The day started at 5:45 each morning. We would gather at the breakfast table at 6:15 for food and the reading of a chapter out of the book of Acts. As we drove down the bumpy road from the house to the church one of the team members would voice our prayers for the day. As we passed those walking along the road or the houses with children standing outside we would wave and receive shouts of “Jambo” which means hello to tourists. Everywhere we went children would shout that and wave while huge smiles crossed their faces.
We reached the church before 8 a.m. and began to check people into the conferences.” Bwana Asifiwe” (Praise Be The Lord) was said in greeting by each person to shake our hands, to which we would answer, “Amen”. They were very patient with us as we learned what they were saying and what we were to respond. There were a few other phrases they would say. Sometimes we got them mixed up, but like I said, they were patient and took the time to tell us again what it meant and what our reply should be.
The conference attendees met together in the church for a worship time and short devotional. The music time was just a small taste of what Sunday morning worship can be like. When they worship it is with their whole being. They pour themselves into praising the Lord. Their prayers are the same way. They lift their voices to the Lord with great love and power behind it.
During the first week we had several different conferences going on at the same time. In the morning we had the discipleship training and some special topics conferences. There was a great turn out for both, all eager to learn more so they could teach others. The discipleship training was three weeks long. There was so much to cover but it was done in such a way that they were able to go in-depth and still finish it by the end of the three weeks. The discipleship participants were divided up into two groups, Never Thirst and Living Water. During the morning hours one group would be at the drill site working on the water well drilling. In the afternoon, after lunch, the second team would be out there while the first was in the discipleship training. The water well drilling was three weeks, too. We were served “tea” in the morning and then lunch around 12:30, sometimes later. What a great time of fellowship and new tastes. I know my kids loved the fresh fruit that was served daily. They found out I loved pineapple and provided it when they could. The last day there seemed to be an abundance of it. During meal times there was always plenty of food. They worked so hard to provide a wonderful meal for us each afternoon. And they took great pleasure in serving us that meal. It was important to them to feed us well and take care of us.
Our afternoon conferences besides the discipleship included a Sunday school teacher’s conference and a children’s VBS type conference that was lead by the children in our families. Seven “missionary” children led anywhere from 65 to 100 children each of the six days that we did the children’s conference. It was great to see how each one of the kids took their roll seriously and did their best for the children of Kilifi. They had Bible story time, craft time, sports time, and ended with snack time. The children always seemed engaged in what they were supposed to be doing as the story was told or questions were being asked. They had an interpreter for the younger children who hadn't learned English in school yet. When sports time came they just had a great time playing what we call soccer (they call it football).
We also had a conference leader go to a different school each day to give a special topic discussion. The schools and students welcomed the leader and took part in the discussions. Our Sunday school teachers training class had about 40 men and women who were very willing to get involved in the discussion and give input on each subject we talked about. You could tell they wanted to improve how they were teaching to reach the children. The students were so eager to learn in all of the conferences.
One thing that was very obvious when we were at the drilling site was the excitement on everyone’s faces. They knew how important this process was and they worked so hard each day. They didn't care how dirty they got or how hot the sun became. They greeted us with smiles as we got to the site. The kids took turns pulling on the rope and the boys even took turns at drilling. Even though we hit many hard spots and issues that we had to overcome, everyone still kept a great attitude. John and Joe worked every day of those three weeks instructing and helping to find solutions to each new challenge that came their way. I know it was very difficult for them to leave Kilifi with that well unfinished. But the people we were working with still kept the same spirit of willingness to keep going to see it completed. We were so blessed to be a part of this group.
At the end of our work day, we would stop by the store to pick up groceries or other needs, like bug spray. (The mosquitoes were our ONLY complaint. From now on, we have to have windows with screens or solid closure.) When we arrived back at the house the kids would rush to get in a quick swim before dinner. As we sat around the large wooden table, we would go over each area of our conference to see how everyone felt things went. It was always very positive. We also talked about anything new in the works for the next couple of days. Many nights we had a guest or two at our table. What a joy to get to spend time getting to know some of the area pastors and their wives. One night one of the pastors brought not only his wife but his infant daughter. The girls had a great time playing with her. Also, at the end of the evening you would see John and Joe with their heads together going over the drilling for the day and working out what needed to be done the following one. We would all head up to bed before nine o’clock since we got up so early in the mornings.
Sundays were a very special time. We attended the English service and the Swahili service. We would get there before nine and wouldn't leave until after one, sometimes even later than that. The service is very lively and fun. You could just feel the love in the room for each other and for the Lord. The songs were a bit longer than our traditional songs are, instead of 3 minutes the songs last around 6. But they just enjoy singing and praising the Lord. When we got back home that was one thing we noticed, how quiet our church service is. We love our American praise and worship times but we also enjoyed our Kenyan praise and worship. The children would come in and stand in front and sing and do hand motions for a few songs. The girls would get up there without hesitation and join in. It was great seeing them participate with the kids they had made friends with during the week.
One of the Saturday’s we were there was a full day that was dedicated to the ordination of Joe and Tammie Friberg. It was taken very seriously by the Kenyan people. Everyone dressed up like you would for a wedding. They even killed a cow to feed us with in the celebration that followed. John had the privilege of announcing them to the people that attended. There were several hundred that came.
At the end of the three week period, we held a graduation service. Participants in the Church Planting/Water Well Drilling conference received a certificate and a study Bible, and a CD with Bible study software, Theological study materials, Sunday School lessons, and a wide variety of resources for their churches.
The three weeks we were there was so much more than just teaching. The discipleship conference, the water well drilling, the special topics conferences and children’s conference, and the ordination service were wonderful. But we did something even more amazing in those three weeks. We spent three weeks building relationships with the people of Kilifi, Kenya. We got so close to many in that short period of time. It was very hard to leave when the time came. Even the children made new friends with other children and the adults. It was so easy to become close to them because you could see the love in their eyes. I know for my family that we left our hearts back there and hope to return very soon. If the Lord opens that door we will walk through it with happy hearts. If you ever want to go on a Kingdom mission, this is a great place to go. And Equip Disciples is a great team to be a part of. My family has been blessed to be a part of E.D. and we hope to be partners in the Gospel with them for a very long time.