Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tonight we had a farewell dinner at the Bishop Kabachia’s home. It was a time of great fellowship and blessings. Tracy and I had a chance to speak to Pastor Jonathon from Agape Church and upon reflection, it appears clear to us that the conversation was of Devine Appointment. At the present time Tracy and I are both experiencing a similar sense of confusion as a result of being at a crossroad in each of our lives. Both of us are unsure where God is calling us to take our next steps in life. As it so happens, Pastor Jonathon is undergoing a similar experience. In speaking with us, He revealed the story of Elijah, a story that has encouraged him to be at peace with the unknown himself. In 1 Kings, Elijah would go to the brook to receive food and direction from the Lord. One day when Elijah returned to the brook to seek further nourishment from God, the brook had dried up completely. However, Elijah was not deterred and he waited patiently for a period of time until he received direction from the Lord. He did not move until he received word from the Lord. Jonathan found comfort in knowing that even when the brook is dry, the Lord is faithful in giving direction. Sometimes it just takes a period of time waiting upon the Lord. The faith of Elijah in this story is the kind of faith Jonathan, Tracy, and I need to be reminded of. To have faith that God will give each of us direction. Sometimes God is just asking us to be obedient and wait beside the brook that seems dry, because God is never early and He is never late. Rather, He is ALWAYS on time, He is faithful and He is able. Your prayers have helped us in ways that can never be described. Thank you so much for being faithful and obedient to the Lord. May he bless you for blessing this team. Tracy and Jenny.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Yesterday was a hectic day travelling back to Nairobi and settling in at Cross Currents guest house. It was a blessing to be back in the cooler weather but we are already missing the people we connected with up-country. We are all getting homesick and wondering how our experience here will impact us as we return home at the same time. Today we did some shopping which was a new experience for many on the team. We went to a Masai market to purchase gifts and mementos to help us remember our trip. The market is an open air shopping market with many vendors and stalls. The prices for everything are negotiable and negotiating is an art unto itself. Haggling over the price of a wooden carving while trying to form a relationship with someone and act as an extension of Living Hope and our Savior is a little challenging but it is also a lot of fun. After we completed our shopping some of us went to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. Ethiopia and Kenya share a common border but couldn’t be more different. Ethiopian food is very different from Kenyan food. It is spicy and eaten with bread. The only utensils used are your hands. In some ways today was like a snapshot of the entire trip; new experiences culturally, relationally and in ministering to the people around us. We actually found out that goat can not only be edible but taste good. We had our first debriefing meeting tonight. From the thoughts and experiences people shared it is obvious that you have been with us every step of the way on this trip through the prayers and support you have provided. We have established relationships with people who did not want to know us. We have made an impact on a building project that will impact the lives of many people for years to come. We have made and impact on the health of people who do not have access to even the most basic of health care and we have done it all together. We love you all and want to express our appreciation for the support you have provided and for being with us all along the way.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Today is our last day in Northern Kenya. We will return to Nairobi tomorrow. We attended the church service at the local Agape Fellowship. The service included a Bible focus hour, praise and worship and the main service. Tim M. led the Bible Focus. He did a great study on the transforming power of God’s love and how this love led us to this place and the work that is going on here. The youth performed the drama “The Redeemer” before the main service. Tony P. preached at the main service and spoke on John chapter 9. Tony used all our experiences here as examples of the word and encouraged the people here to continue in the work that is being done. After the church service we returned to the guest house for a few hours to rest and prepare to move back to Nairobi. I would never have thought a plastic tote would make a good washing machine but as it turns out it works pretty well. We spent the evening at the Witt’s house. Jason made dinner for the team. He is a great man of God and he can cook! What a combination. We spent the rest of the time fellowshipping with each other, the Bethany interns and the Witt family. Please pray for the Witt family. They are serving in an area that is difficult in so many ways and they do it with joy and love. They were great hosts for the team and provided an example to the team of the practical application of the love of Christ all week. They are an awesome family serving an awesome God.
So much has happened here it is hard to believe it has only been here a week. We have made relationships that will last the rest of our lives and memories that will be the next set of spiritual markers in our journey with Jesus. Everyone seems a little excited to be heading back to Nairobi and cooler weather. I don’t think anyone will miss the heat and dust but some part of all of us will remain here.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Another day in paradise; anytime we are where God is we are in paradise no matter where we are physically. Today was our last day of formal ministry here. The men wound things up at the construction site. The youth and men moved 70 tons of rock, 40 tons of dirt and 30 tons of hard pack fill into the foundation of the school over the last week. We made over 1000 shims for leveling the form for the second floor slab and cut the timber (in Kenya wood is timber not wood) for the form. We also cut hundreds of mathange poles to support the second floor slab. We said goodbye to Dr. John who had to return to the states today. The medical clinics saw over 500 patients in three days. The clinics will help the local church continue building a relationship with their Somali neighbors along with helping the patients with their health. The youth attended revival meetings every night, conducted sports clinics, conducted services at local schools and services at local colleges. The services conducted by the youth provided encouragement to the local church and started relationships with the young Somalis in the area. As a team we have been very, very busy and the work has been hard but satisfying. We will attend church at the local Agape Fellowship tomorrow and return to Nairobi on Monday. Our time here has provided us with memories and friendships that will last a life time but I think we will all be happy to leave the heat behind (remember I told you how it was hot here, I wasn’t kidding). Please continue to pray for us as we move back to Nairobi and the remainder of our trip. We love you all and pray that God is blessing all those at we have waiting for us at home.
A few words from Jon Jarosinski:
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Today was similar to yesterday for the youth team. We started off this morning helping the construction team again. It’s very rewarding to do this kind of service work. I love seeing how the young guys work until their faces turn red, and without complaint. It blesses me every day. After that, we went to another school to perform dramas and share testimonies; you know, the typical mission thing. This was another place we were able to share a gospel message. There is only one disappointing thing about this ministry. We go places and share with the people, but we have to leave to go to the next place while in the middle of making connections with them. It can be frustrating at times, but you learn to give it to God because He’s ultimately in control. And for tonight, revival service again. Tonight, some of the medical team came to the service. It was nice to be able to do things with them. When you prepare as a team and split when you enter your line of service, you learn to treasure the times when you can serve together. They end up being the most memorable. - Andy
Yesterday, the medical clinic was set up in the middle of a small village, a 20 minute drive from town, and we saw a group of 200 people change from being afraid of us to, at the end of the day, being open and playing and laughing with us. Today was a different. The medical clinic was at the fairgrounds in town, and the people had to walk farther to reach us. We didn’t have lines of mothers and their children waiting to receive care, which had given us a chance to spend time with them. Today I had what I felt was a less important job than yesterday, and I didn’t get much of a chance to converse with any of the patients. However, God still taught me a lot today. My favorite moment was when our first patient after lunch showed up—a Muslim woman with 4 children. She spoke very little English, and I speak very little Swahili, but in a half hour, I felt as if we had become close friends. She even honored me with letting me take her picture with two of her sons, something almost unheard of in their culture. God showed me today that although we think of miracles being things like healing the sick and feeding five thousand people, they can also be as small as the connection between a Somali mother and a young American girl. - Hannah
Today was similar to yesterday for the youth team. We started off this morning helping the construction team again. It’s very rewarding to do this kind of service work. I love seeing how the young guys work until their faces turn red, and without complaint. It blesses me every day. After that, we went to another school to perform dramas and share testimonies; you know, the typical mission thing. This was another place we were able to share a gospel message. There is only one disappointing thing about this ministry. We go places and share with the people, but we have to leave to go to the next place while in the middle of making connections with them. It can be frustrating at times, but you learn to give it to God because He’s ultimately in control. And for tonight, revival service again. Tonight, some of the medical team came to the service. It was nice to be able to do things with them. When you prepare as a team and split when you enter your line of service, you learn to treasure the times when you can serve together. They end up being the most memorable. Andy Deckert
Yesterday, the medical clinic was set up in the middle of a small village, a 20 minute drive from town, and we saw a group of 200 people change from being afraid of us to, at the end of the day, being open and playing and laughing with us. Today was a different. The medical clinic was at the fairgrounds in town, and the people had to walk farther to reach us. We didn’t have lines of mothers and their children waiting to receive care, which had given us a chance to spend time with them. Today I had what I felt was a less important job than yesterday, and I didn’t get much of a chance to converse with any of the patients. However, God still taught me a lot today. My favorite moment was when our first patient after lunch showed up—a Muslim woman with 4 children. She spoke very little English, and I speak very little Swahili, but in a half hour, I felt as if we had become close friends. She even honored me with letting me take her picture with two of her sons, something almost unheard of in their culture. God showed me today that although we think of miracles being things like healing the sick and feeding five thousand people, they can also be as small as the connection between a Somali mother and a young American girl. Hannah Smith
Today was the second day of business for the Living Hope Garissa Dirt and Stone Company. You dig it we’ll move it – or we’ll dig it and move it – or we’ll dig it, crush it and then move it – or whatever. The youth came and worked on the construction site for the morning. The big jobs today were backfilling the foundation with dirt and hard core. Hard core is a weird type of rock. It looks like really hard mud. When you backfill with hard core it has to be compacted. That is a fancy word for broken with a sledge hammer so the smaller pieces will pack together. The male teens came and moved dirt and broke hard core all morning. Those guys worked as hard as anyone on the site and made me feel every one of my years. All the parents should be proud because those guys really know how to get it done. Guys, my hat’s off to you. God has certainly blessed us by putting you with us on this trip.
The team conducted the first medical clinic today. They saw over 200 people today at a small village outside of Garissa. The chief of the village had been asking for medical for some time and was very happy to have a doctor come see his people.The youth ministry group was very active today. They started off helping out the construction team in the morning, doing all the hard manual labor that was too much for the old guys (just kidding, but not really J). After being out in the hot sun and sweating so much you felt like you were swimming, the team traveled to do a sports clinic in a town just outside of Garissa. This sports ministry was very rewarding for us all. We were able to play soccer (football) and volleyball with the students there. We also had a great time socializing with some of the Muslim students. Coming to their level and doing things they enjoy doing really seemed to minister to them and to us in incredible ways. After spending a couple hours there, we still had more to accomplish for the day. We attended a revival service at a local church here in Garissa. It was amazing to be a part of this service. This church is located across the street from a mosque in a town where Muslim is the main religion and they frown upon Christians. These people have a boldness that I think we can all learn from. - Andy
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I just read Tony’s post and realized that we are on different days; pretty weird considering we are on the same trip. I am not counting the travel days so my day four really is day six. As I read Tony’s post I was smiling and holding back tears at the same time. It really was an amazing service and the Pastor, Peter Kaunda, is an awesome, humble man of God. When you meet Peter you are automatically drawn to him by the spirit pouring out through him.
And the bridge, it really was that bad. Tony, Mike L., Joel and I all rode over in a van. When Tony and I walked across it I felt it sag under my weight. Tony and I both could only laugh and thank God that the driver didn’t try driving across it again.
We spent our first day working in Garissa today. Part of the team was preparing for the medical clinics, the youth went to a school and ministered along with the youth from AFC
Madaraka and AFC Garissa. The rest of the men went to work on the school. We cut muthangi posts to use as supports for the roof. We built wooden forms for the concrete ring beam, and we moved dirt. Now don’t get me wrong, the Kenyans moved a lot more dirt than we did but we moved our fair share one wheelbarrow load at a time. Tony and I decided to shovel for a while to take a break from driving the wheelbarrows. Peter, a mzhee(elder man) from AFC Madaraka, came over so we could fill his wheelbarrow. Tony and I shoveled until we were both out of breath. We stopped and mzhee Peter frowned at us and waved his hand saying “more.” It is pretty humbling to be outworked by someone who is probably 15 – 20 years older than you and quite a bit smaller.
God continues to bless us. We made real progress on the construction project, have everything set for the first medical clinic tomorrow and the youth were able to share at a local school. When the youth were preparing to perform a drama at the school several Somali children left. A few minutes later they came back and were peeking into the room. Eventually several of the children came back in and watched the remaining dramas. This is what this trip is all about. We are here to make relationships with the people who live in this area and the youth were able to take the first step in making a new relationship today. When we were planning for the trip Dan told Tim and I that sometimes we harvest and sometimes we must till the soil. This trip is definitely about tilling the soil – and not just the dirt we moved on the building site today. Someday a great harvest will come in Northeastern Kenya from the soil we are preparing to plant now. I am thankful to the Father that we can come be part of what he is doing to further his kingdom.
Please continue to pray for us. It is hot here but we are doing well. God has blessed us in so many ways. We need to continue to receive the blessing and guidance of our Father. We love and miss you but we are also proud to be here serving as your hands and feet.
Monday, June 14, 2010
We are here in Africa, I am in a room filled with people from all over the world. There are 70 who have come together for this trip.
The joyfull love that I am so attracted to in those we serve is every bit as strong with the people of Nairobi. I had the privilege to go to church on Sunday with Mike Waldropp in a poor area. The ride to the church was an incredible adventure. We drove in a van where I wouldn't drive my 4 wheel drive truck. We crossed a bridge not fit to walk across. In fact the local driver would not come back and get us unless we hiked out to the main road as he was afraid of the bridge a second time. We jumped across a stream of sewage and garbage and entered a church so humble, in the US we would not enter for fear it would colapse. It was a wooden frame pieced together from 3 foot pieces of old, old lumber. It was covered in rusty pieces of steel filled with holes. The floor was dirt, rocks and gravel, with a pit in the corner where you could see out side.
As we entered the service worship was going on and I was pulled back to the first time entering a worship service at a camp for people with disabilities. It was such a genuine out pouring of joy and thanks to God, I was moved to tears. They allowed each visitor to come to the pulpit to greet the church, introduce themselves, tell of their family and what God is doing in their lives. The sound system crackled and popped but could not have sounded more beautiful. I was asked to greet the church and shared about how we minister to people with disabilities. Mike preached an amazing sermon about unity and how we aqre bothers and sisters in Christ. It ended with a Pastor Peter sharing a "coke and biscuits" with Mike and I and a dozen kids that he lovingly hugged and introduced to us to. We then walked back the half mile or so to the main road through the town. It was a gain amazing as kids ran up to us to see the "fat white guys"!
I will never be the same after attending that service. I have learned so much about being doorkeepers and worshippers of our king in a just few hours on a Sunday morning here. I can
end only by simply saying I am thouroughly humbled and ask for your continued prayer as God lights our path each moment here. Also I ask for your prayer for Tim as he leads us, there much pressure and responsility on him and he has been up to the task at every turn. Leadership is hard, but the rewards are great so pray for him please
I know I promised more pictures but we have been very busy and didn't have time today. We will post some new pictures as soon as we can.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We had another awesome day today. The team split into three groups and each group attended service at a different church. Mike L. and Joel went to church at Githurai. The Agape Fellowship Center Githurai church was the first church AFC planted outside the main church at Madaraka. The team from Living Hope that travelled to Kenya in 1999 helped plant the church and participated in the first service at Githurai. Mike W. and Tony went to AFC Kasarani to attend services. The Living Hope team that came to Kenya in 2005 helped plant the church at Kasarani. It was good to go back to the places we helped get off the ground to visit with our other families and renew our relationships. Attending services at Githurai and Kasarani also allowed us to see how the churches are doing and what we might be able to do on future trips to help our children along. I referred to the churches at Githurai and Kasarani as our children because when a church in Kenya plants another church they refer to the new church as their child. We helped with planting the churches so they are our children too. You probably didn’t know we had children in Kenya but now you do. The remainder of the team attended services at the main AFC church in Madaraka. A group from AFC Madaraka will be travelling with us for the remainder of the trip. Bishop Kabachia conducted a commissioning service for the combined team from Living Hope and AFC Madaraka. Everyone is excited to be travelling and working together. The Bible tells us we are called to be one body just as there is one God, one Spirit, on hope and one salvation. Working alongside Kenyans to build relationships and reach out to the unreached people of Kenya is an awesome example of how the unity in Christ can impact the world and our community at home. We are all excited for the remainder of the trip.
Following church services we all met at the guest house for lunch and some relaxation. Church services here in Kenya are three hours or more. The teams were very involved in the services in all three locations. We spoke, held Bible studies, met with the youth, men’s and women’s groups and performed the sermons at the main service. It felt good to rest in the presence of the Lord after such a busy morning. The team, our team and the Madaraka , had dinner and a time of fellowship at AFC Madaraka this evening. From the number and volume of conversations and laughing during and after the meal I would say the dinner was a great experience for everyone. This is a great opportunity to begin to form the friendships that will grow over the next week as we serve together.Everyone here is happy and healthy. We, along with the churches here, are praying for all of you. Please continue to pray for us. God has already done so much to bless us but there is still much work to do. With your prayers and God’s blessing I know we can accomplish what would seem impossible to us. We love you and pray that God will keep you and bless you until we are together again.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
We arrived in Kenya at 9:50 PM on Friday, that is 1:50 PM in Green Bay. Everyone made it safe and sound and so did all the luggage, a miracle in itself. Everyone made it through immigration, got their visa, collected all the luggage and made it through customs without incident. After loading the gear and the people on the vehicles we were off for the guest house. The staff at the guest housegreeted us and served us a meal. What a great way to start the trip! We made it to bed around 1:30 AM.
Tim and Mike got an early start by meeting with Dan and taking care of some last minute preparations for the rest of our time here in Kenya. Mike went with Major Maina to get the medical supplies we need for the clinics. The rest of the team got some much needed rest after the long trip and spent the morning at the guest house. Dan and Tim did a Kenya orientation for the team right before lunch and we all learned what some common cultural mistakes to avoid. For instance, in Kenya trousers are pants and pants are undergarments. Complimenting someone on the dress pants has a slightly different meaning in this culture.
We spent the afternoon doing some shopping here in Nairobi. After supper we had a brief team meeting to discuss the following days plans and then called it a night. Tomorrow we will be splitting up and attending church at three differenct locations – Githurai, Kasarani and Madaraka. Keep praying for us because the work really starts tomorrow and moves up from there as we travel up-country on Monday. God has blesses us in many ways already and with continued prayer we are sure He will continue to smile on us.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
In just a few short days we will be in Kenya! Just think, we get to fly 30 hours (give or take a few), pass through three airports, go through customs and spend two weeks in a strange land among a strange people (strange in that they are culturally different from us not strange as in weird). We will get to eat exotic delicacies like cabbage, githeri, mukimo, sukuma wiki, ugi, chapaties and everyone’s favorite ugali (if you’re wondering what ugali is remember Google is your friend). We will have chai tea for breakfast lunch and dinner (where kind I find a good cup of coffee??). We will learn new phrases like jambo, hodi, hbari yako, mzuri sana, kuribu and asante. And have you checked the weather? It is hot where we are going. Daytime highs are in the mid to upper 90’s and night time lows are in the mid 70’s (and it is winter??).
We will also get to meet and work with an amazing group of people. People who will adopt us into their families, make us feel welcome and take us into their hearts. People who demonstrate the love of God in the way they reach out to us and everyone they encounter. We will have a chance to build relationships with people who desperately need to know God and feel the Father’s love. God will take us on this incredible journey and allow us to be part of the amazing work He is doing with and through our brothers and sisters in Christ. This truly is the opportunity of a lifetime. Whether you are going on the trip or supporting the team with your prayers know that you are in fact going to be in Kenya, doing the Father’s work and making a difference in the lives of people in ways we may never know or understand. We are all connected as one body. Some of us are the hands and feet while others are the heart and eyes. Wherever one part of the body goes, the entire body must also go because we are all connected. We will all have a connection to Kenya as a result of this trip just as we are all connected through our love of the King and our Living Hope Family.
Speaking of connected, did you know that the area of Kenya we will be working in is populated predominately by Somalis? Did you know the largest population of Somali people in the US is located in Minneapolis? Did you know that there are Somalis living right here in Green Bay? Many of the Somalis in our area come from, or have families in, the same area we will be working in. It is very possible that someone we meet in Kenya next week could turn up in our community in the future. As I thought about this possibility I was reminded that we are all connected through God the creator, and by serving and following Him we can make an impact on our community and the world no matter where we go. I am constantly amazed that God chooses to work out His plan through us (well me anyway, the rest of the team is very capable) in ways we could never have imagined. It truly is amazing what our God can do and he invites us be a part of it all.
We will be updating the blog while we are on the trip as often as we can. If you want to keep tabs on what “you” are up to in Kenya follow the blog. It will be an awesome story!