(The picture is of our group, minus Anthony who was taking it. From
right to left, Paul, Luke, JH, me, David, Laura, Heather, and Meg.)

This Sabbath afternoon was the occasion of our most vigorous Sabbath
Stroll yet. After a large potluck lunch at Paul and Petra's house, we
decided to embark on our adventure. The members of our expedition
included myself and Paul, Joel Hatline (to be referred to as JH, to
avoid confusion) and Luke Pierson (American construction volunteers),
Meg, Heather, Laura, and David (British med students), and Anthony (an
Australian engineer.) We started out in the pouring rain, only to be
halted by the locked gate at the back of the hospital compound. The
guard who usually mans the gate, being much wiser than the crazy
faranjis, was inside somewhere, out of the rain. Determined not to
robbed of our Sabbath afternoon walk, Paul, JH, Luke and I hopped the
8 foot chainlink fence topped with barbed wire (sustaining a few minor
injuries) and continued on. At least for a few feet, until we
realized that the rest of the crew (those hailing from countries other
than the USA, I might add) had not followed our example. So we
graciously waited for them to go back up through the compound, out the
main gate, and then back down to where we were.

We proceeded down a steep, muddy road (it had stopped raining btw),
which turned into a trail, which turned into a meadow. By now the sun
was shining and as befitting the now exuberant spirit of the day, I
scampered down the path, practicing my mudskating skills, while the
others came along at a slightly more sedate pace. Next we came to a
small stream, which, to my slight dismay, everybody crossed without
incident (oh well, I guess we were all pretty wet, even without a swim
in the stream.) Then up a steep little hill we panted, serenaded by
the chatter of a group of excited young cowherds. Most of the people
here seem to view anybody with light skin as some sort of zoo
escapee--especially the kids. They're always excited to see a
faranji. Once up, we followed a few cowtrails around the curve of a
few more hills, dashing through the jungle, trying to chart a safe
path between the thistles and the mud. It was turning out to be a
gorgeous day!

It was at this point that I decided to climb higher up the hill we
were skirting in an effort to avoid a patch of underbrush. Because of
the steepness of the hill and my rate of ascent, and because it was
probably easier and definitely shorter to just go through the
underbrush, I was not joined by my companions. I was planning to drop
back down to meet up with them after clearing the brush, but I had not
counted on what I would find at the top of the hill. I got to the top
and was admiring the view, when I noticed two things. First, I saw a
tall hill in front of me, the tallest one around. We hadn't climbed
it before in our wanderings so it was definitely calling my name. I
was about to go back down to the group and head toward the hill with
them, but then I saw the second interesting sight; human heads bobbing
up and down beyond a row of bushes. Intrigued, I ventured over to see
what they were doing and discovered a fairly well-traveled path.
Enticed by this winding way, I stepped onto the path and was soon
skating down slick slope with the rest of the travelers.

The trail dipped into a valley below and crossed a rushing brown river
over a cool log bridge, before beginning to climb the tall hill I'd
had my eye on earlier. I was still separated from the rest of the
faranjis, but I figured the rest of the group would probably head for
the tall hill as well. So I started up. And up. And up. It was a
really steep hill! At one point I staggered through a herd of cows
and shortly after heard surprised shouts below me. "Youyouyouyou!"
Two small cowherds were apparently shocked to find that a faranji had
somehow appeared on the hillside above them (I guess they hadn't heard
my gasps as I passed them.) After a little while longer I finally
reached the top. And boy, what a view! The air was crystal clear and
I could see the hills and vallies roll for miles. I was on the side
facing the hospital and it looked surprising close (and it probably
was--as the crow flies anyway.) The side of the hill I'd been
climbing was mostly cleared, but at the top it was covered in a dense
forest. I waited for the others for a few minutes and then decided to
explore the forest. I circled through and stopped to take in the view
from the other side before coming back to look for my companions
again. They still were nowhere to be found.

By now it was about 4:45. I decided that the chances of meeting up
with the rest of the group were now probably pretty slim, so I decided
to forge on and check out another cool hill I'd sighted, to the north.
It was strangely pyramid-shaped, with a bunch of spiraling lines
circling it. It was bare except for a little patch of trees on the
top. I plotted my course to the hill from my lofty vantage point and
set off. Since I didn't have to worry about waiting for anybody else,
I ran down the slope and across the little valley. There was a few
houses and some people working out in their corn patches who I greeted
as I passed by. Then I crossed the path that I'd been following
earlier. There were still plenty of people walking back from town and
one young man accosted me as I burst onto the path. "Hey, were you
go?" "To that hill," I pointed, before continuing down into the forest
off the trail. Judging by the shouts behind me, they were definitely
not used to faranis' Sabbath walks--especially not ones who didn't
stick to the safe paths. I preferred to think that they were cheering
me on. I crossed another small stream at the bottom of the valley and
then headed up the pyramid. The sides were pretty rocky, and I think
the rocks were igneous, which might explain the curious shape of the
hill (or it might not--I'm definitely not a geologist!)

I reached the top around 5:00 and peered curiously into the gloomy
forested patch. I had to see what the forest was hiding at the very
top of this pyramid. Unfortunately, this forest patch was blanketed
with nettles. Now, I don't know if any of you have had previous
experience with nettles, but they're nasty stinging plants. And these
were african nettles--they bite even through your clothes. Now I was
really curious to see if anything special was at the top of the
pyramid, both hidden by the forest and guarded by the nettles. So I
armed myself with a stick and set about creating a path into the
center. After a few minutes of flailing, I broke through the ring of
nettles and found myself at the base of an enormous tree. It was
higher than all the others and right at the peak of the pyramid. It
was pretty cool:) But there was nothing else terribly exciting that I
could see, and since it was getting on towards sunset, I figured I'd
better head back. I whacked a path back to the outside world and got
my bearings for the return trip. The route I'd followed thus far was
two sides of a narrow triangle, with long sides and a relatively short
base, between the two hills. I could see the Hospital from where I
was at; it's set on a the side of a hill and is a pretty good

I set off running down the side of my pyramid and circled around to
follow a ridge that was roughly in line with the Hospital. This was
probably my favorite part of the trip, running into the sunset,
following the little trail as it dropped down the ridgeline,
zigzagging through the woods, darting through bokolo (corn) fields,
and through little clusters of huts. Occasionally I would come around
a corner to see a few of the inhabitants of the huts. I can only
imagine the thoughts going through these people's heads as they hoed
their gardens or washed their clothes or whatever, peacefully whiling
away the hours, only to be abruptly startled out of their daily
routine as a crazy faranji dashed through their backyard, with a
brief, cheerful, "Fayadha!" The adults were merely startled, but the
kids were always terribly excited. Several even followed me for a
little bit. Finally the trail dropped into a valley and turned right,
following a large stream. I needed to cross the stream to continue my
line back to the Hospital, but I couldn't find any way across which
didn't involve fording the flooded stream. So, I found a decent
place, took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my pants, and waded
across. This is where I sustained my only other injury of note (the
first being when I tumbled over the fence), twisting my ankle slightly
between two rocks as I forded the river. Fortunately it wasn't
serious, and I was able to continue on without much trouble. I
climbed the hill on the other side, and thanks to the help of a
friendly farmer, found my way back onto familiar territory, coming out
onto another path, which we'd traveled down on previous Sabbath hikes.
I returned to the Hospital without incident, arriving about 6:10.

Petra and Shaunda were just heading out the door to go play for the
patients, so I changed and joined them. By now I was feeling the
effects of my vigorous excursion, and despite my large lunch, was
famished, as well as tired. We played some hymns on each of the wards
and then headed back to the house for some much-appreciated supper and

For those who were wondering about the rest of the group, they
eventually made their way up to the tall hill, arriving there about
the time I was getting to the top of the pyramid. From that point
they turned south and headed back to Gimbie (whereas I had ventured
north.) They managed to find a swamp on the way back and from what I
heard (and saw), had an exciting time; especially when the mud came
over the top of Laura's wellies (boots). :) But they all got back
safely, a little while after I did.

All in all, it was a wonderful expedition!

P.S. Thanks for the comments on the blogs. I can't actually see my
blog once it's posted (Blogger is blocked here--I email posts to my
blog and it emails me the comments); hence the lack of replies, but I
do appreciate the feedback. If you want to get in touch with me and
actually get a response, email (sonic1100atgmaildotcom) is the best



AY Talk- Man of God

These are my notes for a talk I gave on Sabbath for the local AY
group. They are fairly rough for at least two reasons: first, since I
was speaking with a translator, I had to adjust my talk, and second, I
haven't edited my speaking notes into a proper written essay. Please
don't judge them too harshly:)
It was really cool how God gave me a topic. Friday morning I opened
my Bible up to 1 Kings 13. I hadn't read this story for at least a
year, but as I was reading it, the Holy Spirit brought all kinds of
lessons to my mind. That afternoon I sat down to compile my thoughts
and the talk virtually seemed to write itself! It was pretty neat
watching the Holy Spirit at work.
The presentation went well (until my laptop battery died and I had to
give the last third from memory) and God blessed. There were at least
80 people and they seemed to enjoy the talk. I hope it was as much of
a learning experience for them as it was for me! Thank you all for
your prayers:)

The Man of God: Miracles and Mistakes

Israel has been split in two. A man named Jeroboam rebelled against
King Solomon's son, Rehoboam. He took 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel
and they started their own nation.

Things seemed to be going pretty well for Jeroboam. After all, he had
10 of the 12 tribes with him. That's a pretty large majority. But
there was one thing that troubled him. The Temple was in Jerusalem,
in the land of Judah. Rehoboam had control over Jerusalem. Jeroboam
didn't want his people going to the Temple in Jerusalem--they might
want to return to Rehoboam.

So he came up with a plan. He would build two golden calves in his
territory and let the people worship them. Then they wouldn't go to
the Temple of God where they might think about deserting him. Do you
think God was happy about this? Do you think He liked the idea of his
people worshiping idols; golden statues that couldn't think or feel?

Let's pick up the story in verse 1 of chapter 13. (read through verse 3)

Man of God is sent by God to Jeroboam with a message: "You're going
the wrong way! You're worshiping false gods, and even worse--you're
teaching the people to do likewise. This is an abomination!"
This message is a warning. God was merciful--He didn't kill the
rebellious king and his people right away, He wanted to give them a
chance to repent. He even worked a miracle to try to get their
attention; the altar cracked in half and all the ashes fell onto the

But instead of being grateful for God's mercy and repenting, King
Jeroboam reacts in anger. He calls for his guards to seize the man of
God. King Jeroboam had no respect for God's messenger. It is clear
what he thought of the message of mercy. But God still didn't strike
the king dead for his arrogance. The king was worshiping false gods;
he was even leading the people to follow his example in worshiping
idols. Then he reacted with anger when God gave him a chance to
repent. But God was still patient with him.

Now God tries even harder to get the king's attention. As Jeroboam
gestures furiously at the prophet, singling him out for certain death,
God causes the king's hand to wither. Finally, He has Jeroboam's
attention. "Please ask God to heal me," he says to the Man of God.
Notice that Jeroboam did not acknowledge his sin. He did not ask for
forgiveness for leading the people of Israel astray. He was concerned
only about his own welfare. But God listened to the prayer of the Man
of God and healed Jeroboam's hand.

What happens next? King Jeroboam invites the Man of God over to his
house for food and offers to give him gifts. What is he doing? He's
trying to buy him off! To bribe him! Jeroboam thinks God can be
bought. Can God be bribed? Jeroboam still isn't listening to God.
First he tried to silence God's messenger by force, now he's trying to
pay him to be quiet.

The prophet might have been tempted by the king's offer. I imagine
King Jeroboam could have given him some pretty nice gifts; good food,
horses, clothes, money... If I was him, I might have been tempted.
But God in His wisdom had given the Man of God advance warning. He
had given the prophet a special message designed to keep him safe.
The Lord had told him "You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor
return by the way you came." And that's what he did.

Wow! What do you think of this guy? He's bold huh? First he travels
into occupied territory and boldly tells the enemy king that he's
sinning against God (in the presence of all his soldiers), then he
stares down the angry king and waits for God to save his life, and now
he even refuses the king's gifts! This is truly a man of God!

But the Bible does not record only the nice things. The Bible tells
the truth. And the truth is even brave men of God can make mistakes
and turn their backs on Him.

There was another prophet who lived nearby. But he was a false
prophet. He had not followed God, and Satan used him to bring down
the Man of God. He heard about what had happened and. . .

Read 14-19

And just like that, the Man of God fell. Satan is tricky, isn't he!
But he uses the same tricks over and over. By looking carefully at
the principles of this story, we can resist Satan. Just like God gave
the prophet a message that was intended to keep him safe, He has given
us a message to keep us safe.

So what principles of resisting Satan can we find in this story?
Let's learn from the prophet's mistakes.

Wrong place - God told him to return, and judging by his command not
to stay around long enough even to get a drink, He wanted him to
return promptly. Instead, he's sitting down on the job. He is
resting under a tree. He was probably thinking, "I've gotten past the
hard part. I was faithful in delivering the message; I stood firm
when the king threatened me; I even remembered what God said about not
eating the food when the king was being nice. I think I've done a
pretty good job. Surely it's okay to rest under this tree for awhile.
God probably doesn't mind me slacking off for a little while." He
was resting when he should have been moving forward.

Luke 9:62 says no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is
fit for the Kingdom of God. If we want to successfully resist Satan,
we can't be lazy. We need to pay attention and work diligently to do
what God says.

The Man of God was in the wrong place at the wrong time by his own
choice. Sometimes God allows hard things to happen to us, but many
times we bring temptations on ourselves. Some situations we can't
avoid, but there are many things we can avoid, that God has warned us
about. We need to be careful not to put ourselves in danger by
stepping outside of God's will.

Second, he allowed himself to get in an argument with Satan's agent.
When Jesus was being tempted by the devil, He didn't try to reason; He
quoted Scripture. The devil is much smarter than we are, and if we
hang around and try to reason with him, we will fall. The Man of God
knew what the motive of the false prophet was; he shouldn't have
lingered to have a discussion.

So the first mistake the prophet made was to put himself on dangerous
ground by not diligently carrying out God's commands. The second was
hanging around to parley with the enemy.

And the third mistake was allowing himself to be persuaded to directly
contradict God's instructions. The false prophet directly
contradicted what God had told the Man of God. God hadn't given him
confusing commands. It wasn't hard to understand "Do not eat or drink
anything while you are there." But by putting himself on dangerous
ground, the Man of God had lowered his defenses and now he could not
withstand even the blatant attacks of the Enemy.

You probably know what happens next. The Man of God succumbed to the
temptation and on his way home, after eating with the false prophet;
he was killed by a lion.

You know, this is very similar to another story in the Bible. Do you
know what it is? Does this sound familiar? There was another tree,
which another person was tempted to linger by. She stayed to try to
reason with the Enemy, and then was persuaded to disregard a plain
command of God. This was the very first deception on Earth; when Eve
was tempted to eat the fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil.

And you know what? Satan hasn't changed his tactics. He used the
same tricks with the Man of God. And he uses the same tricks today;
that's why studying this story is helpful to us.

We can learn about the nature of God from this story. Exodus 34:6
says He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in
love. And that is the case in this story. God repeatedly shows mercy
to the wicked king Jeroboam, even healing him when the Man of God
prayed for him. God doesn't want anybody to die. He wants us to turn
from our sins and live.

There are also many lessons in this story for our church. God has
called us to give a message to the world. It is not an easy message.
Sometimes there will be scary situations. But God wants us to witness
for Him no matter how scary things may seem. Satan will try many
different ways to keep you from giving God's message. He will try
intimidation. He will try to bribe you with nice things. Money, land,
excellent food, cars, all the luxuries of the world . . .

God wants to keep us safe from the traps of Satan. That's one reason
why this story is in the Bible; so we can learn from it. When Satan
tempts us, we can remember the principles of resisting that the Man of
God didn't use. Don't put yourself outside of God's protection by
neglecting to be diligent in doing what He says; don't linger to
reason with the Enemy, and when confronted with something that is
plainly counter to God's commands, run away!

God has called us to be Men and Women of God today. He has provided
clear directions. And He has promised to protect us from the roaring
lion. May we be faithful to Him.