Category Archives: Kenya – June 2013

It’s A Wrap (your arms around it)

In just under 41 hours, after our feet hit the Kenyan soil, on the last day of our mission trip, we arrived home. It was July 4th and each one of us had a new sense of independence after living outside our comfort zones for almost two weeks.

First, the back story. Seven of this eight-member team had never been to Kenya and half of us had never gone on a short-term mission trip. (Yes, you can, and should, feel sorry for our amazing, incredibly brave fearless leader, Eric Stellmack. And continue to pray for him…we think the nervous tic has almost stopped but he’s still talking to himself, occasionally.)

FlexAbility Team

God formed this team by bonding four pairs, not eight individuals. We were a father and son, a mother and daughter, a husband and wife, and two best friends. Only four of us are members of TPCC. Then after our leader talked about having to be flexible and recognizing the variety of abilities we had, we branded ourselves, FlexAbility. If you’ve read any of our blog you have seen how appropriate the theme was.

Kenya Flex-Ability logo

We were all told something like “You’ll come back a different person.” And we did!

By stepping outside our “North American” comfort zone, our senses were stretched, our faith was strengthened, and our capacity for love widened. We saw God’s love and the love of God in ways we could have never imagined. During the worship service at Joska, on our last Sunday, we were all brought to tears. We heard what Heaven’s Choir must sound like as all the girls from the school sang in harmony and it echoed around us.

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There was not one day during the mission trip that each one of us didn’t experience inspiration. From meeting with small business accountability groups and visiting the adult skills training classes at Missions of Hope International to praying with families during home visits and interacting with the Bondeni and Joska students.

We thought we were bringing the light to the people in Mathare Valley but just maybe it was us that saw the light.

One of the most important and emotional things experienced was the meeting of the sponsored children. Often we flippantly say “it’s a two-way street” when it comes to relationships. But there, it truly is. As the sponsor, you feel a reward as you talk to your child, hear about their hopes and realize you may be helping them reach their dreams. As the child, you have just received a gift that may seem so small to us, but enormous to them…recognition. They count, someone cares and they are loved. They know and believe God loves them and is always there. But as a sponsor, getting to meet the child, you’re a warm hand to hold, a smile they can see and a hug they feel. When you can’t meet them or are back home, sending letters that talk to them alone is so important. You are real and tangible to them.

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We were amazed how so many of the children we talked to asked, by name, if we knew their sponsor at Traders Point and wanted to hear about them.

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If you ask any one of us about our mission trip, be forewarned, there are thousands of stories and we WILL tell every one. To save you some time we’ve posted a few photos below. We hope you will see God’s love in them and the hope the people and the children of Mathare Valley have in us.

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Bible Bowl or Bible FlexiBOWLity

With new Bible Bowl Quiz Master binders, score sheets, rules and round-robin brackets in hand, we went to the Joska Girl’s School. Upon arrival we discovered the number of teams had changes from what was planned. So we quickly put pencil to paper to redraw the brackets to fit. Wait, what? The total number of teams just changed again? Since we have all become so dependent on calculators it was funny to see five grown people trying to quickly match up the teams with paper and pencil and fingers and toes. But in the end everything worked out, we finished within minutes of the allotted time, and for the second year in a row, a girls team reigned as the Champions!

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Christmas Morning at Joska

The Joska science teachers responded with the excitement of “children on Christmas morning”, after opening and receiving instruction on their four new themed teaching tubs: Work Made Easier, Plants, The Human Body, and The Solar System. The pictures speak for themselves.
Teacher tubs


Touched by the light

Our mission continues to witness God answering prayers in one of the poorest slums on earth, the Mathare Valley in Nairobi, Kenya. Our mighty-eight, plus one, was again split into three groups of three to “Bring the Light”. The plus-one, to even out the groups, was Cassie, a college intern from Illinois working for Missions of Hope International until the end of July.

Two of our groups, accompanied by social workers from MoHI and carpenters for installing the skylights returned to the same section of shanties visited previously. 

When we arrived some of us went to check on Ester and see how the “light” had changed her home. To use a cliche, it was like night and day. The one-foot square hole, covered with a corrugated plastic panel, flooded her one-room home with light. We now saw all her worldly possessions that just yesterday was a mound of black. We saw the breakfast she was cooking in a small pan on a charcoal burner that served as her stove. Yesterday all we could see was the orange glow of burning charcoal. But more than the entombed contents of her life we saw a revelation in her face as she looked toward heaven and gave thanks. 

For an instant we invaded of her private moment and snapped a picture. It was not until we were back eating lunch that we saw the photo (below) and realized how well it illustrates God’s love and our “Bring the Light” efforts. The photograph may not be up to National Geographic’s standards but to capture this dramatic moment, this perfectly with a single shot has to have God’s hands all over it. 

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We talk about blessing others and how God answers their prayers, but today He revealed Himself to us as we try to communicate the power of His light.


Apologies to Ester!

In the Prayers Are Answered posting yesterday, Ester was inadvertently called Agnes. We have met so many amazing people with truly inspiring stories that it is easy to get confused…especially if you don’t check your notes! Everyone following this blog met the real Agnes in our June 26th posting. But on June 27th we evangelized to Mary’s neighbor, Ester, not Agnes as reported.


2, 20, 14, & 4

Over 2 days, out team visted 20 individuals, brought the light into 14 homes and saw 4 committents to Jesus Christ.

2 – Over the past 2 days we have been Bringing the Light to the residents of Bondeni. It has been increadably humbling to see how people live from day to day, often with no power, no air conditioner, no running water and no sanitation.

20 – we had the privilage to share the gospel with 20 residents that we visited in Bondeni. Each person we visited left each team member with a different perspective on living in Bondeni.

14 – Our team was able to Bring The Light into 14 homes. Not only did we bring the physical light into these homes, we brought the light of God and the saving work of the cross. We also shared about heathly living and HIV / AIDS prevention.

4 – We shared yesterday (6/27) that we “Brought The Light” and saw 2 people come to Jesus Christ, we saw 2 more come to salvation today. We are so thankful that God has allowed our team to see how He is working to work expand His Kingdom.


Prayers Are Answered

Remember Mary (photo, left), we met yesterday during our home visits? She is the grandmother that is taking care of her two grandsons and suffers from many illnesses including respiratory problems. Today a couple of our team members revisited her as part of “Bring The Light”. Phyllis, who had laid hands on Mary and prayed over her yesterday, asked, through an interpreter, how she was doing. Mary excitedly exclaimed, “Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord! Feeling much better. No pains. Good sleep. Praise the Lord I can breath easy today!” All our team could say was Praise the Lord!

Also today, we evangelized to Mary’s neighbor, Agnes (photo, right). A large rock, buried in her dirt floor entrance, only allowed us to partially open her door. Entering her pitch black home we could barley see the frail outline of a woman. The sliver of light from the open door was the only light in the home. She asked the three of us to sit on what served as her couch. Our eyes, beginning to adjust, saw this beautiful face being revealed. It reflected more years of wisdom, strength, and heartache than our whole team has experienced. Yet her eyes still sparkled as tears of happiness ran down the lines in her weathered face. Although Agnes is already a Christian she watched with joy as Hilary presented the story of Jesus with the evangelism cube. She smiled, through every tear, as she reached out and touched the pictures on the cube. After Sharon prayed for her, we prepared to leave so a worker could install the skylight. Agnes put her face in her hands and praised God for our visit, prayers, love, and for bringing light into her life, her home. 

Again, as flawed humans we thought we were giving her a blessing. But no, as God’s children we received the blessing from her.

 

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Believe It

A Christian education class taught in public school? YES. Praise God it’s happening in the Mission of Hope Bondeni schools everyday. This team has witnessed it. The students learn about God the Father, Jesus Christ His Son, the Holy Spirit, the gospel message of Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection, discipleship, scripture reading along with memorization, and children receiving Christ as Savior and Lord.  Yes, believe it. Hallelujah, it’s true.

 


JOY

There was “joy” in Bondeni as three new sponsors met their sponsor child.  When we left Indianapolis on this mission trip, we had no idea God would give us such a loving heart for the Kenyan children. As sponsors we are “filled with joy” to provide our child with a Christian education, nutritious food, school uniforms, medical care, school supplies, extracurricular activities and counseling for a nominal monthly gift.  After meeting our child, we shared time getting acquainted, taking pictures, sponsor gift giving and ended with plenty of hugs.  Truly we REJOICE! 

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There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God . . . . .

. . . over one sinner who repents . . . . .

None of us on the team has ever been a part of “Bring The Light”. This is a Community Health Evangelism (CHE) outreach that meets both a physical and spiritual needs of people in darkness. I have only heard about “Bring The Light” from others that have actually done it. So today was an incredible experience for me and all of our team.

Basically we go into Mathare Valley – in the Bondeni District – and meet with families to literally bring light into their homes via a skylight and at the same time share the light of Jesus Christ.

The Missions of Hope International (MoHI) social workers set up the home visit in advance, letting the resident know that visitors will come and install a skylight in their one bedroom home (tin or mud walls, a single door, with no windows, often a dirt floor and a tin roof).

As for our experience today, the mother that we went to visit was not there (she had gone out to look for work), but her daughter and son were there. So we were invited in to share the light of Jesus, as a worker on the roof was brining the light into the home.

We used the evangelism cubes and health HIV/AIDS cubes to share with the two residents. After talking with them about Jesus (the cubes help us to tell a short but accurate message of salvation) and after some additional conversations with the social workers, both said they wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their LORD and savior. We were able to pray with them a prayer of confession and salvation.

Our team rejoiced with the angels as we walked back to the Bondeni School.

“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:10