Monday, December 12, 2011

Home Again

It is good to be back home. Now, if we can get over the jet lag, radical shift in weather and process everything we saw and learned in the past two weeks I might start feeling normal again. I have heard it takes one day to recover from a one hour shift in time zones. I guess Tim and I get to look forward to nine days of feeling slightly out of sync as we adjust to being on Wisconsin time :) The waether and shift in sunlight hours is also a big adjustment. When we left Nairobi on Saturday morning it was over 80 F. When we landed in Appleton it was in the 30's. Nairobi has 12 - 13 hours of sunlight a day (when it isn't pouring rain) and I think we get less than 8 here at home. Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I am excited to see what God will do as we continue to plan for the next trip.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Last Day

We traveled back to Nairobi and will be leaving for home tonight. This has been another great trip to Kenya. We have renewed relationships, learned new things about what God is doing here and how we can come alongside the people to help them reach others with the love of Christ. God is doing a great work here and I am humbled to have an opportunity to be a part of it. I am excited and eager to see what God will continue to do here and at home. I am also looking forward to what God has for us as we prepare for the tip in June.

Thanks again for all your prayers and support during our trip. We wouldn't be able to do these trips without all of you.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”  Romans 10:5-15

Dan and Nancy, Jason and Bekkah, Stephen and Jennifer Kibachia, the Bethany interns, Agape Fellowship,all are committed to sharing the Good News by showing the unreached people in Kenya the love of Christ through everything they say and do. We are blessed to be able to work alongside them to share the Good News. May we all have beautiful feet!

The Eleventh Day

It was hot here today. It reached 100 degrees around 1:00 PM. I’m sure it got hotter from there but I quit checking. We went to the shamba (farm) today. Jason and Dan were surprised at how green everything is. The dormitories are almost complete. One of the tanks that will be used to raise tilapia and catfish has been built. Jason has a pump that is powered by the river current that will be used to  pump water from the river about to the farm. The line for the pump has already been run and the water storage container has been installed on top of one of a storage building. The farm will grow citrus fruit (oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes), mangoes, corn, beans, skuma wiki (collard greens) and other basic foods. The farm will also have a greenhouse for growing tomatoes, black-eyed peas and a nursery.

We also went to see the school building we worked on back in June. A lot of progress has been made on the building. The building is not complete, building can only progress as funds are available, but it is being used for church services and teaching literacy. Agape also has seven donated sewing machines and will start holding dress making classes in January. The man who owns the adjacent property built apartments on his portion of the lot. The apartments are built as close as possible to the property line. The land owner does not appreciate having a Christian neighbor and has done everything possible to make the situation as difficult as he can.

Most of the work here is difficult. There is opposition from certain groups in the local population. The weather is hot and dry. What little vegetation does grow here naturally is covered in thorns, even the grass, and can cause an allergic reaction similar to poison ivy. As difficult as the work is, the need is even greater. The people here desperately need many things but most of all they need to know the love of Christ.

The Tenth Day

We travelled to Jason’s town this afternoon. It was an interesting drive. The weather in Nairobi has been cool and wet. The weather here has been wet here but it isn’t cool. As we sit here at 8 PM it is still 86 F, the mosquitos are out in full force and we just enjoyed the evening call to prayer. On the ride up we hit a dik-dik, a small antelope about the size of a medium dog, and saw a large hyena crossing the road. Jason hasn’t been here in several weeks and will only be here until Friday. It is obvious that he wishes he could be here in his home, working with his neighbors, full time but it may be some time before he can come back with his family to stay.  People greet Jason everywhere we go around town and ask about his wife and girls. From the greetings it is obvious he is making a positive difference in the lives of the people who live here.

Tomorrow we will go see the building we helped with during the June 2009 trip and an agricultural project Jason is leading. The agricultural project is a school farm where people can come to learn sustainable agriculture techniques that can be used to farm in arid areas. They have built two dormitories for people who travel from other areas to learn at the farm and enclosed the entire farm with a wall. The work being done here, under adverse conditions, is truly inspiring.

The Ninth Day

Jason joined us from Tanzania today. We will be going up to his town tomorrow. It was good to see him and catch up with the work he and his family is doing with the Bethany interns here in Africa. I think this is the third group of interns Jason has led here. I am surprised at the number of students that come to Kenya for their internships. The intern site is in a area that can be difficult to live and serve in but all the interns I have met seem to love the location, the people and the work. A number of students who have interned here return here as full time missionaries. This is a testament to the impact Jason and Bekkah have on their lives. It is also a testament to the work God is doing here and around the world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I posted some of the pictures we have taken on the trip on YouTube if you are interested.

(Pitcha is the Swahili word for picture)

The Day After the Seventh...

Tim and I went with Dan to meet with Dr. Kibachia today. We had a great time catching up with him and what has been happening at Agape Fellowship. We also laid out the basic plan for the trip in June. It is always awesome to meet with Stephen. He has a great vision for Agape Fellowship that extends to all of Africa and beyond.

Jason Witt travelled up from Tanzania tonight. We spent some time breaking bread and discussing everything Jason and his family have been doing here in Africa. We will be spending the next couple of days with Jason. 

The Germo's and the Witt's are incredible families. Their lives are centred on God and the work being done to reach the unreached people groups here in Africa. They truly love the people of Kenya and work tirelessly to reach all the people here. We are blessed to be able to work alongside them and the Church here in Kenya. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Seventh Day

I have written a little about the weather, a little about the lack of electricity and a little about the traffic but what makes Kenya truly a unique place is the people. Tim and I went to church this morning at Agape Fellowship Madaraka. This is the headquarters for Agape Fellowship throughout Kenya. We went to church and we had church and, as Pastor Jerry always says, it is better to have church than to be in church. The members of Agape truly love God and each other. They welcomed Tim and I as a member of the family returning home after a long trip. Most Kenyans are open, inviting, friendly and generous. They love visitors and guests and will go out of their way to make everyone feel welcome. The family of believers at Agape takes this to a whole new level. They have always made us feel like we are part of their family.
Kenyans also know how to have church. The Agape church was holding an annual event called Outback this weekend. Outback is a weekend camping retreat focused on parents and teens. One parent spends the weekend with one of their teen age children camping and worshipping God. Outback is similar to Family Camp with more of a focus on bringing teens and parents closer to each other and God. One of the guest speakers at Outback delivered the sermon at the main Agape service on Sunday. He was a past from Tanzania that had travelled 27 hours by car to be at Agape for the weekend. He spoke on the love of God and the healing power of the Spirit. It was a great service and a great message. I was challenged by both the message and the commitment of the speaker and members of the congregation.

I am always amazed at the people of Kenya and how they are so open, free and committed to the will of the Father. Many Kenyans live in conditions we would not be able to tolerate and endure hardships we would find unbearable and they continue to show the love of God to everyone they meet. We are blessed with so much in America and still find reasons to grumble, complain and focus on our own problems. God gave his only son for us that we might know Him and His love. If we truly know the love of God we should also love on another, in fact Jesus said it was by our love for each other that we would be known as a people who loved God. Our brothers and sisters here in Kenya are a living example of this commandment. They are using whatever resources they have available to them to help each other, welcome the stranger at their gate and reach out to unreached people, even when the unreached consider them to be their enemies. I am humbled and honored to have an opportunity to work with them in the work God is doing. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Here Comes the Rain!

It is rainy season here in Nairobi. It has rained every day since we arrived. I’m not complaining, at least it is rain and not snow and I haven’t needed a jacket or coat but it has been very wet. Last night we were stuck in traffic and it poured rain. I guess thunderstorms are rare in this part of Kenya but we experienced a pretty good sound and light show while sitting in traffic last night. It rained so much that the road looked more like a river and driveways looked like streams. The Nairobi River runs behind Dan and Nancy’s house. In my limited experience, water is always flowing in the river but it is usually a slow meandering current. When we finally got home last night the river was roaring along. Even after the rain stopped the river continued to roar along for most of the night. It is normally so quiet here at night that it seemed strange trying to sleep with sound of the river in the background. Don’t get me wrong, I slept fine anyway.

There are two rainy seasons in Kenya; one at the beginning of the summer (now) and one at the end of the summer in March / April. Very little rain falls outside of the rainy season. If the rains are light then a drought and famine occurs. As I was thinking about the rains and the importance of the rainy season to the lives of so many people here I started to think about God and the blessings he pours down on us. God rains blessings down all the time. He made us, called us, empowers us and sends us. He has given everything, even His son, to make a way for us. So, the question is why do we experience droughts in our lives? I think we miss the ongoing rainy season of God’s love because we get out of the rain. We allow the stuff in our lives, our problems, our wants, our excuses, to get between us and the downpour. In Matthew 7:6 Jesus cautions us, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” I pray that I am not a dog or a pig trampling the abundance of God underfoot and turning to attack the Father who loves me. I hope that I am always standing out in the rain.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Third and Fourth Day

I'm a little behind on the blog. A lack of electricity, stima in swahili, can make it tough to get on the internet. The power system here in Kenya is interesting. The homes use 240 VAC, 50 Hz, single phase power. Homes in the US are primarily 120 VAC, 60 Hz, single phase with some appliances, like and electric dryer, running on 240 VAC, 60 Hz, two phase. Because of the higher voltage the transformers and power lines are a little larger. 

The transformers and power lines are only six to seven feet off the ground in most places. I believe most of the electrical system was built by the British in the 1960's and hasn't been upgraded, or maintained well, since. There are trees growing through the power lines, poles that are on the verge of falling and cables running all over the place. Kenya Power seems to working on upgrading the system and catching up on maintenance but with a city of 5 million and years of neglect there is a lot of work to do.

Some of the work that is needed, like clearing tree limbs from the power lines, requires shutting down parts of the system. Some of the work uncovers other problems which result in unexpected outages. The condition of the system also lends itself to unexpected outages. It is easy to see why the power is out as much as it is. Sometimes I am surprised there is any power at all.

Picking up on Jerry's comment on my earlier post - the power system here is a good object lesson of our reliance on the Holy Spirit and our relationship with the Father. The relationship has to be maintained, like any good relationship, to have meaning and impact in our lives. If we don't work on our relationship with God we can become disconnected and lose sight of the blessings and opportunities He provides. The longer we neglect our relationship with the Father the more disconnected we become and we may require more work in our lives to get back to where we need to be. One of the many things I love about going on short term missions is the daily reminder of how much I rely on God. These trips create milestones in my life and when I think back on them I am reminded of how I am reliant on God and how the Father, the Son and the Spirit care and provide for all my needs.