Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Therefore we do not lose heart."

Friday, July 10
Jacob led our "rumination" (discussion) time on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
" 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
It was encouraging to remember that Kibera, poverty, pain is what we see and experience here on earth, but is temporary. There is something completely opposite in extreme that we will one day experience that will be so glorious and amazing. When God returns to make all things new and right, there will be joy and worship of God that will be so incredible, that will outweigh all the pain experienced on earth. We talked about how we had been hit hard with the poverty this week. Yet in spite of the poverty, we have seen how Christ has transformed their lives. They know that Christ is all they need in this life and they are joyful in that hope. While nice homes and clean water would help, eternally, only Christ can give life (that is eternal) and the hope to live in this life. His love is what is sustaining.

Saturday, July 11
Prepared all morning for the Uhuru girls Bible Study with Grace. We decided to talk about the 5 women in Jesus’ genealogy and tie it into 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 where God uses the weak things of the world so that he might receive the glory. I really enjoyed preparing the lesson and looking through the Word to prepare. We left for Uhuru at around 2pm. I spent the first part of the time playing frisbee with a bunch of younger kids. Derrick, from the 5th grade, and his friend Ada, then Paul and Collins joined us. They did not attend the Church, but I tried to invite them, through Derrick translating. They were kind of shy and left a bit after a larger group of boys came to join us. They were a lot of fun and I learned most of their names as I tried to make it a game to say the persons' name you were tossing the frisbee to. Then it was time to meet for the Bible study. We had a pretty large group of girls and Grace, Carol and I taught together. Then we split up into two groups, older and younger, to dive a little deeper and ask questions. It was very difficult and the younger girls with me and Grace were very shy. After the study, we passed out sandwiches and juice. Ended with prayer, and last words of good-bye as this was our last Saturday at Uhuru with the youth. Everyone was so sad and as each of us were given a chance to talk, I told them I'd had fun with them and would be praying for them. Gave hugs and hand-shakes and said good-bye. Most of the girls had been so shy around me and I was surprised when I received hugs from a few of them I hadn't talked to much.
As we drove home for dinner, our van broke down and it took us a while to get it started again. We at at the Karen Blixen House for dinner, and it was amazing. We went with the Makuku's and it was fun to hang out with the boys, Elmer and Isaac. They are about the same age as my cousins and so it was funny to see the similarities in their interests and personalities. Isaac was showing us a "magic trick" and they both made faces with us.
Sunday, July 12
In Church I enjoyed the singing and dancing so much. It was really amazing to experience their joy that they have in Christ amidst the poverty that is here. You can't fake that kind of joy.

Home Visits in Kibera (July 9)

Thursday, July 9,2009: Today we did home visits for the first time in Kibera. Purity, Carol, Wycliffe, George, Josh and I were able to go. We followed one of the little girls from the school to her house to visit her mother. The way was windy and sometimes very narrow, through mud and piles of trash, jumping over streams of water beyond dirty. The path took us through a large market road with a variety of shops on both sides, so different from our usual walk through neighborhoods into Kibera.
We walked through a corridor of homes and found Sarah cooking chapatis outside. Sarah picked up her baby and welcomed us into her home. It was a small room, with a few chairs and a bench around the sides. The curtain that was hanging down from the ceiling near the door was pulled back to let us pass and let in some light. A few pictures and calendar hung from the tin walls. Other than a cabinet and table, the room held little else. We sat down, made introductions, I prayed for her, and Wycliffe shared Psalm 62. Carol translated for us and shared that Sarah is HIV+ and attends the Church’s Support Group Bible study. Sarah’s family had been dealing with a lot of sickness recently and she asked that we pray for her man, who many not be born again. We were told that the community Sarah lives in is predominately Muslim, a difficult place for her to be as a born-again Christian. I shared Ephesians 3:14-21 with her and said we’d be praying for her; that God would strengthen her, heal the family, and I encouraged her that God is a great God who can do big things-nothing is impossible for Him to accomplish. *Pray that God would protect her from persecution, that she would know God is always with her and loves her, that God would use her to reach out to her community, and that her man, whether her husband or not, would put his faith in Christ if he hasn’t already.
The next path we took was in a much worse condition. The path was narrow between homes, trash and dirt everywhere, and a darkness that was more than just a lack of sunlight. I was so confused when we met a man in the narrow passage, talked with him and then we were guided in through a small doorway. It took a while for my eyes do adjust to the darkness. I felt like I was entering a cave. The floor was uneven and I had a hard time keeping my balance. I scooted over to sit by Carol on a bench. I saw an older woman sitting on the bottom of what looked like a tiny bunk bed. Purity sat near her on it, then Carol, George, Josh, and I sat on the bench, the man sat across from us and Wycliffe stood in the doorway. There literally was no room for anyone to fit in this room. It could have been the size of a closet. A little table stood in the middle of the room.Black and grey rags covered the lumpy dirt walls. The tin roof had tiny holes that let in little streams of dusty light. Finally I discovered that these were the parents of Tina, a little girl who attends the school in baby class and hangs out by the Church a lot. She was the little girl I had met my first week who had been abandoned at birth and adopted by this family. The parents spoke no English and so Carol and Purity talked with them a lot in Swahili. Carol told us they were not born-again and that she didn’t need to tell us what they needed prayer for; it could be plainly seen in this room. That broke my heart. Never before had I seen this kind of poverty, this hopelessness that they lived daily in, unaware that they have a creator who is a loving Father. Carol asked us if we had any encouraging words to give them. She repeatedly asked us as she continued to tell us that they had just lost their grandbaby from a daughter who was not married, their 12-year-old daughter had run away, and the father had serious headaches. I was at a loss for words as I found it hard to process what I was hearing and seeing so quickly. To think that there are millions more living in this kind of poverty of life without Christ and horrible living conditions was heartbreaking.
Carol told us that we had something to learn from them. They had done more and sacrificed more than we have done, as believers, by adopting Tina. Matt 25:31-46 What you do for the least of these you do for Christ. They already had children of their own and barely any means to support them yet God used them to bring life to this beautiful little girl. It was an incredible picture to me of how God has adopted us as his sons and daughters. We were helpless as babies, bound to die, when God reached down into our filth and mess, our sins, and lifted us to life and to be his sons and daughters. He gave us His name, His love, provides for all our needs, and gives us an inheritance of eternal life.
I was encouraged to find out that Tina’s father had been to Church the previous Sunday and Tina’s mother had been to Bible Study on Wednesday. It was so amazing to see how God has used Tina going to school here to bring her parents to Church. Pray that God would continue to work in Tina’s family to lead them to salvation.
As Purity prayed, I prayed for their family and thoughts kept racing through my head: Carol telling us she didn’t have to tell us what they needed prayer for, did I have any encouragement? I forced back tears with all these thoughts and remembering truths of Christ’s love in the midst of it all. We left with hand shakes and a good-bye, silently walking back to the Church.
At lunch I tried to talk to the kids. Victor, a third-grader, is really good at speaking English, so I talked with him a lot and he would translate for me with the other kids when they didn’t understand me. I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He told me he wanted to be a policeman to protect people from robbers. Elsa, a 2nd grader told me she wants to be a doctor. Others told me they wanted to be drivers and pilots.
In the evening, the team met to talk about our days. Lydia shared stories she had learned today from Purity and Carol. There are 6 boys living in the Church. One of them, Kamau I think, was kicked out of his family for being a Christian. Kennedy had been missing for a year and thought dead, but was now back at the Church. John and Joseph are brothers who live in the Church and the brothers of Sarah and Lucy from Shuname Shelter. Lydia also told us that one of the little boys, Ronaldo, 8-years old, who hangs out around the Church all the time, is HIV+ and he doesn’t know it yet. I had met Ronaldo the first day we were in the school and he had always tried to get my attention and we were pretty good friends. He had recently received new clothes ad a Bible and had showed them off to me so excitedly. He would point at his new shoes, shirt, and Bible and I told him how good they looked and good it was that he had a new Bible of his own. It was hard to find out he was positive. *Pray that Ronaldo comes to know God as his Savior soon and that when he finds out his status, that he would put his hope in God.

3rd Grade boys (Victor on the far right)

Ronaldo and Tina

Tina and I

Friday, July 10, 2009

LORD of the nations

This week we spent our time in Kibera, which was so nice after being gone for a week. The teachers asked us why we had been gone for so long.
Monday I was in Teacher Cecilia's Baby/Nursery Class with the little kids for the morning. The kids barely speak English in this class and so they would chatter away in Swahili to me and I would try to catch a few familiar words here and there, but really had no clue what they were saying and would just smile and laugh. In the afternoon I played with the little ones who hang out in the Church in the afternoon and helped grade with the teachers. Then the students had a little competition where they were asked to complete sentences, like "As quiet as a _". The kid answered "water" and the teacher said "have you been around water? There's nothing really quiet about it!" So it was a lot of fun to hear and to guess the answers.
Tuesday I attended the Support Group Bible Study and sang songs with them and prayed. Then I went to Cecilia's class and read a couple stories, about the Prodigal Son and Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. I got to read it, ask questions, and sing songs. I sat talking with Cecilia while we waited for lunch. She told me some really encouraging things about her family and her husband becoming born again. Then she asked me "do you pity us who live in the slums?" I don't think anyone had asked me that before, so I was surprised by the blunt question. I told her it wasn't pity. I told her I thought that education was very important for the children to receive so that they might be able to support themselves and help their community. Cecilia replied that she was glad Christian education was happening and that the children could learn about God at a young age and would make Kibera a better place. She said that many of the adults are not Christian in Kibera and still hold onto old traditions and customs. I asked her what kind of customs, and she said that they don't go to doctors or take medicines, but often go to witchcraft to find healing. One of Cecilia's students had come to school with a black band on their wrist because their mother had taken them to a witch. The Child had been gradually getting more and more sick. So when the Pastor found out about the bracelete, he talked to the mother. Then he cut the bracelet off and prayed over the child who recovered from its sickness. So that was really interesting to hear as well as a great testimony of God's power. In the afternoon I spent time with a few of the teachers in the staff room. We were talking about different tribal names and I asked them what mine would be. Ann immediately answered "Mwende" and Cecilia agreed. It means something like "lovable one". Dorothy and Abigail gave me the name "Kanini", from their tribe, which means "little one". So now my new name is Joanna Wamboi Kanini Mwende.
Wednesday I helped take care of the little kids during the Women's Bible Study in the Church. Most of them cried when they saw us and their mom's left them with us. In the afternoon we had staff devotions, with Zechariah 2 as our discussion. Afterwards, we celebrated all the staff's birthday with a cake and singing.
Zech 2:5,11 "'And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the LORD, and I will be the glory in her midst.'...And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Savior, He can Move the Mountains, My God is Mighty to Save

Last Saturday we had our first Youth Bible Study at Uhuru Gardens. The youth group has grown since last year, which is a huge praise. We began with two big games of football (soccer) with the older and younger youth split up. I found myself useless playing, so I helped Carol, Purity, Lauri, and Grace make butter and jam sandwhiches for the youth. We sang a few songs with everyone together, then split up guys and girls for the Bible Study. Lauri shared her testimony with the girls and did a wonderful job leading. The girls were pretty shy and didn't ask many questions although they seemed to listen intently. When we had prayed, the guys rejoined us and we passed out sandwiches for everyone. After eating and the kids were messing around, I saw two of the guys, Joseph and one other talking secretively. I asked them what the secret was and they said it was Pastor's birthday and they were going to sing for him. They said not to tell anyone, but I was like, why don't we get everyone to sing? As we gathered in a huge circle with everyone to pray and end our time of fellowship, some of the guys said to a few of us that we'd sing for the pastor right after prayer. So as soon as the prayer was over, Joseph grabs my hand and he and about 5 other guys and I walk to Pastor and begin singing happy birthday while they beat on the plastic water containers. It was pretty funny. They tried to grab him and pull him into the middle of the circle, but he fought back a bit, then finally they pulled him in. He gave a little speech and thanked us. Then we said good-bye to the youth and they walked back across the street to Kibera, while we drove home.
Sunday, I shared my testimony in the youth sunday school and it went well. Thanks for your prayers in that. We sang a few songs in Sunday school and in Church as well. I got a sweet note from Truphena, one of the girls from the shelter and was very encouraged by it.
Monday through Thursday we were in Muthiga again doing all different kinds of things. Monday and Tuesday we worked on the property in the mornings, digging the pit latrine, pulling weeds, burning weeds, digging holes, and planting grass. In the afternoons, we had VBS for the kids. We had a small turnout because the weather was rainy and cold. Monday, I met two older girls, Monica and Esther, ages 12 and 13 who go to school and speak better English. They were really sweet and talked to Grace and I while it poured rain outside. Esther was practically attached to my hip and hugged me the whole time. I asked if their mothers gave them hugs often and Monica replied that her mother wasn't alive. She lived with her grandparents, while Esther's parents were still living. Esther started talking to me something about how the children who live with their grandparents need help. We had to leave pretty quickly after that, so I was unable to ask her more about it. I hope to see her again the next time we go to Muthiga.
Wednesday we worked all day at the property; digging the pit latrine and using machetes. We had fun throwing dirt at each other to pass the time. In the afternoon, the children found us and we ran up and down the dirt lanes chasing each other and having fun.
Thursday we were able to do home visits. Grace, Jacob and I were with Nancy and John who translated for us. We would go home to home, introduce ourselves, learn a little about the family and find out what was going on in their lives. Then we'd read a Bible verse and prayed for them. It was really awesome to meet the mothers, grandmothers, and youth of Muthiga through this time. One family had gathered together because of the death of a 24 year old woman in their family. She had just died on Sunday and they were gathering together, cooking, and preparing to stay up all night in order to honor her as is their tradition. It was hard to come in on that situation and I can only pray that God's word we shared encouraged them. In another home we found a woman with a week old baby. Grace and I were so excited we got to hold him and we jokingly asked if we could carry him around on our backs while we did house visits. We ran into a few people who did not attend Church and were not born again, but they were still open to us reading Scripture and some of them allowed us to pray for them. Please pray that they would remember God's word and that they would have their hearts opened to recieving Christ.
Saturday we had our Fourth of July party at the Shuname Shelter! We prepared bbq chicken, potato salad, beans, jello, guacamole, and also had chapatis, pineapple, chips, and cookies. It was a delicious feast. I rolled out a few red and blue died chapatis. Jackie, Neva, Geretti, and Winifred (some of the younger girls) put on a show teaching me Swahili words and acting them out. We played with the balloons and listened to music. After we feasted, Pastor had us do what we normally do on the 4th of July. SO we sang a bunch of America songs and the National anthem. The last song, we acted like we were in a parade and then they popped balloons like fireworks. We sang some English worship songs, prayed, and said good-night!
Today we worshipped in Kibera. We sang "Mighty to Save", which the youth from Shuname know well.
Prayer Request: That God will continue to work on our hearts and show us how we can best serve Him here in Kenya. That we wouldn't get in the way of God's Word going out to the people. That we would love each other well.
Thanks! God Bless

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Behold, I am making everything new"

A week ago, last Saturday, we had our first VBS in Kibera. The story was on Jonah and I was chosen to be Jonah. We sang songs with the large group, acted out the story, then split up into smaller groups. There was a craft group (all the little children went there and stayed for the whole time), a singing class, Bible study class, and games class. The kids rotated through each classroom. I was in the singing class with Lydia and Teacher Dorothy. I taught the kids a few new songs, but only one was really successful- "Who's the King of the Jungle", which my friend Channing had taught me during a Spring Break VBS we had done together. Thanks Channing! Many of the older children carry their baby brothers/sisters around with them. So in one of the groups, there was this little boy who had escaped and was just tottering and dancing around the room while we sang. It was so funny.
After VBS, all the kids were given butter and jam sandwhiches and tea for lunch. We were told there is a cholera outbreak, so it took longer as the kitchen staff had to clean the dirty dishes thoroughly in between classrooms. There were over 100 children there. Many of them are neighboring children who do not go to Church, so this was a great opportunity for them to hear about Christ.
Sunday we were in Kibera again worshipping. I went to the youngest kids Sunday School and told them the story of Jesus healing Jairus' daughter and the old woman. The same little boy from yesterday who had dancing around the room did the same thing today. Only now he wore a hat that was too big, which made him look even more adorable and funny. The memory verse I had for them was from Revelation 21:5 "Behold, I am making everything new." My teammate, Josh, preached and did a great job.
Monday was our day of rest. We did get to visit a missionary,Denny, down the street who invited us to come over. His home was like a mini America. We had so many delicious snacks and we got so excited about it. All of his family, but his daughter are in America until August. The daughter is 4 and adorable. After I introduced myself to her and talked a bit with her, she showed me her room and asked if I wanted to play with her. So Lauri and I ended up doing ballet with her for a while. Denny invited us to come over again sometime for pizza and a movie. We were very thankful for his generosity and kindness towards us.
Tuesday through Thursday we were in Kibera working in the classrooms and wherever we were needed. There was much grading to be done because exams were given to the children this week. I attended a Bible study on Wednesday on Jesus' second coming with some women from the area. In the afternoon, we had staff Bible study on the last few verses of Habakkuk 3. Thursday we helped stuff flour into sacks for the HIV+ people who attend the support group on Tuesdays. I was covered in flour by the end of it, after one of the bags popped and "exploded" on me. Mama Serulla from the kitchen saw my floury self and went to the kitchen, grabbed a wet rag, came back and started beating the flour off of me. It was funny/really wonderful of her. It rained and stormed that afternoon, and the sound on the tin roofs was amazing. I goofed off with the kids in the classroom and played games, sang songs, and they tried to teach me some Swahili words, clapping after I said one correctly.
Friday we went climbing on the mountains of Kenya. With a guide, we went up Mount Longenot, which was a volcano that hasn't erupted since sometime in the B.C. It took us about an hour and a half to climb up. When we had climbed up, we could walk around the edge of the volcano, which was about 6km around. It was beautiful and so different from anything I'd ever seen before. The trails tended to be made of loose dirt, so we got covered in dirt and slid around alot. I ended up sliding down the trail a few times like a slide because I didn't have good balance on my feet. At the end of the climb down, it began thundering and raining. We ran down part of the way. By the time we were back we looked like we'd just covered ourselves in dirt. The shower never felt better. I took a ton of pictures (making me often in the back of the line...plus I was just slow). I felt like I had accomplished a bit of the dream I'd been having of climbing a mountain since reading "Three Cups of Tea". Now I just need to build a school...or find sponsors for the rest of the kids in the Church's school...
Today, Saturday, we go to Uhuru (which means Freedom) Gardens to play soccer(football) with the youth and have Bible Study with them. Please pray that God would work in the hearts of the youth, that they might see our love for them and hear of God's love for them.
Continue to pray for team unity and for each of us to draw closer and grow in our relationship with God. I give my testimony on Sunday to the youth, so I would love if you could pray for God to give me the right words. Pastor has told us that these kids have seen EVERYTHING and that we should just share ourselves fully with them.
Pray that we would not get caught into just doing things in routine, but that we would stay fully invovled, heart and mind.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Can Only Imagine

Last Saturday we went to Shuname again to spend time with the girls. Our team was accompianed by a couple from the U.S. who were visiting for the week. So introductions were made again and the older girls shared what they wanted to do when the finished high school. Lanette and Nancy (11th and 9th grade) want to be nurses, Susan (11th) wants to be a teacher or counselor, and Philip (11th) wants to pursue a musical career or become a doctor. Later I talked to Susan and she told me that she didn't know what the future held, but that she knew that God had a plan for her life and she was trusting Him with it. She then taught me how to cut the meat into small pieces for their dinner that night. I kept getting teased that if I was to be a nurse I'd have to get used to this kind of work. Nancy asked for my help in Biology and I did my best to remember all I had learned in my sciences (i should know well by now). I had given the girls some of my old Christian CDs so we had some dancing and singing to MercyMe and thier new favorite song "I can Only Imagine". It made me so excited to think of the day when we all will be together in heaven one day, singing praises to our Father God. We ended our time in prayer and singing as usual and hugged good-bye.
Sunday we had an interesting experience at the English speaking Church, Nairobi Chapel. We all missed the fellowship of Kibera Church. However, there was an interesting interview that occured at the Church with a lawyer who was involved in mercy ministries in areas like Kibera. It was really encouraging to hear her speak out about invovlement with the poor as many in this Church were middle to upper class Kenyans with little to do with those living in Kibera, only 20 minutes away. Pray that God might move in their hearts to reach out to their fellow brothers and sisters and to get invovled in ministries to the poor.
Monday through Thursday we were in Muthiga, which is a slum that is so different from Kibera. There are green rolling hills and red dirt and very little visible sludge or trash lying all over. It is beautiful and peaceful looking, but the poverty is evident in the lack of nutrition I see in the children. During our time, in the mornings we would work on the little piece of property owned by the Church. They wish to build a school there someday soon and so we are getting the land ready for it. I used a machete to cut the weeds and tall grasses as well as just pulling weeds that were everywhere. We dug a few holes and planted little trees. Our hands are now dyed red from the soil. In the afternoons, we did a Bible Study for the younger children not in school or who had returned from school. We acted out the story of Daniel in the lions den, to the story of Naaman and the servant girl (using the Jesus Storybook Bible of course!). We sang songs in both English, Swahili, and Kikuyu(most of the kids are of that tribe). They colored and then we'd play games of all sorts. The girls would grab my hands and make me sit while they pulled and braided my hair into all kinds of knots. I would practice my swahili and they'd giggle at my attempts and mimic my voice. I love just sitting there with them singing praise songs and teaching them best I can. The language barrier is more of a problem here than anywhere we have been, so it has been a big challenge to all of us. Please pray that God's love would be evident through the way we interact with them. Pray that many of those children would come to the Church and come to know Jesus. There are a few older boys who we know aren't believers, so pray that God would use this time to spark their interest and that they might come to know Him.
It was great to see many of the same kids returning who I knew from last year. A few recognized me and I got a huge hug from one of them, Lucy. It was really encouraging to see that she remembered and that she would actually give me a hug and show me that kind of affection, when all I got were hand shakes from the others. The last day, I finally got to see some of the older girls I knew from last year and that was exciting. We wont be returning for another couple weeks, but it will be exciting to see relationships build as we will be spending about 3 more weeks there before we leave.
Saturday we will have our first VBS in Kibera and about 300 children are to come. Please be in prayer for that ministry opportunity as many of the children do not attend the Church who will come.
Mungu Akubariki! (God Bless!)

p.s. I'm reading a book called "three cups of Tea" and it's very inspiring. I would highly recommend it (although I'm only about half through it). Makes me want to climb mountains and build schools for street children in Africa.

Friday, June 12, 2009

John 3:16

Yohana tatu kumi na sita
In a sema:
"Kwa maana jinsi hii Mungu, aliupenda ulimwengu, hata akamtoa Mwanawe pekee, ili kila mtu amwaminiye asipotee, bali awe na uzima na milele."

A couple swahili songs we sing:
Sisi wana wako tumekusanyika (we your children are gathered)
Angalia baba (Look at us Father)
Tunakuabudu-We worship you
Tunakuinua-We lift you
Tunakungojea-We wait for you

Ni nani kama wewe bwana (who is like you Lord)
Nani kama wewe (Who like you)
Mwenye nguvu kama we we Bwana (The strong like you O LORD)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

God Loves People More Than Anything

Last Saturday we went to the Shuname Shelter, home to 20 girls and 2 boys. Purity and Carol are the house moms and are in their early 20's. They are incredible women of great faith and wisdom. I can't wait to learn more from them this year. When we arrived in the afternoon, I hugged the girls and immediately Nancy and Millicent wanted me to sing "Better is One Day" with them. Winifred (7years) grabbed my hand and she remembered me from last year. We played some frisbee and I helped Truphena with English homework. Acted crazy and sang with the girls to some Marymary I had brought over. I can tell the girls are more comfortable around me and are more open. please pray that God might use me to be an encouragement to them in this time of their lives and that I might be Christ's love to them. There is a new girl, Jackilyne, who came from Kibera 3 months ago. Please also pray for that new transition for her. We ended our time with them by singing praise songs in English and Swahili (I "danced"/swayed with Sarah and one of the other girls :) and prayed.

Sunday was a great time of worship. Met some more of the girls (met a Joan!) and helped lead a few songs during worship.

Monday we were out at the property again, digging holes for fences and trees that will be planted someday. It was a great time getting to know the Kenyan team more.

Tuesday and Wednesday we went to Kibera to help in the school. Tuesday morning I got to go to the Kitchen to help make chapati and clean dishes! It was something I'd never done before, and so much fun. They told me I was a good chapati maker (thanks to my practice back home...sort of) and that they looked "smart". They said that if they could, they would adopt me. It was happy. Working in the kitchen was tiring and it made me appreciate those women even more. They spoke little English, but I learned about their children and where they were from. In the afternoon I helped Vera, a 3rd grader who is so sweet, but has learning and hearing problems, with her math work. I'm just praying that God might provide some sort of hearing aid for her sometime in her future. Wednesday I sang songs with the little kids in Cecilia's class and tried to help with some of their work. Wednesday afternoon we had a time of worship with the Kenyan staff and our team. Lydia our team leader arrived TUesday night, so she was with us Wednesday!

Today we went to the property and dug more holes and started digging a pit latrine! yay. It was fun. Pastor brought a boom box and we got to listen to DC Talk, Caedmons Call, Nickel Creek. It was pretty awesome. We learned many new swahili phrases from Carol, Purity, Wycliffe, and James. I got to talk alot with Carol and get to know her a bit more, which was cool. Pray for her as she pursues music and song writing. She hopes to record sometime this year.

Prayer requests: My teammate Grace has a chest infection-pray for her complete healing.
Continuted unity for our team and that we might get to know the Kenya team better as well.
Relationships to continue to be built with the kids and staff.
Praise that God is showing me new things everyday. Good health and safety.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Joy of the Lord is My Strength

Monday afternoon we went to Pastor Makuku’s house in the Ngong Hills and it was beautiful and a great time to spend with the Kenyan team, Pastor Makuku, Martha Makuku, Pastor Wycliffe, Purity, and Caroline. We spent all afternoon asking questions and learning about the area we will be serving in.
On Tuesday and Wednesday our team went into Kibera. I attended an AIDS support group and a women’s Bible Study in the morning. This consisted of singing, prayer, testimonies, and a message from the Pastor. In the afternoon we were able to help the teachers of the Kibera school. On Tuesday we were given the tour of all the classes and introduced to the students. Many of the children remembered me and I’d hear my name whispered or see smiles of recognition when I entered a room. I was incredibly happy to see familiar faces and to be able to still remember names. Teacher Josephine told me it showed the teachers and the children that I loved them that I had returned, which was an incredible encouragement to me.
I made it a goal to do my best to learn everyone’s name in the school. There is baby class (pre-k) to 5th grade. Around 150 of the kids are sponsored in the school and in the Shuname Shelter. The sponsorship takes place through Mission to the World’s street child program. I would highly encourage you to consider sponsoring a child. There are few ways for children to get out of the depth of Kibera’s poverty, and the main way is through education. I learned that at around the ages of 13 and 14 boys and girls can be kicked out of their homes to live on their own. It is a reality that is foreign to me.
I experienced another reality of Kibera, and that is abandonment. I was sitting with Carol and Purity one morning when a woman came in with two children. One of them she had been taking care of for a few years, but had been abandoned when she was born. Now there were problems in the family and the woman was trying to see if she could stay at the Shuname Shelter. During the conversation, the little girl sat on Carol’s lap and I heard Carol say, “mamma Carol” at one point to her. Carol told me that now they would do home visits to see what the family life was like before they took the girl. She was just 5 years old and a precious child of God.
Thursday we went to the new property where one day a new home for children, a guesthouse, and a retreat center will be built, along with other things. We set to work digging holes for a fence. I became the “dirt girl” and my job was to pull the loose dirt out of the holes. We sang songs while working and just laughed a lot. We all enjoyed it and can’t wait to return on Monday to dig more holes! We are the first MTW team to work on the new property, so it was a real privilege to be there and to see the start of this dream they have had for this land.
Today we had a free day and spent our time walking around the downtown of Nairobi. It was crowded and we saw much of the city as we walked around with Purity and Pastor Wycliffe. I held onto Purity’s hand for the day and she described the buildings we’d pass and we talked like old friends.
Caroline, the other house mom with Purity, could not come with us because two of the kids from the Shuname shelter were sick with malaria. Pray for Philip and Sandy to be healed from their sickness quickly.
Continue to pray for safe travels, health, and team unity. My team has been incredible, but I can tell we are beginning to experience some differences in culture. So please pray that we might adjust quickly and be able to work for the glory of God. Pray that God might show us where he wants us to serve and that we might better love the people. Praise God for the first week we have had and the time we have been able to spend getting to know the School staff and children. Praise God for safety and good health!
Love to all!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Finally in Kenya!

Team Kenya 2009!: Lydia (leader), Joanna, Lauri, Grace, Jacob, Josh, George, Will
Day 1 Kenya Airport
About 24 hours of flight brought us through Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya. Our team successfully navigated the airports and all our luggage came through (Praise God!). For now we are without our team leader, Lydia (she will arrive June 10th-pray for safety). Pastor Makuku met us right outside the luggage area and we took his van to Subiaco, our new home for the next 2 months. We jammed our 14 suitcases (2 of them guitar cases) and carry-ons into the van and piled in. We had already bonded during prefield training so we were alright with the closeness . When we got to Subiaco we unpacked, had dinner, and went to our rooms to sleep. Our rooms are in the same place as last year (at least for me). Lauri is my room mate!

Day 2 Kibera
Headed to Church at around 10am and I was so excited to see everyone from Kibera Church again. I noted all the familiar places along the drive and saw so many new places and things that had changed since last year. When Kibera came into sight I was hit by the hugeness of it all. Even though I had been before it’s just unbelievable.
As we were walking in, we hadn’t gone far when a fight started to break out. I was right behind Pastor Makuku, who was leading the way, and I just kind of stood there while he went up to the men and tried to be the peace maker. His wife, Martha, came along after a few minutes and led us through while Pastor continued to talk to the men. I was more intrigued or curious by it all then scared. Continuing walking, Martha ran into one of the men who had been in the fight and she spoke some words to him I couldn’t understand (in Swahili) and I thought it was so amazing how she was courageous, said what she believed and could be up front with him.
As we got nearer to the Church I looked for familiar faces, but saw few. We entered the Church and I immediately saw Purity, and a few of the girls (Elizabeth, Millicent, Truphena) having Sunday school. I couldn’t wait to go give them hugs and talk to them, but we had to wait about 15 minutes for them to finish. I was so thrilled and happy to see them. I couldn’t stop smiling. Finally they finished and I walked over and gave Purity a hug. We told each other how happy we were to see one another. Then I hugged some of the girls and shook their hands. Elizabeth was wearing one of my t-shirts I had left behind last year! It was so incredible to see those familiar smiling faces and to hug them and to see their faces as they recognized me. It was awesome. I couldn’t stop smiling all morning. Makes me think of what a great reunion we will have in heaven when we will all be together worshiping God.
I saw a few of the kids from my Baby Class last year and Geoffrey, one of the teachers. I can’t wait to see the rest of the kids in school this week! Geoffrey asked if I would be there Tuesday to greet the children and I told him I hoped so.
I was able to sing along with some of the familiar Swahili worship songs. Our team was able to lead worship as well. We sang “I’m Trading My Sorrows” with George playing guitar. It went well and a few of the kids recognized the song and sang along. It was fun and I’m sure we will do it every week.
We went to Java House for lunch (which is as American as you can get here) and I enjoyed the mango juice  Saw a cow in the back of truck on the road and Pastor asked if we had a camera. No one did, but it was pretty funny. Then a heard of cows got in front of our van and we had to wait for them to pass.
After we got back to Subiaco we did laundry and went exploring around the convent. There were beautiful flowers and banana trees and we even found a chameleon! It was so cool. We picked it up and almost everyone held it and its little clawed feet grasped our arms and shirts in such a funny way. Its back was spiny and felt really cool and it had three horns on the front and its eyes could look all over the place because they are one the side of its head. Anyways, it was exciting to find it and I took lots of pictures of us holding it.
We had tea and ruminated about our day, which was really good. It has been so good to be able to talk about what we felt that day and to discuss what we learned. It is so important to remember that we aren’t there on some soul-saving campaign. We are there to share Christ’s love with those in the Church as well, and to be an encouragement to those who have already been saved.
The electricity went out so we ate dinner by candlelight and then played Settlers of Catan by candlelight. Just as we finished the lights came back on. We are all enjoying the peace and beauty of the place we are staying in.

Day 3: Explorations in Karen
Ate a delicious breakfast of French toast and walked to the shopping center to explore. Walked around the Nakumatt (which is like a Kenyan Walmart) and got some Fanta’s and laundry soap. Also picked up some mendazis, which are pieces of fried bread in heart shaped form. It is a beautiful day and Pastor Makuku and the Kenyan team should be over soon to give us an orientation for our time here.
Please pray for continued safety, health, and team unity. Also pray for us to stay focused on our relationship with Christ. That our hearts would be broken for the people of Kenya and that we might minister to them as Christ would have.
Swahili word for the day (not sure of the spelling): Tuwende= Let’s go!
P.S. My team is AWESOME. God is AWESOME for bringing us all together for this adventure. I can’t wait to see how God will work through each one of my team mates.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beginning a Great Adventure

Today I leave early in the morning to fly to Atlanta where I will then be taken with the other MTW interns to Ridge Haven for training. Friday we will drive back to Atlanta and then fly out from there to Kenya!
Please pray for safe travels, good health, and that our team will begin to form and have unity.
The other day I was reflecting on what I had learned last year and what I bring this year in my thoughts for the summer. In the slums of Kenya it is really easy to see that things are not the way they are supposed to be with such visible sickness, hunger, and death. My trip to Kenya will not solve the problem of poverty or hunger. I am unable to fix or heal their physical pain and sickness. BUT what is so incredibly beautiful is that God's Word is life and through Him is eternal LIFE. God promises to restore, to heal. Only in Christ Jesus can hope be found in this life. To hope in anything else is meaningless and pointless. We must hold fast to the promise that God is coming back again and he will be making all things new- restoring-making things right.
Pray for open hearts to this good news of salvation among the people I meet in Kenya. Pray for deep relationships to be formed with the people and trust and that I might share Christ's love. Pray for my team to have humility and a Christ-like attitude.
I am so thankful for this opportunity to return and to reunite with those I have come to love in Kenya from last summer. Your prayers are so important and I thank you for them.
Our God is an Awesome God.

Isaiah 12:2-5
"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitants of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel."