Sunday, December 27, 2009


Tomorrow we head to Rwanda at 9:30am!!! A completely different and new culture, place, people, and life. don't have any idea who I'll meet tomorrow, the conversations I will have or even where exactly I'll end up... And it's absolutely thrilling. I pray that thru my actions and words, in every encounter, joy, humility, and the love of the gospel will be shared. Tomorrow is an adventure!!!

P.s. Im totally lovin my iPod touch with the hotels wireless right now... I won't be able to do this much in Rwanda!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T - 4 days...

… and I board a plane for Rwanda! It doesn’t even seem real yet, and it won’t until I am buckled securely to the seat of a 767 and take off for Italy, then Ethiopia, Uganda, and finally Rwanda. While abroad, I will be using this blog to write updates about Rwanda when I can; however, I would like to stay true to the original purpose of this blog, that is, to express thoughts on various subjects and to hear your opinions and ideas as well – a conversation, if you will. For those who aren’t familiar with my blog, see the first post. For those who have not yet heard about my new adventure in Rwanda, see the previous post “Rwanda!!

This morning I just received my placement! I’ll be teaching at Rusumo High School, which is in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, right next to Tanzania! It’s a boarding school with about 800 students total. I’ll live about 4 miles outside of the town. There’s no grid electricity or running water, but these things along with internet and shopping are nearby! That’s basically everything I know right now!

Otherwise, everything is coming together smoothly as I prepare for my year of teaching abroad. It is truly remarkable to see how God is fitting so many pieces together and using so many people to shape this experience and to reassure me that this is the right decision. Here are a few stories:

A few months ago, when word began to spread at my church in Cleveland (Bethany Covenant Church) that I would be teaching in Rwanda, my friend Joe approached me and said he would like to build a kajom (a type of drum) that I could give to my community as a gift. He had been brainstorming this project for awhile, and was hoping the drum could be used abroad and had been praying for the right opportunity. I gladly agreed and we set to work on designing and building the drum!

In the meantime, I was tutoring math and science on Saturday mornings when I ran into a fellow tutor, Bill, who happened to be the father of one of my college friends. We began sharing stories about our experiences abroad in third world countries, and when he heard about my trip to Rwanda and my desire to promote sustainable energy, he introduced to me the Rocket Stove – an efficient and simple-to-build stove designed by an aerospace engineer and specifically for the developing world!

Back to Joe. A week later we were working on the drum when Joe said,
“It sounds like we have a mutual friend.”
“Who,” I asked?
Apparently, Joe and Bill are in the same men’s Bible study! When Joe had mentioned our drum project to the group and how it would be used in Rwanda, Bill made the connection! I now have a beautiful wood kajom as well as plans for making the Rocket Stove in my possession and ready to give to the community!

Wheew, there are several other good stories I could share, but for the sake of time and space, here’s the Campbell’s soup condensed version:
  1. My good friend, Somo, and her family are from Zambia, and they were kind enough to teach me how to slaughter and dress a chicken! Not only was this a very practical lesson, but it also makes you much more aware of where our food comes from and, for me at least, it instills a certain respect for life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
  2. I’ve been introduced to a gentleman who is starting a micro-hydroelectric business in Rwanda. He graduated with degrees in engineering and medicine from MIT and Harvard and currently lives and works at a health clinic in Rwanda. Hopefully we can connect while abroad!
That’s it for now! If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading! Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your prayers, and for just being you. I’m excited to hear about what amazing things will happen at home, in Cleveland, Jamestown, or wherever you are over the next year while I’m gone. Keep me posted and keep it up!


In case you haven't heard, I am going to Rwanda! If you haven't heard the details yet or just want to be reminded, here's a little blurb I've thrown together:

"Recently, I have been accepted as a volunteer for WorldTeach (, a non-profit organization based at Harvard University, which places teachers in under-developed countries. Leaving the day after Christmas, I will be venturing to Rwanda to teach math and science for the next year to a year and a half.

Rwanda is a country most widely known for the 1994 genocide, but too often overlooked for its unprecedented strides toward healing and rebuilding. Its people are determined to become leaders in development for the rest of the continent. Yet, many challenges remain. With 60% of Rwandans living on less than a dollar a day and 42% under the age of fifteen, education and hope are essential to Rwanda.

As a WorldTeach volunteer, I will be teaching high school students in math and science. Outside of the classroom, I will be involved in the community through activities such as coaching soccer, organizing science projects, or helping at a local church. Furthermore, Rwanda’s focus on development, particularly in technology, is a perfect fit for me as an engineer, as my long term goal is to help implement renewable energy for developing communities!"

OK, more to come!

“The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.” Isaiah 61:1-4

Sunday, September 27, 2009

While I Am Unaware

This afternoon I went for a bike ride without a destination. I stumbled upon a patch of wooded area that had a stream and small waterfall running through it, so I parked my bike, hopped a couple boulders, and camped out on a rock in the middle of the stream. I was amazed at how tranquil the scene was before me. There, in the middle of Cleveland Heights was an oasis of nature with only the sound of running water and the wrestling of young autumn leaves falling to the ground. I paid no attention to time. The sunlight glittered off the water weaving its course downstream. I admired a fallen piece of foliage - bright red and orange, as if photosynthesis had captured the image of a campfire and framed it in the shape of a maple leaf. The leaves still hanging were a vibrant green - a canopy from the contrasting yellows and blues of the sun and sky above.

People travel the world over to find beauty in nature, but overlook their own backyards. Sure, I have been amazed at the splendor of many majestic scenes while traveling, but often, I find that some of the most beautiful and peaceful and awe-inspiring scenes are in the most unlikely of places. Creation is everywhere, in the large and small, in the extravagant and the mundane. This means that praise is to be had everywhere too, in all our circumstances, in all our activities, and in all our destinations. Praise is a habit (see David Crowder's book Praise Habit).

Lately I have been reminded of the lyrics to a song that go like this:

You dance over me, while I am unaware...
Lord I'm amazed by you.

Whether we realize it or not, the opportunity for praise is all around us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, God dances and sings over us (Zephaniah 3:17). If we look for it, we'll be amazed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I think it's interesting that some of the best words to describe the Christian faith start with "re." Here is a list of words that come to mind:


Personally, it reveals a lot about the characteristics of Christianity; it's about second chances, it's about new and fresh things, and it's about grace. I haven't tried it yet, but take some of these words and type them into and see what interesting passages come up. Feel free to add your "re" words and any other insights.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What do they need?

Okay, this one is a bit more on the philosophical side. There are two pieces of advice that I like, but they seem to contradict each other, and I'm wondering if they can be reconciled. One is a quote by philosopher/theologian Howard Thurman. The second is a homily of sorts from a book written by a monk in Colorado. If you have any thoughts, let me know!

"Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive... then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Howard Thurman

"There's a monk there who will never give you advice, but only a question. I was told his questions could be very helpful. I sought him out. "I am a parish priest," I said. "I'm here on retreat. Could you give me a question?"
"Ah, yes," he answered. "My question is, 'What do they need?'"
I came away disappointed. I spent a few hours with the question, writing out answers, but finally I went back to him.
"Excuse me. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. Your question has been helpful, but I wasn't so much interested in thinking about my apostolate during this retreat. Rather I wanted to think seriously about my own spiritual life. Could you give me a question for my own spiritual life?"
"Ah, I see. Then my question is, 'What do they REALLY need?'"
- Tales of a Magic Monestary


I'm not a regular xkcd reader, but I've heard of the webcomic from several friends. I found this one to be somewhat appropriate, although I'm making it a point not to apologize for my lack of posts... :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Previous post's comments

Hey folks,
More posts on there way; in the meantime, the last post had a couple comments with really interesting questions and insights. They're worth checking out!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thoughts on Poverty

Time flies! I haven't been dry on ideas to write about, but I have been pretty lazy about actually getting them down on paper/blog...

In my not so lazy moments I've been doing a little bit of leisure reading: "Energy Services for the Millennium Development Goals," a 116 page UN report addressing energy needs and approaches for developing countries. It really is fascinating. Last week I began to delve into it during my flight to CU Boulder, where I checked out their Environmental Engineering for Developing Communities program. These things said, lately I've been thinking about what it means to provide help for a developing country. How can we help them? What do developing communities really need? What does "poverty" or "third world" even mean? I have more questions than I have answers, so please, share your thoughts!!

I'll introduce my thoughts with a story. When I was in Nigeria two years ago, my friend and I met a pastor whose wife just gave birth to their son. He was radiant, and we began to talk about family and life in Nigeria and America. I commented on how wonderfully genuine the families were in Nigeria, and how its friendliness made it such a beautiful place. He agreed, but admitted that Nigeria was nothing like the grandeur of New York City, in which he dreamed of living. My friend and I looked at each other with skepticism... is it really worth sacrificing a beautiful culture for independent, impersonal skyscrapers?

Everyone is familiar with the basic third world needs: food, clean water, medicines, etc. Seems straight forward, right? But when you look into it, there is a lot more than meets the eye. Agriculture can be improved with machines, education and economies can be improved through electricity and computers with internet, and communication through cell phones. These improvements enable women to work and children to go to school. Infrastructure can be installed and buildings built, and the list of possible improvements goes on. These can all be very good, but I do question the motivations and the aims of these developments, both as a means of challenging my own convictions as well as ensuring the best for these communities. The big question I'm asking is, "what is our end goal?" What would the world look like if tomorrow all the objectives were achieved and everything was "developed" to a sufficient point so as no one was in poverty? Here are my meager ramblings:

#1 The UN report focuses on moving communities from poverty to the first rung of competitive global economics, which means training professionals, creating small businesses, and introducing modern technology. Should every world culture have computers? Can poverty only be eliminated through a globalized economy? Should all women in all cultures work? Should electricity and agricultural machines that help increase productivity also introduce developing communities to electronic entertainments, reliance on oil, specialization, and the replacement of human labor with technology? Our goal is not to "westernize" these cultures, but how do we develop communities without just making them more like us? Where do we draw the line between aid and assimilation?

#2 On a more philosophical note, perhaps my question poses no real answer. Not because it is impossible to meet the objectives set out by the UN and eradicate poverty, but because the definition of poverty will always change over time. The global poverty scale is measured by monetary value per day (extreme poverty equals less than $1/day USD). Of course, this must be relative to the rest of the world's living standard. What used to be the norm is now considered poverty. In the future, will those with land line phones, bulky slow computers, and gasoline powered cars be poor? There must be some distinction between cultural poverty and subsistence poverty.

#3 Is it accurate to define poverty by monetary value alone? I think that money is just one factor, albeit a major one, that affects poverty; but at the core, it should not define it. Money is merely a tool by which we reach more fundamental needs: nourishment, safety, freedom, and fulfillment, for example. While these are more difficult to quantify, I think they need to be considered in order to properly address poverty. In a general sense, I would define poverty as anything that oppresses people from meeting these goals, whether it's monetary, social, political, emotional, mental, or spiritual. For example, Nigeria has been ranked the friendliest country in the world, yet America's divorce rate can't boast the same accolade. From my own personal experiences, and many others, those with less are usually more thankful and of all things, generous, than those with more. From this point of view, poverty is all around us. Which leads me to my last thought...

#4 The gospel. I'm finding more and more that all throughout the Bible poverty is viewed by this holistic perspective. Yes, the gospel is about spiritual freedom, but at its core it is also a social and physical message. It's about feeding the poor, caring for orphans and widows, and sheltering the homeless. Moreover, it calls us to serve the broken-hearted, to live in an interdependent, accountable community, to care for the environment, to commit to sacrificial love, and to heal the sick. And these are not just practices that Christians are supposed to do; they are the change, restoration, and reconciliation that define the Christian faith. And so I think the Bible has a lot to say about poverty, about getting rid of oppression. And I think it's a good place to start laying a foundation for how to address poverty.

All that said, there are still a lot of questions, and a lot of room for interpretation. Here are my thoughts. What are yours?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

I thought I'd share a few points that pastor Greg at Bethany Covenant Church made this morning, because they're pretty pertinent to my life and to our society. He talked about the difference between a fast life and an urgent life. With fast-food restaurants, microwaves, and even speed limits, I think we can all agree that we live in a fast-paced society. In our routines, we go from one thing to another, sometimes non-stop, trying to pack in as much as we can in one day. Even if our routines aren't very busy, I think our fetish for fast is lived out through our attitudes as we're accustomed to instant gratification and impatient with delay or unnecessary changes in plan. As I settle into my new job, I've found myself impatient with traffic and really slow computers. At work I want to get as much done as possible as fast I possibly can so that after work I have more time to do as much as I possibly can, just as fast, before I have to go to bed and repeat the whole process.

And we call this efficiency.

The point of this post (and this morning's sermon) is not just to point out our fast-paced culture and encourage us to slow down, although that would be a good place to start; it's really about what we sacrifice in the fast lane, that is, urgency. Jesus did a lot of amazing stuff, but he was not running around tirelessly preaching, teaching, and healing as many people as he possibly could. He did not say that the Kingdom of God will come the more you do and the faster you do it. He said, the Kingdom is here, in our midst, in our hearts (Luke 17:20-22), and the question is, how do we respond? Jonah took forever to deliver God's message to Nineveh, and when he finally uttered the eight words of prophecy recorded in the Bible, the response of the Ninevites was immediacy: they "called urgently on God" (Jonah 3). Urgency... it is a matter of perspective, disposition to the gospel, and attitude; it is not a matter a speed.

I want to clarify that I do not think that business and efficiency, in their true sense, are inherently bad things. However, they easily foster the "fast life," which refers to that attitude. overwhelmingness, or that almost insatiable drive to squeeze more out of the day. The fast life is a life driven by the fear and lack of faith that God has provided more than enough for you to do and not nearly enough time to do it. Greg wrapped up the morning with a quote from his high school and college basketball years: "The better you are at a sport, the slower the game." Perhaps, the same applies spiritually. As we grow closer to God, life slows down but becomes much more urgent.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The First Day

Today I started the first day of my job, and with that, I realized that I haven't posted on here for quite some time due to the craziness of finishing my last semester of school. But don't fret! With the 9-5 job comes free evenings and weekends, which means I intend on posting more frequently than I have been. In the meantime, I want to give you a quick run down of what's happened and how I got to where I am now!

Last semester I started looking for jobs with the expectation of being out of Cleveland. Thus, I went to the Case Career Fair not expecting much either. Low and behold, I stumbled upon a fantastic company called Contained Energy that does renewable fuel cell research, which is right up my alley. Moreover, they are a small, very hands-on (everything from design, fabrication, and testing), and cutting-edge technology group. It was a perfect fit, so I couldn't turn it down... which puts me here in Cleveland.

The second really cool thing is that I needed a new apartment, off campus, but I didn't want to come home alone, bum around, and give up on my heart for ministry to the needy and to young adults. So, I started praying and asking others to pray for a guy roommate who had the same idea as me. A week and half later, I met Drew, a guy who just came back from Africa and was in the same situation as me. This past Monday we moved into a place near downtown, and we can't wait to get settled in and keep doing outreach to the people in Cleveland and on college campuses!

Well, that's my update; I tried to keep it brief. More to come later... so check back now and then and don't be shy to post a reply!

later gaters... kg