and one of my points is that it is important to stop dashing around so much, rather indulge in slow chunks of quiet hours and quiet days.  Frequently. Restores us. Refreshes us.  I already know I’ll have a hard time writing that part. Definitely will be feeling  hypocritical!

But I did it today, and it has been wonderful. Try it. You’ll probably like it.

PS The puzzle is beautiful. The artist has a website: www.dowdlefolkart.com

Categories
Christianity/Religion Culture Family Life love Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

The Phone Call

“Calling to check on you, Mom,” the adult child said when the woman answered the phone.

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The mother smiled. Ordinary conversation ensued–the mundane, the heat, how are the dogs, slim talk of daily activities, progress, and regression. Then the child said the other  words.

A tense sliver of silence. “That hurt me. You should have told me about that.”

“I’m sorry, Mom. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I apologize.” The child told explanatory  words that went to the heart of the matter for the child had tried to spare the  mother the sorrow of the untold fact.

Again. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“I know you are. I forgive you.”

“I know you do. I would never hurt you on purpose.”

“I know you wouldn’t.”

______________

Hours later, I think on this scene. It makes me happy. Happy? you ask. Yes, for by now you must know that life is imperfect. People are. People who love each other, with no intent for hurt, do just that thing they would never intend to do. DSC_9550

At  that moment, each person has a litany of choices. We can continue with the hurt, or not. We can apologize or refuse to do so. We can gather in the sorrowful words, or reject the apology, We can dredge up prior hurts, or not. We can sulk, feel old, not needed,  rejected

Or not.

My child and I chose the high, logical road. No hurt was intended, indeed quite the opposite, no hurt would be nursed.

Such is the good life. How blessed, truly blessed I am

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Categories
Art/Architecture Blogging Culture Death Flowers/Gardening Life Marriage/anniversaries My Home Photography Shirley Buxton Photography The World

Of Roses and Potting Sheds. Of Death?

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The glass had aged, its frame of flaking paint angled in deviation from straight, for who would anticipate ordinary here–a cavern of musk and chemical, of fertilizer and rakes, of rust and twisted wire. Bulbs and seed, trowels and mud shoes and kneeling cushions. The glass, though marred of dirt and of defect, set truthfully its calling, and gave way to the buds, to the roses. Here they are. See them now.

I had placed them there. I knew their story.

They were fresh when given, dewy, tied with ribbon. Of tucked card, they were of occasion, for a delivery person had come and handed them to me.  Winston barked, and I shushed him.

One day they were finished, and I took away the vase and poured out the water, for no longer could they take nourishment. I recall that I laid them for awhile atop a book shelf, stretched out, a funeral of sorts.

Strong south winds rush across the room where lay the roses, and then began stray dried-up petals to be scattered about, and one day I took them up, retied their ribbon and carried them down the stairs off the back deck to the “potting shed” below. With little thought to exhibit, I stuffed them onto a shelf, a vague thought of using them again sometime . . . for something.

A couple of days ago as I was watering the now dying peonies, I glanced through that window and saw those ancient, dried flowers. I had not arranged them so, or at least consciously I had not. I lifted my hose and sprayed away the dust from the sagging window through which they showed. I stared at them. . .

In a few days I will be 80.

 

Categories
Culture family celebrations Food Holidays Home Humor Life Photography

Cinnamon Roll Saga

How is it that sugary goo tangled arm-in-arm with sunshiny-yellow butter morphs into a creation that snaps our tastebuds into smiling salute, but at the same moment prompts our doctors to caution, “Watch it now, Easy does it.”? Ah, life. Incredibly wonderful, yet patently unfair as regards the consumption of such things that at their origin told of golden-grain fields, herds of glossy girl cows, cackling hens, and not to forget the standing forest of trees whose bark yields the aromatic twirled spice that is basic to a notable cinnamon roll.

DSC_0347For some time now I have observed the practice of foregoing the creation of these and similarly cautionary delectables until Jerry and I have company . . .or some analogous festive occasion that might beg for such formation. Through the years I have tweaked recipes until I have settled on a basic yeast roll, and in so doing, have wondered if said dough could serve as foundation for a master cinnamon roll. The problem lay in the fact that while reserving such for guests, I also have an aversion to test-driving on company. (What’s a girl to do?) So, a couple of days before Independence Day I announced to a few persons of interest that on that day–this special holiday–I would conduct a cinnamon roll test-run. Perfect!

DSC_0352DSC_0353About mid-morning Rebecca called saying her earlier plans had dissolved, and she’d be up for a visit. I smiled, told her of the cinnamon roll experiment, and what time we would be eating.

“I’ll be up to help you judge, Mom.”

I had told Jerry we would have one for breakfast, but although I was up at 5:30 to get them started, things happened, and we wound up eating a regular breakfast, holding the thought that the rolls would be great for a coffee break. Or dessert for our big meal if worse came to worse.

DSC_0355We would eat at 3:00. Jerry grilled brats. I fried potatoes, made a salad, and Rebecca put together a green bean casserole, using Mozzarella I had in the fridge instead of the Swiss she needed. Saved a market run.

We dined on the back deck, and well before we had cleared the table after eating the tasty food, I announced there would be no interval between dinner and dessert. Too eager. We made coffee, I plated the huge rolls, and carried them out. They were soft and gooey. . . And! perfect.

DSC_0358DSC_0359DSC_0364Rebecca decided against taking any home with her. I wrapped two, placed them in the freezer, and placed one on a dish, covered it with a glass dome and placed it inside the oven.  Should stay fresh like that and Jerry would have it the next day for a snack, I was sure.

DSC_0371I believe it was around  8:00  in the evening when I detected movement in the kitchen, and as I watched a gentleman moved from said area, a well-filled plate in his hand. Jerry grinned.

“Where did you get that cinnamon roll?” I asked.

“In the freezer.”

Well, here we are on July 5th, and this nice cinnamon roll  I saved for Jerry is still available. I suspect in a couple of hours, though, that it will not remain in such fine form; rather it will have become a sweet, gooey memory, and its origin of flora and fauna will be a forgotten speck of the ages.

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America Arizona boating Culture dogs Family affection Home Lake Havasu Photography Travel Weather/Nature

Trip to Lake Havasu

“We’ll be there between 5 and 6,” I had told Michael earlier in the day.

“So you’ll be here for dinner. Good.”

Jerry had a late-morning eye exam in Redlands; just before noon he was finished and we pulled onto the 10 freeway heading to Arizona. A heatwave had clamped down around us, so we knew it would be hot in Lake Havasu. It was. When we drove into the city limits, our sleek new car registered the outside temperature as 118. At Mike and Melina’s home we greeted each other, finding it impossible to avoid the usual jokes about the heat, including the line, “See we don’t need our jackets today.”

What a great time we had those days last week visiting with our son and his dear wife. We ate at home. We ate in restaurants. We talked. We played. We went to church. We discussed serious matters. We laughed. We discussed death, and  we talked of Kelly’s baby who will be born in December. Once when we were looking at something he owned, I said to Michael, “You’re a blessed man.”

“Yes, I am, Mom. Far more than I ever expected.”

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Melina’s dad Ralph lives across the street, and he and Michael recently flew to Colorado where he bought a red hot rod. We all tootled around in his garages admiring his toys.

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He’s working on that old Winnie which Mike says he probably will never take out of the driveway.

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We indulged in a fair amount of this.

DSC_0005On Saturday evening Mike helped us onto his beautiful vessel, and we boated 30 miles or so down the Colorado river to Havasu Springs where we had dinner. It was truly a delightful time. The burning heat yielded to the cool of the water as we roared over its surface. The sky lay clear against the mountains that rose in the distance.

“About 35 miles an hour,” Michael answered when someone asked how fast we were going.

DSC_0035Mike and Melina.

DSC_9986Gorgeous loves being on the boat. She is a rescue dog that could not be more lovable.DSC_0054Arizona boasts magnificent sunsets. Added to the beauty of the evening as we headed back to Lake Havasu was this giant orange ball, that as we watched, sank behind the Whipple Mountain Range. Amazing. Truly.

DSC_0072.jpgMichael was up and out of the house by 5:30 on Monday morning. The plan was that at 9:00 we would meet him at Rusty’s Cafe for a final meal before we headed home. I saw Melina scurrying around in the kitchen, and when we prepared to tell her good-bye, she handed over this bag loaded with food. “Don’t want you to get hungry on the way home”

It was filled with fruit, cheese, pecans, fried chicken, fat cookies, and icy drinks. Ate some of the snacks on the way home, and saved the fried chicken for dinner that night. What a family God has blessed us with. What a life.

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Categories
Christianity/Religion Culture God Goodness of man Pentecostal Photography

Youthquake

Oxford Dictionaries, a part of Oxford University, has selected youthquake to be the top word of the year 2017The abundant use of the word came about because of the unexpectedly strong turnout of younger voters in the 2017 snap election in the United Kingdom. My reading of this information, and my observations of several young people over the last few days prompted this piece, which although has some negative parts, comes to a positive and hopeful conclusion.

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Youthquake. I like the sound. My initial thoughts on hearing the word, which is not a familiar one to me, was of the positive, enthusiastic, energetic qualities of young people, and of the dynamic influence they can have on this world. I considered our society, which in many ways spirals ever-downward, the needs of our churches, wide-spread famine and other challenges across the globe–and was sure young people can truly cause a quake–an aggressive, beneficial shake-up of the ground on which we stand that could contribute to the solution of many of these problems.

DSC_9200DSC_9186Then I chanced to be near an adult child who spoke in an arrogant, disrespectful way to his/her father. My insides shook.

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I eyed the father. I willed him to be strong, for it was his right–indeed his obligation–to quiz and to direct the young person who, although grown, yet lived at home and indulged in its benefits. A good kid, probably, just a bit too frisky for the moment, a tad too full of itself.

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Because it is my way, I thought of an account in the Bible where children were disrespectful to a man and came to an unfortunate end. As I contemplated  this piece of writing I reckoned with the thought that many people would think this reference too harsh, and the subject too edgy, and after all kids will be kids . . .and they must “sow their wild oats,” and this is a new generation, things are different . . .True, perhaps. Yet I persist in thinking that we who are in charge, whether parents, grandparents,  senators, teachers, or whomever must defend the mores of a God-fearing, decent, cultured, polite society. A bit of quaking in our spirits and in our consciences is likely a good idea.

DSC_8995But I liked my first response to Oxford Dictionaries youthquake and I thought of several young persons who I believe I can count on to shake up this world for the better.

The two guys with red apparel above are my nephews, both in their twenties, both in college. After a meal in our home a few days ago, their parents directed them to clear the table and wash the dishes. I was astonished. But cheerfully they rose from the table, and did the deed, even  as they embellished it with frivolous entertainment. David, the one you see in the midst of an aria there, grabbed a broom and swept the floor.

My granddaughter Chloe initiated a student Bible study in the college she attends.

My grandson Nathaniel is the youth leader at Hilltop Tabernacle in Chula Vista.

By live streaming tonight I watched my young friend Julio lead before service prayer at The Anchor Church in San Diego.

Gentry works like a man. Brady has the sweetest of spirits. Cole is artistic and is kind to me.

I hope you’ll make the effort to add names in the area set aside for comments. The ones you know. They’re out there. Young people. Good ones. God-fearing, upright people who truly can bring about an earth-shattering youthquake.

Categories
Children Christianity/Religion Christmas Crestline Culture Death Family family celebrations Food Friends grandparents Life Photography Shirley Buxton Photography

Our Days of Christmas

Early, it began. We scheduled our (almost) annual Christmas party for the first Saturday  in December, and because it was so close to Thanksgiving some of my children and grandchildren who were here for the November holiday helped with our decorations, especially the outside lights that need to drape over bushes that are difficult for either Jerry or me to reach.

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Thirty-eight persons showed for the party, the crew including family, ministers, neighbors, and other acquaintances from our beloved Crestline. Jerry smoked a 19 pound brisket, I cooked a huge pot of pinto beans, and several pans of Mexican corn bread. Of course we had a tray with great cheese, nuts and fruit. A fine array of tenderly baked sweetness and my “go-to” punch of eggnog and cranberry juice rounded out the food. The variety of guests who came and their jolly interaction with each other produced a joyful party that extended from the arrival of the first one to the departure of the last. Although sparkling lights, whiffs of cedar branches, and a beautiful presentation of delicious food certainly contribute to a great party, it really is the people who are the core of such a gathering. Jerry and I talked about that later, and noted again how blessed we are with exceptional family and friends.

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Andrew, Shauna, and three of their children came to our home the week before Christmas where he spent a couple of days doing repairs to our house. Water had leaked behind the siding and caused significant dry rot on the front of our house that faces the lake, so he and Gentry pulled off the siding, repaired the leak and replaced the ruined lumber and the siding. While all this was going on Ella and I made gingerbread men. Hmm…they turned out to be a sad lot, but we loved them anyway. (Isn’t that how it is with those we love? People I’m talking about now, not cookies.  Maybe they’re not quite perfectly shaped, or perhaps a crack or two shows up, a limped walk, a drooped head . . .yet they’re ours and they’re sweet and special, and we guard them and love them, and pray for them.)

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A couple of weeks before Christmas Day, my brother Nathan surprised me with a phone call telling me that he and his family wanted to visit for a day or two, so here they came on the 21st, and what a great time we had. What a delightful family; sweet, intelligent, accomplished, ambitious, and God-loving.  Only one negative thing about them. They make me look like a midget!

DSC_9010Came early Christmas morning when traditionally we exchange gifts and only one of our children was with us, Andrew and his family. Rebecca and Nate arrived around 10:00,  Michael was quite sick and could not come at all, and Steve will be visiting us later in the week.

DSC_9038Andrew’s gifts to us were exceptional. Two reasons: They were handcrafted by him, and they are beautiful. He presented me with a professionally framed and matted photograph of his dad, which he had taken in an earlier visit. A priceless gift. Andrew also made the knife Jerry is holding, a new skill Andrew is developing. He also made knives for each of his brothers.

When Rebecca arrived she handed around gifts for everyone. Always thoughtful and generous is my only daughter. She is a treasure to her dad and to me.

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In the middle of the afternoon, Jerry called us to gather in the living room where he spoke, encouraging all of us, especially the grandchildren, to be upright people, and to love and obey God. He called on Chloe to read Luke’s beautiful words depicting the Christmas story.

DSC_9062We cooked. We ate.

DSC_9051DSC_9067Cole’s gift to his family was a game named Baconopoly. I played with them a couple of times as did their dad. They loved that game and played it multiple hours

DSC_9076Once when we were playing yet another round, I looked about the room, gazed at the sparkling eyes, the grins, the occasional spat over a move,  and considered the quite firm draw that board games has on families. I reckoned again the inestimable value of families and friends who eat and play together. It’s really not the prime rib, or the bacon trivia, or the yeast rolls. It’s not even a carefully selected treasure of a gift. No, it is time and love and connection.

And so, these few days past Christmas, I, as did Mary, ponder these things in my heart, and know how very blessed I am.

And to my readers, I wish you every blessing of God. May 2018 be a year of joy and of peace. I would love to hear from you.

Categories
America Animals Church Crestline Culture Family time Food Holidays Honor Lake Gregory

For Memorial

Three of my four children, along with some of their families, came to our home–Jerry’s and mine–during the Memorial Day Weekend. We had a fabulous time.

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On Friday afternoon Andrew and his clan fought such traffic from San Diego that the typical two-hour or so drive took more than four. Rebecca, Nathaniel, Michael, and Melina made it in on Saturday. Jerry had smoked a turkey on Thursday–best turkey I ever tasted–then on Saturday spent most of the day tending his smoker and grill so that when we sat down for our evening meal we were treated to exceptional ribs and juicy steaks. The kids brought food, Jerry tended the grill, and I cooked some things. We feasted.

But the best part was not the steaks, nor–to be honest– the flags, neither the bunting, or the chocolate cake or Bek’s special oatmeal cookies. The best part was time. There was time to reflect and talk about the meaning of the flags and of Memorial Day itself. Our children gave us, and each other, the gift of time. Time to talk, to laugh, to reminisce. Time to speak of plans, of failures, of successes, of God, of our babies growing now into adults, of death of parents and other loved ones . . .of life.

DSC_7161Those who follow my blog know I am an amateur photographer, although pretty serious about it. However, in these family gatherings at my home I get so caught up in other things that I take very few pictures, then later I’m sad at the dearth of images that are mine. Andrew snapped this one of Mike and me a short while before Mike and Melina left . . .

DSC_7175. . .and on the front deck I preserved this image of Andrew and Shauna. Little more.

Time included us piling into cars and plying the roads, streets and lanes of Crestline and its neighbors for the annual Memorial Day Mountain-Wide Garage Sales. We all scored.

DSC_7247 This antique game bird collectors plate is Bavarian, and is one of five I bought for the grand price of $3.00. Not each. For all! (Told you we scored.) Along the side of the road as we meandered about was a box with free items in it. I was riding with Gentry when I wondered what it might be.

“Do you want it, Granny?”

“Yes.”

Brady jumped out, and popped the box and its contents into the trunk beside our other treasures. Turned out to be a George Foreman large grill with interchangeable plates–about $100.00 new someone said when they checked the internet . . .and so we had waffles from our found treasure. Had waffles on Sunday evening, and they were so delicious we ate such fare again on Monday morning before everyone left.

The highlight of the weekend was Sunday morning when three Buxton families worshipped at a nearby church. As we stood together in the altar area near the end of the service, I was happy for this time, for this Memorial Day weekend.  Thankful.

At the lodge by the lake, by myself on Monday morning at 11:00 I attended a service honoring those who have fallen, who have given their lives. Stories wafted through the air, as did films, and other presentations. Veterans marched with guns, flags were posted and presented. Tears glistened in the eyes of a hundred or so people as we watched and as we listened. We stood and sang God Bless America, then the poignant, unmatchable tones of Taps sounded through the room, and the time was over.

DSC_7213I walked a short distance on Lake Gregory shoreline yesterday, and as I rounded a corner near this log, I saw two turtles. One of them eyed me, so I sat down on a likely spot and communed with the critters for 20 minutes or so. They move slowly, do turtles, deliberately and with no appearance of haste. They have time. So did I.

Categories
Christianity/Religion Conferences/Seminars Culture Food friendship Photography The World Travel

Challenges Met in Sterling Ways

DSC_6559As astonishing as it was to observe the basic, stark way of outdoor cooking, and serving to the hundreds of UAW delegates in Nairobi, was the lovely, caring, presentation of meals to speakers and other guests. Table clothes were changed for each meal. Later we would see the linen pieces hanging on fences to dry.

IMG_0935These beautiful tents were rented. Used for ladies sessions during the day, at night they became sleeping places for many of the delegates. IMG_0891Junior Aston showed us how to eat this Kenya food called Ugali. It is customary in one’s home to serve the mixture in one large bowl into which everyone dips their hands and pulls off a piece. The process calls for taking one’s thumb to make an indentation, then “sopping” up the sauces that have been cooked with the meat and vegetables. I learned the trick quickly, and quite enjoyed it. The food was tasty; lots of stewed meat with delicious sauces. Pictured below is goat meat we were served. I liked it.

IMG_0980IMG_0978Her name is Carol. She is the national secretary of the Ladies Department, and she kind of took me under her wing. She is the one who in the first service gently pushed me into a group of ladies who were dancing in worship to African music. (I did my best, but in some videos I have seen, I look rather stiff and uncoordinated!) Once, in a moment of affection,  she picked me straight up off the floor. Later I walked up behind her as we headed to the tents, touched her on the arm and acted as though I would lift her. She smiled at me and said in her beautiful accent, “You cannot move a mountain.” I truly love her. Hope to see her again some day.

Categories
Christianity/Religion Church Conferences/Seminars Courage Culture Goodness of man Photography Social

AUW Compound in Nairobi, Kenya

Here in the United States before our trip to Africa I had only briefly met both Pamela and Bishop Ngota Aston, but I certainly came to know them better during those days we stayed on their church compound, and to admire their ambition, their godly ways, and their accomplishments. I salute them today.

DSC_6557If I understand correctly, it was through his burden that he met with Apostolic leaders across Africa, and that in 2014 the Apostolic Union of the World was founded. He became the leader of the organization whose purpose is to facilitate evangelizing Africa with the Apostolic message. The conference we attended was the third such meeting.

DSC_6573His wife is beautiful, hospitable, a great speaker, singer, and musician. She was reared in a very challenging environment, but by the grace of God has risen from its depth to a place of prominence in Africa, and has attained an excellent education.

The compound is impressive. I was stunned to learn that they have only been in that location for seven years. It is completely fenced, boasting numerous structures with a 24-hour guard at the gate. Encompassed in the wide acreage are the sanctuary, the building I have mentioned in which we stayed, school facilities, and a few other out-buildings. Monies from outside Africa have been supplied and appreciated, but I noted in some of their material that one of their goals is less reliance on foreign aid; instead the development of financial independence

DSC_6175DSC_6556Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.

DSC_6582I do not have the exact number of persons who attended the conference, but I suspect the final count to have exceeded 500. Most of these were ministers and their families, including some who had traveled as many as four days to arrive there. Several countries were represented. Although the provisions were simple, it astonished me that every delegate was accommodated on the premises. Outhouses were utilized and hundreds slept on mats on the ground. The food was cooked outside a small room on charcoal cookers; the dishes washed nearby with the assistance of a lone faucet. I highly respect my brothers and sisters in Jesus I met those few days in Kenya. Some of them, I was told, do not have enough food, and some are actively persecuted because they are Christians.

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I posted the following words on my Facebook account a few days after the conference ended. Those were my sentiments then . . .as they are now.

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I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw. The conference in Nairobi has ended. Forever in my ears will ring the words–Africa Must Be Saved–as I recall the hundreds of black people who swayed to the burden of their song, who fell mourning to the floor, who wept over the millions who are lost in the hills, the jungles, the cities of their beautiful continent. ……….I will never forget the mama of this beautiful baby who sat in the dirt long side a muddy road and nursed her darling child beside the table where she sold bananas and watermelons and corn . . .I will never forget leaders who taught their women not to be bitter as they asked God to give them food for their children. . . I am raw. Lying open in the sun raw.