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