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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kenya, Nairobi & Kibera "The Natives Are Friendly"

Jambo. (Hello in Swahili) First of all we want to thank you for your support in your giving and in your thoughts and prayers for us while we were away in Kenya. We left on July 11th and returned on August 5th. We were picked up at the airport by the leader of ICY (International Christian Youthworks) Peter Abungu. We were taken to the house of Judah and Salma, our host for our stay in Kenya. This couple made our stay enjoyable more than we could have imagined and hoped for while in Nairobi. Their cousin Wendy had just arrived before us so they were actually hosting 3 guests at the same time, which was a great time to say the least in getting to know one another.
Upon our arrival they had prayer for us and our family back home and gave thanks for our safe travel then they fed us and we were ready for sleep. Our first day started out downtown with Peter to get money exchange and then to the office of ICY and get more information on how ICY works and some details on what we would be doing while in Nairobi. Our team consisted of Patrick (Germany), Ricky (California), Liz (North Carolina), Aimee (Indiana), Virginia (Vancouver) and Victor (Kenya) That afternoon we were taken to Kibera. This is a huge slum area with at least 1 million people living in some horrendous conditions. Kibera is heavily polluted by soot, dust, and other wastes. Open sewage routes also contribute to contamination of the slum with human and animal feces. The combination of poor nutrition and lack of sanitation accounts for many illnesses. Not only are death by disease and conflict common inside this slum, but it is estimated that 1/5 of the 2.2 million Kenyans living with HIV live in Kibera. But in this mess the people we met were beautiful in their friendliness and the children’s constant greeting of “how are you?” still echo in our mind as we are on the other side of the world. Our teams’ ministry was focused on the “blue house”. This house is used for daily school teachings and Sunday services as well. The pastor and team actually have to pay a high rental cost just to use this building. When we arrived the classes were over so we ended up hanging with the kids, talking and playing games. We met with the head teacher who informed us that they care for at least 500 youth in this area. We were excited to meet the children but at the same time it’s hard to imagine why any human would have to live in such conditions.
Sunday we traveled 40 minutes by Matatu (van) to get to a church service. Service lasted several hours and included a message by a preacher from North Carolina. He had been coming to Kenya for over 10 years and he said were the first missionary team he had seen in a church service. After morning service we split up into teams and walked the streets asking the locals could we pray for them, talk to them about Jesus and what they believed. Several of those that we met knew the Gospel and some asked us to pray with them to rededicate their life to Jesus Christ. Afterwards we returned for an evening service.
The following week we would return to Kibera three times. We would help teach classes grade 6 through 8. I helped Liz teach 6th graders and Adriane and Patrick taught 8th graders. Classes were always threefold in teaching the Bible, Math and English. Also in Kibera is a kindergarten class called Sarah Jr. A few years ago a university student from the UK helped start this school in Kibera the funding comes from those living in England. This class serves at least 50 kids. They learn to read, write, and are taught the Bible as well as children songs. Also they are each given a daily lunch of beans and rice which for many of them may be their only meal of the day.
One Tuesday we helped a young mother of 3 take her Cerebral Palsy daughter to the hospital for therapy. We took a coloring book and crayons for her and actually after therapy she was so content in coloring that she told her mother she could stay longer but she was excited when she was told the book and crayons were hers to keep.
Our last Sunday in Kibera, our team helped do the church service. Roger was asked to give a teaching. He shared on Mephibosheth who was asked to eat at King David table. Although a cripple he was the same at the table of the King. And all of us in life are crippled by something but Jesus wants us at His table and desires for us to be his sons and daughters. We then met with Pastor Timothy and distributed pencils, pens, and other items and promised to send more upon our return home. They were so thankful for just what little we bought them.
After service we spent a few hours with Peter and we talked how people and churches tend to do nothing because the problem seems so big but if we would just focus on part of the problem and work towards that then much would be done especially for those we are helping at that very moment. Victor is an assistant of ICY. He is from Kibera. His mom died then his dad, then his grandparents. So he had nowhere to go and Peter and his wife took him in as part of their family. Victor was our leader and tour guide in almost everything we did in Nairobi. Dominique was another assistant for this ministry and he lives in Kibera with his family. It’s awesome to see these young men coming out of some of the worst conditions and making the best of it and serving God in this ministry.
We also got to help at an orphanage a few times while were there. This was actually just 2 blocks from our home. This was a pleasant surprise to us as the building was very nice, and the kids were getting great care at this facility. The ages consist of infants to 2 year olds. Some of these babies have been abandoned from hospitals to dumps. A couple from England came to Nairobi several years ago and saw a need for orphans and they started a make shift orphanage at the bottom of their flat apartment taking in 7 kids. They now have 7 full time ministries running in Kenya to take in the orphans. We got to feed the infants and play with many kids. For those of you that have read our blog you know that Jimmy became our favorite kid there. On our last visit he came to me as soon as I entered through the gate and didn’t want me to put him down so we spent hours talking about birds and big birds.
We were fortunate in getting to go on a 2 night safari in Maasai Mara. It was very beautiful and believe it or not the nights got very cold. Adriane was unfortunately able to pick up a cold as well. We got to see a variety of animals including Zebras, Buffaloes, Hyenas, Hippos, Crocodiles and Lions to name a few. We were also privileged to see the migration of the wildebeest which is actually a rare thing for visitors to see. On our last Sunday we were guest at Judah’s church and then did some last minute shopping. Monday, the night before our departure we treated our host family to a dinner at the Carnivore. This restaurant is the most famous one in Nairobi and they offer a buffet of meats which are brought to your table one at a time and the menu includes Crocodile and Ostrich. There is so much more that could be written but we hope this letter gives a glimpse of our adventure in Kenya. We could have never imagined the people and places we experienced and we told Peter and our host family we do plan to come back as soon as possible. Again for those reading this thank you so much for being part of this trip with us, it would have never been possible without your support. For those who have been praying for us please continue to do so that we may know what our next step with Kenya (Africa) is suppose to be.

"First go at the risk of being thought fanatical you must obey what God tells you”-Oswald Chambers.
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