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Eyes Wide Open

I’m ashamed of how many days I go through awake, but my eyes are not open. The eyes of my spirit.

I met with a local lady the other day. She seemed distraught and apologized profusely for being late – she was looking for a new place to live.

“What?” I thought to myself, “She’s married, has children, and just the other day we were talking about preparing her hut for the rainy season. Something isn’t right.”

I could feel the eyes of my heart opening. We found a more private place to talk and I noticed that her eyes, which are normally bright and shining, were dulled with pain. She described the fight she had with her husband, and her plans to leave with the children. Her heart had enough pain, she was done. As she relayed the events leading up to the fight, I was saddened to think of how many times I’ve seen this scenario before. Different circumstances, but it’s the one thing that sets the floodgates open and we accept the lie of the enemy that insidiously whispers to our mind and heart, “You’re done. You’re out. Time to move on from this marriage.”

“Help, Lord.”

I encouraged her in the Lord, of truths that we tend to forget when we feel like our world is imploding. Her expression did not change – hardened, withdrawn. I thought of her family and the hard road in front of all of them if she left. They follow Jesus, so I asked if – before she made her final decision to leave – would it be possible to meet with their pastor…before Sunday…now. The pastor knew both (I only knew my friend) and he was from this culture.

“Please, Father. Let him be available and give him Your words.”

I saw her again. Not a word needed to be said, her face had returned to bright and shining. The pastor and elders had gathered around this couple, praying and encouraging. It was exactly what they needed.

I am not the Church, just a branch. This morning, the young man friend that I met on the road (from my last blog) showed me a book he was reading (he found our gate just fine) – God is My Victory.

Yes, God (and the Church) is our victory. It’s what keeps our head above the waves that threaten to overwhelm and overtake us. It’s keeping our eyes open to those who are sinking and throwing a life-line out to them.

Satan lost this round. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit for opening my eyes. The battle isn’t over, but the Church is awake.

The Walk

Sun shining, I set out on the dirt road with Sampson (our German Shepherd) on a leash for our morning walk. Many people are out walking to their jobs, it’s not time for the national kids to be hurrying to school yet. Most will return my “Hello” with a smile and respond with “Good morning!”. They eye Sampson (because there are so many wild dogs, African people tend to be very apprehensive of all dogs – unless they are exposed to our strange Western ways of keeping a dog as a pet as well as for protection), but my calm, friendly greeting brings their focus to my face and usually allays their fears.

Coming from a driveway is a young man in a well-worn suit. He returns my greeting but engages further conversation and joins Sampson and I on our walk.  The road is wide and as I glanced around, plenty of people were out – situation awareness, check. The young man was looking for a new place to live, and the categorizing part of me was already analyzing “Do I help? Do I pray? What is my role here?”.

As the young man spoke and I asked more questions, he was being evicted from the room where he had been staying (they have plans for that room and have given him notice that he will need to find another place). He was born into a different tribe in another part of Uganda, grew up Muslim, never saw his father’s face. In his village, he would wear a sheet over his shoulder, not a suit as he wears today. He learned of Jesus about four years ago; his eyes shone as he shared his love for Jesus and how he loves to sing worship songs. Filling in the blanks, I wonder if he wasn’t welcome with his people once he accepted the teachings of Jesus.

I prayed for his journey, that God would direct him where to find a place to stay with good people. He looked me in the eyes and with conviction said that even though these are difficult times for him, that he is holding onto faith. “Having faith in Jesus is more than being comfortable, or food, or even a room.”

“What is it you would like from me for this day?” I asked.

His answer surprised me. “Your friendship. Your friendship is all I need. Not your money. I didn’t know I would meet you today. You didn’t know you would meet me. God knew. But if I could meet with you and you could encourage me and maybe I could encourage you. It is one God who is over us all.” He smiled. “And maybe I could have a white person friend.”

It’s quite rare to not have a monetary request made, some of which we can help, some we cannot. I thought of Peter, the orphan boy from Lokichoggio who also came into our lives one random morning and the blessing we were to each other’s lives.

              Compassion comes in many forms, not all include money.

I smiled and told the young man which gate mine was. “The guard will let me in?” Valid question, since the guard’s job is to keep anyone who is not personally invited out. Maybe an equivalent example would be purposely giving someone the wrong phone number if you kindly never want to hear from them again … they have a number, but it’ll never lead anywhere.

“Give my name, and I will come to the gate to greet you if I am home,” I assured him, and we parted ways.

Amidst the rhythmic monotony of day-to-day chores, the laundry, the to-do lists, you never know who you will meet on a random morning walk. I don’t know where this will lead, maybe nowhere, but it’s moments like these that make my life-walk all the more enjoyable. It reminds me that God is always on the move, connecting, restoring. And to quote Robert Frost, “I took the one [road] less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

Pop Quiz

You remember in school when the teacher would spring a quiz on the class at the most unexpected times? No warning, then bam! Test time.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt a life-testing. A few quizzes have surfaced, but they were generally short lived, and I think I passed. This season has felt like a prolonged test, one that has been covering chapters that I thought were covered last semester and I was done with. Old insecurities are re-tested, newfound fears are there too. Old things that I idolized are trying to tempt me again, and the peace of God feels present, but distant.

It feels like God is letting me know that He’s here … but seems quiet.

I get nervous when God is quiet. I enjoy intimate fellowship with my Savior, and when He’s silent (if I’m honest) my thoughts go to, “Did I miss a turn somewhere? Am I off course, off from where I need to be? Have I fallen out of favor?”

Striving. Trying to make things right and comfortable again.

One thing that I love about God is His timing. At the point when this testing time was becoming quite old and frustrating, the stories of Jesus’ last days strategically appeared both in my devotion time and through Easter readings. One thing that caught my eye was the parallel stories of Peter and Judas. Both were tested, both betrayed Jesus but had radically different endings. I noticed how Jesus warned Simon Peter that a test would be coming: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32), and how He forgave Simon Peter when he fell short.

*sigh* Testing is good. It highlights where I have grown, and what areas are still weak within me. It forces me to stretch from what was normal and comfortable into a better version of me.  Jesus is with me, urging me onward. He is ever-present, ever-loving, and fully in control.

Peter came out of his test fortified and with the confidence necessary for the next few chapters of his life. I think life-tests are like that: strengthening us for the next steps that will require all our cumulative growth to succeed.

When I was in school, I would hold my pen super-tight; so much so that my fingers would hurt by the end of the day and over time a callus developed on my middle finger. I needed to loosen my grip then, and still do.

Life is a journey, some hills and curves, but choosing if it’s painful or not is my choice. Today I choose to take a walk, breathe, and trust that God (not myself) will perfect His work in me.

Just breathe.

Jet Lag

Re-entry into our life in Africa tends to hold surprises. This one didn’t disappoint.

As usual with jet lag, I was slightly awakened in the middle of the night. It wasn’t the normal “Time to get up” that comes with jet lag, this was an awakening to pray. A face came to mind and I started in, asking questions of God to direct my prayer. As I began petitioning for this heart, tears began to flow in response to a barrage of emotion. Staying focused in the moment, I set into praying against the overwhelming waves of negativity and un-truth.

In the not-so-far distance, I could hear the Muslim call to prayer, a reminder of where I am again. We don’t hear much of that in America. As I continued in that sacred moment of petitioning my Lord on behalf of a struggling friend, a new sound filled the air. A hymn. Instrumental. Not from my house …  in the night … in a neighborhood in Nairobi. For those who know me, I’m more of a contemporary Christian music kind-of-girl, so I don’t know the name of the hymn, but I know I’ve heard it before. In all my times of intercession prayer, I have never felt the presence of God as much as in that moment. I soaked up the peace as silent tears trailed onto my pillow.

                                                 No request is too much for God.

The sun is coming up in Nairobi, time to start the day. A smile crosses my face. A new day is dawning, an end to the night when jet-lag met a visit to the Throne Room of God.

I really love my life.

Just Passing Through


It’s Sunday morning, and Joel and I are preparing to share the amazing ways we are witnessing God moving in our lives and in the lives of those we serve in East Africa. Renee and Ian masterfully set up the presentation table in the back that offers information about Africa Inland Mission (AIM), AIM AIR, and the Turkana ANA ladies that I teach Monday morning devotions to.  They know the drill; they’ve done it no less than 20 times. Details in place, we steady our hearts and prepare for the onslaught of emotions.

Reconnecting with the church and those we love is a cause for excitement and anticipation. Old friends smile from the seats, and new friends lean forward. We are joined in the belief that God truly is alive and active in our world. It’s stories of release from darkness, growing in faith and hope, of taking the gospel to distant locations to the unreached. Joy fills our hearts as we remember and share what God has done. Tears fill our eyes as we share about the tragedies that God works through. As we look at the PowerPoint pictures coming up on the screen, we are reminded of those we love that are a continent away. For a moment we’re stuck between two continents, two worlds. Our deep love is for both.

All the ministry opportunities are presented and upcoming ways to connect are available. ‘Oh! That one sounds fun!’ we whisper, but then we remember – we’re leaving next week to hit the road. Brief sadness comes in, a sense of not belonging. We are reminded that our heart can’t settle here, this is not our home.

There is comfort in being in the body of Christ that is bigger than any individual building, program, or small group. Our home is in the body of Christ, which is in this church, the one next week, and in the heart of each believer we encounter in whatever continent we’re on.

This isn’t our home, it was never intended to be. We’re just passing through…

Shifting Gears

We’re into the third month of being back in North America and have traveled 8,000+ miles in our trusty Honda Pilot (the one possession that we chose to retain when we sold everything to move to Africa). Our journey has taken us through Alberta, Washington, Alaska (we flew up there commercially), Idaho, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (and everything in-between). A week in New York, and we’re on the move again to Maine.









There’s something about hours on the road that offers time to think and reflect. Flat terrain with interstate highways boasts of high speeds where you can get to the next destination quickly, but the scenery passes by with barely a glance. Crossing over the Rocky Mountains slows us up a bit as we weave through God’s majestic beauty. As we slow down, without even thinking we take a deep breath of the clean, refreshing air and our souls relax. Conversation in the car picks up, and we talk about dreams. City driving brings more tension, navigating unfamiliar streets and maps and avoiding other cars that know exactly where they’re going. Conversation is put on hold – all eyes are busy scanning signs and we’re joined together in the mission of the moment, a different bonding than the light-hearted moments.









We reflect on the past years of ministry in Lokichoggio, the urge to get to the next destination and missing some of the beauty along the way. Agendas and tasks can steal away the joy, laughter, and sharing. The beauty is always there to be enjoyed, and even as we are on task, our spirits can be filled. I love how God has created us to find the most peace when we are with Him – experiencing Him in nature, joined together with fellow sojourners.

We have many more miles to go, from Maine to Florida, through the lower states and popping up into Colorado and Kansas. Onward through Arizona, around to Oregon, Washington, and up to Alberta again. Our Home Assignment is a steady pace onward, but there is joy in the journey.

It is well in our souls…

It’s Been 5 Years

Joel and LaReina King, together with our children Renee (15, turning 16 on September 8th)and Ian (14 as of January 11th), have finished our second term serving with AIM AIR in Kenya. Our first year was spent in Nairobi, Kenya, and the next 4 were in Lokichoggio, Kenya. For the past 2 years, Joel has filled the role of Pilot/Mechanic and Base Manager at the Lokichoggio base; serving with 2 other pilot/mechanic families. We are scheduled to return for another 2.5 year term in January, 2019, and are planning to relocate and serve as Pilot/Mechanic and Base Manager in Arua, Uganda.

Lokichoggio and Arua

Lokichoggio (Loki) and Arua are AIM AIR’s two, extremely busy, out-of-Nairobi bases. At 2000’ altitude in the desert of northern Kenya, Loki has been a strategic base to serve missionaries in South Sudan for the past 10 years. Arua, at a more moderate 4000’ altitude, is in northwest Uganda. Arua traditionally has serviced the missionaries in CAR (Central Africa Republic), Congo and western South Sudan. However, over the past 2 years, Arua has become a more advantageous location for serving the missionaries of Central and East Africa combined.

Why the Move?

As a family, we have always sought God in terms of where He is directing us. Loki has been our home for 4 years and, despite hot (90F to 115F), dusty, and remote living conditions, we have thrived well there. We always said that we would stay in Loki until God moved us, and we assumed that meant staying there for the remainder of our time in Africa. In the past few months, a similar unrest (good unsettling) that God utilized to move this family of four to Africa resurfaced in our hearts. Desiring to remain in God’s Will, not forging forward in our own strength, Arua came more into focus as the next step for us.


Arua is desperately in need of a Base Manager. A single pilot family has been struggling to cover all the flight needs, and the current non-flying Base Manager is stepping down in December. Strategically, our move makes sense. More so than just meeting a work need, we are looking at the needs of each member of our family. Teacher-led online school (Northstar Academy – NSA) has worked well for Renee’s high school freshman year, and Ian is excited about entering NSA for his freshman year in August, 2018.  Scholastically, they are thriving. However, Loki has extremely limited age appropriate social options. All kids their age are in boarding school.

Arua is a larger city with various NGO (non-government organizations), other mission organizations, and at least for this season, multiple families with teens.

A Typical day for Joel

That’s hard to say, because every day is different depending upon the needs of the mission community and flight schedule. We fly for Africa Inland Mission (AIM) primarily, and about 70 other partner organizations serving in ministry across East and Central Africa. Email requests come in and need to be evaluated, cost quotes provided, coordinated, and implemented. We fly pastors, missionaries, and work teams to the remote areas, along with delivering supplies, and are the contingency plan if civil unrest gets too close to where missionaries are. There’s also routine maintenance that needs to be done on the airplanes, which the pilots (who are also mechanics) need to do. Base Manager responsibilities include overseeing all the flights, families, and staff associated with the base. This also entails filing monthly reports, finances, and attending weekly manager video meetings (when not flying) to cohesively bind together all departments of AIM AIR. Joel has been the only Caravan pilot in Loki these past 2 years, this has been his main responsibility, keeping him extremely busy. Schedules and plans can change very quickly, so flexibility and being ready for anything is the key to thriving in mission aviation.

A Typical day for LaReina

With flight schedules constantly changing, LaReina’s main job is to keep the home grounded. Missionaries and pilots passing through our little town appreciate a good meal, conversation, and a clean room, which we love to arrange and provide. This will continue as we move to Arua. With Renee and Ian now registered in a teacher-led online school, her role is shifting to parental guidance – helping them stay on schedule and monitoring exams. This will be a new season of looking to the Lord for ministry opportunities in Arua. For the past 4 years in Loki, LaReina has loved teaching Bible Studies (with a translator) to a group of Turkana ladies. This ministry is the hardest for her to leave. Throughout the years of absorbing and implementing God’s truth, these ladies have grown in their spiritual maturity and are making new disciples. Strongholds have been broken as God’s Word breaks down generational and cultural barriers. Just as the disciples of Jesus taught for a period and moved on, so it feels God is encouraging her to trust that He will continue to develop and grow them in their faith.

A Typical day for the kids

Parts are very normal, some are not. Their education options are home-school (which they did for our years in Loki), boarding school (where they would live in the Kenya Rift Valley for 9 months of the year), or online school. Northstar Academy is an accredited online Christian school that records their academic transcripts and encourages social interaction between students through discussions and chat rooms. This is the option Renee and Ian have chosen. The move to Arua will open up after-school opportunities, as currently reading, playing with our team-mate’s kids who are significantly younger and video games are their only options. Reading on her Kindle (no libraries are available in Africa!) and Zumba have been Renee’s retreat; while reasonable internet has been a lifesaver in providing contact to the outside world for Ian. Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends in the US and Canada. Over the past year, Ian has been involved with two local basketball teams – both the middle school and high school teams invited him to join them in games. For most of the year, the local kids are at boarding schools, but school breaks provide opportunity for practice and organized games.

We can’t thank you enough

We would like to thank all of you who have been faithfully praying and financially supporting us for the past 5 years. We are truly grateful! We serve an awesome, creative God who is pulling out the stops to reach the unreached of East and Central Africa. We are honored to be a part of His work.

In His Service,

Field of Dreams

If you love movies (as I do), the reference to the 1989 Kevin Costner movie might be instantaneous.  If you missed that one, the movie is about an Iowa farmer who clears a corn field and builds a full baseball field to fulfill a strong urging in his spirit telling him, “If you build it, he will come.”

For those feeling a bit confused, we have not moved to Iowa, and are still missionaries in the desert of northern Kenya.  However, the idea of transforming an open, sandy court area into a fenced sports court with a high school height basketball hoop came to fruition a few months ago.

Ian (our 14 year old son) loves basketball, but many a ball has met its demise in the thorn bushes that surround us.  Soccer balls, basketballs, volleyballs, footballs – if it holds air, it is probably not long for this world. He was growing more and more frustrated that one of his only sources of releasing teen energy was so … frustrating!

Joel had some time off over Christmas, so he, Ian, and a local friend took to task building the backboard, setting up a huge net behind it to catch stray balls, and fencing in the court area.  Next came the free throw line, and a 3 point semi-circle. It’s only half court, but a fully functional half court.

That’s the back story to where we are today.  About a month ago, Ian discovered that there are two basketball teams in Lokichoggio – high school and middle school.  Ian’s Turkana friend, Raphael, plays on the middle school team, and invited Ian to join. We wondered how organized this league would be, and honestly felt a bit skeptical. Could it be true that God could meet our son’s heart THAT MUCH? To speak into his desire for friends, sports, and belonging in this remote, desert place?

This is the second time this week that Coach and the team have come to our court to practice. We had no idea where this court would lead or the opportunities that would develop from it, but here they are.  I look out the kitchen window and smile. There is Joel, joining together with Coach: challenging, molding, and directing these young men to see something more in their lives than hopeless, drunken despair.


This is God’s heart for each of us. To hear the deepest groans of our hearts, the spoken desires and the unspoken ones, and to let us know that we are heard.  And deeply loved.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

~ Prov 3:5

A Life Well Lived


They sneak up on you when you least expect it, and take your heart into new territory. Yesterday was our first Turkana funeral, and it was for a teen whose life was abruptly snuffed out.

Peter Nato came to us last year, an 18 year old orphan in need of student fees for boarding school. His parents had been killed in the war, but Peter was bright and knew he needed an education. Although we receive a lot of requests for school fees, Peter’s  was different. God’s presence was with him, and as I prayed for him to find a sponsor (as I do with all who come with requests), I felt drawn that we were the ones. Joel met with him and agreed. Peter’s previous poor grades had excluded him from an international sponsor program; but we agreed to take him on for one term, with the understanding that we would review his performance after one term.

In that first term of Grade 9, or Form 1 in the Kenya school system, Peter came back with the ranking of number one in his class. He was so proud of his grades. So proud that he had not let us down. Proud that proof of his hard work was apparent on the report card. We’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t capture a picture of his joy.  Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day and think there’s always tomorrow…

On several occasions when Peter was on break from school, he would stop by to greet us and see how he could help us. “I don’t just want to be idle when I’m out of school,” he said, “Idleness is not good.”  Idle he was not. As a member of Student Council at Loki Secondary, he inspired the students with truth and to do what was right. He was active in the AIC (Africa Inland Church) teaching Sunday school, and was always a part of the revivals that came to Loki: translating, teaching, and praying with those in the surrounding villages. The light and passion in his eyes was undeniable – he would always say, “God surely has a plan for my life.”

Peter was the first student killed in the attack on his boarding school by an enraged student who had been suspended for fighting. It was a targeted attack; the assailant had gathered several friends and was looking to kill the principal, teachers, and specific students he had vendettas against. Peter, being a leader in the school, was a target. Only God knows how it all played out that sad, sad night. Eight were killed in total, several girls given the opportunity to exchange their purity for a bullet. Evil targeting goodness and purity.

The tragedy, and the evil that provoked it, is magnified with the attacker being from Taposa tribe in South Sudan. Tensions bubble just below the surface at all times, and is now close to exploding. We have stood in prayer that God will ease the tensions between the Taposa and Turkana, and that the righteousness that Peter stood for will encourage others to stand firm in Light.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when fully grown brings forth death.

~  James 1:12-15


As we were returning to Lokichoggio last Friday, we had heard about the drought conditions that have plagued northern Kenya for the past eight months. Our hearts sank and our jaws dropped as we drove into our compound. So barren and desolate compared to the lush green (well, desert green, not tropical green, but lush to us) we left behind in September…

I thought about our perspective as Westerners, “We will rebuild”.  To those who are losing livestock and lives, hope is not so easy to come by.


Ah, but to be home at last. Our house has held a few sojourners in our absence which helped keep the house operational and bugs down; but we always say that these houses have “personalities that only an owner can love” that take a little getting to know. Like how to fix the low water pressure in the shower from the steady buildup of minerals in the water tank and lines…

to figuring out why the solar system is not fully charging…

Joel is a man of many talents, and not one of them is wasted maintaining life in rural Kenya.  Pilot, Mechanic, Base Manager, Plumber, Electrician … pretty much everything.


The kids got back into the swing of home-school minus distractions…

and continuing the skills they learned in their season of basketball. Thank you, Hillside Academy coaches, for instilling a love of this sport in these young hearts…

The defense is quite a bit shorter than the opposing teams of few months ago, and these quickly lost interest in the game…


Eunice continues to bless us with keeping our home clean amidst the dust and bugs…

and making our favorite special treat – roasted ground nuts (peanuts) which are, hands down, the best we’ve ever had.


At the end of the day, we have a choice of what we focus on. This flowering bush, framing the gate to our backyard, (the rest of the vegetation was eaten by the goats) not only survives, but provides needed beauty to a dry and thirsty land.

Lord, I pray that I may do the same.

It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”; For the LORD delights in you, And to Him your land will be married.

~Isaiah 62:4 (NASB)