30 December 2009

sanyati, zimbabwe

sanyati baptist hospital continues to serve hundreds of patients each day, even with chronic shortages of water, electricity and essential medicine. with the economic crisis in zimbabwe, the bush hospital lacks even basic supplies like mattresses and ceilings.

the week i was there, a shipment of medicines from baptist global response arrived. these medicines have allowed the hospital to continue treating patients, even when the rest of the country has shut down.

baptist global response hopes to complete a renovation of the facility in the near future.

a woman with a broke hip lies near her open bible in the inpatient ward of the hospital.

the hospital chaplain prays with a patient.

the children's ward quickly became my favorite place at sanyati. here are three of my closest friends there: benhilda, basil, and the baby.

a mother comforts her young son who is unable to move from his bed.

a man gets his vitals checked before he sees the doctor. one doctor provides care for hundreds of clinic patients each day, as well inpatient care.

(i dont have my notebook. i'll (maybe) update the captions with names later.)

06 November 2009

(a beautiful poem, from a true and beautiful friend)

instructions upon entering darkness

You must hibernate:
Gather food,
Hold your rosary,
Hope (try to).

Always surround yourself with books,
not to read (necessarily)
But to remind yourself that some things
do last
and new stories are retold.
Transformation with time.

Don't talk too much,
Lips need slumber too.
Learn to listen,
Ears need constant vigilance.
Only then will you know inherent value.

Drink wine with friends who don't
rush your pain.
Believe that humility rarely shows
up without humiliation.

Turn your face to the sky:
The earth will continue to rotate around an axis
toward the sun's rays.
Winter is coming,
Spring will come after.
The deep sleep will be aroused...
It will.

A frozen river still rushes water deep within.

And when the ice does thaw,
don't forget.
The sea was parted, the walls were tumbled,
the way was prepared.
Remember--for this will come again--
Just as the leaves fall, fertilize and recloak
the oaks of righteousness.

rebecca mcneil smith

14 October 2009

a poem i love. which, i think, could also be appropriately titled, how to be alive.

How To Be a Poet

by Wendell Berry

(to remind myself)


Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.


Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.


Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
more photos of the street boys in nairobi.

02 October 2009

You who are God’s servants are living in a foreign country, for your own city-state is far away from this city-state. Knowing which is yours, why do you acquire fields, costly furnishings, buildings, and frail dwellings here? Anyone who acquired things for himself in this city cannot expect to find the way home to his own City. Do you not realize that all these things here do not belong to you, that they are under a power alien to your nature? The ruler will say you do not obey my laws, either observe my laws or get out of my country, Take care lest it prove fatal to you to repudiate your own laws. Acquire no more here than what is absolutely necessary. Instead of fields, buy for yourselves people in distress in accordance with your means.

-Hermas, 140 AD

30 August 2009

remember that time sam went to college?

this is when sam drives.

when sam pretends to be a lazy hippie.

when i take a gratuitous self portrait.

when sam makes her crazyface.

when sam pretends to be literate.

when sam is pretty.

when dad is displeased.

when mom is happy.

when sam tries to electrocute the baby.

hannah at dinner. (sam and hannah have known each other since they were tiny babies in memphis.)

papaw. (papaw was our next-door neighbor/grandfather growing up.)

taylorday. (a friend ive known since i was about two.)

mother and daughter. (laura and layla at dinner.)

sam and hannah.

23 August 2009

lesotho, part 3

john stokes the coal fire one evening when the temperature drops below freezing.

therron reads and reflects on a sunday morning before church.

the guys have a ton of time for reading. it is like a winter sabbatical, surrounded by beauty and the company of good thinkers.

john plays football with some of the village children before church.

john holds a young girl as they wait for her parents to get home.

22 August 2009

lesotho, part 2

i think this is my favorite image from this coverage. therron shows a young girl how to blow a dandelion.

john and therron work in the corn fields with a local pastor.

john throws an ear of corn into the harvest pile.

john plays with a little boy, swinging him around in circles, before church on a sunday morning.

john and therron spend some time talking to a man on their way home from visiting shepherds at the top of the mountain.

21 August 2009

lesotho, part 1

while i was in lesotho a couple months ago (difficult to believe it was a that long ago), we met three men serving as "winter missionaries" serving in a remote area of the kingdom.

john, drew and therron spent their summer living in a village in the mountains. they went with a commission: "be jesus in that place."

no electricity, no running water and very cold nights. they spent their days working in the fields with the men, playing with children from the village, helping build gardens. at night drank tea and hot chocolate, reading the saints by candlelight: merton and tozer and lewis and all of the rest.

the guys lived in the small house next to the local baptist church.

drew, wrapped in a sleeping bag and several blankets, sleeps on the floor of the small shack. on sunday mornings, the guys sleep in, reading and enjoying some down time before church.

the guys share morning coffee and reading on a very cold sunday morning.

the guys hike up a mountain early one morning to spend time with the shepherds who stay there.

drew and john make their way back down the mountain

more tomorrow. (maybe.)

19 August 2009

Please Call Me By My True Names
Thich Nhat Hanh

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

26 July 2009

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

24 July 2009

a letter, from my friend eunice.

Dear friends,

My names are Eunice Ng'ang'a and am a volunteer with Colours of the Cross-Nairobi Street Kids Ministry. We basically make an effort to try and reach out to the street children.
I would like to introduce to you the late Antony Maina aka Maish.
Maish met his death on 23/07/2009 at Riverside(a back street nairobi downtown) at around 11am after he was hit by a matatu (minibus) that was trying to overtake while standing on the side of the road. he died while being rushed to hospital.His body is lying at they city mortuary. i went over to see him this afternoon-it was very hard!this may not be new to some of us on the conditions of city mortuaty and would not want to go into details of what a saw.We are trying to reach his parents and relatives and i wish we could move his body to chiromo as we venture into this,the conditions are much better there. Maish ran away from home at least 6yrs ago after his mother died and his father remarried.his step mom was however not so nice to him and he ran way.after being on the street for sometime he realised life was harder there and decided to go back home but the reception he got made him think otherwise and he opted to be on the street.Before he met his death we had a chance of hanging out with him and his friends every day for one week for atleast 2-3hrs in the company of his friends.when we(my friend Kristen and i) interved him on friday 17/07/2009 he expressed his wish to go back home ask for his parents forgiveness and hopefully go back to school(std 6). Maish has had a lot of shortcomings as well as making many wrong decisions in life but if you had a chance to interact with him he was agreat kid!there is so much to say about him.however at a tender age( about 17yrs) he never got the chance to correct his mistakes but he was sorry about it all!as we give him a decent send off please remember the at least 20 young boys(between 10-18yrs) and 1 girl(13yrs) at the base where he stayed(riverside).this not mentioning all the other countless street kids all over this country and the world at large.

If you feel compelled to join us as we purpose to give Maish a decent send off please write back (eunice_ngng@yahoo.com) or call me on 0723 741 704.

In Christ,

(facebook link)

eunice shares with with antony and massai one morning last week.

antony poses for a photo at riverside, where the boys stay.

23 July 2009

nairobi, kenya

this is peter, called massai. someone was trying to take his glue, and
they pushed him into the fire. he burnt his bare feet, and was lying,
doubled over, screaming "why, why, why". the government official came
and beat him with a stick, because he wouldnt be quiet. here, one of
the other boys is trying to comfort him.

all my hope is in this:
jesus christ has not forgotten peter.
jesus christ loves peter.

25 June 2009

binghampton, memphis

marquianna and qui qui practice a dance in the front yard.

new baby ken-- naps on the bed while his older brothers and sister play outside.

keneshia yells at God, "God, you bring on the rain! just bring it on!"

tay tay drinks water from the hose on a hot summer day.

21 June 2009

you should at times go out

you should at times go out
from where the faithful kneel,
visit the slums of doubt
and feel what the lost feel;

you should at times walk on,
away from your friends' ways,
go where the scorned have gone,
pass beyond blame and praise;

and at times you should quit
(ah yes) your sunny home,
sadly awhile should sit,
even, in wrong's dark room,

or ever, suddenly,
by simple bliss betrayed,
you shall be forced to flee,
unloved, alone, afraid.

elizabeth daryush

20 May 2009

do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.

John Wesley

18 April 2009

india (cont.)

pastor r (standing, right) was persecuted for his christian faith by radical hindus in his village. they beat him, and tried to drown them. when the tsunami hit in 2004, he asked a missionary to bring help to his village, even to those who had tried to kill him. now he has several ministries in the neighborhood, and a good relationship with the hindu leaders.
here, he prays for a hindu woman who tried to commit suicide after her husband and son abused her.

17 April 2009

india (cont.)

a man in a village on the coast

11 April 2009

people love you the most for the things you hate
and hate you for loving the things that you cannot keep straight
people judge you on a curve
and tell you you’re getting what you deserve
this too shall be made right

children cannot learn when children cannot eat
stack them like lumber when children cannot sleep
children dream of wishing wells
whose waters quench all the fires of Hell
this too shall be made right

the earth and the sky and the sea are all holding their breath
wars and abuses have nature groaning with death
we say we’re just trying to stay alive
but it looks so much more like a way to die
this too shall be made right

there’s a time for peace and there is a time for war
a time to forgive and a time to settle the score
a time for babies to lose their lives
a time for hunger and genocide
this too shall be made right

I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door
I join the oppressors of those who i choose to ignore
I’m trading comfort for human life
and that’s not just murder it’s suicide
this too shall be made right

(about once a year, i rediscover derek webb. he sings truth. if youve not heard, you can download his album the ringing bell for free on noisetrade.com)

india (cont.)

tsumani relief gave a small fellowship voice in their community and increased their church from 12 members to over 100.

10 April 2009

india (cont.)

five years after the tsunami, families are still living in temporary housing. the livelihoods of the men in this small fishing village are now threatened by a resort being built nearby which will block their access to the ocean.