Author Archives: Kenya Team

I Need A Hero

I need a hero.  Who doesn’t really?  The good news is that we have a hero in Jesus Christ. He is all the hero we will ever need. Today our team had the privilege of watching the light of our Hero shine through some of the people we met.

Fred – As we gathered for breakfast our team was joined by some unexpected, but very welcome guests, Jeff and Jane. They are the sponsored kiddos of Seth and Jennifer. Each was returning to the Joska Boarding School and joined us on the bus ride out. Even though It was only 8am, Jennifer asked for some ice cream for Jeff and Jane. Fred, the hotel manager, has been more than accommodating since we arrived here at Grace House. He works longer hours than he should and bends over backwards for our team, always smiling as he serves us. But ice cream at 8am for kids from the slums who won’t be guests at the hotel anytime soon?  Of course. Fred graciously brought out ice cream and made those kids feel like a king and queen.  And the Hero shines through.

Fred is in the background of the kids eating

Phillip – Phillip has been our driver this week. If you’ve ever driven in Nairobi traffic, you know this is no small task. If you haven’t, well, let’s just say we considered putting a Go Pro camera on Phillip to record the craziness that we know we can’t describe in words. Phillip drove our bus out to the Ndovoini and Joska Boarding Schools. He expertly navigated not only the traffic, but the single lane dirt roads with craters/canyons in the “road” and random cattle crossings. All of this with twin five year olds in tow. While our team toured the boys’ and girls’ schools, our teammate Jon noticed that Phillip disappeared. Jon asked Phillip where he went while we spent time with the kids. Phillip was visiting classrooms, talking to individual kids, encouraging them in their studies. And the Hero shines through.

Philip asked Seth for an IU hat because he loves our teams from Indiana

Moses – The Ndovoini boarding school for boys is an incredible place. Out in the middle of nowhere the school is home to a couple hundred middle and high school boys, many of whom come from the slums where they learned street smarts before book smarts, fight before flight. Moses cares for those boys day in and day out, even when they aren’t the most lovable. Moses expertly encourages the boys to develop and demonstrate their individual talents and gathered our team to “watch a movie.”  A group of boys put on an incredible acrobatics show that would rival anything you would see on a stage in the US, but these boys did it barefoot on dry, rocky ground. Moses encouraged them, but lovingly chided them when the stunts got a little too big for his comfort.  It would be easy for Moses to walk away from these kids, to give up when they don’t immediately turn from their street ways, but he doesn’t. He stays. And the Hero shines through.

13690577_10209978912807183_1142991817558632409_n

Our team is continuously amazed at the people we meet here. We are blessed to be able to witness our Hero shining in what is otherwise a very dark place.  It reminds us that our Hero Jesus gives generously, he protects and  provides for us, and he stays with us even when we are not very lovable.


Lost Buses and the Wedding Feast

July 12, Tuesday 
Did you know the eldest female elephant is the head of the herd? That’s just one of the facts we learned today while visiting the Elephant orphanage. We also learned that bus drivers sometimes get lost! 

Another busy day today! We began the day early at the Bondini School. This is the school TPCC is helping MOHI build through the 2011 Generous Giants initiative. They have 3 stories complete, with 4 more to go. We began our visit with chai (tea) and delicious breakfast treats (samosas). We are loving the Kenya food and hospitality.  


Then we had today’s lesson in conservation before loading the buses. Today we had the 6,7, and 8 graders. Cindy and Jon led off the lesson with introductions and reminding the children we are all part of Gods creation-including elephants! We divided the children into their different grade levels to read them a quick story about a baby elephant that was saved by the orphanage. Then the children loaded up the buses and we headed to the orphanage! Three little girls Faith, Faith, and Lucy rode in our bus. 


As our bus arrived to the orphanage, the other buses with the rest of the 150 children got lost and were late, but arrived with smiling faces.  Our team was concerned because this orphanage is only open for 60 minutes per day to the public. 

Then an amazing experience occurred.  As the kids walked into the viewing area, we placed them to the side as the program had started about 20 minutes earlier.  Moments later, the orphanage staff instructed the MOHI students to take the place of honor at the front of the viewing area.  Suddenly, students who live in shanties in a dirty slum were placed in front of wealthy Europeans, Americans and other distinguished guests. 


The kids were provided with information about the elephants and were excited to pet them. One of our younger team members (Seth Mark) was thoroughly embraced by an elephant’s trunk.  


After the kids encounter, we returned for home visits in Bondeni. Deb was thought to be the mother of her whole group ranging from teenagers to adults! Another group met a lady named Caroline, who suffers from epilepsy. We also met Veronica who does bead work for income while her husband looks for steady work. Another group meet a lady named Jenny who is a Christian and talked with Seth Mark about baptism. 

During team devotions this evening, our trip leader Seth shared Jesus’ parable in Luke 14 about the wedding feast. There, Jesus explained how we should not take the honored seat, but we should take the lower seat and be invited to the honored place.  Seth encouraged us that rather than focusing on the day’s struggles to get the kids to the orphanage on time, we got to witness a modern day illustration of this parable. 

We have another full day tomorrow of taking the 4th and 5th graders to the elephant orphanage. Stay tuned 🙂


Meg & Cheri


What a difference Hope makes!

Day 2 – Monday July 11

To say the team was overwhelmed would be an understatement.  As we became acclimated to the Missions of Hope Schools and the Mathare Valley slums, our team came in with great joy. We arrived at the Pangani Center for orientation.  We were able to see the latest developments in the dental clinic, pharmacy, skills training programs, and the new physical disability program. Some specific prayer concerns that MOHI shared with us is to pray for a new expansion in the area of Bura which is primarily Muslim.  A training center for men is also in the plans and currently developing and in need of volunteers (short or long term) and prayers. 
We then went out to the slums and visited some homes, which seemed to be the biggest impression on the team. Despite the living conditions, we all had a general understanding of how similar we are to the people we met.  One group of team members were blessed to be invited spontaneously into the home of Slaman, a man they ran into in the street who was open and honest about his past and faith.  Later the same group was invited into a home by a gentleman named Peter that had been a member of the missions of hope community and Outreach Hope Church Bondeni. 


The difference that did standout was the Hope seemed to make an impression on Peter’s relationships as well as his home furnishings. The impact that the Missions of Hope organization has made on the community was clearly visible to the team as we walked through Mathare. 

As we walked back into the Pangani school, the happiness was evident on the children’s faces. Our team was then able to meet several of its sponsored children. What a blessing it was to the children and sponsors alike.  


Some of the team played football with a new soccer ball and several sponsored children. (Fortunately, our team was able to retrieve the soccer ball from over the school barb wire/wall after an epic kick.)


First Day in Nairobi 

Our team flew in this morning at 4:30 AM (after flying Friday evening via Chicago to Saturday morning in London, did a quick bus tour in London during a long layover, and another overnight flight to Nairobi).  We were pleased to be greeted by TPCC missionary Mark Firestone at the airport.  Mark directed us to a local coffee shop just steps outside the airport while we waited on the team bus where 12 of us grabbed cups of coffee for the ride to the hotel.  The positive aspect of landing at 4:30 in the morning is no traffic to the hotel. 

We were able to get breakfast, some of us a short power nap, and showers and a change of clothes before we headed to church.  The worship service was filled with fervent praise even though the keyboard was not working.  Pastor Kevin, an apprentice pastor for Outreach Hope Church, preached a great sermon on “forgetting the past” from Philippians 3.  Our team thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we were greeted warmly by Pastor Stephen and the congregation after the sermon was complete.  Speaking of warmly – most of the team succumbed to some quick shut eye during the sermon due to the jet lag and warm temperatures in the church, but we worked as a team to stay alert. 

Upon returning to the hotel, we had a quick lunch and naps. Some of us briefly went next-door to the local market where one of our team members Jennifer wanted to visit a man she met last year at the same market.  Andrew was selling his products and Jennifer inquired about the past year.  (As studious blog readers might recall, last year when Jennifer visited the market, Andrew began a walk following Christ.). Jennifer and Seth had a long conversation with Andrew, learning about his struggle with alcohol and depression. He said that he did not desire to drink, and that he regrets things in his past. We thought this was incredibly poignant given Pastor Kevin’s sermon of the morning.  We encouraged him to come to church and hope to see Andrew next week.   We also encouraged him to participate in Celebrate Recovery which the outreach hope church is starting. 

When we got back to the hotel we surprised our missionary Mark Firestone with gifts from the team. Mark loves macaroni and cheese and we brought him 99 boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese. He was ecstatic.  Team members Kelly and Paul have known Mark since childhood and were excited to bless him. 


We had a quick visit with Mary Kamau and she greeted our team. After dinner, our team debriefed and discussed the many interactions with people we had met during the day. Our team also encouraged one another with ways we had seen team members serving the people Kenya. We look forward to telling you more stories of service in the days to come. 

Seth

PS – (Monday morning) on the bus ride to Missions of Hope this morning we found Mark Firestone’s hundredth box of macaroni and cheese. 


Reflections

Kenya – September 2015
Team member reflections on our recent STM activities

Jennifer B.
This is my fourth trip to Kenya. I am amazingly blessed. Each year I get the incredible privilege to work with the disabilities team of Isabella and Ammon. Yesterday I was able to do Physical Therapy with 2 precious girls I had never met before, one with a traumatic brain injury and the other with Cerebral Palsy. More importantly I was able to love on them and to pray with them and their families. Today I saw three boys I was able to work with last year. I have prayed for them every day and they are loved and doing well. For those that don’t know, children with disabilities are seen as a curse on their families. Many are hidden so the community doesn’t know they even exist. Tomorrow I will see the girl that changed my life. She became sick when she was a little girl with an encephalopathy. She lives in a shanty by herself because her step father won’t allow her in his home. Her mother does everything she can to love her and take care of her, but my girl is still alone, in a shanty, a paint can for a toilet, with no light. If I can bring just a little light to her life, a little love, a little encouragement to her mother to never give up, and a lot of Jesus then the entire trip is totally worth it.
This year has been different in that this trip has had a strong emphasis on evangelism. I am with my kids in the morning and I get to help evangelize in the afternoon. It’s another incredible blessing to share the Gospel with the people of Nairobi and to see lives changed. The Holy Spirit is working in the Mathare Valley.
My heart is full and overflowing. The people of Kenya have changed my life. I pray I can be the blessing to them that they have been to me.

Jeff M
Just getting to know the Pastors and workers has blessed me so much, especially Pastor David. We talked and did ministry together the entire past two days. He would even introduce me to people as “Brother Jeff or Pastor Jeff”. Pastor David told me that next year I need to make it out to his part of the country in Northern Kenya and we’ll do home visits together in every home. I think home visits and sharing Jesus with the people here have been my favorite part. I love watching the Holy Spirit move in each one of the people we shared Jesus with. We get to pray for each person as well as people on the streets that we approached and some even came to us asking for prayer not knowing that we were doing ministry. The team this year has been amazing and the Lord has used each one of us in powerful ways! I’ve had a blast and we’re only half way through the week. I’m looking forward to what Jesus wants to do the rest of the week!

Continue reading


Blessed by Mary

Kenya: Mathare Valley
Tuesday September 15, 2015

We have a small but powerful group. Powerful because the Holy Spirit is on our trip with us. Today we spread the Gospel story visiting people in their homes in a process called “Bring the Light”. This is where a hole is cut in the roof of the home to let light in, if the occupant will listen to us share our message about the Light of the World.

I participated in four home visits in which for one we visited with Mary. She is somewhere north of the age of 70 and has heart and sight problems. She is taking care of her five grandchildren, the oldest being 18 and the youngest perhaps four years old. She is a Christian, and as we shared the salvation story with her she rejoiced.

We were asked to give her a word of encouragement. I shared how I have a very special Aunt Mary in the States and that she reminded me of. I told her I would be praying for her health. Of course, as you probably know, I said a little more than that. After we prayed for her she took my hand and sang a song of blessing to me. I indeed felt very blessed. Those living in the Mathare Valley have very few material items and live in horrible conditions, but each time I come here I feel so blessed.

In your prayers please remember this Mary, from the Mathare Valley, that God would provide health and provisions.

Blessings, TM


Are we well prepared?

Well prepared?
We are a small team, contrasted too much larger teams in the past. So we did not have as many meetings. But it seemed each time we did get together, most of the team members were in a state constant spiritual warfare. The battles began early on and continued through the summer.
But, things changed as we got to the airport. We had two different traveling teams and both were the smoothest trips from Indy to Nairobi that we can remember. Both made the one-way journey in less than 24 hours. What a blessing!
Today, after church, we had lunch and then decided to go to the Masai open air market. We went to shop but we now know that God had other plans. Plans that He had been preparing us for.
After a while, one of our team members had enough shopping and sat down near the exit to the market. A conversation was struck up with some locals nearby and they asked her why she was in Kenya. She proceeded to tell that she was part of a short term mission’s team and was there to tell people about Jesus and what He had done for her. A crowd began to form and questions were asked.
Questions were asked and discussion ensued. Some said they did not need Jesus, but a man nearby, Andrew, said he needed help and wanted to talk. Andrew stated, and confirmed by many nearby, that he was an alcoholic, and was not sure Jesus would want to help him.
With a large audience, two team members engaged Andrew a discussion of his condition, and Jesus’ desire to help in change. With tears in his eyes, Andrew never wavered from the conversation, and did not seem to notice the attentive crowd. Not only did Andrew give his heart to Jesus, he gave his name and telephone number to the team members so that a local Pastor could get in touch with him. Additionally, Andrew asked if he could call his wife and would the team members talk with her. Andrew’s wife was thrilled and excited about his decision for Christ.
Other team members had made a purchase that required going back to the hotel to get money, and the shop keeper sent a person to go with them. As they were leaving they too watched Andrew’s discussions and final decision. As the second group walked back to the hotel, the shop keeper’s person, James, began to tell his story and started by saying he was a Christian. He went on to say that he was very unhappy and unfulfilled in his current job and with life in general.
As the team met around a table under the trees outside of the hotel, he join in on a discussion on what it means to give your heart to Jesus. That none of us are worthy, but through the shed blood of Jesus, we can become a child of God. James, in that sitting and discussions, recommitted his life to Jesus and the joy on his face was evidence of his internal decision.
This team is small, only numbering five, and has wondered if numbers will hinder our effectiveness. We now sense that God has been preparing us for His purposes, and that maybe, as with Gideon, the numbers needed to be more in line with what God has planned.
Pray for us as we seek to be His hands extended to His people and that lives will be forever changed and His Kingdom increased. For as John the Baptist said, He must increase, and we must decrease. We seek to fulfill the works that God has prepared for us.
Bwana Asifiwe!