Monday, October 21, 2013

Sweet Chaos

      I was told before beginning this journey that it would be chaos. Not chaos in the sense of the world falling apart and the sky crashing down on my head. This chaos comes from a lack of normality. There is no normal in my life, one day looks different than the last, each week brings something new, and to try and figure out what I'll be doing a month from now ... well solving quantum physics is easier.
    I've been traveling since February, and in that time the longest, I've slept in the same bed is 2 weeks in a row. There is always a new trip, an un - scheduled shift in housing, or a need to get a different shot for a video. When I'm not working on productions, I spend what is left of my energy, just trying to figure out how to do "normal" life things. Where is the bathroom, how do I work this toilet, what can I eat, where will I sleep, where is the light switch, is there even a light switch, does up mean on or down. That is the chaos I was warned of. The constant tension of always answering those same questions and the answers always being different. It's the chaos of a million simple little questions constantly being asked.

    I was warned about this chaos and cautioned to guard myself against the fatigue it would bring. But no one told me about the other side of this chaos. Perhaps they didn't know or perhaps they had never seen it themselves. 
    In chaos there is peace.
    When I find myself overwhelmed by all those little annoying life questions and the tension building, the only thing I can do is simply say, "I don't know." In those words something changes, my grasp on control and understanding is released and the things I held onto to trying to balance and orient myself are let go. Empty handed I enter into each new situation.
     And in that emptiness, peace is found. I have to ask other people constantly for help, and in my dependence I discover the joy of finding people more concerned for me than I am. Empty handed, I can be delighted by the simple realization that the light bulb has to be screwed in for the light to work, or that by simply flipping the switch up, I can get hot water for my shower. More often than not in letting go of knowing the answers, I discover that the question wasn't really important any way.
     Chaos produces uncertainty. Uncertainty produces loss of expectations. Loss of expectation produces simplicity. Simplicity produces peace. 
     My life is chaos and it is sweet.

October Newsletter

This project started just over a year ago. On this anniversary, the things that have changed stand out. 

Travel: In the past year, I've traveled over 50,000 mile many of those by plane. So airports have become familiar haunts. You know that excited, familiar, and comforting feeling that you get when going "home for the holidays" I get that feeling going to the airport.

Language: A year ago, I couldn't speak French. Now, while my ability to express myself and understand others is limited, I regularly have broken, fumbling, humorous, and enjoyable conversations. When I meet someone, the first words that come to mind are, "Bonjour! Comment ca va?" 

Questions: When I first arrived in Africa last year, I was asking a lot of questions. Questions like: How do I do this? Is it possible? What is it going to look like? How do I capture these complex stories and present them in videos? Over the past year, many of those questions have been answered. My questions today are slightly different: How can I keep doing this? What are new ways to tell these stories? How do I manage the workload and get all these projects done? How do I keep from missing stories as I focus on production?

Production: Before this year, I had only made three videos on missions work, one being my senior project at University. Now there are over 20 films that have been completed as part of this project and new videos are coming out about every two weeks. These videos have been viewed online over 3000 times and those numbers continue to grow. If you haven't seen all of them you can check them out here: . As you keep sharing these videos, I hope that we may reach 10,000 views by the end of the year. 

To list all of the things that have changed would make this letter far too long. I have grown and learned and developed and been changed by the people, places, and things that I have met along the way. All this change makes those things which have not changed stand out in relief. 

One year in and I still love these stories. I see Gods work in changing people, in changing whole communities, in changing hearts and I get inspired. I go, "Wow I want to tell that story. I want others to hear this story that they can be challenged to change too." My passion, my drive, my desire is still the same today, perhaps even great than when I first began. 

Another thing that stands out, unchanged from the beginning of this project, is you. You have been part of this from the beginning. Your support continues to encourage and sustain me. When I read the comments you leave on the videos and see you sharing the videos with your friends and family, I smile knowing that because of your involvement this project is succeeding. I am excited for this next year. Excited to see what happens with this project and to see what happens as we continue to work together. Thank you for being part of this past year and continuing on with me into this next year. Thank you so very much. 

Your Fellow Servant,

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Excess is described in the English dictionary as "an amount that is more than necessary or permitted, lacking moderation." My mother warned me about excess, "Everything in moderation." Don't eat too much, don't work too hard, don't rest too much. The Apostle Paul advised against excess when he instructed, "take a little wine for your stomach." As I travel and work I am often warned against excessive amounts of work lest I "burn out." 

So the thought that God is excessive never crossed my mind. It feels foreign and wrong to say that God is excessive, but today I was struck by this truth. 

Today I went scuba diving off the north Kenyan coast near Malindi. The reef is protected from fishing and claims over 1000 different fish species as well as over 100 different corals. I was able to take two dives with a cumulative dive time of just under 2 hours, so I didn't even begin to see all of these varieties. Never the less, I saw hundreds of different types of fish and sea life.  From tiny fingernail size fish living in anemones to 15 foot wide coral displays the reef was alive with diversity. As we drifted along the reef watching iridescent snails, leaf fish, neon sea slugs, scorpion fish, angel fish, halo fish, puffer fish, parrot fish, moray eels, manta rays, and lobsters the only word to describe the scene is excessive. There is no need for so many different varieties of fish. Not only that but there is no need for the intricate and delicate designs in each one. This under water world is rarely seen and not until the last 50 years with the advent of modern diving technology was this world even viewable. The world of excessive and ornate beauty was hidden. If that's not excessive I don't know what is.

Once back on dry land, I started to think about the differing Ecosystems of our terra firma world. Not one of them is simple, but dependent on thousands of species of flora and fauna for it to be sustained. Again the beauty and intricacies are excessive. 

Then I looked sky ward. I remember watching a Sci-fi movie once were they were discussing the existence of the life on other planets. One of the characters said, "We'll, if there isn't life somewhere else in the universe; it's a massive waste of space." In other words all that emptiness, all those un-inhabitants worlds with their beauty and grandeur and unknown and un viewable wonders are excessive. 

I can only imagine that a world with so many excesses comes from a God who is just as excessive. He is not moderate. He is excessive. In all of His actions He does more than just enough. He didn't create just a small path across the Red Sea for Israel, that was just big enough. Through out the history of Israel, Gods excessive nature is shown again and again. His excess is not limited to beauty and blessing, but is also seen in His wrath and judgement. For what seem like small offenses to me, He wiped out thousands of His own chosen people. He does more than what is necessary and sometimes does more than what is permitted. 

It was not permitted, by His own laws and decrees, that anyone but the Highest of priest could come before Him, and that only once a year. And yet, His desire to have communion with the people of this world was so excessive, that He created a way, a sacrifice. But no little sacrifice would do, it had to be excessive. Nothing short of His own infinite blood would do for a God this excessive. S

So today, I sit and wonder at His excess. I wonder at His excess in creation, at the excessiveness of His actions in history, but more still I wonder at the ways that He has poured out His excessive, more than necessary and lacking moderation, love on me.