Friday, 20 September 2013

How Was Africa?

"How was Africa?"

Now that's a vast question. And rather hard to answer. So here's my best go at it:

I had a very unexpected last Summer of my ministry with BlueSky. Approaching this past Summer, I only felt anxiety and apprehension as the camp season came ever nearer. I remember feeling burnt-out and not prepared to perform what was required of me. (The Lord does know how to break us down.) 
       I remember sharing my spiritual status with all the collegiate camp staff at the beginning of the Summer and asking for prayer to live in the Word and hearing many others seeking a similar request of the rest. Finally, someone pointed out that we were a room full of broken people brought together by the Lord to do work in the name of Christ. It was the beginning of refreshment to know how broken his servants are and how unified and confident we can be in the name of Jesus. 
       I started to feel more ready, more able to fling my heart back into the work I was in Kenya to do. Staff training commenced, we all got to know each other better, and camp came together in a huge way. As is the way with every summer at BlueSky I've been a part of, the sessions only increased with each week pushing the limits of how many campers we could host and how much the camp staff could handle. The first two sessions being the smallest, with 90+ and 110+ respectively, were a mixture of the easiest and the hardest as we worked out all the programming difficulties, but were able to find some semblance of rest due to the low number of campers. I also found them to be a culmination of my ministry as those two sessions were largely attended by the two schools I had been the most intentional about. 
       The Lord was present! He was made known. Kids with hard heads and harder hearts started the week defiantly joking and pressing the limits to see how their counselors would react, & ended the week making a public profession that Jesus had awakened them. Kids I had been meeting for lunch periods throughout the school year (excellent visits mixed with some that got me depressed thinking they would never know the love of Christ), came to camp expecting nothing but fun with friends, but instead had their freakin' worlds flipped upside down when they saw the unadulterated love of Jesus. It was an amazing time to see the name of Jesus being proclaimed to the students I'd been around so many times but unable to speak blatant truth to, due to not wanting to be kicked off campus for proselytizing. I can't begin to express how freeing it was to walk around campus after the Wednesday night Cross Talk while all the kids were star gazing and to sit down with them so I could speak about Jesus. They would ask questions. I would do my best to express the inexpressible. It was freedom in Christ.
       The first two sessions, although arguably the culmination of my two year long ministry, were only the beginning. We had much more Summer to go and many adventures along the way, including, but not limited to, trips to rural Kenya, a crazy sickness that spread throughout all of camp staff save 5 people, trips to slums, trips to street kid ministries, getting t-boned by a matatu (an 11 passenger van), going to court (with a short time in hand cuffs), exploring some of the beautiful wilderness of Kenya, and going back to camp for three sessions in a row, with a record breaking amount of campers each week.
       The last three sessions were crammed with campers. The numbers reaching 150+, 160+, and 170+ respectively. It was borderline insanity by the final session. All in all, I believe we had over 720 kids (hundreds of whom had never been to camp before, or heard the truth of Jesus) come through camp. The Kingdom of God was made known in Camp BlueSky. What a way to finish my time in the ministry! 
       BlueSky is an incredible ministry. Kids from all walks of life and religions of the world, coming to one place to hear the Truth, the Word of God, in a way that may never be offered to them again. The Lord's Word does not go out and come back empty handed. I never would have been able to experience the ongoing work of the Lord in that community were it not for the work God has established through BlueSky. I have been blessed beyond understanding by this time of my life and am sad to see it come to an end. My time with BlueSky has shaped my understanding of God's love. 

Thank you, to all who supported financially and prayerfully, for contributing in a much needed way to the BlueSky Youth and Camp ministries. BlueSky provided a possibility for me to join in the work going on in Nairobi. The family of God provided the opportunity to pursue the calling God has laid on my heart. I never would have been able to go and stay as long as I did without the aid and support of the overwhelmingly loving family of God. Thank you, all, for participating in my life and ministry over these past two years and three months. If you ever see me in person, please ask me, "How was Africa?" I would love to tell you more.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Revelations, Resolution, & Reconciliation

Is it just me or are men and women very different?

       I recently had a fight with my boss. I'm not saying this is the whole of it, but a lot of the spat had to do with our differing opinions on the word help. 

(WARNING: The words you are about to read may become convoluted and verbose, and, in some cases, probably wrong. If you were to stop reading right now, I wouldn't blame you. These thoughts are coming from a homeschooled, youngest son, who only had four older brothers, one father, and one mother to tell him what girls/women are like.)

       It wasn't until we were in the midst of our reconciliation that my revelation struck. I don't know if this is the case with all men, or maybe just the men that I've witnessed acting like this (Sorry, brothers and Dad. This means you.), but, it seems to me, men hear, use, receive, infer the word help to mean "do." I realize this is a blanket statement and should be taken with a grain of salt, but, like actual blankets, blanket statements are cozy to the user, and, figuratively, I'm cold.
       If you had told me last week the very thing I just wrote, I would have disagreed with you and spouted off many situations where I used/heard the word help in many different ways than merely do, but I would be lying. With my revelation, dawned my misuse of the word, throughout my life. In requests to others, when asking "would you help me," I was really just saying "would you do this for me."In prayer, when asking God for help in struggles with my sin, I was really just saying "would you simply stop me from sinning." When responding to people who asked for help, I would offer them solutions to their situation, or even stop them from screwing it up and just do it myself. Help meant do, meant take over, meant fix the problem.
       My boss told me that she thought it meant support.

I won't get into the gory details of our little tiff; they're not worth mentioning. But I will tell you that she had asked for my help earlier in the day. I had told her that I would help. Then, later, when she actually needed my help, I offered a different solution that was reasonable and justified, but didn't involve me. This left her feeling as if I hadn't helped her at all.

       In my mind, I had done my part of helping. In her mind, I had abandoned her. 

       Shortly after that ordeal, she took a trip to the US for Christmas break. We hadn't had any time to talk over what had happened, or resolve whatever it was that we got irked over. I was a little distraught over the fact that we couldn't resolve this situation and knew that there would be a time that all the "ish" would hit the fan. If you're wondering why I'm writing all this, it's because that time happened earlier today.
       We talked for close to two hours, hashing and rehashing what had happened, never coming to any resolution. We both noticed where we both had failed to honor God. We both noticed where we were justified in our hearts behind our actions. We both saw that the other was right. We didn't know what to do next. Something felt wrong, like we couldn't resolve the past or even what to do in the future.
       You see, the way I approach problems or arguments or fights (whatever you want to call them) includes two possible solutions: 1) one party is in the wrong, eventually comes to that conclusion and apologizes, or 2) both parties are in the wrong, eventually come to that conclusion and apologize. We had come to the crossroad of both being right, coming to that conclusion and not knowing how to deal with it if it happens again. No resolution.
       That's when being a Christian comes in really handy. We didn't know what to do. We couldn't "help" the situation, but we knew that God could help. (The second time I used help in that sentence, I was using it like women do (maybe, I'm still not really sure how they use it).) Another revelation dawned and with it came hope and peace. If and when we came to another crux, Christ would support us. Although we could not and cannot "do" anything on our own to resolve the messes we find ourselves in, we knew that we could do what Christ required through his support to reconcile our hearts in his name. I love believing in Christ. He's my only hope.

I don't know if any of you understood that, or even read it (I thought my warning above was pretty convincing...). I just thought I'd share with you what happened to me today.


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Sleepless in Nairobi Doesn't Have the Same Ring...


       Sometimes I forget where I am when I first wake up in the morning. I do a quick look around the room until I see something familiar, and then I realize that I'm in my own bed. This only increases when I don't get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, something I haven't had for the past two weeks. That brief startling moment when nothing makes sense, intermingled with that eery feeling that there is most likely drool on my face, has been plaguing my awakenings for the past two weeks.
       Christmas came and brought with it the "holidays" (British speak for vacation). Since then, I have spent many of my waking hours, and a rather large chunk of what should have been my sleeping hours, hanging out with kids into the wee hours of the morning. We've played Risk, we've watched movies, we went swimming, we've played basketball, we've played Monopoly, we went rock climbing, we've played Mario Party, we went bowling, we've played Super Smash Brothers, we've played Mini-Golf, we've played Football (British speak for Soccer), we even played a little Texas Hold 'Em (Texas speak for Poker). We've run out of things to do. Thankfully School started back up this morning.
I'm hoping that with School came a Regular Sleeping Schedule.
       Besides the lack of sleep, this past "holiday" has been most excellent. For the first time in as long as I've known, I understood the True meaning of Christmas. Cheesy, I know, but it's true. I never could get past the songs, materialism, and commercialization, which frustrate me to no end, until I moved to a Third World Country (where kids are actually happy to get socks as a gift). Seeing all the brokenness made me long for a Savior. Thank God he come and is on his way back.
Seeing Christmas in a new light really rejuvenated my heart for my ministry here. And it's a good thing it did, because I've spent everyday since then with kids and I'm pretty sure the only way I've gotten through them is due to the Lord. (Sometimes we wouldn't start playing Risk until 10:30pm, which means, for all you non-Risk players, that the game wouldn't end until at least 2:30am with the possibility of lasting until 4:00am.)
       New Year's day brought with it more of the same with a few additions. I started writing and illustrating an adventure story. More kids joined the madness of "hangout with Bryce time." I even had one kid, who shall be renamed Gerald, open up and tell me about his mother and his fears that she died a non-Christian. He sat with me and cried his anger away as he continued to talk about his brother and sister, who are both in the midst of troubles of their own.  I didn't have a clue what to tell him, but I'm pretty sure God sent his Spirit to guide my words. I started talking and Jesus took over. It was pretty sweet. I love being here.
       The Lord has already begun a great work this year. I pray that he keeps me strong while I finish up my ministry. I'm wrapping up my time here in August, and I already am dreading leaving. Please pray that I'll be given the strength to live completely for God's will these next few months. It's dawning on me that my time is limited with these kids, and I want to give them the best representation of Christ's love that I can.
       Another prayer request would be that I could get the financial support that I need to stay through August. I'm getting 50% of my monthly support covered, for which I am incredibly blessed, but I still need roughly $800 a month to cover the cost of living here. Please pray for more support, and, if you feel like you can give, follow this link BlueSky Global to give either a one time donation or monthly support.
       Thank you for what you've already done through prayer and support to help me in my ministry here. It's such a blessing to know I have people back home encouraging me. I'm really looking forward to seeing as many of you as I can, when I get back for a visit in February!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


(I should have posted this last month... oops)

The other day, I was a zombie turkey. "Why on earth were you an undead fowl, specifically the type of fowl that represents the plenty and bountiful produce of our existence which we celebrate annually?" is what you're probably asking me in your minds right now.

Why? Let me tell you.

For those of you who don't know, Thanks-O-Ween happened upon us on Nov. 4th. This isn't the most celebrated of holidays, but it's on the rise (at least in Nairobi). We took the first Sunday of this month to celebrate the combined holiday of Thanksgiving and Halloween by opening up our recently finished (but not yet refined) climbing gym to the HighSchool and MiddleSchool youth in Nairobi. Why am I telling you this? Because this was a great time of thanks, and what better time to give thanks than during this the season of Thanksgiving.
I looked around me at all the kids God had brought into the rock gym, into his domain, and I was thankful. I was tired. We had 41 MiddleSchool kids running around our gym. But I was thankful. I can't find the words to describe how I feel in the midst of ministry. Sometimes, it breaks my heart. Other times, I'm elated by the knowledge that I am doing what God created me to do. More often than not, those feelings float by me, good and bad, and I forget to give thanks. So bear with me as I share my thanksgivings to the Lord with you. You need to know the things that bring cause for thanks.
I'm thankful for the space God set apart for us to declare his kingdom in the midst of the darkest place I've ever lived. Every day on the way to the office, I see beggars and orphans walking the streets. I walk past a little hindu temple tucked into a corner shop. I walk past gods available for sale not too far from that temple. I hear the Islamic call to worship blaring over the food court bathing the entire complex in a reminder to pray to Allah. I go up to our floor and enter into Rest. God is predominant in that place. I'm so thankful for it.
I'm thankful that God brings kids into his domain. They join us every Sunday, kids who know God, kids who don't care, kids who long for more, kids who just need someone to love them. All types. They enter into that place and know the love of God through our ministry. Whether they profess faith or not, they are meeting with the love of God. I'm so thankful for that.
I'm thankful for silly games like "toilet tag," which is really just freeze tag except you have to pretend to be a toilet when you're frozen and someone must flush you before you're unfrozen. They break down barriers and allow kids who otherwise would never interact with us, or each other, get over themselves and dive into life in community. 
I'm thankful that God decided to give me a lesser portion of shame. Self-Deprecating humor goes a long way when making new friends with MiddleSchoolers.
I'm thankful for God's continual, humbling reminders that our plans aren't always his. I'll lose it over the breakdown of a vehicle, or a bratty kid, who "I was in NO way like" when I was his age. But God, he uses those to his glory always. e.g. We have a great relationship with our mechanic & I'm learning what it was like for my youth pastors to love me when I was in MiddleSchool.  
I'm thankful for the prayer and support I receive from you, my friends and family back in the States! Being away from home for a year and a half has taken its toll on how well I know you, but even so I know you pray for me and the ministry I'm doing. I know I couldn't be here without your support. I'm so very thankful for you. Knowing I'm backed by the body of Christ to be here, spreading his Word and love is a blessing to me that I cannot describe. All I can say is that I'm thankful.

I'm also thankful for the opportunity I have to share with you my prayer requests. I often forget to share my prayers with anyone, so I'm making a special effort to include everyone back home in the goings on here in Kenya.

1) On a grand scale, Kenya as a whole is ridden with corruption from the top down. Pray for the Lord's work to transform the nation. It's a "Christian" nation, but that can only be said in quotes.
2) For BlueSky to be unified in its ministry. We have a lot of personalities on staff and that creates good and bad differences of opinion. Pray that no matter what, we unify under the banner of Christ.
3) Pray for confidence as we make our presence known on school campuses, but confidence in humility. Pray that we don't damage the name of Christ through our attempts at outreach. 
4) Pray for God to soften the hearts of these lost kids. They are hardened, callous hearts. So much of their lives are spent in transition that they almost never let people get close enough to hurt them when they leave again. We want to share with them the only one who is always with them. Pray for God to soften their hearts.
5) Pray for my personal support and BlueSky's as a whole. Right now, I still have some
reserves, but my monthly support is at about 40% of my minimum requirement. So, your prayers will be appreciated. Any special support gift during this time would be greatly appreciated! Go to our Website to find out how to support and to learn more about our ministry in Nairobi.

Thanks again for your friendship and investment in me and the work God has called me to here in Africa. 



Monday, 1 October 2012

"No Thanks, I'm Awesome."

One of my friends is awesome. Whilst carrying a heavy load of whatnots, she was asked if she needed any help. Her reply was, "No thanks, I'm awesome."
       She was attempting to say, "No thanks, I'm good. You're awesome!" She's the kind of person that uses hyperbole to describe how she feels about people and life, and anything positive that just happened. But I'm glad she jumbled her phrases. This time she got me thinking about how I live.
       No thanks, I'm awesome. Where do you draw the line between arrogance and confidence? (Not to imply that she was being arrogant when she made that accidental claim, it just made me think toward this end.) For example. I'm terrible at Basketball. However, if I ever make a basket, I walk away from it like it happens all the time, but, inside my head, I'm doing cartwheels and jumping up and down cheering, "This time I didn't make a fool of myself!"(I've made a fool of myself quite often playing basketball.) That seems to me like arrogance, but if I were to act out the scene in my head, wouldn't it also be arrogance. Jumping up and whooping about how glad I am that I made the basket would seem an awful lot like rubbing it in peoples faces that I, the worst player on the court, scored against them.
       Maybe I'm thinking too much about that particular situation, but what I'm getting to is this:
I'm a sinner. When I do something right (i.e. when I glorify God rather than sin), what do I do? Do I keep it to myself, waiting for others to notice but not bringing it up until they do, or do I rejoice with anyone and everyone that I'm not always as screwed up as I know myself to be?
       I bring this up because I had to come up with a lot of things to say the other week. I spoke at both of the weekly youth group events on Sunday, gave the staff devotional on Tuesday morning, led a Covenant Group (A.K.A. small group) on Thursday, led another on Friday, and immediately went on the Rossyln High School retreat to be the speaker, on which I did two talks. It was a long week. How many times can I stand in front of people telling them about the love of God and how to live, when I don't succeed in lasting one day without forgetting what it means to be loved by God? This seems to me to be almost arrogance.
       After I speak, lead a covenant group, or tell people to live in a way better than I do, I don't know what to feel. If it went well, am I allowed to rejoice in that? If I feel like nothing I said was heard or worth hearing, am I allowed to hang my head dejectedly and mope? People come and say that it was a good talk, I feel elated, like I did something important. People don't say anything, I feel small and unimportant. And on top of all that, who am I to speak about the truth of the gospel when I fail so often to believe and follow?
       I'm seeking confident humility.

Monday, 10 September 2012

This One Ties It All Together


Sometimes I think there’s nothing like a good, swarthy sailor greeting. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. I want to tell you a story.
Months ago, I went to a play at the International School of Kenya. For those of you that don’t know, ISK is the school that I have been visiting at lunch periods and coaching at for the past year so I can get to know the students better and share my life with them. This particular play was filled, not only with kids (not goats) that I had met at the school, but also with some of the kids (also not goats) that came to camp the previous year, some of whom stayed in my cabin. The focus of the story is not those kids. The focus of this story is Elbar. Elbar, cousin of Omer, older brother of Yatir and Liav, son of his parents, all of whom are Jewish, all of whom came to camp. But I’m getting ahead of myself... Where was I? Ah yes!
So, I walk into the ISK Middle School production of “30 Reasons Not To Be In A Play” and quickly find a seat. Low and behold who should sit behind me, but Omer and his cousin Elbar. I had talked with Omer quite a few times during lunch visits in the past, but I’d never really spoken to Elbar for any length of time before then. I struck up a conversation with Omer that gradually turned toward the topic of Camp BlueSky. I was relentless as I spoke of all the great things that would be going on there. Apparently I did a good job; not only was Omer’s interest piqued, Elbar was leaning out of his seat with excitement. (I later came to find out that that is how he almost always looked, but at the time it was quite encouraging.)
Skip ahead a bit. Over the next few weeks as I came and went from ISK on lunch visits or days when I was coaching, I would see Elbar walking down the sidewalks and ask if he had signed up for camp yet, generally met with a hesitant “Not yet.” Followed by a “Will there be any other high schoolers there?” He really wanted to go, but I was never sure if he would.
Camp begins. Session two rolls around, which is the week for all the ISK students to show up. I’m flipping my lid. All around camp are students that I’ve been pouring into for the last year. I love these kids. I’m so excited to finally be able to speak the gospel to them. All those lunches were pointing toward this week. God is working. Elbar walks into camp with nervous excitement not knowing what to expect. I remember, he asked me, “So when you guys pray before meals, what should I do? Just stand on the side?” I laughed and shrugged off the question, not really knowing how to answer him. I had no idea how he was going to react to camp.
One of the awesome ways that God decided to work that week was to put one of the high schoolers that meets in my small group, Brian, into his cabin. Short note on Brian: he is a solid young man of God, whom I have come to respect more and more the longer I’ve known him, and he can play the drums like no one I’ve ever met. Brian plays a big part come Wednesday night of camp.
What happens on Wednesday night is a scripture reading and a brief drama of the passion of Christ. Every other night of camp is fun-filled and personal story oriented from our camp leadership team, but this night is much different. We sit the kids (still not goats) in their age groups, ask them not to talk, and play music with a solid gospel message as their counselors pray for them for a few minutes outside of our meeting room. It sets the mood so that they have no idea what’s happening, but know that it’s important. As the scripture is read of Jesus’ trial and beating, one of the leadership team (who looked more like Jesus than any of us) would play the role of our previously beaten Lord as he carried his cross to the front of the room. As he walked, those of us that didn’t have a particular Jewish bent to our features would walk beside him whispering insults and gradually raising our voices till we were practically yelling at him that he was going to fail and die. When he reached the front of the room, he would drop the cross and we would show the clip from the Chronicles of Narnia where the White Witch kills Aslan. Afterwards, all the campers would go sit beneath the stars thinking about what they had just seen as counselors would walk around explaining what had just happened and what it means in one-on-one conversations. I never imagined the power that night would have each week.
I walked into the field, after having carried out other duties, to see if I could find some of the kids I’d come to know and love. As I approached the very outskirts of the field, which was scattered with whispering groups, I saw two people waving at me to come near. It was Brian and Elbar. As I sat down, Brian looked at Elbar and said, “You can tell him, he’s cool.” Elbar, sheepishly grinning, responded, “No, you tell him.” “Are you sure you don’t want to?”Asked Brian. “Yeah, you tell him.” Said Elbar finally. At this point, I kind of picked up on what was happening, and my heart started doing cartwheels. Brian told me, “Elbar prayed to believe in Jesus!” I threw all pretense of thoughtful quietness to the wind and started laughing while I tackled Elbar in an embrace. I hardly knew this kid. I spoke to him maybe five times, and now he is going to be partyin’ with Jesus and me for eternity! I told him right then and there that he was going to have to start praying with us at meal times. And then Brian went and made me love him even more when he invited Elbar to join our small group. God was working in a huge way that night.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more like I was where God wanted me to be then I did right there in that moment. All of it lined up. It was beautiful.
After that Elbar started telling us not to tell anyone because he was afraid of what his family might think. We assured him that we would let him tell his family on his own time, but that we would be there with him for whenever he needs us. Later that night, Yatir, Elbar’s sister, told me that she had become a believer. Well what do you think of that? Elbar was gaining allies by the minute. I didn’t get to talk with Omer or Liav that night, but I know I will see them when I visit ISK, and furthermore, God is already at work within their families. As the evening came to a close and the Leadership team gathered to retell stories of the recently found lost, our battle cry became “God Redeems Families!!!!” It was a sweet time of worship.
The rest of the week finished strong. We told all the campers of their sin, what the price was for it, and how to live in the light of that Truth. So many more stories of impact and life changing moments came from that week alone. If I were to try to write out all the stories from camp, my fingers would give out, but I needed to share that story. I needed to share that story for more than just so you can rejoice with me in the work of God. I’m also telling you because I promised Elbar that I would be here for him for one more year. But I’m running out of support.
I had told you all in my first support letter that I would be here for only 15 months. But I’m realizing more and more that God wants me to be here longer. There is still work to do. The only problem is, I can’t fund myself. The price of living is increasing, and as it does so do my support needs. For this next year, I will need to raise $1,500 a month. That’s more than what I was asking for last year, but I truly believe this is worth it.
He is still using me to bring his kingdom into this dark city. Lives are being changed, kids (even now, not goats) are confronted with the gospel for the first time and seeking more. I am confident that God has called me to be here with them as they try to figure out who God has called them to be. He is bringing the Kingdom. Please help me to be a part of this truly awesome work.

With love,


Ways You Can Support
(or The Cliff-notes Version of the Above Letter)

  1. Pray for the students in Nairobi. Pray for their families, for their time at camp or various other activities during the school year, that they would hear God’s word and know God’s love. Pray that the gospel would take hold of their hearts.
  2. Pray for Camp BlueSky and all the other avenues of ministry that BlueSky provides: Adventures, Climb, and Youth. Pray for the support needed for all the staff. Pray for safety throughout the year. Pray every time you think about how Blue the Sky is. Pray whenever you see a giraffe, zebra, or lion on the TV (or real life). Pray!
  3. Support financially. Give a one time donation or go for the long haul and commit to giving $100 (or some other amount) monthly until August 2013. You can give a couple different ways:
    1. Online: at there is a link to “Give” which will allow you to give either a recurring amount, or, if you scroll further down, a one time amount. You can use paypal or use a credit card. Make sure to specify it’s for me (Bryce Wilkins) in the “specify person or project” section.
    2. By Mail: Send a check to this address:900 Westpark Drive · Suite 300
      Peachtree City, GA 30269
      Fill it out to “BlueSky” and make sure to put my name (Bryce Wilkins) on the memo line.

  1. Pray even more. No matter how much financial support we have, our ministry is pointless without prayer.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I would love to talk with you in person or through any other means of communication.
Cell Phone: +254787433729

Friday, 20 April 2012

Turbid Times On The Tana

       It's 10:00am on Saturday morning. Kids and parents are already milling around, waiting for the show to begin. The air is crisp with precocious excitement as we wait for the bus to be loaded. Kids clamber on to the bus, fighting for prime seats in the back. A handful of kids clamber back off of the bus after being reminded to exercise their bladders. We are going rafting! And not only that, but white water rafting.
       21 Middle Schoolers confined in a bus for two and a half hours. It was going to take raging rapids to release all the pent up energy. The inevitable pop songs brought life to the cacophony of the bus as we pulled out of the parking lot. It was a joyful beginning to the weekend retreat. We had kids from Rosslyn Academy and a couple from the International School of Kenya. We were all itching for a little adventure on the River Tana.
       We got to the campsite without a hitch, set up camp, lathered up in sun cream and got briefed on what to expect while rafting. The sun fought its way through the clouds bringing just enough heat with it to make for a pleasant afternoon trip through the rapids. My boat was filled with all but one of the guys on the trip. It was an unspoken rule that we would have the most fun. Christening out raft the S.S. Taco, we rode the turbid waters of the Tana exemplifying what it is to be Master Raftsmen. Every once in a while, our ear splitting cry of "AYAYAYAYAYAYAYAHAHAAHAAHAAAA!!!!!!" would shatter the serenity as we rammed our trusty floatation device into any unsuspecting river craft (and sometimes a rock or two). Watching the faces of the boys in the raft as they transitioned from anticipation to enjoying life in the moment was one of the reasons that makes this job the best. Adventure was coursing through our veins as we risked life and limb and, in particular, fingers while we paddled fiercely between the craggy rocks of the river bank. I looked to my right to see Martin, a sixth grader from ISK, beaming delight and exclaiming how he couldn't believe that more of his friends didn't sign up. 
       Martin is a great kid. I hadn't met him before that morning. In fact, no one on the team had. He heard about the trip and signed up. He only knew one other person on the trip: Robert, another sixth grader from ISK. I was really excited to see those two jump into the activities with vim and vigor. We were hoping to have more kids from ISK sign up, but a lot of them bailed at the last minute. Hearing Martin's unbelief at his friends from school not being able to come was an incredible encouragement. The kids from Rosslyn come mostly from solid Christian backgrounds. To hear and see Martin and Robert living life and enjoying creation within the BlueSky setting was a moment of affirmation. God has placed the kids from ISK in my path, and, although we didn't have too many on the trip, it was as if he was saying, "Keep it ip! I'm working in their hearts in ways you cannot even imagine."
       We spent the rest of the day on the Tana laughing, screaming, and ransacking the other rafts. Floating into the campsite marked the end of our time rafting, but we still had the evening for fun, games, and the gospel. The theme for the weekend, in a word, was "Home." I was blessed with the opportunity to speak with the kids about what it means to live in a broken world while knowing that it wasn't always this way and it won't always be this way. Jesus was sent to fix all things. And while life still seems hopeless, he has sent his Spirit to live with us. Not to take us out of the trials we go through, but, rather, to provide the support, encouragement, and strength to stand up under the weight of it all. Our home is broken and not right, but Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23) 
       The next morning, we awoke and breakfasted. I spoke again on our theme. We cleaned up our campsite, packed some lunches for the road, swam a bit more, loaded up our bus and headed home. It was a phenomenal weekend trip. It went without a hitch. The kids loved it. The leaders loved it. God was present throughout (even on the drive home).

       And thus ended our adventure on the River Tana.