Author Archives: Kenya Team

Roses and Thorns

One of our team members, Kelly, asked us on our first night to share our roses and thorns. This is where we share our high point of the day (the rose) and something that presented a challenge (the thorn). This sharing has stuck with us and will be part of our nightly routine. So here are some of the highlights from our roses and thorns from the past few nights.

Kelly-
Rose: After service, I made eye contact with a little girl that wearing sunglasses. I put mine on and that opened the door for a little play date. A little girl today at church taught me a song. After this, there was a group of kids that were playing with a balloon and invited me to play. Being with the kids, and seeing their joy really made my day.

Jackie-
Rose: Like others on my team, I was blown away by the joy and true desire from the Kenyans for a chance to connect with us. We ate lunch with the church leaders and were able to hear who they are and how they serve in the church. One way that they are serving the community is by developing small groups to bring new people to Christ and disciple them. I enjoyed starting relationships with the church members and look forward to going back next Sunday.

Cindy-
Rose: Today at church, everyone was so eager and warm-hearted towards us. They were happy to see us and made us feel welcome. Our hotel staff is just as eager to help us with anything we need. They greet us each day, and were a great help with getting our bags up to the top floor of the hotel. I loved meeting the kids at church. They showed us pure love. They came us to us and introduced themselves, played with us, and showed us a child’s love. This kind of love is what I look forward to seeing when we go into Pangani and Bondeni.

John-
Rose: It has been amazing to be back in Kenya. I was here 14 years ago and everything I am seeing takes me back to what I remember from that trip. It is so good to see how God continues to work in Nairobi. He is working through people to make His kingdom grow.

Eric-
Rose: The biggest thing for me is the rekindling of the friendships of the MOHI and Grace House staff. There is a bond with the team in Bondeni. They have become good friends due to their true characters and hearts. Each person has come up to me, remembered my name, and have recalled previous conversations from the last time I was here. I truly love the relationships that I have here in Kenya.

Sarah-
Rose: Coming to Kenya has been on my heart since my freshman year of high school. Ten years later, here I am! Our church service today was such a neat experience. The service was in both Swahili and English. It was so uplifting to see the passion for God in that building. Even though I did not understand some of the songs, I still was able to worship and loved having that experience. It is amazing to see how God is working in Nairobi. I am excited to see what is in store!

Katie-
Rose: It is amazing to see how passionate, inspiring, and caring the Kenyans are for their community and church. Not only are they interested in their neighbors but also for us. Today at church, everyone was so happy to see us. They greeted us with open arms. The kids ran to us and wanted to play right away. This made me truly feel welcomed and part of the family.

Tamara-
Rose: This is hard to put everything into words but it is great to see the resilience and commitment that they Kenyans at church have to Christ and their community. They truly have a heart of joy and want to worship God. Today at church, I sang a Swahili song that I had learned back in the states. The church members were very receptive to the song. At the end of the church service, a man named Kevin came up to me and informed me that the kids were contemplating how I could be a mazunga (a non Kenyan) but know their language so well. I was even given a Kenyan name, Enjeri.

So you are probably wondering what the thorns have been……..so let us just give you an example of a thorn. At the airport, when we arrived, we claimed all of our bags plus one. While we were loading the bags onto our bus, we noticed that we had an extra bag.So let’s just say that we did the right thing and returned the bag but it was a very long process. But hey….someone is no longer missing their bag!


September 2014 Kenya – We made it.

I was part of the group who came back early. Today, in my third day back at work since my return to the States, I received a message from Jake letting me know that he was also Stateside.  It was in that moment of reading a simple message that I knew, undoubtedly, my life has been changed. Not only was I reminded of my team, but also the experiences that we went through as a team. Our return to “normal” life is still fresh, but I’m certain there will be moments that catch us off guard, moments that take us back to Kenya.

In our team’s final dinner as a complete unit, I asked everybody to share their thoughts in the form of a take away for the trip.  Those responses are included below. While the responses are for your reading pleasure, I hope that each of these people represented will reflect on their response at some point in the future to see how their take away has changed. I am confident that my life has been impacted in ways I don’t even know about yet. – Patrick

Min Qi
No words or pictures can adequately capture the love, joy, and generosity the Kenyan people have shared with us. I wish I could convince evey person I know to come on this trip. Fellowship with the Kenyans truly is a glimpse of heaven and a glimmering of the heart of God.

Tamie Morog
Attending church in Kenya is the nearest thing to heaven that I know.

Jennifer Boston
My take home is the faces of my disabled children in the Mathare Valley. I love them more than words can say. They have brought so much joy to my life and I cannot wait to see them and hold them again next year.

Laura Colvin
I asked to see a miracle. Miracles do happen! My sponsored boy George had fallen four stories on cement; he is alive today and recovering well!

Sherri Crabb
The children in the Mathare Valley and those in Joska schools are all ready to smile, wave, hug, and encourage so sweetly. I don’t know another culture (of children) so open. I am humbled and my heart is full of their sweetness. God is on their faces.

Sandy Laning
I will take home the importance of sponsoring a child from Bondeni. MOHI provides hope for the smallest of God’s children.

Mary Bopp
For me, [the take home] is the people. In a matter of a few short days, their love, joy, faith and beautiful smiles captured my heart. I will never be the same.

Dan Crabb
God showed me this week how He is working in the slums of Nairobi. He’s using His people to show His love, to heal and to encourage those who are broken—which is all of us.

Tandi Foster
My “take home” from this experience is that families all over the world are so similar. People, in general, just want to know they are loved and that they matter!

Olivia Martin
To put in as few words as possible, I have never dreaded saying goodbye so much as I did today. My new friends, here in Nairobi, have left me with a permanent impression on my heart to come back to Kenya again and again. The great commission has never been so tangible and active in my life before this trip.

Betty Baker
Each trip, this being my third, gets better with God’s blessings in my life. I have had the privilege of getting to know Beatrice, the young woman who is the “janitor” of the Bondeni school. She has touched my heart in a special way; to see her at church today praising God and calling me “Mom” will always remain with me.

Chris Wood
I will remember that God is working through the men and women of MOHI to bring hope and healing to the people of the Mathare Valley. I will remember the hope the children of Bondeni and Joska have because of God’s work through MOHI. Finally, I will remember the wonderful friendships forged with both my American and Kenyan brothers and sisters.

Brad Bopp
“If you haven’t been there yet, go!”

Julie Crowe
The Kenyan people are wonderful disciples of Christ. They are warm and loving towards people they barely know and their smiles are infectious!

Jim Baker
Short-term trip—long-term mission. After five years, I now have the privilege of coming each year to work and serve with Kenyan friends. The Bondeni church is the best example of this; we now worship with our Kenya Church family.

Jake Capito
The greatest take away is my changed outlook on life. The people of Bondeni and MOHI showed me that relationships with family, friends, and ultimately God are more important than the things of this world.

Kevin Crowe
My lens has changed from the start of the trip, especially from the first day. I was scared, thought the people could not be trusted and would be dirty. I know, sad! The new lens: These people have a clear foundation of faith, are open, loving and love everyone. Their smiling is what I will remember forever.

Lisa Ford
The week went very fast—I do wish we could do this [clinic] for a full 5 days. I can say that 100%, I have never been with a better group of loving and caring people. We can all shut our lives off for a while to help those in need, even if it’s a prescription for cough medicine.


September 2014 Kenya – Building Relationships

Relationships are one of the focuses to short term mission trips. We all have made friends and connections here that we will take home with us (and bring back as soon as we can return). The tail end of yesterday and a majority of the day today were spent strengthening the friendships that developed over the week as well as the partnerships that have developed over time.

Over a 24 hour time period, we experienced a closing program at Bondeni (where we had been based for the week) and got to visit the boys and girls boarding schools in Joska, which is about a 2 hour drive from Nairobi, to pour into the 6th through 12th grade students there—many of the students in the upper levels moved up from Bondeni for a MOHI high school experience. Our relationships were unquestionably strengthened; it was extremely humbling to hear that many of the students, regardless of age, know and love Traders Point Christian Church, and therefore love us.

Aaron shared in his March 8, 2014 sermon, “You should go [to Kenya] because when you hop on a plane and fly around to the other side of the world, and when you sacrifice time, energy, and money, and you walk through there, and you touch them and you love them, and you pray over them, it makes a dramatic statement of Christ’s love for them.” Unquestionably, Christ’s love has been shared. Perhaps surprising for some, the sharing of Christ’s love was mutual—we received as much (or more?!) from them as they did from us.

Below, members of the team answered questions relating to our relationship-building experiences from yesterday and today. Enjoy!

 

How would you describe the student participation in the Bondeni closing program? by Sherri and Dan Crabb
CIMG2847Great skits! Smiles, enthusiasm, dancing and costumes, and they included the TPCC team at the end to dance! It was a reflection of the entire week where we worked, played, and partied as one group of God’s children. The overwhelming feeling was pure joy.

How would you describe the adult participation in the Bondeni closing program? by Tandi Foster and Sandy Lanning
Once the children’s program was over the MOHI staff did a recap of the week. TPCC team members then had the privilege of presenting the MOHI staff our team bracelets we have been wearing all week. Each TPCC team member found a MOHI staff member, and placed the bracelets on their wrists. Music started and our team was lead in a dance. While we were dancing, MOHI staff members presented TPCC women with purses and wooden giraffes for the men. The ceremony concluded with many hugs, photos, blessings and words of encouragement.

What did you most appreciate about the boys’ school? by Jennifer Boston
CIMG2894In the two years I was at Joska before, the boys performed in an assembly for us. This year there wasn’t a program so we went in groups of three into the classrooms. They were so respectful and were full of questions about our lives. They sang for us and quoted their favorite memory verses. They wanted us to pray for them. Their love for Jesus was widened. I loved meeting with them on a more personal level.

What did you most appreciate about the girls’ school? by Julie Crowe
Today we visited the Joska Girls’ Boarding school located in a rural area outside Nairobi. Most of the girls who attend the middle school and high school grew up in the Mathare slums. We were extremely impressed with how motivated the girls are to succeed academically and to pursue careers. They entertained us with a program in which each class performed a song and/or dance routine, and then they asked each of us to tell them about ourselves—they wanted to know our name, favorite color, favorite food, occupation and age. For those of us who are over 40, they clapped in appreciation that we have made it this far! We toured the grounds and observed their extensive efforts at sustainability…they grow most of the vegetables they photoeat and raise goats, chickens, and rabbits. They also have perch in their pond. Decorative shrubs and plants made the school grounds look neat and attractive, even though the area is dry and dusty. Joska Boarding School raises its students out of the slums and inspires them to succeed.

Describe a quality of another team member. by Patrick Griffith
Tandi Foster, also called Twandi. Through our meetings and the trip, I’ve been able to see that Tandi wears her heart on her sleeve and is happy to share it with others. She isn’t afraid to step out and reach people for good, both at home and on our trip. She definitely has a heart for children here, which is at the very least prevalent in her pictures, and boldly went into the slums for home visits. Her smile is contagious and she shines the Light for all to see.


September 2014 Kenya – Physician Chat

Our time in Bodeni has, sadly, come to an end.  We’ve reached the part of the trip where the pendulum is swinging back and our minds are forced to reconcile the fact that our team’s mission is near complete (i.e., our early returners depart from Kenya Sunday). Today’s post contains questions for and responses from our physician team for the clinic that we held over the past 4 days.

What were the most common health concerns in Bodeni? by Dan Crabb
We saw a lot of respiratory problems like asthma, allergies and infections. Abdominal complaints were frequent from conditions like worms, parasites, typhoid, due to the unsanitary conditions in the slums. Would infections and skin rashes from scabies and skin fungus were prevalent. Vision problems were also common and the reading glasses we brought were popular! 

What did you not expect to see in the clinic? by Min Qi
img_5132In summary, this week has been one of building relationships based in love for God. I did not expect that this week would not be about medicine. More than treating tinea, worms, colds, gastritis, wounds/scrapes, we go to meet other children of God. We build relationships, and through that, we care for one another, pray for one another, and have hope together. We, through the grace of God, are united to live for him. These people have given me so much hope, joy, and love.

Photo Caption: Local clinics and hospitals are everywhere. Some are mission based others are government run. When we got there, the government hospital workers (doctors and nurses) were on strike due to discontent with their pay. Even saw Aga Khan university hospital here!

http://minqi7.wordpress.com/

Did you find the language barrier or limited supplies frustrating? by Chris Wood
For me, I didn’t really find the language barrier an obstacle or a frustration.  The nurse translators, social workers, and CHE trainers were always available for me to ask questions and give an understanding of what was said in Swahili.  During the clinics, my nurses Dennis and Julius (my “Kenyan brotha from another motha”) were amazing helpers who were willing to ask the questions I needed to get a good history.  Regardless of this barrier, our team was still able to display God’s love and grace in action.

With regard to supplies–as someone trained in Emergency Medicine, we are taught to have a little bit of MacGuyver in us–to be flexible, and to make due with whats available.  From the first night of sewing up a lip laceration using a headlamp and a mishmosh of instruments, anesthetic, and sutures; to rifling through duffle bags for supplies to using exotic sounding British-themed medications, I never felt we were limited in serving and being the hands of Christ to the men, women, and children of Bondeni. Bwana asifwe!

What has been the most rewarding piece of having the clinic? by Jake Capito
IMG_0279The most rewarding piece of the clinic was its role in bringing people to prayer. As medical providers, we can’t single handedly solve the health crises here in the community. In fact, and this may sound crazy, but what we do is not really about helping the sick. We travel so far to establish a clinic that, yes, is about treating the sick, but most importantly showing love and care to those in need. By traveling thousands of miles we show we care, the people of Bondeni matter, and most of all that God is alive.

Our clinic is a gateway for patients to be prayed for, to accept Christ, and to create relationships. The biggest healing comes when the patients leave the pharmacy and enter the prayer room because in the prayer room is where real healing takes place. The prayer room is where the divine physician intervenes and spiritual healing occurs.

http://jakemed.wordpress.com/

How does your role fit in the big picture of our trip? by Brad Bopp
In the big picture, I see the medical clinic as the early bird special or Black Friday sale items to draw people in. The least important part of the trip is the medical clinic. It is all about the prayer room. This trip is about relationships and Christ. And as a physician, I am a mere pawn on God’s mighty chessboard.


September 2014 Kenya – Why Bother?

Editor’s Note: The introduction question and response to “Why Bother?” has been written by Dr. Brad Bopp. Before jumping into his thoughtful response and the other questions, I wanted to shed some light on yesterday’s prayer request. In short, we have (1) lost connection with a Kenyan friend of the team and (2) have misplaced a number of things in a short amount of time. Neither of these two stressors affects our safety as individuals or as a team (read: we are safe); in a time of already heightened emotion, lamenting for our friend and misplacing items in a foreign country were unexpected and moved us in a powerful way. Jesus is the hero, though, regardless of our circumstances. Thank you for supporting us in prayer. –Patrick

 

Short term missions.  Why bother? by Brad Bopp
After four short term mission trips to Nairobi, I find myself ever more compelled to return despite the challenges anyone considering a short term mission faces. Most mission trips require that people leave their comfort zones and follow God to places where there may be very real dangers including both physical and emotional. It often requires surrendering our safety nets and risking our lives and our vulnerable hearts to serve Him. God has promised us salvation so we can safely stay in our homes and that is OK. However, God has also called us to go serve others everywhere, including the “least of these” in the most desperate places on earth. Parts of Nairobi certainly qualify as does any place where people are suffering.

Individuals considering mission trips often get bombarded with questions of the wisdom of such endeavors and are exposed to critics who argue that it is a waste of time, effort, and money. The amount of the money spent on short term missions is a mere fraction of the amount of money spent on many other less worthy things such as alcohol or cigarettes annually. Yet, many argue that groups should just send the money that they would have spent on the trip to the place of interest and let them do “good things” with that money. I am not sure how anyone can try to measure the price of service for God? I don’t think it matters to God the cost of serving Him. After all, it’s only money.

Others ask what can be accomplished in a 2 week mission trip. Short term missions to Nairobi through TPCC represent individual “links” making up a long “chain” of trips that have occurred regularly over many years, thereby making up a long term mission relationship. The resulting relationships are unbreakable and continually become increasingly stronger. The people of Bondeni (the adopted slum of Traders Point) no longer see short term mission trips hosted by TPCC but rather see groups of dedicated people who represent an incredible Body of Christ and care enough to visit regularly in order to maintain a long term bond in Christ without any expectations in return.

Whether to downtown, to another city, to another state, or to the darkest places on earth, I am certain that anyone who has ever gone on a mission for the service of God has been changed at the core. Ask them. They will tell you. Mission trips are usually comprised of a series of vivid experiences witnessing pain, suffering, miracles, and blessings all at the same time. It is indescribable. It exposes individuals to raw and sensitive emotions and human suffering at its worst. And Jesus always seems to shine through the darkness as a beacon of light for the group to follow. Jesus didn’t say “go–unless it is dangerous and scary.” He said “go.” Personally, I find it most interesting that the more dangerous the setting is, the tighter I feel His arms wrapped around me while I am serving Him. He promised He would never leave our side. Never. God is ever present on mission trips protecting those who serve with deliberate control.

So why go? Perhaps the most compelling reason to go on a mission trip beyond that of God asking us to do so is this—imagine for a moment that you have nothing. Nothing. No home, no money, no food, no shoes, no shirt, no safety, starving hunger, insatiable thirst, absolute hopelessness, and sheer desperation and someone walks up to you, sees you, turns, and walks away. Sadly, it happens every day all over this magnificent earth.

Every day, someone somewhere needs you. Please don’t walk away from them. Don’t ever give up on them. It will be in their darkest hour that they will need you the most.

 

Describe one thing that brought a smile to you today. by Julie Crowe
IMG_3181This morning I was part of a team that went out into the Bondeni community to make some home visits. As we strolled down the dusty, rocky slope leading from the school to the dirt paths of the community, two young boys were playing along the slope. One was probably a year old and the other about four. They were wearing matching red-checkered shirts. As I looked down to see what the four year old was pulling along, I couldn’t help but smile. The toy he was getting so much pleasure from was a car made from an empty water bottle. Four bottle caps were attached as wheels, and he used a piece of twine to pull it along.
It was so sweet, innocent and priceless!

What is something you have found impactful and why? by Olivia Martin
What I have found impactful is the vision of the MOHI team. I have seen well-executed missions and businesses before but nothing that holds the integrity, power, passion, and dedication of these amazing people—missionaries to their own back yard. They have shown that no matter the cultural dynamics, poverty level, or kinds of resources on my have, ANYTHING is possible in Christ Jesus. Witnessing this incredible display of God’s power has reignited my often-stale Christianity into a burning desire to do far more for the Lord than what I limited my talents and gifts to do. “Forever Changed” is my new motto.

What is something from today that brought you joy? by Mary BoppBopp
Today I had the privilege of meeting the children we sponsor.  Hugging them and looking into their precious faces instantly filled me with overwhelming joy. It is amazing how quickly they can capture your heart, filling it with love, by their beautiful smile.  Now I know firsthand why everyone refers to their sponsored child as “my child.”
They will forever be in my heart.

What is your take away for today? by Lisa Ford
Triage for the medical clinic can feel very rushed when surrounded by a mom and her 3 sick children, and I felt the need to rush them through when in reality, they really wanted to be heard, cared for, and be made to feel worthy of a Medical checkup…as you and I would expect as well. These precious people I have learned are very patient, hardly ever complain, and do the best they can to survive in unbelievable circumstances.  For me, it gives me great perspective, and perspective I can take home to share with my children and friends. The take away: All people are all deserving of God’s love, respect, caring, and being made to feel like they matter, in a world that is unfair and unstable.

Ford

Secondly, I met an 80 year old blind woman today–she came with her granddaughter to be seen at the clinic–she was very sweet, soft spoken and in severe pain.  We sat for a while, she and I, while my interpreter was looking for help to get her inside. I had taken her pulse and after that, she did not want to let my hand go. I looked at these weathered hands and marveled at what she must have been through in her 80 years, considering the life expectancy in the slums is roughly 50-60 years. This sweet lady was a Witch Doctor, as I came to find out after she had seen the physician. Initially I was shocked, unsure what to think, but it did not take me long to realize the take away: everyone needs help and love, witch doctor or not.


September 2014 Kenya – Update and Prayer Request

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.

Prayer Request

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.

Patrick

 

 


September 2014 Kenya – Three then Five

“At a minimum, the principle of participation implies that the community, church, or organization that receives the STM (Short Term Mission) team needs to be the primary entity deciding what should be done, as well as how it should be done.”
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself. Second Edition. Steve Corbett and Brian Finkkert, Copyright 2012. Page 160.

Our team got to experience part of having MOHI be the primary entity deciding what should be done during our visit, even if only on a small scale, yesterday when we talked through the scheduling. In short, there was a miscommunication about what, exactly, our group was going to be doing while on the ground in Kenya. What we came prepared to do and what MOHI had planned for us to do were similar, but didn’t quite match up. Fortunately there was enough wisdom from our experienced team members that our united approach ended up being more along the lines of, “Use us as you need us.”

Today was the first day for many initiatives our group has the opportunity to participate in. Microfinance, Food Safety, bringing light into shanties, home-visit physical therapy, as well as health and wellbeing round out the list. All of it happened today, which spread the team out a little bit, but it also forced us outside of our comfort zone—we had no choice but to trust that God’s will would be done through us and at the end of the day He would be glorified.

Today was also the first time in our trip that our individual experiences were so varied. The physicians experienced different situations than the nurses, who experienced different situations than our people in microfinance, who experienced different situations that the people in the community, who experienced different situations than our teacher on food safety, who experienced…. you get the idea.

It was Expertly planned out for our team to join Vince and Stephanie Brooks, along with their family, at their home for dinner tonight. The conversations that happened on the bus, then carried into the house, and then over our meal, and into our team meeting—it’s unreal how close our team is and how much we have been used in the relatively small amount of time we’ve been here. Today was only the end of our third full day here, and we have five more days to go with MOHI!

Take a look at a glimpse of our diverse experiences from today: 

10665848_10153167962453265_2617477496913619157_nHow was Bring the Light impactful? by Tandi Foster
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world.  A city set on the hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do to people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

This photo of a Grandmother shows not only the physical result of the “Bring the Light” program, cutting a hole in the top of a shanty to allow light to come inside the residence, but also is a constant reminder that Jesus will be our light in our times of darkness.  

How did you see Jesus at work today? by Patrick Griffith
First of all, I am answering this question because the team decided I should. Today I was in the prayer room for the entire time we were in Bondeni. My partner in the Prayer Room was a pastor named Henry who has a powerful story of his own, but is too humble to share much of it. After exchanging names and greetings, the following questions, roughly translated, were, “Where do you go to church?” “What’s your phone number?” and “Have you accepted Christ into your heart?” The first two questions are important to allow follow-up for the third. If a person had not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, our main priority (responsibility?!) was to try and fix that. Next in the line-up was to find out more about them and what we can pray about for them. I am very happy to share that a very large number (percentage based, of those who didn’t have a relationship with Christ) were added to the Kingdom today. It’s not about the numbers, but the relationships, and Jesus was definitely at work in the prayer room today! Also, one of the children asked me to take a picture with him on my camera. I wasn’t surprised by the results, but I’m glad I have his picture to remember today.

What is a take away for today? by Jake Capito
One of the biggest take aways from today is the cultural contrast of the concept of time. As our first day of clinic approached we were anxiously waiting to open the clinic doors and see patients. We wanted to meet the demand and start immediately. However, this was the exact opposite of what was planned. Before starting we sat for chai, and in the middle of a busy day we broke for lunch. How often at home we arrive as early as possible, skip lunch, and leave late in the day. In America we posses a monochronic view of time meaning every minute is limited and valuable. In contrast, Kenyans occupy the polar opposite—polychronic view—which focuses on the group, not the individual, and strengthening relationships instead of productivity. Nevertheless, I feel we satisfied a healthy balance of American and Kenyan time, loving and caring for over 180 patients while deepening relationships between the group and Bondeni, and most importantly, God and all of us.

Describe a quality of another team member. by Jennifer Boston
Dr. Bopp. I’ve never met someone with so much passion for a people. His love for Kenyans seems almost palpable and is infectious. He has taught me how to interact more personally and compassionately and to ignore the cultural barriers. He is definitely a favorite of the Kenyans and our team.

What pictures can you provide from today? by Mary Bopp

DSCN3880

DSCN3891

DSCN3902

DSCN3905

P1060736

 

 

 


September 2014 Kenya – No Hardhat Required.

Monday. The start of another week. The end of the honeymoon phase from the weekend. Back to reality.

Our Monday was no different than it’s simplistic definitions. The MOHI schools were back in session, all of the employees were present. Our arrival was welcomed by a group of children from the upper school in Bondeni, singing and dancing together, saying, “Welcome, welcome to Bondeni.//We love you, you are welcome in Bondeni.” It was such a wonderful and unexpected welcome!

We were introduced to many key people who work at Missions Of Hope International (MOHI) and challenged to know the names and faces of at least five Kenyans at MOHI.   We got to hear more about what MOHI has done, is doing, and plans to do, as well as hear and see some of the effects that MOHI has had with their schools and the Community Health Evangelism initiative. They also served us Chai and a pastry akin to a donut.

In the process of seeing what they are doing, our team was divided into five smaller teams and sent into the community (yes, the slums) with a pair of social workers to do home visits. We also got to see the schools, spend a short amount of time in a few classrooms with the students, and hear about what is happening right now for the future of Bondeni. At this point in the day, two of our team members had been pulled out for a strategic business meeting, which is covered, in part, by Tammie Morog’s response in the questions.

Members of TPCC might remember that we had a sizeable Christmas Offering with funds that went in part to MOHI and their school in Bondeni. Construction for the school started in January, and today we got to walk around on the floor of the third story—it was literally just the floor, though, as walls haven’t gone up yet, nor have the floors for the fourth through eighth story. It was eye-opening, and admittedly fun, to see the construction process, being allowed to roam around as the workers were being active with attention to detail on the masonry of the first and second floors. No hard hats were required. I thought it was SO COOL to be able to see, first hand, the ongoing effects of our church’s international impact. I could write a lengthy essay on this, but will refrain.

Our team went from the new construction site to the school at Pangani, where we had lunch and an orientation to the building as well as our schedule for the rest of the week. Our schedule discussion was…surprising. I’ll leave it at that, as a teaser for the rest of the week. After our time at Pangani, we got to encourage our necessarily aggressive driver for getting us back to Grace House in the craziness of practically lawless traffic and then have dinner. I got to use the dinner time to have people answer the five questions below, which ended up acting as table topics. Even in the small details, it is refreshing to see and know that God is using us to point toward Him.

 

What challenged you today? by Betty Baker
We went on a home visit today and asked another mother what could we pray for. She mentioned prayer for her husband to get a job, and her children’s safety and continuation of education, but she had no regrets for herself. As another mother (parent) on the home visit, it challenged me to put aside my needs in my prayer to our heavenly Father. I have seen pictures and heard stories from Bondeni for several years and thought I would be prepared for what I was going to see—but nothing really prepares you for being there and experiencing first hand what life is truly like in the slums.

What are your thoughts on MOHI? by Chris Wood
MOHI is an amazing collection of dedicated, caring, and godly Kenyan men and women who have responded to God’s call to bring the transforming power of Jesus Christ to the people of the Mathare Valley. I am amazed how God is using them to break the cycle of poverty in the slums of Nairobi and to bring Hope to those in desperate need of God’s love and grace.

What is CHE and how is it beneficial? by Jim Baker
Fearless, compassionate, relentless, and loving—these are the characteristics of the MOHI social workers otherwise known as CHE workers. Community Health Evangelism (CHE) is the process of helping a community become independent of poverty by identifying the community strengths and combining those strengths with the love of Jesus to build a strong self-sufficient community. The MOHI CHE workers are the catalyst for implementing these principals and growing this self-sufficiency in the Mathare Valley! They predominantly focus community members on Jesus Christ and their own strengths. These soldiers in God’s army are revered, loyal, and sometimes feared, but as we saw today, always welcomed into a community member’s home.

What is a “take away” for today? by Tammie Morog
I had a lunch at the Capital Club with Kevin Crowe, Peter and Ester (MOHI employees), and a representative from Prince Waterhouse Cooper (PWC)! We wanted to introduce PWC to MOHI. Ester is in charge of the micro financing for MOHI. As I was getting in the restaurant, I realized Ester and I were the only women customers in the restaurant. I am often the only woman in the courtroom, other than one of the clients, but I had never really thought about women “in the board room” in other countries. After the lunch, when I mentioned my observation to Ester, her face lit up. She said that in the beginning of her career, often men had a difficult time believing that she was in the position she was in. She made the observation that women are more and more accepted in business, law, medicine, etc.

Describe a quality of another team member. by Olivia Martin
Jennifer Boston. Jennifer has an impeccable eye for details. She remembers so many details about each MOHI team member: their names, what they do, how they started at MOHI, etc. I am always enthralled whenever I hear her talk about her experiences within the Bondeni community and the staff here at the mission. Her passion for these people is not only contagious, but also effective. The staff here loves her and I hope to be able to share her passion in years to come.


September 2014 Kenya — A Synthesis.

Combining information.  Synthesizing experience. Pictures from everyone can be helpful because we’re not all seeing the exact same things, but each of us on this trip are individuals and have backgrounds that affect how we interpret what we are seeing, what we are hearing, and what we are feeling. Video can help accomplish this as well, although the interpretation by the viewer will differ from the videographer.  I believe this is at least true in our situation, being in Africa while our friends and families have the harder job of staying stateside. Spoiler alert: There are no pictures or videos on this post.

Generally speaking, people are intimidated when it comes to blogging, mostly because of the sociological and technological burdens that come along with both the action and idea—ensuring there are enough posts that are appearing frequently enough, coming up with an idea of what to blog about and then developing the content, working through the process of logging into the admin section of the blog and not messing anything else up, etc. Even I had reservations about being the blogger.

Daily, at least for the remainder of my time on this trip (I’m in the early departure group), five to six team members will receive one of five 3.5” X 5” notecards with a topic on it and write their response, not to exceed the space on the note card–the idea is to keep the burden light for all involved. The people will change so that [hopefully] everyone is represented. A couple of the questions will change day to day. Additional postings/updates may come completely from other individuals as well. We recognize that our friends and families at home are eager to hear how things are going!

 

Without further adue: 

How does it feel to be back; what are you looking forward to? by Laura Colvin
This is my fourth trip to Kenya. I can’t believe it. Most people get coming the first time, but why come back? Today, when the bus pulled up to the church and I saw the faces of the children—that is why I come back. I felt like I was home. 

Our motto this trip has been, “More of Jesus and less of me until Jesus is all they see.” So, I am looking for this Jesus. The one who John the Baptist said, “…the strap of whose sandals I am not worth to stoop down and untie.”

What has challenged you most so far? by Tandi Foster
My biggest challenge so far has been the long travel time. The airports were stressful and the flights were long and restless. Since arriving at the Grace House (our lodging for the week), I have felt calm and peaceful. The people of Bondeni were welcoming, open, friendly, and appreciative. The children’s smiles made me feel right at home. The best part is…this is only the beginning. 🙂

What were you not expecting? by Min Qi
I did not expect to sit next to someone completely inebriated in church; see people washing clothes in streams of water filled with sewage; to eat three full meals daily; and be so connected to the outside world while in Kenya. 

What is a “take away” for today? by Sherri and Dan Crabb
Sherri: The children were happy and engaging, friendly and curious. The adults were slower to engage, but friendly once conversation started. This is opposite in America—kids are shy with newcomers.

Dan: The people are happy, welcoming, kind, and happy with what they have. Family is important as well as relationships.

Describe a quality of another team member. by Sandy Lanning
I have been so amazed by the awesome team that we have here. Two people stand out to me today. One is Min…she is a rock star with her ability to make others feel special and her absolute love for people. She makes friends with everyone and all the locals are drawn to her. The other person is Olivia…what a servant’s heart! No one is a stranger to her and her ability to be honest and open make her truly special. Both of these young women are being used mightily of God.

 

  

These questions were developed after coming up with my own answer first (Jeopardy style). I suppose you and I will need to go for chai sometime to get my perspective on this round…

 

With Christ’s love,

Patrick


September 2014 Kenya – The first 40 hours.

SONY DSC

Gathering at TPCC before departure.

At the time of writing this, we are 41,000 feet in the air over the heart of Africa and it is Saturday just after noon in Indianapolis.  It’s really hard to believe that it was already 26 hours ago we were just showing up at TPCC with excitement and anticipation in our eyes, the first item on our agenda for the trip.

Several of us had family show up to help with the logistics of getting departed, ensuring there were enough spaces in vehicles for people and luggage and to get to the airport and such.  We also had a time for one large family prayer, led by Graham Carlos, before our team picture and departure for the airport.

SONY DSC

Meet the September 2014 Kenya Team!

There weren’t any mishaps in getting our group checked in and through security, which was nice–it’s good to have a trip start well.  The flight from Indianapolis to Chicago was very full, though, and storage space inside the plane was going to be limited; this is where the typical traveling excitement began!  Tandi was the lucky one in our trip who received the news.  There was no more room for overhead storage and her bag would need to be checked, to be picked up at her final destination.  I wasn’t in the vicinity when that happened, but the story I made up for myself is that there were some back and forth exchanges and Africa had to have been said several times.  Several tears and a friendly passenger in business class later, her bag was inside the plane and appropriately stored!

The layover in Chicago was extremely tolerable.  Jake Capito and I got to chat with a woman who is a medical author out of Paris and an international philanthropist–she saw two 20-something guys and thought that we would be able to help her with iPad troubles (she was right).  She couldn’t say enough about how excited she was for us, both for doing medical work and for volunteering internationally.  Random acts of encouragement along the way are always appreciated; I’m confident that by simply traveling as a group is one way to shine His light to those we meet–an ancillary benefit.  By means of follow-up, even though we boarded on time in Chicago, we sat on the Tarmac, to no surprise, for well over an hour before taking off.

photo 2 (1)I got to sit in a section with Min Qi on the flight to Paris from Chicago.  A wonderful lady named Cecila sat between us.  Cecila is native to South America but lives in Paris, which is only important because her primary language is Spanish while French and English fill slots two and three.  My primary language is English followed by German and Spanish.  Her English was as good (better?) than my Spanish, but fortunately Min’s Spanish was better than mine.  The three of us had a grand time in that flight! Regardless of language barrier, Min and I were able to reflect Christ through love and joy.

Airplane schedules are funny things.  One plane runs late and then, all of the sudden, the world is slightly off kilter.  Obviously that is slightly dramatic, but only slightly.  Fortunately we didn’t have to run to the gate to get to our connecting flight to Kenya, but the stress levels were probably higher in Paris than anywhere else so far on the trip.  I ended up with only about 5-7 minutes before boarding the plane.

Good news!  We just landed in Nairobi, Kenya!  Safe and Sound.
Bad news: It took me an hour to put this much together; may the rest of the week be more efficient…

Patrick

photoAddendum: I wasn’t able to post this until arriving at our lodging for the week.  It turned out that the short turn around time in Paris was more of a problem for the airlines–we are short 4 pieces of checked luggage. They will have a belated arrival.  Vince and Stephanie Brooks met us at the airport and helped get us where we need to be and settled for the night.  Its going to be a great week!

PS: Your continued support of prayer this week is greatly appreciated!

PPS: I definitely live streamed Saturday night’s TPCC service through http://www.traderspoint.tv! Technology is so great.