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 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.