Friday, July 15, 2011

A Look Back

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. 


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Water Well Drilling Training - Kenya

We did a test well in Kenya for 3 weeks in June 2011. We ran into some tough spots. There was much trouble shooting going on especially the last two weeks. While we were not able to drill a well to completion during that time we came away with a lot of knowledge on how to go about it with new wells.  The people that were working with us were hard workers. The women worked as hard as the men. We were sad to leave before the well was complete but God is in control and He has plans for us in this area, we believe.

We started out by praying over the well site. We would also gather around the well when we were at a hard spot and got stuck. Sometimes God answered with a yes and we got it done. Other times His answer was no.

The group would take turns at the drilling. They wore gloves to protect their hands. It was a very muddy job. But they didn't seem to mind.

The group were at it long and hard each day, taking turns pulling the rope and working the drill. We were drilling at a school so the school kids would come out and watch at lunch or on their way home from school.

There were days, most of them, that the guys came home covered in mud. I often wondered if the ladies who did our laundry knew what they were doing to get so dirty each day. It was no secret that we were there drilling. 

Even though we were unable to complete the well, John taught them some of the things needed to finish out a well once they got to that point. We hope to go back and do more than just test wells there. We hope to start well clubs and Bible studies. Please keep praying for open doors and for provision.

Until next time...blessings to you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

More Kenya Thoughts

July 4, 2011
I have been home for over 24 hours now. I have slept much of that time. I’m not really trying too hard to stay up. I just want to sleep when I want to sleep. I know, that sounds so stubborn. I can be that way. One reason I just want to sleep is because of all the work I am going to have to do to get the house in order after emptying the suitcases and getting school stuff ready. I think I am avoiding it and sleeping is a good excuse.

I am having mixed feelings about being home. Is it normal to feel culture shock coming home after only three weeks? And is it normal for someone who didn't get it while there? It was good to get home. It feels more “natural” doing things here because I have lived here for the past 45, almost 46 years. But even in the middle of doing things I normally do, I felt out of place somehow. We drove home from the movies and the streets were so clean and paved. There wasn't a person walking anywhere. There were no cows or goats walking alongside the road or in fields, there were no fields. There were only buildings and apartments and houses. I began to feel guilty because of how nice things are here. I don’t think the people in Kilifi want things to be the way they are, they just are. The poverty levels are staggering. I found out that they live off less than a dollar a day. How can people live off that little? There has been a shortage of rain for the past 4 weeks and I thought that because it rained for ten to twenty minutes each day that it was good. I found out that it wasn't enough. They need fresh water so badly. They need to be able to grow food to feed their families.

One of the places I saw daily was a milk cow plantation. We were staying on that plantation because some very wealthy people had built fancy homes overlooking the ocean there and rented them out. The “houses” that the people staying and working on the plantation didn't look like a house to me. It was cement walls that connected 7 or 8 rooms in a row. It didn't look like there could be more than one room for each but there may have been some rooms sectioned off with sheets or something. Our guess is that they were maybe 12’. There was another concrete box for each “house” that had one opening towards their home. That was the kitchen. It was about 5’ x 8’ or smaller. I am not sure all the homes had the “kitchen’s” because on the ones that faced the road those families would gather in the front yard and cook on a pile of wood. That is how they did it in the concrete area but this was on the ground. Their laundry is laid on the ground to dry at some of the homes. There are a few that have clothes lines but not all. The place we stayed in had a lady that did our laundry. She would wash them in a tub with a scrub brush and lay them on the ground to dry. We gave her a clothesline when we got there but she never used it. We would find out clothes laying in a long row during the day. They would iron them before they put them in our room. It left them feeling very odd. And kind of not clean or dry even though they were.

As you look at the picture above, I can tell you it is a far cry from the places I just described. I don't know why I didn't take a picture of those homes in the three weeks I was there. We drove by them at least twice a day, every day for three weeks. Maybe it was because I didn't want to seem like they were on display for visitors that thought them odd. As we passed by them we would wave and yell "Jambo" in response to their calls of the same. I am sorry I didn't take those pictures. I wouldn't WANT to stay in homes like that but I did feel a bit guilty for staying in a place like I did. It didn't seem like it "fit" with a mission trip. We were there to work with the people who needed it but we were living in a huge house with people who washed our clothes, made our beds, and prepared our meals. I'm not saying I wasn't grateful for those things. It just didn't feel right when each day I saw those who had so much less.

I do know that once on the field full time we will have a more modest home. One that will meet all of our needs but will not set us too much above those we have come to serve. And I am totally alright with that. I have a friend whose dad, a long term cross cultural worker, designed a house in another part of the world that helped keep the mosquitoes out and I am going to find a way to "borrow" that floor plan for our home. I was excited to hear about its existence.

Until next time...blessings to you.