Not A Working Holiday

It was Pete’s Dad’s birthday last Sunday so we Skyped him from Nairobi. While it wasn’t the best line for them, we could hear them clearly. His parents are so old school, they have a mobile phone but don’t ever use it and the internet is something other people use.

I had to snicker as his Dad said ‘Have a good working holiday or whatever you’re doing over there’. We are so blessed we’ve travelled more places than either of our parents, seen more of the world and the wonders it holds.

Every trip we’ve undertaken has been paid for by ourselves. We’ve never received grants, been paid for by organisations or used fundraising tactics to get our flights. It’s been a lot of hard work and sacrifice, especially the last 5 years. We’ve gone without a lot so that we could jump on a plane and visit all sorts of places.

This is the first time we’ve asked people to partner with us to live long term in Kenya serving communities and working with young people. It’s quite a different and humbling experience. There’s no way to make extra money for surprise expenses. Normally if we need something like a car we’d go hard out making the extra dollars. Now, we need to live as cheaply as possible and make every dollar count. We’re helping to run a camp this weekend, and we’ve pitched in to buy extra things needed to make it happen.

That’s how it works here. Everyone pitches in because we’re all in the same boat.

Our biggest splurge since coming here has been the Christmas tree. Life here is so different, so to have something normal like a tree is unbelievably nice. We even managed to find some lights for the tree, so we’re quite happy.

A working holiday entails working a bit to make some money, then take time off to see the countryside and relax. What we’re doing is quite different. We’re either in the office, out on the farm, organising events, writing reports, learning a new language, spending hours in traffic jams, writing endless emails, in meetings, and every now and then take a breather. Because we’re newbies it can get overwhelming, but we’re realistic about giving it time.

We weren’t even going to try and explain it (again) to Pete’s Dad what we’re doing. All we say is that we’ll be back for a visit in about 3 years and that makes him a happy camper.

So, if you do get to go on a working holiday – go for it, but for the rest of us – it’s back to work!

tree

 

 

Why we are a good investment

At present our support level is at about 55%, which is no problem because we serve a BIG God and He knows exactly our needs. I’ve once again started spending endless hours emailing everybody I know, asking them for $20 a month. Then I started thinking about why we are a great investment. It’s a good question to ask because why should people give us money to go and live in another country and totally depend on people for our survival?

So here’s 6 reasons why we’re a good investment:

1. We’re in it for the long run.

Travelling to East Africa every year is easy. You’re there for a couple of months, have quite a few comforts and know even if it’s tough there’s an end date for returning home. While this has been great, the effectiveness of your work is limited. The only way for a community to be developed is for people to be on the ground long term. It’s going to take us about a year to get used to how things really work, settle into our home and then another few more years before we get a good grasp on Swahili. While Rome wasn’t built in a day, we’re realistic that time is what we need to devote to our work.

I just read this quote from Paul Osteen who is a short term medical missionary currently in Zambia and it rang true for us:

The fact that wherever there was a significant, lasting work for the Kingdom, there were these kind of people faithfully serving.  People who have stayed the course.  People who have run with perseverance.  People who have fought the good fight and have not given up.  People who have put their hand to the plow and not looked back.

2. We’re honest and respectful.

I’ve always taken the aspect that we are stewards of what we’ve been given and it’s not really our own. Whether that be counting the offering at church, taking donations for water projects, working at the office from home, studying individually or using supporters money in the most effective way.

It’s this respect for others that has taken us a long way. If someone gives money for a particular project e.g. a camp for kids, then that’s what the money goes on. I’ve always taken accountability as a good thing, not something to be feared.We’re an open book about our finances and try to be the best stewards as possible.

3. We’ve got the goods to deliver.

We’re not going to Kenya because we have something to prove, to feed our egos or show people that we have something to prove. Pete’s 49 and I’m 43, if we haven’t got over ourselves by now then there’s something seriously wrong! It’s not actually about us at all, it’s about serving the leadership of Afri-Lift and bringing what we have to the table. We’ve learnt a lot and have some skills that can strengthen the work there. When the rubber hits the road, we’ve got the assets to make a difference. We are confident not because of our abilities, but because of the God we serve.

4. We know what it’s like to live with much and little.

When we came to Sydney nearly 11 years ago we did so with $3,000, no jobs, nowhere to live and knew one person. We lived for 9 days at the backpackers, Pete got a job within 4 days and we started over again. We had to go and buy a pot and some plates and cutlery to cook with. That one pot did an amazing job. Since then we’ve been to the other extreme where we’ve been able to bless people who were in need and even fly people to Australia for holidays. Personally I prefer to have much rather than little, but regardless we’ve learned to be satisfied with either.

People often quote the scripture in Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” When you read it in context, it’s about living with lots and with little.

It’s about knowing who is the source of everything you have – Christ.

5. This is our calling from God.

While it shocks most people that we intend to go to Kenya for 20 years, few are shocked that we’re actually going. It’s been over 25 years in the making. There is no other option for us. Anything else would be dead set boring! It’s not like we’ve heard some voice from Heaven saying ‘You should give up everything and go live in Kenya’. It’s a knowing, a journey, an unfolding plan. Sure, there’s scriptures but they are more an extra bonus along the way. Are we called – heck yeah!

6. We’re tax deductible.

Okay, so it only matters for this if you live in Australia. What people don’t know is that to get tax deductibility status is a nightmare. Only about 1/4 of those who run charitable services actually get this status. Over the years we’ve built a good relationship with Global Development Group in Brisbane and now partner with them. What it does say is that we are credible and so is the work we do. They keep us both financially and project accountable. They visit us on the ground and make sure we’re doing what we said we would do. Every 3 years we have to submit a business plan and every 6 months a project report to see what we’re up to. These guys have really high standards and we’re proud to partner with them.

To reach our target goals, we need your continued support. It would be great if everyone who ‘liked’ our work on Facebook or read our blogs/newsletters/tweets transcended that into a few dollars. It means that we can achieve so much more. I’d love to have annual camps for kids who live in poverty, develop more youth leaders, hold more seminars and host more visiting teams.

Here’s an easy way to give:

IN AUSTRALIA:

Account Name          Afri-Lift

BSB                          032324

Account Number      235873

IN NEW ZEALAND:

Account Name           Pete and Sharon Crean

Account Number        03-1509-0037038-025

Please use your name as the reference so we can track your donation. If you live outside of these two countries drop me an email (sharoncrean@beyondwater.org.au)  so I can tell you the best way to support our work.

It’s all good

We have a friend, Dave Edwards, who, no matter what is going down, will say ‘it’s all good’. It’s become an ingrained part of our travel conversations, especially when you’re faced with a challenging situation, like when you’re on a 7 hour bus ride which is like being in a milkshake container.

Dave looks like he’s leftover from the hippie days and is so casual about life that it’s hilarious, nothing seems to throw him off his game. His ever gorgeous wife, Kay is the total opposite – organised down to the wire, tells you how things really are without things always having to be ‘great’ and keeps her hair immaculate!

While they’re total opposites in many ways the very thing they do the same is laugh loudly. No matter what happens, they laugh and laugh and laugh. I love it.

The Bible says that a merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22). There’s so much negative stuff happening in the world, sometimes all you need to do is laugh.

We had one week with Hannah being sick and then the next week it was Lizzies turn. Got to love the bugs flying around in winter. While they were feeling crappy as anything, laying on the couch with a box of tissues next to them, the only thing that lifted them up (besides a cuddle from Mum) was a funny movie.

Laughing is not overrated, in fact we should do more of it. Don’t let a day go by without a good belly laugh.

I’m making it one of my goals for the rest of the month to not be overwhelmed by everything we have to organise for our trip to Africa. Instead, I’m going to believe that God will provide, find as many moments in life to laugh and enjoy the journey.