Sunday, September 21, 2008

Update From Africa!

Well I'm catching you all up since we've been here almost a week. Been having difficulty getting onto my blog. I'll be posting more detail when I get back. So here goes:

Our flight was really smooth. McKenna managed to get about two hours of sleep on the plane. I really REALLY tried but fially gave up and so was awake for a total of 36 hours by the time we got to Kenya and to bed Saturday night.

It was awesome traveling via Emeritas. It's a really classy airline. They have a computer simulator of the plane that you can watch to see exactly where you are. For example, at 2:15 a.m. we were flyng over Paris! Back to Kenya:

Kenya!! WE'RE HERE!!!!!

Bob and Ann greeted us warmly considering that they waited a considerable amount of time since my second piece of luggage never showed up. It came a couple of days later. Kenya is a CRAZY place to drive! For one thing, Bob is driving on the wrong side of the road and you've got trucks barrelling towards you on the wrong side of the road. There are no lane markers, and people sort of make their own lanes. The streets vary from being paved okay with holes that you dodge, to being incredibly pocked dirt roads that you jump and bump over like you're riding a wild bucking bronco.

The streets are crowded with traffic that doesn't seem to mind being only inches from oneanother as they jockey for the quickest positions. Bob is quite the driver! Also there are lots and LOTS of people who walk. They are for the most part well dressed people carrying briefcases and walking on dirt roads in heels.

When I asked Ann why so many people walk, she said "They can't afford a car." When I asked her why they dn't take the bus, she replied, "They can't afford a bus ride." THen when I asked her why they don't ride bikes she replied, "They can't afford bikes," I sort of began to get the pictures. There are a LOT of poor people here in Kenya.

At 5:00 a.m. I woke up to the really weird sound of a Muslim call to prayer over a LOUDSPEAKER. It sounds like something really old like from an old record player from years ago. Anyway I decided to get up and on my way downstairs missed my step. In briefly hanging in mid-air while holding onto a wooden pole I slightly gashed my thumb, which concerns me since we'll be going into the slum city of Mitumba tomorrow. I'm trusting the Lord to protect me and am grateful for people who are praying for me.

Now it's almost 6:00 a.m. and outside I hear a symphony of lovely and strange bird songs. A rooster is crowing and a dog is barking in the distance. A chill is in the air as I sit alone in Bob and Ann's living room wrappped in a blanket with a knit hat on my head. I've been asked to lead the morning staff meeting here at Diguna and have to get ready...tomorrow Mitumba!

We drove past a huge Muslim mosque and on down an incredibly bumpy trash littered road till we could see aluminum buildings ahead of us and many little children running around. The smell wasn't as bad as I'd expected as we exited the car. Many little children ran excitedly over to us. I heard one say in a heavy accen't, "Guitar!" As soon as I stood with it in hand a mother holdng a baby with a gray piece of cloth against its botto as a diaper me to play a song for her - on-the-spot! I told her I was going to play it at the school.

We trudged through red soil onto a very narrow lumpy hard-packed path that ran between very narrow rows of aluminium shacks. Clothes hang on clothes lines. Tiny little children stare us with wet noses and dirty clothes. Curious older children dressed in blue school uniforms with bright orange sweaters run around us till we arrive at the "school."

The school is a few tin shacks with wooden floors and wooden benches for the children to sit on. There are faded school hangings around with the alphabet and other things to help the children learn to read.

We had 90 children for 2 1/2 hours or so in the morning. Then in the afternoon we had 80 older children for an hour. Out of these 80 we had to choose 12 who will present the program on Sunday. We felt a little bad about this but they just don't have room for more than that.

The younger children are very happy and vocal. They listened and seemed to greatly enjoy our songs and teachings about Jesus. The older children were more reserved but they eventually got into my "Are You Ready?" song with gusto.

Anyway when I presented God's amazing gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus many prayed a prayer asking God to forgive them and tellig God that they want Jesus to take their sins away. We ended the day very tired but it was a good kind of tiredness.

We're back in Mitumba today and I wanted to tell you about pastor Shadrack. He's a very soft spoken man with salt-and-pepper hair. We had lunch with him today. He told us that Mitumba has a population of about 17,000 people right now, and that a whopping 66% of them are HIV positive. He said that many of the children are aids orphans and others are taking anti-viral medication.

He said that when he began helping the people 6 years ago, you would have seen naked children running around. "We lose families each year to AIDS," he quietly said. He said that many of the members of his little congregation are single mothers whose husbands have died of AIDS and who were also infected by those husbands.

He feeds 270 children two meals a day now. People sometimes donate vitamins which have been a real blessing to the children. Some people help by giving money at the grocery store and then they can go buy groceries. I have many pics to show you...

SATURDAY Sept. 20t
It's 3:30 a.m. and I'm awake thinking about the slum children. It only took 12 men who trusted in Jesus to "turn the whole world upside-down" as the Bible put it. What could these children do to turn their slum upside-down?

I can clearly see the faces of young men and women - the future generation of Kenya - who were impacted by our message of hope. One 17 yr. old boy named Ed had tears in his eyes as he listened. He's new. He's just been taken into the school and is already at the 3rd grade level. He sits gently and quietly among the 3rd graders two heads taller than them.

Another boy who had a reputation for fighting began to listen and respond to the words we spoke from the Bible.

A 12 yr. old girl while outside sang one of the songs we had taught. In fact, Pastor Shadrack said that all over Mitumba children are being heard singing my song about Jesus' eminent return, "Are You Ready?"

McKenna and I have been physically well. I've kept my thumb cut covered up and we haven't gotten sick eating the food offered to us. We thank everyone who is praying for us

McKenna bravely used a "cho" for the first time! I'll let her give you the sordid details sometime...but she did take a pic! (Yes, it's a hole in the ground potty...)

We're home after a long but satisfying day. We used some of the funds given for our mission to buy 96 2kg (a little over 4lbs.) bags of corn flour to give to the "slum mama's." A kg. of corn flour used to be 22 Kenyan Schilllings (KSh) but due to the war and to fields being buned has doubled in price. It's really hurting the poor people. Food is very expensive for them now and it looks like a drought is setting in.

Anyway, we had a large morning class again and then met with the slum mama's. While we sat their little choir sang and sort of marched/danced in. I asked Rosylyn our new Kenyan friend what they were singing. She said they were singing a welcoming song for us!

After that they sang some other songs and I have never heard such amazing harmonies before. I felt so unworthy to sing! But they received our singing warmly and clapped in appreciation. They heard McKenna's story of how God saved her and then mine. Then they asked me to speak to them.

I told the that I had a simplel message: The richest woman in Kenya may own a large house and a car but she's poor if she doesn't own Jesus Christ as her personal savior. And the poorest woman in Kenya is rich if she has nothing but owns Jesus Christ as her own personal savior.

I sat down after that but Roselyn interpreted the words I as hearing, "They want you to say more."

I swallowed and stood back up. What can I say to these women who are suffering so much living in the slum? I told them about how I'd been reading Jesus' prayer, "The Our Father," that morning and had been thinking about how any person in any nation who has trusted Jesus to take their sins away is my sister joined in God's family by the shared blood of Jesus that has taken our sins away. I said, "I am happy to meet my sisters."

They applauded warmly when Roselyn interepreted. Afterwards about 15 women respnded to a call to trust Jesus to take their sins away and to follow Jesus. The leader, Violet, asked me to lead them in a prayer of salvation. Wow, I felt very humbled. After that the flour was distributed and also some sugar that McKenna and I had gotten. They were so happy! They were singing a song and I asked Roselyn what they were saying. "They're singing that they have seen the hand of God." Wow.

Tomorrow we go back to Mitumba for the last time and help the children present their VBS program. Then McKenna and I will have the children for children's church. Next week we drive up to Kijabe to serve good news at the Kijabe Hospital.

By the way I had a bad dream this morning. In the dream I saw sometlhing mysteriously move in my closet and began to pray.However my tongue swelled up and I couldn't speak! Then in my dream I was being carried backwards in my house until my family came into view. I felt that I was aware that the enemy doesn't want us to share the hope that we're sharing and I was aware that people are praying for us. Keep those prayers going up!!!!! I love you!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello my Friend!!

It's so good to read about your trip so far!! I'm excited to hear what the Lord is doing through you and McKenna! Please know that you are all in my prayers!

Lots of love to you!