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April 2007
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June 2007

No More Action

We finished up the Action Conference last night and it was a grand affair by all accounts.  I don't do well with long meetings (longer than two hours) so this entire week is hard work for me.  All in all, however, the ministry's 25th anniversary was enjoyed by all and now we have a year to recover.  I enjoyed all my sessions and roles and it was great to see 10,000 people assemble yesterday for what they now call Super Sunday when all their churches get together at the local racetrack, of all places, for one big worship service.

Today I am off to Lake Kariba, one of the largest man-made lakes in the world.  There will be 26 in our party as we cruise the lake in a houseboat for three days.  We cruise during the day, then take out our speedboats to get closer to shore, fish and watch game.  Then at night we dock and listen to the sounds of the wild.  It is a cool experience and this is my third year to do this.  I won't have cell phone or email access, so it will be a chance to shut down, rest and do some writing.

That's about it from Zimbabwe.  By the way, the electricity situation is critical here.  I don't think there was a day last week during the conference that we didn't have to use generator power for a large portion of the day.  It is predicted to get worse, since South Africa and Mozambique, major electricity suppliers to ZImbabwe, have already warned that they need their supplies for the home market.  So the challenges of living and working in Zimbabwe continue.

Action at Celebration Church

All week I will be participating in the annual Action Conference sponsored by Celebration Church here in Harare. I believe this is the sixteenth Action and I have been to seven or eight of them. This week the Church is celebrating its 25th anniversary under the leadership of founders, Tom and Bonnie Deuschle. There are special events planned every night of the event, culminating in a fireworks display on Friday night. The last time the church had fireworks at their new building dedication in 2004, three truckloads of soldiers showed up two hours after the event, thinking there was some kind of military takeover in progress! If it had been a takeover, it would have been over by the time the army arrived.

I like working here because the church gives me a chance to experiment by applying some of my management and church growth theories to everyday life. There isn't just a church here, but there's also a school, bookstore, coffee shop, college, medical outreach, relief and orphan care agency, conferencing center, a music company and a network of business men and women called Victory Business Forum. When I arrive, leadership gives me a "laundry list" of things to do, address, develop or fix. I have my own car, have a cottage behind Tom and Bonnie's home and usually work from early morning to late at night.

Yesterday, we held the eighth annual business forum, which now begins Action week. I have been privileged to speak at every business forum. One of my books, Strictly Business, is actually a collection of speeches to business audiences I have delivered here over the years. I dedicated that book to my friends and associates in Zimbabwe, who operate and perform magnificently under tremendous challenges.

The theme of this year's Action week is dominion. Dominion is a word mostly used in Christian circles and refers to the mandate that God gave Adam in Genesis 1:28 to rule over God's creation. While Adam forfeited his right to rule through sin, the second Adam, Jesus, came to restore man's rightful role in God's economy. My title for my session yesterday was The Business of Dominion and I had a lot of fun challenging those present to be more productive, especially in the areas of creativity and writing.

I have six other sessions this week and have titled two of them - Dominion Affirmations and Dominion Clarity. I have three sessions yet to develop. I am also the 25th anniversary speaker for Friday night's main celebration, and I am using the history of the church's music program over the last 25 years as the focus of my message, while the musicians and dancers do a presentation to show the musical development over that period of time. It should be interesting. Saturday night always ends with a concert and I will emcee that event with my good friend, Pastor Evan.

if you are interested in my The Business of Dominion message, the outline and PowerPoint slides are included below. I will keep you posted on the activities for the rest of the week as I have time.

Business of Dominion A.doc

Business of Dominion.ppt

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Life Is Interesting

Life continues to be interesting here in Zimbabwe. Yesterday, we discovered that some travel visa information wasn't received at the government office. Later we found out that it was because the agency didn't have any fax paper! So of course, the always-resourceful Zimbabweans came up with a plan and rushed some paper to the agency, and the visas are being processed.

There are so many talented and intelligent people here who continue to face their day-to-day struggles with grace, resolve and creativity. I often think that when things return to normal, and they will some day, then this country will take its place among the world leaders. In the meantime, the people struggle under conditions that none of us can imagine. We take so much for granted, but here, you are grateful for the days when the power stays on and the water runs.

I am well and have a busy week next week. I have been assigned seven speaking slots from Monday through Friday, so I have a lot of outlines, PowerPoint slides and notes to prepare. Along with those duties, I have several sessions where I am the emcee.

My schedule for June is shaping up to include South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria. I have never been to the last two countries, so they will be added to my list. I think that will make 40 countries I have visited. So many more to visit!

The weather here is warm during the day and cool in the evening. Since I am in the southern hemisphere, winter is approaching. I haven't used a space heater yet, but I'm sure I will before I depart.

So it's off to work on my Monday message, so I can get the outline copied for the delegates. You want to provide as much lead time as possible to make sure the staff can overcome any obstacles on their way to stellar performance.

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I Give Up

I chronicled my trip over here to Zimbabwe with my excess luggage in three previous posts entitled It's God's Money, He Chose Not To Spend It and He Still Won't Spend His Money. In those entries, I told how the airlines let me through with my overweight luggage at no extra charge in Pittsburgh and London. I also expressed doubt that they would do the same in Kenya, based on experience. I have paid a lot of money in excess luggage weight in the Nairobi airport over the years.

When I got to the airport last Monday to come to Harare, the man looked at my three bags, generated three luggage tags and didn't say a word. At that point, I gave up on God spending any of His money to get my bags here.

Last night I had an interesting experience. I went to a local supermarket to buy some toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant. That cost me $199,000 Zim dollars, by the way. Inflation is estimated to be anywhere from 2,000 to 12,000 percent at this point, so everything is kind of crazy when it comes to shopping and prices. It's hard to say exactly how much that would be in US dollars, but let's estimate it at $6.00 US.

While I was in the store, I noticed there was quite a crowd and commotion. I found out that the store had sugar, which is in short supply, as are many of the other staples. A woman approached me, holding and nursing a small baby. She asked if I could help her get some sugar, since she was unable to negotiate the crowds and get her share. I said I would.

When I turned around, I met a woman whom I had profiled here. She just happened to be the supervisor for the stores in the area. When I asked her if I could get some sugar, she took me to the general manager, who took me to his assistant, who took me to the cashier and then who took me downstairs in the store, where there were about 100 people (this is the storage/loading dock area of the store). He soon came forward with five bags of sugar, which I promptly took outside and gave to my new friend and her baby. The cost of the sugar was $60,000 Zim dollars--about $2.00 US. My toiletries cost three times as much as my sugar!

When I gave the woman the sugar, I would not take her money. She said, "God bless you, sir! By the way, you look like Jimmy Swaggart!" I guess all white people look alike over here.

What's so astounding to behold here is how gracious the people are in the midst of some pretty trying times. They are resourceful, good natured and resilient. That's not to say that people don't get uptight and angry. Anyone would. But the general feeling is that they will get by somehow and they usually do. It just gets harder and harder to get by as the pressures of daily life are intense.

I am enjoying my time here as I always do. I helped facilitate a men's retreat this past weekend for the men at Harvest Church. We went to the Nyanga area, to a place called the Pine Tree Inn. What a fantastic view there, with the rock formations, the blue skies and the blossoming trees. I thought the retreat went well as the men were open to the purpose message. Many of them are also under tremendous pressure due to the current conditions, but they are men of faith and coping as best they can. It's just not easy.

Our theme was "Getting Your LIfe on Track: A Study of Purpose and Goals." There were 35 men there and I had a chance to meet one-on-one with 14 of them. I am always moved when people share their purpose stories and struggles with me. I wish I could do more to help them along their PurposeQuest.

This week I am in Harare, getting ready for the big Action Conference next week at Celebration Church. Tonight I speak at the University of Zimbabwe and then prepare for seven speaking slots in next week's conference. The conference is a fun time for me and every year I prepare new material that I use for the rest of the year.

There's my update. I have work to do, so I have to run along.

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Book Signing

I don't know why I enjoy book signings so much, but I do. WordAlive, my Kenyan publisher, sponsored one yesterday at a local bookstore along with two other Kenyan authors. It was great fun connecting with my readers and hearing their responses. I could sign and distribute books every day.

Earlier in the day, I had a 7 AM radio interview on HOPE FM 93.3 sponsored by Priority One, a group of Christian business professionals. It was an hour-long interview and the first interview for my host, Rose Ndegwa. Rose did a great job! I like doing radio and television interviews and I am a good interview, if I say so myself.

Today I am speaking at a church about 45-minutes outside Nairobi. Then I have two more meetings later in the day before I head for Zimbabwe tomorrow morning.

The big news here was that a Kenya Airways flight crashed and is missing in Cameroon. The weather is so bad at the crash site that the plane has not been located. When you travel as much as I do, you pay attention when something like that happens. My prayers are with the families of those missing.

I had dinner last night at my favorite Nairobi hangout called Java's. The coffee is good, the food is great and the atmosphere is like home (along with free WI-FI). I have never had a bad meal there, and their mango milkshake is the best shake I've had anywhere.

I spent two days this past week with the management team at the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. We spent one day profiling the 34 people present and then analyzed the profiles and the dynamics for their team-building efforts. Then we viewed the Five Dysfunctions of a Team DVD presentation by Patrick Lencioni and finished up with my session on The Five Competencies of Global Leaders. My friend and coordinator, Kentice Tikolo, now works for KCAA and was the one who opened the door for me to be there.

I found the men and women at KCAA dedicated professionals who have functioned well in their roles as air traffic controllers and engineers. They are now being asked, however, to make changes and build a team to keep up with modern standards and communication needs. Their struggles are no different than those faced by others all over the world, and I found no lack of intelligence or commitment to continue to grow and develop as professionals.

I love working in Africa. Anyone who thinks Africans lack any of the skills and will to compete in the global marketplace are sadly misinformed. Thank you, Kentice, and best of luck to KCAA as they work to remold and restructure their aviation world.

It's been a busy but rewarding week and I think I laid the foundation for more work here in the future.

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Labor Day

We finally made it to Nairobi last night, delayed 14 hours due to the cracked windshield. The flight was smooth and empty. They had taken everyone off our flight who was connecting to another flight, so we only had passengers who had Nairobi as their final destination. I am staying at the Nairobi Hilton and, for the first time, I have high speed Internet in my room! That makes my life so much easier, but it is very expensive! Oh well, that's the cost of doing business.

Today is Labor Day here in Kenya, so it was a national holiday. Downtown Nairobi is usually teeming with moving throngs of pedestrians. Today it is empty. What a contrast!

Even though it's a holiday, I conducted three profiling sessions and met with my local coordinator, Kentice Tikolo, and her husband, Tom. They are great people who have been a tremendous help to the purpose message and me here in Kenya.

Tomorrow I am going to do some training at the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. I will do some profiling and then spend the next day conducting some leadership training. It's always good to be in Kenya. I love the people, and they are open to the purpose message.