“You don’t leave racism at the door (of a church), you leave it at the altar.” Rev. Johnny King NO LIMITS CONFERENCE Sacramento, CA.
As 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.
These beautiful tents were rented. Used for ladies sessions during the day, at night they became sleeping places for many of the delegates. Junior 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.
Her 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.
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.
If 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.
His 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
Both the impressive grounds and the buildings are kept in pristine condition. Workers were painting just hours before the beginning days of the conference.
I 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.
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.
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.
The Nairobi area has experienced a significant drought, so the rain that pelted us at the airport on Tuesday evening was quite welcome, even to the animals that roam the lush savannah lands of southern Kenya. We saw hundreds of them during our safari, sleek, healthy, and beautiful. It was a breathtaking moment as we motored down a dirt trail, saw a spotted neck rise above the trees and a face thrust about, so that we could recognize this being as an elegant giraffe. They are huge animals, ranging from 15 to 19 feet tall.
The landscape itself was magnificent. The weather glorious. In certain places it was safe for us to leave our vehicles and walk about.Indeed one of the rangers offered to guide us to a spot where a crocodile had recently hatched 15 babies.
Zebras seem impossible. They are so fine, so perfectly stripped. Sophistication with a mask on. We saw herd after herd of these beautiful creatures.
This fella fixed his eyes on me as we paused to consider his handsomeness.What of these horns?
“There’s a lion down the way,” someone in another vehicle told us once as we stopped for something. “A recent kill.” The lion had killed a cape buffalo that lay beside the road. The lion was a few feet away in some bushes, but unfortunately we could not see him well. We did see his chest moving up and down, breathing hard as he digested his tasty meal.
A bit of a tourist trap threatened to snag us when after walking with a guide down a trail we were led to this little business venture by some ambitious Maasai. We smiled, fingered the trinkets, but I don’t believe any of us bought anything.
Adventure personified–the day of the safari in Nairobi, Kenya on the continent of Africa.
Jet lag is a reality as is demonstrated in my own life by the fact that it is now 5:06 am on Tuesday and that I have been awake since 2:00 and up since a bit after 3:00. Our delightful 12-day trip to Africa and Italy ended on Friday with a smooth landing at LAX. Rebecca and Nathaniel were there to drive us to our home, and when I opened the car door there was Winston, our great dog, wagging his tail–indeed his entire body. Bek had tied a big red bow around his neck, and he wore a sign that read Welcome Home. Jet lag tends to be worse as one travels eastward, as certainly was the case with our entire group our first few days in Nairobi. Many of us were awake for long periods around 2:00 in the morning. East to West typically is less taxing, and I have done very well until this morning. So, since I hate to lie wakeful in bed, I’ve been up drinking coffee, reading, praying, and reviewing this glorious trip.
On Thursday two vans picked up our group of 11 to take us to Nairobi National Park for a Safari. After our drivers had parked the vans and before we entered the safari area, we joined with a group of persons who were entertaining near the admission gate. I first went into a restroom and when I came out, there was Jerry right in the middle of the dancers, who I learned were of the Maasai tribe. Many Maasai live in the Kenya area. As we traveled into the city proper one day on what is considered a main highway I was startled to see numbers of cattle roaming about. I learned then that the cardinal means of living for the Maasai is cattle herding, and that they consider any open ground as fair game to graze their herds.
They are beautiful, tall lean people who are extremely agile as is demonstrated by their high leaping and jumping.
Someone pushed me into the dance group. The dancers circled us and dressed us in their garb and soon began chanting, leaping, and dancing. Jerry and I did our best to dance the African steps, but a couple of videos I have seen of our efforts were little short of abysmal.
The dancers gathered about Jerry at the conclusion of the dances, and as he dug around in his pockets for tip money and considered a shilling of 10, they indicated no. Two 10s would be better. And so it was!
We’re so attached to Winston, that both Jerry and I were sad when we dropped him off at Rebecca’s, but he’ll be fine, for Rebecca’s dog, Paisley, is Winston’s sister, and they love being together. Sweet Nathaniel loaded our things into his car, and we were off to LAX. Horrendous traffic, but finally we were there. Met up with Steve and his group, checked documents, obtained boarding passes . . .and we blasted into the sky on a magnificent 747. I’ll never get over my amazement that such creations holding 400 people can move with great precision across the globe.
A trip such as this one has been described as brutal, for it calls for virtually traveling from one side of the world to the other. A few details may help you see this. We left LAX at 11:00, flew up the coast to San Francisco. From there a ten-hour to Frankfurt, and from there to Nairobi, an 8 hour flight. By the time we arrived in our room, it was Tuesday evening, and we had left our home 24 hours before. It definitely was the longest time of air travel for me, but I was surprised at how well I felt when I plopped into a comfy bed at midnight. Worth every second of the grueling day.
Before I finish writing of this trip I will endeavor to express my love and appreciation for our hosts here, Brother and Sister Aston Ngota, and will strive to describe to some extent the compound here; the printing room, the beautiful church, the kitchen, the chickens, the building in which we have a 2 bedroom suite, as do Steve and Dearrah. Gracious and godly people. Brother Aston and his staff picked us up at the airport, midst a mild cool rain; Sister Aston met us at our rooms in which she had placed hot chicken soup, fruit, sandwiches and other fine things.
The picture below is of the building in which we’re staying, looking back on the trail that leads to the kitchen where we have been served delicious meals.
The conferece does not start until Friday, so we have a couple of days for some sight-seeing. Wednesday the church graciously supplied two church vans, along with drivers to show us around a bit. Highlight of the day was a visit to one of the markets.
An interesting moment occured when the young girl in the white shirt pictured above beside me complained that I did not buy anything from her stall and that I was just taking pictures and would probably charge for them. I am careful of people’s feelings when I take pictures in such situations, and if I am close range to a person and want to photograph them, I ask their permission, as I had done of the lady in the booth to which this young girl referred. Steve joined the conversation and offered to have me photograph them. They declined, then their vibrant friendly brother pulled on a hat and said, “Take my picture.” I did and told him I would send it to him if he gave me his email address. The conversation with all of them became sweet and tender as you can see. Bottom line: We gathered about them, Steve led in prayer, and they have promised to attend one night of the conference.
Thursday plans: A safari!
I write this first segment aboard a Lufthansa plane, at an elevation of 37,200 feet. Set against a crystal blue sky, the surging aircraft–with me in it–is traveling at a ground speed of more than 500 mph. Far beneath us I see a river. The screen attached to the seat ahead tells me the river is called the Nile, and I think of Moses, and bulrushes, and a floating baby basket. We will reach our destination in 2 hours and a half. The city of the airport is Nairobi, the country is Kenya, the continent is Africa.
I find it hard to believe I am here.
Jerry called from the living room, where he sat with Steve, to me in the kitchen in the afternoon following lunch, Easter Sunday 2017. “Want to go to Africa tomorrow?”
“I said do you want to go to Africa tomorrow.”
“What are you talking about?” I questioned as I walked into the living room.
And so began the trip. I knew Steve and Dearrah were flying on Monday to Nairobi, Kenya where Steve would preach during a church conference, then on to Rome for a few days of sight-seeing. I knew that, and that a few people from his church would be going with them. But we had not figured into those plans in any way.
“Why don’t you and Mom go with us,” Steve had said after Jerry casually asked of the airline price for the trip. “We bought rooms at a group rate, and it was cheaper for us to add a room we didn’t need, so your rooms would be paid for.”
Jerry and I stared at each other. Then we grinned, began talking of appointments, hotel reservations and such we had for the coming days, and that we could cancel them all, how that our passports were up to date, how much fun it would be, and that because of my cancer treatments last year when our 60th wedding anniversary rolled around we hadn’t really celebrated it, and this trip could take care of that little lapse, and that the fares were exceedingly reasonable . . .
Steve made phone calls to his secretary, Evette, to assure that seats were available on all the flights we would need. They were. We said yes. We were laughing, Dearrah and I hugged, and Steve reminded us we would have to cancel our plans to attend a drama that evening, get home as quickly as we could for Evette needed our passport numbers, visas must be arranged, travel insurance bought, packing for us, phone calls, and such. Our drive home before we could even begin the process was two hours and a half. The first flight was out of LAX at 11:00 on Monday morning, we needed to be there at 9:00, and the airport is a 2 hour drive from our house, so we would leave at 6:30 am, take Winston to Rebecca’s and transfer our luggage to Nate’s car.
I called Rebecca to ask her to keep Winston and to get Nathaniel to drive us to the airport. “We’re going to Africa tomorrow.” Stone silence. “We’re going to Africa.” When she could finally talk, it was to say how excited she was for us, and that of course she and Nate would help us with the airport trek, and with looking after Winston.
Panic set in a few minutes after we walked into the house. I could not find our passports. I keep mine in a desk drawer in a folder named Important Documents; Jerry keeps his in one of his dresser drawers. Neither passport was in its place. Expired ones were, and a copy of our current, valid one, but I could find neither of our passports. I was trembling. Called Steve. Asked how much time we had. Could the airline tickets be cancelled? “Keep looking, Mom. I’ll make phone calls.”
I tore the house apart, checked in pockets of all our luggage, pawed again through the places they should be, checked folders in the desk, and finally out of two drawers of a four-drawer file I took every file folder and plopped them on the floor, thinking maybe mine had slipped out of its file. Nothing. I went upstairs to the room where we keep our pictures and travel mementos. Same word: Nothing. I was sick.
Back to the study. I opened again the bottom file drawer, took everything out of there, and discovered a large file with ISRAEL/ISTANBUL scrawled over its face. I looked through it, and there among maps, cards and notes was my passport. I grabbed it up, ran in the bedroom. “I found mine.” Poor guy, Jerry had pulled a chair up to the dresser, still searching, and was just pulling out the entire big drawer when I walked in. “Maybe it’s behind there.” IT WAS! I reached my hand far to the back, and there wedged against the rear wall was Jerry’s passport. Somehow it had slipped over the edge of the drawer and had jammed there.
This message from our beloved Nona Freeman was posted today by “Kneemail” in the comment section of one of my other pieces. (There is a video of Sister Freeman in that piece.) I’m taking the liberty of making it a separate post so that these beautiful words may be read by more persons. Sometimes we wait until after persons have gone to tell them how special they are, and how much they have blessed our lives. Let’s not let that happen with Sister Freeman. After you read her letter, if she has ministered to you, please tell of it in the comment section. I will let her family know of this column.
Through the years, Sister Freeman has been a tremendous source of inspiration to me. Now in her waning days, I want her to know that I love and respect her, and that her books, stories, sacrifices and messages have surely enriched our entire Apostolic movement. It won’t be long now, Sister Freeman, until together we will bow before that majestic throne of Jesus, our Saviour, the one who has saved us, and has made us brothers and sisters in Him. Happy day! What a happy day! Come, Lord Jesus.
Dear Friends and Fans of Nona Freeman; December 8, 2009
Greetings in the name of Jesus. This is just to update everyone about my condition. The Lord has blessed me to live 93 wonderful years and as the lyrics record truly, ‘I Don’t Regret A Mile I’ve Traveled For The Lord.’ God has been my constant love and keeper. I marked my 70th year in the ministry April 12, 2009. My life has been one amazing blessing and miracle after another. I had a loving childhood; married a man that I still love to this day and God blessed me with five amazing children.
We were called to Africa but long before we got to go there our hearts were there; then 41 years later we returned to the United States. After the death of my beloved husband ‘E.L. ‘Bug’ Freeman in 1999 my wonderful daughter Sandra Freeman has devoted her life to seeing I have been able to continue my ministry that God called me to when I was but a child. I am blessed to still enjoy the benefits of my new computer my supporters blessed me with for my 70th ministerial anniversary that I am sending this message to you on.
I am sorry but I am no longer able to continue my schedule due to my health from sickness I suffered in January 2009. God has blessed me not only with a wonderful daughter to see I can carry on my ministry but wonderful aides that devote their time to see the work of Nona Freeman; my ministry, my books and messages can still go out.
I am sorry I am not nor have been able to take personal calls as I desire and have done so in the past; my energy just does not allow it now.
For a few weeks now I have been under the care of hospice that comes to my home. Please bear in mind; I am in no pain but I am ready for God to take me. I am getting weaker. I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith and I have traveled the world in obedience to Gods call on my life to answer the call God placed on mine and Bugs heart to carry this Jesus name gospel. Our ministry has been our life. I have the greatest family a person could ever have but I am ready to see my Jesus, my mother and my daughter Marla now gone to be with the Lord; many other loved ones, prophets and apostles of old. But next to Jesus my heart is so longing to see my ‘Bug’. I miss him more every day.
I am honored for every prayer that has been prayed for me and ask your continual prayers in the days ahead. May all of my precious supporters have the best holiday and my prayer is not only for 2010 but the rest of your lives be filled with the blessings of Jesus. Please remember me and the name of Jesus I have and will always uphold. Until we meet again, Sister Nona Freeman
Jerry and I flew into the Oakland airport on Wednesday, spent a couple of days with our friends the Robisons and now are in Oakley, Ca., where Friday night we were part of the beautiful celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of our very dear friends, Don and Abby O’Keefe. Jerry and I went to Bible school in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Abigail before any of us were ever married.
The church they pastor hosted this splendid event, which was exquisite, and tastefully done. Brownstone Gardens, a spread of more than three acres that is owned by one of the families in the church Rev. O’Keefe pastors, was the site of the festivities.
More than 150 persons joined to honor this exceptional couple who have given their lives to the ministry of Jesus Christ. They founded the United Pentecostal Church in Antioch, now pastor a church in Pittsburg, California, and for more than 25 years were missionaries to the continent of Africa. Rev. O’Keefe is currently the Foreign Missions director of the Western District of the UPCI.
Fish swam in the centerpieces. (Problem loading pictures. Will post them later.)
Jerry and I are the designated chaperones for our friends who are celebrating their anniversary; Saturday we drove with them to Monterey, where last night for dinner Jimmy and Bobbie Shoemake joined us.
We’re staying at a very modest Howard Johnson motel, with a very immodest price. Out front their sign says free wireless internet. When, last night, I tried to get on and couldn’t, I called the front desk.
“Could you please tell me how to get on the internet.”
“Uh, are you bringing up Comfort Inn?”
“Well, their password is…… Just type that in. It’s good for both user name and password.”
“Excuse me. You don’t have internet service here?”
“Well, yes, we do, but it’s cable. You must use the cable.”
“…but your sign out front….”
“Oh, does it say that?”
Anyway, I’m using the internet from Comfort Inn well up the street, and I’ve been hours trying to load pictures, so I’m giving up. Check back later. 😦
The man is amazing.
During recent days, Professor Stephen Hawking at 66 years old is reported to have traveled to South Africa. Despite suffering from motor neurone disease which has left him almost completely paralysed, Hawking has made the journey to launch a project in which he and other key intellectuals and scientists will be searching out the very brilliant who reside in the continent of Africa. He and others have plans to create Africa’s first postgraduate centers for advanced maths and physics
“The world of science needs Africa’s brilliant talents and I look forward to meeting prospective young Einsteins from Africa,” said Hawking.
Hawking’s keynote lecture this afternoon is expected to be the highpoint of the ceremonies in Cape Town. When he gave a talk at the Caltech campus in Pasadena in the United States, he was wheeled out of the auditorium to a standing ovation and took a victory lap in his wheel-chair while the crowd shouted: “We love you, Stephen.”
Hawking is expected to repeat his call for a global effort to enable humanity to colonise space, starting with the moon and then Mars. Turok’s hopes are more down to earth: he wants to persuade the British government to rethink its refusal to fund the Aims project.
What a brilliant, courageous man is Professor Stephen Hawking.
My devotional blog is here.