Category Archives: Kenya – July 2016

Honoring the Bondeni Staff

Our final day at Bondeni was a busy day full of activities. The day began with some of the group splitting off to make final home visits to meet the families of sponsored children. The rest of the group stayed at the school and broke into smaller teaching groups. Two groups went into the classrooms to talk with students about their experiences at the elephant orphanage, while a third group debriefed with the Bondeni teachers and delivered the curriculum that will continue the discussions on conservation in the classroom. Right before lunch, the whole group came back together to deliver milk to the children in the school as a special treat with lunch. 

After this treat, our team transitioned to preparing a surprise teacher appreciation luncheon. The teachers, social workers, and staff at Bondeni work tirelessly everyday to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of every student in the school. As a team we wanted to recognize and appreciate the staff for their dedicated service to the school. We arranged for a “feast” to be catered to the school by the Grace House staff.  For less than the cost of what most Indy residents  would pay for lunch downtown, Grace House prepared a beautiful buffet of appetizers, entrees and desserts for the staff.   Teachers were given time away from their duties to come and enjoy a lunch together. 


Afterwards our team prayed with each staff member and presented them with a small bag of gifts and flowers. It was clear that this act of honor and appreciation deeply touched the whole staff. 
After lunch it was time for the Bondeni staff and student farewell celebration. Our team was treated to performances by the students with song, poetry, and dancing. Our hearts were touched as several members of the Bondeni staff shared words of thanks and gratitude for our service with them over the past week. The celebration concluded with the sharing of a cake and a dance party with the students. It was a bittersweet celebration full of joy and laughter, but also sadness at the realization of the impending goodbyes. After a week at Bondeni new friendships had been made and old friendships had been renewed. 


Social Workers At Work

Wednesday July 13

We continue to be blessed in working with the MOHI social workers and teachers.  Today we were blown away by the amount of caring Rose, a social worker at Bondeni has for Verong Muthoni. She has been working with him to stay in school. He has an elderly grandmother that watches after him after he was orphaned. He uses that as an excuse to skip school and hang out with the wrong crowd.  She spoke to him about coming to school and told him he would get food and fun. She even mentioned the field trip we were taking him on and he showed up today! Here’s a picture of him enjoying the elephants and trying to feed them. 


It was great to have him with us today!


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.