Our team is posting two posts in one tonight. The first is a lengthy update from Tamie that gives an overview of our trip to date. The second is in the form of a prayer request. Please enjoy the update and request below and keep praying for us as we serve.
Tamie’s Overview to Date
Arrived on Saturday late. Sunday morning our group of nineteen went to church. Worshipping with the Kenyans is a celebration of Jesus and awe inspiring. They face Satan every day without the trappings of our modern day materialism. Let no one make a mistake, however, the middle class and upper class Kenyans face the same issues we face in America, which I will discuss later.
After worship service we had an old fashion church lunch with the members of the church. What a time we had getting to know a little about each other. I thought . . . This is what heaven will be like! Worshipping Christ with other believers who are different but know The Lord.
On Monday, Kevin, a representative from Price, Waterhouse, Cooper (PWC), and I had a business lunch with two representatives from MOHI and a representative from the local PWC office in Nairobi, Steve. Steve was extremely gracious. He, a local Kenyan, sponsors children in the slums of a different area of Nairobi. His company also supports those slums. The restaurant and food could compete with any environment or food in any metropolitan area I have been in. The creme brûlée was delicious.
Our goal was to connect MOHI with PWC – which we did. Esther, the director of micro financing, and I were the only females having lunch there. The men were plentiful: Asians, Kenyans, Europeans, and North Americans. I thought to myself, “I have often been in a room where I was the only female , but what must this feel like to Esther?” I have never thought about women being the only female in a business meeting in developing countries. After lunch, which lasted until about 2:30p, we joined our group at Pangani for the remainder of orientation and, of course, “shopping.”
Tuesday Kevin and I started and ended our day at MOHI corporate headquarters. Let no one think that Mary and Wallace do not know business. Most accounting is still done manually, but they are very control conscious. Wallace is an accountant and knows financial controls. All financials were open to Kevin and me. Though Kevin is the one who knows accounting, the attorney came out in me and I was the one who led with questions.
Kevin and I were welcomed into the IT department and procurement office. All but one of the 8 workers in the accounting department are CPAs. Esther has both a degree from college and a degree in micro financing from university. The male in charge of procurement for the construction projects is a civil engineer. The IT department executive has a degree in IT. So you can see that Mary and Wallace have surrounded themselves with very bright executives.
Kevin and I had lunch with Esther and Beatrice, the manager of the accounting department. We discussed the problems of social media – how the young people of both countries would rather text or email than pick up a phone and call; the issues of drugs – whereas in Kenya it is the poor who abuse drugs in the US drugs are prevalent in any socioeconomic level; and the issue of middle class children, teens, and twenties feeling like the are entitled. Esther said that in Kenya the 20 somethings are called “Generation Y” I told her that is also what we call that generation. She said “I thought these problems were only in Kenya.” I told her they are also, of course, prevalent in the States. The one problem we have in the States, however, that does not yet appear to be prevalent in Kenya is teen-age and 20 somethings suicides.
Wednesday, the bus dropped all missionaries off at Bondini except Kevin, Olivia and myself. Olivia is a 22 year old who has spent Tuesday and Wednesday mornings teaching hygiene to certain MOHI staff members including the cook staff. Kevin, Olivia and I went to Pangani. Kevin and I again met with Esther to learn more about micro financing. (As I am writing this we are in the bus stopped at an intersection. Three teenage boys came to the bus begging. We are not allowed to have our windows open when we are in the slums. There is no air conditioning. One asked for water. Do you know how hard it is not to open a window to give water? In fact Jesus commanded us to give water to those who need it. Unfortunately, I felt the young men had alternative motives especially since they saw my iPad) Esther gave Kevin and me a lot of information about micro financing. It is amazing how MOHI is changing the community through making micro financing loans that only amount to $200. We also met with a micro financing accountability group. There are 10 members in this accountability group. The members have businesses in hairdressing, clothing retail, clothing wholesale, retail and wholesale store, an agent for 2 banks, e-banking and others. We were able to see the group in action.
This afternoon, a small group of us went out to the slums to “Bring the Light.” The roofs are tin in the slums. To “Bring the Light” we witness to the inhabitants of the home and then place a piece of the green plastics over a hole that is cut in the tin roof. The plastic is placed in the roof in such a way that rain does not get in the house, but light does. The home we were directed to by God (the man who asked us to come to his house yesterday was not home) was the home of Christof, and Christof’s son and daughter. Christof’s mother disowned him when he was young because he paid for his brother’s hospital bill instead of giving his mother the funds. Christof cried as he told us the story. Though Christof did not accept Christ, he did provide his phone number to the social workers so they can follow up with him and his family. Whether he accepted Christ or not he got the light. Christof has handled his anger, grief, and stress by turning to beer. In Kenya the men drink beer until they pass out. His story was heart wrenching. What was even more heart wrenching was how his 5th grade daughter, Susan, fluffed the pillows on the couch to try and make us comfortable. Then, after I hugged Christof, wiped my blouse off trying to get the sawdust from the hole being out in the roof, off of my shoulder.
Tonight we are eating Mexican food at Keith and Cathy Ham’s house.
Sometimes things in life don’t always go the way we would like. Sometimes the presence of this fallen world helps us appreciate the good that God has given to us and how he surrounds us.
Tonight our team learned of an evil action that can only be described as darkness. Evil. Sin. It left us trying to catch our breath and it unfortunately cast a shadow on the good events of today. Without going into details at this time, two things are clear: (1) this does not affect our team’s personal safety or well-being; (2) this was a reminder of the brokenness that Mathare Valley represents to all of us – a world that is hurting and one into which we are called to serve.
This information has presented our team with a roller coaster of emotions ranging from anger, despair, worry, concern, brokenness, anger, grief, disgust, panic, paranoia, insecurity, anxiousness, and sadness. We remain, together, and a unified team. There were many happy emotions too today, many, but sometimes it is hard to sort through strong emotions.
We’ve decided it would not be appropriate to include the standard five questions for tonight, mostly because we wanted to give our team time to personally reflect. We would appreciate continued support and prayer for our team. It is not only appreciated tonight, but needed. Thank you.