Today was the first time we went into the slums of Bondeni, and into the Mathare Valley and surrounding slums. This evening as our team was debriefing from the activities of the day, the word that came to everyone’s minds was “overwhelming.”
During our debrief this evening, we were discussing the hopeless situations we saw. The conditions of the slum were overwhelming. The sights and smells can and did overcome your senses. At times, it was strong enough to choke you up. We saw trash and homes built very creatively out of anything and everything you can imagine. When the people glanced our way many of them, indeed most, sent looks of hopelessness and despair. It was clear that this was the only way of life they know. We saw them gathering water, bathing children out in the open, washing laundry, burning trash, and cooking food over a fire.
Yet, it is not a completely depressing situation. As I was walking through this area, it was evident to me that Missions of Hope is making a difference. God has not forgotten the people of Mathare Valley. The school, the businesses, and all that is connected with Missions of Hope are being blessed by God. They are not doing “relief work.” They are enabling the people of Mathare by teaching them life skills, helping them contribute to their lives, and raising the standard of living in their community. Missions of Hope is not only helping to equip these folks physically, but is also coming alongside them spiritually and putting tools in their hands to grow their relationships with Jesus. They are creating accountability groups in order for the people to hold each other accountable both spiritually, as well as financially, including their business efforts.
In the Missions of Hope facilities (Bondeni and Pangeni), we saw a change in the countenances of those we’ve come in contact with. They had hope, and a vision. Some of the women were receiving on the job training. The children enjoyed learning and this was clearly evident to us.
In the morning, we broke into teams and went into the villages with a couple of staff members from Missions of Hope taking part in the “Bring the Light” ministry. I was in a group with my husband, Seth, and Frances. It was an eye opening experience. This particular man, Francis, had a small “chante”, where he had innovatively created the front part to be a small store, and the back portion to living quarters, which was simply his bed. We first installed the skylight which provided an amazing amount of light to his tiny living quarters. (It was so small we were unable to stand, and had to ask permission to sit with him on his bed. So four of us sat, including Francis, and two stood up.) In this manner, we proceeded to share the gospel message with him. He was very receptive, and professed a commitment of faith to receive Jesus into his life. We’re praying that he will take that next step in his newfound faith and contact the local pastor and become involved in church. Although his surroundings promise opportunities to stumble on bad habits and bad company, we are hopeful that his faith will continue to grow.
In the afternoon, we split into three groups for our afternoon activities with the children – soccer, crafts, and chalk art. The children loved the soccer balls– their ball had been a wrapped up mess of masking tape. So they were thrilled with real soccer equipment and they bounded all over the field with Dave, Jon, and Brittany. (Dave described it as a swarm of locusts!) Jackie, Frances, Cheri, and Katie worked diligently on the craft. It will be a keepsake to these children. We are taking and printing pictures of each child (474 total for the week), and placing it in the center of a craft. Here it is midnight in Kenya, and we are still printing pictures of the 230 children we took pictures of today. With assistance from Marcia and Seth, I did two chalk drawings for the same 230 children. The children really enjoyed this performing art and the teachers exclaimed they’ve never seen anything like it before.
Tonight we had the privilege of having dinner over at Keith and Kathy Hamm’s home. They are an amazing couple and TPCC should consider it a privilege to support their ministry in Kenya. Their hospitality was wonderful and the team very much enjoyed sharing the evening with them in their home.
Finally, we should mention that the TPCC Kenya team is actually a member larger than introduced on Saturday. Our own Julie Smith arrived from TPCC from Indianapolis just before our landing. She recently graduated from Valparaiso University and is serving in a missionary apprenticeship for the next three months. Julie is doing well and we were pleased to see her at the Bondeni church on Sunday. We look forward to getting to share more time with her when we have dinner on Thursday night where she is staying. Hopefully, Seth will get to update the blog with her adventures here in Kenya for all of you back home.
Tomorrow will come early for us, so we better get to bed. (This is actually the second time I have written this post, because the internet ate the prior attempt!) Keep us in your prayers as we do more home visits tomorrow (about 3-6 am Eastern time) and work with the kids again in the afternoon (8-11 am).